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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 19th September, 2011.

 

Present: Councillor Miss. S.J.C. Williams (Chairman); Councillor Ms. V.L. Ellis (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Mrs. S.M. Bagstaff, Mrs. M.E.J. Birch, S.C. Egan, Mrs. M. Kelly Owen, Mrs. K.A. Kemp, C.L. Osborne, Mrs. M. Randall and J.W. Thomas.

 

Also present:  Councillor Mrs. D.M. Turner.

 

 

392     APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Councillor N. Moore.

 

 

393     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 18th July, 2011 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

394     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

Councillor S.C. Egan declared an interest in Agenda Items 5 and 6 (Improvement Plan and Review of the Corporate Plan) in that he was an employee of Cardiff and Vale UHB with dispensation from the Standards Committee to speak but not vote.

 

 

395     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL 2011 TO 31ST JULY 3011 (DSS) -

 

Committee was advised that the current projection for Children and Young People’s Services was that the budget could overspend by £765,000 by the year end.  This was reported as mainly attributable to the Children’s Placement budget being projected to overspend by £1m. which had been offset by the use of a provision of £210,000.  In response to a request from the Chairman the Head of Service informed Members that the overspend was due to a number of factors as detailed below

 

·                    the high cost of placements, there had been three additional placements which was resulting in an annual cost of £750,000.

·                    the change in the legal ruling in relation to homeless young people, the  responsibility for this provision now rested with Social Services, having previously been the responsibility of Housing Services.

·                    the increase in foster care allowances. It had been estimated that for the full year this would amount to £190,000 for the service and with the inclusion of increased allowances for Residence Orders and Special Guardianship Orders this could reach £330,000

 

The Director also highlighted the general increase in Looked After Children across Wales and stated that it was important to note that throughout Wales all Social Services departments would be seeing considerable cost pressures.  A report would be presented to Cabinet in due course on the issues with a recommendation to refer the report to the Scrutiny Committee.

 

With regard to the Adult Services budget it was projected that this could overspend by £189,000 by the year end.  A gross overspending of £654,000 had arisen from the need to increase fees payable to care homes by over the 2% inflation included in the 2011/12 budget, the continuing pressure on the budget for community care packages and the need to achieve the 2011/12 savings targets.  It was however noted that this could be partly funded by a specific provision of £465,000.  The Director however, assured Members that the Directorate would take the necessary remedial measures in order to fund the shortfall from within existing budgets although the use of provisions was a one-off source of funding and was not a long term solution. 

 

Appendix 2 detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st July 2011 and Committee was informed that grant funding in the sum of £135,809 had been brought forward from previous years on the Community Equipment grant scheme, which was a joint scheme with Cardiff County Council.  The scheme, to establish and run the joint community equipment store based in Cardiff, was administered by Cardiff Council who took the lead on progressing the works carried out.  The Vale would be requested to reimburse a share of the costs which, in turn, would be funded wholly by Welsh Government grant.  In addition to the carry forward, a further £200,000 was offered for 2011/12 and had been requested that the whole £335,809 be now included in the 2011/12 Capital Programme in order to reimburse Cardiff Council when required for works carried out in the current financial year.

 

It being noted that further reports would be presented to the Scrutiny Committee when available, it was 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position with regard to the 2011/12 revenue and capital monitoring budget be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

That Members are made aware of the position with regard to the 2011/12 revenue and capital monitoring relevant to this Scrutiny Committee.

 

 

396     IMPROVEMENT PLAN 2011/12 (CX) -

 

The draft Improvement Plan 2011/12 was presented to the Scrutiny Committee, which contained performance and improvement information for all Directorates and Corporate Plan priorities.  The Plan had been sent under separate cover for Members’ consideration, however, attached as an appendix was updated Performance Indicator information including the Welsh average.  The majority of the information contained within the Plan was based on the Corporate Plan and departmental service plans which had been discussed by all Scrutiny Committees between January to March 2011.  The Council’s Corporate Plan had been adopted by the Council in May 2010 with a further update in May 2011.  This formed the Improvement Plan Part 1 as required by legislation.  The Plan was substantially completed although further minor amendments would be required following last minute changes to performance information provided by the Local Government Data Unit.  The information would need to be included prior to the final draft being presented to Cabinet and Council in September. 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the Improvement Plan for 2011/12 as currently drafted be endorsed.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure that actions are taken to improve performance.

 

 

397     REVIEW OF THE CORPORATE PLAN 2010 - 14 (REF) -

 

Cabinet had, on 7th September, 2011 referred the report to all Scrutiny Committees for comment.  The current Corporate Plan had been approved in 2010 and set out a four year provision for the Council.  The Plan had been updated to inform service planning for 2012/13 which would commence in October 2011 and to assist with drafting the Medium Term Financial Plan.  The update had taken account of the revised Community Strategy for 2011 - 2021.  Members were advised that a more comprehensive review and consultation would be undertaken in 2012.  A revised Corporate Plan was attached to the report to ensure clarity both on what activities needed to be undertaken to deliver the agreed improvement objectives, what activities needed to be revised and any changes in timeframes.  A number of new activities which supported the delivery of the improvement objectives had also been included in the revised Plan and were prefixed with proposed 'new actions'. 

 

Improvement objectives had not been amended as there had not been sufficient time to consult.  These however would be reviewed in 2012.  The Plan had also been amended to include reference to a number of new initiatives e.g. work with Bridgend County Borough Council, greater emphasis on partnership working and area working.  Members were further advised that the revised Corporate Plan would be submitted to Council for approval on 7th December 2011. 

 

In considering the Plan, Members requested that the reference to the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board be consistent throughout the document.  The Chairman also took the opportunity to remind Members that, if there were any issues from the Corporate Plan which could be suggested for Work Programme items for the Committee, these be referred to the Scrutiny and Committee Services officer.

 

Having considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the draft revised Corporate Plan for 2010 - 14 be endorsed.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure the Council has an effective and up to date Corporate Plan which reflects the work being undertaken across the Council to improve the quality of life in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

 

398     SOCIAL SERVICES REPRESENTATIONS AND COMPLAINTS - ANNUAL REPORT 2010-2011 (DSS) -

 

The report advised the Scrutiny Committee of

 

·                    the Social Services Representations and Complaints procedure

·                    activity, performance and achievements within the area of work during 2010/11 and

·                    improvements planned for 2011/12.

 

The Social Services Representations and Complaints Annual Report was attached at Appendix 1 to the report and covered the period 1st April, 2010 to 31st March, 2011.  The Social Services Representations and Complaints procedure was based upon the good practice guidance from Welsh Government 'Listening and Learning - A Guide to Handling Complaints in Social Services'.  The report highlighted that effective monitoring of complaints acted as a valuable source of feedback, highlighting aspects of service delivery which fell below the standard the Council aimed to achieve.  The Directorate had sought to ensure that the systems in place for managing complaints:

 

·                    are comprehensive, clearly defined and straightforward

·                    ensure that complaints were dealt with quickly

·                    promoted good investigative practice

·                    consider complaints fairly and objectively

·                    are sensitive to the complainant’s needs

·                    ensure effective communication with the service user or carer

·                    encourage decisive action and put things right if necessary

·                    are effectively managed and monitored.

 

The Directorate had received 111 concerns or complaints in 2010/11 and these were broken down as follows:

 

 

Enquiries*

Complaints

Adult Services

24

25

Children and Young People Services

16

32

Business Management & Innovation

3

11

Total

43

68

 

*Enquires were noted as issues of concern to the service user, dealt with by the team without escalation to a complaint.  Only 1 out of the 43 enquires recorded became a complaint.

 

The most common complaints received were as detailed below:

 

2010/2011 – Most Common Complaints Received

Adult Services

Children’s Services

Business Management and Innovation

Charges for Care Services

0

0

1

Lack of Response from Team

0

2

0

Disagreement with assessment policy

0

0

1

Placement Provision

2

2

0

Lack of information/consultation

2

0

0

Policy Dispute

2

1

2

Quality/level of service

5

7

3

Staff conduct

10

17

3

Unhappy with care provision

4

3

1

Total

25

32

11

 

To understand the volume of complaints viz a viz the number of service users at 31st March 2011, the number of adults receiving Social Services support in the community is 2886 and the number of children with a case open to Social Services was 1291.  The Head of Service also advised Committee that the improved performance in achieving early resolution of complaints demonstrated the extent to which good investigation could provide opportunities for reconciling different perceptions.  It was often possible to demonstrate that staff had made reasonable decisions based on relevant consideration or acted fairly.  Where staff had acted inappropriately or without sufficient sensitivity, managers remain committed to taking effective action in response to insist on the highest standards of practice in all cases, especially in treating people with respect for their dignity.

 

The Directorate had also invested in advocacy services which could be noted as one of the reasons why complaints had increased.  The Department also offered support to people who wished to make complaints.  However, the Head of Service stated that it was noticeable that the number of complaints received within the Vale was low in comparison to other Local Authorities within Wales and the Department did not have many that progressed to the final stage.

 

In considering the report, Members referred to complaints made to the Ombudsman and were advised by the Director that only two complaints had been upheld by the Ombudsman recently, the concerns were some years ago  and the investigations had not resulted in public reports.  The outcomes had been by way of letters of apology and a small financial settlement.

 

Following the discussion it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Social Services Representations and Complaints Annual Report 2010/2011 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee continues to receive an Annual Report in relation to complaints and compliments received by the Social Services Directorate.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To ensure effective Scrutiny of the key function undertaken by Social Services.

 

 

399     1ST QUARTER PERFORMANCE REPORTS -

 

The Performance Monitoring Reports for Business Management and Innovation, Children and Young Peoples Services and Adult Services were presented.  In relation to Children and Young People’s Services, Members were advised that with regard to SCC/010 (the percentage of referrals that are re-referrals within 12 months), the Department had sought support from its corporate colleagues to assist in the process and provide more accurate recording of information.  For Adult Services, the Head of Service referred to SCA/002(a) (the rate of older people aged 65 or over supported in the community per 1,000 population aged 65 over at 31st March) and advised that the Department was satisfied with this performance, given the need to reduce dependence on direct support from Social Services.

 

The Committee also took the opportunity to thank officers for completing the comments boxes which aided Members in considering the reports prior to the meeting, following which it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the Performance Monitoring reports for the service areas Business Management and Innovation, Children and Young People’s Services and Adult Services be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having regard to the comments made at the meeting and contained within the reports.

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