Agenda item

EDUCATION, CHILDREN AND FAMILIES BUDGET MONITORING

Minutes:

Report ED18059

 

The Sub-Committee considered the budget monitoring position for 2018/19 based on activity up to the end of May 2018.

 

Overall, the position for Education was a predicted overspend of £95k. The main areas of overspend were in Adult Education where there were pressures in staffing and on income generation from fee paying courses causing pressures of £155k.  The Schools budget was predicted to overspend by £392k in year. This would be deducted from the £1,180k carried forward from 2017/18. £188k of the brought forward balance had been allocated to support the central DSG services in year. This gave an estimated DSG balance at the end of the financial year of £600k.

 

The Children’s Social Care division was currently overspending by £1,524k (net of management action of £985k). Placements for children continued to be a pressure area. The overspend before management action stood at £2,492k overspent. The number of placements had increased above budgeted levels, particularly in residential homes, independent fostering arrangements and special guardianship arrangements. This was in part due to the increase in the number of children reaching the threshold for secure placements and no secure placements being available. The Committee noted that this was a national issue.  There was also a small overspend predicted on staffing across the division of £58k. This was being monitored closely and Members noted that further progress was being made in moving away from agency staff. There was also a small overspend in expenditure on ‘Staying Put’ of £24k and an underspend in accommodation of £65k in Leaving Care.

 

The Deputy Chief Executive reported successes in recruiting local in-house foster carers for Bromley children and this would help to reduce pressures on the budget.

 

In response to questions from the Sub-Committee the Deputy Chief Executive confirmed that he was confident that the right children were being taken into care.  There were two key decision makers for children being taken into care: the Deputy Chief Executive and the Interim Director of Children’s Social Care.  Children’s Social Care was a demand-led service and it was therefore difficult to predict the number of children that would enter the statutory care system.  The safety of children was the paramount consideration and if it was right that children were taken into care then they would be taken into care.  Financial challenges were a secondary consideration.  Noting the enormous variation in costs a Member suggested that it made sense to further promote in-house fostering.

 

The issue of recruiting foster carers for children with disabilities was also discussed.  A Member noted that more needed to be done to support these specialist foster carers and provide incentives to encourage more foster carers into this specialist area.  The Sub-Committee noted that the Education, Children and Families Select Committee would be undertaking a review which would encompass this at its next meeting on 16th October 2018 and it was agreed that this issue should be further explored at that meeting.

 

The Deputy Chief Executive reported that one of the implications of the Social Care Act 2017 was that children that had been adopted in Bromley, not necessarily through Bromley Adoption Agency, had a statutory right to access the virtual school.  Children Looked After would also be able to call on the services of the Local Authority up to the age of 25.

 

In response to a question concerning unaccompanied minors, the Deputy Chief Executive explained that an unaccompanied minor was a child who had fled from another country, who had travelled alone and had no parents to care for them, and who was under the age of 18.  There was a statutory duty for the Local Authority to care for them.  Bromley now had 23 unaccompanied minors but had not yet met its quota under the pan-London agreement.  There was an expectation that a further seven children could be placed in Bromley as the quota was 30.

 

In considering the under-collection of income within Adult Education, the Interim Director of Education confirmed that it was in fact an under achievement of income.  The Interim Director also explained that income from Adult Education was allocated into the central Council budget rather than being reinvested in the Service.

 

Turning to the Schools’ budget for 2019/20, the Interim Director of Education reported that in 2018/19 the Local Authority had been required to obtain approval from the Secondary of State to top-slice £1million from the Schools’ Block for the High Needs Block as the Schools’ Forum had not supported this proposal.  There had been sound reasons for doing this and the Secretary of State had approved the request.  The Schools’ Forum would once again be asked to make a continuing contribution to the High Needs’ Block and the Local Authority would need to demonstrate the economies that had been made, such as the Primary Outreach Service, but it was not clear whether the Schools’ Forum would feel minded to support the proposal.

 

RESOLVED: That the Portfolio Holder be recommended to:

 

(i)  Note that the latest projected overspend of £1,619,000 is forecast on the controllable budget, based on information as at May 2018; and

(ii)  Agree to the release of the carry forward funding as set out in section 5 of the report.


 

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