Wycombe Labour today said it was happy to explain the budgetary position on BCC’s Children’s Services after Martin Tett, Chair of BCC, said it must be “too confusing for the members of the public“ to understand.
The budget for BCC’s Children’s Services for 2014/5 is about £40 million.
- £4.8 million additional funding for Children’s Services has been approved by BCC but there is no information as to how it is to be spent.
- Another £1million has been approved by BCC for an improvement plan but it is unclear as to how it is to be spent.
- An additional £1.7 million has been requested for the improvement plan.
- The improvement plan has 144 actions, the vast majority of which have already been completed or nearly so.
In total this is an additional £7.5 million, nearly 20% of the Children’s Services budget.
This is the minimum required to bring Children’s Services up to a good standard and provides an indication of BCC’s under- resourcing of the Services.
Linda Derrick, Wycombe Labour’s spokesperson for health and social care, said “Wycombe Labour is happy to provide this explanation as BCC seems unwilling or incapable of doing so. Copies of this explanation have been sent to OFSTED to assist them in their discussions with BCC”.
In August, OFSTED published its report on BCC’s Children’s Services and assessed them as “inadequate”, the worst rating OFSTED could give.
On 6 September, BCC’s Cabinet agreed an additional £4.8 million funding for Children’s Services to implement the recommendations of a report from a Task and Finish Group on Children’s Services, an internal BCC Group set up in February.
Most BCC Councillors, including most Tory councillors, appear unaware of this Group’s existence.
The Task and Finish Group’s report is not available to the public. The public therefore do not know what this £4.8 is to b+e spent on and in particular whether it will address the failures exposed by OFSTED.
Wycombe Labour has asked for this report but Martin Tett has declined to provide it on the grounds that it contains some confidential information. Normal practice would be to release the report and blank out the confidential parts.
BCC’s Cabinet on 6 Sept also agreed an extra £1million as a “down payment” for an improvement plan then being prepared by BCC. BCC is legally required to prepare this plan in response to the OFSTED report.
The draft improvement plan was considered by BCC’s Cabinet on 20 October. The plan lists 144 actions and requests an additional £1.7 million. It is not clear if the total cost of these 144 actions is £1.7 million or £2.7 million i.e. includes the down payment.
The 144 action points have been assessed on a red, amber, green traffic light system:
- none of the 144 action points are assessed as red i.e. “requiring urgent action”,
- 9 are assessed as amber i.e. as “acceptable” but “requiring remedial action”, and
- the remaining 135 action points are assessed as “completed” or green i.e. as “good” or “requiring no further action”.
BCC’s Cabinet did not approve the plan but asked for further work to be done.