Sheffield City council have approved proposals to renew support for citizens’ advice services in the city by the end of March.
The Sheffield Citizens Advice and Law Centre (SCALC) is at the core of the city council’s decision to renew social care contracts worth over £1.2m for the next year.
The advice and law organisation, based at The Circle in Sheffield city centre, began receiving funding as part of a five-year contract adhering to the council’s adult health obligations in April 2017.
The centrepiece of the council’s social care proposal, SCALC offers consultation on accessing services and help in regards to mental health, care act provisions, NHS complaints and various other aid services.
This proposal comes in the wake of uncertainties regarding resource pressure and continuing delays to the introduction of Liberty Protection Safeguarding (LPS) legislation.
The Liberty Protection Safeguards will provide protection for people aged 16 and above who are or who need to be deprived of their liberty in order to enable their care or treatment and lack the mental capacity to consent to their arrangements.
People who might have a Liberty Protection Safeguards authorisation include those with dementia, autism and learning disabilities who lack the relevant capacity.
Due to this uncertainty, the council reported that initially they had insufficient time to re-tender their social care services and recommend renewals with SCALC before the contract expiry date of the 31st of March. But because of delays in the national legislation, they have gone ahead with renewal.
Avi Derei – the council commissioning officer focusing on learning disabilities and advocacy – who introduced the proposal spoke to the difficulties posed by the LPS delay and resource strain.
He said “For the last four years, we’ve been waiting for some essential government key legislation changes around what we call liberty protection safeguard … which has delayed in a way some transformation and some update and review of the advocacy services in Sheffield.”
The report suggests that should renewal be refused prior to arrangements in alignment with the LPS system would lead to greater financial and social difficulty in accessing consultation and advocacy services.
With no LPS implication timeline as yet announced by the government, the proposal report recommends reconsiderations as to the social care policy by July 2023.
Councillor Ruth Milsom nevertheless raised questions about the efficiency of the £1.23m extension and asked if the council would require a further renewal on their social care contracts in a year’s time.
She said “Will we be in the same position next year, is there an intention to go into another, say, five-year contract?”
The report recommends the approval of new service contracts for social care delivery in June 2023.