To subject to pre-decision scrutiny, the proposed changes to the Short Break Activities Programme.
The Committee received a report and presentation from the Director of Children’s Services on the proposed changes to the short break activities programme and consultation outcomes (Item 6 in the Minute Book).
The Committee were taken through the presentation which highlighted the proposed changes to the short break activities proposals, and also the consultation outcomes on the nine proposals. With relation to proposal one, it was heard that feedback received was neutral, with organisations in favour of this proposal, and the intention was to commission new arrangements working closely with organisations such as HPCN. The Committee heard that in relation to proposal two, feedback received was broadly in agreement with the proposal and it was noted that in terms of implementation, this would be relatively straightforward. It was also highlighted that there was broad agreement with proposal three from respondents, and questions had been asked about what was a reasonable charge and it was noted that a 50% reduction would be applied to low income families.
Changes to the Gateway Card with the introduction of a new online application system were outlined and Members also heard that respondents broadly agreed with the proposal to require evidence of eligibility from a professional as part of the new Gateway Card application, and families would be supported through this process.
The proposal to cease funding short break activities for young people aged 18 and over was set out and it was noted that while the majority of respondents broadly disagreed with this proposal, the Committee noted the proposed steps to be taken with the Adults’ Health and Care Community Team. It was also explained that young people aged 18 and over, could continue to access the activity, but would have to pay the full rate.
Proposals to only fund short break activities for children who live in the Hampshire County Council authority area were explained and it was heard that this approach would be consistent with many other local authorities, and young people affected could self fund or contact the local authority where they live to explore options. Proposals to only fund short break activities which allowed parents and carers to leave their child and proposals to cease funding for swimming lessons as a short break activity were also set out. Members heard that the County Council would work with other local authority leisure providers to ensure that the needs of disabled children and their parents/carers were taken into consideration.
In response to questions, Members heard:
· That in respect of young people aged 18 years and over, close working with Adults’ Health and Care would ensure that affected families would be contacted to carry out an assessment, and it was agreed that a review of how families were coping with this would be helpful.
· That overnight short breaks at Avon Tyrell could still take place and work had been undertaken to understand need in relation to individual young people.
· That discussions with providers to provide flexibility for parents and carers paying in advance for short break activities would take place, as it was noted that sometimes circumstances change and children may not then be able to take part in an activity which they had paid to take part in.
· That a number of leisure providers and local authorities did offer concessionary rates for low income families, at a rate of 50% discount.
· That consultations were an important exercise, and previous consultation feedback on other proposed decisions had resulted in changes to recommendations.
· That during the consultation period, events were held for providers who were supportive of proposals to commission the short break activities programme on the basis of priorities, agreed with a representative parent/carer panel. The aim of this proposal was to make the programme more flexible to needs of children and families.
· That work with leisure providers would take place in relation to ceasing funding for swimming lessons as a short break activity and also ensure that short break activities did provide a break of length for parents and carers.
· That the Gateway Card would provide proof of eligibility which would be presented to the provider when accessing an activity, and information would be regularly monitored by the County Council to ensure that activities met needs.
· Work with Action Hampshire had helped the sustainability of new organisations, with a view to make these organisations no longer reliant on County Council funding. It was noted that 80% of funding was granted to 20% of organisations.
The Chairman moved to debate. A variety of arguments were heard, including:
· Members thanked officers for conducting the consultation and through this the County Council had been able to gain as much information as possible.
· That some Members felt there was merit in forming a working group to examine further some of the proposals.
· Some Members were concerned about the proposal to stop the funding of swimming lessons as a short break activity, and felt this should be re-considered.
· That with reduced funding from central government, the County Council was under increasing financial pressure.
· Some Members were concerned about the proposed changes to the short break activities programme as a result of financial pressures, and felt this was too sensitive an area to adopt this approach.
Cllr Forster left the meeting at this point.
At the end of the debate, the Chairman invited the Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services to speak and he informed the Committee that he would take into consideration the discussions heard, and in particular discussions relating to proposals eight and nine.
The Chairman moved to consideration of the recommendation. With reference to the debate, additional recommendations to the Executive Lead Member were proposed and considered by the Committee and a vote was held on each as set out below:
a. Proposed by Councillor Gavin James and seconded by Councillor Jackie Porter as set out below.
‘That the Select Committee recommends that proposals eight and nine are deferred for further consideration by a working group that can report back once there is a clearer understanding of how local providers, particularly swimming provision will continue to provide swimming services for disabled young people’.
b. Proposed by Councillor Gavin James and seconded by Councillor Jackie Porter as set out below.
‘That the Select Committee receives a report on impact of changes (with a focus on proposal six) six months after implementation’.
Consequently, an amendment to the recommendation in the Select Committee cover report was proposed by the Chairman to reflect the above amendment, as set out below:
‘That the Children and Young People Select Committee support the recommendations with the exception of proposals 8 and 9 which the Committee recommend to be deferred for further consideration by a working group that can report back once there is a clearer understanding of how local providers, particularly swimming provision will continue to provide swimming services for disabled young people’.
A vote was held, with the outcome set out below:
It was therefore RESOLVED that:
That the Children and Young People Select Committee support the recommendations with the exception of proposals 8 and 9 which the Committee recommend to be deferred for further consideration by a working group that can report back once there is a clearer understanding of how local providers, particularly swimming provision will continue to provide swimming services for disabled young people’.