THE rising costs at Children’s Service is continuing to cause concern for Powys County Council, (PCC) as they could be £5 million overspent by the end of the financial year.

And if things stay as they are, PCC could be spending more of their reserves to produce a balanced budget than is safe for them to do so.

At the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, November 5, portfolio holder for finance Cllr Aled Davies (Conservative Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant/Llansilin) updated his colleagues on the financial position as it stood at the end of September.

There was slight improvement with the projected overspend being £62,000 less than it was at the end of August.

The overspend  position is now said to be £3.398 million which is down from the £3.460 million that was reported at the end of August.

This financial year PCC need to make savings worth £21.692 million and of that total, £9.171 million still needs to delivered.

But assurances have only been given that £3.438 million can be delivered this year.

Cllr Aled Davies said: “Of the £9 million we need to deliver, £3.4 million can be and we have concerns over the other part.

Cllr Davies explained that PCC holds £9.1 million in a general reserve fund and if the position stayed as it is until the end of March 2020, the overspend would need to be financed from that fund.

This would leave the general reserve at £5.432 million which would be just under the council’s target of three per-cent of total net revenue budget.

Cllr Davies added that unachievable savings had increased to £5.733 million

“The efficiency savings are a crucial part of trying to balance the budget to the end of year,” said Cllr Davies.

Children’s Service budget is now forecast to be £25.550 million, over £5 million more than it’s budget of £20.331 million.

Portfolio holder for Children’s Services, Cllr Rachel Powell (Independent -Beguildy), defended the department: “I need to emphasise that this is an unpredictable service, we have lots of strategies in place to bring our children closer to home for all the right reasons.

“The additional spending is down to workforce and placement costs.”

Cllr Powell added that it was hoped that a grant funding bid to look at a “wrap around service” to bring youngsters with more “challenging needs” closer to home would come to fruition.

“It’s about that investment, and that expertise to reduce the costs for the future,” said Cllr Powell.

She added: “Every effort is being made by the service to reduce those overspends.”

The cabinet approved a recommendation that the senior leadership team address the shortfall of undelivered savings and propose a plan to bridge the gap as a “matter of urgency”.