FINANCE: Cumbria primary care trust’s 2011-12 financial plan assumes it will be able to use the two per cent of its budget held back by NHS North West to offset the £5.9m deficit recorded by the commissioner last year.

The 2011-12 NHS operating framework requires strategic health authorities to hold back two per cent of PCT’s budgets to spend on one-off, or “non-recurrent” items.

Cumbria’s latest finance report states that its financial plan for this year is “based upon the explicit assumption that the full 2 per cent top-slice will be made available to off-set the 2010/11 reported deficit and the full balance to address non-recurring expenditure commitments within the PCT’s budget”.

It adds that at the time the budget was approved by the PCT board, in March, it included £4m of unidentified cost improvement programme savings. “[That] has now been addressed owing to some favourable contract settlements outside Cumbria along with slippage in some investment programmes.”