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 SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 2nd December, 2013.

 

Present: Councillor R.L. Traherne (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. M.E.J. Birch (Vice-Chairman); Councillors R.J. Bertin, Ms. R. Birch, Ms. K. Edmunds, E. Hacker, Dr. I.J. Johnson, Ms. R.F. Probert, J.W. Thomas and S.T. Wiliam.

 

 

Also present: Councillors Ms. B.E. Brooks, S.C. Egan, C.P.J. Elmore and N. Moore.

 

 

619     MINUTES –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 7th November, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

620     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

621     INITIAL REVENUE BUDGET PROPOSALS 2014/15 (DSS) –

 

The Council was required, under statute, to fix the level of Council Tax for 2014/15 by 11th March 2014 and in order to do so would have to agree a balanced Revenue Budget by the same date.  To be in a position to meet the statutory deadlines and requirements for consultation as set out within the Council’s Constitution, much of the work on quantifying the resource requirements of individual services needed to be carried out before the final Revenue Support Grant (RSG) settlement was notified to the Council.    The Council’s provisional settlement was announced on 16th October, 2013.  The Council’s Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) represented the Welsh Government’s (WG) view of the relative resources required to provide a standard level of service in each local authority in Wales and its primary use was to allocate RSG to these authorities.  For 2014/15 the Council’s provisional SSA was £214.384m.  

 

The Council had also been advised by the WG of its 2014/15 allocation in relation to RSG (£118.834m) and NNDR (£38.941m).  Together, these sums constituted the Council’s Aggregate External Finance (AEF).  This represented a cash reduction of 4.5% (£7.4m) for 2014/15 and was a larger reduction than the 4% projected in the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan. 

 

The Council would also receive a sum provisionally set at £1.236m via the Outcome Agreement Grant (OAG) for 2014/15.  This grant was an unhypothecated grant (i.e. not earmarked for particular services).  It was noted that the Council was not necessarily guaranteed to receive the full amount of the OAG.  The amount for 2014/15 would be determined by a rating score of the Council’s performance in achieving its 2013/14 Outcome Agreement targets.

 

There were transfers into the RSG settlement for 2014/15.  The relevant transfer for this Committee is £119,000 for the First Steps Initiative.

 

It is the Council's contention that WG had not included all the required adjustments to make the AEF comparative between years and that there was an actual cash reduction to the Council of 4.9%.  As part of the consultation process on the provisional settlement, the Leader of the Council was responding to WG on this issue.  Pay and price inflation results in a much higher decrease in real terms. The September Consumer Price Index stood at 2.7%.

 

WG had provided an indicative settlement figure for 2015/16 which showed a further cash reduction of 1.63% (£2.6m).  The MTFP was based on a cash reduction of 4%.   WG had not given any indication as to the level of settlement for 2016/17, however the MTFP was based on a further 4% cash reduction.  The assumptions made in the MTFP would, therefore, be reconsidered by the Budget Working Group (BWG) as part of the final budget proposals.

 

With regard to the revised budget for 2013/14, Appendix 1 to the report set out the necessary adjustments to the original estimate for this period which were required to be made as follows (there was no overall effect on the net budget of the Council):

  • Asset Rents, International Accounting Standard (IAS) 19, and Recharges etc. – these relate to accounting items and expenditure outside the control of Services. They reflect charges to Services for the use of capital assets, changes to inter service recharges, superannuation increases not required and adjustments in respect of pensions to comply with accounting standards.  The overall impact on the Council was nil.  

The following table compared the amended budget with the projected outturn for 2013/14:

 

 

2013/14

2013/14

Variance

 

Amended

Original

Projected

 (+)Favourable

Directorate/Service

Budget

Outturn

 (-) Adverse

 

£’000

£’000

     £’000

 

 

 

 

Children and Young People

14,660

14,660

                           0

Adult Services

36,124

36,124

                           0

Business Management and Innovation

298

298

                           0

Grand Total

51,082

51,082

                           0

 

The current forecast was an overspend of £140k, however, further work was being undertaken this year to address this position and a balanced budget was forecast at year end.

 

Children and Young People's Services - The major issue was the need to manage continued pressure on the children’s placements budget.  The current projected outturn for the jointly funded Residential Placements budget for Looked After Children is an overspend of £518k.  Any overspend at year end will be funded in proportion to the original contributions made to the joint budget i.e. £467k (90%) Social Services and £51k (10%) Education.  In addition to the joint budget, a high cost placement provision of £1.46m was established as part of the budget setting process for 2013/14.  To date, £223k of the provision has been committed, which is in addition to expenditure incurred within the joint budget.  There are potential underspends elsewhere in Children’s Services of around £310k which could be used to offset this position.  The increase in expenditure on the joint residential budget has resulted in a reduction in expenditure of £170k on alternative means of provision and accommodation costs required for the current cohort of children.  In addition, other areas of underspend are £50k on the legal expenses budget, £50k additional adoption income and £20k on administrative staff.  The BMI division is anticipated to underspend and any variance is apportioned to the service areas, therefore £20k of the underspend will be allocated to Children’s Services.  It is currently anticipated that there will be a £157k overspend.

 

Adult Services - The major issue is the continuing pressure on Community Care Packages, the Division's most volatile budget and the one most dependent upon levels of service demand which are not entirely within the Council's direct control.  At present, the projected year end position is an overspend of £829k which is after the reduction in budget to accommodate the savings target for the year of £685k. This overspend is also after the approval to release £646k from the £1.5m cost pressure allocated to Social Services, as part of the budget setting process for 2013/14.  This follows the decision by Welsh Government to provide funding of this value for the First Steps Initiative for 2013/14.  First Steps funding will be transferred into the RSG in 2014/15 however it will be at a reduced level of £119k.  Actions, therefore, still need to be taken to review all processes and to address this shortfall.   There are potential underspends elsewhere in Adult Services of around £553k which could be used to offset this position.  These areas are £237k following the closure of Bryneithin, £226k on staffing and £41k on Premises.  With the levels of savings required for 2014/15 and 2015/16, budgets are being re-examined during 2013/14 with a view to their possible realignment as part of the consideration of new models of service delivery . Future savings are planned for these areas and some positions and premises costs are lower than expected as a result of the commencement of some of these plans ahead of schedule.  The BMI division is anticipated to underspend and any variance is apportioned to the service areas, therefore £49k of the underspend will be allocated to Children’s Services.  This results in a currently anticipated overspend of £276k.

 

Areas of savings have been identified this year which are £293,000 over the required target.  This can be used to offset the overspend identified above and with further work being undertaken to address the remaining £140,000, a balanced budget is projected for year end.

 

The Cabinet approved the Budget Strategy for 2014/15 on 29th July 2013 and, as in previous years, required all Directors to make the following provisions:

  • Supplementary estimates would only increase the base budget if Council had given specific approval to this effect. Increases met by virement within a year would not be treated as committed growth.
  • Directors should find the cost of increments and staff changes from their base budget unless the relevant specific approval had been given for additional funding.
  • The effect of replacing grant from outside bodies that had discontinued would not be treated as committed growth. In addition, before any project or initiative that was to be met either wholly or partly by way of grant may proceed, the exit strategy must be approved.
  • Certain items of unavoidable committed growth would continue and these include the effect of interest changes and the financing cost of the Capital Programme, increases in taxes, increases in levies and precepts charged by outside bodies and changes to housing benefits net expenditure.
  • Services would be expected to identify and achieve recurrent efficiency and other savings, including (but not restricted to) those identified in the Interim Medium Term Financial Plan.
  • It was envisaged that the costs of service development would need to be met from within the respective Directorates.

Having regard to the above, it was, therefore, proposed in respect of the 2014/15 Budget Strategy that Directors be instructed to prepare initial revenue budgets for 2014/15, in accordance with a timetable agreed by the Director of Resources.  Preparation should be on the following basis:

  • Capital charges, central accommodation costs and central support costs to be estimated centrally;
  • Services to prepare baseline budgets on current service levels as set out in the 2013/14 final revenue budget report;
  • Budgets to be broken down subjectively and objectively in as much detail as deemed appropriate by the Director of Resources;
  • Budget reports to include revised estimates for 2013/14;
  • Full account to be taken of the revenue costs, other than debt charges, of new capital schemes coming into use.

As a result of the reduction in the provisional settlement, the Authority would now have to identify additional savings to those originally approved for 2014/15.  It had also been necessary to revisit the cost pressures facing services in order to build up a complete and up to date picture of the financial position of the Council.  The updated list of cost pressures for this Committee was shown in Appendix 2 to the report.  These were not shown in any order of priority.

 

When approving the Budget Strategy for 2014/15, Directors were asked to consider bringing forward the implementation of future years' savings ahead of the scheduled date.  This message was reinforced by Cabinet when approving the MTFP, where Directors were also asked to identify additional areas for savings.

 

The 2013/14 budget included approved savings targets for the years 2014/15 to 2016/17.  Details of the approved areas for savings for 2014/15 for this Committee, are shown in Appendix 3 to the report, however, at present it was not proposed that any savings be brought forward for Social Services over and above those already approved.  The savings did not include the cost of potential redundancies.

 

A summary of the overall base budget for 2014/15 was attached at Appendix 4 to the report.  This had been arrived at by adjusting the 2013/14 budget for items such as inflation and unavoidable growth, but did not include identified cost pressures or savings.  These were shown as a note to the table and were further detailed in Appendices 2 and 3 respectively.  

 

Asset Rents, IAS 19 and Recharges etc. related to accounting items and expenditure outside the control of the relevant Services.  These reflected charges to Services for the use of capital assets, changes to inter service recharges, superannuation increases not required and adjustments in respect of pensions to comply with accounting standards.

 

Recharges / Transfers - to reflect mainly transfers of functions and responsibilities between services. 

 

The total figure for inflation related to general price increases and a 1% allowance for pay awards.

 

Committed Growth – This related to £119,000 for First Steps Improvement Package.

 

Once the base budget for 2014/15 for the Council as a whole had been established, it must then be compared to the funding available to identify the extent of any shortfall.  With a provisional AEF of £157.775m and Council Tax at a current level of £53.567m, total available funding would be £211.342m.  When compared to a base budget of £221.196m, this would result in a funding shortfall for 2014/15 of £9.854m.  This shortfall was mainly attributable to the reduction in funding from WG, an increase in pay and price inflation and the requirement to fund committed growth.

 

If all identified cost pressures were funded for the whole of the Council, this would increase the shortfall to £15.838m.  If all proposed savings were achieved for the whole of the Council, the shortfall would be reduced to £8.539m as shown in the table below.

 

Projected Budget Shortfall 2014/15

 

 

£000

Funding Available

 

Provisional AEF

157,775

Council Tax

53,567

Provisional Funding Available

211,342

 

 

Base Budget

221,196

 

 

Provisional Shortfall Against Base Budget

9,854

 

 

Assume all Cost Pressures funded

5,984

 

 

Provisional Shortfall with Cost Pressures funded

15,838

 

 

Assume all Savings Achieved

(7,299)

 

 

Provisional Projected Shortfall for 2014/15

8,539

 

This level of shortfall was unprecedented.

 

Further work would be undertaken by the BWG when formulating the final budget proposals for 2014/15, which would include a review of the use of reserves, a possible increase in Council Tax, a review of all cost pressures, possible savings and the current financial strategies, in order to achieve a balanced budget.  The BWG would also look at the impact on the 2015/16 budget.

 

It would be extremely difficult in the short term to meet all of the budget shortfall through further savings next year.  This may require consideration of the use of substantial levels of reserves in 2014/15, thus allowing a more thorough review of options for savings and their implications, alternative methods of service delivery and collaborative ventures.

 

The General Fund Reserve as at 31st March 2014 was projected to stand at £11.858m.  The 2014/15 base budget proposal included the use of £1.5m from the General Fund reserve.  Cost pressures for 2014/15 include £500k for a reduction in the use of reserves, in line with the existing financial strategy.  A further reduction of £500k was also scheduled for 2015/16.  In light of the unprecedented funding shortfall, this strategy needed to be reviewed.  At this stage, it was proposed that a use of reserves to a maximum of £3.5m could be used in 2014/15.  The Section 151 Officer believed that the minimum balance on the General Fund Reserve should be no less than £7m.

 

The use of reserves to fund recurring expenditure can only be countenanced as part of a specific strategy to achieve a balanced budget in future years.  The consequence of such actions will be to increase the level of savings required in 2015/16 onwards.

 

In terms of the role of the Cabinet Budget Working Group, this Group would be holding a series of meetings with the relevant Cabinet Members and officers to consider the budget proposals.  Any recommendations from this Group would be submitted so that the Cabinet could make its final budget proposal by no later than 24th February 2014; before making its recommendation the Cabinet Budget Working Group would consider the comments made by all the Council’s Scrutiny Committees.

 

The Cabinet’s final budget proposals would be considered by Council on 5th March 2014. 

 

Committee had been asked to review the level of cost pressures with a view to suggesting ways in which these could be managed downwards and/or mitigated.

 

In considering the Analysis of Revenue Cost Pressures for the Directorate as itemised in Appendix 2 to the report, Members were advised that following further analysis, the following would be removed from the list:

  • Change in Youth Justice Board Funding Arrangements       £38,000
  • Increase in minimum foster care allowance                        £20,000.

It was proposed that the remaining cost pressures should remain.

 

A Member enquired as to the level of projected Outcome Agreement Grant and was advised that for last year, the Council had been awarded the full amount.  The figure for this year had not yet been determined.

 

A Member also enquired as to the expected level of funding expected from the Welsh Government for the First Steps Initiative and was informed that the final settlement was expected to be made on 3rd December, 2013.

 

Committee were also advised that a sum of £34,000 allocated for Foster Care savings had not been included in the targeted savings.  This saving would be used to offset any additional savings to be found by the Directorate.

 

In response to a question from a Member, the Director informed the Committee that the Social Services Directorate had consistently made savings over the past 5 years and that the current Budget Programme included plans for further savings in the years ahead that were regarded as achievable.  The overall intention was to change the way in which demand for services was managed and to make more savings urgently would risk a more severe impact upon service users and carers.

 

Questions were asked about the future of Hen Goleg, and Members were advised that the Directorate was awaiting a report on the physical condition of the building.

 

Members expressed concern at the level of cost pressures facing the Directorate and felt that Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) should be informed of the wish of the Scrutiny Committee that the pressures be fully funded.

 

Having regard to the above and related issues it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the amended budget for 2013/14 as set out in Appendix 1 to the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Initial Revenue Budget Proposals for 2014/15 be noted together with the cost pressures in the Social Services Directorate as amended at the meeting.  It was the view of the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) that these cost pressures would need to be fully funded in view of the ever increasing demand for Adult Services’ Community Care Packages and the difficulties in predicting the requirement for children’s residential placements.

  

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of the Scrutiny Committee’s responsibility for monitoring the budget.

 

(2)       In order that the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) is informed of the comments of the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) prior to making a final proposal on the budget.

 

 

622     INITIAL CAPITAL PROGRAMME PROPOSALS 2014/15 (DDS AND DVSH) -

 

Set out at Appendix A to the report were full details of the progress on the Capital Programme as at 30th September 2013.

 

The Welsh Government (WG) had announced the provisional 2014/15 General Capital Funding on 16th October 2013.  The 2014/15 capital settlement represented a £246,000 (4.7%) increase in funding over the previous year’s allocation; however because this amount included the reinstatement of £280,000 transferred to supported borrowing for the Housing Revenue Account in 2013/14, the actual position for the Council was a reduction of £34,000 which represents a 0.61% cut.  The indicative amount provided by WG suggested that capital funding will be maintained at this level for 2015/16.  This has been reflected in the proposed Capital Programme 2014/15 to 2018/19.

 

Whilst the indicative amounts have been utilised in 2014/15 and 2015/16, for the purposes of this programme, the assumption of a 10% cut each year had been assumed in 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19.  In line with the financial strategy, the Council would mitigate the deteriorating situation by looking to progress only those schemes which were deemed to be a key corporate priority, whilst also seeking to gain assurance that such schemes were delivered on time and within budget.

 

In addition to funding from the WG, the Council would finance part of the Capital Programme from its own resources, e.g. Capital Receipts and Reserves.  Set out in Appendix B was the proposed 2014/15 to 2018/19 Capital Programme for services under the Committee’s remit. 

 

Analysis of Net Funding Required for the Indicative 2014/15 Capital Programme

 

GENERAL FUND

£’000     

£’000

Welsh Government Resources

 

 

Supported Borrowing

3,438

 

General Capital Grant

2,092

 

 

 

  5,530

Council Resources

 

 

Capital Receipts

2,509

 

Reserves/Leasing

6,095

 

Unsupported Borrowing

5,600

 

 

 

14,204

Net Capital Resources

 

19,734

 

HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT

£’000       

£’000       

Housing Reserves                                                        

7,387

 

Housing Capital Receipts                                                 

1,525

 

Housing Unsupported Borrowing                   

6,034

 

 

 

 

Net Capital Resources

 

  14,946

 

Capital bids were invited for return by 30th September 2013 and the number of bids received were reduced from the high volume in the previous year. This reduction reflects that the Capital Programme had been set to 2017/18 following the budget review that took place as part of the 2013/14 budget process.  Departments were requested to rank their own bids in order of importance before submission, and bids from each Department were forwarded to the Corporate Asset Management Group (CAMG) for evaluation.

 

The Budget Working Group had prioritised bids based upon the recommendations of the CAMG and were shown in Appendix B.  The method of prioritisation used in the Council’s Capital Investment Strategy was set out in the report for information.  Only those schemes assessed as corporate priority 1 or medium risk and above were included. 

 

In addition to bids meeting the criteria for inclusion in the Capital Programme, there had been a number of changes approved by Cabinet since the final budget proposals in February 2013 that impacted on the Capital Programme, such as, amendments to the budgets carried forward and these changes were included. 

 

As in the case of the consideration of the Initial Revenue Budget Proposals, similar arrangements were in place for the Scrutiny Committees to pass their recommendations to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) who would, on behalf of all the Council’s Scrutiny Committees, formally respond to Cabinet by no later than 13th December 2013.  However, Scrutiny Committees were being asked to first consider the indicative Capital Proposals as set out in Appendix B.  If a change to the initial proposals was desired, the Scrutiny Committee was required to provide a reason for this need in order to assist the Cabinet and the CBWG in their deliberation when drawing up the final proposals.  The total net capital expenditure of the proposed programme for the whole of the Council over the five years was over £102m.  

 

Managers would be asked to revisit the schemes listed in Appendix B and to confirm final cost and spend profiles prior to the final proposals being considered by Cabinet by no later than 24th February, 2014.  Cabinet’s final Capital Programme proposals would be considered by Council no later than 5th March, 2013.

 

If the schemes proposed for the whole of the Council were approved, the effects on General Fund useable capital receipts were as follows:

 

General Fund Capital Receipts

          £'000

Anticipated Balance as at 1st April 2014

7,940

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2014/15

(2,656)

Anticipated Receipts – 2014/15

885

Balance as at 31st March 2015

6,169

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2015/16

0

Anticipated Receipts – 2015/16

0

Balance as at 31st March 2016

6,169

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2016/17

(2,237)

Anticipated Receipts – 2016/17

0

Balance as at 31st March 2017

3,932

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2017/18

(0)

Anticipated Receipts – 2017/18

0

Balance as at 31st March 2018

3,932

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2018/19

(0)

Anticipated Receipts – 2018/19

0

Balance as at 31st March 2019

3,932

 

In line with the overall strategy and specific suggestions proposed by the Budget Working Group (BWG), in order to resource the Capital Programme, reserves will be utilised over the period of the Capital Programme 2014/15 to 2018/19.

 

The Project Fund would be used to fund schemes assessed on an invest to save basis, and in certain circumstances business critical schemes may also be funded from this reserve with the prior approval of the Director of Resources.  A balance of £2m would be retained as a balance on this fund.  The projected usage of this reserve, for the whole of the Council, over the period of the Capital Programme was shown below:

 

Project Fund

             £'000

Anticipated Balance as at 1st April 2014

4,217

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2014/15

(1,754)

Anticipated Receipts – 2014/15

402

Balance as at 31st March 2015

2,865

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2015/16

(450)

Anticipated Receipts – 2015/16

100

Balance as at 31st March 2016

2,515

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2016/17

(400)

Anticipated Receipts – 2016/17

60

Balance as at 31st March 2017

2,175

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2017/18

(100)

Anticipated Receipts – 2017/18

60

Balance as at 31st March 2018

2,135

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2018/19

(0)

Anticipated Receipts – 2018/19

0

Balance as at 31st March 2019

2,135

 

The above forecast balances needed to be seen in the context of significant pressures for spending which were not yet included in the Capital Programme.  These pressures included the backlog of school, highways and buildings improvements. 

 

Members noted the reduced size of the proposed Capital Programme and enquired if this was as a result of choice or necessity.  In response, Members were advised that the bids were based on pragmatism.

 

In response to a question, Members were informed that the Welsh Government had agreed a further Capital injection towards Flying Start, and the Directorate had bid for £250,000 for 2014/15.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the position with regard to the 2013/14 Capital Programme be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the proposed Capital Programme for 2014/15 as detailed in Appendix B to the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  In acknowledgement of the budget proposals and to allow the matter to be further considered.

 

 

623     UPDATE ON THE SOCIAL SERVICES BUDGET PROGRAMME (DSS) –

 

Committee received an update on the progress made in delivering the Social Services Budget Programme. 

 

The Directorate was currently required to find savings totalling £6.0m by the end of 2016/17.  Savings totalling £6.189m had currently been identified and the surplus would be used to mitigate any additional savings to be found in future years.

 

The approved savings targets and the savings identified as shown below, including the £403,000 identified in 2012/13 in excess of the saving target for that year;

 

Year

Savings Required

£000

Savings Identified

£000

In Year Surplus/ (Shortfall)

£000

Cumulative Surplus/   (Shortfall)

£000

Additional 2012/13 savings

 

403

403

403

2013/14

2,150

2,040

(110)

293

2014/15

838

579

(259)

34

2015/16

1,700

1,776

76

110

2016/17

1,315

1,391

76

186

TOTAL

6,003

6,189

 

 

 

Progress for each project currently identified was shown in Appendix 1 to the report. 

 

The current financial position for each of the identified Social Services savings for 2013/14 were as follows:

 

Project

Target Saving (£000)

Projected Saving (£000)

Position

CHILDREN'S

 

 

 

LAC Residential Care Placements

200

0

Jointly funded budget is currently overspending

Reduction in Contract Spend to fund SLAs

80

80

Achieved

Managed Budget Reduction

190

190

Achieved

Administrative Support

 

20

20

Achieved

TOTAL CHILDREN'S

490

290

 

Project

Target Saving (£000)

Projected Saving (£000)

Position

ADULTS

 

 

 

Reconfigure VCRS

40

40

Achieved

 

Meals on Wheels

 

32

20

Price have increased but budget currently overspending by £12k

Care Packages Budget Reduction

685

0

Budget is currently overspending

Managed Budget Reduction

183

183

Achieved

Supported Accom Learning Disabilities

150

150

Achieved

Residential Services

 

200

25

Negotiations still on-going with Hafod, however partly offset by savings on Council homes

Service Level Agreement

40

40

Achieved

Income Generation

 

100

100

Achieved

Provision of Food to Trinity

 

13

13

Achieved

Office Accommodation

 

7

7

Achieved

TOTAL ADULTS

1,450

578

 

 

 

 

 

BUSINESS MGT & INNOVATION

 

 

 

Managed Budget Reduction

75

75

Reorganisation is only partially complete; however, staff vacancies will contribute to achieving the saving

Funding to Carers Support Services

 

25

25

Achieved

TOTAL BUSINESS, MGT & INNOVATION

100

100

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL SOCIAL SERVICES

2,040

968

 

 

Whilst the majority of identified savings had been achieved this year, Community Care packages continued to be a volatile budget.  It was noted that the identified savings were currently £293,000 more than the required target for the budget programme as a whole at this stage, as additional savings were realised in 2012/13.  There were, however, areas of underspends elsewhere in the budget which could be used to offset this position.  In Children’s Services, the overspend on residential placements for Looked After Children was offset by an underspend in other areas where children were previously receiving a provision prior to their transfer into a residential setting.  In Adult Services, planning was already underway for the savings required for 2014/15 and, where possible were being achieved ahead of target.  An overspend of £140,000 was therefore currently being projected for the Directorate, however, work was being undertaken to address this position and overall a balanced budget was anticipated by year end. 

 

The Social Services Directorate was committed to achieving a balanced budget.  The Corporate Programme Board and Project Teams overseeing the plan would continue to develop it further and ensure delivery and progress.  Progress updates would be reported as part of the overall financial monitoring report for the Directorate.

 

In noting the targets saving of £200,000 for Residential Services and that negotiations were still on-going with Hafod, a Member enquired as to the Council’s current position and was informed that the Council should conclude its negotiations with Hafod by Christmas. 

 

In noting the overall targeted savings of £2,040,000 as compared with the projected savings of £968,000, Members recognised the level of the challenge facing the Directorate. 

 

A Member commented that the Meals on Wheels service had been reviewed recently but the service was still overspending.  The question was asked if the Service would be the subject of a further review. 

 

Members were advised that the reason for the review had been to reduce the level of subsidy.  Prices had been increased last April, and would increase again in the near future.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the progress made in delivering the Social Services Budget Programme be noted and that the report be referred to Cabinet and Audit Committee for information.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

That Members are aware of the progress made to date in delivering the Social Services Budget Programme and endorse the proposed amendments.

 

 

624     TELECARE SERVICES (DSS) –

 

Committee received an update regarding the development of Telecare within the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

There had been a number of developments in the TeleV and TeleV+ service during the past year.

 

The number of TeleV installations had increased and 542 active packages were now in place compared with 486 in September 2012.  There had also been an increase in the number of TeleV+ packages with 117 now in place, an increase on the 61 active packages previously reported.  Initially, such packages were quite simple, using standard equipment and focusing particularly on alerts in respect of falls, but there were continuous technological advances in the equipment available. 

 

A temporary Telecare Specialist Advisory post had enabled the service to provide better support to the Social Work teams with regard to Telecare options.  As a result, Social Workers and Occupational Therapists were more confident in making referrals for Telecare equipment and significant cost avoidance in respect of more expensive Community Care packages had been achieved through the use of equipment.

 

Work with partners, including the Third Sector, was now well established.  For example, Care and Repair installed equipment on behalf of the Council and their staff received regular updates with regards to the equipment available. 

 

The Learning Disability Team continued to undertake temporary installation of property wide monitoring systems at a number of units within Supported Accommodation.  This was followed by an assessment which allowed the most appropriate equipment to be installed to meet the needs identified.  Use of Telecare meant that staffing arrangements had been reconfigured at a number of properties whilst improving the independence and quality of life.  Efficiency savings had been found through this work, fewer staffing hours required at night in supported accommodation settings.

 

Within the Council, a corporate review of the Telecare Service was being undertaken, to develop an overarching strategy.  In the meantime, new initiatives were being promoted including development of a Telecare Awareness E-Learning module which provided greater accessibility to training to people without significant impact upon staff rotas.  The South East Wales Improvement Collaborative (SEWIC) was taking a keen interest in this development.

 

Within the support of Leaders and Chief Executives in each local authority, SEWIC comprised ten Directors of Social Services (Vale of Glamorgan, Bridgend, Cardiff, RCT, Merthyr Tydfil, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Torfaen, Newport and Monmouthshire) working to improve the provision and commissioning of Social Services in the region.  The Social Services Directorate in the Vale was a very active member of this collaborative. 

 

One of the work streams within the SEWIC was the development of a more collective approach to the provision of assisted technology.  The project aimed to examine the collaborative benefit an opportunity to plan, develop, commission and deliver assisted technology services on a partnership basis.  Following an evaluation of the Business Case it was agreed that the Vale would not be part of the regional call monitoring service but would maintain involvement in the overall work programme. 

 

In noting the way in which Telecare can enable people to live more fulfilled lives, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the work being undertaken to deliver Telecare services within the Vale of Glamorgan be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T Committee receives a further progress report in 12 months on the service take-up and the impact on the Council’s budget.

 

(3)       T H A T the Welsh Government funding for new innovative healthcare technology funding be welcomed and that plans be brought forward to further develop healthcare technology in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To ensure that Elected Members exercise effective oversight of this key service for promoting independence and enabling vulnerable people to remain in their own homes.

 

(3)       To further develop healthcare technology in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

 

625     SOCIAL SERVICES QUARTERLY PERFORMANCE: QUARTER 2 (DSS) –

 

Committee received performance results for Quarter 2, 1st July, to 30th September, 2013/14.

 

The figures showed that overall, Social Services was on track to achieve the objectives contributing to its service outcomes, with 93% of actions currently nearly completed or on-track.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the service performance results be noted together with the remedial actions to be taken to address service underperformance. 

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure the Council is effectively assessing its performance in line with the requirements to secure continuous improvement outlined in the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2009.

 

 

626     END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE REPORT 2012/13: NATIONAL STRATEGIC INDICATORS AND PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY MEASURES (DSS) –

 

Committee received the Council’s performance results against statutory national performance indicators relevant to the Scrutiny Committee for the year ended 31st March, 2013.

 

Key notes on the Service’s performance included:

  • 11 indicators were in the top quartile
  • 2 indicators were in the middle quartile
  • 7 indicators were in the bottom quartile
  • 4 indicators maintained the highest possible performance achieved the previous year (100%)
  • 7 indicators had improved in real terms on last year’s performance
  • 6 indicators had deteriorated in real terms on last year’s performance
  • No comparison to last year’s performance was possible for 3 indicators because the definitions were amended nationally for the 2012/13 financial year
  • 12 indicators performed better than the Welsh average
  • 8 indicators performed worse than the Welsh average
  • Of the Children’s Services indicators, 8 were in the top quartile, 1 was in the middle quartile and 4 were in the bottom quartile, 8 performed better than the Welsh average and 5 performed worse
  • Of the Adult Social Services indicators, 3 were in the top quartile, 1 was in the middle quartile and 3 were in the bottom quartile, 4 performed better than the Welsh average and 3 performed worse.

Having considered the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the performance results be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

(1)       To report on service performance in line with statutory requirements and the Council’s Performance Management Framework and Monitoring arrangements.

 

(2)       To consider the end of year performance results as at 31st March, 2013 to identify service areas for improvement work.

 

(3)       To ensure the continuous improvement of Council services.

 

 

627     MATTERS WHICH THE CHAIRMAN HAS DECIDED ARE URGENT –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the following matters, which the Chairman had decided were urgent, for the reasons given beneath the minutes headings be considered.

 

 

628     REQUEST FOR CALL-IN – USE OF BRYNEITHIN SITE –

(Urgent by reason of the need to avoid the need to convene a special meeting of the Committee)

629     BRYNEITHIN UPDATE (HAS/LM) –

(Urgent by reason of the need to ensure timely information is provided regarding the developments at the Bryneithin site)

(The two items were considered together)

 

Cabinet, on 18th November, 2013 had been informed of the outcome of the community consultation exercise regarding the future of the Bryneithin site. 

 

Cabinet had resolved –

 

(1)       T H A T the outcome of the community consultation exercise be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Director of Resources in consultation with the Leader, Cabinet Member for Adult Services and Head of Legal Services be granted delegated authority to market and dispose of the Bryneithin site shown edged red (excluding the area hatched green) in Appendix A attached to the report for an extra care facility and/or older person's housing (subject to statutory planning processes).

 

(3)       T H A T the Director of Resources be authorised to appoint property agents/consultants to assist with the marketing and disposal of the Bryneithin site.

 

(4)       T H A T the Head of Legal Services be authorised to prepare, complete and execute the appropriate legal documentation required to dispose of the Bryneithin site.

 

(5)       T H A T the appropriation of the woodland area shown hatched green in Appendix A attached to the report from the Social Services Department to the Learning and Skills Department for the purpose of the land becoming a part of the school grounds of St. Andrew's Major School be authorised.

 

(6)       T H A T the Bryneithin site be declared as a surplus site in order to achieve the above.

 

Councillor R.J. Bertin had 'called-in’ the above decisions for the following reasons:

 

1.         To consider the decision of the Cabinet meeting.

 

2.         To find out why a Centre of Excellence for dementia was not considered.

 

3.         To discuss the future of the site.

 

4.         To have our say on the disposal of the site.

 

The Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health), whilst approving the 'call-in’, took the view that it was only necessary for the Committee to address 'item 2’ in regard to the 'reason(s) for request’. 

 

In the Chairman’s judgement, the Scrutiny Committee had had ample opportunity to discuss the future of the site (reason 3) and have its say on the disposal of the site (reason 4).  This was in view of the fact that since June 2013 there had been an urgent report at each meeting of the Committee on the future of the Bryneithin site.

 

Members had been briefed in detail over the past six months or so and had been given every opportunity to question officers. 

 

The Cabinet Member had been available at meetings of the Scrutiny Committee to answer questions if required. 

 

A site meeting had taken place with officers to view the Bryneithin site.

 

It was also the view of the Chairman that, subject to the results of the public consultation process, 'the decision that the Cabinet would make’ 'reason 1’ had been clear for some time.  Not only was it clearly signposted in previous Cabinet reports but also in the many urgent reports that the Scrutiny Committee had received over the past few months.  Again, Members had had ample opportunity to question, consider and debate 'this direction of travel’.

 

However, in regard to 'reason 2' the Chairman felt that it was necessary for officers to clearly spell out why a Centre of Excellence for dementia had not been considered. 

 

In arriving at this decision, the Chairman felt

  • There had been comments in the local media about this specific issue and the Chairman felt that it would be in the public interest to ensure clarity.
  • It was also evident from the public consultation exercise that the provision of care for those with dementia-related illness was an issue of concern for Vale residents.  This was clear from paragraph 12 (3) of the Cabinet Report which stated 'local residents feel strongly that there is a need for more care provision for residents of the Vale who have a dementia-related illness’.

Councillor Bertin thanked the Chairman for allowing him to call this matter in.  In noting that the Chairman would only accept reason 2 of the reasons for the call-in to be considered, Councillor Bertin stated that he believed that all the points were linked in that, given the amount of public interest in dementia care, he was concerned that the Cabinet seemed to be really interested only in Extra Care.

 

Councillor Bertin felt that as a Committee, recommendations should be made that a Centre of Excellence for dementia  was still considered an option and that the needs of those with dementia were taken into consideration.  The report of the consultation responses showed that local residents felt strongly that this was the case. 

 

Councillor Bertin concluded that, in his opinion, the following questions needed to be asked:

 

1.         Why isn’t a dementia care facility being considered?

 

2.         What would be the cost involved in providing an extra-care facility?

 

3.         Is there a demand for an extra care facility in the Vale?

 

Officers referred to the contents of the report presented to Cabinet, and the Consultation Report entitled 'The Future of the Former Bryneithin Residential Care Home Site’.

 

The Consultation Report had summarised the comments of local people and stakeholders and had indicated broad support for the site to be used for the care of older people.

 

With over 120 people having been consulted, it was difficult for a complete consensus to emerge, but there was clearly support for the use of the site for older people.

 

Dementia was a progressive illness and represented a particularly challenging area for the Council.  A variety of care services had been developed in the Vale. 

 

A number of options existed, and the Council had been looking for the 'best fit’.  The Council was also guided by its Commissioning Strategy for Older People’s Services.

 

Evidence suggested that more and more people wanted to be supported at home, the result being that there were vacant places across some parts of the care sector.

 

It was also necessary that the Council’s own financial position be borne in mind.  There was a need to be cost effective.

 

The cost of nursing home care was in excess of £600 per week.  Care at home cost a fraction of this figure.

 

In reinforcing the earlier comments, the Director referred to the pattern of changes that were taking place.  Where possible, the Council should seek to provide the service that the clients wanted.  There was a need to give priority to dementia sufferers and the Council was trying to 'incentivise’ dementia care in the way it sets the fees for independent sector residential and nursing homes. 

 

Members were advised that it would soon be considering a Dementia Action Plan which was in the process of being produced collaboratively with Cardiff Council and the University Health Board.  Some of the proposals would involve capital expenditure.  

 

In referring to the decisions taken by Cabinet, a Member stated that he was pleased with the consultation process, and asked if the decision of Cabinet represented a change of direction in the way the site was to be marketed.  Further questions ensued in relation to possible partnerships and the issue of travel for the users of any service provided at the site. 

 

Members were advised that, in developing the overall strategy for dementia sufferers it was important to recognise the needs for diverse provision.  This included Extra Care and it was also increasingly about supporting people in their own accommodation.  There was a need for further changes in the patterns of services that were available.

 

There were vacancy levels in this area of provision and it was crucial that the Council needed to adapt to a changing nature of demand.  This was the reason why the Council was working with Cardiff Council and the LHB.

 

The issue of transport would be dependent upon the use chosen for the site, and was something that the Cabinet Working Group would consider. 

 

In terms of the Council’s partners, Cardiff Council and the LHB had been consulted regarding the future use of the site but neither had expressed an interest in assisting in the provision of services from it at this stage.

 

A question was asked about when an announcement concerning the awarding by the Welsh Government of Intermediate Care Funding was to be made, and Members were advised that a statement was due in the following week.

 

In conclusion, Councillor Bertin stated that he felt it was important for the Scrutiny Committee to be kept abreast of progress with regard to the disposal and future use of the site.  Public transport was a key factor to be borne in mind.

 

Councillor Bertin acknowledged that difficult decisions needed to be made. 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the decisions of Cabinet on 18th November, 2013 in relation to the use of Bryneithin Site (Min. No. C2062 refers) be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having considered the information provided to the Committee.

 

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