Councillor Hebb introduced the
report and stated that this provided the outturn figures at quarter
3. He stated that the Council were predicting a balanced in-year
budget, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and therefore would not have
to bring an emergency in-year budget to Full Council. He thanked
all officers across every service for their hard work this year,
and felt that officers had been adaptive and reactive to the issues
that COVID-19 had caused. He also thanked all service managers, and
the Chief Executive, for considering resources and for being
financially prudent during these difficult times. He also thanked
central government for their £14million of COVID support,
which had helped to offset the £17millon of COVID-19
pressures the Council had faced. He felt grateful that the Council
had been in surplus, and although this surplus had originally been
designated for discretionary service spending, could now be used to
help balance the budget.
Councillor Hebb highlighted that Adult’s Social Care was currently slightly under-budget, due to excellent management and government funding support. He stated that Adult’s Social Care still needed support, particularly around the care market, which had seen increased pressure due to COVID-19. He stated that the Council planned to inject £2.5million into Adult Social Care in the future, as the majority of residents or their loved ones, would have to access this service at some point in their lives, and therefore the service needed to be secure. He then described the £1.8million of pressure currently being experienced by Children’s Social Care and explained that this was due to a number of high-need, high-cost placements. He stated that lots of work was going on surrounding this issue, to ensure the highest quality of care as well as prudent financial spending occurred. He stated that Children’s Social Care was a financial issue across the UK, but that Thurrock had worked hard to improve the quality of the service and decrease spending. He thanked the other services for balancing their budgets, and expressed his appreciation to all officers for their hard work on this.
Councillor Hebb summarised and highlighted the capital programme, detailed in appendix 3 of the report, which showed that some of the larger schemes in the programme had been re-profiled. He stated that this meant a £16million under-spend, highlighted in section 16 of the report, which could be utilised elsewhere.
The Leader felt pleased to see an in-year balanced budget, which had been helped by surpluses made in previous years. He thanked central government for their £14.2million of support to deal with COVID-19 pressures, but highlighted that this money would be paid by national taxpayers in future years to pay off this deficit. He added that Children’s Social Care was a demand-led service, and a few high-need, high-cost placements could push the Children’s Social Care budget outside their budget envelope. He stated that Thurrock was committed to ensuring every child’s wellbeing and would continue to work on this service. He felt that Thurrock had also been fortunate to have high levels of surpluses and reserves, which had helped offset COVID-19 financial pressures. He summarised and thanked the Corporate Director Finance, Governance and Property, the finance team, and Councillor Hebb for their hard work on this report.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
1. Commented on the MTFS and the forecast outturn position for 2020/21.
Reason for decision: as outlined in report.
This decision is subject to call-in.