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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, City Hall

Contact: Ian Hird 

Link: Watch Live Webcast

No. Item


Welcome, introductions and safety information


The Chair welcomed all attendees to part 2 of this meeting.


Apologies for absence had been received as follows:

Cllr Tim Rippington, Resources Scrutiny Commission

Cllr Gary Hopkins, Resources Scrutiny Commission

Cllr Katja Hornchen, People Scrutiny Commission

Cllr Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor for City Economy, Finance and Performance

Cllr Ellie King, Cabinet member - Public Health and Communities

Stephen Peacock, Chief Executive

Vanessa Wilson, Director: Children and Education Transformation



Scrutiny of 2024/25 budget proposals - part 2

Explanatory note: This meeting is being held over two sessions (30 January and 1 February) to scrutinise the Mayor’s 2024/25 budget proposals, as submitted to the Cabinet on 23 January and in advance of the Full Council budget meeting on 20 February.


During this ‘Part 2’ session on 1 February, members will scrutinise the sections of the budget relating to the:

- Children and Education directorate, from 4.00 - approx. 5.30 pm

Members of the People Scrutiny Commission have also been invited to attend this section of the meeting.


- Adult and Communities directorate, from approx. 5.30 - 7.00 pm

Members of the People and Communities Scrutiny Commissions have also been invited to attend this section of the meeting.


Members’ comments will be reported to the Full Council budget meeting on 20 February.


During this session, Scrutiny members will focus on the information in the following reports that have been published for the Cabinet meeting on 23 January:


2024/24 budget recommendations and Treasury Management Strategy

(Public Pack)2024/25 Budget Recommendations & Treasury Management Strategy Agenda Supplement for Cabinet, 23/01/2024 16:00 (


Dedicated Schools Grant budget proposals 2024/25

(Public Pack)Dedicated Schools Grant Budget Proposals 2024/25 Agenda Supplement for Cabinet, 23/01/2024 16:00 (


Finance Outturn report (period 8, quarter 3)

Decision Pathway Report P08.pdf (


The Commission considered the following aspects of 2024/25 budget proposals as approved at the Cabinet meeting held on 23 January 2024:

1. Children and Education directorate - proposed budget

2. Adult and Communities Directorate - proposed budget




a. Commission members had submitted a pre-notified question in advance of the meeting.  The response to this question was noted as follows:


Question: The supplementary estimate shows further deterioration from £11m at the end of October to aim at the middle of January. Does this all relate to DSG and the special needs block? Does it represent providing for the shortfall because of the pending statutory overdraft or is it something else?


Response: The supplementary estimate does not relate in any part to the DSG or the special needs (high needs) block. The supplementary estimate is to offset the Q3/P8 £18.5m pressure forecast that is General Fund and relates to pressure in Childrens Social Care placements and in Home to School Transport.


b. Summary of main points raised/noted in subsequent discussion:


1. Foster care

a. There was a discussion during which members generally welcomed the action being taken to invest in and improve foster care.  It was noted that actions being taken forward included:

- a drive to recruit significantly more foster carers, and where appropriate to consider additional, innovative approaches, e.g. in some cases, providing financial assistance to foster carers/prospective adopters to enable a home extension or provide suitable aids and adaptations, or in some cases resource the provision of a larger vehicle, where it was clear that long-term value for money and additional foster care through that additional investment could be assured.

- participating in the regional foster care hub as part of a programme of offering holistic support to foster carers.

- new campaigns to encourage the recruitment of new foster carers and action to support potential new foster carers as they progressed on their care ‘journey’ beyond the initial inquiry stage, and participation in the south west fostering retention and recruitment hub project.

b. It was noted that independent fostering agencies faced similar challenges around recruitment.


c. It was noted that individual councillors can have an important role in participating in any local foster carer recruitment campaigns.


2. Children’s home placements

a. There was a discussion about the action that will continue to be taken to develop the in-house, local placement offer, including ‘investing to save’ opportunities to increase capacity and provide more local children’s homes to reduce reliance on more expensive ‘out-of-area’ placements, noting that the children’s home model is now based primarily on small-scale settings, i.e. no more than 1-3 children per home.

It was noted that:

- Demand for children’s home placements continues to outstrip supply.

- Through the Council’s Property Transformation Programme, property assets were notified to the Children’s Services team as they became available in order that an assessment could be made about the potential to develop a pipeline of converting/re-purposing suitable Council owned properties.


b.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32.