FINANCIAL irregularities emerged last night which have further “scarred” Wirral Council’s reputation as it was revealed more than £600,000 has been spent without the necessary authorisation.

The issue is considered to be so serious that council leader Cllr Jeff Green has instructed Wirral’s chief internal auditor to carry out an urgent investigation - and for the report to be on his desk within a week.

The leader’s concern was triggered by a request to cabinet last night for its approval to transfer £632,928 from the regeneration and housing budget to cover an unexpected overspend by the Department for Adult Social Services(DASS).

Councillor Green said funding somehow had been used to pay for a “Supported Living” programme in Birkenhead, West Wirral and Wallasey, against the council’s own advice.

Councillor Green said: “This has all the hallmarks of lots of issues this council recently has been scarred by.

“What seems to have happened here is a financial arrangement has been entered into without full approval.

“I’m really, really concerned about what’s happened here.

“I want the chief internal auditor to carry out an inquiry, and for the report on my desk in a week, detailing what went on.”

The Supported Living programme is designed to help vulnerable people live independent lives.

But when “personal budgets” were introduced for adults in need of care, many services formerly provided by the local authority were “outsourced” to the private sector.

It was agreed and understood that paying for Supported Living would not be be included in the contracts.

However this now appears to be incorrect – creating a spectacular overspend in DASS accounts.

The document studied by cabinet says: “Unfortunately, contrary to agreed understanding, adult social services had including housing support resources in people’s personal budgets.

“In effect, Supporting People hours and funding were included. While there is no additional cost to the council, this was against previous advice."

It says the transfer of funds “will be in the interests of the council as a whole.“

It concluded: “This action will ensure that the council continues to protect vulnerable individuals, with learning disabilities within their accommodation and funds and preserves their agreed packages of care and support at their assessed level.”

The discovery of the overspend is unlikely to do much to improve the reputation of the beleagured council which is already under-fire for social services abuse and cover-ups revealed by whistle-blower Martin Morton, among others, to independent consultant Anna Klonowski.

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