COUNCIL bosses say that an underspend in education is down to a lack of supply teachers.

East Renfrewshire Council (ERC) heard that it was expected to underspend on this year’s services by around £3.9 million.

Some of the savings are coming from the authority’s education budget – however not out of choice.

ERC says that there is simply not enough supply teachers, resulting in them spending less on wages than expected for the year.

ERC also received more money than it expected from external agencies.

A report delivered to ERC’s cabinet by its convener for corporate services, cllr councillor Ian McAlpine said: “As of January 6 the estimated year end positions shows a favourable variance on spending of £3,503,700 based on current information.

“Council tax collection has also been higher than budgeted with an additional income of £400,000 now anticipated, bringing the total forecast underspend on general fund services to £3,903,700.”

On spending in education, cllr McAlpine said: “The increased projected favourable variance is mainly due to an underspend in teaching costs due to a lack of availability of supply teachers and a higher than expected level of income from other agencies.”

The report also notes how the Health and Social Care Partnership – the council’s arms length body that works with the NHS to supply health care in the area – also underspent by around £679,000. The savings will be contributed to budgets for health care in the area.

The underspend also takes into account a pay rise across the board of one per cent.

However, the council does expect to overspend in some areas, but believes careful management can even out the books.

Cllr McAlpine added: “The report has highlighted a number of operational variances that require management action to ensure that expenditure will be in line with the budget at the end of the financial year.

“At this time it is expected that management action will lead to all overspends being recovered, that all underspends are consolidated wherever possible and that spending up to budget levels does not take place.”

Councillors were asked to accept the report and order that all ERC’s departments stay in budget and “take action” to prevent overspending.