Council leaders, current community services, and third sector representatives have met to chart the next steps in the council’s review of services.

Representatives from 25 organisations currently delivering services to some of the most vulnerable people in Bath and North East Somerset, alongside third sector network 3SG, met with council representatives at the Guildhall on May 14. 3SG supports more than 230 charities within B&NES.

The event was part of the council’s review of Community Services and Targeted Early Help provision which Bath & North East Somerset Council committed to undertake, in collaboration with current providers and 3SG, as part of the council’s budget-setting.

Representatives were updated on the work undertaken so far to include establishing a strategic board which will oversee the reviews and the procurement of services.

Councillor Alison Born, Cabinet Member for Adult Services, said: “I would like to thank all the current providers and 3SG who came along to the event. It was a step in reviewing these important services in collaboration with our current partners. These services help some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and it is important that we get the best possible outcomes from the funding that we have available.

“Now that the management of the Community Services contracts is returning from HCRG to the council in 2025, there is an opportunity to ensure that investment reflects current needs as far as possible and prevents further costs down the line.”

Becky Brooks, Director at 3SG, said: “We welcome the council bringing Third Sector organisations into this space, as there has been great anxiety around the savings that will need to be made. It is vital that communication channels remain open, before the procurement period takes place, so that charities can truly understand what these changes will mean and make informed decisions based on that information.

"We all want to avoid potential ‘cliff-edges’ for the many organisations who support so many people in need across our communities and who manage to go above and beyond with limited resources. We are also calling for the unintended consequences of such decisions to be fully explored before savings are implemented.

"We know the Council has difficult financial decisions to make - but this is also an opportunity to do things differently and create a stronger Third Sector for B&NES."

Councillor Paul May, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “Our priority, along with our Targeted Early Help providers, is to deliver sustainable services for young people, families and the wider community and help improve people’s lives. We are open to good ideas coming from the sector and the event gave us all an opportunity to consider the challenges we face with growing demands and limited resources.”

The council is also taking steps to re-procure a range of Public Health services. Market engagement will be followed by an invitation to tender later in the year, to ensure new contracts are in place from April next year.