SKILLED council officers who help isolated and disadvantaged people in 11 Swansea communities save “at least twice” what they cost to employ, a cabinet member said.
Councillor Mark Child was quizzed by a scrutiny panel about local area coordinators, who find practical solutions for people facing various issues.
The idea is that communities benefit by their work and fewer of those supported are referred to social services or the NHS, in turn saving the public purse.
The scrutiny panel was told that the council would save £80,000 in 2018-19 because funding for some of the posts had come from Swansea University, a GP cluster in Cwmtawe, and housing provider Pobl. But a method of calculating their worth, savings-wise, has not been drawn up as yet.
Cllr Child said all academic studies agreed that local area coordinator investment was money well spent in terms of prevention.
Panel member, Councillor Paxton Hood-Williams asked: “My understanding was that local area coordinators were going to reduce the (council’s) budget to a greater extent than the cost of employing them?” Cllr Child, cabinet member for care, health and ageing well, replied: “Saving at least twice what they cost.”
The £80,000 saving is one of a series of measures in adult services which are expected to reduce costs by £3.75m in 2018-19. As things stand, a shortfall of £391,000 is anticipated.
Despite questioning some of the savings methodology, the scrutiny panel praised the value of local area coordinator work.
There are currently 11 local area coordinators in Swansea, with five more – plus a deputy team manager – to be recruited next. Swansea Labour’s aim is to eventually have a 22 or 23-strong team.
Referring to the one in Sketty, Tara Hughes, Councillor Peter Jones said: “She is proving invaluable.”
Councillor Peter Black said: “We are not a business – the important thing is the value they add.”