Agenda and minutes

Children and Families Committee - Wednesday, 31st January, 2024 10.00 am

Contact: Josie Lloyd  Tel: 01270 686466 Email:

No. Item


Apologies for Absence

To note any apologies for absence from Members.


Apologies were received from Councillors R Kain, J Saunders, G Smith and L Smith.


Councillors J Clowes and J Rhodes attended as substitutes.


Declarations of Interest

To provide an opportunity for Members and Officers to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests, other registerable interests, and non-registerable interests in any item on the agenda.


In the interest of openness and transparency Councillor S Bennett-Wake declared that she was a teaching assistant at one of the schools referred to in the reports.


During consideration of item 6, Councillor R Bailey declared, in relation to proposal CF 6 (school catering subsidy), that she was a local food producer.



Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 137 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the previous meeting held on 11 December 2023.




That the minutes of the meeting held on 11 December 2023 be agreed as a correct record.


Public Speaking/Open Session

In accordance with paragraph 2.24 of the Council’s Committee Procedure Rules and Appendix on Public Speaking, set out in the Constitution, a total period of 15 minutes is allocated for members of the public to put questions to the committee on any matter relating to this agenda. Each member of the public will be allowed up to two minutes each to speak, and the Chair will have discretion to vary this where they consider it appropriate.


Members of the public wishing to speak are required to provide notice of this at least three clear working days in advance of the meeting.



There were no public speakers.


Third Financial Review 2023/24 (Children and Families) pdf icon PDF 135 KB

To consider a report on the third review of the Cheshire East Council forecast outturn for the financial year 2023/24.

Additional documents:


The Committee received the report which provided an overview of the Cheshire East Council forecast outturn for the financial year 2023/24 and the financial performance of the services relevant to the committee remit.


Members were asked to consider the serious financial challenges being experienced by the council (and other councils) and to recognise the important activities outlined which aimed at minimising the impact on services.


An amendment was moved and seconded which sought to add the word ‘note’ as well as ‘consider’ to recommendations 1 – 4. This was carried by majority.

In response to members comments and questions officers reported that


-       Officers would take away a request for the commentary of the report to be supported by figures

-       A written response would be provided on the average cost of care placements.

-       In respect of costs for consultancy fees information could be clarified outside of the meeting and it was noted that these had been presented in previous reports to committee


RESOLVED (by majority):


That the Children and Families Committee


1. Consider and note the report of the Finance Sub Committee: Finance Sub Committee, 11th January, 2024


2. Consider and note the factors leading to a forecast adverse net revenue financial pressure of £10.0m against a revised budget of £80.3m (12.5%).


3. Consider and note the forecast and further mitigations needing to be identified, aimed at bringing spending back in line with budget, for Children and Families services.


4. Consider and note the in-year forecast Capital Spending of £34.5m against an approved MTFS budget of £53.8m, due to slippage that has been re-profiled into future years, in respect of Children and Families projects.


5. Approve fully funded supplementary revenue estimates over £500,000 up to £1,000,000 in accordance with Financial Procedure Rules as detailed in Appendix 2 Children and Families Committee, Section 2 Corporate Grants  Register, Table 3.


6. Scrutinise the contents of Annex 1 and Appendix 2 and note that any financial mitigation decisions requiring approval will be made in line with relevant delegations.



Medium Term Financial Strategy Consultation 2024/25 - 2027/28 Provisional Settlement Update (Children & Families Committee) pdf icon PDF 184 KB

To consider the proposals within the budget consultation relating to the Committee’s responsibilities.

Additional documents:


The Committee received a report on the Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for 2024/25 – 2027/28 and the revenue and capital proposals contained within the MTFS relating to the committee’s responsibilities. As part of the consultation process the committee was asked to provide comments and feedback to the Corporate Policy Committee on proposals related to the responsibilities of the committee.


The Committee made the following comments on the proposals:


Proposal CF1: Discretionary offer to children with disabilities


-       Concerns were raised in respect of making savings of £900k which may mean there would be some compromise on outcomes.


Officers advised members that although the practice was what they were used to delivering, given the current context they were scrutinising that practice to ensure that it was adding value.


Short breaks were also commissioned through a framework and officers could see that there were opportunities to deliver similar services and be more inclusive through already established services.


-       Concerns were raised in respect of the capacity of the team and pressures put on them in respect of this proposal and their ability to deliver it.


Officers offered reassurance to members that the intention was to monitor and review capacity to ensure quality services were provided and the advantage of being an integrated children services system meant that this would help with continuity and support any capacity challenges.


-       It was suggested that when considering short breaks and outcomes for children, consideration should be given to outcomes for parents.


-       Members found it difficult to compare what was being delivered currently when they did not have the detail on what was expected to be delivered after the saving was made.


-       It was queried to what extent had the service providers looked at means tested provision on the discretionary elements of what the council provides at present.


-       Concerns were raised in respect of the idea of increasing and promoting the use of family hubs as a solution but one of the proposals was to reduce the budget for the family hubs so it was queried what was the impact of those ideas in respect of deliverability.


Assurance was offered that through analysis of practice and behaviour which had assisted officers in suggesting the proposals, decision making considered need rather than want to support the most vulnerable.


Proposal CF2: Remove school catering subsidy


-       Concerns were raised that this could be the ‘beginning of the end’ of the school catering service within Cheshire East because by increasing costs schools would start to look elsewhere and there was competition within the private sector. Whilst the consultation had been in the public domain some schools may not be aware of the proposal and as they were also entering a challenging budget setting period the council’s proposals may have a knock on impact.  A request was made for communication and messaging to be clearer for schools and to share information on the options that were being looked at.


Officers reported that they had attended the primary  ...  view the full minutes text for item 69.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 413 KB

To consider the work programme and determine any required amendments.



The committee considered the work programme. Officers would review the work programme following the proposals put forward in the meeting.


Officers informed the committee that the report scheduled for the February committee in respect of the Childrens’ Centre remodel would now be scheduled for April 2024.




That the work programme be noted.