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.