Spinning plates to balance budgets

By Tracie Langley | 24 November 2021

It’s that time when we’re all doing that spinning plate thing, and trying to balance our budgets with a complicated set of ins and outs, with only a 75% certainty rating on the whole of the budget plan.

Along with the budget, we are publishing our new outcomes. The biggest challenge is how to redirect resources into delivering them when resources need to be re-directed into social care.

In Cornwall, the budget for adult social care will need to rise by about 30% to pay for the increase in people needing care and the increased costs of care. A 1% increase in the adult social care precept gives Cornwall £3.3m and doesn’t even touch the sides of the budget requirement. I am incandescent that the NHS has received funds to deal with its pressures when it is a major contributor to the systemic care crisis. I am hopeful though that, through our good relationships, we will see some of that coming through to social care in the short-term to alleviate the immediate financial predicament.

How do we reduce budgets that have been baked into service provision forever to pay for a step change in direction? First, post- pandemic, the need for strategies to manage the excruciating levels of demand we are seeing in those demand-driven services is even greater than before. We are setting financial strategies for each of the demand services of social care – both for adult and young people, homelessness, waste and IT. Each requires a set of policy-driven interventions over the medium-term with a revenue, capital and reserve strategy that sits along-side the interventions. This will see innovation in service provision and a reduction in demand.

Second, we need a fundamental organisational redesign that will see flexible capabilities moving around the council to deliver specific projects and interventions.

And last, a cultural revolution will see our people empowered to make change themselves, using new skills, especially in automation.

Tracie Langley is chief operating officer and section 151 at Cornwall Council


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