Agenda item

Revenue Budgets Proposals 2018/19 and 2019/20

(To receive a report which looks at the budget implications of four commissioning strategies and describes the budget proposals for the next two financial years, based on the four year funding deal announced by Government as part of the 2018/19 Local Government Finance Settlement)


Consideration was given to a report which described the budget proposals for the next two financial years based on the four year funding deal announced by Government as part of the 2018/19 Local Government Finance Settlement.  The report specifically looked at the budget implications for the following commissioning strategies:

·         Readiness for School

·         Learn & Achieve

·         Readiness for Adult Life

·         Children are Safe & Healthy.


It was reported that the Council continued to face significant reductions in government funding along with growing cost pressures, particularly around demand led services.


Members were guided through the report and provided with the opportunity to ask questions to the officers present, and some of the points raised included the following:

·         The majority of the expenditure on the Learn & Achieve Commissioning Strategy was on home to school transport (approximately £25million), and it was stated that there were unlikely to be any opportunity for further savings from this budget without a policy change.

·         In terms of Readiness for Adult Life, the budget for this commissioning strategy had seen significant reductions over the last few years and some universal services were no longer provided.

·         It was commented that there were some things to really welcome, such as that there were no planned cuts to services and cost pressures were proposed to be met.

·         There was an increasing number of looked after children with an increasing complexity of needs.  The percentage increase in looked after children was not as high as the national increase but it was still a significant increase.

·         There was an additional cost pressure in Readiness for Adult Life due to the legal duty for the Council to provide supported housing to homeless young people over 16 years old, but under 18 years (21 for care leavers) and due to complexity of needs the cost of provided supported housing was getting more expensive.

·         It was recognised that there would be no real increase in budget, but it was queried, hypothetically, where would any additional spend be best used, if it became available.  From benchmarking work, it was known that Lincolnshire had a slightly above average spend on preventive work, but spend on child protection was the second lowest in the CIPFA benchmarking.  This indicated that prevention was effective.  If more funding was available, it was suggested that this would be spent on prevention work, in particular with the adolescent age group.  It was highlighted that North Yorkshire County Council was doing some interesting work with young people and had engaged a clinical psychologist to work on speech and language skills, as many of the young people who experienced problems were often not able to communicate effectively.

·         Members were informed that East Lindsey District Council had made a decision that care leavers would be exempt from Council Tax, and other members who also sat on district councils were requested to encourage their own districts to also adopt this policy.

·         In relation to the home to school transport policy, members were informed that the legislation had been set in 1944 and it could be argued that this legislative position no longer reflected modern needs, and it was suggested it could be useful for this to be examined at a national level.

·         It was confirmed that the cost of transporting SEN pupils was included in the home to school transport budget, and accounted for approximately £12million of the £25million budget.

·         In relation to home to school transport to grammar schools, it was highlighted that it had been agreed to carry out a review two years after the completion the review by the task and finish group on the issue.  It was acknowledged that this had been agreed and discussions would take place on the extent of the review.  The Executive Councillor indicated that she would be meeting with various colleagues to discuss grammar school transport issues.

·         It was clarified that the school leaving age had not changed, and there was no compulsory school education from the age of 16. 

·         There were challenges in terms of transitions as young people transition to adults services at 18, but care leavers at 21 (shortly to be changed to 25) and young people with SEN at age 25.

·         It was acknowledged that home to school transport was a significant financial risk for the Council, and it was queried how much it cost to deliver the Designated Transport Area system for grammar schools, as often children were not attending their nearest school.  It was commented that support for grammar school transport was a discretionary service which was outside the Council's statutory duty.  Members were advised that the cost of transporting children to grammar schools was around £3m.  If this discretionary service was to stop these children would still need to be transported to their nearest school and it was estimated that this would cost approximately £1.5m, therefore the additional cost to transport children to grammar school in the Designated Transport Area was around £1.5m.

·         Members were advised that changes could not be made to the home to school transport policy without first changing the schools admissions policy.  This would also require a countywide consultation.  It was reported that because of the requirement to consult well in advance, that any changes could not be implemented within the next two financial years.

·         In terms of funding home to school transport, this was a requirement through the legislation set in 1944 and therefore all children were entitled to funded transport if they lived more than the qualifying distance from the school regardless of whether they attended a secondary school, academy or grammar.

·         It was commented that home school transport was something the Committee would need to keep an oversight of.

·         In relation to the Council's statutory duties associated with the SEND reform grant, it was noted that officers were working on the impact of the reduction in the grant, and how any risks would be mitigated.

·         It was commented that East Lindsey's policy to exempt care leavers from Council Tax was a very good initiative, and would have a very small impact in terms of budgets, but it would make a big difference to the individual.  The Chairman advised he had already written to the Leader of South Kesteven District Council to ask the Executive to consider introducing this.

·         Members were advised that the capital budget was not just spent on maintained schools.  It was noted that the Council would also fund sufficiency places, but only maintained schools would receive funding for improving the condition of the building.  If an academy was requesting to increase admission numbers due to parental preference then the academy would be required to fund that itself, however, if the academy needed to grow to accommodate demand from an increase in the local population this would then be funded by the authority.




1.    That the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee support the budget proposals as set out in the report.

2.    That the following comments be passed on to the executive for consideration:

·         The Committee's primary focus was on the Home to School Transport Budget, and in particular the current policy for transport to grammar schools.  The Committee was advised that any changes to the Home to School Transport Policy would only impact in the long term, beyond the two year budget under the Committee's consideration.  This is because the Council's Home to School Transport Policy needs to be known to enable parents and pupils to make decisions about applications for school places. The Home to School Transport Policy remains on the Committee's work programme.  


·         Reference was also made to the discretionary power of district councils to exempt care leavers from the Council Tax.  East Lindsey District Council had already exercised its power in this way and other district councils were encouraged to do so. 


·         The Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee supported the revenue and capital budget proposals for 2018/19 and 2019/20


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