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Food vouchers central to budget proposals supported by Children and Young People's Committee

16 January 2024

Budget proposals aimed at helping struggling families and tackling the mental health of young people were supported today (16 January).

Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee discussed the budget proposals for Children, Education and Families and the majority of committee members agreed to recommend them to a meeting of the full Council in February.

The proposals include £3 million from the County Council to continue to provide holiday food vouchers for those on free school meals. Despite uncertainty about the future of the national Household Support Fund, the Council will continue to lobby Government to recognise the benefits of this scheme to its young people’s health, education and wellbeing.

The budget proposes an additional £320k to address children’s mental health, which has worsened following the Covid pandemic. The funding will be used to employ trained specialists to work with schools to design and deliver programmes working with children and young people, teachers and parents with interventions that are known to address anxiety.

A further £12.7 million will be allocated to reflect demand and inflation pressures, including the level of complex cases. The budget will include investment in increasing the number of children in care placements in Cambridgeshire.

The Council recognises the need to continually improve its children’s safeguarding and care teams. As such there is a change programme being developed to focus on key improvements, including fostering, its own care facilities and ensuring that it has the right capacity to assess and respond to the increasing demand for children’s services.

In addition, Children, Education and Families is continuing to strengthen its care provision through:

  • Becoming the third County Council in the country to recognise being care experienced as a protected characteristic
  • Providing council tax support to our care experienced young people
  • Helping 516 families to address multiple disadvantages through a whole family approach, delivered by keyworkers, working for local authorities and their partners.

The Council will continue to invest in supporting its children and younger people to fulfil their potential. In 2024/25 this will include £12.7 million to fund inflationary and demand pressures in children’s social care and education services.

Members of the Strategy, Resources and Performance Committee agreed to debate the proposals put forward in December at all the Council’s January service committees, as well as launching an online public survey and seeking views of Town and Parish Councils, public sector authorities, business leaders and, most importantly, from residents.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s proposals for its 2024/5 budget is being called ‘the toughest year to set a balanced council budget’ whilst the Council is looking to support vulnerable people and improve highways maintenance and seeking to bridge a remaining £2m gap.

Cllr Bryony Goodliffe, Chair of the Children and Young People’s Committee said: “This budget puts children and young people at the very heart of what we do, while at the same time creating a greener, fairer and more caring Cambridgeshire. Next year will be a challenging period, but I believe we can meet those challenges alongside doing the best we can for our young people.”

The views of all committees, those drawn from the online survey and meetings with groups including Town and Parish Councils, business leaders and trade unions, will be combined before the Strategy, Resources and Performance committee makes a final recommendation at its meeting on 30 January to Full Council, which then meets to debate and agree the Council’s budget on 13 February.

For more information on the council’s proposals for the coming year see: Consultation begins on Cambridgeshire budget proposals ahead of ‘toughest year’ for local councils - Cambridgeshire County Council