Reduction in Families First grant AND LAP Grant for Flying Start
There has been an 11.7% reduction in grant for 2016-17 which is resulting in some loss of services (Participation Officer under consultation) plus a reduction in grant under SLA’s for external delivery. These are challenging times for Let’s Get Working / Rural Families First.
The cut in LAP (Language and Play grant) is resulting in the loss of a great teacher who currently undertakes this role for Flying Start.
Having realigned teams to create a Disability Service the inequitable allocation of resources remains a challenge in particularly between people with Physical Disabilities and/or sensory impairment and people with Learning Disabilities.
The Social Care budget is facing unprecedented challenges. There is increased demand across all service areas which resulted in an overspend at the close of accounts for 2015/16 in excess of £1 million.
There are a range of factors that have caused this, many of which were reported through the political process in 2015/16. However a range of additional costs further affected the overall outturn for 2015/16. The department had in the latter months of 2015/16 predicted the increase overspend and the opportunity to use the reserves was a solution.
The 2016/ 17 budget is under further pressure as it has had to agree additional funding for the Residential, Domiciliary and Supported Living (24/7) care sector to the sum of £0.75m, over and above the funding made available through business cases. The supported living projects (24/7) are further affected by the introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW). It is clear that the policy decision taken nationally to introduce the NLW has had significant financial consequences locally. This is however not unique to Conwy.
In addition there has been an increased demand for independent placements for Looked After Children (LAC), with the independent sector seeking an uplift in fees as a result of the National Living Wage. Both of these factors are creating additional budget pressures and a projected overspend.
In respect of LAC, pressures are due to the lack of availability of foster placements within the county and within independent providers across the region. Due to this lack of placement choice, it is sometimes necessary for some young people to be placed in higher cost residential settings, particularly where behaviours escalate and Foster carers cannot meet their needs. It’s is accepted that the introduction of the National Living Wage will hopefully address some recruitment and retention issues within the sector and make it a more attractive sector to work within. In turn, this will hopefully assist with the drive for improved quality and sustainability. However the disparity between the business cases agreed and the funding required for National Living Wage alone has resulted in a deficit.
The department has benefited from additional funding via the business cases route to the sum of £6.2m over the last 5 years and has achieved £9.4m efficiencies as part of the councils efficiency drive over the same period.
As of the 1st of April 2016 the £1.436m value of the efficiencies that were approved by Council for 2016/17 have been removed from the budget. A failure to achieve any of these initiatives will only further increase the departments overspend.
The position in 2017/18 will worsen with further increases and demand expected within the service. The worse -case scenario of the NLW is that it raises to £9.00 per hour in April 2017 which would place additional demands of £2.3m for Residential/Nursing, £1.05m for Domiciliary Care and £1.2m for Supported Living. This is on top of the potential resource shortfall for 2016/17 and that will roll forward and further pressures experienced by the care sector as a result of other council initiatives.