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Social Services In Budget Crisis

Coventry’s social services department could face an overspend of up to £8 million, councillors have been warned.

Senior managers are battling to try and work out where all the money has gone in the budget, and are finding ways to keep the deficit from spiralling.

At the moment it is likely that the department will face a shortfall of £5.6 million.

Its strategic director, Jonathan Smith, who was brought in to shake up the department, has been preparing a line-by-line breakdown of its budget.

Last week he ordered a temporary halt on care assessments for elderly people in the city.

This meant that some patients could not be discharged from Walsgrave hospital as no-one knew what support they would need.

A backlog built up and there have been fears that unless the beds are made available operations will be cancelled.

Cllr John Mutton, cabinet member (Resources), told the full meeting of the city council last night that the two-day in assessments had been ordered so Mr Smith could fund out what the situation was.

He said:

”The revised figures have been up and down a bit like a yo-yo.

“We are still talking of a projected overspend of £5.6m. There was some talk that it could be as high as £8m, but further work has been done.”

Cllr Dave Nellist (Socialist, St Michael’s), asked why council members were not told of the stoppage in assessments after the decision was taken.

And he added that the shortfall should not be seen as an overspend, but an under-funding.

Cllr Mutton said the rise in the elderly population has caused difficulties for social services departments all over the country, as care costs have soared.

Occupational therapists from Coventry Health Authority have been called to help clear the current backlog, and £150,000 is to be spent on taking more therapists on.

Cllr Nick Nolan said the main aim was to get matters back on track.

He said:

“We will deal with the short term crisis and then we will deal with the long-term problems.”

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CWN / Politics / Coventry City Council / 22 Sep 00

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM