TRAFFORD Council is set to launch an investigation into how it failed to spot a £6m shortfall which could prevent it balancing the books for 2014/2015.

The announcement has led leader of the opposition, Cllr David Acton, to call for an urgent meeting, over what he termed ‘gross mismanagement’.

The council’s pronouncement follows a review of its original budget, which revealed its original forecast of cuts in the current budget of up to £17 million would now rise to up to £23 million.

Reacting to the news that an additional £6 million in cuts would now have to be found, council leader, Cllr Sean Anstee, said: “I have asked for a detailed review into what happened and what lessons can be learned."

According to local authority bosses, the fault lies with the costs associated with caring for vulnerable people in the borough, particularly the elderly and adults with a learning difficulties, which it says has increased considerably compared to previous assumptions.

Council officials failed to pick up on the additional demand, which was not highlighted in the regular budget monitoring reports, and was therefore not incorporated into base assumptions when the budget for this financial year was set in February.

Cllr Acton said: “It is clear that the Conservatives have grossly mismanaged their Budget to the tune of £6 million.

“This will result in further massive cuts to services for the people of Trafford. The Conservatives have been utterly incompetent to allow such a massive overspend to happen and not to report this in their recent 2014/15 budget proposals.

“This incompetence will have severe adverse implication to service users.

“Serious questions have to be asked about why the Conservative leadership did not have financial checking systems in place to pick up such irregularities in spending patterns.

“I call on the leader and deputy leader to apologise for their mismanagement of the budget.

Cllr Anstee added: “Providing adult social care to vulnerable members of our community is a statutory duty of the council and one we take very seriously, but it should be recognised that by its very nature the service is demand led and if we care for an increased number of people the costs will be higher.

“I recognise that the increased cost of social care will place considerable strain on our already limited resources and require further difficult decisions for savings to be made, but that is the right and responsible step to take as we continue to care for the most vulnerable members of our community.”