PLANS for new multimillion-pound super care homes in York were flawed and failed to make £600,000 of savings, a report has found.
Newly released reports by external auditors Mazars have sparked further concerns about City of York Council's adult social care services.
The auditors said £600,000 from the Elderly Persons’ Homes (EPH) programme to replace seven council care homes in York and build new homes on the former Lowfield and Burnholme school sites was miscalculated, but the council said the report does not refer to the current tender but a previous one.
The report states: “£600,000 of planned savings from EPHs were not delivered because of issues around building new units and assumptions were flawed. The original estimated savings were too ambitious and members made changes to the project. There was no effective challenge of the external expert’s assumptions. In addition savings were double counted."
The adult social care department is having to manage reduced budgets alongside an ageing population in need of services.
Last year there were 18 per cent more 65 to 69-year-olds and 14 per cent more over-90s than just two years before, Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones told the Audit and Governance Committee on Wednesday.
He said after the meeting: “The council is finalising an overall implementation plan for the modernisation and transformation of adult social care in the light of new legislative changes brought in by the Care Act which will ensure that services for some of our most vulnerable residents are fit for the future. The transformation, or ‘rewiring’ work will involve a significant programme of customer, partner and staff engagement to ensure that we are providing the services that people need.
"This is not about pedantically sticking to a specific number of beds, particular buildings or established models of delivery but about ensuring that we have high-quality provision that promotes and protects the well-being of all of our residents and meets the needs of the most vulnerable. This work may be taking a little longer than originally anticipated, however I am sure York residents understand that we must carefully balance the requirement to cater for future needs against the reality of the current financial climate in which we operate."
He said a more detailed action plan of how to address issues was expected in September.
Cllr Lynn Jeffries, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for social care, said: “This independent report confirms our worst fears about Labour’s handling of the [EPH] project...It is now clear that promised savings have not been delivered because Labour’s plans were flawed. The failure to make these savings is currently having a serious knock-on effect on the wider social care budget. "
Cllr Chris Steward, leader of the Conservative party, said: "It is rare for an audit report to be so damning, but it confirms our worries about the state of adult social care."
Linsay Cunningham-Cross, cabinet member for health, said: "We are committed to providing the best possible care for our most vulnerable residents in what remain extremely challenging times. We face unprecedented levels of funding cuts from the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government at a time of ever-increasing demand for adult social services. We need radical and ambitious actions to successfully address these challenges and that is what we are committed to delivering."