Cabinet Member: Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources
Officer: Jacqueline Harris Baker
Key decision: no
The Leader of the Council congratulated officers for their ongoing work and in particular their work to report the chronic underfunding the council suffered from in terms of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC). Members were informed that the council would seek to reengage with Government Ministers, once known, as the underfunding was unsustainable.
The Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources recognised the hard work of officers to manage the financial pressures daily. It was noted that significant pressures were being experienced in the Health, Wellbeing & Adults department. In terms of services for over 65s, it had been noted that a number of social care self-funders had run out of funds and were now being supported. Furthermore, additional costs had occurred due to the success of the One Croydon Alliance, however officers were in negotiation with the NHS to establish whether the costs could be shared.
The pressures related to UASC were discussed as being significant as Croydon had four and a half times more children than Home Office guidelines suggested each borough should support. This additional pressure of £8.5m had a large knock on effect across the council, particularly for children services.
Lastly the Cabinet Member informed Members that the council was required to provide support to Looked After Children up to the age of 25; however this was not funded and so further increased the financial pressures experienced by the council.
The Leader of the Opposition confirmed the Opposition’s support for the council’s desire to get a fairer settlement in terms of UASC support and stated that they would support conversations with the new Minister, once confirmed. The Leader thanked the Opposition for their support and the support of the three Croydon MPs on the matter and expressed hope that a fairer settlement would be reached.
Members noted that there had been a large shift in the Health, Wellbeing & Adults finances since the Quarter 1 report and queried what plans were in place to mitigate the trend. The Cabinet Member stated that finance were working with officers from that department, however it was a department which was experiencing huge pressures and to mitigate the trend the council had undertaken robust negotiations with the NHS to ensure the Alliance was properly financed. Whilst the CCG had recognised the principle of the council’s argument, an agreement was yet to be reached. Additionally, stringent measures had been put in place and all in-year actions across the council were being reviewed as to whether savings could be accelerated.
In response to Member questions the Cabinet Member for Homes & Gateway Services stated that in-year budgets had been reduced and so not all posts had been filled. Remaining staff had been required to deliver the same service, however it was noted that it was not always possible and, as such, it was not always possible to ensure services such as collecting garage rents was 100%.
Members expressed hope that the new Local Government settlement would be announced before the New Year and that it would be fairer which would enable the council to deliver excellent services to the residents of Croydon.
The Leader of the Council delegated authority to the Cabinet to make the following decisions:
1. Note the current revenue outturn forecast at the end of the second quarter of 2019/20 of £1.857m, before exceptional items of £8.550m, resulting in a total overspend of £10.407m;
2. Note that the exceptional items of £8.5m relate to costs incurred by Croydon Council for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) and No Recourse To Public Funds (NRPF), due to woefully insufficient funding from the Home Office.
3. Note the ongoing engagement with and lobbying of Government by the Council for additional funding for Croydon, both in general terms and specifically Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children given Croydon’s gateway status.
4. Note the HRA position of a £0.046m forecast underspend against budget.
5. Note the capital outturn projection of £278.6m, forecast to be an underspend of £160.8m against budget.
RESOLVED: To recommend to Council
1. The approval to increase to the capital programme by £2.660m as set out in Table 6.
2. The adoption of the lending criteria as set out in section 9 of this report.