To receive a report from the Head of Democratic Services that introduces the Executive Board’s initial budget proposals for 2022/23 for consideration, review and comment on matters and proposals that fall within the Scrutiny Board’s remit.
The report of the Head of Democratic Services introduced the Executive Board’s initial proposals for 2022/23 for consideration, review and comment on matters and proposals that fall within the Scrutiny Board’s remit.
In attendance for this item were:
· Councillor Jonathan Pryor – Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education
· Councillor Fiona Venner – Executive Member for Adult and Children’s Social Care and Health Partnerships
· Sal Tariq – Director of Children and Families
· Julie Longworth – Deputy Director of Children and Families
· Shaheen Myers – Deputy Director of Learning
· Ruth Terry – Chief Officer Social Work
· Tim Pouncey – Chief Officer Resources and Strategy
This matter was considered in conjunction with the Financial Health Monitoring report (minute 44 refers).
The Chair highlighted that while the Board had already been initially consulted on the budget proposals during December, today’s meeting provided a further opportunity for Members to raise any questions and to formally capture any particular views and any recommendations that the Board may wish to make to the Executive Board.
It was noted that any comments or recommendations made by the Scrutiny Board would inform a composite Statement by Scrutiny to be submitted to the Executive Board for consideration at its meeting on 9th February 2022.
The Chief Officer Resources and Strategy gave a brief introduction and in relation to the Financial Health report, had advised of one variation which was the pay award of £1.4m in Children’s Services. Members were also advised that the projected overspend would be around £9m, with £7m relating to payments for providers of care for external residential care or private fostering.
The Board discussed the proposed budget for 2022/23, acknowledging the increasing demography and consequential demand pressures for services in Children and Families as well as in Adults and Health. Linked to this, the Board noted and welcomed the significant budget increase to the Children and Families directorate in response to the significant demand, demographic and inflationary pressures on the budget.
The Board was briefed on the specific Service Review proposal that falls within its remit. This involves investing in fostering and residential provision to create increased in-house capacity for children and young people and reduce reliance on externally commissioned fostering and residential placements.
The Board was advised that this will be achieved by reviewing the existing payment and support structure for foster placements that can manage and support the needs of more complex children. This will include the introduction of a placement type at a higher rate of fees with the expectation of returning children from residential care to family-based living. In addition, four new residential hubs will also be established to provide care for up to 16 children and will also provide additional capacity to support children with higher level needs, which in turn will create capacity in the current 4 person homes for those young people who can manage this level of care.
As a Service Review proposal, the Board noted that this will be subject to consultation and that the Council will be actively engaging with stakeholders (young people, staff and foster carers) and with communities on the potential changes, with feedback reported back to the Executive Board prior to a final decision being made.
The Board also noted the relevant Business As Usual proposals which reflected operational cost savings of £0.5m across the Children & Families directorate for 2022/23 and one off savings of £100K for 2022/23 and 2023/24 associated with schools premature retirement and FE pension costs.
a) That the budget proposals for 2022/23 as presented be noted.
b) That the Board’s comments are reflected as part of the Scrutiny submission to Executive Board for its consideration.