South Tyneside Council chiefs expect to rely on one-off handouts after Boris Johnson's move to Downing Street, meeting hears

Town hall chiefs expect to remain reliant on one-off government hand-outs following Boris Johnson’s move into Downing Street.
Councillor Ed MalcolmCouncillor Ed Malcolm
Councillor Ed Malcolm

According to the latest report by number-crunchers at South Tyneside Council, the local authority managed to finish the 2018/19 financial year almost £2million in the black.

Bosses were able to save about £1million thanks to energy-saving measures and there was a similar underspend on the adult social care services.

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But the cost of foster placement and social workers also meant the council’s children’s services department finished the year more than £3million in the red.

“It’s very good news on behalf of the council and it’s been a big turn around for us, especially in adult social care,” said Coun Ed Malcolm, cabinet member for resources and innovation.

“So now all the focus turns to children’s services and when we get a new prime minister we will be looking at that, although we still haven’t had news of the financial settlement.

“I would imagine there will be some help towards children’s services, but that it will likely be a one-off thing, the same as Philip Hammond did with one-off payments which, frankly, doesn’t give us confidence or sustainability.”

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Coun Malcolm was speaking before the announcement of the winner of the Conservative leadership contest, at a meeting of the council’s Audit Committee.

Early in 2019, Coun Malcolm blasted the spending plans of then Chancellor Philip Hammond, branding it a ‘budget of one-offs’ which didn’t address long term issues.

According to the council’s audit report for 2018/19, the council spent £1.1million more than it expected on waste collection after it had to hire bin wagons while its ‘outdated’ fleet was replaced.

Stuart Reid, the council’s corporate director business and resources, said: “The council has kept within budget and been able to add to its reserves as well, which strengthens its position for other challenges which will come.

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“We’re in a much stronger and robust position as far as service changes and adult social care systems are concerned, we’re able to manage demand much more effectively.

“Children’s services remains a challenge, but we’re not unique in that, that’s an issue across the country.”