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Apologies and Substitutes
Apologies were received from Mr Sweetland.
Resolved that the minutes of the meetings held on 25 January 2021 were a correct record and that they be signed by the chairman.
Cabinet Member Updates
1) Mrs Bell said that home testing kits for Covid-19, which were available online and from pharmacies had been popular and therefore, KCC test centres were being scaled down.
There had been 24 test centres across the county and 600,000 tests had been conducted at the test centres during the pandemic. Most centres were to close over the following weeks. Centres were to remain open with increased hours from 1 July 2021 at Sessions House in Maidstone and at Eurogate Business Park in Ashford.
Weekly home testing was encouraged as people were going to be socialising more and to register the test results so there was a record of how many people were undertaking the tests.
The figures up to 13 June for Kent and Medway showed that around 2 million vaccines had been administered. 74% of all eligible adults had their first dose, 58% of 30 to 39 year olds had the first dose and 96% of the 4 most vulnerable groups had their second dose. The vaccinations were rolling out to everyone aged 18 and over via the national booking service.
The government had confirmed that people working in all care homes registered with the CQC would need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Over 90% of staff in KCC homes had both doses and in other adult care homes, 84% of employees had their first dose and 72% had their second dose of the Covid-19 vaccination.
KCC was well placed to support care homes with ensuring the staff were vaccinated, given the strong working relationship with the care sector, Public Health representatives and the vaccination team.
Domestic abuse affected over 2 million people a year in England and Wales. This equated to between 75,000 and 80,000 adults in Kent and Medway and accounted for 15% of all crime across the region. Since 2017, KCC had worked with partners to commission the Kent Integrated Abuse Contract which provided support for those experiencing abuse. A recent study found that abuse increased during international football tournaments. There was a 47% increase in the number of reported alcohol related domestic abuse cases on days when England were playing and an 18% increase on the days after. There was a campaign called “Show domestic abuse the red card” led by KCC and involving all partners encouraging all residents, businesses and community groups to be extra vigilant for signs of domestic abuse during Euro 2020 and to help direct victims towards support services.
2) Mrs Chandler said that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP) began its inspection of the Youth Offending Service on the week starting 21 June. A briefing on the outcome of the inspection was to be discussed at the September CYPE Cabinet Committee.
The difficult decision had been made for KCC to stop accepting UASCs from the Port of Dover. Despite KCC’s ongoing efforts to work with the Home Office regarding the voluntary National Transfer Scheme (NTS), KCC had again reached an unsafe capacity and ceased to accept any further ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
Rachel Kennard, Chief Analyst was in attendance for this item.
1) Rachel Kennard outlined the report for Quarter 4 with results of 35 key performance indicators (KPIs) from January up to the end of March 2021. KPIs were rated red, amber or green based on the most recent performance against targets. Overall, the position was positive despite the ongoing challenges presented in the first 3 months of 2021. In this Quarter, 2 more KPIs were rated green than in Quarter 3. 22 of the KPIs were ‘RAG’ rated as green, 10 rated as amber and 3 performing below target rated as red.
2) The 3 areas that had been ‘RAG’ rated as red were:
· The KPI under Economic Development and Communities, ‘Developer Contributions secured as a percentage of the amount sought’ had been affected by one large project.
· There had been an improvement for the KPI under Children, Young People and Education, ‘ECHPs issued within 20 weeks’ as an outside contractor was working on the backlog.
· Under Public Health, the number of eligible people receiving an NHS Health Check had been affected by the pandemic as the programme was halted due to national guidance and whilst it had been resumed in Quarter 2, a new target was proposed for 2021-22 which would take into account the reduced delivery from GPs.
3) The KPI relating to complaints handled within agreed timescales had improved and was ‘RAG-rated’ amber for Quarter 4.
4) Further positive points from the report were noted:
· The Kent.gov website had continued to be very popular in terms of visitor numbers and more transactions were taking place online.
· Greenhouse gas emissions for the KCC estate had continued on a downward trend and were ahead of target.
· The proportion of KCC clients in residential nursing care where the CQC rating was ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ had increased and this was ahead of target.
· In Public Health, the number of mandated universal checks delivered by the health visiting service had continued to increase.
5) It was proposed to make changes to the KPIs for the next financial year, 2021-22:
6) Miss Carey said the target relating to emissions was being re-based taking into account more factors and to be consistent with the way targets were measured nationally. ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Zena Cooke, Corporate Director (Finance) was in attendance for this item.
1) Mr Oakford said that the report outlined the provisional outturn for 2020-21, combined for ‘business as usual’ (£775,000), and Covid-19 (£26.773million) and after taking into account the ‘roll forward’ requests was an underspend of £27.5million. The large underspend was predominantly due to the government Covid-19 related grants which had been received late in the financial year and were one-off payments. It was requested that these underspend amounts be set aside as normal earmarked reserves to support future Covid-related costs, loss of income and any unrealised savings.
All directorates had reported ‘business as usual’ underspends. The main underspend was in Adult Social Care which was a result of people choosing not to place loved ones in long term funded care and giving continued support at home and the temporary legislative changes in relation to how hospital discharge was funded.
Children, Young People and Education had seen an underspend in Integrated Children’s Services in the care leavers’ and adoption services. This was offset by delays in delivery of the Changes for Kent’s children programme.
The reported Covid-19 position took into consideration all additional spending, unrealised savings, loss of income and underspends and amounted to £42.4million. Of this, £28.8 million of the roll forward requests related to Covid-19 time critical spend with the main areas being: £16million for Helping Hands, £7.5million for the Re-Connect programme and £5million for market sustainability.
The Schools’ delegated budgets had reported an overspend of £8.9million which reflected the combination of high demand and the high cost per child of high needs placement.
The provisional capital outturn position was an underspend of £184.8million which was made up of £9.4million of real variances and £175.4million of re-phasing. The high figure of re-phasing was not to be repeated in future years as the 10 year capital programme was intended to enable capital plans to be phased more realistically over the lifetime of the projects.
2) Ms Cooke said it had been a very challenging year from a financial perspective, both in terms of monitoring and reporting for the budget due to grants coming in at short or with no notice and the finance team had tried to separate ‘business as usual’ activity from Covid-19 activity. Ms Cooke thanked her team and the budget holders across KCC for their efforts over the last financial year.
There were opportunities moving forward in managing the risks and to make KCC as financially resilient as possible, while still delivering a budget for ‘business as usual’ activities and strategic priorities.
3) RESOLVED to agree the recommendations set out in the report.
Zena Cooke, Corporate Director, Finance and Dave Shipton, Head of Finance (Policy, Planning & Strategy) were in attendance for this item.
1) Mr Oakford introduced the report. KCC had only been given a one year settlement and work had been done on the assumption that KCC would not receive further one-off government grants. The one-off grants received were for Covid-19 related activity and the impact of Covid-19 had continued to be felt. The Covid-19 underspend was to be brought forward to protect and cover ongoing costs relating to Covid-19. There was uncertainty as to what the impact of the Delta variant would be.
The grants allowed KCC to delay the consideration of some areas of saving and those would need to be reconsidered as part of the budget setting process. There were also concerns around the increase in inflation which had a significant impact on the budget.
2) Mr Shipton said that due to uncertainty around the pace of recovery, different plans were required for each scenario. One assumed the eradication of the impact of Covid-19 and a rapid economic recovery. Work undertaken had shown the council tax base had declined at the fastest rate compared to any other county council. The speed with which the council tax base was recovered was crucial for KCC’s budget. Continued restrictions relating to Covid-19 would negatively affect KCC’s spending, reductions in the council tax base and slower recovery.
The impact of inflation in the past had been less due to much of the council’s activities being funded through government grants which went up in line with inflation; this had now changed. The two priorities for updates moving forward would be looking at the speed of recovery and the impact of inflation.
3) The Leader said that it would be important to look at the changes in demand for Children’s and Adult Social Care as this had been impacted by the pandemic. There had been an increase in the complexity of cases but there also could be a ‘spring back’ in terms of demand.
4) Ms Cooke said commitments had been made to using evidence-based information and analysis as part of the budget setting, so not just looking at the financial element of the budget. Outcome based budgeting was looking at where money was spent, whether it was effective and whether it delivered the desired outcomes and the impact it was having.
Some outcome measures were available nationally- for example, outcome metrics were available for social care and public health.
In terms of the outlook, there was still only a one year settlement but a 3 year settlement was anticipated. Officers were pushing for early notification but it was proposed that this also be pursued by Members.
4) RESOLVED that the report be noted.
Matt Dunkley, Corporate Director, CYPE and David Adams, Reconnect Programme Director were in attendance for this item.
1) Mrs Chandler introduced the report and thanked the team working on Reconnect. At the meeting of Cabinet held in March, there had been concern about the impact that the pandemic had on the lives of children and young people. Evidence had increased of the impact but the way in which children and young people had been affected varied widely. All children and young people in Kent had been affected in some way and that was why the Reconnect Programme was universal. Young people wanted the Programme to be about moving forward and positivity.
The key aims were reconnecting children and young people to:
· health and happiness
· Friends, family and community
· Sport, activity and the outdoors
· Economic wellbeing
· Learning missed
The Reconnect Programme was a cohesive and coordinated offer which offered flexibility and local delivery.
Kent-wide projects were to be offered through leisure centres which were to contribute to the aims around sport and activity. Work had been done with travel operator businesses to offer passes for free travel in the school summer holidays.
Local business, individuals, organisations and providers were able to contribute to the programme. Detailed information was on the website regarding how they could get involved.
2) Mrs Prendergast said teachers and school staff had worked hard to support and educate children under difficult circumstances. Schools and Early Years settings were working hard to address learning loss and it was hoped Reconnect would offer the additional support needed.
3) Mr Dunkley said that he welcomed the decision. He said that he felt the Reconnect Programme was ambitious and unique. It was a universal programme which tuned into the ambition and optimism of children and young people but was also targeted for children who had been particularly disadvantaged by the pandemic.
4) Mr Adams said that pace and agility would be key in delivering the Reconnect Programme and to respond to emerging and changing needs. It was to be a partnership effort and therefore, the support and commitment of colleagues across KCC, across partner agencies and in the community was needed to make the programme work. Thanks were given to all that had contributed thus far. Infrastructure had been put in place to deal with questions, queries and offers of support.
There was an agreement in principle with leisure centres across the county and the finalised arrangements were to be publicised. Arrangements were being put in place regarding the bus offer for children and potentially families during the summer. Work was being done to resource other services providing support such as counselling and mentoring services.
KCC had received more than 50 offers from organisations regarding promotion of the programme and over 500 people and organisations had subscribed to be kept informed about Reconnect.
Local Children’s Partnership Groups were key to the programme and £600,000 had been identified to support those groups on an interim basis, pending Cabinet’s decision around funding for ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Lydia Jackson, Policy and Relationships Adviser and David Whittle, Director of Strategy, Policy, Relationships & Corporate Assurance, were in attendance for this item.
1) The Leader said that there had been a session prior to the pandemic with engagement on the principles of the draft Civil Society Strategy and that it was important the strategy be taken forward, drawing on the lessons from the pandemic.
2) Mr Hill said that a great deal of work had been done in the previous year to support and engage with voluntary sector. KCC had directly supported the sector during the pandemic and progress had been made in engaging with voluntary sector. A long-term plan had been developed to support the sector and this would be embedded in the Civil Society Strategy. The innovative Crowd Funding Initiative had been popular and effective.
3) Mr Whittle said that this work had built on the commitment to strengthen links with the voluntary sector as a whole. The majority of voluntary sector services do not provide services for KCC. The Covid-19 pandemic allowed KCC to accelerate relationships in a way that had not been anticipated and in many respects, activity was ahead of where the strategy was.
4) Ms Jackson said that the report set out the offer of support to the voluntary sector for the following 12 months and the roadmap to revising the Civil Society Strategy, which has been developed in 2019. The Civil Society Strategy was a significant political priority and the infrastructure budget to support the voluntary sector or ‘civil society’ was not a statutory requirement but was a significant contribution to the sector. This reflected the role that the sector had played in the pandemic and the role it played in the community. Close work had been undertaken via the VCS recovery cell that had been set up as part of the Kent Resilience Forum and this had improved partnership working. A Strategic Partnership Board had been established with the NHS, district and borough councils and representatives from the voluntary sector. There was also a VCS steering group made up of representatives from across the sector. Engagement forums were to set to continue to evolve.
The Strategic Recovery Fund was to provide access to support for the sector with organisational plans and strategies, digital support, diversification of income and to support volunteering. There were plans to work with volunteer centres who had provided insight into Kent’s communities and volunteers over the previous year.
Crowdfund Kent was launched in March 2021 and it was part of the Covid-19 recovery. 28 projects had received pledged funding to a value of £130,000 but the total value of those projects was £550,000. The crowdfunding approach had allowed KCC to support projects backed by their local communities. If it was successful, it was planned that crowdfunding be embedded beyond the 2 year pilot.
The Civil Strategy once agreed was to set out KCC’s long term commitments against the strategy framework and the budget was to be aligned ... view the full minutes text for item 8.