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Agenda item

Budget Consultation Report 2019-20 & 2020-21

 

To consider the summary of consultation responses received in respect of the proposals for the Council’s budget in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a briefing paper which outlined the process and feedback received during the consultation on the Council’s budget proposals, which was subject to public consultation from 26 October to 30 November 2018.

 

It was reported that there was a need to inform the public about the necessity of working in a different way and the scale of the challenges faced due to ongoing Government reductions, particularly, the cost of social care, which helped to explain some of the difficult decisions faced by councils like Rotherham. After reviewing budget consultation approaches from other areas, digital channels and social media proved more effective than public consultation events. Therefore a reduced number of face-to-face sessions were held, with the main focus on online engagement through the following channels:

 

·         Online questionnaire

·         Social media engagement – Facebook and Twitter

·         Short videos of the Leader answering budget related questions

·         Web content on Council website

 

Members noted that a total of 1,181 people participated in the consultation overall, through online engagement, face-to-face sessions, letters and emails.

 

Following the conclusion of the presentation on the report, Members sought further information on how the consultation process was designed, seeking to understand why questions had been structured in a particular way and whether any difficulties had been encountered in pulling information together for the different methodologies used. In response, it was explained that previously it had been difficult to analyse open questions and with there not being a large amount of responses or engagement, the process was designed on this occasion to be focus on questions that the Council wanted answers to. There remained opportunities for open ended answers and to talk about specific issues. Having presented savings options, the consultation was decided to elicit responses about the Council’s most important services and to get ideas on the savings proposals that had been published. Advice was provided by the Communications and Marketing service to establish what was needed to give a greater response.

 

Members queried whether the Council had received the data that it had wanted to get in the feedback and indicated that it would have been useful to have received the full feedback received, including comments. In response, it was confirmed that a lot of the feedback from Overview and Scrutiny Management Board on the last year’s budget consultation had been used to inform the approach for the current year. A lot more information had been published via the website and a commitment was given to provide further information to Members outside of the meeting. It was acknowledged that the consultation process around the budget would continue to evolve as a learning exercise.

 

 

 

Clarification was sought in respect of how the Council had sought to consult with groups with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. In response, it was considered that there was some learning in how this could be done in future and improving targeted work, but it was more difficult to do this in a consultation process which was not service specific or that mattered to individuals.

 

Members sought to understand how much the consultation had cost in terms of time and money. In response, it was explained that figure could not be provided, but it was not expected to significant with face to face contact time being limited.

 

Resolved:-

 

1.    That the feedback on the budget consultation be received.

 

2.    That future budget consultation exercise ensure that protected characteristic groups are targeted more effectively.  

Supporting documents: