Please note: a more detailed report will be published w/c 20th April in advance of the meeting.
The Executive Director of Resources and Head of Paid Service thanked all council staff for their commitment and hard work around Covid-19, and stated that the response from partner organisations across the city had been very positive.
The Executive Director of Resources and Head of Paid Service commented on the financial implications of the loss of income streams and the cost of the response to the crisis. There was a need for further financial support from central government to prevent a significant impact on future service delivery.
The Director of Policy, Strategy and Partnerships spoke to the report (available in the published pack). During the ensuing discussion the following points were highlighted;
· Redeployment of Council staff had predominantly been from areas that had needed to be closed temporarily or reduced e.g. libraries and museums.
· Discussions were underway with the Gypsy and Traveller communities to ensure they could be supported during the pandemic. The Portway vehicle dwellers site was now full; 25 vehicles were on the site which was co-managed between the vehicle dwellers and the City Council. A second site was planned to open in Bamfield which would provide accommodation for up to 25 vehicles. Water, WC and washing facilities would be provided. Users of both sites would be required to sign up to site license conditions to ensure appropriate site management was maintained.
· Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) remained a high risk area; the issue had a national profile.
· Given the present levels of supply there were sufficient amounts of PPE locally external Adult Care Providers could contact email@example.com for PPE and other commissioning requests / contracts related issues.
· Direct payment users could email WECIL on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0117 947 9933 and contact People Plus by email on email@example.com or call 0330 123 2815 if they required support.
· Local Authorities could use the new Care Act easements, created under the Coronavirus Act 2020; this related to assessments of care and support, with the duty to meet eligible needs replaced with the power to do so. The easements were time-limited and to be used as narrowly as possible.
· There was a discussion about discharging patients from hospital to care homes; Members were advised that there were concerns about the risk of transferring Covid-19 in to care homes.
· Hospital occupancy levels had 50% bed availability. The Nightingale Hospital near Bristol meant there was also additional capacity, so whilst discharge to care homes could not be ruled out there was not such an urgent need for that now until there was full confidence that patients were clear of Covid-19.
· Members asked for clarification about any changes to decision-making and delegated powers for allocating Council finances. Officers said that everything would continue to be reported at Cabinet meetings. It was considered important to ensure central government had a clear understanding of the impact on local finance within the context of increased reliance on local income streams over the past 10 years.
· All channels available to the Council were being utilised to engage with central government to make the financial case for numerous tranches of funding.
· Members were advised that the Council had been actively reviewing its financial reserves, and modelling had taken place to ensure proper management and mitigation.
· The Chair moved that the Budget Task and Finish Group should be reconvened. All Members present agreed that the group should be r established.
· A full debrief, review and reflection would be needed after the lock down had been relaxed to evaluate the Council’s response. The Chair stated that there was a role for scrutiny and that Members could be a catalyst in how the ‘new normal’ would look like after the lockdown ended.
The Chair thanked the Executive Director of Resources and Head of Paid Services for his strong leadership, and asked him to convey appreciation from all Members to all staff across the Council for their outstanding work at this difficult time.
That the Finance Task and Finish Group be reconvened. Further information would be brought to the next OSMB meeting.