Matt Dunkley, Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education was in attendance for this item.
1) Mr Oakford introduced the report which set out the overall forecast position as at the end of September 2021, which excluding Covid-19 and schools was a £18.7 million overspend. £13.9 million was from Adult Social Care and £6.8 million was from Children’s, Young People and Education. Urgent action was required to break even by the end of the financial year. If any overspend was to be funded from reserves, this would add to the pressures for 2022-23 and weaken KCC’s financial resilience.
The Covid-19 position showed a forecast spend of £37.9 million. There were corporately held budgets of £16.1 million and the remainder of this spend was to be met from the Emergency Covid-19 reserve. This meant breaking even. Work was ongoing to look at which of the Covid-19 costs would continue.
KCC had set a saving target of £39.4 million but £30 million was forecast to be delivered. Earmarked general reserves were forecast a net draw down of £77.6 million and this reflected the use of the Emergency Covid-19 reserve and the impact on the forecast overspend, if it was not reduced by the end of the financial year.
The Capital forecast showed an underspend of £103.4 million, £125.3 million of this related to re-phasing. There was £21.9 million of real overspend.
The schools’ delegated budget was reporting £52.8 million overspend, which reflected the impact of high demand, additional SEN support and high cost per child of high needs placements. The projected deficit on the high needs budget had increased by £48 million. The high needs deficit was the single most significant financial risk for KCC.
Monitoring of district council tax collection would become even more important. The impact of increased council tax reduction discounts and reduced collection rates would mean a reduction in the council tax base for the current year. The scale and pace of recovery would be a key factor in 2022-23 budget and medium-term financial strategy.
2) Further to comments and questions from Members, it was noted:
· There were pressures in Adult Social Care (ASC) nationally and many of the pressures were demand led and therefore, not within KCC’s control. There was a duty under the Care Act to meet people’s unmet care needs and this had become increasingly challenging. Supporting the independent care sector was vitally important as this was where the majority of KCC’s ASC services were commissioned. Despite pressures it was expected that ASC would deliver £8.9million of savings in the current year. Making A Difference Everyday would help with the pressures on ASC and where this model had been used elsewhere, significant savings had been identified.
· Work was ongoing to understand the increase in requests for EHCPs and it was hoped that measures to address needs at an earlier stage would have a positive impact on spending.
· Home to school transport had been affected by increases in transport costs as well as numbers of children requiring this service. Work was being undertaken to promote the inclusion of children in their local schools.
3) RESOLVED to note and agree the recommendations as outlined in the report.