The report presented the budget monitoring position for the 2022/23 financial year which showed an overspend of £8,305k based on activity to 30 September 2022.
The Director of Children, Education and Families underlined the cost pressures associated with children and young people presenting with increasing complexity of need which required high-cost services. The Local Authority continued to lobby for additional Government funding where appropriate and it was anticipated that the Government’s planned reforms of Special Educational Needs would help manage cost pressures in the medium to long-term. A Member was pleased to note that efficiencies in the area of Special Educational Needs Transport had generated savings which would equate to £640k per annum based on 190 school days if current savings levels were maintained. In response to a question from a Member, the Head of Children, Education and Families Finance advised that the significant increase in reported overspend between Quarters 1 and 2 of the 2022/23 financial year was primarily due to additional management information becoming available which better reflected the Portfolio’s financial position. It was anticipated there would be no further large increases to the overspend for the remainder of the 2022/23 financial year, except in relation to increased service demand, particularly for high needs services.
The Chairman queried why the original budget for Fostering, Adoption and Resources for the 2022/23 financial year had been agreed at £18,720k which was significantly less than actual spend on this budget line for 2021/22, and the Head of Children, Education and Families Finance would provide further clarification following the meeting. A Member further noted that action had been taken to raise the level of approval for all requests for children to come into care and for residential placements moving forward and the Director of Children, Education and Families advised that this was not about raising thresholds for care but simply providing a check to ensure children and young people were receiving the right level of support to meet their individual needs.
RESOLVED: That the Portfolio Holder be recommended to:
1) Note the latest projected overspend of £8,305,000 forecast on the controllable budget based on information as at September 2022; and,
2) Recommend the Council’s Executive agree the release of funds from the Central Contingency and from the Reserves as set out in Section 5 of Report CEF22046.