Friday brief: Calls for government to pick up children's trust overspend
Plus tragic news of a mother killed in Northampton and the director who revolutionised Northampton's famous theatres is leaving
West Northamptonshire Council’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee has called on the cabinet to write to the Department for Education (DfE) asking it to pick up the bill for a forecast overspend by the county’s Children’s Trust.
Last month the council warned that it faces a hole in its budget of £7.6m - this includes using all of the £10m contingencies set aside for unexpected cost pressures meaning the actual overspend is closer to £17m.
The Children’s Trust, which runs the day to day of social services, is forecast to overspend by £7.93m, with a significant amount of this cost due to high spending with private care homes. As the costs are shared between the two unitary authorities the amount expected to impact the West is £4.44m.
The Trust was set up in 2020 after the government intervened over serious failings in children’s services in the county.
At a meeting of the scrutiny committee this week, chair Cllr Ian McCord, suggested that the council should only honour its agreed budgeted costs for the trust of £76.75m. The independent councillor, who is the former Conservative leader of South Northants Council, said:
“It was the DfE that insisted the management responsibility and financial responsibility were separated where the Trust can spend whatever it wishes and the council is expected to continue to provide the cash. The council cannot impose any cost control on the Trust.”
“…DfE imposed this model and cannot therefore continue to bring financial uncertainty and chaos to a council because its delinquent offspring cannot budget properly, accurately or have any interest in cost control.”
Northamptonshire’s two unitary authorities share the cost of the Children’s Trust with the West paying 56 per cent of the overall amount.
The recommendation by the committee will now be passed to the council’s cabinet to be voted on.
As we reported recently the annual report by the trust has still not been published by the unitary council’s. Ofsted have recently undertaken an inspection and will release their report in the coming weeks.
News in brief
Norfolk resident Cllr Clive Hallam is one of only a handful of councillors elected to North Northamptonshire Council who has a one hundred per cent attendance record.
Since April only seven of the 78 councillors elected to the authority have been to every meeting they should have, with Corby Conservative Cllr David Sims having the worst attendance at 33 per cent. Fellow conservatives Cllr Ian Jelly, Macaulay Nichol and Green Party member Cllr Sarah Tubbs have also attended less than half the meetings they were expected at.
Councillors each receive an annual allowance of £12,178 for performing their role, a significant part of which is attending meetings.
As NN Journal reported recently Cllr Hallam is now a resident in Norfolk although remains on the authority.
The artistic director of the Royal & Derngate theatres, James Dacre will step down this spring.
In his 10 years, Dacre has produced more than 120 shows of which 60 have toured both nationally and internationally and 42 have transferred to London and been recognised with an Olivier.
“Our industry has been through seismic challenges and changes over the past few years but Royal & Derngate is thriving. It truly is a community venue, a centre of artistic excellence and ambition and a home for exceptional educational and social opportunities for young people.”
A Northampton mother has been killed, with a man, 32, arrested and detained on suspicion of murder.
Dian Dafter, 36, was found at her home in Lawrence Court in central Northampton last Friday lunchtime with a postmortem revealing she died of multiple stab wounds.
The same day her suspected murderer was arrested at London’s Euston station with a number of stab wounds. Latest information given by Northamptonshire police is that he is under police guard at a London hospital where he has been receiving treatment.
Neighbours left flowers outside her home this week, where NN Journal understands she had lived for a number of years with her children.
Anyone who has information about Dian’s killing is asked to call Northamptonshire Police on 101, quoting incident 211 of Friday, October 7, 2022.
Peter Bone used his few short weeks as deputy leader of house of commons to ask civil servants why there is an ‘abysmal failure’ by some departments to respond to MP’s questions. The leaking of information to the media before being announced in parliament was also on his agenda.
New leader of the house Penny Mordant yesterday paid tribute to Bone’s work and said the report he started about the issue and best practice guidance, will be finished.
🛍 There’s a vintage and handmade fair at Chester House this Sunday from 10am
✨ Northampton’s Diwali celebrations will take place on Saturday between 10am and 8pm
🎤 Local singer Joe Corkram Is performing at the Centre at Mawsley tonight from 7pm