More financial woe for Sheffield council

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FURTHER belt-tightening is needed at Sheffield Council after an internal report predicted the authority was on course to spend £3.5 million over its budget.

Eugene Walker, director of finance, made the prediction in the council’s latest budget monitoring report, covering the first three months of the 2012/13 financial year from April.

The council has £482 million to spend during the year - but a £3.455m overspend is forecast.

The report is to be discussed at a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Wednesday.

Mr Walker assured councillors that officials would be taking action to keep spending down.

He said: “A number of courses of action are being considered in line with council priorities, given the constraints on funding.”

The main overspending is in the communities department, which is predicted to run £2.2m over budget, while development, environment and leisure is £969,000 above target.

Overspending in the resources department is £739,000 and in corporate is £588,000.

The children’s, young people’s and families’ department is forecast to spend £959,000 less than planned and the deputy chief executive’s department to run £148,000 under-budget – mainly due to extra job losses.

The biggest additional cost is a £1.2m overspend on care packages for people with learning difficulties and disabilities.

Also, an additional £169,000 bill has been racked up paying for taxis and other transport costs for disabled people due to ‘delays in implementing travel plans’ after cuts to the numbers of council-run minibuses.

Among other extra spending pressures have been an additional £1.3m bill for community care services, offset by a £1m saving elsewhere, and extra grants to help Museums Sheffield cope with the loss of Arts Council funding.

The council is also forecasting a £313,000 drop in predicted income from car parking, building regulation and planning application fees due to the continuing recession.

Mr Walker said: “The key issue is car parking where income is forecast to be £226,000 below target.”

However, the figure is well-below the £7m overspend forecast early during the previous year, which the council was able to overcome, Mr Walker said.