To consider a report of the Director of Children’s Services and the Director of Corporate Resources regarding the Revenue Budget 2019/20.
To consider the report of the Director of Children’s Services and Director of Corporate Resources prior to the decision of the Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services.
The Committee received a report and presentation on the Children’s Services Revenue Budget (Item 9 in the Minute Book). The representative of the Director of Children’s Services took Members through the presentation slides and highlighted key aspects of the medium term financial strategy (MTFS) position, and it was noted that there was an anticipated delay in some elements of the delivery of cash release for the Tt2019 programme which was factored into the MTFS. Attention was also drawn to the 2.99% increase in council tax which was the maximum amount permitted and in line with the referendum limit. The key aspects of the Chancellor’s budget in relation to Children’s Services were also highlighted, as well as key aspects of the provisional local government finance settlement for 2019/20. In relation to this, it was noted that the NHB baseline figure was maintained at 0.4%, with the HCC allocation at £4.9m which was built into the MTFS. It was also explained that £2.993m had been allocated for additional funding for each of the next two years for the high needs block.
Key features of the reserves strategy were explained and it was noted that more than half of the total reserves at £338.6 million were committed to existing revenue programmes and capital spend. Members noted the £27.6 million set aside to mitigate risks and the detailed breakdown of available reserves. It was highlighted that an unallocated balance of £29.4 million would prepare for future draws beyond 2020. The key message from children’s services in relation to Transforming the Council to 2019 was that there was no new savings proposals to consider as part of the budget setting process as these had all been achieved in advance.
Cllr Steve Forster left the meeting at this point in proceedings.
The Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services spoke to this item and stated that the County Council couldn’t predict extra funding but would continue to make extra representations.
In response to Member questions it was heard:
· That even though services were stable, there were always immediate risks and structural risks to services. Structural risks were seen as relatively low risk, and transformation to 2019 had helped to address these with £6.5 million spent on front line social work. In relation to risks, it was noted that sudden external factors could be hard to anticipate.
· In relation to unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC), there wasn’t public funding available for this, but it was a statutory duty to provide care when cases arose, and to have a good amount of monetary reserves to address unexpected pressures. This also remained a significant pressure and had the number of UASC had significantly increased since last year.
· That whilst some risks couldn’t be pre-empted, children’s safety would never be put in danger.
· That the predicted rate of children being looked after was just under 50 per 10,000, and there was a need to invest to have the right services to meet demand, and to plan this at the earliest possible ... view the full minutes text for item 90