The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change presented a report which updated Cabinet on proposal to develop and implement a new model of service delivery for Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) and
She explained that following the Audit Wales Report in 2018, significant work had been undertaken by officers in reviewing the delivery of the DFG service in Bridgend, taking on board their recommendations.
She added that visits to neighbouring Councils were undertaken to learn from their reviews and the subsequent re-modelling of their DFG services. One of the authorities had been highlighted by Welsh Government as good practice. All the authorities operated an internal DFG service to oversee the application from start to finish.
The financial models across Councils in Wales varied, as follows:
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change explained that Bridgend’s DFG capital budget currently funds Council administration fees of £395 per application and, in addition, pays fees to external third-party agents who are appointed on an individual basis by the applicant. Further background was at section 3 of the report.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change explained that National Strategic Indicators are used to measure the performance of local authorities at a national level. She stated that Bridgend was ranked 20th in Wales and presented the table at 4.2.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change stated that with the research undertaken and liaising with Scrutiny and Members, Officers had concluded a change to the service was required. Therefore, it was recommended that a pilot project be established to internalise the DFG service. Further details on the service and implementation were provided in paragraph 4 of the report.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change explained that to provide the necessary capacity for the project, it was proposed that a collaborative agreement with Neath Port Talbot Council (NPT) was entered into. She explained that NPT had an in-house service that could provide the capacity and that both parties would benefit through shared learning and resources. She explained that the identified risks of changing the service delivery model were listed at 4.15 of the report and the management of such including the benefits to the service were listed at 4.16 of the report.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change provided the financial implications as indicated in section 8 of the report. She stated that the change in service would be cost effective and expected further savings and efficiencies to be made over future years.
The Cabinet Member - Wellbeing and Future Generations thanked the Officers involved in this report. She expressed that change in Bridgend was needed. It was noted by a recent Overview and Scrutiny Committee, that members of the public had to wait a considerable amount of time for grants money or their home to be adapted to suit their medical needs.
She added that a number of issues had been highlighted in the report and it was relieving to see that these were being looked at in the remodelling of the service.
The Cabinet Member - Social Services and Early Help welcomed the report and agreed with the Cabinet members points on the service being improvised. She explained that every day that a person has to wait for DFG or home adaptations to be made was another day of struggling for them and so it was a service that needed to be working effectively in order to provide a more efficient and quality service delivery.
The Cabinet Member - Social Services and Early Help asked what the governance of the new service would look like and how it would be an improvement over what was currently in place.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change explained that it had taken a long time to reach this stage because of unpicking each part of the process to establish the length of time it took for delivery of services and what was required in order to achieve improvements. She added that having a project team around each part of the process would allow proper analysis and scrutiny of it. The Head of Partnership Services added that with the past low performance of the service, the focus had been on moving forward, improving on delivery time for requests for each individual, as well as also providing more DFGs each year.
The Leader asked what assessment had been done on NPT Councils service and what reassurance can be given that going forward BCBC could provide a high-quality service to the residents of Bridgend.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change explained that along with the PI’s, the Authority had looked at each element of the service that NPT Council provided to see which areas we needed to improve on the most, and moving forward BCBC would look to draw the expertise from these areas in its future service.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
Delegated authority to the Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change, to approve the final terms of the collaboration agreement with NPT on behalf of the Council and to arrange execution of the collaboration agreement on behalf of the Council, subject to such delegated authority being exercised in consultation with the Chief Officer - Legal, HR and Regulatory Services