The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change explained that the Corporate Risk Assessment was a document presented to GAC on a regular basis and it outlined the key corporate risks that the Council was currently facing and also the mitigating actions that were taken to try and limit those risks. As in paragraph four of the report, there had been a number of updates through the Corporate Risk Assessment. The reason for that was the climate within which the authority was working with services changing so quickly. When this was previously considered, there was a discussion about how best to present the issues in the risk assessment. Members agreed that a deeper dive into one or two of the risks at each meeting would enable Members to understand them and also to ask questions following that discussion. The two risks for this meeting were the Council being able to make robust medium to long term decisions with regards to the budget and social care, in particular Adult Services.
The Chairperson confirmed that the Committee were looking for assurance that the Directorate were dealing with these matters in the most appropriate manner rather than deep dive into the operational issues or cases.
A Member referred to the format of the report and that it was difficult to understand if the risks were getting worse or being managed successfully from the last report. It would be helpful to clearly see any changes to the risk. The Chairperson asked the Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change to pick this up in future reports.
The Head of Adult Social Care outlined regulatory activity within the area, the pressure areas particularly in the Home Care Services and Social Work Services. She added that they would be presenting a full report to scrutiny in February which would give further reassurance and greater depth into the actions they were taking. She provided a brief outline of the risks and some of the mitigating actions in relation to safety and wellbeing of adults at risk.
The Chairperson asked if it would be possible for Committee to see the Director of Social Services Annual Report because that would be very useful for assurances. The Head of Adult Social Care replied that this report was presented to Council so available on the website for all Committee members to view. With regard to the joint working arrangements bed blocking was an issue, getting care packages for individuals to leave hospital was another issue and he asked what collaborative work was ongoing between BCBC, the local Health Board and others such as the voluntary sector with regards to trying to address this issue. The Head of Adult Social Care explained that they worked hand in hand with the Health Board in adult services and she outlined how this worked across the service.
The Chairperson asked if there was any contribution from the Health Board with regards to a cost benefit analysis of keeping people in their own home rather than getting into a hospital situation and then once they were in, getting them back out. The Head of Adult Social Care replied that in BCBC there were premises used by the Community Resource Team which was joint funded through the Health Board and the local authority which provided short term intervention for people to stop them going into hospital and rapid response for people coming out of hospital. It was unable to meet current levels of demand but the initiatives around getting people back on their feet and supporting people to come out of hospital were there.
The Chairperson asked if BCBC received a reasonable proportion of the regional funding? The Head of Adult Services replied that Bridgend was good at clearly identifying what was needed to achieve integrated services.
A Member asked what percentage or numbers of people were being cared for in their own homes. The Head of Adult Services replied that they were supporting over 2000 people to meet their care and support needs and that they provided over 9000 hours of home care support to people.
The Committee thanked the Head of Adult Services for her contribution and the reassurances given.
The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change referred to the second risk being considered, being able to make robust medium to long
term decisions requiring service change. She outlined the normal framework for setting the budget and why if there was a framework in place, they had not reduced the risk. She explained the pressures in year which were unforeseen and not experienced previously and how they would carry forward into next year. This was not unique to BCBC and all local authorities were facing extreme pressures going forward now into next year.
The Chairperson replied that this gave him reassurance with regards to the procedures and the policies.
A Member referred to the non-statutory duties and asked if any guidance was given regarding the budgets that were going to have to be cut. The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change replied that the issues around statutory and non statutory services came up on an annual basis. BCBC had taken over £60 million out of the Revenue Budget over the last 10/11 years and all services had seen a reduction in funding. It was difficult to draw a line between them as many of the non statutory services were supporting the statutory services. All areas of the budget were being examined and it came down to risk across all services. They were looking at a one Council approach in this budget. The Member replied that he was reassured that risk was being considered and that they would not look to cut something now that could in the longer term cost more money.
A Member asked if thorough consideration would be given to the closure of an individual service and if the current process supported this. The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change replied that all services had been asked to consider all options going forward. A new Corporate Plan was being drafted which would look at the priorities for the Council which would link in with the budget. There were difficult decisions to be made and next year's financial settlement was going to be difficult.
A Member confirmed that this had been discussed across the forums and asked what political steer had been given from Cabinet on their priorities so that they could accurately do some budget modelling? The Chairperson replied that that was not a question for this Committee as all the Committee required was an assurance that BCBC had in place the right assurance mechanisms to deliver their budget. The Member agreed to take the question to a different meeting.
RESOLVED: GAC noted the Corporate Risk Assessment 2022-23 (Appendix A) and the comments made by the Head of Adult Services and the Chief Officer, Finance, Performance and Change.