Libraries and Parking
3.1 Cllr Dave Norman, Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Parking and Libraries, outlined the commissioning intentions in this area, explaining that the review of on street charging would be carried out alongside investment in new parking zones and a new parking enforcement contract. With regards to libraries there would be an expansion of digital services and there would be consultation on an updated library strategy as this had not been looked at since 2012.
3.2 In response to a question, it was explained that the consultation document for libraries was still being drafted but this would be about enhancing the service. One member asked if the £10,000 figure was still available for community libraries and whether this would be improved. The Cabinet Member confirmed that there was no intention to reduce this figure. Savings within the budget related to the mobile library no longer being operational along with some staff that were leaving. There would be a staffing review in response.
3.3 One member queried
the savings within the Registration Service. Cllr Norman said that
he would have to come back to the member with the details but
believed that this was in relation to targeting higher income in
order to support the service.
ACTION Colin Chick
3.4 In response to a member’s question on residents parking it was explained that there would be no increases in charges above inflation.
3.5 Cllr Dave Norman explained that the issues within Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service had been well documented and had been ongoing for around two years. The draft budget looked to increase the budget for the service in relation to inflation and pensions schemes but also to change the staffing structure of the service to incorporate seventeen returning posts. Historically the service had seen reductions in its budget and had been ‘cut too lean’. The new Chief Fire Officer had reviewed the service and, alongside the reports from the HMICFRS visits, had moved quickly to make changes. The budget included funding to support the Liberal Democrat motion at Council to support young people to access the facilities at Skillzone.
3.6 Members welcomed the increase in the budget for the service and emphasised the importance of supporting staff.
3.7 One member, while
supporting the increase in budget for the Fire and Rescue Service,
expressed concern regarding the Trading Standards budget. Cllr
Norman explained that if there was an opportunity to enhance the
service then he would look at options for that, but it was
important to understand the links between that team and their
shared remit with other areas of the Council’s work. In
addition, Trading Standards teams across regions supported each
other and shared expertise. The Chief Fire Officer reiterated that
the initial focus had been on the Fire and Rescue Service and that
the Trading Standards team was set up to focus on its statutory
3.8 The Committee sought assurances that the increase in budget for the Fire and Rescue Service would allow the service to address the concerns outlined by HMICFRS. In response it was explained that this would take time but the additional staff would help the service to make progress in those areas highlighted during the inspections.
Adult Social Care
3.9 The Committee acknowledged the recent loss of Cllr Roger Wilson who had been Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Commissioning.
3.10 Cllr Kathy Williams, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care Delivery, outlined the commissioning intentions. She explained that in the current year the service was forecast to remain within its budget which was credit to the hard work of staff. She suggested that having social worker teams in-house had helped to focus resources as well as reducing the reliance on institutional residential care. There was a good relationship with health and care colleagues and it was important to provide creative solutions to manage demand.
3.11 One member expressed concern around what support was in place for families that took on a carer role for their family members and spouses. It was suggested that this was an area that was unseen. The Cabinet Member acknowledged that this was a shared concern and that some family members were not informing the Council of the role they were taking on.
3.12 There was a discussion around the success of the Adult Single Programme. Some members questioned whether there would be a later impact on the budget of those individuals that had not received extensive support earlier who requiring intervention at a later stage. In response it was explained that a lot of work had been carried out around ‘Your Circle’ and carers brochures which helped communicate to individuals the support available. Officers explained that there was now a smaller savings target attached to reducing external care placements because it was recognised that there were less opportunities to reduce costs. Joining up data with health colleagues was important in allowing demand to be mapped and better understand individual’s pathways. In addition, the use of technology was important in providing the required support.
3.13 One member noted that, while the overall budget for this area was forecast to be balanced, there were indications that the full savings targets would not be achieved in the current year. It was explained that over the three year period there was confidence that the savings targets would be met and delays were due to new initiatives being rolled out at a slower speed to ensure that they could be better integrated and embedded for the long term.
3.14 It was noted that there had been good integration between health and social care and public health. One member asked a question regarding the chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board as well as whether there would be a review of changes to the scrutiny structure in order to reflect the integration in this area. In response it was explained that the new Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care Commissioning could potentially chair the Health and Wellbeing Board and that a review of the scrutiny arrangements was scheduled for later in the year.
3.15 One member sought to understand how much ‘cost savings’ could be attributed to the introduction of the ‘three tier conversation’. In response it was stated that there had been a £10 million overspend in the Adults budget at the time of its introduction, this had been addressed and an additional £8 million had been saved in the previous year as well as another £8 million forecast in the current year.
3.16 It was stated that dementia care was a priority area for the Cabinet Member.
3.17 The Committee commented that there was interconnectivity between budgets, with the example given of the introduction of cycle lanes potentially helping to reduce social care costs at a later stage. It was stated that some Care Act funding had been used to support transport schemes in the past and that there were further lessons like that to be learned. Some members expressed concern that the Council was working in silos. The Thriving Communities grants were available to help kick start initiatives. County Councillors had a role in terms of alerting the Council to worthwhile initiatives and making best use of that local knowledge.
3.18 Cllr Tim Harman, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, explained that the Public Health budget relied on a ring fenced grant. This was the first year of real investment in Public Health for a number of years. He said that the re-commissioning process had been successful in helping to change the way the Council worked. The detail was contained within the budget papers.
3.19 The £473,000 of additional investment would help to support the provision of public health services such as sexual health and drug and alcohol services.
3.20 In relation to a member’s concern regarding late diagnosis of HIV, it was outlined that there was investment around contraception. Work was being carried out with colleagues to understand what was behind the late diagnosis figures and identify where in each individual’s journey this could have been spotted earlier.
3.21 There was no specific work stream related to gambling. Following the Council motion, the drug and alcohol service and healthy lifestyles service continue to raise awareness about the risks of gambling.
3.22 One member asked for further details on the savings outlined in the budget due to reductions in community based support. It was explained that the contract provided flexibility to take into account of variations in demand. The reductions reflected the amount of unused capacity within the providers commissioned to provide community and accommodation based support.
3.23 An extra £200,000 was in the budget for the public health nursing service. This would fund additional personnel. In response to concerns around national recruitment issues in nursing, it was explained that there was confidence in the Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust to fill those posts.
3.24 It was preferable for individuals to not smoke at all but it was accepted that vaping was less harmful than tobacco smoking. The data suggested that there were less young people taking up smoking but that there was still a cohort of adults who did smoke.
3.25 Work was being carried out to understand what services were required to help support people who were self-harming.
3.26 Members noted the county-wide oral health promotion strategy and plan.