Apologies from Cllr Lester (Children’s portfolio) and Cllr Rone (Traffic & Transport). Minutes of the previous meeting approved without comment.
First substantive item is Redesign and Commissioning of Homecare Services. This represents £9m p.a. of the council’s budget which is spent caring for people in their own home. 12 months of various forms of consultation with users and service providers has taken place which has informed the recommissioning plan. The council’s current frame work contract comes to an end in June 2017. This decision is to set in motion the commissioning of a new framework and to give authority for officers to extend the existing contract by up to 9 months to see the new contract implemented with a smooth transition for service users.
Officers present the background work on developing a procurement strategy and hourly rate which is sustainable for service providers and affordable for the council. The strategy depends on providers bidding to operate within geographical areas which balance the care delivered between rural (expensive and sparsely populated) and urban areas (more closely located). £15.80 is suggested as the provider rate offered by the council. Cllr Bramer thinks that the council should offer providers a marginal rate which would soak up staff time they haven’t ‘sold’ on commercial/private care delivery. Cllr James (Liberal) agrees with him and asks why the council is paying twice the living wage for this work. Oh dear, Officers have to explain that providers have other costs besides paying their caring staff, that the council has only allowed an average of 7.5 minutes travelling between clients, many of our providers pay above the minimum/living wage – and rightly so for these important caring services provided to our most vulnerable residents.
Cllr Powers (IOC) Seek assurance that parish councils and community volunteers are not assumed as an essential part of future service delivery. Officers say that anyone in need of professional care will have professional carers doing it.
Cllr Powers also asks whether 7.5 minutes is sufficient to enable carers to travel between clients. Officers admit that providers say they need 12-14 minutes on average, but that council payment systems allow for carers to leave a client after 53 minutes and the provider be paid for a full hour of care – so that carers can add another 7 minutes to their travel time by this means. Oh great … so that’s alright then. It looks like the contract will assume that clients lose care time to ‘pay’ for travel for the next service user.
Even so – Cllr Price (Cabinet) says he doesn’t feel that enough cost has been squeezed out of this service area and encourages officers to try harder. Report approved by cabinet members.
Next – statement of Community Involvement – the council’s statement of how it will communicate and consult with the community on Core Strategy, Planning and Neighbourhood Planning matters. Comments from opposition group leaders indicate that the people are cynical and concerned that the council doesn’t appear to listen when comments are made.
Cllr Price says no-one is interested, that residents don’t care about being consulted and how it happens and suggests enough time has been wasted discussing the matter and cabinet colleagues should vote and move on. Cabinet approve report and move on …
Next – A variation to the asset disposal agreement with Herefordshire Housing … basically, how much money the council is entitled to claw back from the housing association when the association sells any of its houses and a proposal to waive this claw-back to enable housing providers to reinvest the funds released from house sales into building new housing for the most vulnerable need groups..
Cllr Bartlett (Green) thinks this is a good idea and asks what other asset sales could also qualify for a claw-back waiver.
No discussion or questions from cabinet members. Next – Revised Governance Framework for West Mercia Energy (the energy management company owned by Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford/Wrekin Councils). WME trades in and invests in energy futures to reduce the cost of energy to the three owning councils. It also provides some energy services to businesses in the authorities’ areas which use large amounts of energy. Report Approved
Next – end of September Corporate Budget and Performance Report. Forecasting £500k overspend for the year, but council is hoping to be on budget again by the end of the year. New Finance Director talks to the detail of the report, and points to some contingencies held ready for issues and costs which may be incurred in the winter months.
Cllr Matthews (Independent) asks about the shortfall in car park revenue. Gets a holding response from the Director – but we understand that the shortfall is due to losses in the city car parks.
Cllr Powers asks about finance detail in Adults and Children’s Directorates. Director speaks about cost pressures in children’s placements caused by placement breakdowns over the summer which cost the council an additional £25k per week until other arrangements were able to be made. Overspend queries and assurances sought in Adults Wellbeing were not answered. The Director forecasts at least 18 months before the Minerals and Waste policies will be in place. Director doesn’t believe that accidents on county roads have been exacerbated by poor white lining or road surface quality.
Cllr James (Liberal) commends high rate of council tax collection achieved by revenue and benefits team staff.
Cllr Johnson (leader) says that an announcement will shortly be made concerning the council’s planned use of the £2m rural services grant received back in February.
Meeting closed 16:10