Agenda and minutes

Cabinet - Thursday, 3rd March, 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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There were no apologies for absence.



Minutes of the Meeting held on 27 January 2022 pdf icon PDF 154 KB

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Resolved that the minutes of the meetings held on 27 January 2022 were a correct record and that they be signed by the Chair.


Cabinet Member Updates

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1) Mrs Bell said the government had announced changes in the guidance for living with Covid-19. It was to be managed like other respiratory illnesses, while minimising mortality rates and maintaining the ability to respond if a new and potentially more dangerous variant emerged. The 4 key elements of living with Covid-19 were: removing domestic restrictions and encouraging safer behaviours through Public Health advice, protecting people who were the most vulnerable, maintaining resilience through ongoing surveillance and contingency planning, and securing innovations and opportunities from the Covid-19 response.


In terms of the local response to the new guidance, it was confirmed that the two test centres at Ashford and Maidstone were to close on 31 March, with a phased reduction of opening hours based on usage from 4 March.


On 2 March, the first Kent Care Summit was held at Detling Showground and over 300 people attended, in person and virtually. Thanks were given to Gina Walton and team for the organisation of the event. The Summit was opened by the Leader of KCC and delegates heard powerful and moving accounts from people with lived experience of social care. A panel of local and national representatives, including the Director General for Adult Social Care at the DHSC, the Chief Executive of Kent and Medway NHS Integrated Care System and the Head of Inspection at the Care Quality Commission shared their thoughts and views and took questions on a variety of issues.


Mrs Bell introduced the afternoon session at the Summit where delegates were split into small groups to discuss 5 key changes which had been identified to address the many challenges and how the future of social care could be shaped. The 3 main themes which emerged from the day were: support for carers, being person-centred and workforce recruitment and retention.


Feedback from the day was being collated and evaluated and would be put into an action plan and it was felt there was a recognition and understanding of the challenges and the need to work together. There was a huge amount of energy and commitment to making the changes necessary to deliver care in the future.


2) Mrs Chandler said there had been substantial progress in the completion of educational psychology assessments within SEND. At the beginning of September 2021, there had been a considerable number of historic referrals from the previous academic year on the waiting list. All children who were referred for Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment in 2021 had been allocated to an Educational Psychologist and children referred in February 2022 were now being allocated. In order to address the provision of education psychology assessments for children on the waiting list and new referrals there had been a small dip in the timeliness of reports but it was expected that this would be back on track soon.


The 27th Try Angle Awards ceremony was to be held on 20 March. The scheme had been running for a long time and the Awards ceremony was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Revenue and Capital Budget Monitoring Report - December 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 195 KB

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Zena Cooke, Corporate Director, Finance was in attendance for this item.


1) Mr Oakford introduced the report. The report was based on the position in December 2021 and the forecast revenue position, excluding schools and Covid-19, was a £13.9 million overspend. This was an improvement from the previous monitoring report presented to Cabinet. There was decrease of £4.6 million as there was a forecast underspend from Growth, Environment and Transport directorate. Both Adult Social Care and Children’s Young People and Education directorates continued to forecast significant overspends. £10 million had been set aside in a specific reserve for expected pressures; anything above this would need to be met from other reserves, which would add to the pressure on the 2022-23 Budget and would weaken KCC’s financial resilience. Reserves would need to be replenished in future years. Continued urgent action was required to address the overspend to ensure a ‘breaking even’ point by the end of the financial year.


The reported Covid-19 position showed a forecast spend of £36.7 million. There was a corporately held Covid-19 budget of £16.1 million and the remainder of the spend was to be met from the emergency Covid-19 reserve. Work was ongoing to establish which costs were to continue into future years.


KCC set a savings target of £39.4 million to be delivered in 2021-22, of which £30.3 million were forecast to be delivered. This was approximately a £9 million shortfall of savings forecast for the financial year.


KCC’s earmarked and general reserves were forecasting a net draw down of £59.1 million. The draw down reflected the use of the emergency Covid-19 reserves and impact of the forecast overspend if it was not reduced by the end of the financial year.


The capital forecast showed an underspend of £144.3 million, of which £146.3 million was related to re-phasing. It was hoped with the 10 year programme, the re-phasing would not be seen in such numbers. There was a £2 million real overspend in capital spending.


The schools’ delegated budgets had reported a £54 million overspend which reflected the impact of high demand for additional SEN support and high cost per child for high needs placements. The predicted deficit for the High Needs Budget had increased by £49 million during 2021-22.  The high needs deficit was the single most significant financial risk for KCC.


The Treasury management position was consistent with regular reports made to the Governance and Audit Committee.


2) Mrs Cooke said KCC’s gross expenditure is £1.8 billion, of which £1.3billion related to directly procured goods and commissioned services. Therefore, KCC was exposed to inflation risks arising as part of general inflation rises but also as a result of world affairs. KCC already had some challenging targets in the Budget in relation to inflation and the further impact of inflation would need to be watched carefully. KCC’s financial resilience had been strengthened to withstand inflationary increases and other price pressures. KCC had around £8 million spent on energy costs on KCC’s estate and highway  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


SEND Transport pdf icon PDF 121 KB

Report to follow.

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Simon Jones, Corporate Director, GET; Matt Dunkley, Corporate Director, CYPE; Vicky Evans, Operations Manager and Alison White, Chair of Trustees of Kent Parents and Carers Together (PACT) were in attendance for this item.


1) Ms Evans said she and Ms White had worked tirelessly across Kent on the issue of SEND transport. The issues relating to SEN transport were countywide and affected a large number of children. Moving forward, parents needed to have faith that KCC would provide a more than adequate service. Some parents of SEN children affected by the problems had not been able to go to work or had to make a choice between their child being transported to school by taxi or paying for utilities.


It was reported that there had been oversights to the physical needs of children needing transport. Huge gap in communications- people were urged to email an address or use a telephone number but there were no communications in response.


Parents had reported the uncertainty had impacted on half term. Kent PACT had been placed in difficult position as a buffer.


2) The Leader said that he had received the messages and for many families, half term was not half term- the situation facing families was understood. Thanks were given to Ms Evans and Ms White for setting out what had happened so clearly.


3) Mr Brazier said GET had assured parents, carers and PACT that all those receiving SEND transport on 7 December 2021 would have details of their future provision by 11 February 2022. It became clear just before 11 February, that something was wrong and that some families had not and would not be advised as was thought. Mr Brazier met with officers and Cabinet colleagues on 14 February and it was established that many families had not had transport allocated to them. A full audit had been commissioned so that lessons could be learned and to avoid a recurrence in the future.


4) Mr Jones said that it was recognised that the delivery of re-tendering work had become protracted and delayed beyond the completion dates that had been identified. The programme had fallen below the standard KCC sought to and expected to achieve. It had resulted in pupils not being allocated transport for the beginning of term in the middle of February 2022. Apologies were given to all the parents, carers and pupils affected. Transport had been allocated to all those considered within the tendering process and KCC was actively addressing those children who had become eligible for transport since 7 December 2021. The urgent enquiries regarding the suitability and other particular aspects raised by parents and carers were being addressed. KCC was committed to support a review and will seek to establish a plan of continuous improvement to not only prevent a recurrence but also to provide improved performance operationally in the future.


5) Mr Dunkley said KCC was a large and complex organisation and that when things go wrong, there was a wide impact. There was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Levelling Up- The UK White Paper pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Verbal Presentation

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David Whittle, Director of Strategy, Policy, Relationships & Corporate Assurance was in attendance for this item.


1) Mr Whittle presented the attached presentation regarding Levelling Up - The UK White Paper.


2) Further to questions from Members, it was noted:


·         District councils were involved with the Levelling Up agenda and through the Levelling Up Fund, the Towns Fund, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund the government had placed a strong emphasis on district councils in terms of ‘local Pride in Place’ work such as high street regeneration.

·         The White Paper set the expectation that the government’s interactions would be with one body, the upper tier authority at a strategic scale. Kent’s MPs would need to communicate Kent’s needs and advocate with regard to Levelling Up and also MPs’ role in delivering place based agendas was to be strengthened.

·         The White Paper was explicit in that its preference for the unitary structure for local government. However, it was acknowledged that county councils continued to have a place due to the way they delivered people-based services.

·         It was emphasised that KCC would need to articulate the differences between the county and its neighbours in the south east. It was felt that there was a synergy with some of the work already being done by KCC.

·         There were very few ‘hard’ timeframes included within the White Paper. The ambition was set out that all local authorities that wanted a devolution deal would have this by autumn 2030. Some of the ambitions set out were to be achieved by autumn 2022. The delivery targets for some of the ambitions would be in the medium term and in some cases, longer.


3) The Leader said the system changes discussed, both at the level of national government and its configuration, as well as various iterations of devolution were the most radical elements of the White Paper.


If the current government achieve the thinking in the White Paper, it would be desirable for this to become embedded and it would amount to a significant change if it took place. KCC was to focus on what was important for Kent and Kent’s role in the south east would need to be pushed. There was a focus on the role of county councils with the Levelling Up agenda. The Levelling Up agenda tied in with work KCC had done on the priorities in the strategic statement and would be building on what was already being done.


4) RESOLVED to note the presentation.