Cllr Louise Miles, Cabinet Member for
Resources, briefed the panel on key priorities and service delivery
challenges within her portfolio responsibility.
Cllr Miles advised the panel that a major
challenge to the Council is delivering a legal balanced budget at
end of each year, while also continuing to manage a reduction of
over £220 million in Government funding since 2010. This was
highlighted as the most significant challenge facing the
Cllr Miles briefed on the panel on the range
of work done to drive out inefficiencies needed to deliver the
required to achieve annual savings target. The current level of
uncertainty about future Government funding after April 2020 makes
it difficult to plan ahead with confidence and one-off rather than
sustained funding adds to the challenge in trying to plan and
Cllr Miles commented that the biggest area of
concern is funding for adult social care and children’s
services. The Council is working with local authorities across the
region to develop creative solutions to help manage the costs in
Cllr Miles commented on the work done to
improve council tax collection rates.
The panel discussed the operation of the
providers of children and adult care services and the impact of
increases in provider costs. Cllr Miles advised the panel that work
is being done with other local authorities to agree a West Midlands
position to help manage the level of fees for adult and children
The panel queried alternatives to the current
provision of adult social care and whether the experience of
neighbouring authorities could help to improve the situation and
the level of scrutiny of different options.
The panel discussed the merits of bringing
services previously delivered by the Council back into the control
to reduce costs and deliver improvements. Cllr Miles commented that national policy
direction is not aimed at bringing services back in house.
The panel suggested that the concerns about
the funding challenges facing the service could be either be
referred to Adults and Safer City Scrutiny Panel or Scrutiny Board
to consider adding it to their respective work programme.
Claire Nye, Director of Finance, commented
that colleagues in finance use benchmarking information when
looking at the costs of services in order to enable them to be
appropriately challenged. The Director of Finance added that the
issue of quality and delivering value are also factors to be
considered when looking at provision of services. The panel were
reassured that that funding decisions are not made solely on the
basis of cost.
The panel queried the financial implications
for the Council of the recent decision to declare a climate change
Cllr Miles advised the panel that Cllr
McGarrity had recently been appointed Climate Change Champion and
suggested it might be useful to invite her to brief the panel at a
future meeting. Cllr Miles advised the panel that Directors have
signed up to the climate emergency declaration and will be looking
at how resources are used in future spending ...
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