On Monday this week, two papers affecting a number of our local charities commissioned by the Council went before the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care and Health. They can be found at Items 5 and 8 on the meeting Agenda.
Item 5 dealt with the dissolution of the Community Initiatives Fund and the transfer of its budget to Adult Social Care commissioners. Item 8 dealt with proposed values for the recommissioning of services from October 2018.
Item 5 was for decision and was approved. Item 8, viewed from the observer’s bench, appeared more of a discussion paper and is to be the subject of ongoing discussion.
Because the latter paper gave indicative future budgets but no indication of how these compare with existing budgets, and because most of the figures listed represent a number of current contracts combined, readers, and even existing providers, are challenged to determine what level of cuts are proposed. There are concerns amongst our provider colleagues, however, that these would be substantial, to the detriment of services to deprived and vulnerable citizens.
We understand that budgets are reducing as a result of policy outside local control and the need for austerity. However, we seek cuts that are proportionate and equitable but, most of all, fair and matched to the wellbeing of citizens across the borough.
It is encouraging that there is ongoing debate and the ideal will be that, by participating and working in partnership with the Council, routes can be found to making investment in services go further without diminishing outcomes for citizens.
Now, please bear with me whilst I make a link.
Have you seen any of that excellent BBC series ‘The Week the Landlords Moved In’ that finished last night? A number of private landlords volunteered to live their tenants lives for a week, in their properties and on their budgets. It proved a salutary experience for each, generally drawing the conclusion that you became a far better landlord not just approaching it with a business head, but knowing your tenant as a human being as well.
Similarly, it is easy to look at financial constraint as a business decision about where to apply cuts, but the decisions also need to take account of citizens as human beings. That is a knowledge that the voluntary and community sector can bring.