(Link to Council Priorities: Wellbeing / Quality Services)
The Portfolio Holder for Social Affairs introduced the report that detailed various staffing requirements together with proposals for increases to the Community Support Services fees and charges with effect from January 2020.
Community Support Services provided a wide range of specialist services to enable an ageing population across the Borough to stay independent by providing services within Centres and to the people’s homes. This ensured residents could maintain independence by accessing vital support and also providing support to family carers. The range and depth of services provided was unique across Surrey and the need to sustain these services with appropriate staffing levels was recognised.
The Portfolio Holder reported that in order to maintain core services, there was a need to provide for a robust staffing structure going forward enhancing the staff team accordingly as well as looking to ensure there was a sustainable provision for the future through appropriate and balanced fees and charges.
With regard to the Cobham Link Service, as the service and reputation had grown, it was proposed that the 25 hour a week Cobham Link Centre Assistant post be made permanent and the additional cost be funded from increases in income from volume / daily charges.
In respect of the Community Alarm and Telecare Service, due to the growth in customers across the board together with the range of new product developments, it was proposed that the 21.6 hour a week Community Alarm and Development Officer post be made permanent and the additional cost be funded from increases in volume / monthly charges. The Portfolio Holder also took the opportunity to advise of an amendment to the report whereby in the Financial implications section for the Community Alarm income, the wording should read ‘the net income is £20,200’ and not ‘net expenditure’.
The Portfolio Holder reminded Members that following on from the Transport Review considered in January 2019, it was proposed to introduce 3 part-time (3 days a week) contracted driver posts which would provide more stability to the service going forward. It was noted that the cost of introducing these posts would have a nil growth in terms of budgetary implications as it could be achieved by moving the casual driving salary to contracted salaries.
With regard to the Relief Carers Scheme, the Cabinet were advised that the service and in particular the staffing position, had been reviewed in order to ensure that it was fully sustainable to maintain the 12 specialist groups that were in place. Accordingly, following this review, the Portfolio Holder reported that whilst 3 staff members had originally indicated they would like to move from casual to contracted hours, she was pleased to report that a fourth staff member had now requested a similar transfer.
Aside from the staffing requirements, the Portfolio Holder advised Members that a review had been undertaken of the current fees and charges for the services provided by the Community Support Services Team. Having compared the fees and charges with other Boroughs and Districts across Surrey, the Cabinet acknowledged that with the proposed increases, the Council’s fees and charges would still remain at the lower / middle end of the other Surrey Authorities.
Whilst increases had not been proposed for the Hire of Centres, the Breakfast service and Community Cab, Members noted that in order to keep up with rising costs, increases in the fees and charges for the Community Alarm Service, Relief Care for Day Care and the Sitting Service; Meals on Wheels; the Tea Time Service; Centre meals; transport services; and the Centres and Community Transport membership annual subscription, had been proposed, the details of which were outlined in Appendix A of the report.
Finally, the Portfolio Holder reported that as a number of core principles had now been established with regard to fees and charges increases, it was proposed that the levels of increases for 2020/21 form the principle of increases for the next 3 years.
On consideration of the report, the Portfolio Holder for Housing commented that whilst no-one liked to see charges being increased, the proposed increases, as outlined in Appendix A, were small in nature. In his opinion, he considered that Surrey County Council should be funding the provision of Centres for the Community and not the Borough Council. He also thanked all the staff and volunteers who worked across the Council’s Centres for the Community for all their hard work in serving the elderly and vulnerable residents of the Borough.
The Cabinet welcomed the comprehensive report and update from the Portfolio Holder for Social Affairs and
(a) the Cobham Link Centre Assistant post (25 hours a week) be made a permanent position (with the additional cost funded from increases in income from volume / daily charges);
(b) the Community Alarm and Telecare Officer post (21.6 hours a week) be made permanent (with the additional cost funded from increased income from volume / monthly charges);
(c) 3 part-time Community Transport Contracted Driving posts be introduced and this be achieved within existing budgets by moving casual driving salary to contracted salaries;
(d) 4 part-time Relief Care staff contracted posts be introduced and this be achieved within existing budgets by moving casual staffing salary to contracted salaries;
(e) proposals for Community Support Services fees and charges, as detailed in Appendix A of the report, be agreed and come into effect in January 2020 to sustain key services and remain in the middle quartile of fees and charges when comparing other Surrey authorities; and
(f) given that outside financial support from Surrey County Council for several services had reduced in recent years and that there may well be further reductions in the three years beyond 2020/21, the principles with respect of fees and charges increases outlined in the report be adopted for a further 3 years from 2020/21.