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Five government departments to go over budget

Five government departments to go over budget

Tuesday 10 September 2019

Five government departments to go over budget


Jersey's government is predicting it will end the year with a "small deficit" of £8million, and that five departments will overspend their budgets, according to a new mid-year financial report.

The financial assessment states that overall departmental outgoings are currently forecast to be £600,000 less than budgeted thanks to savings in areas such as Customer and Local Services (CLS).

However, a number of departments are set to exceed their budgets by the end of the year, with Children, Young People, Education and Skills (CYPES) and the Chief Operating Office (COO) being the biggest culprits.

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Pictured: Departmental expenditure forecasts.

Express took a closer look at each department...

Children, Young People, Education and Skills

(Predicted £2.2m overspend)

The department has already spent £1.4 million more than its budget, but the figure is expected to rise to £2.2million by the end of the year.

While pupil numbers are fewer than estimated, leading to a surplus of funds, this is also causing schools to overspend due to a lower overall budget and static non-variable costs such as staffing and facilities. The increasing number of pupils with special needs is also said to be putting a strain on budgets.  

A number of service areas are also overspending because of pressure arising from recruitment costs, children placement costs, safeguarding costs and the cost of complex needs and children in these. This is offset by vacancies in the service.

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Pictured: Funding critical programmes such as cyber security has led to a £2million overspend in the COO department.

Chief Operating Office

(Predicted £2m overspend)

The department is set to outgrow its budget by £2million due to funding programmes such as cyber security and "hired service costs" associated with the 'OneGov' restructuring process.

Pay disputes, the modernisation programme and support for the new HR/Payroll system have also led to “temporary hired service costs.” 

Unfunded staff costs and professional fees associated with the support of contract review and management to deliver savings in 2020 have also played a part in the overspend.

The department has however pledged to postpone recruitment, including in the area of Business Architecture and Portfolio Management to help it stay within budget.

Office of the Chief Executive

(Predicted £0.8m overspend)

Various staff and non-staff costs combined with a smaller income than planned from the Regulation of Care legislation are causing the department a forecast overspend of £0.8million.

The department says it aims to reduce the figure by managing vacancies and reviewing its non-staff expenditure.

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Pictured: Delays in the introduction of a new tax system have put financial pressure on the government.

Treasury and Exchequer

(Predicted £0.4m overspend)

The department that looks after the island’s finances and financial assets is expected to spend £0.4 million more, even though by the end of June it had an underspend of £0.1million, due to delays in implementing the new taxes computer system, which has led to staffing-related budget pressure.

Strategic Policy, Performance and Population

(Predicted £0.4m overspend)

The newly created department - which deals with strategic policy, planning and performance to achieve the ambitions of islanders for the future - is reporting a half-a-million overspend, which should go down to £0.4 million over the next six months, due to restructuring costs. 

Transfers of a number of vacant posts from other departments are expected to help make up this shortfall.

Growth Housing and Environment (GHE)

(Predicted balanced budget)

The department is currently expected to end the year with a balanced budget, despite departmental pressures caused in part by issues at Fort Regent, which have led to a loss of income following events cancellation and a reduction in Active Membership. 

Delays in implementing the RentSafe and EatSafe schemes have prevented the department from receiving the income it expected. It has, however, received more money than planned through the large volumes of contaminated waste from the Horizon development.

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Pictured: Closures at Fort Regent have caused GHE to miss on some money.

But the department also reported that maintenance costs on the island’s critical infrastructure are in the red. 

It is also expected that sale proceeds of the offices vacated before the move to Broad Street will “far exceed” the department’s costs and will be used to fund them. A number of property maintenance and refurbishment projects have been delayed until 2020 to ensure that the department remains within its cash limit. 

Justice and Home Affairs (JHA)

(Predicted £0.2m underspend)

The new department – which brings together key 'blue light' and emergency services together with Customs and Immigration, the Prison Service, the Health and Safety Inspectorate, and the States’ Official Analyst – is reporting a £0.6 million underspend - which will move to a forecast underspend of £0.2 million by the end of the year.

The variance is mainly due to increased income and an underspend in workforce costs offset by overspend on operational costs. 

Health and Community Services 

(Predicted £0.6m underspend)

HCS had a balanced budget at the end of June and is forecast to end the year having saved £600,000.

This is due to a combination of increased income – arising from charitable sources and Long Term Care benefits – and reduced workforce costs.

HCS has however had to pay “external bodies” more than budgeted, due to the referral of patients to UK hospitals and increasing costs of domiciliary care in the community. 

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Pictured: Customer and Local Services are set to save the most money out of all government departments.

Customer and Local Services (CLS)

(Predicted £4.8m underspend)

CLS is set to save £4.8 million by the end of the year, having already saved £2.3 million at the end of June, thanks to lower benefit claims, due to improved labour market conditions and the ongoing success of the Back to Work programme.

Overall, departments have spent £30.7 million on capital projects this far this year, a figure which should rise to £70.9 million by the end of the year.

While this is higher than in previous years, it reflects a number of major projects progressing this year, including the new Les Quennevais School and Sewage Treatment Works.

Read the full report by clicking here.

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