Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: Yes
The Sub-Committee considered a report on the second review of the Cheshire East Council forecast outturn for the financial year 2023/24.
Performance against the 2023/24 Budget within each service committee, and the Finance Sub-Committee was outlined in Table 1 of the report.
Members sought further information regarding the current revenue forecasts for Adults and Health and Children and Families which showed in-year forecast pressures of £4.7M and £10.8 respectively.
The Executive Director of Adults, Health and Integration outlined the factors driving increased costs in adult social care. These included price inflation in social care, with staffing costs in the care sector running ahead of headline inflation; the rate of growth of the aging population in Cheshire East which was higher than other parts of the country; more complex needs leading to higher unit costs; and the numbers of people being released from hospital into the community and requiring care.
The Executive Director outlined measures that were being taken to address budget pressures, including a reduction in the use of short-term residential and nursing placements, investment in domiciliary care, and capping price increases, with investment in a pricing tool to scrutinise provider costs.
The Executive Director of Children and Families advised that key factors underlying cost pressures in children’s services included increasing demand for, and the rising cost of, social care agency placements, with costs increasing above headline inflation and a significant number of asylum-seeking children in Cheshire East; the increased use and cost of agency staff; increasing home to school transport costs and the cost of school catering.
Measures being taken to address budget pressures included a recruitment drive to reduce the need for agency workers, a review of funding relating to school catering, seeking additional funding through grant applications, and increasing the number of safe walking routes to school to reduce transport costs. Further mitigations were being explored, including the possibility of early receipt of safety valve funding.
That the Sub-Committee
1. notes the factors leading to a forecast adverse Net Revenue financial pressure of £18.7m against a revised budget of £353.1m (5.3%);
2. notes the forecast and further mitigations needing to be identified, aimed at bringing spending back in line with budget;
3. notes the in-year forecast Capital Spending of £181.4m against an approved MTFS budget of £214.7m, due to slippage that has been re-profiled into future years;
4. notes the contents of Annex 1 of the report and each of the appendices therein, and notes that any financial mitigation decisions requiring approval will be made in line with relevant delegations;
5. approves capital virements up to and including £5,000,000 in accordance with Financial Procedure Rules as detailed in Appendix 7 Finance Sub-Committee, Section 5 Capital Strategy, Table 5; and
6. notes that Council will be asked to approve fully-funded supplementary revenue estimates over £1,000,000 in accordance with Financial Procedure Rules as detailed in Appendix 1 Adults and Health Committee, Section 3 Corporate Grants Register, Table 2 and Appendix 4 Economy and Growth Committee, Section 3 Corporate Grants Register, Table 2.
The meeting was adjourned at 11.25 am for a five minute break.
Publication date: 08/11/2023
Date of decision: 02/11/2023
Decided at meeting: 02/11/2023 - Finance Sub-Committee
Effective from: 16/11/2023