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Apologies and Substitutes
No apologies for absence were received.
Cabinet Member Updates
1) Mrs Bell said the latest data report on the NHS Vaccination programme in Kent and Medway had been published showing data up until 17 January 2021. 50,000 people aged over 80 and almost 58,000 under 80 years old had been given their first dose of the Covi-19 vaccination. A further 20,000 people had received a second dose of the vaccination. In total, 127,823 doses had been administered across the county by 17 January 2021.
Services for 41 Primary Care Networks covering 197 of 200 GP practices had started administering the Covid-19 vaccine. The Clinical Commissioning Group was working with the Primary Care Networks to see how the vaccination could be distributed to more sites and to address areas where travel distance to a vaccination site was more than 10 miles. Large vaccination centres and pharmacy-based services were being developed to increase capacity.
The CCG was working to meet the government’s target of vaccinations being rolled out to the top 4 priority groups by mid-February. Where services started later in parts of the county, the CCG was working on plans to provide the capacity needed. In Sandwich, Deal and Dover, vaccinations were being delivered by the neighbouring Primary Care Network from the Dover Health Centre Site. The PCN had been in a later wave of vaccination sites approved to start but first supplies of the vaccination were received on 14 January and the vaccination service began on 15 January 2021. To support catching up on priority groups, all Sandwich residents aged over 80 years old were being contacted to invite them to an additional vaccination service running from Broadstairs.
In Romney Marsh, the vaccination site at Lydd Airport had opened and KCC was providing support with transport for the centre. Mr Hills had been active alongside the Romney Marsh Day Centre, the local Community Warden and many volunteers acting as drivers and marshals to assist in running the vaccination centre.
Other Members had been involved directly in the delivery of the vaccination in their local areas, including Mr Butler, Ms Morton and others. Thanks were given to Members for their assistance.
There were 332 older people’s care homes in Kent and Medway and 237 homes had been vaccinated. A further 57 were due to be vaccinated within the week. Some homes could not be fully vaccinated whilst there was an outbreak within the setting.
The Minister for Social Care had written to local authorities setting out tasks to be carried out with the Care Quality Commission and NHS partners to help community-based care staff to get vaccinated. This included identifying providers of social care services and the number of eligible frontline social care workers employed and to ensure that employers received the appropriate national and local vaccination communications. The Adult Social Care team had complied with all recommendations and continued to work with providers to support staff to get the vaccine.
Symptom-free testing sites were to open in Herne and Gravesend, bringing the number of symptom-free testing centres to 24. ... view the full minutes text for item 204.
1) Mr Oakford said the report presented the position for KCC as of November 2020. The forecast revenue position excluding spending associated with schools and Covid-19, was an £11.8million underspend. This was an increase to the underspend of £7.3million since the last monitoring report. The money saved as an underspend was going to be needed for services when the lockdown was eased and children returned to schools.
2) There were building budget pressures in areas of the council such as those relating to mental health, domestic abuse and referrals to Children’s Services. All directorates had reported underspends but this had not taken into account the impact of the third lockdown.
3) Underspends that had been reported relating to Adult Social Care were due to less home care client hours being commissioned through homecare but this needed to be considered alongside the additional expenditure on homecare attributed to Covid-19.
4) The available emergency grant funding was £17.4million after taking into consideration additional spending incurred, delayed savings, income losses and underspends. The social impact of the third lockdown was not yet known. The MHCLG report which totalled the Covid-19 related spend was £104million.
5) The Capital forecast showed an underspend of £179.4million.
6) Resolved that the recommendations in the Revenue and Capital Budget Monitoring Report be agreed.
Zena Cooke, Corporate Director Finance and Dave Shipton, Head of Finance Policy, Planning & Strategy and Benjamin Watts, Monitoring Officer were in attendance for this item.
1) Mr Oakford said that the scrutiny process with all KCC Members for the draft budget had been completed. The draft budget had been presented at all Cabinet Committees and was finalised by the full Scrutiny Committee. No formal recommendations for changes to the draft budget were received as part of this process.
2) The draft budget had been developed to reflect the uncertainty caused by the pandemic and contained an element of financial sustainability to ensure that KCC was able to support residents throughout the next financial year and beyond.
3) Mr Shipton updated Members regarding responses from the budget consultation and it was noted that there had been a significant increase in responses compared to other recent budget consultations. An overview of the key issues raised at Cabinet Committees and at Scrutiny Committee was given but no changes were formally recommended.
4) The government’s expectation is that an increasing proportion of KCC’s core spending power is funded from council tax. This is reflected in the amount of council’s core spending funded from council tax has increased from 61% in 2015-2016 to 72.8% for 2021/2022 settlement. The 2021/2022 amount is based on the government’s estimate for council tax base growth and council tax charge increases although we now have evidence that the tax base for 2021/2022 will be less than the government’s estimate and consequently the increase in the 2021/2022 budget will be less than the increase assumed in the government’s core spending power illustration.
5) Measures were proposed to strengthen KCC’s financial resilience within 2021-22 budget but it was not known what the final outturn was for 2020-21.
6) Ms Cooke said that work had been done since the budget amendment agreed in September 2020 and it was hoped there would be an underspend at the end of the financial year to support the 2021-22 budget. There was a high level of risk, particularly in areas like Adult Social Care and Children’s Services where demand had been suppressed during lockdown restrictions.
7) Mr Watts said that queries that had been raised around the format of the budget provided to Members at Scrutiny Committee would be answered and Members of Cabinet copied into the response.
8) Miss Carey said that KCC’s spending power should be coming more from council tax as it was more reliable than investments and government grants and it was a strength that more of KCC’s core spending power was coming directly from Kent residents.
9) Ms Chandler said there was emphasis in the draft budget around the work on Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and this had been noted by the Department for Education.
10) Mr Whiting said that he would have liked to have seen more going into reserves but felt it was a balanced and prudent budget.
11) The Leader said that some Members sitting on Cabinet Committees ... view the full minutes text for item 206.
Stephen Gasche, Rail Project Manager was in attendance for this item.
1) The Leader said the decision to adopt the Kent Rail Strategy had been recorded at previous Cabinet Committee meetings and was stated on the relevant consultation pages on KCC’s website. Members of the public had an opportunity to contribute to the development of the strategy. However, the notice of decision was not published on the list of Forthcoming Executive Decisions for the normal 28 days in advance of the meeting of Cabinet. This was an oversight due to a minor administrative error. The decision was therefore to be recorded as urgent but it was noted that the minimum 5 clear working day notice was provided.
2) Mr Payne said that the new strategy was in response to the Williams Rail Review which had highlighted the failure of the existing franchise system. The Kent Rail Strategy flagged up expectations around the train service and rolling stock specifications required moving forward. The need for additional capacity on high speed, mainline and metro services had been highlighted. The strategy was aligned with the Kent and Medway growth and infrastructure framework forecasts and with the success of the current local transport plan. The strategy sought to promote greater integration in line with transport for the south east around better east-to-west connectivity.
3) Mr Gasche outlined the report regarding the Kent Rail Strategy 2021. There had been some amendments which had been recommended by the Environment & Transport Cabinet Committee and feedback had been considered from the public consultation. There was also a Rail Summit webinar with over 100 participants which also contributed to consultation.
4) Mr Gasche advised that the key outcome was the provision of a Thameslink service from Maidstone East to London, initially to Blackfriars and in due time, to St Pancras and on to Cambridge. This had overwhelming support from stakeholders across mid-Kent.
5) The Leader said that the Kent Rail Strategy was to replace the Rail Action Plan produced in 2011.
6) Resolved to adopt the Kent Rail Strategy 2021 as the Council’s rail policy.
1) Mr Long introduced the report regarding learning loss and support to schools. As a consequence of the pandemic, there had been a loss of learning for children and work was being done to support schools to respond and recover.
2) Mr Adams said schools were to put in place arrangements to support children and to cover their learning loss. Support was to be given to schools in terms of materials and staff training, helping schools to identify needs and target resources.
3) In response to questions from Members, it was noted:
· It would be difficult to know how successful KCC’s input had been in the recovery of learning loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic but school level data would inform KCC moving forward. The data was also affected by the disruption but The Education People were assisting schools in this regard.
· It was likely that there would be an increase in the number of deferred entries to primary school. The readiness of some children to start school had been affected as numbers of children attending nurseries had dropped. Work would need to be done with schools regarding readiness of children for primary school.
· Schools were being surveyed about how many young people were not felt to have adequate access to remote learning because of the lack of an appropriate device or lack of internet access. KCC was in contact with the Kent Association of Headteachers around messages to schools and around provision of headteacher wellbeing support.
4) Resolved to note the report.