Agenda item

Financial Monitoring Report - Month 7


The Committee were made aware that the Performance, Finance and Customer Focus Overview and Scrutiny Committee met and highlighted the following areas of consideration for the Education and Children’s Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee:


              I.        Mitigation and weaknesses surrounding partner income of £500,000

            II.        Action plan to reduce agency spend 

           III.        Housing pressures and what was being done to ensure housing was provided

           IV.        Bespoke arrangements

            V.        Home to school transport

           VI.        Action plan for the red rag performance rating associated with children that had multiple child protection plans


David Northey, Interim Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer presented the report and highlighted the following key points:



The Children’s directorate had a gross overspend of £4.401 million with mitigations of £2.204 million which led to a net variance of £2.217 million;



Overspend of £4.4 million had been £1.8 million from placements and additional costs, £1 million of non-placement costs including pressures for legal costs. There had also been pressures on SEND short breaks and school transport;



There had been a plan to reduce the spend on the children in care placements budget however it was recognised that the service was a demand led service and some children had required care packages due to their complex needs;



Pressures in the Children’s budget for 2022/23 had either been due to high cost placements for children with either complex disabilities or specific needs which required a bespoke package. For those placements, officers met on a weekly basis to look at placement availability and to ensure assurances that the package was right;



It was reported that for every one placement there would be 100 local authorities bidding for the same placement;



There had been pressures on the Education, Participation and Skills budget linked to home to school transport for SEN children which was a statutory service. It was reported that although the demand had been static with the same number of miles the increase in costs had been due to the cost of fuel and increase from service providers from the decrease in drivers;


In response to questions raised it was reported that:



Mitigations of £500,000 on the Children’s budget from the Integrated Care Boards (ICB) had previously been awarded by the Local Commissioning Group. Conversations had took place over a number of months and on a regular basis to try and resolve the issue;



A full review of Section 75 agreements with the NHS would be undertaken to review key areas of joint funding and included how the NHS and Plymouth City Council worked better to support Children’s services;



Plymouth had been below the national average for the number of unaccompanied asylum seekers, it was acknowledged however the costs of care packages and costs of services for those children and young people were not covered by the funding provided by government;



Plymouth City Council did employ a number of agency workers as social workers, but this had not been to the volume that other local authorities had been experiencing. Plymouth had been in the process of recruiting international social workers and they would begin to join the service in February 2023. Officers had been working on a new recruitment and retention strategy for the service;


The committee agreed to:


      i.        Note the forecast revenue monitoring position at period 7 as set out in the report in the sum of £4.104 million





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