RESOLVED that the following referral be made to Mayor and Cabinet:
The Children and Young People Select Committee requests that the following information be included in all upcoming the Budget Cuts reports:
1. The impact of a proposed cut on the users of a service
2. The impact of a proposed cut on the staff of a service
3. The impact of the proposed cut on the service overall
4. The cumulative impact of the cut on the London Borough of Lewisham as a whole.
Pinaki Ghoshal – Executive Director for Children and Young People gave a brief introduction to the Budget Cuts report. He explained the approach taken as follows:
1. the report had been prepared prior to the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review that had been announced the previous day. Some information was therefore slightly out of date.
2. Responding to the Covid-19 pandemic had created a budget shortfall of £68m of which approximately £30m was due to costs and the remaining circa £38m was a result of lost revenue. While some central government funding was being provided, this would not be enough to meet the entire cost.
3. Additionally there would be a CYP budget overspend of slightly less than £10m at the end of this financial year, and some would flow into the next financial year, largely due to the cost of social care placements for children.
4. Even without the additional financial pressures brought about by Covid-19, there was expected to be a £40m budget cut over the next 3 years, of which £34m was to be made in the next financial year.
5. Officers had taken a themed approach to finding ways of making savings and cuts, which each Executive Director leading on a theme that was not directly related to their business area.
In response to questions from the Committee, the following was noted:
1. In recent months there had been a reduction in the unit cost of residential placements, as well as a reduction in the number of children requiring residential placements. These measures were aimed at reducing the overspend on placement costs, and not at reducing the budget.
2. Regarding the proposed saving on short breaks provision, one Member was concerned that overly tight gatekeeping was preventing parents from being able to access the short breaks provision that they needed. Officers responded that the reduction was relatively small, and some of this would be met in 3 ways:
a. by looking at provision costs as costs varied greatly between providers
b. by organising staffing in a more efficient and effective way, and not using social workers by default
c. Looking to increase the uptake of personal budgets to give families more choice, rather than having to use the local authority offer
3. Members had concerns about cutting funding for transition services when moving from children’s to adult’s social care. The Committee heard that work was underway to set up a new transition service, which would utilise staff with adult’s social care experience as well as staff with children’s social care experience, and would be working with families with children from age 14+. It was hoped that this would lead to a better transition experience for families.
4. The saving of £1.2m relating to partner contributions to children in care placements combined 3 elements
a. Housing Benefit – there were currently young people in care eligible for but not been claiming. Systems had been corrected to ensure the council no longer pays the provider for the equivalent amount ... view the full minutes text for item 4