Tusla says it may require €25m extra in 2014

Legal costs and high demand for private residential and foster care services cited

 Tusla   said this week  that the agency   that although future legal costs would be reduced, “this will not be evidenced in 2014 as a consequence of the level of inherited commitments”.  Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Tusla said this week that the agency that although future legal costs would be reduced, “this will not be evidenced in 2014 as a consequence of the level of inherited commitments”. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has said it anticipates that it will require a supplementary budget in the order of €25 million for 2014. This figure is over and above the €26 million designated to the agency in Budget 2015 for the provision of services and capital funding next year.

The overrun is partially due to legal costs. In briefing documents prepared for the then Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan in May, the secretary general of the department noted that legal costs were “amongst the issues giving rise to expenditure problems” for the agency and referred to the “inadequacy of the budget” transferred from the HSE for this purpose. The document said “efforts [were] already under way to reduce expenditure” on legal costs.

However, this week the agency said that although future legal costs would be reduced, “this will not be evidenced in 2014 as a consequence of the level of inherited commitments”.

The agency said another contributory factor was that the terms of the Haddington Road agreement would have required it to reduce the number of social workers by 78, a move which it said “could not be countenanced”, but for which alternative savings had not been achieved.

The Department of Children said it acknowledged that it had proven “challenging” for the agency to provide the range of service required of it within its €609 million budget allocation for 2014. The department said strong demand for private residential and foster care services in 2014 had also affected the agency’s budget.

Asked whether the department had requested a supplementary budget for the agency, a spokeswoman replied: “The agency is implementing significant reform to seek to achieve greater value for money and efficiencies . . . and the progress in this regard is subject to ongoing monitoring and review,” she said.

“On the basis of the cash draw down by the agency to date, it has not been necessary for the department to seek a supplementary estimate for the agency. In the event that supplementary funding is required to meet the running costs of the agency in 2014, the department will consider the matter, and discuss with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in the first instance”.

In the budget the agency was allocated €635 million in funding for 2015, including over €12 million in capital funding, an increase of €26 million or 4.3 per cent over the 2014 provision.