Agenda and minutes

Special - Budget Scrutiny, Children and Young People Select Committee - Monday, 31st January, 2022 2.00 pm

Venue: County Hall, Usk - Remote Attendance. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services 


No. Item


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.



Budget Scrutiny: Scrutiny of the budget proposals for 2022/23. pdf icon PDF 351 KB

Please use this link to access the papers for this item - available as part of the 19th January 2022 Cabinet agenda.


Additional documents:


Cabinet Member Phil Murphy delivered the presentation with Nicola Wellington. Councillor Murphy, Will McLean, Tyrone Stokes and Jane Rodgers answered the members’ questions.


Schools continue to receive grant funding at year end – could this committee have a report of what schools have spent these funds on, and the effect of that expenditure?

There has been a considerable amount of grant funding to schools in recent years, and throughout the pandemic there have been significant funding streams such as the ‘Recruit, Recover, Raise Standards’ initiative. That is to support learners and help them to catch up and close the gap that potentially widened during the pandemic. We work closely with our colleagues in the Education Achievement Service to understand the impact of that expenditure – it would be a very good report to bring to this committee, yes.

With school balances higher than in previous years, how will MCC ensure there is an appropriate balance between schools and other local authority expenditure, going forward?

As we’ve gone through the year the authority has faced significant pressures in our ALN budget, which has been difficult for us to manage; in particular, the costs of children remaining in county. It’s appropriate for us to work with the schools in a mature way to understand where the needs are – a great example of us doing that is the work that Nicola Wellington’s been leading on revising the delegation methodology for additional needs funding. We hope to see more work like this in the future. Schools will probably see an uplift again in balances at the end of this year, which is likely to be inflated by year-end grants. Some of those will have specific spending criteria (and will therefore figure in the report requested in the first question), while others will go directly to the bottom line.

It’s imperative that we are very clear with the schools that when significant balances have accumulated, they have robust plans that represent effective spending on their schools. We are talking to the schools about how we can help them to do that, ensuring that they understand the full flexibility and potential of procurement, thinking about the circular economy, and if there’s capital expenditure, that they do so in an informed way that meets obligations around planning, building control, etc. As we go forward, there will probably need to be a re-balancing of the money that schools hold themselves and the money that we are able to afford centrally to support them.

The budget mentions the 21st Century Schools programme in relation to Abergavenny and Chepstow. Could you comment on progress?

We are reaching a crucial time concerning the new school in Abergavenny, with submission of the full business case imminent, as well as the submission for planning. On 19th January it was agreed to take the final step in the consultation regarding the closure of the two schools and opening of a new school. The call-in period ended on Friday so that will  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.


Youth Offending Service pdf icon PDF 318 KB

To provide a report on the aims and objectives of the service and to discuss the outcomes for children and young people and the impact of the service.

Additional documents:


Chesney Chick delivered the presentation and answered the members’ questions.


How soon do you become aware of potential offenders?

We are a preventative service. There was a shift prior to my joining the team from dealing with people in custodial settings to dealing with people in the community, in a preventative way. We work very closely with our colleagues in children’s services, education and other partner agencies to identify those who might have trigger points – whether they are ACEs or otherwise – that indicate that they might come to our attention. Then, we look at services in collaboration with partners such as the Youth Service, to develop resources within a particular area, if certain issues are starting to arise. If it’s on an individual basis we would look at whether there is an in-house service which could meet that need.

As an example, during the lockdown an increase in domestic violence (child on primary carer) was identified. The information and data available from Monmouthshire and Torfaen children’s services didn’t indicate that that was a problem for us, but realised that they might not have been true figures, given that schools weren’t in. We created 2 posts sitting within children’s services that would help with the process, helping to identify potential cases and try to catch them preventatively.

While in lockdown, did online bullying and influencing rise, and were you able to do anything about it?

There was no data to suggest that there had been an increase but, anecdotally, some stories came through that there was potential for a rise. But nothing came directly to the attention of the Youth Offending Service. However, during the pandemic we used the digital platforms such as Teams to engage with the children that we are involved with, particularly during the summer: we gave them quizzes, for example, send them tasks in the post and then check back in with them to mark them, then give out prizes, etc. The idea was to keep them engaged. We were pleasantly surprised that there was a great uptake in those sessions – some found it easier to engage virtually than they would have done otherwise.

Being a joint service with Torfaen, is there a breakdown of the numbers for each local authority area? Have these changed over time?

Yes, there is a breakdown which we can present at a later date, if the committee wishes. There is a difference between the two areas that are longstanding and haven’t changed throughout the pandemic. It is hard to give specific numbers at this time but typically, for example, if there are 10 from Torfaen the number from Monmouthshire would likely be 5-7. There is an indication that the gap is closing, however. The complexities of the cases remain the same, and the typical root problems remain consistent in the two areas.

Reports to Adults Select suggest that young people who need housing are presenting with more complex needs. They don’t necessarily offend but is there  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


To confirm the date and time of the next meeting: 3rd March 2022 at 10.00am