To update Cabinet on the Children’s
Services Directorate / Portfolio financial position and
implications for the forthcoming MTFS.
The Cabinet was provided with an update on the Children’s Services Directorate / Portfolio financial position and implications for the forthcoming MTFS.
Members were advised that the Children’s Services Directorate / Portfolio was facing unprecedented pressures in several business areas. The financial impact of these pressures was unmanageable within the Directorate / Portfolio. While some one-off funds had been secured, the short and medium-term implications of responding to the Joint Targeted Area Inspection (JTAI) and subsequent Improvement Notice issued by the Secretary of State, the National Panel Review into the deaths of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson and findings of further independent reviews in Solihull were considerable. The work thus far was highly necessary to safeguard and support the vulnerable children, young people, and families in the borough as the Council continued its improvement journey and established a preventative offer.
The report outlined the high-level implications of the current visible pressures and covered:
(a) 2022/23 Early Financial Forecast.
(b) Children’s Contingency Reserve forecast position
(c) MTFS 2023/24 to 2025/26 pressures
Whilst the position was an early draft that would need further iteration, the figures provided an indication of the scale of the current position and the MTFS implications. The content of the report would feed through into the Budget Strategy Group and be considered alongside other budgetary pressures in other Portfolios, and general inflationary pressures, which would need to be managed within the overall affordability level.
Upon receiving the report Members thanked Officers for providing a detailed report. The shortfall in social workers was a concern and one which some Members felt needed to be addressed by national government, as the problem was too big for local government to solve alone, and it was a national problem.
Clarification was sought in relation to the progress of Family Hubs as these were an important preventative measure. Members were advised that although capital funding had been provided, which was welcome, Officers were undertaking further work in relation to the revenue costs required over a five-year period to run the Hubs.
It was noted that potential funding could be available from Fairer Future Funding, and it was important that Health colleagues recognised the role they needed to play in supporting this area of work.
Given the important role early help had to play the Cabinet Member for Children and Education put forward an amendment to allow the allocation of £192,000 from the Budget Strategy reserve to support the implementation of Early Help Level 2.
(i) That the financial position for the 2022/23 financial year and the implications for the 2023/24 - 2025/26 MTFS be noted; and
(ii) That it be noted that the Children’s Services pressures have been reported to:
(a) 12th September – Children’s Services, Education & Skills Scrutiny Board
(b) 3rd October – Resources & Delivering Value Scrutiny Board.
(iii) That the allocation of £192,000 from the Budget Strategy Reserve in 2022/23 to support the implementation of Early Help Level 2 be approved.