Social work study finds financial failings

A probe into the financial management of social work in Dumfries and Galloway has uncovered a number of failings.

The review – carried out by the council’s external auditors – was ordered following concern about a string of overspends.

Social services has an annual budget of about £80m, the bulk of it spent on care provision for adults and children.

Auditors identified a series of weaknesses in the way finances were managed and business conducted.

They uncovered flaws in the budget-setting process, with spending plans based on historic and unreliable information.

Team working between the director of social work and his managers was described as “ineffective”.

Concern was also raised about the number of budget holders within the department – more than 50 staff have some degree of spending power, but are monitored by a finance team of just three.

Auditors PwC said the council would require clear leadership and commitment to tackle the issues.

The report will be presented to members of the social work committee later this week.

Among its key findings are:

    Lack of detail in business planning
    No obvious link between budget and activity levels of social work services
    An “ad hoc” engagement between budget holders and corporate finance
    No service level activity available to put financial reporting in correct context
    Uncertainty over desired ways of working

The full report is available to view online on the council website.