Independent Committee’s recommendations on budget proposals published

Ensuring a public consultation for any proposed changes to children’s centres and the reallocation of existing budget spending into services that support vulnerable children and adults are amongst the 16 recommendations for the Cabinet’s budget for the coming year, published today in a report by the County Council’s independent Budget Scrutiny Select Committee.

The report follows a three day scrutiny Inquiry process in January during which Cabinet Members were closely questioned on their budget plans in a series of Inquiry meetings by the cross-party group of councillors.

Amongst the other recommendations set out in the report are:

• To review the charging policies for all Home to School transport users to ensure maximum income generation opportunities are explored, and to undertake a timely public consultation on any proposed changes to the service;

• To identify gaps across all Council employees and to work across the organisation to upskill existing employees with commercial skills, and to recruit people to current vacancies who have commercial skills;

• To look at alternative ways of delivering the Youth Counselling Service without cutting the service completely;

• To undertake an options appraisal to assess the cost and benefits of providing our Fostering and Adoption service in different ways, including exploring the potential for outsourcing.

Inquiry Chairman, David Shakespeare, said: “It’s very clear that significant savings will have to be made across the board over the next year and indeed the next several years; our Committee wants to make sure as far as we can that proposed financial savings and reductions in services, particularly front-line services, are watertight – and that Cabinet Members can deliver what they say they can.

“For this reason, we have given full and robust challenge to the Cabinet Members on their budget plans through the Inquiry process. We hope our resulting report and recommendations will be of benefit to Cabinet as the budget-setting process nears completion.”

Read the full report at

The Committee’s report will be presented to Cabinet on 15 February, with the final budget for 2016/17 to be agreed by the full County Council at its meeting on 18 February.