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Agenda Item No.

 

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 6TH OCTOBER 2014

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT): 2ND SEPTEMBER 2014

 

 

RESHAPING SERVICES – A NEW CHANGE PROGRAMME FOR THE COUNCIL (REF) –

 

Cabinet, on 11th August 2014, had agreed in principle to institute a “Reshaping Services†strategy and associated change programme. 

 

The Director of Development Services, in presenting the report, advised the Committee that Central Government’s austerity drive had created a period of unprecedented financial pressures within the public sector.   The latest draft Medium Term Financial Plan estimated there would be a £10m reduction in the budget in 2014/15 and £32m in total over the next three years.  Failure to deliver the required level of savings would not be an option for the Council and according to many analysts, a period of “permanent austerity†was now likely for Councils for the foreseeable future. 

 

It was clear that the scale of the challenge to come would mean that “business as usualâ€, however well managed, would not be enough.  Continued incremental cuts to budgets would simply lead to a steady decline in the quality and availability of public services, dissatisfaction among those who use the services and poor staff morale. 

 

The challenge for the Council therefore was to consider alternative delivery models for services across the board and this was seen as the only way to maintain a broad range of services and to an acceptable standard.

 

Shown under Appendix 1 was a strategy encompassing the various models for service delivery and how these proposals were to be considered. 

 

In referring to page 2 of Appendix 1 of the covering report, Members noted some of the solutions to be considered.  These included:

 

·                Joint provision with other public sector bodies, examples being the Central South Education Consortium, Prosiect Gwyrdd, Integrated Health and Social Care and Regulatory Services.

·                Delivery by external partners – this could mean delivery by a private sector company, a third sector organisation or other external body.  The Council had already used this option for some services e.g. Parkwood for Leisure services and also the transfer of Dyffryn House to the National Trust.

·                Council-owned companies – this being the splitting of a Council service from its parent and making it a separate, stand-alone company.  The main variants of council-owned companies were joint ventures, where the Council and a private sector company form a new jointly owned company to sell and deliver the service.  Other examples include Local Authority Trading Companies and Employee / community owned companies.

 

In summarising the strategy the Director of Development Services advised that it would be necessary for the Council to look at both statutory and discretionary services in order to identify alternative delivery models and also areas of increased income generation.  It was important to consider the ramifications of changing the delivery model for services.  For example some services were grant funded by the Welsh Government and in some cases the size of the grant was equitable to 95% of the total cost and the contribution provided by the Council was relatively small.   The Council would be faced with making many tough and hard decisions and it would be important to gauge public reaction if certain services were withdrawn.  The role of Members in this process was seen as very important and as a way of expressing the views and wishes of the local community and residents. 

 

At this point the Director of Visible Services and Housing emphasised the size of savings required over the next few years and if the Council’s decision was to protect Social Services and Education, then this would have a severe impact on certain services, some of which would no longer be undertaken.  He asked Members to be mindful of the decision taken back in 2000 to stop cutting grass during certain periods of the year and the problems and issues that this decision had incurred. 

 

Referring to income generation and car parking Members were advised that the service was closely considering anything where a levy or a charge could be introduced.  It was officers’ responsibility to provide the services within budgets set and it was important for the Authority to maximise charges and car parks had been an area to be reviewed.  A Committee Member stated that in their opinion it was clearly evident that staff within the Council were the people that knew best, when it came down to deciding changes to service models.  The Member advised that Cabinet should consider the creation of a Working Group, led by a Cabinet Member and made up of staff along with non-executive Council members.  The remit of such a group would be to oversee any proposals and to evaluate the impacts.  The Committee, in discussing this proposal, was content for the exact arrangements and remit to be decided by Cabinet, which may involve various sub-groups.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the œReshaping Services†strategy and the associated change programme for the Council be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet considers options regarding the creation of either a Working Group or various Sub-Groups, the exact make-up and remit of which should be clearly defined and agreed by Cabinet.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To note the proposals of the “Reshaping Services†strategy.

 

(2)       To oversee and monitor any proposals made regarding changes to service models and to evaluate their potential impact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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