County aim­ing to put £10m more into chil­dren’s ser­vices

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By TALIA SHAD­WELL Lo­cal democ­racy re­porter

AN ad­di­tional £10 mil­lion could be ploughed into the county’s over­stretched chil­dren’s ser­vices if new bud­get plans are given the green light.

Bucks County Coun­cil’s (BCC) draft bud­get for the next four years also sets aside an ex­tra £3.7m for adult so­cial care, while £61m has been set aside to fund road re­pairs.

BCC’s cabi­net met on Mon­day De­cem­ber 10 to dis­cuss the draft bud­gets from 2019/20 un­til 2022/2023, after the pub­lic were asked what ar­eas they would like to see pri­ori­tised in the com­ing years.

If the bud­get is ap­proved, chil­dren’s ser­vices funds will in­crease from £65.2m to £75.9m as de­mand con­tin­ues to in­crease, while the adult so­cial care pot will in­crease from £132.3m from £136m.

BCC’s por­tion of coun­cil tax will also in­crease by an­other 2.99% in 2019/20, how­ever there will be no adult so­cial care pre­cept – an ad­di­tional charge to raise cash for so­cial ser­vices.

The draft bud­get also al­lo­cates £110.6m to fund­ing pri­mary and se­condary school places and a fur­ther £16.7m for schools’ main­te­nance work.

BCC leader Martin Tett said the county is “in­vest­ing heav­ily in pro­tect­ing the most vul­ner­a­ble”, how­ever there are still “ma­jor risks” in the bud­get due to cur­rent “un­cer­tain­ties” in lo­cal gov­ern­ment fi­nance.

Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties across the coun­try are still wait­ing to hear the gov­ern­ment’s plans for adult so­cial care re­form and the re­sults of the fair fund­ing re­view, which as­sesses how lo­cal gov­ern­ment fund­ing is al­lo­cated.

Cllr Tett added cre­at­ing the draft bud­get has been “tough” due to pres­sures in chil­dren’s and adult so­cial care, how­ever thanked the gov­ern­ment for lis­ten­ing to coun­cils’ pleas for ex­tra cash to be ploughed into the ser­vices.

Ad­dress­ing the meet­ing, Cllr Tett said: “There are re­ally ma­jor pres­sures again this year and they have been re­ally hard to con­tain. That’s re­quired a re-pri­ori­tis­ing of the bud­get.

“Credit to the gov­ern­ment they have lis­tened to the lob­by­ing done by this coun­cil, the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion and other bod­ies, and they have pro­vided us with a range of one-off fund­ing for chil­dren’s adults and gen­eral so­cial care so that we can lay in some con­tin­gency fund­ing against that.”

Cabi­net mem­ber for chil­dren’s ser­vices, War­ren Whyte, wel­comed the “sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment” in vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren and adult so­cial care - which will al­low more money to be ploughed into chil­dren’s care place­ments.

He said: “Pri­mar­ily the in­vest­ment in the next year will be a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in looked after chil­dren’s place­ment bud­gets, which is quite chal­leng­ing.

“We are mit­i­gat­ing that with much more rig­or­ous ac­tiv­ity on how we place chil­dren more lo­cally in more ap­pro­pri­ate place­ments, but also we will be bring­ing in our own chil­dren’s homes that we pre­vi­ously ap­proved a £2 mil­lion in­vest­ment on.”

Cabi­net mem­bers ap­proved the draft bud­get and it will now be sent out for fur­ther scru­tiny by

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