Devon’s budget in the black for the 25th consecutive year

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Posted on: 1 June 2016

Devon County Council’s budget is in the black for the 25th consecutive year.

The authority underspent by £35,000 in the 2015/16 financial year on a net revenue budget of £500.105 million.

County Treasurer Mary Davis will tell councillors next week: “The financial year has now ended and it is pleasing that the final position is a small underspending of £35,000.”

But Mrs Davis will warn that children’s services and adult social care continue to be subject to significant financial pressures at a time of continuing austerity.

And she says that children’s services must not overshoot its enhanced budget in the current financial year as it did in 2015/16.

In her end of term report to council leaders, Mrs Davis says: “A budget underspend has been achieved in spite of significant financial pressures within People services.

“Children’s social work and child protection faced very great pressure in the year and finished overspent by nearly £13.9 million.

“This was mainly the result of more children being placed in care than allowed for in the budget.

“The cost of social workers was also higher than budgeted. The numbers of both agency workers and social workers were reduced during the year and, by the last two months of the year, were within budgeted levels.

“In 2016/17, the budget for People services was increased by nearly £16.2 million in recognition of the increase in demand faced by the caring services.

“The council must ensure that it stays within the increased budget set for 2016/17 and that there is not a repeat of the children’s services overspending either in that service or any other service.”

Mrs Davis says that adult social care faced great underlying pressure on spending, especially on fee rates in both residential and nursing care and personal care in the home. Despite this, the service underspent by £1.8 million through savings being realised more quickly than anticipated and by close working with partners in health to contain demand.

Social care commissioning underspent by £3.2 million where savings were also achieved earlier than expected.

But education overspent by £787,000, entirely due to school transport costs which were affected by higher fees for contractors, less income and more children with special needs requiring transport.

Mrs Davis says Place services showed an overall underspend of £2.46 million and corporate services were £2.4 million underspent.

She said Devon had delivered a very large programme of capital investment in 2015/16 with over £128 million being spent.

Among the projects completed were the South Devon Link Road, two new rail stations at Newcourt and Cranbrook in Exeter and a number of school expansion schemes.

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