Agenda item

BUDGET MONITORING 2018/19

Minutes:

Report ED18073

 

The Sub-Committee considered the budget monitoring position for 2018/19 based on activity up to the end of September 2018.  The position reflected in the report was an overspend of £2,030k. This position assumed that further management action would be taken throughout the year to maintain the current position.

 

An element of the Education Budget was classed as Schools’ Budget and was funded by the dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). Grant conditions required that any over or under spend be carried forward to the next financial year.  The Schools budget was predicted to overspend by £354k 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. In addition £166k of the carry forward figure had been set aside for a clawback of Early Years funding. This gave an estimated DSG balance at the end of the financial year of £472k.  The High Needs element of the DSG received additional funding of £1m in 2018/19 from Council resources and the overspend included this contribution.

 

The Children’s Social Care division was overspending by in excess of £1,996k (net of management action of £700k).  For the budget in 2018/19 growth of £2,206k was given. This was partially offset by agreed 2018/19 management actions of £1,088k, leaving a net budget increase of £1,118k. The management actions had not all been found in year (about £500k remained) and this had contributed to the overspend position.  Placements for children continued to be a pressure area. The overspend before management action stood at £3,085k.  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.  Another risk area for placements was the Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker Children cohort. Bromley were experiencing higher levels of children entering the Borough.  Whilst there was grant available, it did not cover the costs of the young people being looked after.  There was also a small overspend predicted on staffing across the division of £75k (excluding BYSP and EIFS). This was being monitored closely and it was hoped that further strides would be made to move away from agency staff social workers during the year.

 

The Chairman noted that in the previous day’s budget the Chancellor of the Exchequer had allocated further funding for Children’s Social Care.  It was expected that this would result in an additional £2.2m funding for the Local Authority.  Capital funding for Schools had also been announced which equated to an additional £10k for each primary school and an additional £50k for each secondary school.  It was noted that the Comprehensive Spending Review was still to come and this was likely to affect the Local Authority’s funding.

 

In response to a question the Head of ECHS Finance confirmed that if more children that were high cost came through Children’s Social Care it was likely that there would be a rise in the figures for the next budget monitoring report.  The Service currently did not budget for high-cost placements as these were hard to predict however this would be reviewed as part of the upcoming budget setting process.

 

The Head of ECHS Finance confirmed that colleagues in Bromley CCG and Bromley Healthcare were currently reviewing the redesign of the Speech and Language Service and this would be reflected in the 2019/20 budget.  Furthermore the report concerning the Children’s Commissioning Plan for Sufficiency and Placements would be reconsidered by the Commissioning Board in due course.

 

The Chairman noted that the Education, Children and Families Select Committee had undertaken a detailed review of the Children’s Social Care Budget at its last meeting on 16th October 2018.  The Select Committee was due to review the Education Budget at a Special Meeting to be held on 12th December 2018.

 

A Member raised concerns surrounding the fact that it appeared that the Local Authority did not fully cover the costs to schools when more challenging pupils were placed in mainstream provision.  The Member stressed that this needed to be reviewed and a long-term approach adopted as it was more cost-effective to place pupils in mainstream schools rather than relying on specialist provision.  It was suggested that if the full costs to the school was provided by the Local Authority it was more likely that the schools would be willing to take the children but under the current arrangements schools were having to take funding from other pupils in order to adequately support the more challenging pupils.  It was agreed that the Head of ECHS Finance would circulate the figures concerning the number of children that schools had turned down based on economic viability as well as details of the per pupil funding allocation in mainstream schools.

 

Action Point 1: That the Head of ECHS Finance circulate the figures concerning the number of children that schools had turned down based on economic viability as well as details of the per pupil funding allocation in mainstream schools.

 

A Member queried why children that were in receipt of SEN Transport were required to complete a detailed assessment form every year.  It was suggested that the assessment may form part of the statutory review of the plan but as the officers did not have detailed knowledge of the assessment process further information would be provided following the meeting.

 

Action Point 2: that Officers confirm why there is a requirement for the parents of children in receipt of SEN Transport to complete an assessment form every year.

 

Finally, in response to a question, the Head of ECHS Finance agreed to ask the Director of Education to provide further information concerning the number of service redesign exercises being undertaken as part of the SEND Review.

 

Action Point 3: That the Director of Education provide further information concerning the number of service redesign exercises being undertaken as part of the SEND Review.

 

 

RESOLVED: That the Portfolio Holder be recommended to note that the latest projected overspend of £2,030,000 is forecast on the controllable budget, based on information as at September 2018.

 

 

 

 

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