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Agenda Item No.

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

 

SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH): 28TH NOVEMBER, 2011

 

SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES): 20TH DECEMBER, 2011

 

REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 16TH NOVEMBER, 2011

 

 

C1520           PRESSURE ON THE SOCIAL SERVICES REVENUE BUDGET 2011/2012 AND BUDGET RECOVERY ACTION PLANS (L AND SCS) (SCRUTINY - CORPORATE RESOURCES) -

 

As at September 2011, the projected gross deficit for Social Services for 2011/12 (i.e. before any funding for specific provisions were made) now stood at £1.3m. for Children and Young People’s Services and £2.4m. for Adult Services the reasons for which were detailed in the report. 

 

In response to evidence of the deteriorating financial position, officers from the Social Services Directorate and the Financial Services Division had analysed the pressures on budgets.  The report of the Head of Children and Family Services in respect of expenditure on children looked after by the Council was set out in Appendix 1 to the report.  The report produced by the Heads of Adult Services and Business Management and Innovation on the community care budget in Adult Services was set out in Appendix 2 to the report.  Both reports set out the service context, the response to date and proposed next steps.  These reports had also been used as the basis for drafting budget recovery action plans which would be used to develop a framework for the Directorate’s efforts to bring budgets under control as soon as possible.  These plans were attached at Appendices 3 and 4 to the report. 

 

In drawing up the above plans, opportunities for using supplementary grant funding, deferring expenditure, improving efficiency, generating income and reducing service expenditure had been considered.  Some of the actions had longer lead-in times than others, especially solutions which were more strategic in nature.  It was noted that the Cabinet would be provided with future reports about progress made in implementing the plans alongside social services revenue expenditure monitoring reports. 

 

In addition to the above the Directorate would also need additional support to take forward urgently all the initiatives required.  This included help with project management using the Council’s corporate methodology and toolkit through multi-disciplinary project teams overseen by a project board.  It was especially important that Financial, Internal Audit, Legal and Human Resources Services continued to provide timely corporate support so that all parts of the Council could work together in finding deliverable solutions to the problems the Council faced and that there was appropriate capacity within Social Services to manage the process through.  Priority would be given to implementing the whole range of remedial measures described in the plans in order to fund potential shortfalls from within existing budgets wherever possible.  However it was noted that Social Services were committed to achieving efficiency savings.  Specifically, for Social Services, these totalled £4.235m. between 2011/12 and 2013/14 with at least another £1.333m. earmarked in 2014/15 and the continued prospect of further reductions in expenditure over later years. 

 

Whilst balanced budgets had been delivered in recent years, the increased financial burden of funding social care in the Vale of Glamorgan had to be seen in the context of significant pressures experienced in many other local authorities across Wales.  The Council faced formidable challenges in delivering high quality social services - most obviously in finding ways to bridge the gap between the reducing resources available and the year-on-year growth in social care demand (resulting from demographic trends, increases in expectations, changing family structures and increasing numbers of people with long standing and complex disabilities) and in costs.  To balance the competing priorities of managing service demands, improving quality, meeting higher expectations and reducing expenditure was exceptionally difficult, especially problematic in situations where safeguarding people from harm had to be a key factor in decision-making. 

 

Whilst there were many obstacles to be overcome progress was being made.  Due to the difficult financial context and increasing demands for services, the only sustainable answer for social services in the longer term was for the Council and its partners to change the pattern of services based upon an understanding that there was a need to promote independence and focus services away from institutional settings and into people’s homes and local communities.  This agenda and the actions needed were set out in the Directorate’s second three year change plan for social services which would now need to be reviewed given the recent budgetary developments. 

 

The change plan would help the Directorate to tackle the strategic agenda required, especially in developing tools needed for reshaping services which included better links between planning and partnerships, commissioning and contracting and resources management.   The Directorate’s work on new services models was beginning to produce dividends e.g. work with Social Services Improvement Agency (SSIA) to emphasis the role of services for older people where are geared towards reablement and restoration.  The Council had also taken a leading role in taking forward the work of the regional improvement collaborative (SEWIC) in reshaping services.  Although not yet producing quantifiable savings, the work being done on new models of care had clear merits:

 

·                    providing opportunities for creative thinking about how services were delivered, encouraging dialogue and getting consensus about overall direction;

·                    providing a way of establishing priorities and clarity for staff, partners and services users / carers;

·                    helping to embed concepts which service users and others believed were necessary to underpin a dignified life - independence, choice and control, wellbeing, social inclusion;

·                    acting as a precursor for decisions about investment of resources and commissioning;

·                    encouraging more investment in preventative services to divert people from inappropriate and higher cost provision or managing demand at lower levels of intensity / intrusiveness; and

·                    generating debate about tiers of services, thresholds and access without complex assessments by social workers.

 

In terms of the next steps these must involve turning these service models into effective commissioning strategies and plans.  We should also incorporate new ideas about possible service delivery models - social enterprises, co-operatives, trading companies, etc.  Staff were beginning to respond possibility to new ideas about how to provide effective and efficient services but there was much work to be done in getting changes in practice and provision.  One of the key success criteria for this work was consistent, visible and enabling leadership by managers in social services.  The recent management reconfigurations meant that the Directorate would be better equipped to provide this leadership. 

 

The work to achieve the above and the cost savings required for a balanced budget were reflected in the Heads of Service budget recovery action plans.  However, many of the proposals had yet to be quantified in financial terms and in achievable delivery times.  This would necessitate establishing multi-disciplinary project teams.  It was by no means certain at present that these would realise the level of savings required to address the projected overspend within the expected timeframe, particularly when viewed alongside the significant savings targets already set.  This may require further consideration in terms of the type and levels of service provided in the future as part of the Social Services Change Plan.

 

This matter was for Executive decision.

 

RESOLVED -

 

(1)       T H A T the need for effective action in tackling the serious overspend and pressures within the Social Services budget be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the proposals outlined in the budget recovery action plans for Children and Young People’s Services and for Adult Services, including establishing a multi-disciplinary project team and a project board be endorsed.

 

(3)       T H A T further reports about progress made in implementing the above plans together with other options to address the issues arising as necessary be presented to the Cabinet.

 

(4)       T H A T the report be referred to the Scrutiny Committees (Corporate Resources) and (Social Care and Health) for information.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       To ensure that the Cabinet was aware of the nee for effective measures to deal with projected overspend in the Social Services budget.

 

(2)       To secure approval for and take forward the budget recovery action plans for Social Services.

 

(3)       To provide Cabinet with regular opportunities to ascertain whether the budget recovery plans were brining expenditure under control and to provide alternative options for consideration as necessary.

 

(4)       To ensure that the relevant Scrutiny Committees are able to exercise effective oversight of this key area of activity.”

 

 

 

 

Attached as Appendix - Report to Cabinet: 16th November 2011

 

 

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