The Director of Strategic Resources presented a report on an estimate of the annual projected outturn for 2012/2013 based on the first quarter review of revenue expenditure against the current year's Revenue Budget.
It was reported that an overall net budget saving of £229k was currently forecast on revenue expenditure which represented a 0.2% pressure against the 2012/2013 revenue budget of £133,588.
The Board's attention was drawn to major variances with regard to each service area.
It was reported that a net budget pressure of +£172,000 was predicted in respect of Children, Families and Learning with the main pressure of +£1,816,000 being forecast in relation to the safeguarding service with particular regard to the Independent Fostering and Residential Schools agency budgets. An indication was given of some of the measures being taken to address such pressures. A request had been made that demand led pressures within Children, Families and Learning totalling £1.6 million be funded from the Social Care and Vulnerable Children demand led pressures balance sheet reserve (-£1,604, 000).
Specific reference was made to the current contractual arrangements with Five Rivers which was due to cease in September 2013. Officers were examining options for future provision including the Council and other organisations. Members were keen to ascertain the reasons for Five Rivers not renegotiating a new contract and the potential impact on the Council in terms of future provision.
Reference was made to the anticipated pressure in relation to the Children's Agency Residential Schools budget and the difficulties in projecting the number of children with complex needs.
Although it was noted that additional resources had been allocated within the Medium Term Financial Plan given the increasing number of Looked After Children and children with complex needs the Board reaffirmed their concerns at the significant costs involved and the potential impact if there were insufficient resources to cope with demand.
In commenting on the higher than expected room hire costs in respect of the Locality, Enquiry and Assessment Team Members referred to recent accommodation reviews and the scope for utilising alternative available accommodation.
It was reported that the Social Care service predicted a net saving of (-£52,000) at the end of the 1st Quarter. Although demand led pressures of +£731,000 were predicted reference was made to savings arising from additional service user or Middlesbrough PCT contributions on Older People, Learning Disabilities and Mental Health budgets which more than offset the pressures.
Specific reference was made to Ayresome Industries which demonstrated a surplus for the first time in a number of years. It was noted that the service was still being reviewed in order to make it more sustainable.
In response to Members' clarification regarding a budget pressure of +£731,000 in relation to demand led budgets it was explained that such an amount may not necessarily involve large numbers of people. As medical advances continued to be made there was an increasing number of people with very complex care needs. Following a request by Members it was agreed to provide further information on future budget projections in this regard.
In commenting on the current situation with regard to the Integrated Transport Unit it was agreed that further information be provided when considering the Quarter 2 budget report.
It was reported that within Environment pressures of +£510,000 were forecast in relation to Environment Services. Budget reduction targets for wheeled bins, junk jobs, non-domestic waste and Building Cleaning costs would not be achieved in full. It was also noted that an income shortfall was predicted in respect of Car Parking and Facilities Management. Such pressures were partially offset by projected savings totalling -£411,000 on Community Protection budgets. A number of reviews had taken place within Sport and Leisure resulting in substantial savings with particular regard to staffing costs.
The Board discussed the current situation in relation to car parking with particular regard to charges and the potential for scrutiny to examine such aspects. Members were advised of similar circumstances being experienced across the UK including towns in the North East such as Newcastle, York and Durham where income from car parking had significantly reduced following decreases in the number of people shopping in town centres.
Members noted that within Regeneration savings of -£86,000 were forecast on Housing Services staffing cost budgets although this would be offset by income shortfalls in Estates and Community Regeneration.
Although a number of proposals were being pursued it was noted that a pressure of +£204,000 was projected on the Mouchel Partnership budget within Corporate Services as the Partnership savings target would not be achieved in full.
A breakdown of Gross Expenditure and Income budgets against projected Expenditure and Income outturns were outlined in Appendix A of the report submitted.
In overall terms, Members referred to the impact of changes which had been made by certain service areas with regard to higher fees and charges which as indicated in the examples given had resulted in reduced demand for certain services and less income in some cases.
ORDERED as follows:-
1. That the Officers be thanked for the detailed information provided which was noted.
2. That the comments of the Board be referred to the respective budget clinics and that further information be provided to Members on the areas requested as outlined.
3. That the Deputy Director Safeguarding and Specialist Services be invited to attend the next meeting of the Board to clarify the estimates on future demand, the current budget pressures and the measures being pursued to mitigate such circumstances in respect of the Safeguarding Services within Children, Families and Learning.
4. That the scope for scrutiny to be involved in some of the areas highlighted such as the impact of certain fees and charges and current car parking charges be considered further.