Just who does the Derby City Council leadership think they are kidding when they speak of “consultations” with the public? Saying that you are “consulting” when in fact you are following a process to placate the lawyers, and have no intention of taking a blind bit of notice, is not consulting. For those Councillors who actually believe that they really are “consulting” with the public, they are either totally mis-guided, ignorant, arrogant, or at best, disingenuous.
On February 10th, the Cabinet will unwittingly formalise the proposal to cut 100% of all Voluntary Sector Grants – the decision will have “taken into account” the extensive consultation exercise. I quote from the paperwork which the Cabinet will have considered in making their decision.
The main findings from all groups public, stakeholder, service users and organisations were that they:
- did not agree with the proposal to cease or reduce funding for VCF services in the consultation (over 95% of all responses)
- that services had a key role in providing practical support, combating, loneliness and isolation and supporting independence, assisting older and disabled people (physical, sensory and mental health disabilities)
Respondents commented that the VCF services saved the Council money, kept people away from Council services and supported people who would otherwise be lonely and isolated. Many services enable people with limited mobility to take part in society, get a hot meal and promoting good health and independence.
The three most cited Outcomes (65% of all responses) were:
- Maximise service users ability to live independent lives without being dependent on health and social care services for support
- Support individals to establish and develop supportive networks within their friends, family and community – where they can receive support and provide support to others
- Support service users to develop their own ways to improve their health and wellbeing – building on skills, interests, abilities of their service users and the relationships that support them
Organisations pointed out that commented that VCF provides essential services to support the „prevention agenda‟ helping to keep often very vulnerable people out of statutory services. Funding provided for infrastructure and other services generates additional funding to support local services. Many voluntary sector workers are experts in their field and help deliver safe, supportive services that prevent social isolation, promote well being and independence.
The main areas of comment were that the services had unique skills, experience and a track record of contact with specific vulnerable communities. Services provided value for money through the use of volunteers and delivered more cost effective services than statutory or private sector options. They provided access to other support services, reduced isolation, promoted health and wellbeing and prevent people requiring more help from other services like health, mental health and social services.
Headway, Age UK, Community Action Derby, Citizens Advice and Law Centre, Hadhari, Derby Community Accountancy, Derby Stroke Club, Indian Community Centre and Sight Support provided information on additional funding, a total of £1,188,250 and provided an explanation of how current funding from DCC/SDCCG had supported them to access this funding.
Alternatives, Community Action, Citizens Advice and Law Centre, Hadhari, Indian Community Centre and Sight Support provided details of volunteer hours per week which were directly linked to the funded service, a total of 963 hours, at min wage this would equate to £6,452 per week, some £290,000 annually.
Appendix 7 which is the Impact Analysis on each individual organisation is 3 YEARS OLD. So the impact is NOT known
The question I ask is, which part of the consultation’s conclusion has been recognised in the decision, or don’t the wishes of over 95% of the respondents count.
Councillor Repton, at the Council meeting on 3 Februry, failed to answer the question asked of him about the consequential financial impact of removing the VCF Grant. It was evident from his written answer, and his rambling, vague verbal replies, that he had NOT thought about this issue. The Cabinet papers do NOT consider the consequences on the Council’s budget of removing this money. If Cllr Repton actually read the detail he would realise, as highlighted in the quotes above, that the missed funding opportunities as well as the further burden on STATUTORY services will outweigh the funding cut.
Anyone who has studied Chapter 1 of a Business Course on decision making knows that you must take into account all facets of the situation before arriving at a conclusion – not the one dimension that is immediately in front of your nose.
This has not been analysed in the Cabinet papers.
The most disturbing aspect of this is not just that the wrong decision has been made, it is that Cllr Repton, and many other Councillors who stood up last night simply have no clue about managing finances. It is patently obvious. They will continue to repeat the instructed robotic mantra that “we can’t afford it”.
So for clarity:
- The total VCF grants are £0.6m – it is 0.24% of the the total budget. The Council CANNOT plan at that level of accuracy. It is a totally false “science”. The Council underspent by £4m last year – that’s a normal planning “error”, and is to be expected.
- There WILL be additional costs on Statutory services as a result of removing this funding. Cllr Repton admits he does NOT know how much this is. There is a real possibility that the costs will be a lot greater than the money saved. Making a decision without the full facts is reckless, incompetent, and, in this situation, quite possibly, illegal.
- When these services stop, you cannot start them again, the skilled individuals will have gone to other positions. This is NOT like the fountains in a City Park, or grass-cutting in Mickleover.
- Whoever wrote “There may be service opportunities in the future for which the voluntary sector is well placed to respond” clearly needs to reflect on the inanity of this statement.
- As the savings to Council services will exceed the grant cost, then the whole initiative is self-funding – any person in business would understand that concept – but sadly no one in the Council Cabinet seems to!
- Over 95% of respondents don’t agree with it!
In summary it is not a question of the “Council cannot afford to fund the Grants”, the fact is the “Council cannot afford to cut the Grants!”
Categories: Derby City Council