Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People's Scrutiny Panel - Monday 15th January, 2024 4.30 pm

Venue: Mandela Room, Town Hall

Contact: Chris Lunn 

No. Item


Declarations of Interest


There were no Declarations of Interest at this point in the meeting.


Minutes - Children and Young People's Scrutiny Panel - 4 December 2023 pdf icon PDF 319 KB


The minutes of the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 4 December 2023 were submitted and approved as a correct record.


Council Budget 2024/25 and MTFP Refresh - Children's Services pdf icon PDF 575 KB

The Executive Director of Children’s Services and the Executive Member for Children’s Services will be in attendance to present Children’s Services budget to the Panel.


The Mayor and Deputy Mayor were in attendance at the meeting and gave a presentation which covered the following issues in relation to Children’s Services:


           Remaining Budget Gap.

           Post Settlement Update/ Exceptional Financial Support.

           Children’s Services – context.

           Questions : Children’s Services – Budget savings proposals.

           Next Steps.


The budget gap was £6.3 million, having taken into account all the current savings proposals.  The Local Government Finance Settlement announced in December 2023 had provided a small improvement.  A report would be submitted to Executive later this week recommending an application to the Government for Exceptional Financial Support (EFS).    EFS could provide a temporary funding solution that would enable the Council to achieve financial sustainability and avoid having to issue a Section 114 Notice.


The Mayor provided some context for the current position in Children’s Services – Social Care - as follows:


           Lack of availability of in-house placements for children had resulted in high cost spend on external placements.  A placement review and efforts to increase the in-house provision were currently underway.


           Children’s Social Care had experienced significant recruitment and retention pressures which had impacted on the quality of practice and agency staffing costs.


           Governance was in place to provide increased budgetary controls in relation to the approval of spending within Children’s Social Care, including the S17 spend.


           Children’s Social Care had seen an increase in demand over recent years.  This was impacting on caseload numbers and was contributing to Middlesbrough’s recruitment and retention challenges.


           Children’s Social Care had been graded as ‘Requires Improvement’ in March 2023; a monitoring visit was likely to take place in Spring 2024.


Children’s Social Care was the largest area of net expenditure for the Council at £54.6m (43% of the Council’s opening total net revenue budget) for 2023/24.


Middlesbrough had a high young population, with 23% of the population aged between 0 to 17 compared to North-East neighbours of 19.8% and

20.8% for England (as per Office for National Statistics).  The number of Children aged 0-15 in absolute low-income families was 31.8%, compared to the England average of 15.3% (as per DWP data).  The number of young people, and those living in poverty directly impacts on the number of children requiring support from Children’s Services.


There were 140.2 Child Protection plans per 10,000 children in Middlesbrough, whilst the England average was 43.2 in 2022/23.


The direction of travel for Children’s Social Care was for improvements to efficiencies of current systems to transform the delivery model through enhancement of early help and prevention, the development of new models of placement provision for looked after children, and development of more in-house fostering capacity.  These initiatives would be overseen by the Childrens Improvement Board.


With regard to Education:


           A recent Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection had resulted in Middlesbrough’s special needs service for young people being given the highest possible rating.  The inspectors described children and young people with SEND in Middlesbrough as ‘valued, visible  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23/27


Overview and Scrutiny Board Update

The Chair will provide a verbal update on matters considered at the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 20 December 2023.


The Chair provided a verbal update on the matters that were considered at the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 20 December 2023.


Date of Next Meeting - 12 February 2024


The next meeting of the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Panel was scheduled for 4.30 pm on Monday 12 February 2024.


Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.