Agenda item

Report from Scrutiny Financial Task & Finish Group

Minutes:

The Chair of the Scrutiny ‘Financial Task and Finish Group’ summarised the main points in the published report.  

  • The shortage of care workers in Adult Social Care (ASC) was seen as a key issue because it was said to be causing delays in moving people out of hospital and into home care.  Cllr Stevens said the Council had previously looked at setting up its own agency and suggested this could still be a potential be a way forward.
  • Adult Social Care 18-64 years old: it was recommended that a Scrutiny Task and & Finish Group should be set up in the next municipal year to consider some the main issues. ACTION: Scrutiny Advisor to add this to a list of potential scrutiny items for 2020-2021.
  • Costs are continually increasing.
  • There is a need for more in-house foster carers.
  • Staff shortages in many different areas are causing further problems.
  • The Finance Task & Finish Group was reported to have spent more time looking at education related finances this year.
  • The High Needs Budget has borrowed-forward £2.4m and it will be paid back over a period of time.

 

Comments from the Commission included the following:

  • Foster carers’ shortage – a Member highlighted an issue she understood with regards to the Somalian community not being able to foster children easily because they don’t often have spare bedrooms and the guidelines say that to foster you must have one.  This it was said was a national issue that needed to be addressed because it caused a lot of stress to families when children were often fostered outside of their community.  Members said that they would raise this with People Scrutiny Commission so that they were also aware of the issue. ACTION: For this issue to be highlighted with the People Scrutiny Commission.

 

  • A brief discussion took place about the pros and cons of the Council running its own agency of care workers.  It was said that the Council pays £18 per hour to the agencies and yet the actual carers get about £9 per-hour.  It was said that recruitment and retention of staff had been problematic.  It was recommended that whatever happened there was need to change employment contacts for care workers as the current arrangements did not work well for the carers or those they were caring for.  Officers said they were working with agencies to try and encourage them to pay a ‘salary wage’ and provide better working Terms & Conditions. 

 

  • A Member from the Finance Task and Finish Group highlighted the positive changes to adult social care provision in some areas such Wigan and Tameside.  A potential pilot area in Bristol for similar types of changes is Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston.  It was said there are some successes stories around the country and Members were advised to look at the Kings Fund website. It was also highlighted that the Tameside model was once almost the same as Bristol’s model of care and it was hoped that Bristol would return to be being as good as it was before. 

 

  • The Cabinet Member for Waste, Commercialisation and Regulatory Services confirmed that BCC officers had previously looked at setting up their own agency as part of commercialisation and innovation work that was being undertaken.  He said it was possible they would to look at this again. Cllr Pearce agreed to raise this on behalf of the Scrutiny Commission.

 

  • Cllr Stevens made a request that Cabinet Members consider this report at their forthcoming away day.  Those present said they would see if that was possible.

 

  • A short discussion about ‘open-book pricing’ was had.  The Chair asked about how open the Council was compared to businesses with regards to their pricing structures.  Finance officers said that they were now working with providers on pricing structures and looking at why some of the costs were set so high.  Last year they had set a Bristol pricing rate.   

 

The Chair thanked the Task and Finish Group for their good work.

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