Agenda item

Children, Education and Families Portfolio Draft Budget 2023/24


Report CEF23002


The report considered the Portfolio Holder’s draft 2023/24 Budget which incorporated the future cost pressures and initial draft budget saving options reported to the Council’s Executive on 18 January 2023. Members were requested to consider the initial draft budget being proposed and to identify any further action that might be taken to reduce cost pressures facing the Council over the next four years with a view to the Council’s Executive making recommendations to Council on the 2023/24 Council Tax levels.  There were still outstanding issues and areas of uncertainty remaining and any further updates would be included in the 2022/23 Council Tax report to the meeting of the Council’s Executive on 8 February 2023.


In reviewing the report, a Member highlighted a reference to the need to make further savings within the Portfolio in future years.  The Head of Finance: Children, Education and Families confirmed that consideration might need to be given to reducing the scope or level of some services in future years, depending on service demand and funding levels.  Service transformation would be a key mechanism to deliver such savings via more efficient and cost-effective services, and the recent transformation of SEND transport provided a good example of a service being delivered more efficiently whilst supporting approximately ten young people to build life skills and independence via travel training.  Work was also ongoing to establish a new Special Free School in the Borough which was anticipated to provide a much needed in-borough offer to Bromley children whilst reducing the number of costly out-of-borough placements and associated costs such as SEND transport. 


With regard to future cost savings, the Local Authority’s first priority would always be to its statutory responsibilities; however, it was important to understand the dynamic with discretionary services as these were often key to reducing the pressure on statutory services, such as through early intervention.  Recruitment and retention of in-house social workers would remain an area of primary focus including via recruitment fairs and international recruitment, and 8-10 international social workers were due to start at the Local Authority in Spring 2023.  A Member suggested that offering a clear career path in the Local Authority would help attract and retain in-house social workers and the Director of Children, Education and Families confirmed that this was one of the options being considered.  In response to a question from a Member, the Director of Children, Education and Families advised that work was underway to explore the potential transformation of Youth Services into a Community Interest Company that would enable the Service to generate an element of commercial income alongside its Local Authority funding stream.  Another Member queried the significant budget set aside for Total Excluded Recharges and the Head of Finance: Children, Education and Families explained that these related to services provided by other Local Authority Departments, such as HR or Legal services and that further details would be circulated to Members following the meeting.




·  The update on the financial forecast for 2023/24 to 2026/27 be noted;


·  The initial draft 2023/24 budget be noted as a basis for setting the 2023/24 budget; and,


·  The Council’s Executive be recommended to note the comments of the Children, Education and Families Budget Sub-Committee on the initial draft 2023/24 budget at its meeting on 8 February 2023.

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