£5m overspending on Portsmouth children’s services ‘was to be expected’

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A £5m overspend on children’s services was to be expected, councillors have said.

A £5m overspend on children’s services was to be expected, councillors have said.

Projections show that by April 2019 Portsmouth City Council is expected to have overspent by £8,223,600, with more than half of that due to rising demands on children’s services.

At a cabinet meeting yesterday Lib Dem councillors discussed the deficit.

Council leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘It is clearly a worrying report in terms of council finances.

‘The area that gives me the most concern children’s social care because we need to understand why the number of children the council is looking after is going up so much. We are having to rely on placements out of the city and that is expensive and not good for the child.

‘We are already putting a significant amount of work into seeing if the council can reduce what is spent.’

Last year children’s services cost £3.4m more than budgeted.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson added: ‘But for the last four years we have been overspending on children and families services, this is nothing new.’

The council’s head of children and families, Cllr Rob Wood, explained how it was a problem across the UK. He said: ‘The budget only allowed for so many children coming in. It is a national issue. And we are running with what we have inherited.

‘Certainly the budget in the future will have to be for the number of children we actually have.’