Following yesterdays revelations, that senior officials have left York Social Services Department, an Auditors report has provided further information on the background to the developing crisis.
Auditors Mazars, in a report to the Councils Audit and Governance committee next week, include the following paragraph
|Risks in relation to Adult Social Care services
|Description of the risksAdult social care is identified as one of the highest priorities within the Council’s service transformation programme. During the audit, we have become concerned at the lack of progress in making improvements to budget management and other aspects of adult social care services.
The development of the Better Care Fund provides a major challenge but also a significant opportunity for the Council and CCG to work together to increase investment in much needed intermediate and preventative care.
We are concerned that the lack of progress in delivering service improvement, together with the challenges of the Better Care Fund and the new Care Act, mean that the Council is at risk of failing to deliver good value for money in adult social care services and the best outcomes for local people.
They go on to say “We are working closely with officers to understand the barriers to progress and how they can best be addressed. The Chief Executive has recognised that insufficient progress has been made and has instituted an accelerated recovery and improvement process, working closely with the Director of Health and Wellbeing. We continue to review the Council’s arrangements to secure VFM in its use of resources. This has included reviewing the Council’s key plans and the delivery of those plans, and its financial arrangements, as well as considering the data in VFM profiles”.
Social care costs account for the major part of Council budget expenditure.
If good value for money is not being achieved – and it appears that it isn’t with an overspend last year and a similar situation developing this year – then the whole Council budget is in jeopardy.
That could have a knock on effect on the quality of a wide range of public services provided in the City and on the level of Council Tax which will be levied in future years.
No doubt the Audit Committee will be requiring the attendance of the Cabinet members (Simpson Laing & Cunningham Cross), who have presided over this crisis, to attend their meeting and account for their actions.
In its Tax demand – sent ot all households in the City in March – the Council said
“The city’s demand for adult social care services is increasing at such a rate that by 2019/20 adult care costs are expected to account for 50 per cent of the council’s net budget. The council is investing a further £2.5m for adult care services in 2014/15, to ensure York’s most vulnerable residents are taken care of.
In 2014/15 the council will pay for approximately half the adult care cost increases through an increase in Council Tax, of 1.9 per cent, an average of 37 pence per household, per week”.
A full and frank explanation is now required from the Council Leadership
NB. The Council is being criticised in todays media for paying an interim Director £700 a day.
The Council has yet to reveal the costs of the two temporary appointments that it has made to cover the staff who have left the Social Services Department (or the costs of any severance package agreed for those leaving)