Agenda and minutes

Joint Budget Meeting, Children and Education Policy and Accountability Committee - Wednesday, 27th January, 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: Online - Virtual Meeting. View directions

Contact: David Abbott  Email:

Link: Watch the meeting on YouTube

No. Item


Apologies for Absence




Roll Call and Declarations of Interest

To confirm attendance, the Chair will perform a roll call. Members will also have the opportunity to declare any interests.


If a Councillor has a disclosable pecuniary interest in a particular item, whether or not it is entered in the Authority’s register of interests, or any other significant interest which they consider should be declared in the public interest, they should declare the existence and, unless it is a sensitive interest as defined in the Member Code of Conduct, the nature of the interest at the commencement of the consideration of that item or as soon as it becomes apparent.


At meetings where members of the public are allowed to be in attendance and speak, any Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest or other significant interest may also make representations, give evidence or answer questions about the matter.  The Councillor must then withdraw immediately from the meeting before the matter is discussed and any vote taken.


Where Members of the public are not allowed to be in attendance and speak, then the Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest should withdraw from the meeting whilst the matter is under consideration. Councillors who have declared other significant interests should also withdraw from the meeting if they consider their continued participation in the matter would not be reasonable in the circumstances and may give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest.


Councillors are not obliged to withdraw from the meeting where a dispensation to that effect has been obtained from the Audit, Pensions and Standards Committee. 



There were no declarations of interest.



Covid-19 - Update

This item provides a verbal update on Covid-19 and the Council’s response in supporting residents throughout the pandemic.


Linda Jackson provided a verbal update outlining the council’s on-going response to Covid-19.  The three key areas were the borough’s infection rate; testing strategy and the implementation of mass testing for people who were asymptomatic; and the vaccination strategy currently being led by the NHS. In the past seven days 506 infectious cases had been recorded and the most recent figure of 439.1 indicated a reduction per hundred thousand of the population.  At the peak of the second wave, this figure was closer to 1000 per hundred thousand of population. The positivity rate was 15.8%, so that for every one hundred people, 15.8% had tested positive.  Linda Jackson outlined the council’s activities which included support for local business throughout the pandemic, remarkable work around social isolation, free school meal vouchers and work with community and voluntary sector mutual aid groups, and the Community Aid Network and referrals to the foodbank had increased significantly. 


Linda Jackson highlighted three key elements which combined to form a Covid defence.  First, the community needed to continue to social isolate, going out only when necessary.  There were three, mass test sites and five pop-up sites located across the borough for asymptomatic tests.  Additional test options included free home testing kits and lateral flow test.  A third element was the NHS delivery of the vaccination through primary care networks across the borough at key sites in White City, Shepherds Bush and Parsons Green according to the eligibility criteria. 


The target figure for completing vaccination for these groups was 14 February 2021 and which incorporated the impact of lower than expected vaccine take up.  There was significant work being undertaken locally to address this and strong encouragement to accept vaccine appointments as and when these were offered.  H&F clinical commissioning group was allocating supplies of the vaccines locally. 


Victoria Brignell commended Linda Jackson and H&F colleagues for their commitment to protecting residents and to ensure continuity in services. Clarification was sought regarding vaccination arrangements for carers and personal assistants employed by disabled people under the direct payment programme. It was confirmed that all personal assistants had received a letter this week and those who were direct payment recipients would be asked to confirm the number and details of people they employed.


ACTION: For the Director of Covid-19 to provide further detail

about the council’s response to Covid-19 at the next

meeting of the Committee.


Echoing earlier comments, Councillor Lloyd-Harris commended the strength of the council’s response and thanked senior officers for their work, undertaken in challenging and difficult circumstances.  Clarification was sought about the hesitancy about testing in care homes.  Linda Jackson confirmed that testing was required if a care home wanted to remain open but clarified that vaccine “hesitancy” was an issue nationally.  Lisa Redfern confirmed that approximately 94 people had received the vaccine at H&F care homes but there were also smaller, supported living units to include within this.  Staff take up had been encouraged and generally this had been positive.  A  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


2021 Medium Term Financial Strategy pdf icon PDF 680 KB

This report sets out the budget proposals for the services covered by these Policy and Accountability Committees (PAC). An update is also provided on any proposed changes in fees and charges in the budget.

Additional documents:


Corporate Overview


Emily Hill provided a corporate overview of the council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS).  It was clarified that Appendix 4 fees and charges was not relevant to the report as this referenced fees and charges determined outside of the council’s policy which was, for both adult social care and children’s services, to freeze these without exception.  Setting out the overall financial context it was explained that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) had for the past ten years advocated for austerity with a challenging reduction in revenue funding.  Core spending power for revenue activities had seen a slight increase of 4.5% compared to 2010/11 but the current financial position was significantly worse in real terms. 


The council needed to make significant savings whilst concurrently managing a growth in budget for demand led services in Social Care and Children’s Services.  This has been difficult and required a draw on reserves for funding unexpected levels of demand and a corresponding reduction in the level of reserves which also needed to be maintained as a safety buffer.  It was noted that a fees and charges compensation scheme would partly fund council tax and business rate losses, with local authorities meeting the first 5% followed by 75p in the pound there after.  The remainder would need to be met by the council. 


The economic impact of Covid-19 highlighted a significant reduction in business rates currently expected in the future which represented a funding risk to the council.  A Covid specific six-month contingency budget was in place to address the level of associated risk which had also been increased to reflect this.


Children’s Services


Jacqui McShannon outlined how the council’s ambitious plan for Children’s Services (CHS) would be underpinned by high aspirations for the borough’s children offering protection from harm, abuse and exploitation, and be supported in their learning with equitable access to education.  CHS was a highly regulated, demand led service and Jacqui McShannon commended the work of community partners. The current uncertainty, historic and current budget pressures meant that the service was having to meet increased complexity of need with higher numbers of adolescents at risk.  About 1300 children were supported through social care with a range of needs including 100-50 with complex high needs and who also required a protection plan.


Tony Burton provided a breakdown of the allocations which included in excess of £46 million as the general fund budget within services for children (including children with disabilities) and young people and education. The overall income budget was just under £95 million which included £48 million of the delegated maintained and special school grant budget. Within this, the high needs special grant would be significantly increased at £26 million.  There would be an allocation of £16 million for early years learning with a targeted offer funnelled through nurseries, schools and child minders.  The key focus was to protect frontline services with cost reductions predicated on achieving high quality, value for money services.  Cost pressures included non-placement expenditure  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.