Report from: Author: Summary This report sets out a response to a matter, raised by Councillor Osborne in relation to the long-term future of Age Concern Chatham at their Hopewell Drive site. Neil Davies, Chief Executive Rosie Gunstone, Democratic Services Officer

1. 1.1

Budget and Policy Framework Under Medway Constitution Overview and Scrutiny rules (Chapter 4, Part 5, Paragraph 9.1) Councillor Osborne has requested that an item on this matter is included on the agenda for this meeting. The Issue Councillor Osborne has requested that an item is placed on the agenda with regard to Age Concern Chatham as follows: “I would like a report on the Age Concern position in Chatham and the following:
 

2. 2.1.

Current and former contract provision with Medway Council The background information about the move from Chatham town centre to Hopewell Drive and the financial impacts of this move  The offer made by Medway Council and the basis for its rejection including any funding cuts or reductions in central budgets allocated  Measures the Council will adopt to accommodate and mitigate against the closure of Age Concern including additional services at other facilities“


This matter was raised at the Council meeting on 18 October 2012 by Councillor Murray as a question to the Portfolio Holder for Health and Adult Services. At that meeting it was explained that the Council had offered both financial and practical support to Age Concern Chatham in a bid to encourage them to continue at Hopewell Drive but there had not been a positive response. Since the Council meeting the Assistant Director, Adult Social Care sent out a briefing to all Councillors updating them on the current position with regards to the closure of the centre detailing the support that had been offered to Age Concern Chatham. Director’s comments Age Concern Chatham was incorporated as a charity in 2002. In 2009, the three separate Age Concern organisations in Medway, Age Concern Chatham, Age Concern Medway and Age Concern Gillingham were invited to merge to become one Age Concern covering the whole of Medway. Council officers from the Social Care Commissioning Team facilitated discussions and made clear that the commissioning intentions of Medway Council were to contract with one organisation for the provision of day care services to those with eligible social care needs, ‘critical’ or ‘substantial’ needs under Fair Access to Care Services (FACS). In November 2009, Age Concern Chatham took the decision to remain as a separate charity and the two remaining Age Concern organisations completed a merger to form a new organisation named Medway Age Concern, now called Age UK Medway. The Social Care Commissioning Team then negotiated a three-year tapered funding agreement with Age Concern Chatham to provide day care to older people with mild/moderate (FACS ineligible) needs on the understanding that at the end of the three years i.e. November 2012, there would be no further grant funding available from Medway Council and that the organisation would from then on become financially independent. In 2009, Age Concern Chatham were supported by the Council to move from their premises in central Chatham to their current premises in Hopewell Drive, Chatham. The financial impact on Age Concern Chatham was mitigated by support provided by officers of the Council at that time which included the following:



3. 3.1.



 Searches for alternative premises.  The necessary planning application for the change of use at the new premises.  Technical advice regarding the necessary adaptations to the new premises.


As Age Concern Chatham had been displaced from their old premises due to the construction of the new Chatham Waterfront Bus Station, the Council also

assisted with the funding of adaptation works to their new premises. These works provided the current modern accommodation at the new premises in Hopewell Drive, which included a new day room and kitchen for the centre. A link to the news release at the time of the move is available at =2262 3.5 Since signing the three-year funding agreement in November 2009, financial support to Age Concern Chatham from Medway Council has totalled £455,456 which includes day care, a home bathing service, a foot care service, small grants to support specific projects, the purchase of specialist equipment and legal fees. Recently, Age Concern Chatham served notice on the home bathing service contract and the foot care contract. In July 2012, Age Concern Chatham reported that they had concerns for their future viability and requested to meet with the Social Care Commissioning Team. At that meeting, representatives of the charity requested a further three-year grant funding agreement with the Council, stating that they had been unable to secure financial independence over the previous three years. At a further meeting held in August 2012, the council offered to cover the potential liabilities of Age Concern Chatham up to a maximum value of £69,800 + VAT as applicable, to enable the charity to continue to operate over the period February 2013-14. This time period was advised by Age Concern Chatham as concurrent with their next lease break clause. The reported financial position according to the latest audited accounts (2011-12) indicated sufficient funding in reserve to allow the charity to continue to operate legally over this period, providing that the Council covered the potential liabilities in the event of closure. Officers requested that the charity submit a robust business plan, setting out clearly how they would move to secure financial sustainability. Arrangements were made so that staff from the charity could receive independent support on business planning from Business Link Kent. At an Age Concern Chatham Trustees Board meeting in September 2012, the Board of Trustees rejected the offer from the Council on the basis that they felt that they would be unable to achieve financial sustainability over 12 months and confirmed their decision to close the day service on 31 December 2012. Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford offered to convene a special meeting of all parties, which took place on 29 October 2012, in order to try to reach an agreement. The council extended the underwriting offer to cover a four year period and offered to review the situation then with the charity, considering a further extension if necessary. This afforded the charity the opportunity to gradually implement a business plan to achieve sustainability. However, on 12 November 2012, the charity wrote to reject the council’s offer and advised that they would be proceeding with the planned closure on 31 December 2012. Since then, officers have been working closely with alternative providers of day care in Medway to try to secure provision of day care for older people in





the Chatham area. Negotiations have progressed well. A reputable local charity that supports older people has secured the option to lease the the Hopewell Drive premises and their Board of Trustees will meet soon to consider plans for them to provide day care from Hopewell Drive. As the Board of Trustees meet following the despatch of this report, an up-date will be provided to committee members via a briefing note in advance of the committee meeting. 4. 4.1 Risk Management Member’s Items give Councillors an opportunity to raise any matter of concern at an Overview and Scrutiny Committee for detailed consideration. Any outcome from the discussion would require careful consideration of the risk implications, together with financial and legal implications. Financial and Legal Implications Legal implications There are none with regard to the information contained in the report. 5.2. Financial implications There are none with regard to the information contained in the report. 6. 6.1. Recommendation Members are asked to consider this matter.

5. 5.1

Lead contact: Name: Rosie Gunstone, Democratic Services Officer Tel. No: 01634 332715 Email: Background Papers Council minutes 18 October 2012

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