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The aim is to check whether unsustainable financial pressures might be faced in children’s social services. By assessing the extent to which various risk factors apply, the tool gives a broad impression of how challenging it is likely to be to generate the planned level of future savings. The answers involve a fair degree of judgement, but combining a wide range of such questions leads to a well-grounded overview.
First, to facilitate informed discussion and consideration across finance and social care together of the practical deliverability of budget proposals.
Second, to assess the total level of risk, and also to compare that with other parts of the country. An automated benchmarking version of the tool will be made available online which will not only make it easier to provide a quick visual view of the results, but also allow authorities to compare their results with those of other participants.
The extent of difficulty faced will be a function of the proportion of the 34 questions for which a high risk position is indicated, and the scale and speed of savings required. It is hoped to launch the tool officially in good time to inform the 2018/19 budget-setting process. Meanwhile, we are involving the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, and you can see a draft of the questions below.
Any comments or corrections sent to Paul Carey-Kent E: firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of June would be welcome.
If each question is scored 1/2/3/4/5, the total score then populates a temperature gauge: maximum score 35 x 5 = 175
Score of <70 = low risk/green, 70–130 = medium risk/amber, - >130 = high risk/red
Questions 1–4 require local judgement of trends compared with broadly similar authorities, implying that there is a view of that available (if there isn’t, that is a matter of concern). As such, no guidance is given in the model on what constitutes ‘high’ or ‘low’ answers.
Question 9 can be answered by assessing what proportion of current savings plans might be considered undeliverable (5) / Red (4) / Amber (3) / Green – on track (2) or / have already been delivered (1), and if only a minority of savings are and categories (1) and (2), then the overall assessment will be (5) highly speculative or (4) speculative.