Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 9th July, 2019 10.00 am

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

Contact: Joel Cook/Anna Taylor  03000 416892/416478

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies and Substitutes

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.            Apologies had been received from Mrs Beresford, Mr Brazier was substituting and Mr Roy, Parent Governor.

2.

Minutes of the meeting held on 8 May 2019 pdf icon PDF 130 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 8 May 2019 were a correct record and that they be signed by the Chairman. 

3.

10.00 - 11.30* Potential impact on KCC and School Finances of High Needs Budget Overspend and Deficit Recovery Plan pdf icon PDF 627 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.            Mr Gough introduced this item; this was a long running issue of considerable significance for this Council and many others and was also a growing national issue.  Mr Gough considered that what had ultimately driven this pressure on the High Needs budget was the impact of the 2014 reforms and a major increase in demand, one indicator of which being the increase in demand for Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).  The Council was delivering everything in terms of special school expansion set out within the Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND) strategy, however the full consequences of the 2014 reforms were not anticipated. 

 

2.            KCC had raised this issue with Kent MPs, and with Ministers, to consider how best to address this national problem.   

 

3.            It was considered that there were three areas which would help to address this problem:

 

a.    Continuing to make local transfers of funding into the High Needs Budget;

b.    Improving KCC’s activity and gatekeeping; and

c.    National policy changes – it was this area which was most important and the only way through which the problem could be addressed.  

 

4.            The relationship between this issue and the Council was ambiguous, the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) reserves were ultimately the reserves of the school system; however the Council had High Needs Funding responsibilities, the nature of the risk was a complex area. 

 

5.            Mrs Crabtree explained that the pressure on the High Needs Budget since the 2014 Children’s and Families Act and the accompanying SEND Code of Practice 2015 was extremely worrying.  Government funding was not sufficient, the ability to transfer money between the different DSG blocks was limited and was becoming more challenging.  £14million in year overspend on High Needs was based on a continued trajectory of growth.  Mrs Crabtree explained that the underlying pressure against permanent recurring funding was much greater at £26.5million. 

 

6.            Mrs Crabtree also referred to the increased pressure on the SEND Home to School Transport budget which was funded from the Council’s base budget.  Over the 4 year period the budget had increased from £24million in 16/17 to £32million in 19/20 this was due to an increase in inflation and demand pressures. 

 

7.            Simon Pleace gave a presentation which is available here.  

 

8.            Matt Dunkley explained that this was a problem affecting a large number of local authorities, 33 of which were required to produce a deficit recovery plan at the end of 2018/19.  Many authorities did not have a plan because they were unable to balance the deficit, there was no feasible way to balance it.  It was considered that additional money on its own would not solve the problem, the system needed to be reformed.  A short term injection of funding was needed to ensure Councils did not breach their statutory obligations, however incentives within the system needed to be addressed. 

 

9.            Mr Gough and Matt Dunkley had met with Nadhim Zahawi MP, there were concerns that the Government was treating the symptoms not the causes  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

MOTION TO EXCLUDE THE PRESS AND PUBLIC FOR EXEMPT BUSINESS

That, under Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 3, 5 and 6 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.

 

“Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information), unless it is required that the information be registered under the Companies, Friendly Societies, Industrial and Provident Societies, Building Societies or Charities Acts.”

 

“Information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings.

 

“Information which reveals that the authority proposes:

(i) to give under any enactment a notice under or by virtue of which requirements are imposed on a person; or

(ii) to make an order or direction under any enactment.”

 

 

EXEMPT ITEM

(During this item the meeting is likely NOT to be open to the public)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that, under Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 3, 5 and 6 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.

 

“Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information), unless it is required that the information be registered under the Companies, Friendly Societies, Industrial and Provident Societies, Building Societies or Charities Acts.”

 

“Information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings.

 

“Information which reveals that the authority proposes:

(i) to give under any enactment a notice under or by virtue of which requirements are imposed on a person; or

(ii) to make an order or direction under any enactment.”

 

5.

11.30 - 13.00* Regional Growth Fund Investments

Minutes:

1.            The Cabinet Member briefly introduced this item which had been considered previously by the Scrutiny Committee, in 2013, twice in 2014 and in 2015. 

 

2.            The two Members who had requested that this item be placed onto the agenda of the Committee explained their reasons behind this request.  The Members expressed their concerns about particular types of loans and investments and welcomed assurances that lessons had been taken on board. 

 

3.            Members and Officers discussed the issues surrounding this RGF Investment, officers confirmed that lessons had been learned and had been incorporated into current guidance.

 

RESOLVED that the Scrutiny Committee notes the contents of the report and the additional information contained at Appendix One.