DISCUSSION on several parts of Powys County Council’s Social Services budget took place in private due to “commercial confidentiality.”

On Monday, January 27, PCC’s health and care scrutiny committee looked at  the budget proposals for both Adult’s and Children’s Services.

In total the budget savings for the next financial year, 2020/21 required from Social Services totals £6,291,000.

Committee chair Cllr Gwilym Williams (Conservative – Disserth and Trecoed) asked Cllr Hayes, what aspects did he wish to look at.

Former Adult Services Portfolio Holder, Cllr Stephen Hayes (Independent – Montgomery) said: “I’m looking at appendix two – the health savings proposals and looking at the two biggest ticket items, which are AS07 and AS09.

“AS09 is mostly concerned with pooled budgets and joint commissioning.

“AS07 is funding body review.”

Cllr Williams said: “I have been asked by officers, if this came up that it be held in confidential session.”

Cllr Hayes replied: “We’re going to have to agree to do that chair.”

The document explained that AS07, worth £1,734,000 was about: “Developing pooled budgets and joint commissioning arrangements to ensure those in need of care receive a seamless service.

“This will include resolution of ordinary residence challenges and to work with health boards to support accessing correct funding for care.”

Corporate director for Children’s and Adults Social Services, Alison Bulman, explained: “This area is commercially sensitive and could jeopardise some of our negotiations in this area.”

Councillors voted the motion through and the press and public were excluded from the room for around 30 minutes.

Later on in the meeting a second budget line, this time for Children’s Services was suggested for discussion in confidential session.

Known as CHO1 this was for £380,000 and was described as: “To ensure that the placement costs for children who are looked after are shared by PTHB wherever possible.”

Cllr Amanda Jenner (Conservative – Trewern) wanted to ask a question on the proposal.

Ms Bulman confirmed that the the discussion should also be held in private for reasons of commercial “sensitivity.”

“It would affect our ability to negotiate,” added Ms Bulman.

Again a vote was held an the decision taken to hold the discussion in private session.

The impact assessment on CH01 is about making sure that the cost of children in care is shared out “appropriately across partners.”

The assessment says: “PCC and Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB) have commissioned a joint report to review the governance of decision-making processes around the funding of health and care CLA (Children Looked After) cases.

“PCC officers will work with partner NHS organisation to review previous cases where there are concerns from either organisation about the funding responsibility.”

The risk identified by Children’s Service is: “Unable to secure engagement from partners.”

It adds that they will:  “Work closely with partners to understand the issues and to identify appropriate actions to address any funding issues.”

“If partners do not engage legal action may be required,” has been identified as a “medium” risk.