Bristol’s Budget Conversation – Focus on Children and Young People’s Services

As promised, we’re now publishing more detailed information about the first of our large service areas – children and young people – showing how much we spend, where the money comes from, what some of the major trends and pressures are, and how our spending compares with other comparable areas.

How much do we spend on services for children and young people, and where does this money come from?cyps-budget-conversation

Overall each year we spend over £345 million – although most of this money passes through the Council directly to schools for them to spend.

Of this, £246m is received from the Government’s Department for Education as ring-fenced grants (which we pass straight on to schools).

£8.2m is received from the Young People’s Learning Agency for post-16 education – which again, we pass straight to schools with sixth forms.

The funds raised and spent by Bristol City Council amount to £83.6m*.

(*This figure includes a fund called the Area Based Grant, but excludes accounting adjustments for capital charges.  The rest of the £345m comes from various other grants, fees and charges.)

How do we spend this £83.6 million?

Pie chart

What issues and spending pressures are we facing?

The largest single spending challenge for us this year is the financial impact of the Laming Review of Child Protection, following the tragic death of Baby Peter in North London.   To comply with this national review, we have recruited a further 8 social workers and other specialist staff, and we’re working hard to recruit and retain the best staff across the board in this service area.  This is costing us an extra £450,000 this year – on top of the extra £250,000 we allocated last year to this extremely important area.

The recent Ofsted inspection of safeguarding rated Bristol’s service provision in this area as ‘good’.  We are the first large city to receive this high score, and it underlines how important we think it is to make sure that young people are safeguarded.

We are also facing real pressure because the number of care placements (such as children placed into foster care, or children with complex special needs) has also increased from a low of around 800 in January 2009 to a high of over 900 by the end of last year.  Each care placement is costly, but of course our first consideration is the safety of the child.

How does Bristol’s spending compare with other similar councils?

When it comes to how much we spend on different service areas, it is often possible to compare how much money Bristol spends against other similar councils.  For example, the comparative spend on safeguarding services shows:

As you can see, the table above shows expenditure (per head of those aged 0-17) in Bristol ranks 5th lowest out of 11 statistical neighbours and the 2nd lowest of the core cities.  This shows that we are already spending less than average on safeguarding – just over half as much as some others – whilst still providing services at a ‘good’ level as determined by the recent Ofsted inspection.

The second table above shows expenditure (at £208 per head of state sector school pupils) ranks Bristol 4th lowest out of 11 statistical neighbours for total expenditure on central education functions.

Bristol’s spending level on school improvement work (at £78 per state sector pupil) was deliberately increased because we wanted to focus resources onto improving educational achievement standards in the city – though is still only the third highest of these 11 comparable councils.

Bristol is a relatively high spender on asset management and supply of school places because it is a ‘path-finder’ authority for Building Schools for the Future.  All the secondary schools will have been rebuilt and modernisation of some primary schools has begun.

What are we already doing to make our money stretch even further?

We’re already working hard to get the best value for money, including:

  • ‘invest to save’ activities focusing on children on the edge of care in order to avoid expensive care placements
  • a project to recruit more ‘in-house’ foster carers, in particular to secure in-house placements for sibling groups, which will have the effect of reducing the cost of care placements,
  • robust commissioning processes for independent foster placements
  • use of social work assistants to allow social workers to focus on ‘front line’ services
  • a review of agency staff

The recent Ofsted inspection of safeguarding also rated Bristol as providing good value for money in this area – though we are not complacent, and are always striving to make our money go even further.

Please give us your ideas and suggestions

We hope you’ll find this useful in helping you give us your thoughts and ideas around our four big questions:

  • Which services, if any, should we consider delivering at a reduced level or even ceasing altogether?
  • Which services might be better provided by other bodies, such as the voluntary sector, or with others, such as the NHS or neighbouring councils?
  • Do you have any other ideas based on your experience for service areas where we could further explore saving money?
  • Are there any service areas from which we should aim to raise more income?

Leave a comment below for the public conversation.

If you prefer to make a private submission of your views, please click here.

27 thoughts on “Bristol’s Budget Conversation – Focus on Children and Young People’s Services

  1. The Governments idea of the ‘Big Socety’ is about ‘doing more for less’?So what can we do to help?

    The Government is treating us as if we have become complacent in our highly paid public services,Do they believe we will work better and do more for less under pressure?people have been known to make a very rich life for themselves and others with very liitle, or few possessions?

    ‘Place Making’ is the centre stage’for Animating the City. Quote Ask Bristol “How can we animate the city more to attract talent,tourism, and trade whilst reinforcing our creative, unortodox and innovative values” whose values?will this be at the demise of our puplic services?They do need to change?
    The best education/now named socialisation begins at home.

    Education Story…..

    A family settled down for dinner at a restaurant. The waitress first took the order from the adults, then turned to the seven-year-old.
    “What will you have?” she asked.
    “The boy looked around the table timidly and said” I will have a hot dog”
    Before the waitress could write down the order, the mother interrupted “No hot dogs, “she said. “get him a steak and with mashed potatoes and carrots.”
    The waitress ignored her ” Do you want ketchup or mustard with your hot dog?”she asked the boy.
    “Coming up in a minute,” said the waitress as she started for the kitchen.
    There was a stunned silence when she left. Finally the boy looked at everyone present and said,”Know what? She thinks I’m real!”

    I sometimes think we serve mammon and not people I see that at the root of those bleeding stumps is the Love of money, property and prestige,education could become more dangerous than money if it is pursued in the same way that wealth is. I do really feel more compassion for the middle classes who can afford nurseries whose children cost huge sums of money whose children are put in nurseries from as early as eight months and for long days who are rarely listened to there are more middle class children who grow up with mental health problems also in care than the less priviledged?

    ” How are your children?”
    “Both of them very well thank you.”
    “How old are they?”
    ” The doctor is three and the lawyer is five.”


  2. There is an overwhelming love of mediocrity in the Bristol educational system. It’s an endemic ‘everyone over the line’ culture. For example when I went around secondary schools the usual situation would be: Top set (if they are streamed at all) is 30+ with one teacher. Bottom set is 12 with one teacher, plus classroom assistant. By simple arithmetic that indicates to me that twice as much is spent on the bottom as the top. How much more could the top achieve given a fair share of resources? It’s discrimination. Any form of elitism is treated with tissue rejection and we are supposed to compete with China, Singapore? The children I feel sorry for are the poor bright ones who cant afford the house prices for a middle class ghetto (Redland Green) or private.

  3. Sell off ELmfield House (not the infant school) – the stone building and rehouse the staff based there at the Council House (hot desking as a large number spend most of their time out and about at schools and family homes – or should be).
    Remove the need for children who are deaf and wear hearing aids or cochlear implants to apply for a Statement of Special Educational Needs and therefore cut down on man hours spent challenging such applications.
    Insist that all teaching staff have passed a deaf awareness course BEFORE they are hired so that the Teachers Of the Deaf don’t need to spend their time training them.
    Survey families and children of Teachers Of the Deaf and CYPS as a whole and remove services/staff who do not reach pre agreed targets.
    Other savings opportunities:
    renegotiate mobile phone air time contract with Vodafone to a lower rate.
    Remove free car parking for Council House staff especially senior management.
    Scrap the BCC newspaper that pops through the door every x months – tell people the info. Is online or at a local library or day care centre or hospital or GP surgey so everyone can access it, but no need to print it as it mostly gets binned.
    Hire the new silver council vans out at weekends just like a hire company. Any damage etc would be insured against.
    Look into the provision of interpreter services – how does the cost benefit stack up?
    Instead of fining litter droppers and graffiti taggers force them to pay back in their time by cleaning and clearing up the mess their like minded colleagues make rather than Bcc employing clean and green teams.
    Scrap BCC organising the balloon fiesta and the harbour festival and let private enterprise manage it.
    Remove all junk food and fizzy drinks from LEA and Health properties – it might improve health and therefore be a longer term cost saving.
    Increase the amount of S106 money from developers.
    Charge non Bristol residents a nominal £1 fee to enter Bristol museums…then again it would no doubt cost more than that to collect!
    Cut the school summer holidays and extend the winter ones so that we could cut down on winter heating for schools.
    Migrate from MIcrosoft office applications to open source free ones and therefore eliminate or reduce licence costs.

  4. So, hot news, Bristol is going to BUY the ailing St Ursula’s school ….. how much will this cost the City and it’s rate payers??? hundreds, thousands? millions? after all it is a prime piece of real estate !

    What will we get for this massive capital investment??

    Umm let me see, we are going to GIVE IT AWAY to a private organisation to become a learning accademy!!

    So, when we are supopsed to be tightening our belts, jobs at risk, investment stalled, the City Council might spend a small fortune and hand it over to a private organisation next year……..!!

    Dont we all want to own the next piece of valuable prime real estate that Bristol wants to dispose of!!!


  5. Education is still in a dreadful condition
    the City council relies on the independant sector to keep the middle classes happy and the faith school sector to keep its performance figures off the bottom of the scale!

    How many bristolians “discover” they are Roman Catholic when their kids reach 10yr old – Bristol’s inability to manage good quality education must be a ‘blessing’ for the diocese – and the pockets of the independant sector

  6. I think its about understanding the core services that CYPS has to deliver, through a statutory requirement or other, then looking to see if there are services that are not fundamental to the Council’s offer and how these could be changed. I’d be interested to see a cost breakdown from this perspective.

  7. There are plenty of areas where small cuts could be made within the council’s spending. The type of cuts I’m talking about won’t save millions but as my mother used to say- “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”.

    Cutting out events such as “The celebration of success event” would provide a saving. I’m sure many man hours are spent arranging and orchestrating this day/ event and others like it. The cost of this as well as the catering, printing of booklets, staff hours to arrange and attend and other bumph that goes along with the event is totally unnecessary spending.

    I’m a member of CYPS staff, I work hard and genuinely care about the children I provide services to. Being given a buffet, some cakes and an award ceremony makes me feel patronised not valued! As I’m sure many other staff would agree.

    I’d feel more valued if I wasn’t expected to make cuts to the provision given to the disabled children I work with. Children to whom we only give what is absolutely needed as it is.

    When messages come from higher management telling us we need to be more stringent I wish they would come on a visit or two with me, perhaps then they could suggest which child with cerebal palsy or autism we don’t provide a service to. Perhaps they could be the ones to explain the non provision to the family, afterall they get paid a lot more than I do.

    Futhermore perhaps managers and their managers could bring pack lunches to meetings instead of having catered buffets.

    Finally, the council could cut the excessive and wasted amounts of money spent on in-house publications. We have the internet why are we wasting money and the planets resources on paper magazines, that no-one reads. I admit there may be one or two people in the council’s employment who like to read it but in my office at least 10 copies of each issue are binned without ever being looked at. The cost of writing, publishing and printing such material could be saved.

    All small savings but these small savings may just add up.

    • Hello Daisy,

      Thank you for these great ideas and several were selected for the feedback report and were discussed with at the Council’s Cabinet and with Service Directors.

      In response to your comments on:
      The Celebration of Success event – We think its important to continue to recognise excellence, dedication and commitment to our staff. We are though slashing the cost of such events this year by well over 50%.

      Catered buffets at council meetings – We agree and will only provide modest food for particularly long meetings that carry on right through mealtimes.

  8. It grieves me to cycle past huge school playing fields fenced off like a prison and empty every summer evening. Could they not be used as ‘recreation grounds’ used by local people of all ages and facilitated by play rangers, specialist sports coaches, fitness coaches, Tai chi practitioners, etc? Might the costs be offset by reduction in youth offending, obesity, diabetes, mental ill health and the benefits include cross-generational interaction and support, happy healthy people, community cohesion, etc, etc? Could playing fields be transferred as a community asset to local community enterprises which would find innovative ways of raising the money for maintenance and service provision from fee-paying activities (such as allotments round the edge, birthday parties, music festies, craft fairs) while still providing free access for many other regular activities and their participants, and the schools could become beneficiaries/partners – or they could set up a social enterprise and do it themselves?

    • Thank you for this great idea which was selected for the feedback report and was discussed with the Council’s Cabinet and with Service Directors.

      Better use of school playing fields is a really interesting idea we could look at in connection with the individual schools. Do you have any particular playing field in mind and any particular uses we could explore?

  9. Why not cut your salary, that of the chief executive and that of your associate directors? It really appears remarkably bad form to have people on the sort of money you are all on asking everyone else to make suggestions as to how you might cut lower-paid people’s livelihoods when you are on salaries exceeding £100k. And how you manage the budget is part of the responsibility that you justify such salaries on.

  10. Firstly there is more than £7m unaccounted for in your figures to make up the £345m. What is that being spent on?
    Secondly in order to make suggestions we need to know where the money is being spent, particularly in the largest areas of expenditure, i.e. each of those over 10% including Other. So where is that breakdown?
    Finally, showing comparative figures just demonstrates the priority given to certain areas by different councils and therefore we could conclude that safeguarding and education are not high on Bristol’s list of priorities.

    • Taking MR Cutler’s comments into consideration regarding expenditure on Education & Safeguarding it seems, in light of the comparitively lower cost to other area’s that we would lower that even further through cuts! Although, on the bright side, it allready highlights how good ‘value for money’ Bristol is getting on it’s budget for these services.

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