Agenda Item No. 14
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Voluntary Sector Joint Liaison Committee: 10th July 2013
Report of the Voluntary Sector
Adult Carers Support Services Consultation
Purpose of the Report
1. To provide the Committee with an update in terms of the Vale Council Adult Carers Support and Services Consultation, action taken since the end of the consultation and the potential impact on voluntary organisations in the Vale.
That the voluntary sector, via VCVS, and directly to organisations which responded to the consultation, receive feedback on consultation responses submitted, a clear outline of timescales for action and are involved in the planning of services for carers.
Reason for the Recommendation
The voluntary sector, either via VCVS or directly, has responded to the consultation, but has received no feedback since the consultation finished on 28th February, nearly 4 months ago. The voluntary sector, via the Cardiff and Vale Carers Support and Information Network Group (CSING), and directly to the Council, has expressed concern about the delay in providing feedback about the consultation responses and the lack of timescales for action. There is understandable concern about subsequent potential delays in receiving notification of funding from 2014 onwards.
2. The Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cardiff Council and the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board put in place a consultation on Adult Carers Support and Services. The joint consultation focused on the process for carer’s assessment in Cardiff, respite in the Vale and Cardiff and proposed that "Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan local authorities share resources to develop a Cardiff and Vale Carers Support Service. This will be a one stop shop for all carer queries from information on carers' assessments to accessing benefits. The service could provide a range of services including signposting to appropriate third sector organisations".
3. The consultation further proposed that "funding provided to third sector organisations currently providing these types of services through the carers budget to cease and resources placed into the Carers Support Service".
4. To facilitate this, the consultation stated "We would undertake a tender process to ensure that the service could start during the 2013/14 financial year".
5. The voluntary organisations in the Vale which are currently funded via the carers budget, and are potentially affected by this proposal are; Crossroads Care in the Vale (EMI), Hafal, Parents Federation, Friendly Trust, Age Concern Cardiff and Vale, Carers Centre, Care and Repair Cardiff and the Vale.
6. The joint consultation was initially circulated by Cardiff Council in November 2012 and put on its website. The closing date was 8th February 2013 and a consultation event was held on 25th January in Cardiff.
7. After requesting information, VCVS was informed by Vale of Glamorgan Council that the consultation was no longer a joint consultation and that the Vale would consult to different timescales. The Vale consultation subsequently began on 17th January 2013 with a closing date of 28th February, thus running for 6 weeks. No consultation event was held by the Vale of Glamorgan Council, but VCVS organised a voluntary sector consultation event on 30th January and submitted a consultation response on 20th February. Various voluntary organisations responded directly.
8. Cardiff Council provided a brief summary of initial consultation findings on 25th February at the first meeting of the Cardiff and Vale Carers Strategy and Planning Group. Requests for detailed feedback on the consultation responses were made at a further Carers Strategy and Planning Group on 17th April and, in the absence of such feedback, were due to be made at a further Carers Strategy and Planning Group on 19th June. The latter meeting was however cancelled.
9. Email requests for feedback were made to both Vale of Glamorgan Council and Cardiff Council on 12th June. Cardiff Council’s response was that feedback on the consultation was on hold awaiting scrutiny task and finish work. The Vale of Glamorgan Council's response was that although analysis of the responses had begun, the process was on hold due to the absence of a member of staff for a few weeks and no action would be taken in the interim.
10. At some point during April – June the voluntary organisations which are potentially affected were notified of the continuation of their funding to March 2014. They had previously had varying extensions to Autumn 2013.
Relevant Issues and Options
11. Voluntary organisations are understandably concerned about the possibility of losing yet more funding if the proposals in this consultation go ahead. There were, however, elements of the consultation relating to respite and carers assessments, which were received positively.
12. The consultation proposes a "one stop shop" model. It has been advised by the local authorities that the proposals in the consultation do not necessarily refer to a physical one stop shop.
13. There is already a voluntary organisation, the Cardiff and Vale Carers Centre, part funded by the carers' budget, which provides a focus for carers in Cardiff and the Vale and which refers to, and works well with, other voluntary sector and statutory sector services. There are a range of voluntary sector specialist services also funded via the carers' budget, e.g. learning disability, mental health, dementia etc. These organisations have staff with skills and expertise in their particular area. The funding provided via the carers' budget for each service, may be relatively small, but is the difference between providing a service or not providing it.
14. The proposed model would cut the carers' budget funding to the Carers' Centre, and to the voluntary organisations which provide specialist services, e.g. mental health, learning disability and dementia. The "one stop shop" would then need to signpost to those very services which have been cut.
15. Having submitted responses to the consultation, to the deadline provided, there is an expectation that all those who took the time to respond, including VCVS, would receive timely feedback.
16. Good practice in consultation includes providing feedback and a clear timescale for further action. The Vale of Glamorgan Council subscribes to the Participation Cymru Code of Practice which includes timely feedback as one of its standards to work to when consulting.
17. There should be no need for requests to be made for feedback as it should form an essential element of any consultation and be included in set timescales.
18. There are two multi-agency planning groups relating to carers in Cardiff and Vale; the Carers Measure Working Group, which has proved an effective multi-agency partnership to date and the Carers Strategy and Planning Group, which is relatively new. VCVS facilitates the Cardiff and Vale Carers Support and Information Network Group (CSING), on behalf of VCVS and C3SC, which flags up issues to the planning groups. This structure should provide an arena for open and transparent discussions about the consultation, and other matters, and for all partners to be fully involved in planning services for carers.
19. This structure will not work if there is confusion about which group to take issues to, if there is a lack of updates via the Carers Strategy and Planning Group and if meetings at which we had hoped to discuss voluntary sector funding are then cancelled. This simply serves to put the voluntary sector on an unequal footing as a partner.
20. Neither direct contact with Council staff, nor involvement in multi-agency groups, has so far resulted in the provision of feedback on consultation responses, timescales and future planning.
21. The difficult in obtaining feedback, which should not be too challenging a task, does not bode well for the subsequent process in taking forward whatever proposals are approved as a result of this consultation. Inevitably, the experience so far indicates there will be further problems and the voluntary sector will not have a say in future proposals and is likely to receive late notification of how the proposals affect them.
22. The consultation document states that "By working together, we can provide better quality services, and service that will support the majority, if not all carers in one way or another". It remains to be seen if this vision will be achieved.
Rachel Connor, Executive Director, Vale Centre for Voluntary Services (VCVS)
Rachel Connor, Executive Director, Vale Centre for Voluntary Services (VCVS)