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GWYNEDD SOC SVS OVERSPEND: WARNING TO NEW UNITARIES

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A Welsh Office investigation into the£1.1m overspend by Gwynedd social services department last year has revealed ...
A Welsh Office investigation into the £1.1m overspend by Gwynedd social services department last year has revealed management flaws to which all the new unitary authorities should be alert.

A report published today by the Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (SSIW) on the management of Gwynedd's community care budget underlines the importance of clear priorities, and setting up regular, accurate, high-level financial monitoring.

Welsh health minister Rod Richards welcomed the report. He said: 'Our main concern now is that the management of community care is in good order when it is handed over to the three new authorities in Gwynedd next April.

'We have written to Gwynedd CC asking them what action they are taking, and I have also asked the inspectorate to follow up the report with the new authorities when they take over these important responsibilities.'

The inspection suggests that a range of difficulties gave rise to the 1994-95 overspend, and to projections of the same overspend in 1995-96.

The two main factors were:

-- effective financial monitoring arrangements were not in place and key managers did not place any confidence in the information available in the interim

-- although there were warning messages, there was no co-ordinated managerial action in setting clear priorities

The summary of the bilingual report says that even though the council has had a creative approach which has been widely recognised and valued, there are important lessons for all of the new unitary authorities.

It suggests areas that should be addressed and action taken, so that authorities can learn from Gwynedd's experiences and build sound arrangements for the continuing implementation of the community care programme.

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