Torbay care trust under fire over £1.9m overspend

SERVICES to the elderly could be targeted as Torbay Care Trust tries to bring a projected £1.9million overspend under control.

In the trust’s recovery plan for 2009/10 they are looking at targeting all respite and short breaks at St Kilda’s care home in Brixham and introducing charging for domiciliary care to save an estimated £75,000 each.

But the care trust has been criticised by councillors for failing to provide enough details of exactly how the savings will be made.

Torbay Council’s scrutiny board was meeting to hear how the trust planned to overcome the predicted £1.9million overspend on its £40million budget for adult social services.

The board was due to make recommendations to mayor Nick Bye in setting the next budget for the trust but felt unable to do so because of the lack of information.

Chairman Cllr John Thomas said: “We need far more information to draw meaningful conclusions.”

Trust acting chief executive Anthony Farnsworth presented a single page plan with 11 points on how £1million will be saved, but that still left a shortfall estimated at around £900,000.

Along with looking at St Kilda’s and introducing charging, the ideas included greater use of disability benefits, tighter controls on assessing new cases and reviews of existing cases.

Mr Farnsworth said: “Just because this is forecast this is not the end of my efforts.”

Cllr Julien Parrott said: “The £40million was not enough to protect this position. I cannot accept we are going to be £900,000 overspent.

“There most be something wrong with the budget setting processes if needs are not met.”

Cllr Peter Addis said: “For this information to be reduced to a single side of paper is iniquitous.”

Cllr Matthew Phillips said if scrutiny councillors ask for information it should be provided and added: “I think this is quite disgraceful.”

Cllr Thomas said the care trust board agreed the budget and scrutiny councillors backed the need to support the vulnerable and disadvantaged but added: “We cannot conclude anything as there is insufficient information to draw conclusions or make recommendations.”

Adult social care councillor Neil Bent said: “I was advised by officers the purpose of this report was not to drill down in the detail.”

He declined to name in public who gave him that advice.