The Council’s annual budget consultation was issued on 2 November seeking public input by 13 December 2017. The press were invited to a meeting to ask questions, and interview Cllr Shanker ( Cabinet member for Finance). As I was not given the opportunity to attend the briefing, I forwarded my questions directly to Cllr Shanker on 3rd November – which he agreed to answer. Despite confirming this commitment, on a number of occasions, the response has not been forthcoming….5 weeks later.
These were the questions
1. Given the pressures on funds why has the full 3% Social Care precept not been included in the budget for 2019/20?
2. Has the full 2% Social Care precept been assumed for 2020/21?
3. What underlying assumptions have driven a reduction in the overall funding from 2019/20 to 2020/21, given that previously it has increased and by that time the Revenue Support Grant will be down to ~ £12m – i.e. limited scope for unexpected reductions?
4. The text states that the jump in costs of £6.5m from 2019/20 to 2020/21 is due to Adult Social Care and looked after children. There is a saving in 2018/19 of £500k to do with “re-profiling expected demand” from a “review of the demographic profile”. This implies that current beneficiaries of social care will potentially lose out, for that to kick back in again in 2020/21. It would help to clarify what this re-profiling means, holistically for people now, and in the future?
5. It suggests that the gap of £7.5m in 2020/21 is a problem worthy of note. In reality it is based on a conflation of a number of assumptions which could be argued are on the pessimistic side. Since 2010…and before then, the Council has managed a planning gap of ~£8-£10m pa. What is fundamentally different for 2020/21 given that it is still 2 years away? Has the method of financial planning changed from previous years?
Council Care Homes / Day services.
6. It states that the £200k saving relates to the running costs of the buildings. This implies that it has not recognised the additional cost of paying the 3rd party suppliers of the new service. How has that cost been recognised?
Savings since 2010
7. In the foreword to the consultation it states that the Council has had to make savings since 2010 of £80m. In last year’s pack it stated it was £135m, rising to £160m by 2019/2020 – why is there such a difference? Which is correct?
8. Given that the £513k for insurance premiums is not reflected as “inflation” – is it correct to assume that this pressure is due to increased cover for insurance, despite the property rationalisation?
9. Whilst I understand that the Apprenticeship Levy is, initially a burden on the payroll costs, as this is used to pay for training and apprenticeships within the Council ( per the DCC Invitation to Tender) , isn’t this, essentially, net neutral for the Council? Why is it shown as a pressure?
10. As the Council is making savings from outsourcing Care Homes in 2018/19 – why is there an inflationary pressure of £1.5m in the budget? Presumably there will be a saving in 2019/20 due to this given that the budgets are done on an incremental basis?
11. What specific initiative will generate the £1.2m saving in residential places for children in care as , moving them into Derby, does not necessarily make it cheaper. Surely when they were first placed, remotely, an assessment was done that this would have been the cheapest option?
12. Which arts grants subsidies are being reduced to deliver the £270k saving?
13. Is it correct to assume that the £337k saving for libraries is now the 1st year of the declared 2 year saving programme to achieve the £650k? If so where is the reversal of last years declared saving …given that the budget is done on an incremental basis?
14. Why are there now no savings from the Delivering Differently programme which were planned at £3.2m for 2018/19? Are the £2.2m savings due for delivery in 2017/18? Is this programme no longer live?