To consider a joint report of the Cabinet Member for Health and the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care.
The Cabinet has developed a four year medium term strategy based around five cross-cutting themes. These frame the choices the Council need to make about its budget both next year and in future years, the five themes are:
• Getting the most out of our spending;
• Improving Customer Experience;
• Making sure we have the right property in the right places;
• Sharing services with other organisations;
• An organisation fit for the future.
A suite of proposals have been developed by Cabinet which forms the first phase of this programme for 19/20. Scrutiny has since received a series of updates on the development of these proposals. This report forms the latest update and in line with the update provided to committees in November, particular includes consideration of proposals for 2019/20, prior to Cabinet decision-making in February.
The Scrutiny Committee is invited to comment upon the proposals appended to this report.
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The Cabinet Members for Adult Social Care and for Health submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) inviting the Scrutiny Committee to consider the Cabinet’s proposals to address the Medium Term Financial Plan forecasts. The report included the results of consultation exercises or interim feedback where those consultations were ongoing, as well as Equality Impact Assessments.
Proposal 3: Support Funds Co-ordination
The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care welcomed the constructive feedback received from the public, stakeholders and councillors during the consultation and confirmed that the Cabinet was not intending to proceed with the proposals to remove the Stockport Local Assistance Scheme from 2019/20 pending a further review of funding options.
Scrutiny committee members welcomed the amendment to the proposal and the commitment to further review funding sources.
The following issues were raised:-
· Concern was expressed at the high proportion of the total SLAS cost being administrative/ staffing costs (38p in every £1 spent) particularly given the Council’s success in reducing such costs in other areas of activity. Councillors nevertheless acknowledged that many users of the scheme may require more intensive, non-automated support. It was suggested that consideration should be given to options to share back-office support with partners offering similar support.
· Surprise was expressed about the proportion of funds used to pay for school uniforms and it was suggested that the Council should encourage schools to consider the affordability of their uniform requirements.
· The unanimity of support for the scheme from those engaged with the focus groups across a range of backgrounds was emphasised. It was commented that the model of consultation should be form a model for future engagement.
· Further information was sought on alternative options or models for the delivery of the SLAS as referenced in the report. In response it was stated that further work would need to be undertaken and it was unlikely that there were organisations or providers locally who would be in a position to take up this service. A commitment was given to submit any further options or proposals to a future meeting. It was also commented that this proposal should be seen within the context of the aspirations for a strategic commissioning of services.
· The quality of the report and the level of analysis was commended.
· It was commented that the feedback and analysis indicated that there may be shortcomings in the signposting to the SLAS and therefore unmet needs in the borough.
Proposal 5: Stockport Local Transport:
(i) Town Centre Metro Shuttle Bus
The Director of Public Health reported that the consultation for this proposal was ongoing and that to date the number of responses had risen to 550. She confirmed that the majority of responses either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the proposals and that the comments received were within the following broad areas (in descending order of frequency):-
The impact of the removal of the shuttlebus on
· older residents
· residents with disability and mobility difficulties
· residents on low incomes
· the Town Centre economy
The following issues were raised:-
· It was commented that the shuttle-bus was currently the only bus directly serving Stockport Rail Station and that Transport for Greater Manchester should be approached to discuss alternatives. In response it was confirmed that discussions were ongoing and it was highly likely that the route of at least one existing service would be altered to serve the station.
· While the loss of the service was regrettable given the financial pressures on the Council it was difficult to justify continuing to subsidise this service that could be provided on a different model.
(ii) Free School Bus Passes
· Concern was expressed about the impact of the proposed changes on the educational opportunities and experience of some the most deprived communities in Stockport.
Proposal 6: Support and Governance
· Proposals to protect frontline library services were welcomed, particularly in view of the opportunities libraries provided to residents who might become isolated.
· It was commented that the consultation feedback highlighted that there was a misunderstanding amongst the public about how Council services and activity was funded, particularly in respect of regeneration and capital works, and more thought needed to be given to how this could be communicated effectively to the public.
RESOLVED – That the report be noted and the comments of the Scrutiny Committee be forwarded to the Cabinet for consideration.