Further to the report provided by officers in January, the Leader’s Executive & Partnership team provided an additional update on certain aspects of implementing the recommendations.
The Leader’s Executive & Partnership Strategy Manager explained to Members that there would be careful management of the implementation of the new approach due to the length of time the current grants had been allocated for. It was acknowledged that since completing the review some of the delivery timescales for the recommendations had to be extended to ensure that the voluntary and community sector could be fully engaged in the process. Furthermore, the team faced unexpected additional pressure from supporting the completion of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) bid.
The officer noted that the team had engaged with the sector in partnership with BCVS. The consultation had looked at a wide variety of current issues including the role of the sector, Integrated Care System funding and current service commissioning. One of the key messages received from the sector was that using a commissioning approach rather than direct grants while useful for those designing local services, was not always an easy process for smaller organisations to engage with as local providers.
A Member noted that a commissioning approach had felt like the best option when assessing a new way forward and hoped the revised approach implemented would be a better system to identify outcomes for investment.
The officer noted that the purchase of the Loop system would be a huge support in monitoring the delivery of future investments and partnership delivery with the voluntary and community sector.
A Member questioned what the new grant allocation scheme would look like. Another Member questioned how the Council would monitor new service level agreements and how the decision would be made on the value of future grants in comparison to the current values allocated.
The officer noted that consultation feedback from the sector was clearly showing the impact of inflation on the value of the grants received. The sector was currently only able to deliver around 70 – 80% of the outcomes expected, as grants were not keeping pace with the costs associated with service delivery. The team was currently taking this into account as part of developing the revised allocation process.
A Member questioned if this work could be completed in time to meet deadlines for the next budget setting process. The Scrutiny & Elections Officer noted that this would likely mean that only 5 months-worth of monitoring data would be available of the 2023/24 financial year. The officer agreed that a shorter monitoring period would be possible to ensure that revised allocations could be determined for the next budget setting period.
The Scrutiny & Elections Officer reiterated that the purpose of recommendation 7 was to consider the areas of service demand as part of the development of a new allocations process, alongside the monitoring data to determine revised SLAs and future grant allocations.
Moved by Councillor David Dixon and seconded by Councillor Anne Clarke
RESOLVED that (1) the progress against the review recommendations be noted,
(2) the exceptions to delivery and additional action required by the service be acknowledged,
(3) the report and findings be made public, in accordance with Part 4.5.17(4) of the Council’s Constitution,
(4) officers continue to implement the recommendations and submit a final report in six months’ time highlighting any exceptions to delivery.
(Scrutiny & Elections Officer)