The new Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Care has discussed 'significant concerns' after the department revealed an £11.6 million pound overspend for the last year.

Councillor Jim McKenna, who took the role after it was vacated by Judith Haycock, said: "Since beginning work as the Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Care two weeks ago, I have been meeting staff and partners to understand the issues and challenges facing the service.  This is a difficult time for both the Council and our health partners with new legislation, a growing demand for services and increasing financial pressures.

"There have also been major changes in the management of the Council, with a new Chief Executive, the creation of a single directorate for children and adults services under a new corporate director and the appointment of a new chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board. These changes have provided the opportunity for a fresh look at how we are delivering adult social care.

"At the same time there have been a number of reviews carried out into different aspects of the service. These include the Health and Wellbeing Peer Challenge carried out by the LGA in November, whose findings were reported to the Health and Wellbeing Board and the internal management review commissioned by Trevor Doughty.  Details of this draft report were shared with Members at last week’s informal PAC meeting and will be considered by the Cabinet when finalised.

"While both reviews identify a number of positive aspects of the service, including the commitment and hard work of staff, they also highlight some significant concerns, particularly over financial control within the service.  One key area of concern has been the Early Intervention Service (EIS) which was the subject of a recent report to the Audit Committee.  An action plan is being drawn up to address the issues raised in this report, however a number of changes have already been implemented, including the formation of a new single commissioning team and reconfigurations to the EIS service.

"As you will be aware from the monthly budget reports to the Cabinet there has been a worsening budget position over the past 18 months, with the latest figures showing a forecast overspend for adult care of £11.6m for 2013/2014.  This is a major concern for the Council and I am working with the Chief Executive, Trevor, Alex and the Section 151 Officer to implement measures to reduce the overspend and balance the budget.

"Adult care is the highest area of spend for the Council and we need to tackle the issues facing the service so we can deliver high quality services to vulnerable people.  I am committed to being as open and transparent as possible and will be providing Members with regular updates on the progress which is being made. There is still more work to be done but I am confident that the Council is going in the right direction."