Notice Invoking the Call-in.
In relation to the re-provision of services currently provided by Wiseworks, Cabinet had resolved to merge the services of Wiseworks and the Bridge Day Centre, and to relocate them to the Bridge. A call?in notice had subsequently been received, calling in the decision and the decision had therefore been referred to the Call?In Sub?Committee for consideration under the call-in procedure.
The decision in relation to Wiseworks had been called in on the following grounds:
· inadequate consultation with stakeholders prior to the decision;
· the absence of adequate evidence on which to base a decision;
· the action was not proportionate to the desired outcome;
· potential Human Rights Challenge.
The Sub-Committee received the report to Cabinet, documents setting out the Cabinet’s Code of Practice on Consultation, a response by Ann Freeman, co?ordinator of Harrow Rethink to the Cabinet report of 14 December 2006, an extract of the commissioning framework, the relevant extract from the Cabinet minutes, and the Call?in notice.
At the meeting, Maurice Hoffman, Chair of the Patient and Public Involvement Forum for the Central and North West London (CNWL) Mental Health Trust, together with Ann Freeman were given 10 minutes to make a statement. In reading out their statements, the following points were made.
· The consultation was flawed:
- Whilst no decision had been made of the future of Wiseworks at Cabinet on 14 December 2006, the consultation did not offer the continuation of Wiseworks as an option.
· Information had been requested from Councilor Janet Mote by the Forum, the information had not been provided.
· Any changes in service offered to CNWL would impact the users, their carers and also Harrow’s Adult Mental Health Services provided by CNWL.
· The Council had failed to honour its duty of care.
· Consultation had not taken place with users of the Bridge Day Centre.
· Inaccurate information such as key facts and figures supplied at Appendix 1 to the Cabinet report of 14 December 2006 had been published on the Council’s website
· Wiseworks appeared on the Cabinet supplemental agenda a few days prior to the meeting, which had made it difficult to prepare a deputation within the deadline specified.
In response, the Portfolio Holder for Adult Community Care Services and Issues facing People with Special Needs made the following points:
· In relation to the call-in on the grounds of inadequate consultation:
- Full formal consultation had been undertaken.
- The Government’s Cabinet Offices Code of Practice on Consultation guidance was followed on consultation.
- Cabinet had made an additional recommendation “alternative arrangements put forward by MIND in Harrow/Harrow User Group and Harrow Rethink be considered for future services should resources become available to expand the services beyond the core statutory functions of the local authority” which endorsed feedback and proposals suggested by MIND and Rethink.
- The consultation followed the locally agreed Harrow Compact and the Government’s Cabinet Offices Code of Practice on Consultation with service users, which was not mandatory.
- The complaintregarding a breach of the locally agreed Harrow Compact on consultation with the voluntary sector, which was being addressed through the Harrow Strategic Partnership (HSP) was not upheld.
· In relation to the call-in on grounds of the absence of adequate evidence on which to base a decision:
- An apology had been made to Ms Freeman for the late report to Cabinet.
- All Members of Council had access to all the relevant papers including all consultation feedback. In addition, the officer had fully reported the position to Cabinet prior to any discussions on Wiseworks.
- The report was factually accurate and not flawed.
· In relation to the call-in on the grounds that the action was not proportionate to the desired outcome:
- The decision meant that the existing users of Wiseworks would receive a comparable building based service at the Bridge Day Centre.
· In relation to the call-in on the grounds of a potential Human Rights Challenge:
- The European Court of Human Rights indicated that the Authority was entitled to make policy decisions which were proportionate.
- Nevertheless, in addressing those concerns each service user would have their needs individually assessed to take into account their human rights.
A Member representing the signatories to the Call-in notice made a statement about the re-provision of Wiseworks and expressed the following concerns:
· On inadequate consultation with stakeholders prior to the decision:
- There had not been a satisfactory level of consultation and scrutiny, and the impact had not therefore been properly considered.
- The consultation did not meet the Government’s Cabinet Code of Practice and was therefore flawed.
- Users of the Bridge Day Centre had not been consulted.
- There were misleading and inaccurate statements in the report to Cabinet on 14 December 2006 and the cost benefit analysis had not been included.
- The report to Cabinet stated that respondents “did not fully understand the proposals”, this was misleading as any details of the re-provided services had not been made available at the public meetings, or at any other time.
- If the consultation had not been understood and feedback disregarded, the consultation was not meaningful.
- There should have been a greater lead-in time for consultation to allow stakeholders to contribute towards the consultation processes.
· On the absence of adequate evidence on which to base a decision:
- The Cabinetreport did not include responses which highlighted factual inaccuracies.
- Members had not been fully informed of the services provided by Wiseworks.
· On the action not being proportionate to the desired outcome:
- The re-provision of Wiseworks was identified solely to make short?term savings.
- No consideration had been taken of the loss of service to those vulnerable users.
· On a potential Human Rights Challenge:
- The decision would have a negative impact on users and carers, and constituted a breach of human rights.
In response, the Director of Adult Community Care made the following comments:
- At least two public meetings had been held and the notes could be provided to Members, with the exception of information relating to staffing issues, which was confidential.
- The Commission for Social Care Inspectorate (CSCI) supplied the figures referred to in the Cabinet report of 14 December 2006, The information was placed in the public domain by them and it was not within Authorities remit to change or justify. CSCI were an independent regulatory body.
- The re-provision of services had to be based on individual needs, which would be individually assessed annually.
- In 2006/07 savings of £200,000 had been identified with Wiseworks. Due to severe financial pressure of the Primary Care Trust, their funding towards Wiseworks was under consideration.
Members of the Sub-Committee, having considered all the evidence, summarised their views relating to the grounds for call-in. Based on the written and oral submissions, there were concerns in relation to the validity of some of the evidence provided prior to the decision being made.
RESOLVED: That the Call-in of this decision be upheld on the grounds of the absence of adequate evidence on which to base a decision, and that the decision be referred back to Cabinet for re-consideration.