Social work department faces ‘major challenge’

Councillor David Parker in front of the Scottish Borders Council Headquarters in Newtown St. Boswells
Councillor David Parker in front of the Scottish Borders Council Headquarters in Newtown St. Boswells
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The council’s social work department is battling to make savings of £800,000 this year, while facing £1.8million of service costs due to a rise in demand.

According to the council’s chief financial officer, David Robertson, the department still has to make £420,000 of savings by the end of March next year.

Councillors were told on Tuesday that the department had been hit with £1.8million of ‘additional pressures’ this year – ­attributed to the costs of increased demand, including transporting and accommodating children and home care.

Mr Robertson said a ‘recovery plan’ had been developed with actions set out to tackle the various issues and make the necessary savings.

Mr Robertson added: “These include a freeze on all non-critical recruitment, setting efficiency targets for all managers to reduce spend through review of care packages and operational costs, and to agree a more equitable and transparent protocol for the joint funding of complex cases with NHS Borders.”

However, he added that delivery of the savings would be a ‘major challenge’.

The council’s executive agreed to keep a close eye on the department’s performance, but were sympathetic to the challenges faced.

Councillor Tom Weatherson said the pressures on the department were outwith the council’s control, and leader David Parker added: “A lot of good work has gone on in the social work department, and a lot of the pressures of last year have been dealt with.”