Sunday, September 24, 2023

County Council Defends Use of External Consultants

Derbyshire County Council’s head of adult social care has defended the use of external consultants brought in to find ways of improving the service and making it more cost effective.

Helen Jones was appointed to the role of strategic director in July after transferring from Nottingham City Council.

She said today (Wednesday, November 21) in a meeting of Derbyshire County Council’s scrutiny committee that cuts to the service must be avoided at all costs.

This was after Labour councillor Nigel Barker called into question the authority’s use of external consultants.

She said: “There are a number of local authorities that are bringing in consultants to look at ways in which they can both improve people’s lives and be more effective.

“We must be looking at ways to reduce costs to the public purse.

“What we don’t want to do is make cuts to local services for people.

“We need to give people a service which enables them to live their lives and live as independently as possible at all times.

“External consultants can go out and give an independent perspective, bring them in for a short period of time, to stay ahead of the curve financially.

“What we don’t want is to be in the position of Northamptonshire and not meeting our targets.

“It is about being sustainable but at the moment there is an increase in demand for adult social care which is not being supported by government funding.

“We don’t want to make cuts and make things worse for people. We need to be both sustainable and to improve people’s lives.”

In September the authority’s savings targets rocketed from £53 million to £70 million – to be achieved by 2022.

This was after reassessing the demands to its services.

Some £12.4 million of these cuts are scheduled to be implemented this year.

This will be followed by £18.5 million in cuts during 2019, £26.5 million in 2020 and £12.7 million in 2021.

Some £5 million of this year’s budget calls fall in adult social care, slightly lower than £5.3 million cuts to the service last year.

A spokesperson for the council said that the authority’s bill for adult social care will rise by £11.8 million from 2018-2023.

A report in September stated that adult social care will provide funding pressures of £12.6 million this year, £14.1 million in 2019 and £5 million for 2020-23.

In the past five years, the county council has gone from catering for just over three quarters of requests for care to just over half.

Some of these requests were directed to another service at the council, outside of adult social care, and others to different public bodies such as health services and the independent and voluntary sectors.

Five years ago, there was a gap of 5,054 people between those who had requested some level of assistance and the people receiving care from the authority. As of last year, the difference between the number of people receiving care and those requesting assistance is 17,166.

The increase in the number of people catered for has increased by 2,268 but the number of requests has gone up by 14,379.

Eddie Bisknell (LDRS)

Eddie writes for Nailed through the Local Democracy Reporting Service, in partnership with the BBC. The Local Democracy Reporting Service is a partnership of media outlets sharing reporters to cover council meetings.

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