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Agenda item

2011/12 Children & Young People's Budget Proposals

This report presents the Executive Member with the 2011/12 budget proposals for Children and Young People’s Services.  The Executive Member is asked to comment on the proposals.

Decision:

RESOLVED:            (i)            That it be confirmed that the budget proposals are in line

                                    with the council’s priorities.

 

(ii)That the recommendations be accepted by the Executive Member and forwarded to the Budget Executive for their consideration.

 

(iii)That officers be thanked for their work in preparing the report.

 

REASON:            In accordance with consultation on the budget.

Minutes:

The Executive Member received a report as part of the consultation on the 2011/12 budget process.  The report presented the 2011/12 budget proposals for Children & Young People’s Services and included:

 

  • 2011/12 Base Budget, as set out in paragraph 17 of the report;
  • Savings proposals, as set out in Annex 2 of the report;
  • Fees and charges, as set out in Annex 3 of the report;
  • Residential Homes and Foster Carers, Sharing Care, Adoption and Residence Order Weekly Allowances, as set out in Annex 4 of the report.

 

The Executive Member was invited to consider whether the budget proposals were in line with the council’s priorities and to comment on the budget proposals for savings and growth, which had been prepared by officers and contained in the report.  The proposals were intended to form part of the council’s budget to be considered by the Budget Executive on 15 February 2011.  Budget Council would be held on 24 February 2011 and would make decisions on the overall budget for the council.

 

The Executive Member requested that officers respond to the issues raised by the Unison representative earlier in the meeting.  Officers stated that there had been a constructive dialogue with the trade unions and that they were committed to this continuing.  The financial circumstances that the Authority was facing were unprecedented and were particularly challenging because the cuts to funding were front-loaded and could not be introduced incrementally.  Attention was drawn to the consultation that had taken place, as detailed in paragraph 13 of the report, and of residents’ views that funding for children’s social care should remain the same.  The proposals that had been put forward did not include any reduction in social workers or core child protection capacity.  There remained a commitment to preventative work, as evidenced by the funding that it was proposed be allocated to the family intervention project. There were no proposals to close youth facilities or children’s centres.  The directorate would embrace the opportunities for new partnerships and was looking to integrate and restructure service delivery whilst maintaining the focus on providing high quality and safe provision for children and young people in the city. 

 

In respect of youth services and Connexions, attention was drawn to a reduction in the area-based grant which had not been passed on.  Officers had prepared a paper outlining initial thoughts as to how the savings in this area could be achieved.  A more detailed paper, outlining options, would be presented to the Executive Member in the Spring. Consultation would take place with staff and with schools regarding the options.  It was acknowledged that there was uncertainty about future arrangements in view of the debate that was taking place nationally on this issue.

 

Referring to the proposals in respect of youth services, officers stated that the intention was to retain universal services, including localities, but that there would be cuts.  The network of youth provision was valued and there would be a greater emphasis on more targeted provision. 

 

In respect of children’s centres it would be possible to achieve significant savings without impacting on current levels of service.  A comprehensive review was taking place to identify how the savings could be found.  The focus was on retaining all nine children’s centres and the Toy Bus Service and to minimise the impact on frontline delivery.

 

Officers confirmed that in preparing the proposals for savings, they had been looking at a two-year period so that they did not find themselves in the same situation next year.  This would also enable the changes to be introduced in a planned and phased way.  Further reports would be presented to the Executive Member in May or June. 

 

The Executive Member stated that it was important that youth centres were kept open and she asked officers if there had been interest from organisations wishing to partner the authority in the provision of youth services.  Officers confirmed that there had, including approaches from faith groups and voluntary organisations.  The Executive Member stated that it was important that such dialogue took place.

 

The Executive Member stated that children’s centres were very important and were valued.  The Authority would wish to keep them open.  It was, however, important that they were targeted at families in most need.

 

At the request of the Executive Member, officers gave assurances that the proposals would not result in cuts to safeguarding arrangements or in the number of social workers. 

 

Referring to ACES64 and ACES65, the Executive Member asked officers how the removal of the posts would impact on the service provided.  Officers stated that the 0.5fte post within the Speech and Language Team was currently vacant.  A review of the service had achieved efficiencies and hence the loss of the post would not lead to a reduction in the support provided.  The 0.4fte post in the specialist teaching for the deaf team was not currently occupied.  Although there would be a reduction in capacity, officers would be working to ensure that this was carefully managed.

 

The Executive Member sought further information as to the implications of ACES64.  Officers stated that the proposals in respect of short breaks for disabled children would not result in a reduction in the number of children and young people receiving short breaks.  Details were given of the provision that would be in place.  The proposed budget would sustain the provision that was currently in place but would limit the capacity to extend further the number of short break activities, which had been an aspiration of the Authority.

 

The Executive Member stated that she was pleased to note the proposals in respect of foster carers allowances and she paid tribute to the work that foster carers carried out. 

 

Officers informed the Executive Member that there would be a need to give further consideration to the new relationship with the voluntary sector.  Consideration would also need to be given as to transitional funding for those projects that were having the greatest impact.

 

The Executive Member was updated on the position in respect of the Schools Budget.  Officers reported that proposals were now in place to bridge the budget gap that had been referred to in paragraph 28 of the report.  The proposals were due to be considered by the Schools Forum.

 

The Executive Member stated that she appreciated the way in which the trade unions were engaging with management regarding the proposals and she stressed the importance of ensuring that meaningful consultation was ongoing.

 

RESOLVED:            (i)            That it be confirmed that the budget proposals are in line

                                    with the council’s priorities.

 

(ii)That the recommendations be accepted by the Executive Member and forwarded to the Budget Executive for their consideration.

 

(iii)That officers be thanked for their work in preparing the report.

 

REASON:            In accordance with consultation on the budget.

Supporting documents:

 

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