Labour slams council for budget shortfall

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Labour councillors have slammed a “leadership vacuum” in Dumfries and Galloway Council for forcing the social work department into a “shambolic rewriting of its budget as it tries to cobble the money together” to run services.

In a report to be discussed at the social work services committee on Thursday, August 30, the council admits there is a shortfall of £617,000 in the 2012/13 budget. The report says the main reason for the shortfall is a greater number of homecare clients than expected and subsequent increased costs.

Labour’s social work spokesman, Councillor David Mckie, said: “This review has been long overdue and shows that the social work department has massively underestimated the costs of services like homecare.

“Two years ago Labour highlighted our concerns that social services are being underfunded but Tory-SNP councillors chose to bury their heads in the sand. The Labour Group’s budget earlier this year proposed putting more money into social work to cover the gap, but this was voted down by Tory and SNP councillors who refused to recognise there was a problem.

“If this underfunding had been dealt with when we first raised the issue, it could have been handled carefully in the context of the council’s overall budget. Instead, because the council put this review off for so long it is now forced into a shambolic rewriting of its budget as it tries to cobble the money together. This again exposes the leadership vacuum at the top of the council. At the end of the day it will be local people who will pay the price as the council has to cut services to try and keep within budget.”