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Contact: David Abbott Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies for Absence
No apologies for absence were received.
Councillor Daryl Brown, Councillor Lucy Richardson, and Eleanor Allen joined the meeting remotely.
Declarations of Interest
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 Standards Committee.
There were no declarations of interest.
To approve the minutes of the previous meeting and note any outstanding actions.
The minutes of the meeting held on 21 November 2022 were agreed as an accurate record.
This report sets out the budget proposals for the services covered by the Children and Education Policy and Accountability Committee.
Councillor Rowan Ree (Cabinet Member for Finance and Reform) introduced the item. He noted the challenges of finding further efficiencies after years of austerity and the added pressure of high inflation. Despite this, he was proud of the budget which protected the Council’s key priorities and included a £1m investment to support residents through the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. He thanked Cabinet Members and officers for their hard work.
Sukvinder Kalsi (Director of Finance) gave an overview of the financial context and the corporate budget, then Jacqui McShannon (Strategic Director of Children’s Services) and Tony Burton (Head of Finance, Children’s Services and Education) gave a presentation on the budget for Children’s Services.
A resident in attendance asked why safeguarding numbers were increasing. Amana Gordon (Operational Director, Children and Young People Services) said there had been an increase pre-pandemic, then during the pandemic there was a reduction in referrals, and now the numbers had risen to their pre-pandemic level. She noted children were staying in the system longer and tended to have more complex issues. The service was working hard to support families to independence.
A resident asked if staff retention was an issue for the Children’s Services department. Amana Gordon said there had been some movement following the pandemic but that had stabilised across social care, family support, and education.
Councillor Aliya Afzal-Khan asked if the increase in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) spending matched the trend in cases and Education, Health and Care Plans. Jacqui McShannon said officers had seen an increase in need and the number of plans (EHCPs). Costs were also increasing due to inflation. Peter Haylock (Operational Director for Education and SEND) noted that the spend was to ensure quality of provision across services, it wasn’t used for meeting the increase in plans. He added that there had been a small dip in new plans coming through this year. More detailed data on this would be available in the next couple of weeks.
Councillor Afzal-Khan asked what the increase in spend was for if not to match the trend. Tony Burton said the investment from the Council was to support capacity and quality across the system. The cost of EHCPs was met from education budgets through a grant from the Department for Education.
Councillor Afzal-Khan asked if the Family Hub was a digital or physical hub. Sarah Bright (Assistant Director, Children’s Commissioning) said the hubs would be a mix to ensure there was flexibility in the offer. Officers were looking to co-produce the hubs with the community. She hoped the first hub would be open in the next 12 months.
Councillor Lucy Richardson asked if there were plans to use speech and language therapists to diagnose or flag potential cases of autism. She also asked how the service was using social workers to bridge the gap between the NHS and the Council when transitioning people into Adult Social Care. Jacqui McShannon said the service worked with schools and the Autism Education Trust to ensure they could ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Date of Next Meeting
To note the date of the next meeting on 27 March 2023.
The Committee noted the date of the next meeting, scheduled for 27 March 2023.
The Chair noted that the next meeting would have a Health theme and would build on discussions at Health & Wellbeing Board about how the Council could work with the Integrated Care Partnership to improve services for children and young people in the borough.
Amana Gordon suggested the Young Carers Offer as an item for the work programme.
ACTIONS: David Abbott