Agenda item - Domestic and Sexual Abuse: Future Commissioning Options

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Agenda item

Domestic and Sexual Abuse: Future Commissioning Options

Report of Executive Director, Neighbourhoods, Communities & Housing (copy attached)

Minutes:

10.1    The Committee considered a report of the Executive Director, Neighbourhoods, Communities and Housing seeking approval to a joint commission of specialist and community based services for victims/survivors of Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) and Sexual Violence (SV) for Brighton and Hove by Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC), East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and the Office of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner (OSPCC). These services were currently collectively known as “The Portal”. The report outlined the rationale for the joint commissioning arrangements, involvement of providers and beneficiaries and indicative timescales for the commission.

 

10.2    It was explained that the commission would include 1) a pan-Sussex initial needs and assessment centre with a specialist DVA and SV service 2) community-based DVA and SV services and 3) refuge provision. The refuge provision would be Brighton and Hove only. The tender and contract arrangements would be developed as part of the new commission. The Council was not committed at this stage to tendering or contracting with either OSPCC or ESCC.

 

10.3    In answer to questions, the Executive Director explained that there were a number of drivers which made a new commission appropriate. SV and DVA had increased substantially. Usually reporting to the Police as an example between 2013/14 and 2016/17 there had been an increase of 28% in reporting domestic violence and crimes and an increase of 115% in sexual offences in Brighton and Hove. Notwithstanding that this represented a significant increase it was accepted that police recorded data was likely to under represent the scale of violence and abuse. Details of those who had been supported by existing services was set out in the report. These crime types had an impact on victims/survivors, their children and the wider community and impacts could include poor mental, sexual or physical health,, reduced economic prop behavioural problems, substance abuse, poor school achievement, reduced economic prospects and the risk of further violence. Consultation was currently being undertaken by AVA a national organisation to inform the refresh of the VAWG strategy. The consultation would specifically seek the views of victims/survivors, their families and children, as well as what local provision was needed. This would be important information to help commissioners in understanding service users experience of current provision and to inform the new specifications for future provision. The consultation was due to be completed by the end of June with an initial report due at the end of July.

 

10.4    The proposed joint commission, process, timescale and principles were also set out in the report and it was proposed that a new contract to support victims of all crime types would be in place by April 2019. The DVA, SV and stalking aspect of the model had been designed in collaboration with BHCC, ESCC and counterparts in West Sussex as well as other key stakeholders such as Sussex Police. That part of the model would need to work in conjunction with any local specialist support services and would build upon existing partnerships across service providers.

 

10.5    Councillor Marsh, stated that she was happy that the process was broken down into three constituent parts as there were a number of complex strands to service provision. She was pleased to receive re-assurance around the referral process and that clients would not be disadvantaged by any changes to the referral process. A new officer could be in place by July which would allow a six month engagement process to take place.

 

10.6    Councillor West stated that this was clearly very complex and represented an emerging situation. Considering that currently , there were potential gaps in the available information, it might be more appropriate to enable more time for the results of those needs and how they could best be delivered to be explored further, rather, than becoming locked into arrangements for a further five year period. To do so at the current time could be premature. Councillor West also sought confirmation regarding the costs/risk implications if any contract entered into required amendment subsequently. The Executive Director explained that the suggested approach would facilitate economies of scale, shared costs and shared expertise and information. Whilst the detailed financial arrangements were to be finalised, following sign up by all ESCC would carry half of the costs.

 

10.7    Councillor Nemeth stated that in how view he did not consider that the report did not contained sufficient information to enable the committee to make such a far reaching decision at this stage. In his view there were a number of question marks and uncertainties at the present time, he was not saying that these proposals might not represent an appropriate way forward, but that more information was required in order to make an informed decision. Members needed to be certain that a Pan Sussex Initial Needs and Assessment Centre would answer the needs of the city’s residents. Whatever option(s) were ultimately pursued needed to address the specific needs of those in the city which might be different from those of the rest of Sussex. He would have been happier if a series of options had been set out rather than one fully integrated one. Councillor Nemeth also asked whether it was possible for charities to bid for service funding direct. He also considered it important that proper interim/changeover arrangements were in place to ensure that current provision did not just “stop”.

 

10.8    The Executive Director explained that proceeding at this stage would not commit this council other than in the terms set out in the report and on the rationale set out for using joint commissioning arrangements. By not proceeding in that way it could increase the pressure on other local providers and result in increased costs. It was explained in answer to further questions that to enter into a separate consultation process focussing specifically on Brighton and Hove was unlikely to beneficial as if carried out in tandem with or soon after the current consultation there was likely to be consultation fatigue. There would be elements of any provision which would need to be tailored directly for Brighton and Hove.

 

10.9    Councillor Page stated that whilst he had read the report and heard all that had been said but was still somewhat confused and was struggling to understand the urgency to proceed at the current stage. The Chair. Councillor Daniel, stated that it was important for members to be mindful of the process.

 

10.10  Councillor West stated that he recognised that there were complex issues to be considered, the implication seemed to be to proceed for five years or go forward with nothing. He considered it was important to consider a full range of worked up options.

 

10.11  Councillor Peltzer Dunn sought clarification regarding the contractual arrangements that needed to be put into place and the implications of extending the existing contract. Councillor Peltzer Dunn sought clarification regarding deferral of the report before the Committee.

 

10.12  Anusree Biswas Sasidharan, BME Police Engagement Group, stated that she found the report very challenging and was concerned that insufficient detail of past provision and potential future had been included.

 

10.13  Councillor West stated that he was seeking to be helpful and did not feel able to support the report recommendations at the present time.

 

10.14  Councillor Nemeth concurred, stating that he had four concerns regarding the options set out as currently framed; possible disruption for service users and charities; potential loss of control; loss of opportunity to experiment and uncertainty regarding costs.

 

10.15  A vote was taken in respect of the recommendations as set out in the report and they were lost on a vote of 6 to 4. Notwithstanding that Members were of the view that further options to extend the existing contract for a suitable period should be explored and fully costed.

 

10.16  It was then agreed that a further report be provided for consideration by the Committee as soon as was practicable taking on board the concerns of Councillor Nemeth set out in paragraph 10.14 above ,also detailing fully costed potential options for future commissioning arrangements and for extending the existing contract to enable suitable future arrangements to be put into including potential appointment of a Commissioner for Brighton and Hove.

 

10.17  RESOLVED - That a further report be provided for consideration by the Committee as soon as was practicable taking on board the concerns of Councillor Nemeth set out in paragraph 10.14 above ,also detailing fully costed potential options for future commissioning arrangements including appointment of a Commissioner for Brighton and Hove.

Supporting documents:

 


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