Agenda and minutes

Cabinet - Thursday, 6th January, 2022 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Emily Kennedy  Tel: 03000 419625 Email:


No. Item


Apologies and Substitutes

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Formal apologies were received from Miss Carey but she would attend the meeting via virtual link. 


Cabinet Member Updates

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Mrs Chandler – Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services


(1)          Mrs Chandler updated members on the improvements being made to the ways in which parental requests for Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessments for children and young people were managed.  The changes had been made in response to feedback received from parents, schools and other partners about the current system.  This change would provide a digital record of each request submitted, improve completion rates within statutory timescales and help to ensure that schools were fully involved in the process. 


(2)          Mrs Chandler explained that, with regards to Reconnect, 62 Holiday Activity Fund provisions had been delivered offering 3139 places to children and young people.  Additional e-vouchers were also provided for those requested via Social Workers and Early Help Workers for those children who were not in receipt of Free School Meals.  Early indications were that 47 provisions were showing 80% or more take up and positive feedback had been received on the Reconnect and Holiday Activity Fund.   In terms of the locality grants, Round 2 was successfully operated and Round 3 which sought to deliver activity for summer 2022 was launched on 5th January.


(3)          The Christmas Campaign for Care Leavers raised £23,000, providing over 2,000 Care Leavers in Kent with a gift at Christmas, Mrs Chandler thanked all those who donated. 


Mrs Prendergast – Cabinet Member for Education and Skills


(4)          Mrs Prendergast informed members that the Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi, had written an open letter to education and childcare leaders on the return to education settings in 2022.  In his letter, he acknowledged the huge commitment from all in the sector in continuing to care for and provide high quality education, care and pastoral support for children and young people. He emphasised the need to keep children and young people attending settings and school, and the importance of face-to-face teaching, except in exceptional circumstances. The related guidance by the DfE supported this.  In light of the Omicron variant surge, the government was temporarily recommending that face coverings be worn in classrooms and teaching spaces for all students in Year 7 and above.  The advice was short term only – until 26th January – to support both pupils and teachers during this time and builds on the proportionate guidance that recommends face coverings for all adults in communal areas of all settings.


(5)          Mrs Prendergast also explained that the rules around self-isolation had changed and in addition, for a temporary period from the start of January, Ofsted would not ask schools, colleges or early years leaders who were also Ofsted Inspectors to undertake inspections – leaving them to focus entirely on their leadership responsibilities at this critical time.

(6)          In relation to vaccinations, NHS England had asked that all eligible students be offered a second dose of the vaccine before the February half term.  At the same time, the NHS has also stated that no other programmes could be put at risk through  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.


Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 199 KB

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(1) Mr Oakford confirmed that the provisional Local Government Settlement was received on 16 December 2021 containing £4.2million more than the mid range of expectations.  A three-year settlement was expected but it was, in reality, a one-year settlement. 


(2) Dave Shipton introduced the report and explained that the provisional settlement was close to the upper range of expectations reported to Cabinet after the Spending Review in October, the final settlement was expected late January/early February.  The provisional settlement included the additional £1.6billion for local government.  Of the £1.6billion, £700million had been allocated to authorities according to the formula for social care, the vast majority being allocated by the existing Social Care Support Grant although it was noted that this formula was out of date.  Mr Shipton gave further details of the grant allocations for individual authorities from Department for Levelling-up, Housing and Communities.    Mr Shipton explained that the Government was still looking at options to support local authorities through transitional protection as part of reforms to local government funding over the coming years.  The one-off Services Grant provided in the Local Government Finance Settlement would be excluded from potential transitional protections.  Mr Shipton confirmed that in order to balance the budget the Council was having to find £38million of spending reduction and income. 


(3) The Leader queried whether, given KCC was already looking at a situation where there was an increase in overall grant for 2022/23 and then flat after that, alongside the implications of the one-year settlement and the review of fair funding, how would this look in years two and three?  There were questions for authorities like KCC relating to the Government Grant for years two and three.  Mr Shipton explained that the Council was working on a prudent assumption regarding the grant for years two and three.


RESOLVED that Cabinet note the settlement and impact on the Council’s budget and agree that the response is prepared in consultation with the Leader/Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Finance and Traded Services.


Commissioning Plan for Education Provision in Kent 2022-2026 pdf icon PDF 143 KB

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(1)  Mrs Prendergast introduced the Commissioning Plan for Education Provision in Kent.  This was the latest edition of the 5 year rolling plan for Kent as a strategic commissioner of education.  The Plan built on the positive achievements of previous years to fulfil the Council’s statutory responsibilities and non-statutory commitments to facilitate parental choice.  This was not easy with the demand for specialist places increasing.  


(2)  Mrs Prendergast explained that she had met with all 12 district leaders and colleagues to present the plan which was generally very well received and all colleagues praised the good working relationship with KCC officers.  The Commissioning Plan had previously been endorsed by Children’s Young People and Education Cabinet Committee in November 2021. 


(3) Mr Abrahams explained that the Commissioning Plan was produced every year and was largely built on a forecast for the number of children who would need a school place.  The year’s forecast showed a continuation of the trends observed over the past few years with a decrease in births in the county since 2012 mirroring the national picture.  In the short to medium term the plans for additional provision were in response to localised pressures and the increase in demand for secondary school places.    The longer term was forecasting a change in an upwards direction with an increase in the numbers of young people in Kent, in the main due to housing growth in recent years and projected in the future. 


(4)  The Leader commented on the underlying demographic pressure which would peak over the next few years and then the balance tipping towards housing pressures, the links with developer contributions and any future systems to secure levels of funding from developers.  


(5) In response to a question about provision for special educational needs Mr Abrahams confirmed that the Commissioning Plan outlined a forecast for the number of children and young people expected to have an EHCP in the future given past trends.  These numbers were a significant increase, the short term plan included commissioning additional provision to meet the expected need with anticipated changes in the need for provision in the longer term linking to the SEND strategy and the inclusion of children within mainstream settings; this was being monitored alongside inclusion work.


(6) Mrs Chandler commented that the Commissioning Plan contained capacity in mainstream schools for pupils with SEND. It was important to address the numbers forecast and the need for additional SEND places.  It was also important to ensure that, where appropriate, children could benefit from education within a mainstream school, whilst bearing in mind that there would always be children for whom mainstream wasn’t appropriate. There was work going on in this area to ensure the education provision for those children was the best that could be provided with an emphasis on early identification and early support.  Mrs Chandler also emphasised the commitment to small schools which were a significant part of communities in rural areas, KCC had a continued commitment to support these small schools  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.