a) Note the latest position for the County Council’s 2021/22 Revenue Budget, as summarised in paragraph 2.1.2.
b) Note the position on the GWB (paragraphs 2.4.1 to 2.4.3)
c) Note the position on the ‘Strategic Capacity – Unallocated’ reserve (paragraphs 2.4.4 to 2.4.7)
d) Note the position on the County Council’s Treasury Management activities during the third quarter of 2021/22
e) Note the updated Q3 2022/23 Capital Plan
f) Recommend to the Chief Executive Officer that using his emergency delegated powers, he:
refer this report to the Audit Committee for their consideration as part of the overall monitoring arrangements for Treasury Management.
A joint report ofthe Chief Executive and Corporate Director - Strategic Resources, bringing together key aspects of the County Council’s performance on a quarterly basis.
County Councillor Carl Les introduced the Quarter 3 performance monitoring and budget report, confirming the in-depth focus for the performance section of the report as being Best start to life, an area that continued to have a significant number of challenges in the delivery of education and children’s social care during the pandemic.
County Councillor David Chance presented the Executive performance report summary, confirming the performance report provided strong evidence of the Council’s strong performance and leadership despite COVID-19, and continued progress in delivering it’s wide-range of ambitions.
He went on to provided a brief summary of the strengths and challenges in performance across those ambitions and the priorities set out in the Council Plan which included:
· The awarding of 32 grants totalling £26K to 30 community groups;
· The household support fund continued to make best use of the £3.5m allocated by the DWP;
· Key areas of support to households in need of assistance included direct awards of £275K in shopping vouchers, an increase food supply via the Food bank winter support fund, and an energy top up voucher scheme;
· The delivery of free public wi-fi in five towns across North Yorkshire, with a further four towns set to receive it in early 2022;
· Further reductions in the County Council’s carbon footprint, through carbon abatement programmes across the Council’s property portfolio;
· A reduction in the amount of waste and an increase in recycling, resulting in an ongoing reduction in landfill;
· Local Government Reorganisation continued to build impetus, with the development of detailed plans;
· Adult Social Care assessment activity continued to be a significant pressure point, driven largely by the national pathway arrangements for hospital discharges;
· Ongoing challenges across the care provider market, with a worrying trend of providers handing back care packages;
· An 8% increase in the cost of residential home care compared to same period last year;
· A rise in sickness absence across all services with the main cause being COVID – a range of mitigations had been put in place;
County Councillor Carl Les acknowledged the strong performance the County Council continued to deliver, and specifically in regard to the ambition of ‘Leading for North Yorkshire’, County Councillor Don Mackenzie welcomed the update on the delivery of Broadband and free public wi-fi with 18 town centres now being targeted, with a further three to be added.
County Councillor Janet Sanderson introduced the in-depth focus of the performance report on ‘Every child & young person has the best possible start in life’. She confirmed it was a uncertain picture going forward due to the pandemic recovery and national funding. She drew particular attention to:
· A reduced number of contacts at the front door translating to an increase in referrals;
· An increase in demand for statutory child protection, with more families moving into crisis;
· A dip in the number of up to date health checks for children in care, but an increase in the number of dental appointments;
· A challenging demand for specialist provision, with CRC’s who had normally provided families with overnight respite care having to be adapted to provide support for young people with highly complex needs;
· An increase in the number of children with EHCPs and an increase in the demand for assessment due to difficulties with employing educational psychologists – attention was drawn to the mitigation measures now in place detailed on page 23 of the report;
· An increase in the number of children and families presenting with mental health problems – work with CCGs was ongoing to identify and meet capacity;
· An increase in wellbeing issues for Looked after Children
· The positive findings from the Ofsted inspection in summer 2021, which reaffirmed the quality of practice demonstrated across the service;
County Councillor Janet Sanderson also thanked CYPS officers for their hard work, throughout the recent exceptionally challenging times.
County Councillor Patrick Mulligan highlighted the active steps been taken by the school improvement team to address the decline in the proportion of schools that had been judged good or outstanding.
County Councillor Gareth Dadd queried what was being done to identify those children with short-term mental health issues as a result of their changing environment and in response, Stuart Carlton, Corporate Director for Children Services acknowledged the increased stress and strain on families and children due to the impact of the challenging times, which was evidenced by some sustained demand at the front door and for specialist services.
In response to a number of queries from County Councillor Annabel Wilkinson, Stuart Carlton acknowledged the resulting impact of the pandemic on the delivery of services and provided an overview of the work ongoing to monitor and address the capacity issues. In terms of schools, he confirmed the introduction of earlier pathways and whole school training. He also noted the types of mental health support being provided in schools, the demand and supply issues around social workers, and the ongoing concerns about Children’s Respite Centres and the increase in the associated costs.
County Councillor Janet Jefferson drew attention to the work of the Children & Young People’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee in 2021-22 and the support given by officers and the Executive to that work. She also expressed concern about the backlog in Ofsted inspections, the increase in elective home education and the increase in first time entrants to the Youth Justice System.
In response, Stuart Carlton confirmed:
· The new system in place for EHE was having a positive effect on the number of families choosing not to transfer to EHE;
· His concern about the current EHE legislation which prevented him from having a right to see an child in EHE or to assess the quality of education being provided in a home setting;
· The ongoing monitoring and assessment of the Youth Justice Service by the Youth Justice Board;
County Councillor Gareth Dadd drew attention to the increased cost of SEND/Children’s Services which had been a factor in the recent Council decision to increase Council Tax.
County Councillor Greg White expressed concern about insufficient SEND provision for pupils with higher levels of need and in response, it was confirmed that there were small things that could be done by a local school to keep a child with complex needs in that setting in their local community. It was also noted that the higher needs block had been significantly challenged for some years, which had resulted in a number of difficult decisions, taken to address the related overspend.
Stuart Carlton provided an overview of the investments made in recent years to address the need for SEND provision but acknowledged the need for more capital investment. He also outlined possible opportunities for future SEND capital funding and the ongoing lobbying of Government to achieve an equitable share of that funding.
Members went on to consider the remaining sections of the performance report. Specifically in regard to ‘Growth’, County Councillor Derek Bastiman highlighted the ongoing work with the LEP on the zero carbon economy and the carbon abatement programme, and the reduction in waste.
In regard to ‘Healthy and Independent Living’, County Councillor Michael Harrison highlighted the ongoing pressures on Adult Social Care, in particular the number of unsourced packages of care. He also drew attention to the ongoing Make Care Matter’ recruitment campaign, and the easing of Covid restrictions and what that mean for the Care Sector.
In response to Scrutiny Board members queries, it was confirmed that:
· Negotiations were ongoing with the NHS about the future arrangements for the hospital discharge pathways;
· There was a massive backlog of people wanting elective NHS treatment requiring hospital capacity
· More people were now coming forward with a hidden need, and living well referrals were now back up to pre-pandemic levels;
· Reablement staff would naturally return to that service as the market recovered and more resources became available to provide planned care;
· The temporary pause of respite services and short term care was being monitored weekly;
Finally, County Councillor Caroline Dickinson commended officers for changing their ways of working and for their hard work throughout the pandemic.
Revenue Budget, Treasury Management & Capital Plan
County Councillor Gareth Dadd introduced each section of the report. In regard to Revenue, he confirmed:
· The underspend had increased to about £7.7m, which was less than 2% of the planned spend;
· HAS had received lots of one off funding through the year which had given it a sustainable budget this year;
· Children’s Services overspend had reduced by about £1m since the last quarter;
· The possibility of further spending required in BES in response to the effects of winter, which could eliminate the current underspend;
County Councillor Don Mackenzie welcomed the underspend on street lights and traffic lights, and the increased income from the permit scheme.
County Councillor Carl Les referred Members to the recommendations in the report, and having considered the report and the information provided at the meeting, members of the Executive agreed to note:
a) The latest position for the County Council’s 2021/22 Revenue Budget, as summarised in paragraph 2.1.2.
b) The position on the GWB (paragraphs 2.4.1 to 2.4.3)
c) The position on the ‘Strategic Capacity – Unallocated’ reserve (paragraphs 2.4.4 to 2.4.7)
d) The position on the County Council’s Treasury Management activities during the third quarter of 2021/22
e) The updated Q3 2022/23 Capital Plan
Executive Members also agreed to recommend to the Chief Executive Officer that using his emergency delegated powers he refer the Q3 report to the Audit Committee for their consideration as part of the overall monitoring arrangements for Treasury Management.