Commissioned Advice Strategy 2018-2021
Decision Maker: City Executive Board (became Cabinet on 13 May 2019)
Decision status: Recommendations approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
This report is a merge of two proposed reports from the July Forward Plan: the Review of Community Grants Programme and progress on the Commissioned Advice Strategy 2018-2021.
To review and request approval for an approach to expand our ‘offer’ to the three year Community and Voluntary Sector grant programme from April 2018; and to update the Board on the progress made in developing a new Commissioned Advice Strategy during 2017/18
The Executive Director for Organisational Development & Corporate Services submitted a report which proposed that a new model for funding advice services in Oxford is investigated in time to replace the current programme which ends on 31 March 2018.
Cllr Brown, Board Member for Customer and Corporate Services presented the report. She explained that the report had been rewritten after advice from the Scrutiny Committee.
The Council highly values the work of the advice agencies in the city and pays them a combined grant of £500k each year. However the government’s austerity programme and cuts to local government have put pressure on our community grants.
Council proposes moving to a commissioned advice system that fits with the objectives of our Financial Inclusion Strategy. We value the work of the advice centres but need to provide services fit for the future and are geographically equitable across the city. The review will consider how we could change services to make them more efficient. This does not necessarily mean having new advice providers.
A progress report will go to CEB in September.
Cllr Price asked what kind of bodies/cost will be involved in the review. The Benefits Manager said he didn’t have a fixed idea of who the reviewer would be but they would have advice services expertise and local knowledge about the sector. The review should cost less that £10k.
Cllr Tanner said that a review would be useful for determining value for money of advice centres. Centres often provide service cheaper than if the Council provided it in-house as they rely on volunteers.
Cllr Rowley said that advice centres needed to be accessible to everyone in Oxford but they also needed to retail hubs in areas of deprivation.
The County Council’s approach provides an example of how not to do it. Their single provider has led to a drop in the number of people being helped. He was glad officers were meeting with all advice centres as he felt a single tender with a single provider was unlikely to work. He felt there was a lots of potential if advice centres worked together to make improvements ie sharing volunteers, etc.
Cllr Price asked what the next step was and would other Members be involved in deciding the choice and management structure of advice services. Cllr Brown said she would know more in the next few months and would involve other board members when needed. The Executive Director of Organisational Change and Corporate Services said that other members could be briefed on developments at the Members’ financial Inclusion meeting.
The City Executive Board resolves to:
1. Agree that work is undertaken early in 2017 to evaluate the current provision of advice services in Oxford, and to compare this with different models of provision in other parts of the country.
2. Agree to commission an independent evaluation of services which proposes a new funding model which ensures that the outcomes of the Council’s Financial Inclusion Strategy are delivered.
3. Agree that all funding models should be considered in investigating the new approach, including competitive tendering, and retaining the current model.
Report author: Paul Wilding
Publication date: 23/01/2017
Date of decision: 19/01/2017
Decided at meeting: 19/01/2017 - City Executive Board (became Cabinet on 13 May 2019)
Effective from: 26/01/2017