Overspend on mental health issues by county council to reach nearly £2m

  Posted: 13.11.20 at 11:20 by David Lawrence - Local Democracy Reporter

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Mental health issues will lead to an expected overspend of nearly £2m on services by Warwickshire County Council according to the latest figures.

But there was better news elsewhere with a predicted overall underspend of £4.78m by the end of the financial year.

The forecasts were unveiled by the council’s deputy leader and portfolio holder for property and finance Cllr Peter Butlin (Con, Admirals and Cawston) at this week’s cabinet meeting.

In his budget monitoring report for the second quarter, he explained that the forecasted underspend would be £4.784m on the council’s revenue budget, but warned that the figures were calculated prior to entering the latest lockdown.

According to Cllr Butlin, the underspend was due to Covid funding from central government, but that money might be needed to deal with further waves of the pandemic and any future lockdowns.

The rising problem of mental health was highlighted by Cllr Jerry Roodhouse (Lib Dem, Eastlands).

He said: “There is a mental health overspend of £1.859m and I think this is the highlight really of Covid and we could see that figure increasing along with domestic abuse and alcohol and drug abuse. I think the pressures going forward will be quite massive.”

A report on the latest budget figures explained that the pressure was experienced most significantly in residential and supported living services particularly in the north of the county.

Cllr Butlin acknowledged the problem, adding: “The mental health issues are going to rise through Covid and further lockdowns. It’s not a good place to be for a lot of people in the county.

“Then when we go into a period of unemployment and job losses it will also affect people’s mental health. We need to identify funds to bolster that aspect of where the pressures will be going forward.”

Elsewhere in the report it was revealed that just 57 per cent of £6.2m savings earmarked for the financial year were likely to be achieved with the shortfall also being put down to Covid. This had resulted in delays in the sale of two county council sites expected to raise around £2.5m and reduce borrowing costs – the preferred bidders withdrew at the start of the first lockdown.

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