Agenda item

2023/24 Budget Planning Report For Services Within The Remit Of The Children, Families & Education Select Committee


The Director - Service Finance & Transformation introduced the 2023/24 Budget Planning Report for services within the remit of the Committee.


Officers highlighted the challenges that the Council was working to address, including the reduction in government funding, the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the significant inflationary pressures facing the nation. Examples of how the pandemic continued to affect Council revenues.


Inflation was recognised as a larger challenge that officers were seeking to address through the identification of opportunities for more effective use of resources. It was reported that there had been an overspend of £85k in the Children, Families & Education portfolio. Moving forward, the Council would be looking to central Government for additional funding to help further address such pressures.


In terms of services being transformed and how this was affecting the quality of services delivered, it was explained that through the Covid – 19 Pandemic there was learning which had now adapted the way services were delivered. This was an issue faced by all local authorities however the London Borough of  Hillingdon had a strong record of being able to change and innovate services to be delivered in a cost-effective way. There was robust monthly monitoring of demand led budgets and an ongoing transformation programme in place. In Children’s Services early intervention was important and programmes such as the Stronger Families work was a cost effective way of delivering those services.


In relation to designated schools and ring-fenced budgets, it was confirmed that the DSG was a ring fenced budget and there were a number of targets and savings that needed to be made to maintain the agreement with the Department for Education.


Having sufficiency was a key part of the safety valve agreement and there were plans in place to increase this in the Borough. It was acknowledged that children and young people would need acute provision and the safety valve agreement was around developing additional places in the Borough to meet the need. Whilst there was a strong offer for SEND transport, there was also active promotion of independent transport to support children and young people.


During Member questions it was noted that the Council was pressing government for further funding and consistently did this. For example with the increase in UASC, there had been regular communications with the Home Office and the Prime Minister’s office to ascertain the additional support available. There were also groups that lobbied Government to highlight the pressures facing local government.


In terms of the safety valve agreements and current pressures, it was acknowledged that savings targets needed to be met and the transformation project underway had an impact on the savings program. The Department for Education had developed a program called the better delivering better value scheme and there were a number of local authorities that had engaged in the process. There were two areas in the DSG work around capital work and the independent non maintained sector.


The Chairman confirmed that at the full Council meeting on 22 September 2022 there were motions and questions from the public on the matter of early years centres and these would be addressed then. It was also noted that any points raised on the fees and charges points fell outside of the Committee’s remit and would be addressed at full Council.


Officers were thanked for putting the report together particularly considering the Covid pandemic, inflation and other pressures.


RESOLVED:  That the Committee noted the financial context in which the 2023/24 budget setting process will take place in advance of detailed savings proposals being developed and approved at Cabinet in December 2022.

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