[Mark Taylor,Director Finance, to present report on savings, redesign and income generation proposals in 2017/18]
Cllr Val Gibson, Cabinet Member Children and Young People, introduced the report and explained that a report detailing budget reduction and income generation amounting to £13.5 million was presented to Cabinet for approval. The panel were invited to comment on the proposals that fall within its remit as part of the formal consultation process.
Alison Shannon, Finance Business Partner, gave a brief outline of the proposals in Appendix B and C.
A summary of the panel discussion and comments on the proposals are shown below:
Supervised Contact Efficiencies
The panel discussed the implications for children of the proposal to decommission the contract with Spurgeons (a voluntary organisation). Emma Bennett, Service Director Children, commented that as a result of the reduction in demand for the service that a decision had already been made to de-commission the service. The Service Director reassured the panel that if there was a change in level of demand for supervised contact that the service could be recommissioned.
Children’s Transformation Inclusion Support Income Generation
The panel discussed the proposals for delivering traded services to schools.
Youth Offending Team Efficiencies
The panel queried the decision to delete the vacant posts and the implications for the Youth Offending Team service which had rated as being high performing following an inspection. The panel queried the nature of the roles that will be deleted. The Service Director advised the panel that the vacancies had been held for some time and was confident that by changing working practices that effects of the decision could be mitigated.
The panel expressed concern about the decision as evidence suggested that that there had been no change in the demand for services provided by Youth Offending Team; which had been rated as being an exemplar in a previous report presented to the panel. The panel requested a report be presented to a future panel meeting to show if the proposed changes have had an impact on the services provided by YOT.
Children’s Services Transformation
Cllr Gibson explained that the reasons for the reduction in the number of looked after children and the range of work done to build on previous progress aimed at reduced demand on specialist services.
Cllr Gibson explained the reduction in the number of looked after children from a total of 800 (2014) to current figure of 627, supported by detailed financial modelling work gave her confidence that the service could achieve the budget target of £2.5 million. The panel was advised that it costs the Council approximately £40,000 a week when a child is placed into care - this figure is based on the modelling work and comparisons with other local authorities.
The Service Director commented on the range of work being done to ensure that the right children are placed into care and other forms of targeted interventions used to support other children to remain with their families, where appropiate, as part of the transformation programme. The Service Director commented that a more targeted approach by the service will lead to change in the LAC profile.
The panel commented on the impact of proposals on the caseload for social workers and the work undertaken to monitor the situation. The Service Director reassured the panel that the social worker caseload is regularly reviewed and additional resources will be provided if needed to meet changes in demand.
The Service Director gave examples of different targeted interventions aimed at identifying families in need of support as part of the early help service offer to families. The Service Director advised that the plan is to provide more intensive support to families in a home setting at a much earlier stage with the aim that this will reduce the likelihood of a child requiring to being placed into care in the future.
The Youth Council representative queried if the members of the Children in Care Council had been consulted about the budget proposals. The Service Director commented that the Children in Care Council had been consulted about the about wider service changes proposed in the budget report.
1. The panel comments on the draft budget 2017/18 be included in the report to Scrutiny Board.
2. That a report be presented to a future meeting of the panel to show if the proposed changes to the Youth Offending Team service have impacted on the services provided to young people.