Cabinet received a report following a recommendation from the Strong and Supportive Communities Scrutiny Committee meeting, held on 20 January 2016.
The purpose of the report was for Cabinet to consider the approval of the People and Communities’ Strategy 2016–2020 for Peterborough.
The Cabinet Member for Communities and Environment Capital introduced the report highlighting the main issues contained within. The People and Communities’ Strategy set out the framework of how the Council would transform the way in which services were delivered and the role that the community and other partner organisations would have in meeting the needs of residents. The Strategy was intended to be the overarching framework for all other polices within the People and Communities Directorate.
The Strategy aimed to engage, involve and empower residents and would build upon the recently adopted Parish Charter. Problems within communities would be identified at an earlier stage so that they could be tackled before they became entrenched.
Peterborough’s vibrant voluntary sector and community groups were praised and the intention to support them, in the face of increased demand for services and cuts to funding, were outlined. The valuable input and work of the Strong and Supportive Communities Scrutiny Committee was also commended.
Following additional comments from the Council’s Service Director Adult Services and Communities, Cabinet debated the report. The Council’s Social Inclusion Manager and Intelligence Manager were present to respond to questions and in summary, key points raised and responses to questions included:
· The People and Communities’ Strategy would help the Council to manage its finances and resources more effectively;
· The People and Communities’ Strategy was linked to the Digital Strategy. Tangible outcomes would be visible through the use of technology and its effect on delivering services more successfully. More information would be provided on the website and more services would be available online making information easier to access. Staff would also use technology more efficiently in their everyday roles to facilitate out of office work;
· Staff, in the most part, were enthusiastic about a shift towards more digital work;
· The Council would work with Parish Councils to continue to bridge the gap between the wider public sector and communities;
· The Council would progress the Parish Charter and work would occur to consider how powers could be transferred or delegated to Parish Councils;
· Proposals for the Joint Enforcement scheme, with a particular emphasis on prevention, would come to Cabinet at the end of February. This would consider options for delegating powers to other parts of the system or enabling Parish Councils to purchase additional services or resources;
· Members and Parish Councils could aid the implementation of the Strategy by signposting and advising members of the community of the relevant information and also by reflecting views on how services were being delivered in the community and how these could be adapted;
· The next steps would be to develop the content and plans within the building blocks contained within the Strategy, this being the delivery vehicle of the Strategy. Work would be undertaken with the leads who had developed those building blocks and the Community Innovation Partnership in order to develop the work further;
· Volunteers played a crucial role and increased investment into voluntary groups and community organisations would support volunteers in a more targeted way;
· All parishing work that had been undertaken had been community driven and there was not a ‘one size fits all’ to community governance; and
· The Belgian model of community support was being explored to see whether it would be appropriate to implement in Peterborough.
Cabinet considered the report and RESOLVED to approve the People and Communities’ Strategy 2016-2020 for Peterborough, for adoption and implementation across Council services.
REASONS FOR THE DECISION
The Strategy recognised that demand for Council services was increasing and the way services had previously been delivered would be difficult to sustain. The Strategy set out how the Council would manage this increasing demand for services through transforming the way in which services were delivered, whilst ensuring the most vulnerable people still received the help and support they needed.
ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS CONSIDERED
The only alternative option considered was to do nothing, however this option was not recommended. Given the changes in demand and the reduction in funding to the Council, the Council required a strategy to transform its services to meet these pressures. By not approving this Strategy, the Council could not respond to effectively respond to the demand and financial pressures or strengthen the capacity and resilience within communities.