[James Barlow, Finance Business Partner, to present report]
The Finance Business Partner (Corporate) presented the budget report and explained the changes made to the content in response to feedback during the consultation period. The Panel were invited to comment on the budget proposals relevant to its remit. The Panel were advised that comments on the proposals would be added to a report to be considered by Scrutiny Board before being presented to Cabinet.
The Finance Business Partner advised the Panel that an extra £6.2 million had been added to the adult social care budget to address budget pressures. The Director of Adult Services outlined the range of budget pressures and challenges that the service had faced, such as meeting the commitment to the National Living Wage, which had proven to be more difficult to achieve than originally expected.
The Director of Adult Services commented on the five core principles that supported the workstreams aimed at supporting the achievement of the priorities detailed in the Our Council Plan 2019-24, which related to adult social care. The Director of Adult Services added that he wanted to avoid following a ‘salami slicing’ approach to meeting savings targets and instead the focus had been on introducing different models for transforming the service. The changes were aimed at achieving a better balance between the quality of service offered and meeting budget savings targets. The following were given as examples, Transforming Adult Social Care Programme, the Better Care Programme and work done as part of Sustainable Transformation Programme (STP), which is a partnership of health and care services working across the Black Country.
The Panel were advised that the STP was looking at delivering more cost-effective joint commissioning of services, which sometimes were better done at a Black Country level rather than each authority providing their own local service, which could be difficult and also more costly due to the small numbers.
The Panel queried the lack of detail in the proposed restructure of the Commissioning Team and would have liked to have seen information about the current and proposed new structure to allow more informed comment. The Director of Adult Services advised that details about the changes to the structure were currently part of discussions with employees and trade unions, so he was not able to comment in a public meeting or provide more details in the report at the current stage. The Panel queried the expected impact on the service of meeting the savings target of £300,000 and whether this would involve the deletion of specific posts. The Director of Adult Services advised that no decision had been made yet and some of the savings could be achieved through the process of voluntary redundancies and the deletion of vacant posts to achieve the savings target.
The Panel queried the reference to the core principals and specifically the idea of unlocking capacity within communities to provide an effective and supportive environment. The Panel were concerned about the reduced capacity with the voluntary sector due to previous funding reductions and the extent to which ... view the full minutes text for item 5