The Committee gave consideration to the report delivered by the Head of Community as set out in pages 64-65, which should be read together with these minutes as a composite document.
The Head of Community outlined the report stating that the report is primarily about advisory services within the borough however the new customer services centre gives more options about how the Council delivers its services on taking up an opportunity to look at a European Funding potential for a bid on what is termed as Me and My Learning. She provided some background information regarding the Council’s procurement exercise with Citizens Advice Bureau and the fact that the contract is due to lapse at the end of July 2015. The report offers an opportunity to look at a 12 month contract with CAB under different terms to enable the Me and My learning ethos to work alongside CAB and allow officers time to assess the qualified financial services and assess what the future needs are. She advised Members that the Community Engagement Officer has conducted extensive research and has concluded that there are good small advice centers within Oadby and Wigston, but there is a lack of qualified and certified financial advisory services that is why CAB have offered the revised services as outlined in Option 1 and option 2 in the report
She stated that in looking at the mapping out services there is an opportunity of consolidating advisory services within the Borough which is what the concept and ethos of Me and My Learning.
Members were advised that Melton Borough Council are the lead authority to put forward a bid and are seeking an initial request from this Council.
The Finance Manager stated that it is an ‘in principle’ bid at the moment and that there is a second stage to the same. He further stated that the implementation of the above could shift the level that the Council’s involvement is required and the pace the Council wanted to suit the level of funding received.
Members raised concerns over the CAB and its availability/access as they had received complaints from residents and suggested that the contract with CAB should be allowed to lapse. A Member opinioned that Me and My Learning was similar to Supporting Leicestershire Families (SLF) in that in principle it sounds good however ultimately it is of no benefit to the Council. He suggested the best way forward would be to include this in the SLF agenda and see where that goes.
The Leader of the Council supported the suggestion to allow the contract to lapse and suggested a review and a procurement exercise based on independent advice. He reiterated that the advice is independent and not about Council services. He stated he has an email from the Chief Executive of one other district which he read out and says that if one signs up to the initial bid for Me and My Learning it implies a commitment for the second bid and so suggested that the report is remitted to Leicestershire County Council’s Supporting Leicestershire Families to consider.
The Chair stated that residents cannot be left without a support system and so stressed the urgency for action to be taken.
Members reaffirmed that they were not challenging the report and acknowledged the Officers hard work however they had concerns about the advisory services provided and wanted Officers to look at independent services. .
(1)This report is remitted to Supporting Leicestershire Families and the Contract with the Citizens Advice Bureau be allowed to lapse. Withdraw funding for CAB, and let the contract lapse.