A HEALTH body looks set to tighten its belt even more after an "extremely challenging" start to the year.

In a report due before the West Dunbartonshire health and social care partnership (HSCP), officers say the department is heading for a £1 million overspend this year.

As part of the report, the budget deficit - which currently sits at around £235,000 and is expected to rise - is described as "significant" due to how close it is to the black hole in last year's partnership budget.

In a separate report, which assesses several areas of risk for the department, the chances of "failing to deliver HSCP priorities within allocated budget" are assessed as being "certain", with the impact likely to be "critical".

The Risk Register, which will go before the HSCP during the same meeting, also outlines a number of mitigating actions, including the application of reserves, the implementation of a recovery plan and planning next year's budget earlier to better identify black holes in funding.

In the funding process for the current financial year, funds were ploughed into the partnership in a bid to alleviate the pressure, something which appears not to have worked.

Managers at the department are currently working under "strict" measures to cut costs, including not re-hiring for vacant positions in some circumstances, gaining formal approval for premium rate overtime and spending being limited essential IT and other equipment.

Despite the measures put in place, further plans are being developed to shave even more cash.

Details are expected at future meetings as to what the new course of action will entail.

The primary pressure is coming from the social care side of the partnership, with health expected to break even by the end of the financial year.

Half a million pounds is expected to be overspent in community placements, which includes cash going to families looking after a sick, disabled or elderly person, with a further £800,000 over budget spend on the residential accommodation of younger people.

The main cause of the residential pressure external placements at residential schools and secure places, despite £400,000 already being pumped into the department by bosses when the last budget was agreed.

When all other incomes and expenditures are considered, the department projects it will be £954,000 in the hole come April.

Plans have also been hatched to dip into the reserves of the partnership, which currently stand at a little more than £7 million, in a bid to alleviate some of the pressure.

The report will go before the health and social care partnership on Wednesday, August 7.