Agenda item

2024/25 General Fund Revenue Budget & Capital Programme update

To consider the report


The Audit Committee noted the contents of the report considered at the Executive in December 2023.



The Audit Committee received a report from the Executive Director – Resources and Corporate Services, Jason Vaughan.


The  Executive Director – Resources and Corporate Services, Jason Vaughan, presented the report,  highlighting: the consideration of the report at Scrutiny Committee - Corporate and Resources on 5 December 2023, Executive on 6 December 2023 and Full Council on 20 December 2023;  that the Council had been pro-active in writing to the Department for Levelling Up Housing & Communities (DLUHC) outlining the financial challenges and capitalisation direction, and have been assigned a key contact; summarised the recommendations, including the work on the capitalisation programme 2024/25, the public budget consultation – end  22 January 2024; the work and review on reserves; the draft budget revenue and capital and Vision for a sustainable Somerset Council.


The Audit Committee asked a number of questions and made a number of comments which were responded to at the meeting, as follows:


        That a key area of focus and risk to the Council is the Adult and Children Services budget situation, with the Audit Committee requiring assurance that budget controls are in place for a deliverable budget - The Chair requested Mel Lock and Claire Winter to attend the 25 January 2024 and 28 March 2024 Audit Committee meetings.


        The consultation and engagement process on the savings proposals identified, the devolution opportunities for the City, Town and Parish Councils and concerns around timelines for precepting and budget setting.

        Opportunities for increasing income and precepts for a good future for Somerset and not operating as a skeletal Council.

        Commercial investment and the capitalisation direction, including sale of assets, borrowing, selling Council assets process, the asset management sub committee role and the process over a period of time to review assets.

        The selling of assets to produce income – capital receipts, capitalisation direction and the cost of new borrowing.


The Executive Director, Children, Families and Education, Claire Winter, responded:


        The 20% increase in the Children Services budget for 2024/25, what is the need for this and is it  sustainable moving forward – that the 20% is rise due to the complexity of need, which is both a local and national pressure, and that the level of increase is not predicted in subsequent years due to effective  work of homes and horizons project and the work on the in house fostering service to improve  the number of in House foster carers.


        The Council’s commitment to intervention services in preventing the escalation into statutory services, including family intervention services and early intervention services.



The Executive Director, Adult Social Care, Mel Lock, responded:


        What is the cause for the £69.6m pressures in Adult Services 2024/25 budget? Advised of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services national survey completed in Autumn 2023 highlighting the complex mix of high inflation, increased needs, complexity of needs and the workforce challenge. Further impacts on the budget include the unfunded increase in living wage (an additional £5m pressure for Somerset Council),  the increase for adult social care due to speed of discharge from hospital and the complexity of individuals, the cancellation of the fair cost of care exercise, the overspend of Adult Services in previous years, and the potential changes in April 2024 regarding overseas workforces which could mean the use of agency workers and increase costs further.

        The large number of outstanding assessments and the process of managing the waiting list.

        The working partnership of Somerset Council and the Integrated Care Board, including maximising funding and the work on prevention. 


The Audit Committee noted the contents of the report considered at the Executive in December 2023.




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