17th January 2014
The Board had two main areas of focus at its January 2014 meeting: the children’s services element of Leeds City Council’s 2014/15 budget proposals; and how to better respond to the needs of vulnerable children under five.
Given national funding reductions to local authorities and the combined pressures of population growth and increased service demand, children’s services face a particularly challenging budget for 2014/15. Budget pressures for the coming year total £18 million. The partnership’s strategy of investing in early intervention, which has already achieved considerable savings by, for example, helping to reduce the number of children coming into care in Leeds, will continue, but protecting this investment must be done in the context of reviewing, reducing and reorganising a variety of services.
Key Discussion Themes:
- What opportunities are there to pool budgets around shared priorities more effectively and how do we do it more quickly?
- We must maintain the overarching vision for the city and our investment in early intervention.
- We must collectively be open, honest and consistent with citizens about the decisions being made.
The Board agreed to hold a special meeting after the Council’s budget has been approved on 26th February, to agree what actions will need to be taken to plan for future budgets across the partnership.
Vulnerable Children under five
Building on an OBA event held about the issue in October 2013, the board considered particular issues around protecting and supporting children under 5. The board heard evidence demonstrating why this group are a particular priority and the social and family issues that need to be better addressed.
Key Discussion Themes:
- Establishing a senior strategic group with a very clear focus on work targeted to this age group.
- How to re-focus resources around substance misuse, domestic violence, etc. to prioritise parents.
- Strengthening joint working around preventative services and targeting this work to areas of the city where we know there are particularly challenges around this age group.
The Board also considered proposed joint commissioning priorities for 2014/16 across children’s services and health and well-being. The group were widely in support of the proposals, but emphasised the need to link across to the work on 0-5’s, highlight family support, family group conferencing and kinship care and make a more explicit link to schools.