· To select appropriate items from the Cabinet agenda for pre-decision scrutiny (cabinet reports enclosed for Scrutiny Members)
· To select appropriate items from the Cabinet (Finance) Sub Committee agenda for pre-decision scrutiny (Cabinet Finance Sub - Committee reports enclosed for Scrutiny Members)
The Committee scrutinised the following Cabinet Board items:
Budget Monitoring and Update Report 2021/22
Members were provided with an update in relation to current budget projections for the 2021/22 financial year.
Officers highlighted that the Council was very early on in the 2021/22 financial year and that the report was a budget monitoring update position calculated as at the end of May 2021 and projected to the end of March 2022. It was stated that at present, it was forecasted that the Net Authority budget will underspend this year by £178k; there were some variations reflected in the report, along with a number of assumptions that Welsh Government would continue to provide monies from the Local Authority Hardship Fund to support both increase costs and loss of income. It was mentioned that Officers were still waiting for clarification on some of those monies and Members will be updated on the position on a by-monthly basis.
The circulated report predicted that there would be an increased number of children having to go into residential care; Members asked if this was as a result of the lockdown pressures on vulnerable families. The Director of Social Services, Health and Housing confirmed that there was a significant increase in mental health issues amongst young people as a result of the lockdown pressures; there was also an increase in the number of families that were in significant distress as a result of being confined together for long periods of time. It was stated that there was a protracted period in which the Council wasn’t able to provide its intensive support packages to families within their homes, due to the virus and the safety issues around doing so; the normal outlets that families had to reduce stresses, such as children going to school, also weren’t available. The Committee was informed that as a result of this, there was an increased pressure across the Looked after Children sector and in particular the residential care sector; it was predicted that 3 or more extra placements would be needed this year. Members were reassured that where children need to be taken into care or have their needs met within residential care settings, this will be done; and also when appropriate, reuniting children with their families.
In relation to elderly residential care, the report stated that from September 2021 there could be a reduction in the amount of financial support which could impact on the viability of some care settings and providers. Members expressed their concerns with this and asked if Officers could expand on this statement further, elaborating on what the consequences would be for the Directorate and the wider Council. Members were informed that Welsh Government had been providing financial support to residential care homes that were below the threshold of 90% occupancy; in September 2021, Welsh Government planned to reduce this. It was mentioned that there were some caveats to this, however Officers weren’t aware of the details as of yet. The report highlighted that if the ... view the full minutes text for item 4