Venue: Council Chamber
Contact: Caroline Breheny
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.
The minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 29 June 2021 were submitted and approved as a correct record.
The Chief Executive submitted a report which identified the forthcoming issues to be considered by the Executive, as outlined in Appendix A to the report. The report provided the Overview and Scrutiny Board with the opportunity to consider whether any item contained within the Executive Forward Work Programme should be considered by the Board, or referred to a Scrutiny Panel.
The Chief Executive will be in attendance to provide the Board with an update in respect of the Council’s response to COVID-19 and other organisational matters.
The Chief Executive was attendance and provided an update to the Board in respect of the following:-
· COVID-19 update
· Executive decisions, July
· Upcoming Executive decisions, August
· Staff communications
· Children’s Proxy Indicators
· Middlesbrough Children Matters priorities
In terms of the latest local COVID-19 data, as at 26 July 2021 the rolling seven-day rate of cases per 100k of the Middlesbrough population was as follows:
Reference was made to the vaccination rates and to date 58.4% of over 18’s in Middlesbrough had received 2 doses of the vaccine. This compared with 74.5 % in Northumberland, which had the highest rate in the North East region. It was emphasised that the uptake rates by Council area did not take account of the age demographics. Once deprivation and BAME was considered, it became more difficult for Middlesbrough to match Northumberland.
In relation to the Executive decisions scheduled taken in July it was noted that a number of reports had been considered. These included; a report the Community Safety Plan 2020-22; the Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy 2021-37 and the ECS Town-Wide Lighting Scheme. A number of Executive decisions were scheduled to be taken in August and these included; a report on the Council’s approach to Community Engagement; an update on the Children’s Improvement Journey; an extension of the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO’s); the Middlehaven option agreement and a number of land disposals.
In terms of staff communication and engagement it was advised that in 2019, staff were asked how valued and connected they felt to the organisation and it was found that:
It was explained that in January 2020, plans were developed and implemented to address those issues but before any real change could take effect COVID happened. A new staff survey was due to be circulated before the end of July 2021, with the results analysed by mid-September. Following the analysis a consistent set of tools would be developed to share corporate communications with the wider staff audience, regardless of their role with practical templates, materials and methods, suggested key messages for specific audiences and a set of minimum standards of engagement.
Reference was made to the Children’s Proxy Indicators and Middlesbrough Children Matters, although further detail in relation to these would be discussed as part of the specific agenda item covering these matters.
Following the update, Members were afforded the opportunity to ask questions.
In terms of vaccinations a Member queried whether these were yet being offered to children aged 15 or if the roll out for those aged 15 to ... view the full minutes text for item 20/22
The Director of Children’s Services and the Director of Finance will be in attendance to provide an update in respect of the financial pressures facing Children’s Services.
The Executive Director of Children’s Services and the Council’s Director of Finance were in attendance and provided an update to the Board in respect of progress to date, as follows:-
· Children’s Services’ was continuing to evidence systemic improvements to outcomes for children, and more effective use of our collective resources, with strong corporate and whole-Council support;
· The positive analysis of collective impact for local people in Middlesbrough was supported by the rigorous scrutiny of our regulators (Ofsted; DfE; Commissioner). Currently on a three year programme of improvement;
· The implementation of robust performance management and the use of data to inform decision-making was an identified strength of local arrangements; and
· Children’s Services’ was increasingly well-positioned to understand, evaluate and forecast the impact of its services to inform medium and longer-term financial and resource planning.
Reference was made to the recent OFSTED monitoring report in which the inspectors had acknowledged that leaders had introduced and built on a comprehensive audit to excellence programme, enhanced performance management, and demand forecasting. OFSTED had also noted that new practice standards had also been introduced to provide clearer expectations or ‘non negotiables’ about the quality of social work practice.
In addition the Commissioner had stated that the work undertaken in Middlesbrough on understanding demand and future projections was of a very impressive nature, sophisticated enough to incorporate the challenges of analysing legacy issues whilst also incorporating ongoing COVID related impacts. The quality and clarity of this analysis and forecasting work enhanced leadership credibility and corporate support and engagement in improvement activity. The work had considerable potential to meet the ambition of joining improvement and financial strategies in a comprehensive Medium-Term Financial Forecast for Children’s services.
The Board was provided with information relating to placement demand led budgets and it was noted that progress had been made in reducing the number of children in both out of area residential placements and independent foster agency placements where appropriate. It was noted that internal provision and the use of internal provision had increased since 31 March 2021 with positive financial results. It was noted that £1.2 million of the costs incurred for Children in Care was contributed by Health.
It was advised that OFSTED had also acknowledged that there was now an approved, impressive Strategic Workforce Development Strategy with themes covering organisational design, recruitment and retention and workforce training and development. The sophistication and ambition displayed in the modelling work was exceptional. The strategy was clearly aligned with other strategic activity and had impressively sequenced ambitions and desired outcomes. Work was advanced on finalising the approach and determining the financial implications of the approach to enhance recruitment and retention in key roles.
A key comment by the Commissioner in respect of social worker caseloads and the concerns of children about changes to social workers were highlighted as follows:-
Although social worker’s workloads were reducing, they remained too high for some social workers. In addition some children experienced too many changes of social worker. Children told inspectors that if ... view the full minutes text for item 20/23
The Democratic Services Officer submitted a report, the purpose of which was to invite the Overview and Scrutiny Board to consider each scrutiny panel’s work programme for the 2021/2022 Municipal Year.
The topics for each scrutiny panel were as follows:
Adult Social Care and Services Scrutiny Panel
● Adult Social Care Finance - Residential Care and ensuring Value for Money;
● The Role of the Voluntary Community Sector (VCS) in Supporting Adult Social Care (with a focus on COVID-19 recovery); and
● Support for Carers (postponed from 2020-2021; to be recommenced at the end of the Municipal Year if time allows)
● Adult Day Care Services; and
● Ageing Better Middlesbrough (ABM) – Update and Future / Legacy Planning
Children and Young People’s Learning Scrutiny Panel:
● Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND); and
● The Impact of COVID-19 on Education and the Council’s Recovery Plan
● Post 16 Education
Children and Young People’s Social Care and Services Scrutiny Panel
● Locality Working (from a Children’s Services perspective); and
● PACE Bed Provision (children/young people held overnight in police custody)
● Early Help - To receive an update on the latest position following the Panel’s review of EH Service provision in 2019;
● Ofsted/Children’s Commissioner – continue to receive regular updates regarding visits, inspections and findings of Ofsted and the Children’s Commission and progress on the Children’s Services improvement journey; and
● Covid Recovery – continue to receive updates as and when appropriate in relation to Covid recovery in Children’s Services.
Task and Finish
● Small task and finish groups to undertake visits to various service areas within Children’s Services, on a regular basis and to feedback information to the Scrutiny Panel.
Culture and Communities Scrutiny Panel
● Integrated Enforcement and the impact of anti-social behaviour in the Town; and
● Middlesbrough’s struggling high street
● Regulation of Investigative Powers Act (RIPA);
● Prevent; and
● Selective Landlord Licensing.
Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel Full Review:
● The Green Strategy and the Council’s plans for increasing bio diversity in Middlesbrough
● Regeneration of Captain Cook Shopping Centre and House of Fraser;
● Fly tipping and bulky waste collection service;
● Empty/derelict commercial properties;
● Bus Services;
● New Waste Disposal Facility; and
● Broadband Infrastructure.
Health Scrutiny Panel
● Health Inequalities – accessibility to Health Care;
● PFI Scheme at James Cook Hospital;
● Women’s Health and Infant Feeding; and
● Dental Health
● The impact of the Covid Pandemic on Mental Health; and
● LGBTQ+ accessibility to health care.
AGREED that the topics put forward by the scrutiny panels for inclusion in the 2021/2022 scrutiny work programme be approved.
Scrutiny Chairs Update
The Scrutiny Chairs/Vice Chairs provided updates in respect of the work undertaken by their respective panels since the last meeting of the Board.
Any other urgent items which, in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.