It was a rather restrained and stage managed affair, which never really got down to the big issues which will impact the future survival of this organisation. YCB are currently proposing cuts to staffing, reduction in staffing skills and have already made massive increases to some charges to meet the financial shortfall they face this year. Barnet Council have up until now paid YCB through a block grant, guaranteeing a revenue stream to fund services. However, as from the start of this financial year in April Barnet Council have been paying on for services actually taken. Now while this may sound fair, it shifts all the risks of non attendance and providing a comprehensive and seemless service onto YCB.
Last night we saw details of which elements of the service are operating at a profit or a loss and the scale of the losses in some services are quite shocking.The biggest problem appears to be the Supported Living which made a loss of £513,042 last year. According to YCB's website supported living:
"Helps people with learning disabilities to live as independently as possible in their own home.
By offering service users support in all areas of living, we help them to enjoy life to the full, both at home and out and about. We encourage people to develop and maintain purposeful and meaningful skills.
It is important to us that people are secure and happy. That's why we ensure people live in neighbourhoods that they like and that meet their needs. We offer 24-hour support where needed."
Valley Way Respite Service also made a loss of £195,209 and based on the discussions last night this seems to be because the facility is fully booked at weekends but under occupied during the week.
What also came out last night is that YCB are providing services which the Council are not funding. One of these included escort services on coaches, something which I would have thought was essential for the safety and well being for everyone on the coaches.
With the shift this year to payment only for services provided the situation looks incredibly difficult. In a SWOT analysis of the business going forward some of the threats include:
- More spending cuts to come in 2013/14;
- Competition in care and support market increasingly fierce - driving down prices;
- Low morale of staff following on from restructure;
- Care managers not referring people to YC services seen as too expensive and /or not offering choice; and
- Continuing local pressure for YCB to back in house and impact on staff/relatives/carers.
"YCB is currently a loss making organisation and to ensure its viability in the long term it needs to embark on a cost cutting programme so as to increase financial security. The company has received a £1 million loan to ease its liquidity issues however, it is imperative that if costs are not reduced and income streams not increased, there is a risk of further liquidity crisis in the future. The main source of income for the company is from the Council and as it is now based on usage, there are income and liquidity implications if the company does not work towards increasing centres usage by clients. This risk is greater because the company's costs are largely fixed."
This should have massive alarm bells ringing at Barnet Council but I get the impression that actually they just don't care. Last night one of the board members asked if someone from Barnet Council could attend the next board meeting to give an indication of how much budget they had. I felt like shouting out "Why the hell aren't they here now", but I know the answer already. Barnet Council have very neatly shifted all responsibility for adult social care to someone else and washed their hands of the problems that will arise.
YCB see taking the service back in house as a threat - I see it as an inevitable conclusion and the sooner it happens the better. Prolonging the financial misery will inevitably impact on service users carers/relatives and the care staff all of whom will suffer from cuts in services, pay rates.
At the end of the meeting last night carers, relatives and services users wanted to express their views but the curtain came down on this tragedy and the actors flounced out. This is a situation which needs to be addressed now, today, and unless it is the most vulnerable in our society will pay the price.