Children's Services turnaround leads to Torbay Council underspend

A budget outturn report that was considered by Torbay Councils Cabinet shows that despite the significant COVID-19 pressures that made financial forecasting challenging, the council achieved an underspend on its 2020/21 revenue budget.

Most notably, Torbay’s Children’s Services made significant financial savings, resulting in a budget underspend of £5.7m. This turn around has been achieved whilst improving outcomes for children and families, allowing them to live better and more fulfilling lives.

As part of the 2020/21 the council approved significant investment into Children’s Services to improve outcomes for children and young people as well as improving the experience for staff. As a result of this renewed focus there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of costly residential placements meaning more children are being supported to live in family-based settings.

Despite the 2020/21 position, the council still faces a £13m budget gap over the next 3 years due to anticipated rises in demand for and costs of service delivery coupled with reduced Government funding.

As a result of the ongoing impact of the pandemic pressure continues into the 2021/22 financial year. The most significant impact remains for service areas such as car parking income, support for temporary accommodation and the collection of Council Tax and Business Rates. Limited funding has been made available from the government to off-set these costs, and there is still uncertainty as to how future funding for 2022/23 and beyond will change as a result.

With uncertainty ahead, it is critical that the one-off funding carried forward into 2021/22 is used sustainably, deliberately and consciously to target resources where they will make the biggest impact for Torbay’s recovery.

Notable investments to ensure Torbay’s people and economy thrives include:

  • Cumulative £2m invested towards Community and Corporate Plan priorities
  • Establishment of COVID-19 reserve
  • Funding into supporting transformation and improvement work which focuses on improving services for residents
  • £290k for free bus travel over the summer for eligible families
  • £0.5m invested into highway improvements which includes potholes
  • Capital funding to improve events infrastructure to host bigger and better events
  • £150k towards works at Oldway.

Councillor Cordelia Law, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said; “The financial savings achieved within Children’s Services can be attributed to the continued hard work by the staff within the service. Whilst the budget outturn report focuses on the financial impact of the changes, the most significant impact of ‘the numbers’ is that children and young people growing up in Torbay have improved outcomes.”

The full report, along with all reports considered at Cabinet on Tuesday 13 July can be found on the website.

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