Portsmouth City Council facing £1m shortfall in budget due to pressures on social care

FINANCIAL pressures in social care have left Portsmouth City Council facing a £1 million gap in its budget for next year.

Sunday, 26th September 2021, 12:34 pm
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson leader of Portsmouth City Council. Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)

Increasing demand in these departments, coupled with rising costs of placements for children, has added further strain to finances which have reduced by more than £100 million in the last 11 years.

Council leader, councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said 'tough' decisions would have to be made in the coming months but that increasing income, was likely to plug much of the gap for 2022/23.

A consultation has been launched seeking views from the public on where they think finances in the £161 million budget should be focused.

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Since 2010, the council has had to make £106 million in savings due largely to reductions in government grants.

'This is not a party political issue,' Cllr Vernon-Jackson said. 'Whilst leader I have had to make cuts under Conservative, Labour and coalition governments. It's not a new issue.

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'A huge amount of the pressure is coming from our children's and adults' social services with high costs and difficulties in recruiting staff.'

He said the council was paying £500,000 a year for placements for five children with extra needs and that care for some adults cost as much as £250,000 annually.

On top of this council is facing a shortage of social workers, which he added, the council was lobbying the government to help with.

'We've got some tough decisions to make about how we spend public money in the city and we want residents to help inform them,' he said. 'The people of Portsmouth are at the centre of everything we do so it is important we get their views on how we allocate our budget and what services they value.'

But, he added, the £1m funding gap would likely be filled by increasing rent on its commercial properties and through other initiatives, including the installation of solar panels.

The consultation will run until October 20 after which the council will draw up its draft budget for the next financial year.

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