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THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 27TH JULY, 2015

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH): 15TH JUNE, 2015

 

“95    UPDATE ON THE SOCIAL SERVICES BUDGET PROGRAMME 2014/15 AND 2015/16 (DSS) –

 

The Committee was updated on the progress made in delivering the 2014/15 Social Services Budget Programme and to request amendments to the 2015/16 Programme.  

 

During 2014/15, the Directorate was required to find savings totalling £454,000.  The table below provided a summary of the status of each of the saving schemes.  All savings targets were achieved during the year and Appendix 1 to the report provided further details on each of the individual schemes.

 

Project

Target

Saving

£000

Actual

Saving

£000
Position
CHILDREN’S


LAC Residential Placements
150 150 Achieved
Foster Carers 34 34 Achieved
TOTAL CHILDREN’S 184 184
ADULTS


Managed Budget Reductions 52 52 Achieved

Supported Accom -

Learning Disabilities
25 25 Achieved
Extra Care 75 75 Achieved
Day Service Modernisation 93 93 Achieved

Right Sizing Learning

Disabilities Project
25 25 Achieved
TOTAL ADULTS 270 270
TOTAL SAVINGS 454 454
   
In terms of the 2015/16 programme, the Directorate was currently required to find savings totalling £3.568m by the end of 2019/20 and this target was detailed further by year in the following table.  The surplus shown and the savings brought forward figures were as a result of the foster carer recruitment project, which was being developed in addition to the required savings targets.  This surplus could be used to mitigate any increase in savings to be found in future years.  

 

Year

Savings

Required
£000

Savings

Identified
£000

In Year

Surplus /

(Shortfall)
£000

Cumulative

Surplus /

(Shortfall)
£000
Savings Brought Forward
34 34 34
2015/16 1,465 1,541 76 110
2016/17 1,133 1,209 76 186
2017/18 320 320 0 186
2018/19 320 320 0 186
2019/20 330 330 0 186
TOTAL 3,568 3,754 



All savings had been reviewed to determine if they were still the most appropriate way of achieving the required savings for each service area.  It had now been proposed that three of the Children’s Services 2015/16 savings be merged into one and realised in a different way to previously planned.  Originally, £100,000 was to be achieved through a staffing review (C16) and £60,000 through a review of the short breaks provision (C17).  It was now proposed that these two savings be amalgamated with the £20,000 Managed Budget Reduction saving (C12) and be identified through a reduction in the Legal budget and other service provision budgets, where spending over the last three years had been reviewed and were it had been identified that the budget allocations could be safely reduced.  

Appendix 2 to the report provided a draft update on the individual areas of saving, which incorporated the proposed changes.

With reference to the substantial level of savings required this financial year and also next, officers were asked to comment on the likelihood of their service area meeting the agreed savings targets.  The Head of Adult Services began by stating that the main challenge for his service area would be around a reduction in the care packages budget.  He was confident the level of savings would be achieved this year but was less confident for 2016/17, as there were more concerns around an increase in demand for services.  He also stated that the service had a good track record of achieving savings.  

In relation to Children’s Services, the Head of Children and Young People Services commented that she was confident that the savings would be achieved this year.  She confirmed the service were looking ahead to the savings targets for next year and beginning preparations to achieve these.  The challenge for Children’s Services will be to ensure that sufficient resources were invested in early intervention and prevention.  

For her service area, the Head of Business Management and Innovation explained that the main area of concern was in relation to the contract for domiciliary care for 2016/17.  She alluded to the concerns raised previously by Mr. Evans from the Care Council for Wales, mainly in relation to low pay and the need to support and value staff working within the care sector.  

The Chairman queried how the budget savings would be managed within Adult Services.  In response, the Head of Adult Services stated that there were a variety of savings proposals and that every budget line had been examined such as the cost of printing and the amount allocated for transport and mileage.  The service had deliberately not filled certain vacancies and had not made any compulsory redundancies.  The service would also manage reductions through improving the skill mix of staff, such as by replacing care practitioners with social care officers.  

Further to this, a Committee Member enquired whether the initial focus for reductions would be around back office functions.  In response, the Head of Adult Services stated that this was an approach that had been taken since he came to the authority but it was important to recognise that without many back office functions the front line would not work effectively.  Certain back office functions were therefore vital and he stated that he did not see an inflated managerial structure, which from his perspective, was one of the leanest within Wales.  To answer the Member’s query directly he stated that the service would avoid cuts to front line services.  

A Committee Member queried the issue around the sustainability of services over the next two to three years, when factoring in the current level of savings required.  The Director of Social Services stated that the whole issue around sustainability was far larger than this or any Council could realistically consider on its own.  He explained that in terms of the increased demand, within a few years a quarter of people would be aged over 65 and there would be an increase of 10% in the number of five to ten year olds. Both of these represented an incredible challenge for any local authority.  The service also had an aging workforce which would impact upon services.  There is a need for central government to resolve long-standing concerns about the policy vacuum in respect of paying for care.

The Director stated that there was a need to be realistic about what Councils could do when faced with year on year cuts to their budgets.  The service was working on best case scenarios based upon current national financial figures.  He also alluded to the Reshaping Services agenda which asked services how demand could be met through different ways.  For this, a main strategy would be around preventative services but the Director explained that there was no evidence to support the view that these new ways of working would realise budget savings.  From 2018, current pathways indicate that there would be a £4 million budget shortfall and this was a challenge for the authority.  At the moment, the service had an effective savings programme and had dealt with the more straight forward savings but more difficult decisions needed to be made.  He commented, that by 2025, current projections showed that, unless the pattern of services changes radically, almost all the Council’s budget would be spent on either education or social care services and that allocated resources would still not be enough to meet future demand within these two areas.  This represented a fundamental crisis for the next 10 years.  

Finally in terms of the financial settlement from the Welsh Government, Members were advised, that July would be the most likely time when the Directorate would have an idea of the position.

RECOMMENDED -

(1)    T H A T progress made in delivering the Social Services Budget Programme during 2014/15 be noted and referred to Cabinet for information.

(2)    T H A T the proposed changes to the 2015/16 programme be considered and referred to Cabinet for approval.

Reasons for recommendations

(1)    To ensure that Members are aware of the progress made to date in delivering the Social Services Budget Programme.

(2)    That the proposed amendments to the programme are approved.”

Attached as Appendix – Report to Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 15th June, 2015
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