(1) Mr Gough thanked officers for the new format of the report which improved its transparency and clarity. Mr Oakford introduced the report which set out the revenue and capital budget monitoring position as at 31 May 2020. He welcomed the new format and drew attention to the fact that it took account of the financial impact of the authority’s response to Covid-19. He said that, excluding the impact of Covid-19, there was an overspend of £14.6 million on the revenue budget and a re-phasing of £48 million on the capital budget. Since the report had been published an additional £10 million Covid-19 Financial Support grant had been received which would reduce the overspend by £10 million and increase the grants received to date from £66.9 million to £76.9 million. He drew attention to the overspend of £30.5 million in the Dedicated Schools’ Grant (DSG), as well as to the overspends in the revenue budget of £7.7 million in Children’s Young People and Education Directorate (CYPE) and £3.8 million in Adult Social Care Directorate. In response to his invitation to comment on the report, Emma Feakins (Chief Accountant) described in greater detail the structure of the report.
(2) Mrs Bell said that before the outbreak of Covid-19 there had been a trend towards older people receiving care in their own homes and a decline in demand for residential and nursing care. When the cost of care for these users and new users was projected forward for the full twelve months, there was an increase to the original budget forecast. In addition, there was some evidence that older people had received increased levels of support in their own homes, rather than moving into a social care setting, during the Covid-19 pandemic. The forecast position assumed that demographic pressures would result in an increase in client numbers during the rest of the year. Mrs Bell also said that demand for supported living services had increased and was likely to increase further as young adults with disabilities were more likely to maintain their independence at home with support rather than entering residential settings. She also referred to pressures on Adult Mental Health and Physical Disability Community Budgets and directed Members to appendix 1 of the report which set out detailed information.
(3) Mrs Chandler said the most significant element of the overspend in CYPE was the £5.2 million that related to an increase in the number of externally purchased placements for looked after children (LAC). She said other authorities were in a similar position, and efforts were being made to recruit additional foster carers. She said the number of LACs in Kent was low relative to the population, which could be attributed, in part, to investment in early help services, and this should be a matter of celebration. Mrs Chandler also referred to the expenditure on Special Educational Needs and the work being done as a result of the Written Statement of Action following last year’s Ofsted/CQC Local Area SEND Inspection. She anticipated that the number of referrals for EHCP Assessments would rise from September when pupils returned to school.
(4) Mr Long said the overspend forecasted in the DSG was predominantly a result of the additional cost of supporting SEN services and because the Basic Need grant from government did not cover all the costs of building and expanding schools. Work was, however, underway to ensure capital projects were contained within the allocated budget. He also said an increase to the Basic Need grant was required and his discussions with the DfE led him to believe this might happen.
(5) Ms Cooke said this was an important report as it informed the report setting out the amendment to the current year’s budget which was to be considered by the County Council in September and for building the budget for 2021/22.
(6) Resolved to:
(b) Note the forecast Revenue and Capital monitoring position
(c) Note the way the financial impact of Covid-19 is being monitored
(d) Note and agree Revenue budget adjustments
(e) Note and agree Capital budget adjustments
(f) Note and agree the addition of two new fully funded schemes to the capital programme
(g) Note the Prudential Indicators report.