Agenda item

Budget Monitoring: Scrutiny of the budget monitoring capital and revenue position at Month 7, setting the context for scrutiny of budget proposals.


Tyrone Stokes presented the report and answered the members’ questions with additional comments from Jonathan Davies and Cabinet member Phil Murphy.

The Outturn forecast shows the deficit increasing from £24k in Month 2 to £180k in Month 7 – is that mostly from the pandemic?

To put this into context, we have a roughly £8m budget for the Adult division, so the overspend in relation to the total is very small. The overspend itself is not related to Covid but is due to the over-and-above budgeted pay award for staff, and not meeting the 2% efficiency for frontline operations. Salary budgets have a 2% efficiency saving taken off but for the frontline services can’t keep the vacancies open, which leaves them unable to make that efficiency saving.

For Social Care, Health and Safeguarding, there is a £69k overspend, largely due to the increased cost of care packages – what is the risk to care homes, and their financial state?

The Care market is being helped significantly by the Welsh Government Covid Hardship Fund, which allows us to make payments to Care Homes for any void beds that they have, and give them a £50 per week allowance to help them to get over the pandemic. We don’t see any significant risk currently because the Hardship Fund is in place until 30th March. We don’t know, however, what resources Welsh Government will commit as we come out of the pandemic – we won’t be able to go from the pandemic to the ‘new normal’ without some sort of transition.

Could a further breakdown be given of the overspend vs. underspend?

The Adult Select portfolio includes the Adult budget, which is an overspend of £180k, which is offset by a £4k underspend in Community Care, a £103k underspend in Commissioning and a £4k underspend in Resources and Performance. Adding them all together gives a net overspend of £69k.

What is the reason for the underspend in Commissioning?

Due to the pandemic, there are several schemes that can’t recommence e.g. day services, due to the close proximity in one building; we have done a lot of outreach support for those clients. We have therefore seen many natural savings such as building overheads, for example. Also, we have had a Commissioner Officer post vacant for over a year – plans to recruit to that have been delayed, and have added to the underspend.

Day care centres aren’t open as they were before because of lockdown. If there are savings in this area, can we ensure that when lockdown is lifted, these centres are still sustainable?

The savings will be there next year in order to facilitate the re-opening of day care centres, or whatever new provision we might decide to put in its place.

Regarding the capital slippage for Crick Care home, will there be any long-term problems as a result? Have the deadlines been extended?

Crick Road is a partnership with Aneurin Bevan via Welsh Government funding, which AB hosts. We have engaged with AB and had confirmation from Welsh Government that those deadlines have been extended, and the funding has moved with it too, to safeguard that.

In terms of the reduced capacity to offer services, have significant packages of care been handed back to the authority during the last year?

At the start of the pandemic, we did see packages being returned or clients refusing to have carers come to their homes. When the first lockdown eased, those clients started to return. With this second upturn in the pandemic, we haven’t seen the same levels of care packages being returned. Infection control is much better, we know a lot more about the virus, sufficient PPE, and now there’s the vaccination programme as well. And people have become accustomed to working in a different way e.g. carers arriving in PPE, which was a shock to people at the start.

Provision of Liberty Safeguards – what does this £100k saving relate to?

‘Deprivation of Liberty Safeguarding’ is where we have a joint safeguarding team with Aneurin Bevan and other Gwent authorities. As part of the Capitalisation directive, we can capitalise certain revenue expenditures to help with the bottom line. One of the items that we’ve decided to capitalise is our contribution to the ‘DOLS’ team.

How many members of staff were put on furlough at the start, and how many are still?

In terms of Social Care, staff that were working in a day centre are still providing services to clients, just through a different vehicle, providing more 1-1 support, e.g. over the phone. Some of our community meals staff have been furloughed, but they are few in number. Furloughing can only happen in income-generating departments, which curtails the amount that can be used.

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