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Consultation about Supporting People services launched

Today (13 June) Bristol City Council has launched a city-wide consultation on proposals for delivering savings £1.8m from its Supporting People budget. This equates to a reduction of 25 per cent of current funding.

This consultation is being launched in a challenging financial backdrop following years of cuts to government funding, the costs of a growing, ageing population and a rising demand for services.

Supporting People is a collection of free prevention services, which are designed to intervene early and prevent the need for more intensive support. Currently 43 different organisations provide services to help a wide range of people live independently.

Areas of support include sheltered housing, advice services, supported accommodation for people with mental health issues or a learning difficulty and a range of ‘floating support’, which helps people in their own homes.

The consultation asks people who use the services, providers, staff, the voluntary sector and the public what they think of four different options about how to save the money, and welcomes new ideas about how to make changes. Once all feedback has been considered, Bristol City Council’s Cabinet will make a final decision on the proposals.

Councillor Helen Holland, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “Earlier this year the council reluctantly took the decision to reduce its Supporting People budget, which means we have to rethink the way we fund these services. A lot of consideration has been given to how we could do this and this consultation is a chance for people to tell us their views. These are not easy choices and they will impact on people’s lives, so it is important that we make these decisions together. We will be listening closely to the feedback we receive and I would encourage everyone to take part in the consultation.”

The options on the table include:

• A reduction  of 25% for all services
• No reductions to Accommodation Based services and some low level Mental Health and advice support. Reduction of 49% to all Floating Support services
• A reduction of no less than 6% across all services and further reductions based on specific criteria which look at how complex the needs are of the people the service supports, how specialised the service is, costs per person supported and Mayoral priorities
• Apply the same set of criteria as the previous option, but with a maximum percentage saving for each service area, so the maximum reduction is 51%.  To accommodate this other service areas would receive a slightly higher reduction in order for the total saving to be made

The consultation asks for views on how the criteria should be applied and weighted. 

Cllr Holland continued: “We recognise the value and need for prevention services to reduce reliance on more costly and complex services, so we have designed these options with that in mind. As far as possible we will be trying to reduce the impact of these changes and safeguarding vulnerable people remains our focus.”

This consultation is being launched due to the big financial challenge the council is facing. In February Full Council set the 2017/2018 budget, which identified savings of £33m to be made, with work underway producing a new Medium Term Financial Plan to fully assess the longer term picture. Financial projections change often and for many reasons, but when the council’s budget was set it was anticipated that it needed to save a minimum of £104m between April 2017 and March 2022. The savings identified from the Supporting People budget are £643k in 2017/18 with a further £1.16m reduction in 2018/19.

The consultation will be running for 12 weeks until Tuesday 5 September. People can take part by completing an online survey on the council’s Consultation Hub here: www.bristol.gov.uk/supportingpeople or by taking part in consultation meetings. You can contact the team by emailing supporting.people@bristol.gov.uk.

Anyone with a disability or particular access needs can request alternative formats by contacting the Consultation Team on consultation@bristol.gov.uk or by calling 0117 922 2848.

A wider ‘Your Neighbourhood’ consultation also launched today and can be accessed here: www.bristol.gov.uk/yourneighbourhood. Supporting People is being run separately due to the breadth of different services it covers.