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Where are the savings?

Created on 04/11/2019 @ 12:52
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Not enough detail of the Powys County Council (PCC) saving plans for this financial year (2019/20) are being received by members of the Finance Panel, it has claimed.

At the meeting of PCC’s Finance Panel, members brought up the issue during a discussion on the Efficiency Savings report for August.

Cllr John Morris brought up point 2.3 from the report which is: “Some mitigating action has been taken by services and alternative means of covering the savings shortfall in the current financial year has been put in place, while this resolves the gap for the current year it does not remove the requirement to permanently resolve the base budget.

“It talks about mitigating actions and alternate means of covering the savings, where can we see that?” he asked before adding: “Is there actual evidence of progress? So that when we get to March 31, 2020, those savings are made.”

Jane Thomas, head of finance, replied: “We don’t have clear visibility at a corporate level.”

She said that she had challenged the services to explain the cuts/savings they were making as an alternative to the original proposals.

Ms Thomas said: “It could be just the cost of things are lower this year or income levels are higher or vacancies can be delayed. So it’s a mix of a lot of things.

“The service areas will have that area of detail, but it’s not captured in any report.”

She said that the mitigation was included in a “commentary” in a separate budget monitoring report.

Cllr David Thomas said: “We pass a budget with all the measures in there and we know the impact it will have on residents.

“We get half way through the year and the heads of service are saying, well hang on the savings that the councillors accepted on behalf of the residents of this county are not deliverable.”

Cllr Thomas said that new elements introduced into the budget should be democratically accountable.

Ms Thomas also explained that alternative proposals needed to be agreed by either Heads of Service or Cabinet depending on the level of change.

Ms Thomas said: “Savings are estimates, until they are delivered. If there is a permanent change it would need to have a full impact assessment.”

The report, which is dated from August, explains that the 2019/20 budget needs efficiency savings of £12.989 million.

This figure has gone up to £21.692 million after social services (adults and children’s services) had identified £8.703 million of savings that needed to be found. This is due to estimated rising cost and demand facing social services in 2019/20.


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