ANSWERS as to whether Powys County Council (PCC) will be on track to deliver the savings expected this financial year, will be found out soon

At a meeting of the finance panel, head of finance, Jane Thomas, told members that work done over the last three months will show whether departmental savings plans are working.

During the next three years PCC expects to have to save up to £46 million with between £8 million and £13 million needed next year.

Last year the council only delivered savings or cuts of £6.5 million, which is only 58 per cent of the target, of £12.296 million .

Ms Thomas, said: “We have made changes for this year’s reporting where we will have a report focussing on savings delivery.

“The responsibility of informing that report will be with heads of service.

“We’ve had sessions going through the savings and making sure everyone has plans in place to start delivering on those.

“I think quarter one (April1 to July 1)  we will see what action has been taken and where we are in terms of that delivery.”

Ms Thomas told the panel that finance training had been given to many senior managers and heads of service but that it was not “mandatory”.

Finance panel vice-chairman Cllr Gwilym Williams (Conservative – Disserth and Trecoed)  believed that service managers need to be put through “mandatory” financial training to make sure they know what they are supposed to do.

Cllr David Thomas (Labour – Tawe- Uchaf) believed that managers should already have the skills before starting work at PCC.

Cllr Thomas said: “There’s something seriously wrong with the recruitment process if we are paying these very respectable salaries for people to deliver  and don’t have the skills.

“And then saying it’s not mandatory to actually ensure they are equipped with these skills.”

“What concerns me – it’s not delivery of the savings, but the proposals.

“If you look at the deterioration (of savings) over the years it’s unacceptable

“It’s telling me that these proposals are not being stress tested and that some of them are not deliverable.

“We have had to write off a considerable amount of savings last year.”

Cllr Thomas believed that portfolio holders also needed to take “political responsibility” and “ownership” of proposed budget saving.”

Cllr Thomas continued: “There is no accountability, I would have liked to sit in on some of these performance reviews when you look at outcomes they must not discuss budgets and savings?

“Financial management weakness can be picked up at review and then it becomes mandatory and they go on a course.

“The system is there already, I don’t think it’s been used correctly.”

Ms Thomas replied: “We will all agree (savings) delivery in the past has not been good enough.

“We must get this delivery more on track and we have upped the challenge but I think monitoring and scrutinising these reports is going to be critical.”

She added that as the first quarter had only closed on Monday, work on the reports were now taking place.