October 20, 2022 4.00 pm This story is over 18 months old

Council to rely more on “creaking” community sector in face of budget cuts

Relying more on community-led services and volunteers

Adult care in Lincolnshire will rely more on community-led services and volunteers in a bid to tackle funding shortfalls and winter pressures, councillors have been told.

Lincolnshire County Council’s Adults and Community Wellbeing Committee on Wednesday were told that despite a £500,000 forecast underspend this year, pressures down the line would see the authority looking for £11 million extra a year from 2023-24.

However, former Lincoln MP Karen Lee has warned that the community service is already “creaking” under the pressure of a lack of volunteers.

Councillor Lee, who works as a nurse, said: “The area where I live, there’s absolutely loads of volunteer stuff goes on…. but we’re getting to the stage where we’re running out of volunteers.

“You know, the whole thing is creaking.”

She said patients discharged from hospital relied on a lot of things the well-being service provided, adding: “If you withdrew that or cut down the level at which people could get it that would then have an impact on the NHS beds.

“Make no mistake, locally, the NHS is in an acutely unwell state. It really, really is.”

Officers told members that the adult care sector in Lincolnshire was currently very “reliant” on the draw down of non-recurrent reserves.

They added that more information would be known and a better picture had once the new Chancellor of the Exchequer announced his budget adding that it was likely new models of care and health would be discussed.

Glen Garrod, LCC’s executive director for adult care and community well-being said government would be looking at where models of healthcare could be sustained despite “existing and significant pressure”.

“It’s probably something that will keep coming back to members and it won’t be just my area it will be a whole raft of (service) areas in the council that will no doubt be looking at how we can better manage the funding envelope we’ve got.

“After 10-11 years of this the number of options are limited.

“The things we are doing will make a difference, but the question is will it take us to £11 million?”

Councillor Hugo Marfleet, chairman of the committee, said it was now “back-up plan time”.

“In some sense, the word efficiency can only run so far,” he added.

He later suggested that community members might need to “come together” adding: “We’ve got community assets like village halls and the community actually can do more to help support each other.”

He suggested the council could facilitate bringing together villages in some way.

Further reports are due back before the councillors, including an examination of hospital winter pressures, in the coming months while a full budget will go before scrutiny councillors and the full council in the new year.