Draft budget focuses on most vulnerable

Published Thursday, 9th January 2020

Budget 2020-21 written in white on a blue background

An extra £5.7m is set to be spent on children’s and adult social care in 2020/21.

The proposal will be discussed as part of the council’s draft budget (cabinet, Thursday 16th January 2020)

Spending proposals in summary include:

  • £2.4m to cover some of the additional costs that the council faces placing more children into care – the current number of external placements has risen from 54 to 87, at a current average cost of £2,150 per child per week
  • £1.1m to cover the forthcoming increase in the national living wage
  • £480,000 to look after older people due to increased demand
  • £400,000 to attract 16 new foster carers, which will help to reduce costs in the long-term
  • £210,000 to increase the number of newly qualified social care workers employed, and reduce the reliance on agency workers
  • £350,000 to fund transition costs for those with a learning disability aged 18 who are transferring into adult social care services
  • £250,000 investment into the council’s equipment services – this service provides equipment such as zimmer frames, commodes, reclining chairs and beds to allow people to remain living in their homes for longer.
  • £35,000 to increase services available at Southend-on-Sea’s complex needs hostel

Cllr Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning, says: “The number of children being taken into care is increasing nationally, and therefore so are the costs. So whilst long-term we continue to look at ways of reducing those costs through the recruitment of more foster carers for example, we must also budget for the costs we face daily when our teams are having to make quick decisions in the best interests of a child.

“Whilst I am pleased to see social care funding rise nationally, and our allocation rise by £3.4m, this is only one year of funding and not built into base funding, and so a longer term national solution for social care and the NHS must be found to ensure we can sustainably plan for the future and allocate our budgets appropriately.”

Cllr Trevor Harp, cabinet member for health and adult social care, says: “Looking after those that need care and support is the most important service a council provides, and I am therefore pleased that we have a prudent budget that invests in the areas that need it the most. 

“All councils that provide social care services are facing continued increases in demand in the area of adult social care, with people living longer and inevitably requiring more care and services. It is therefore right that we invest the adult social care precept in these key services that people rightly expect and need.”

The draft budget will be considered by the council’s cabinet on Thursday 16th January, the council’s three scrutiny committees at the end of January, with the final budget to be discussed and approved at Full Council on Thursday 20th February.