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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee rooms D & E - Merton Civic Centre, London Road, Morden SM4 5DX. View directions

No. Item


Apologies for absence - Councillor Dennis Pearce


Minutes of meeting held on 10 November 2016 pdf icon PDF 59 KB


The minutes of the last meeting were agreed as a true and accurate record.


Budget deepdive - supported lodging/housing, unaccompanied asylum seeking children and no recourse to public funds pdf icon PDF 169 KB


Paul Angeli gave an overview of the report highlighting that the council has a duty to accommodate unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC). The volumes vary from year to year with the majority coming from Albania, this fluctuates according to global stability.  Merton is a member of the Pan London Rota System in which all local authorities work together to ensure fair distribution of UASC across the Capital.  This area is a rising cost pressure; although the government has increased funding for individual placements from £71 to £91per day (for newly placed young people only)  this does not cover the range of associated costs  including for  social workers and higher accommodation and placement  prices within London.


Members asked questions including ; the  growth in UASC numbers,  if national government are being lobbied for additional funding and if Merton is benchmarking  costs against other local authorities to ensure best value for money.


Yvette Stanley reported that Merton worked closely with London Councils who are lobbying on this issue. Larger local authorities benefit from economies of scale within the Pan London Rota System which Merton does not benefit from but takes the same number of children. We are all competing for the same placement providers and they generally charge local authorities the same amounts. We commission placements through a range of framework agreements and partnerships with other boroughs to get the best balance of quality and value. We also have a good track record in recruiting in-house foster carers.


Paul Angeli reported that housing for care leavers overall is a budget pressure and they are working with colleagues in the housing department to look at ways to reduce costs on different models. For UASC care leavers we receive no grant income to offset housing/placement or support costs. Again the Government is being lobbied on this issue.


In response to a question regarding whether UASC can make financial contributions through work or student loans,  Paul Angeli reported that this cohort have no recourse to public funds so the council are responsible for them possibly until they are 25. They are not able to work until their immigration issues are resolved.  


Task group members expressed concern that additional costs for UASC are presented as an over-spend in the budget when there is a government grant shortfall. It was felt that the budget did not reflect the actual situation and Council signs off a budget that cannot be delivered.


Yvette Stanley reported that the department works hard to find other ways to meet the shortfall on a one off basis and that the CSF budget overall in recent years did not have an overspend. Measure included:  bringing forward savings and freezing non frontline vacancies. These were short term measures however. It has historically been hard  to make assumptions about likely numbers given the international situation fluctuates. However we now have a significant period where the numbers have continued to rise and the expectation is that both the UASC and care leaver populations will continue to grow  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


2016/17 Quarter 3 monitoring report pdf icon PDF 39 KB

Additional documents:


A task group member asked the Director of Corporate Service to provide an opinion on the budget position by the 31st March 2017. Caroline Holland said £11 million of growth for 2017/18 should mean we are not in the same budget position next year, hopefully the overspend will decrease before year end but cannot make any further predictions at this stage.


ACTION: Department asked to provide baseline budgets for Phase C so the outtun report for next year will demonstrate what has been  delivered for Lot 1, Lot 2, is starting from April 2017.


ACTION: Department asked to provide the alternative view of savings in the monitoring report. This should be available before the next Council meeting.


A panel member asked if an underspend due to vacancies at children and adolescent mental health services is a good thing. Caroline Holland reported that they have found a way to deliver more efficient services without putting children at risk.


ACTION: A task group member referred to page 94 of the agenda and queried why the majority of the debt is written off in the final quarter of the year. Caroline Holland agreed to report back on this.




The panel thanked officers for their work and noted the report.



Dates and work programme for future meetings pdf icon PDF 57 KB


Task Group members have a preference for the 25th July over the 6th July and queried both meetings have been arranged.




The Chair agreed to discuss agenda items with Julia Regan to determine if there is a need for an additional meeting.