Full Council 30 Nov minutes

http://democracy.somerset.gov.uk/documents/s1960/County%20Council%20Minutes%20Appendix%20B%20PQT.pdf

 

PQ5. Revenue Budget and MTFP From Mr Nigel Behan

Question 1 – The S151 Robustness and Adequacy Report (County Council February 2016) indicated that there were two main reserves created from Revenue (General and the Capital Fund) “Both reserves have been created from revenue sources of finance, so could be used for any purpose if required.”

a) What is the current General Reserve forecast for March 2017 (Original Forecast £15.425m)?

b) What is the forecast for the Capital Fund for March 2017 (balance at end of March 2016 £8m)?

c) Has all of the (mainly ring-fenced) Contingency Budget (£5.5m) been utilised/allocated and to where?

Question 2 – Reserves (from the Statement of Accounts)

i) Can a current estimate of actual reserves be provided (these are the Closing Balances of Total Useable Reserves for March 2016)

General Fund – Schools…………… 25.530

General Fund- Other  ….  21.010

Earmarked Reserves- set aside for revenue purposes …. 37.465

Capital Receipts Reserve   ….21.341

Capital Grants Unapplied Reserve…. 4.081

Capital Contributions Unapplied Reserve….. 5.307

Total Usable Reserves ……………114.734

ii) How much of the Earmarked Reserves has been allocated to Adult Social Care, Learning Disability Service and Children’s Social Care?

Question 3 – Delivery of the 2016/17 MTFP Proposals

i) Savings – What will happen to the 28.71% of savings (£3.48m) “that are no Longer deliverable”? Will they be rolled into (added to) next year’s “savings” (budget cuts)?

ii) Pressures – Was the forecast pressure of £13.5m a realistic assumption in February 2016 for 2016/17?

iii) The original forecast pressure for 2017/18 was £6.7m – was this calculation too low and what is the forecast pressure(s) for 2017/18?

iv) How will changes (and assumptions) in inflation etc. impact on this financial year and future years?

Response from Cllr Harvey Siggs – Cabinet Member for Resources

I thank Nigel for his questions and I’m sure he will agree they are complex so I will provide a written response to the various elements. I would though make a comment on the overall difficulty of delivering multi-million pound savings year on year at Somerset County Council. Like any household that loses an income stream, we have to operate within our means. We have a legal mandate to set a balanced budget at the end of the financial year. That means we operate on forecasts – which are forecasts and not “set in stone”. That means we have to be flexible with our financial planning. That means we have to look at everything we do and make a judgement based on value for money and affordability. So yes Nigel, we are looking across all our reserves to see how we can mitigate the anticipated loss of £40m over the next few years. We will factor in staff pay and inflation, and we are aware of pressures caused by an ageing population on our key services

PQ6. Adult Social Care costs From Nigel Behan

It has been reported (Local Government Association Daily News 25th November) that: “Anger grows over silence on adult social care costs

Councils and care providers have criticised the Government for failing to provide more money in the Autumn Statement to stave off a crisis in adult social care. Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said there is a funding gap of at least £2.6 billion by 2020 and services across the country were “at breaking point”. She added: “Extra council tax-raising powers will not bring in enough money to alleviate the pressure on social care and councils will not receive the vast majority of new funding in the Better Care Fund until the end of the decade.”

And the Leader of the Council has said that it was a “missed opportunity” not to address the Health Social Care Crisis whilst the Chief Executive noted that it was disappointing.

How will SCC (along with other Councils and the NHS) address this issue and what additional steps and measures are being considered to provide safe levels of care?

Response from Cllr William Wallace – Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care

I thank Nigel for his question. He noted that the Leader of the Council called the Autumn Statement “a missed opportunity” and that’s exactly what it was. We have a growing elderly population in Somerset and as that population ages, people live longer with more complex illnesses. Here in Somerset we are engaged in talks with all aspects of the health service to try to mitigate the financial pressures that face many parts of the public sector.

It is not a case of SCC being on its own, we are working with key partners, providers and customers too, as we try to face up with higher demands with less money from central government.

On the agenda today is a paper outlining what might be seen to be part of the solution, the snappily titled “Sustainability and Transformation Plan” or STP, a joint project involving this council, the two district general hospitals, Somerset Partnership Trust and the Clinical Commissioning Group. This plan outlines some £400m across the health sector as it tries to come to grips with its financial challenges and promotes a move away from “cure” and instead a new focus on “prevention”. That is at the heart of the proposal.

In terms of the second half of your question, we are not taking any additional steps and measures as you outline as we regard our care provision to already be delivered at a “safe” level

http://democracy.somerset.gov.uk/documents/s1960/County%20Council%20Minutes%20Appendix%20B%20PQT.pdf

PQ7. Learning Disability Provider Service
From Nigel Behan
The Future of the Learning Disability Service and the proposed Contracting Out to
Dimensions UK Ltd:
read question here:….. https://unitesomersetcounty.wordpress.com/2016/11/27/the-future-of-the-learning-disability-service-and-the-proposed-contracting-out-to-dimensions-uk-ltd/

Response from Cllr William Wallace – Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care

Can I also begin by thanking Nigel for his question. I do not believe these issues are related.
I believe that Nigel is referring to the challenges being faced by Tricuro – the tripartheid Local authority company set up by Dorset, Poole and Bournemouth councils – I can assure him that they have no parallel with the Somerset Social Enterprise and the way it is being commissioned.

The Somerset Social Enterprise contract negotiations have been extremely thorough, given that it is in the Council’s and Dimensions interest to ensure that this venture succeeds in order to deliver the best possible outcomes for customers and carers.

The situation with Tricuro has had no bearing whatsoever on the council’s contract negotiations with Dimensions.

The Learning Disability provider services’ projected overspend is a matter internal to SCC and similarly, has not impacted on the contract negotiations with Dimensions. These negotiations are progressing really well with the last few details being finalised, the norm for a contract of this size.

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