To receive a report from the Head of Democratic Services that introduces the Executive Board’s initial budget proposals for 2023/24 for consideration, review and comment on matters and proposals that fall within the Scrutiny Board’s remit.
The Board received the report of the Head of Democratic Services which provided the context for formal consultation on the initial budget proposals that fall within the remit of the Board.
In attendance for item were;
· Councillor Fiona Venner, Executive Member for Adult and Children’s Social Care and Health Partnerships
· Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education
· Julie Longworth, Director of Children and Families
· Ruth Terry, Chief Officer for Social Work
· Tim Pouncey, Chief Officer Resources & Strategy
· Lucie McAulay, Head of Finance (Children and Families)
The Board noted that the Council has experienced significant financial challenges, which are projected to continue into the next financial year.
The Board noted the following proposals to minimise costs within the Children and Families Directorate to improve the financial health of the overall Council. These included;
· Proposed work with adolescents who are on the edge of the care system to prevent them being taken into care.
· An additional £1.6m to meet demand and demography pressures and £2m to manage budget pressures within transport services. This additional funding will be used to meet existing pressure and also address inflationary pressure.
· £11.5m of savings proposals for 2023/24 through Business As Usual practice and Service Reviews. The latter require additional consultation before they are implemented. In total the Children and Families budget represents 25% of the Council’s net managed budget.
· Partnership learning with Adults Social Care, where there is expertise in capacity and commissioning, and with negotiation. This produces more competitive pricing, which due to the high costs involve will be cost efficient work.
· The Transformation Team agenda was discussed as an important council-wide initiative to drive savings. This has improved collaborative working with colleagues from transport, residential care and housing which has produced transformational system improvement of the council. This has a quality-of-life impact for children in semi-independent living and for supporting them into their own tenancies.
· The work involved in developing partnerships, cross-directorate workstreams, data analysis was noted as requiring capacity with an approach of secondment being proposed.
· The cost of the pay award to the Directorate along with inflation will cost around £8.3million.
· The Board noted the financial impact that the cost of living and pandemic have had on children and families and this will be noted in the composite statement that will go to Executive Board on 8 February.
· The Board commented on the transformation agenda within Children’s Services, mental health services for young people and the impact Covid has had on the mental health of young people, care leavers also unfortunately having children who require care, continuing development of preventative approaches and assurances around services to prevent teenage conception.
The Chair noted that the pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on Children and Families, and that this shall be noted in the Board’s recommendations.
That having noted and considered the relevant information provided within the submitted report on the proposed budget for 2023/24 and provisional budgets for 2024/25 and 2025/26, the comments made by the Board be taken into consideration as part of the Scrutiny Boards’ submission to Executive Board as it prepares its final proposals for consideration by full Council on 22nd February 2023.