Agenda for Adult Social Care & Housing Overview & Scrutiny Committee on Thursday, 6th January, 2011, 4.00pm
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Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Hove Town Hall. View directions
Contact: Kath Vlcek, Scrutiny Support Officer
(a) Declaration of Substitutes – Where Councillors are unable to attend a meeting, a substitute Member from the same Political Group may attend, speak and vote in their place for that meeting.
(b) Declarations of Interest by all Members present of any personal interests in matters on the agenda, the nature of any interest and whether the Members regard the interest as prejudicial under the terms of the Code of Conduct.
(c) Declaration of Party Whip - To seek declarations of the existence and nature of any party whip in relation to any matter on the Agenda as set out at paragraph 8 of the Overview and Scrutiny Ways of Working.
(d) Exclusion of Press and Public - To consider whether, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted, or the nature of the proceedings, the press and public should be excluded from the meeting when any of the following items are under consideration.
NOTE: Any item appearing in Part 2 of the Agenda states in its heading the category under which the information disclosed in the report is exempt from disclosure and therefore not available to the public.
A list and description of the exempt categories is available for public inspection at Brighton and Hove Town Halls.
41A Declaration of Substitutes
41.1 Councillor Dawn Barnett was substitute for Councillor Brian Pidgeon. Councillor Ann Norman was substitute for Councillor Ted Kemble.
41B Declarations of Interest
41.2 There were none
41C Declarations of Party Whip
41.3 There were none
41D Exclusion of Press and Public
41.4 In accordance with section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, it was considered whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during the consideration of any items contained in the agenda, having regard to the nature of the business to be transacted and the nature of the proceedings and the likelihood as to whether, if members of the press and public were present, there would be disclosure to them of confidential or exempt information as defined in section 100I (1) of the said Act.
41.5 RESOLVED – that the press and public be not excluded from the meeting.
42.1 These were approved.
43.1 The Chair welcomed Councillor Ian Davey to the committee; this was his first meeting.
No public questions have been received.
44.1 There were none.
Letters from Councillors
No letters have been received.
45.1 There were none.
Notices of Motions referred from Council
No Notices of Motion have been received.
46.1 There were none.
Housing Revenue Account
47.1 Nick Hibberd, Head of Service, Housing & Social Inclusion ,presented the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) element of the Budget Strategy papers and responded to councillors' questions.
Mr Hibberd explained that the council was still waiting for the final confirmation of the HRA subsidy determination from central Government. The budget strategy being discussed today reflected the current housing subsidy system; a new system of self-financing was due to come into force from April 2012 which would mean that the council could keep all of its housing revenue.
The service was planning to make savings by reducing management unit costs. Investment proposals are focused upon the Turning the Tide initiative, and maximising revenue resources in order to invest in decent homes, renewable energy and house building.
47.2 In response to a query about the £130,000 employee pension savings in the Property and Investment section on page 33 of the report, Mr Hibberd said that this was a saving in the pension liability cost estimation made at the time of the TUPE transfer of staff to Mears. He confirmed that all of the staff had been transferred on full Local Government pension arrangements.
47.3 In response to a question about the current situation with the Local Delivery Vehicle (LDV), Mr Hibberd confirmed that Cabinet had approved a report in November 2010 giving officers permission to work with the LDV to seek funding, and this was proceeding. In addition, officers were continuing discussions with the CLG regarding consent..
47.4 Members asked why the leaseholder charges mentioned on page 32 appeared to be £100,000 higher than the actual charges. Mr Hibberd clarified the strategy include an estimated reduction in the income budget for leaseholder service charges, due to the budget being set a greater level than the actual charges
47.5 Members asked for more information about the Turning the Tide initiatives, which was a programme to improve the lives of residents in the city to tackle issues such as unemployment and anti-social behaviour. Mr Hibberd said that the pilot interventions had been successful and were due to be introduced on a citywide basis where appropriate. There had been some local initiatives including Rate Your Estate.
47.6 In response to a query about possible impacts on frontline staff due to any budget reduction, Mr Hibberd said that he was not anticipating any significant impact on staff. In future, the service may work with staff to try and deliver services in a different way, but it would not significantly affect the numbers of staff.
On page 44 of the report, there was more information about the staffing implications of the Customer Access Review. The review was intended to streamline customer access arrangements to housing management services, co-locating some back office functions and reducing Housing Officer time spent on administration. Mr Hibberd explained that the review work was due to be completed in October 2011, at which point there would be more concrete information about staffing proposals.
47.7 Members asked whether it was possible to borrow now against the potentially increased 2012-13 Housing Revenue Account money, in light of the proposals in the Localism Bill to allow authorities to keep all of their housing revenue. Mr Hibberd said that as the Localism Bill was not statute yet, it would not be possible to do this.
47.8 Members asked whether any planning and budgeting had been made for the impact of cold weather and contingency plans. Mr Hibberd said that the budgets had seasonal profiles to reflect trends in service demand. This was particularly important for Repairs, who always had a spike in demand in winter months. Housing Management had business continuity plans, which had worked well to date, particularly in the recent snow spells. Extra grit bins had been installed in larger estates as well as the gritting service provided by the highways service.
Housing Strategy Budget
47.9 Martin Reid, Head of Housing Strategy and Development, and Narinder Sundar, Commissioning Manager, Supporting People presented the Housing Strategy element of the Budget Strategy papers and responded to councillors' questions.
Key elements to the budget strategy included renegotiating provider contracts for temporary accommodation, and joint commissioning of some supported housing. Housing Strategy did provide some hostel accommodation but was much more often a commissioner of services.
47.10 Members asked for clarification of the homelessness grant amount referred to on page 24 of the report. Mr Reid said that the council had retained the same level of homelessness grant as last year with indications that this may rise in the future.
47.11 Members said that they were concerned that the drive to re-commission and streamline services referred to on page 23 would have a negative impact on smaller third sector providers. Mr Reid said that this should not be the case; it was important to retain a mixed economy of providers for the Supporting People programme. It was necessary to look at the economies of scale and also to help support small providers.
Ms Sundar said that they were very keen to protect small specialist providers; it was important to provide a range of services for all client groups. They had been working with their Supporting People providers throughout 2010, reviewing their processes through a number of mechanisms including stakeholder groups. The new Supporting People strategy would be in place from April 2011.
47.12 Members raised queries about potential work duplication with the forthcoming Health White Paper, in which local areas would be given resources to improve housing and improve poor health. Mr Reid assured the committee that Housing Strategy would work with colleagues in Adult Social Care and in Health in order to avoid duplication and coordinate the best use of money. However it should be noted that the Supporting People programme was a specialist one with a focus on housing and homelessness in vulnerable people.
Adult Social Care budget scrutiny
47.13 Councillor Ken Norman, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, and Karin Divall, Assistant Director, Adult Social Care, presented the Adult Social Care element of the Budget Strategy papers and responded to members' questions.
There had been increased pressures due to demographic growth and increased expectations of customers. Key strands to the budget strategy included the further roll out of personalisation, Value for Money initiatives and workforce efficiencies.
47.14 Members commented that that ringfencing around Learning Disabilities funding was disappearing; would services be affected? Ms Divall confirmed that it was the intention that efficiencies would be made in Learning Disabilities through integration of the service within Adult Social Care and with personalisation. Efficiencies would be made around reablement, the use of technology etc. There were no plans to reduce services or funding.
47.15 Members asked whether it was the case that everybody would be moved onto Personal Budgets or whether there was any scope for discretion. How were savings being made through personalisation? Councillor Norman assured the committee that personal budgets were available for those who wanted them but that people would never be forced into using them, as not everybody would want to use them. It had been shown from experience that people using personal budgets were able to get lower prices for services than the local authority so savings were being made.
47.16 Members asked about the implications of some grants ending. Ms Divall said that some of the grants had been scheduled to end and provision had been made in those cases. In particular, in the case of the dementia grant, this had been used to run a time-limited project for carers from the BME community. The PCT had now committed to finding the funding for the project so the work would be sustained.
47.17 Members commented that personalisation seemed like a very positive story, with benefits for the customer, for the provider and for the local authority, leading to genuine choice for users. Councillor Norman commented that it was about rearranging services in a more proportionate manner. The savings made by doing so would eliminate the need for cuts.
47.18 Members asked whether Councillor Norman thought that Intelligent Commissioning would help to make significant future savings; Councillor Norman said that he was unable to say at this stage what the outcome would be but he hoped that this would be the case. It might be better to direct this question toward the Director of Finance.
47.19 Members asked for more information about the Section 75 reviews. Jane Simmons, Head of Commissioning and Partnerships, explained that there were three Section 75s in place in Brighton and Hove concerning joint working with a variety of health partners. The arrangements were working very well, but there had been some lack of clarification around contract requirements, roles and responsibilities and it was an opportune time to review and clarify working arrangements for everyone.
47.20 Members said that they welcomed the intention to continue building social capital as this had huge benefits for the city. However long-term gain was only possible with short term investment now; was this being planned? Ms Simmons said that the council needed to complete a 'Prevention and Wellbeing' strategy which would show how the council could provide universal services. There was thinking around introducing community hubs to deliver some services. The Supporting People team also had some resources to help support social capital. The challenge was to bring the funding streams together in a coherent and meaningful way. Nevertheless it was recognised that developing social capital was a major challenge.
47.21 Members asked about the impact on the workforce with the planned rearrangement of services. Ms Divall explained that it was about changing the way in which people worked. She gave the example of Access Point, which provided a proportionate and timely response to their callers and had dealt with the backlog of clients waiting for Occupational Therapy assessments. It was able to deal with 90% of cases at the point of contact, freeing up social workers to carry out the more involved and complex work. There was a similar situation in the case of reablement, where some concentrated work with the client at the outset freed up social worker time later on to focus on more demanding cases.
47.22 Some members queried how it was the case that there could be no additional service pressures with the removal of some significant grant funding. Councillor Norman assured them that this was the case and that personalisation and new ways of working such as Access Point had freed up considerable resources for other areas. He said that he believed that the service could continue to be provided within budget.
47.23 The committee thanked all of the officers for their work and thanked Councillor Norman for attending the scrutiny committee. Councillor Norman expressed his thanks for the officers' work too.
47.24 RESOLVED – That the Committee have noted and commented on the proposed budget strategies and that the minutes are sent to the Overview and Scrutiny Commission for their information.
48.1 Richard Miles, Performance Analyst, presented the report on the six-monthly progress of the LAA and answered questions from the committee.
Mr Miles advised members that there would no longer be a requirement to report on the LAA targets to central Government; instead, targets would be set and measured locally. Brighton and Hove was in the process of developing a city-specific partnership performance framework. They would be measuring against the outcomes and sub-outcomes in the Sustainable Community Strategy.
The Performance Team was also in the process of producing a 'State of the City' report, updating on the Reducing Inequality Strategy and carrying out needs assessments where necessary.
The proposals for the new performance framework were due to go to the Strategic Leadership Board, to Cabinet, to the Public Service Board and the Local Strategic Partnership in May 2011. It would be brought to the Overview and Scrutiny Commission at the same time.
48.2 Mr Miles said that in the report that had been brought to the scrutiny committee today, there were four red indicators. This had been the situation at the time of compiling the report but since then, two of the four indicators - the targets for quitting smoking and for bringing empty properties back into use - were back on track and it was hoped that they would reach their target by year end. The other two red indicators had been affected by the economic situation and were likely to remain unmet- these were the targets for families living in temporary accommodation and for new additional homes provided.
Three of the indicators were marked as grey, indicating that they did not have enough data to be measured at present. The Place Survey that had been intended to measure these had been cancelled so the information was unlikely to become available. With regard to the indicator for measuring street homelessness, the definitions had been altered and so the data was unavailable to compare like with like.
48.3 In response to members' questions about the implication of the removal of the performance reward grant, Mr Miles said that the total grant would have been relatively low in comparison to previous years, totalling approximately £2 million if all 35 of the targets had been met. The council had not anticipated getting any of the reward grants and had not included the money in any budget calculations.
48.4 Members queried the red status of the indicator for bringing empty properties back into use. Martin Reid, Head of Housing Strategy, confirmed that a lot of the work to bring the properties back into use happened in the second half of the year; this was the report for the first half of the year. The team was confident that it would meet the targets by the end of the year.
48.5 Members asked about the target for giving up smoking. There had been some concern at the Local Involvement Network (LINk) meetings that the approach was not inclusive and had focussed on helping middle class smokers to stop smoking whilst not providing the same support for people in more deprived parts of the city. Mr Miles said that he was aware that work was being carried out to help support specific target groups of smokers; he offered to circulate the list of target groups.
The Chair added that she was aware that some of the stop smoking services in Bevendean had closed previously, but that they were being reinstated. There were some issues about the service's opening times, as they operated in the daytime when the majority of people were at work, but it was hoped that these problems could be ironed out.
48.6 Members asked how Scrutiny could become involved in helping to shape the new local performance framework and contribute to the indicators that were set. Mr Miles said that the new framework was unlikely to look like the existing one, it would be less numerically-based and more concerned with the outcomes. It would also be more fluid than the present system as it would not be bound by the same three year legal framework.
The intentions had been to set the targets at the Public Service Board and at Cabinet level; Scrutiny had not been included in that process as it stood at present. Members agreed that they wanted to be involved; Mr Miles agreed to feed this back to his managers.
48.7 Members queried the target for building additional homes. There was a reference in the report to the Estates Masterplan; this had never been to Scrutiny and it was possible that ASCHOSC could help with the masterplan, suggesting alternative locations for properties etc. Members agreed that they would like the Estates Masterplan to come to committee for discussion.
48.8 RESOLVED – a): that enquiries would be made as to how scrutiny could become involved in setting the new performance framework; b) - that the Estates Masterplan would come to scrutiny; and c) that the LAA year end report would come to scrutiny in due course.
Items to go forward to Cabinet or the relevant Cabinet Member Meeting
To consider items to be submitted to the next available Cabinet or Cabinet Member Meeting.
49.1 There were none.
Items to go forward to Council
To consider items to be submitted to the next Council meeting for information.
50.1 There were none.