Fife Council’s social work department is seeking emergency cash from the Scottish Government to cope with a projected overspend of almost £6 million.
Council leader David Ross has written to Health Secretary Alex Neil requesting a meeting to discuss the “significant” deficit and the region’s increasing demand for care.
Members of the local authority’s education, social and communities scrutiny committee were informed of the move by councillor Gavin Yates, spokesperson for health and wellbeing.
He said: “We used to see reductions in demand for care services at various points of the year, such as after the winter. However, now we are seeing the same level of demand throughout the year.”
The committee discussed a report prepared by Sandy Riddell, director of health and social care and Brian Livingston, director of finance and corporate services.
It showed the projected overspend for adults and older people had initially been estimated at just over £7 million but a revised figure of £5.7 million was now “likely” following a recent reshaping of social work services.
Councillors were told the figure could not be offset any further because there was “nowhere left” within the social work budget to claw back funds. The report said: “It will not be possible to eliminate the overspend in the current financial year without a significant reduction in service that would result in an unacceptable level of risk.
“Consequently, an overspend of £5.7 million is likely, although the service will endeavour to reduce this wherever possible.”
Councillor Yates told members he had been assured by officers that the figure of £5.7 million could be “held and kept under control” until the end of the financial year but Alice McGarry said she was unconvinced.
“How can we expect to see the deficit stop dead if the demand continues to increase?” she said.
Members were informed Mr Ross had explained to Mr Neil that the local authority had been working closely with NHS Fife to find the best way of dealing with the financial challenges but was now struggling to cope.
Mr Yates said: “At the end of the day this is happening in every single NHS and local authority in Scotland, not just in Fife.”
Councillor Mike Shirkey made the point that without the overspend there would be “hundreds” of people living without vital services, while committee chairwoman Susan Leslie added: “We have reached the point where no matter what we do it is simply not going to solve the problem.”