In a report of the Senior Scrutiny Officer the Board was reminded of arrangements for individual Members of the Executive to attend meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Board to provide updates on their respective work in terms of their aims, aspirations, objectives, priorities and any emerging issues or pressures. The process was part of the scrutiny arrangements of holding the Executive to account and also provided the opportunity for the Board to identify or highlight any issues of concern or difficulty.
Specific reference was made to the schedule of dates for the Overview and Scrutiny Board and confirmation given that the meeting to consider the Revenue Budget would now be held on 13 February 2013 commencing at 4.00 p.m and not 6 February 2013 as previously indicated.
The Chair welcomed Councillor Rostron, the Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health.
The Executive Member initially focussed on matters relating to Community Protection in relation to the period as Executive Member for Community Protection in the current Municipal Year.
Of particular note was the significant reduction in crime and importance of partnership working such as the Neighbourhood Safety Team.
Reference was made to the Mayors 2013/2014 budget proposals and the reinstatement of the CCTV service given its significant contribution to the protection and wellbeing of the community 24 hours a day and supporting the police and Council services providing reassurance to residents and businesses. Following Members questions it was agreed that further information would be provided on current discussions with other agencies with particular regard to financial arrangements and possible contributions.
An indication was also given of the substantial work carried out by a number of sections and the likely impact of reduced budgets with particular regard to trading standards and work involved around troubled families and the role of the Safer Middlesbrough Partnership in this regard.
It was noted that one consequence of reduced budgets had resulted in Officers working across different disciplines and reference was made to the commitment which had been shown by staff to take on additional duties. Given the potential impact of the Governments Welfare Reforms there was a concern at the likely pressures on a reduced number of staff (two persons) dealing with money advice. It was pointed out that changes to the legal aid system and current waiting lists at the Citizens Advice Bureau were also likely to increase pressure on the Council.
Reference was made to the current number of Street Wardens of 11 which had been reduced from 78. The provision of such a valuable service was currently being examined.
Members commented on the usefulness of the publication of the newsletters by the Community Protection Services and specifically referred to the link between the dog warden service with a social network site the only local authority so far to do so in this regard.
The Boards attention was drawn to the recent change to the appointment of the Executive Member to the portfolio of Adult Social Care and Public Health.
Confirmation was given of initial meetings which had been held with staff on examining options as to how to respond to people accessing adult social care services. The Board was advised of one of the main demands on social care in relation to an increasing number of people with dementia and of ongoing work in developing a dementia strategy. The need to increase awareness and provide better information on the services available was of particular importance.
In response to Members comments on the financial pressures facing the NHS and local authorities with particular regard to such services as community services the Executive Member confirmed that there were ongoing discussions in this regard and clarification on areas of responsibility. The Executive Member confirmed that the present situation around discharges from hospital was of concern and would be examined further.
The Board was advised of the Authoritys new statutory responsibilities in respect of public health with effect from 1 April 2013. Local authorities were to receive a ring fenced public health grant for commissioning and delivering public health programmes. On 10 January 2013, the Department of Health announced the public health grant allocations for the years 2013/14 and 2014/15. It was confirmed that Middlesbrough Council would receive a ring-fenced public health grant of £15,932,000 and £16,378,000 for 2013-14 and 2014-15 respectively. National guidance was emerging on the future commissioning and delivery of key public health programmes such as screening, immunisations, and emergency planning and response.
It was confirmed that further details would be provided regarding the allocation for public health funding received by other North East authorities and clarification in relation to the ceasing of non-recurring public health funding in respect of Middlesbrough.
Members also referred to the importance of the Council being in a position to help tackle the increasing problems associated with obesity, alcohol related problems, anorexia and smoking cessation programmes.
ORDERED that the Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health be thanked for the information provided.