Councillor Hebb introduced the
report and stated that this was a look back at the financial
position in the previous quarter. He stated that although there
were overspends and pressures in some areas, he reassured Cabinet
Members and residents that the budget would be balanced by the end
of the year. He highlighted the pressure currently being felt in
Adult Social Care, which had seen a £1million overspend, due
to some high-need and complex cases, but that the service had
always broken even in previous years, and would do so again this
year. He added that nationally, the majority of local authorities
had overspent on Adult Social Care, and this was usually due to
high-need, high-cost placements. He clarified that the recent
increase in council tax had included ring-fencing for adult social
care, and to ensure investment in early intervention care to reduce
demand, and increase people’s ability to live an independent
lifestyle. He stated that there was also an overspend in
Children’s Services, but in 2016 the service had been
£6million overspent and had received an OFSTED rating of
‘requires improvement’, but now the service was only
overspending by £0.6million and had an OFSTED rating of
‘good’. He felt this was a marked improvement, but the
service would continue to try to improve, as well as providing high
quality care and balancing the budget.
Councillor Hebb then highlighted that the environment team had broken even, whilst improving the borough and ensuring it looked good for residents and visitors. He also highlighted that there was pressure within the Dedicated Schools Grant high-needs block, as this had a high-needs requirement, but he would work with Councillor Jefferies to ensure this was balanced by the end of the financial year.
Councillor Hebb drew Cabinet’s attention to the Housing Revenue Account, which had also broken even, and highlighted the pressures that had been put on the service in regard to increased numbers of people presenting as homeless. He stated that an extra £0.3million had been invested into homelessness to ensure all residents could receive the support they needed. He also felt it was good to see services coming in under budget, as these could help with other overspent services and corporate costs, such as the Belmont Road programme, which had been taken into account within the budget. He summarised and stated that the budget would be balanced by the end of the municipal year, and services would continue to improve and be well-managed.
Councillor Halden commented that even though Adult Social Care had overspent, the current administration had taken on a £30million overspend in 2016, which they had changed to a £30million surplus, whilst also increasing reserves to 40%. He felt this was good as the Council could be buffeted against any future problems, whilst also continuing with programmes such as Head Start Housing, improving technology access for elderly people, installing pendant alarms for those that needed them free of charge, and improving the care leavers offer. The Leader added that the Council had always been able to deliver a balanced budget, and felt this was on track to be balanced by the end of the financial year. He echoed previous comments regarding the overspend in Adults Social Care and Children’s Services, and stated that the most vulnerable residents within Thurrock would always receive the necessary care. He highlighted that some of the pressures, such as additional high-needs cases and additional Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers were outside of the Council’s control, but they would continue to manage these.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
1. Noted the revenue forecast outturn position for 2019/20 and that further mitigation is required to outturn within the agreed budget envelope.
Reason for decision: as outlined in the report
This decision is subject to call-in