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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 16th July, 2012.

 

Present:  Councillor R.J. Bertin (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. M.E.J. Birch (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Ms. R. Birch, Mrs. A.J. Moore, A. Parker, Mrs. A.J. Preston, Ms. R. Probert and S.T. Wiliam.

 

Also present:  Councillors S.C. Egan, C.P.J. Elmore and N. Moore.

 

 

138     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillors Ms. K.E. Edmunds and K.J. Geary.

 

 

139     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 18th June, 2012 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

140     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

141     CLOSURE OF ACCOUNTS 2011/12 (DSS) -

 

Committee were informed of the provisional financial position for the 2011/12 financial year.

 

The report compared the amended estimate with the actual expenditure, and the budget for all Divisions showed a year end overspend of £2.387 million.  This was following a transfer from provisions of £56,000.  Reasons for the variances were reported as follows.

 

Children and Young People’s Services - net adverse variance £1,040,000.  This variance was mainly due to an overspend on the Children's Placement budget of £1,034,000 as a result of a number of high cost placements.  The Fostering budget had also overspent by £221,000, partly due to the introduction in 2011/12 of the National Minimum Allowance for foster carers.  There had been underspends on staffing and transport costs of £38,000 and there had been an underspend within the Business Management and Innovation Division resulting in a reduced internal recharge to Children's Services of £121,000.  A transfer from provisions of £56,000 had also been made.

 

Adult Services - net adverse variance £1,352,000.  The main reason for this overspend was due to the continuing pressure on the Community Care budget which was overspent by £2,041,000.  The Community Care position by service area was an overspend on Elderly £1,064,000, an overspend on Elderly Mentally Infirm by £549,000, an overspend on Physical Disabilities by £689,000, an underspend on Learning Disabilities by £33,000.  Income was extremely difficult to predict as it was affected by the client's circumstances and their ability to pay, and the budget recovered additional income of £228,000. 

 

There were areas of underspending within the Service.  These included £176,000 on staffing due to vacancies, £107,000 for the proposed pay award of £250 for staff earning under £21,000 which did not materialise, £80,000 on transport, £177,000 on supplies and services.  There had been an underspend within the Business Management and Innovation Division and this had resulted in a reduced internal recharge to Adult Services of £149,000.

 

Service Strategy - net favourable variance £5,000.  The overall favourable variance of £5,000 was made up of savings of £101,000 on staffing, £42,000 on premises, £13,000 on transport, £51,000 on supplies and services and £68,000 from grant and other income.  This underspend meant that there had been a reduced internal recharge to Children's and Adult's Services of £270,000.

 

The capital outturn for the Directorate of Social Services was an underspend of £414,000.  The major variances were outlined within the report, and the statement at Appendix 2 to the report detailed the outturn by scheme.

 

Attached at Appendix 3 to the report was a schedule showing the Directorate's reserves as at 31st March, 2012. 

 

Committee noted that the works required for the Day Care Service provision had fallen short of what was expected because the transfer of the Meals on Wheels service could not happen as anticipated due to electrical supply problems and it was requested that a report on this issue be brought before the next meeting of the Committee.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the provisional financial position for the 2011/12 financial year be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T a further report be brought before the next meeting of the Committee outlining the reasons why the works required for the Day Care Service provision had fallen short of what was expected.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       That Members are aware of the position with regard to the provisional financial position for the 2011/12 financial year relevant to the Scrutiny Committee.

 

(2)       For the information of the Committee.

 

 

142     SOCIAL SERVICES BUDGET PROGRAMME (DSS) -

 

Committee were provided with an update regarding the Social Services Budget Programme.

 

The Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Adult Services together with the Cabinet Member for Children's Services were present at the meeting.

 

Resource management within Social Services was inherently problematic because:

  • Potential demand for most social care services would often exceed supply, and so the Council was always involved in establishing eligibility.
  • Like all local authorities in Wales, this Council was heavily dependent on funding from the Welsh Government.  The formula used to allocate this funding was especially problematic for the Vale of Glamorgan which meant that Social Services here received substantially less money for spending on Social Services than local authorities similar in size.
  • Decisions which affected the type and cost of service to be provided were often outside the Council's control and may be unpredictable.
  • Some individual services are very expensive.  Even with the appropriate efficiency measures and controls operating well, placements for children most at risk or packages of care for adults with especially complex needs could exceed £200,000 a year.
  • Financial decisions have to follow the changing needs of individual users.
  • Market pressures sometimes mean that Councils can face escalating costs when purchasing services in excess of original budget assumptions.
  • Whilst some services were low volume and high cost, others such as the provision of home care and some residential care services were notable for their high turnover and relativity.
  • Expenditure incurred in one year may knock the Council into financial commitments on behalf of individual service users for many years to come.
  • To balance the competing priorities of managing service demand improving quality, meeting higher expectations and reducing expenditure was especially difficult in situations were safeguarding people from significant harm had to be the key factor in decision making.

After a prolonged history of significant overspends in Social Services, effective implementation of the first 3-year Change Plan between 2008 and 2011 enabled the Directorate to deliver its statutory responsibilities within the budget set by the Council and to meet a substantial savings target of £6 million.  However, in the 2011/12 financial year, there was a significant deterioration in the ability of the Directorate to remain within the budget set. 

 

In Children's Services, cost pressures arose from an increased number of Looked After Children.  Net growth in Children and Young People Services Revenue Budget 2012/13 included £157,000 to meet the Welsh Government national minimal allowance for foster payments.  The increase in Children's Out of County Placements was estimated as £1.1 million.  In order to address this, additional funding of £600,000 had been provided, with the service taking action to manage placements to meet the balance as part of the Social Services Budget Plan. 

 

In Adult Services, cost pressures arose from:

  • The Welsh Government (WG) introducing the First Steps Improvement Package guidance, which required the Council to introduce a £50 cap on charges for non-residential care services.  As at September 2011, the resultant net reduction in income that the Council had to bear was estimated at £650,000.  Since that date, there had been continuous growth in the number of clients and consequently, the full year impact was now estimated to have increased to £1.4 million and there was a potential that this could rise further.
  • The challenging demographic picture in respect of older people and people with very complex needs because of enduring disabilities.
  • A 13% rise in residential care home fees, caused in part by the WG guidance on commissioning.
  • The current state of the economy which had an inevitable impact on the demand for state funded social care.

The Adult Services budget for 2012/13 had been increased by £98,000 to meet increasing numbers of young people with learning disabilities and £402,000 to meet increasing numbers of older people and people with a mental health problem.  An additional sum of £300,000 was also included for past demographic growth.  The ongoing impact of increases in care home fees above the level of inflation was estimated at £506,000 and Social Services had been given growth of £250,000.  Adult Services were expected to find the remainder of just over 50% through efficiency savings and service redesign. 

 

At the time the 2012/13 budget was drafted, it was estimated that there was an underlying overspend of £3,220,000 to be recovered in future years.  This assumed that WG would fund all the costs relating to the First Steps Implementation Package currently estimated at £1,776,000 (of which £373,000 had been funded by WG to date). 

 

Given this challenging context, it was essential that the Council had in place a coherent strategy for securing financial stability within the resources available. 

 

On 16th November, 2011 Cabinet approved a report outlining the serious overspend and pressures on the Social Services budget.  The report contained details of the urgent actions being taken to tackle the factors which produced the overspend and identified the need for effective project management arrangements to be established.  The proposals from that report had been reviewed and, where they would realise quantifiable savings, they had been included in the Budget Programme Plan, a copy of which was attached to the report.

 

Since November 2011 the following actions had been taken:

  • Initiate a programme to manage and monitor the Directorate's overspend and corporate savings target.

(i)         In December 2011, a Social Services Budget Programme was initiated which would oversee the delivery of savings projects relating to recovery of the overspend and other savings projects to be delivered by the service as part of existing corporate budget savings requirements.

 

(ii)        The Programme uses the Council's project management methodology and the Programme Sponsor is the Director of Social Services. 

 

(iii)       To ensure ownership of projects targeted at savings, project streams had been established in each of the three divisions within Social Services.  Each Head of Service would act as the Project Sponsor for projects in their area. 

  • Establish the up to date financial position of the Directorate and set clear targets for savings for four years 2012 - 2015/16

(i)         As part of the Council's annual budget setting process the financial position of the Directorate had been established and budgets set for 2012/13.  The outturn position of the 2011/12 budget had improved from the forecast reported in November 2011 but the overspend was still £2.387 million.  The Budget Programme Plan had been set, based on the requirement to recover the overspend and to make corporate savings targets.  The savings profile was set out in Table 1 of the report.

  • Review all initial proposals for 2012/13 from the November 2011 Cabinet report to ensure savings are quantifiable, realistic, achievable and time bound. 

(i)         Meetings and workshops had been held with each Head of Service and other managers to review and appraise the proposals to make savings contained in the November 2011 Cabinet report, establish links with other Directorate plans and identify existing corporate savings projects for 2012/13.

 

(ii)        Based on this work, the Budget Programme Plan had been established as summarised in Table 2 of the report.  In 2012/13 the plan aimed to save £1,809,596 but a shortfall of £4,502,404 remained overall. 

  • Develop and implement key financial and non-financial management information systems

(i)         Historically, the Directorate had produced several sets of management information, both financial and non-financial.  Each report had been issued by different teams and covered different periods.  As such, the information did not always enable a clear, holistic picture of service performance.

 

(ii)        All financial management information in Adult Services had been reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team comprising officers from corporate and directorate finance and team managers.  A single monthly report was now being issued, outlining care package commitments, changes in provision and the use of domiciliary care providers.  There was further work to do in this area.

 

(iii)       Management data would be reviewed through the programme, making amendments to its content as necessary to ensure that it was accurate, relevant, timely and informative.  Use of the data set would be critical in managing the reduction in budgets in the coming year. 

  • Initiate projects to reduce the most significant cost pressures (placements for Looked After Children and Adult Services care packages (notable domiciliary))

(i)         To arrest the rising pressure on service budgets, action had been taken in the most significant areas of spend - placements for Looked After Children and Adult Services care packages.  Details of these projects were itemised in Appendix A to the report.

 

(ii)        The Internal Audit report regarding the WG's First Steps initiate had verified the figures submitted by the Council.  Discussions were ongoing with WG to determine whether any funding would be forthcoming.  Should this not be the case, it would contribute an additional £1,400,000 to the underlying overspend.

  • Communicate the status of the Directorate's budget with key stakeholders

(i)         To address the financial position of the Directorate in this and coming years, and to meet the significant challenges the Council faced, support from all stakeholders would be necessary.  A range of communication activities had taken place, including:

 

(a)       The Annual Letter from the Director to staff focussed on the role all of them play in ensuring that services were managed within budget.

 

(b)       A report to Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) (January 2012) outlined the measures being taken to tackle the overspend. 

 

(c)        A report was issued and briefing session held for all Elected Members on the cost pressures faced by the Council and how these were to be tackled.

 

(d)       The Leadership Forum for Social Services Managers, in February, focussed on resource management issues.

 

(e)       Team Manager meetings had been held in all three Divisions to communicate the budget situation and the revised savings targets for the next four years, highlighting individual accountability for budget management.

 

A shortfall of £4,502,000 remained for the programme overall.  In order to finalise the programme plan, a review of projects in the November 2011 Cabinet report for 2013/14 - 2015/16 would be undertaken to ensure each was quantifiable, realistic, achievable and time bound.  Additionally, it was vital that projects were initiated in time to realise savings when they were due to do so.

 

The use of the management information being provided to team managers would be a key monitoring tool to ascertain that savings were being achieved and to ensure robust financial management.  Processes for reporting and escalating risks and issues would be further developed as the Programme progressed,

 

As the Programme continued, it would

  • Continue to identify projects and opportunities for further savings.
  • Reset the savings targets, based on future cost pressures and corporate savings targets from the next medium term financial plan as appropriate.
  • Continue to monitor progress against the Programme Plan. 
  • Develop detailed business cases for specific savings projects where they were high value (in excess of £300,000) were classified as high risk according to the Council's project management toolkit.  The business cases and the Programme Plan would be reported regularly to the Programme Board and cabinet for consideration and endorsement.
  • In the 2012/13 Audit Plan, allocate over one FTE of audit time to the Directorate, a proportion of which would be used to measure objectively the performance of the Programme.

Councillor Egan thanked the Committee for inviting him to attend. 

 

The Social Services Directorate had to save money whilst at the same time, maintain services to the most vulnerable.

 

The situation was difficult and would get worse.  The chances of the Council receiving large sums of money from Central Government were poor, which meant the task of managing the service would become more and more difficult.

 

It was important that Cabinet received any comments from the Scrutiny Committee. 

 

Councillor Elmore echoed the above and welcomed any comments the Committee may wish to make. 

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T Cabinet be recommended to endorse the Programme as outlined in the report.

 

(2)       T H A T Scrutiny Committee continue to receive regular updates on the progress of the Programme in order to be able to exercise proper oversight and scrutiny. 

 

(3)       T H A T a detailed business case for specific projects contained within the Programme Plan be prepared.

 

(4)       T H A T the Director of Social Services oversees the finalisation of the Social Services Budget Programme Plan no later than September 2012 (for 2013/14 actions) and January 2013 (for 2014/15 and 2015/16 actions).

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1-3)    To ensure that Scrutiny Members are aware of the actions being taken to manage the recovery of the 2011/12 overspend and delivery of the corporate savings targets for the next four years.

 

(4)       To establish a clear process for reporting the Programme's progress and ensure a process was in place for the development of specific proposals to address the Directorate's financial position.

 

 

143     SETTING A STANDARD CONTRACTING RATE FOR PLACES IN INDEPENDENT RESIDENTIAL CARE HOMES FOR OLDER PEOPLE IN 2012/2013 (DSS) -

 

Committee were updated on the process being used to determine the fees that the Council would pay in 2012/2013 when contracting for places in residential care homes for older people run by the independent sector. 

 

During 2007/08, the Council undertook an extensive piece of work to produce a robust and evidenced methodology for establishing a fair fee level.  All independent sector homes in the Vale of Glamorgan providing residential care for older people were asked to provide information about their running costs, to ensure that the methodology reflected the cost of providing care home services locally.  The outcome of this exercise was the report, 'A Fair Price for Residential Care 2007/08', approved by Cabinet in October, 2008.

 

Since that time, the methodology set out in the report had been used to determine care home fees in the Vale of Glamorgan.  The information regarding costs used in applying the methodology had been updated each year by applying the appropriate indices for the different areas of expenditure.

 

During 2011/12, a considerable amount of work had been undertaken on the methodology to ensure that it met a number of external requirements, including the Welsh Government statutory guidance on commissioning social Services, Fulfilled Lives, Supportive Communities: Commissioning Framework Guidance and Good Practice 2010 which set out the responsibilities of local authorities in this area of work.

 

In addition, there had been a successful public law challenge to Pembrokeshire County Council's policy for setting care home fees.  Although the judicial review covered the fee setting process and methodology adopted by Pembrokeshire County Council, the judgement had implications for all local authorities when negotiating fees with independent providers of residential care homes. 

 

Likewise, care home providers had sought a judicial review of the decision by Neath Port Talbot to increase fees by 5.7%.  The Court found that the process used in reaching the decision was correct on public law grounds and that Neath Port Talbot had properly considered all relevant factors including the future viability of the care home providers.  Attention was drawn to the need for Councils to ensure that there was consultation with providers before the rate was determined. 

 

The work undertaken during 2011/2012 had been carried out with a small number of representatives from the care homes sector, nominated to engage with the Council on behalf of the sector.  The fees for that year were agreed in November 2011, awarding a 13% increase in the fee level, backdated to April 2011.

 

Whilst the agreed fees represented a considerable uplift, the independent sector continued to express concern that all the issues raised by them had not been addressed.  Cabinet had authorised officers to pursue further discussions in respect of the few areas where agreement had not been reached in this financial year, in order to negotiate the fees for next year.

 

Since November 2011, dialogue had continued with the care home providers to develop as far as possible a shared understanding of factors such as market risks, the needs of current residents within nursing and care homes in the Vale, and the needs of the care and nursing home providers, the needs of other residents in the local authority area and also the needs of other service sectors within the Council's area of responsibility. 

 

As part of the ongoing work, the nominated providers had received a copy of the detailed workings within the methodology together with the information and costs provided by care homes within the Vale.  This enabled the sector to raise issues which they requested that the Council consider further.  Those matters were discussed at the meeting, which was also attended by the forensic expert who had worked with the Council with regard to the methodology or 'toolkit' since 2007/2008.

 

At the meeting, representatives from the homes raised several issues for further consideration, including whether:

  • the stance taken by the Council in dealing with the issues of quality of care and the physical standard of care homes was appropriate
  • the Council should have adopted the use of registered beds or occupied beds in their calculations
  • the Council had been selective with regards to the data used in calculating the non-staffing costs incurred by the homes
  • the data used to calculate the management costs in the homes was appropriate.

In response to these comments and further representations from the independent sector, additional work had been undertaken with the external experts to ensure that their legitimate concerns were acknowledged and taken into account when calculating the proposed fees.  A written response was produced, detailing the way in which the issues had been addressed and the rationale for changes made in the calculations regarding the allocation of overheads.  These changes would increase the current fees by 2%. 

 

This outcome was shared with representatives from the sector at a meeting in June 2012.  A draft quality framework was also shared at the meeting which had been developed to address concerns raised previously that there was not a mechanism to reward homes who provide an above average service.  There had been an agreement with the providers that the framework would be finalised by September 2012 with the required monitoring work to be undertaken in the second half of the financial year so that the findings could be reflected in the fee-setting process for 2013/2014.  At the meeting in June, the Council was again asked to review the same issues.  Representatives from the independent sector also stated their belief that the quality framework was too complicated and that they would rather a higher basic fee was paid to homes, negating the requirement for a quality payment.  These issues were still outstanding.

 

At the start of the engagement process, it was intended that the final fee for 2012/2013 would be agreed by July 2012.  Given the number of outstanding issues, it had been decided that the dialogue would continue over the summer and that a proposed fee should be submitted to Cabinet in September.

 

Mr. B. West, Chairman of the Vale of Glamorgan Care Homes Association spoke on this matter with the consent of the Committee. 

 

Mr. West expressed the view that the report before the Committee was fairly clear.

 

Some of his earlier questions had been answered and there were issues surrounding the completion by Members of the Care Homes Association of the 40 page Toolkit.

 

Mr. West advised that the members of the Association wished to provide quality care for the elderly and expressed the view that the Council should not be commissioning the service from establishments that were not up to the minimum standards. 

 

By way of response, the Head of Business Management and Innovation advised that as commissioners of the service, the Council was entitled to ask questions of its service providers. 

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the work being undertaken to set the care home fees for 2012/2013 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be recommended to agree the final fee by September 2012.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       That Scrutiny Committee is able to exercise effective oversight of the process.

 

(2)       To agree a timescale for finalising determination of care home fees for 2012/2013.

 

 

144     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL, 2012 TO 31ST MAY, 2012 (DSS) -

 

Committee were advised of the position in respect of revenue and capital expenditure for the period 1st April, 2012 to 31st May, 2012 regarding those revenue and capital budgets which formed the Committee's remit.

 

The current forecast for Social Services was for a balanced budget. 

 

Children and Young Peoples Services - there continued to be pressure on the Children's Placements budget.  Any increase in the number of children becoming looked after by the Council over the year could significantly impact on the service. 

 

Adult Services - there was continuing pressure on the Community Care Packages budget.  This budget was extremely volatile and could be adversely affected by outside influences such as the previous year’s introduction of the First Steps Initiative by the Welsh Government which capped charging for non-residential services to £50 per week.  It had previously been reported that the impact of the £50 cap was approximately £1.4 million.  The impact would continue to be monitored as the year progressed and discussions would continue with the Welsh Government regarding the issues.  A further issue to affect the year end position would be the inflation uplift agreed for the Care Homes.  Currently, 2% was included in the budgets but any uplift above this figure would put extreme pressure on the budget.

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st May, 2012.

 

Profiled expenditure had been requested from all Project Managers, although not all at this time been received.  All data received was included in Appendix 2.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position with regard to the 2012/2013 revenue and capital monitoring be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

That Members are aware of the position with regard to the 2012/2013 revenue and capital monitoring relevant to this Scrutiny Committee.

 

 

145     CONTRACTS WITH THIRD SECTOR ORGANISATIONS FOR PROVIDING SOCIAL CARE SERVICES (DSS) -

 

Committee were updated on arrangements for contracting with third sector providers of social care services in the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

The Council was a direct provider of social care services, but was also a commissioner of these services on a large scale from other organisations, primarily in the independent and third sectors.

 

Social Services currently spent about £6.75 million per year on services provided by contractual arrangements and Service Level Agreements (excluding the spend on care home placements and domiciliary care packages).  Of this spend, £5.172 million was for Adult Services and £1.614 million for Children's Services.  Adult Services commissioned from 26 organisations, of which 21 were in the third sector.  Children's Services commissioned from 6 organisations, all of which were in the third sector.  A list of the relevant organisations was attached to the report at Appendix 1. 

 

The production of commissioning strategies for different groups of service users formed the basis of the Welsh Government guidance.  These strategies outlined the local authorities’ priorities and intentions for future commissioning of services based on service user needs and demographic changes over a period of time.  The 'Social Services Commissioning Framework' provided a uniform approach to the task of producing commissioning strategies, a major component of the actions set out in the Change Plan.

 

To support the production of specific commissioning strategies for the different areas within Social Services and to monitor delivery of the services specified in contracts, staff from the Directorate had in place a programme of regular engagement sessions with the relevant organisations, including an annual review.

 

The Council's Social Services Commissioning Strategy for Older People’s Services 2011 - 2018 had been approved in November 2011 and a copy was attached at Appendix 3 to the report.  On the basis of a comprehensive analysis of need and consultation with key stakeholders, the strategy identified how the social care needs of older people would be met within resources available to the Council over a seven year period.  Production of the Strategy was used as an opportunity to further the Council's overall programme for improving and modernising the social care services it provided for older people and their families.  The Strategy had helped to inform the dialogue with service providers from the third sector and the independent sector.  Development meetings would continue with these providers to help shape services in readiness for future procurement exercises.

 

A Learning Disability Commissioning Strategy was being drafted.  As a result of the dialogue with providers, it was planned to use a similar approach to the one used in Older Peoples Services.  In accordance with the Change Plan, this would be rolled out subsequently to Mental Health, Physical Disabilities and Children's Services.  A key feature was to maintain constructive relationships with providers and to work collaboratively in helping to determine the overall pattern of services.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the current arrangements for contracting with third sector organisations be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T a further report be submitted to Scrutiny Committee by the Director of Social Services in six months time.

 

(3)       T H A T a report be brought before the next meeting of the Committee providing information on contracts between Social Services and the private sector.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1-3)    To ensure effective scrutiny of a key function undertaken by the Council.

 

 

146     SOCIAL SERVICES CHANGE PLAN 2011 - 2014: PROGRESS REPORT (DSS) -

 

Committee were advised of the progress made in delivering the actions set out in the Social Services Change Plan 2011 - 2014. 

 

The Council's second three-year Social Services Change Plan (for the period 2011 - 2014) was now in its second year.  A copy was attached at Appendix 1 to the report and was available to view of the Council's website. 

 

The Change Plan came into effect in April 2011 and dealt primarily with those issues where a corporate approach across Council Directorates was required to deliver appropriate action.  The Corporate Management Team sponsored the Change Plan as a key programme of work and there was a formal implementation group comprising officer representatives from across the Council.  Six-monthly progress reports were submitted to the Corporate Management Team.  Consideration of those reports by the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) and then by the Cabinet was intended to allow robust monitoring and oversight.  A Change Co-ordination Group, which included external regulators had also been developed to review the progress made with implementing the Plan and the implications for the regulatory programme for Social Services.

 

The third progress report, submitted to Corporate Management Team on 27th June, 2012 was attached at Appendix 2 to the report.  It contained a summary report card in respect of the overall programme and project updates for each of the seven priority areas.  The report indicated good overall progress with this long term agenda for change and identified where delays in delivery were evident.  There were two suggested revisions to timescales at C2 and HR5 to support completion of these actions. 

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the progress made in delivering the actions in the Social Services Change Plan be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the areas of concern where implementation of particular actions had been delayed and the work being done to expedite delivery be noted.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To provide an update on implementation of the Social Services Change Plan, in accordance with agreed monitoring mechanisms.

 

 

147     CORPORATE PARENTING (DSS) -

 

Committee received a report which:

  • raised awareness of the role of Elected Members as Corporate Parents
  • informed them of the work of the cross party Corporate Parenting Panel of Elected Members and, in particular, the development of a new forward work programme.

Key achievements of the Corporate Parenting Panel to date included:

  • launch of the Corporate Parenting Handbook for Elected Members
  • gaining Cabinet approval to develop a business case with the Housing Service looking at accommodation options for young people aged 16 and 17 years
  • gaining Corporate Management Team approval to develop training and work experience opportunities for young people leaving care
  • ensuring establishment of the Independent Advocacy Service
  • supporting the development of the One Stop Shop for young people in partnership with the Housing Service and Llamau
  • supporting revision of the Looked After Young Peoples information pack
  • supporting the annual Looked After Children Awards evening
  • providing opportunities for multi-agency issues to be discussed including CAMHS, Safeguarding and Fostering and Adoption.

The Corporate Parenting Panel would resume its schedule of meetings from September 2012 and a new work programme would be agreed by the Panel at that time.  Key issues for the Panel to consider were likely to include:

  • continued development of supported accommodation for young people leaving care
  • decisions regarding the levels of support provided to young care leavers attending university
  • the likely impact of the UK Government's reforms
  • additional oversight of the key Children and Young People Services actions in the Social Services Budget Programmes. 

In June of this year, the Deputy Minister set a letter to all Elected Members in Wales, reminding them that they were responsible for ensuring that the Council acted as a good Corporate Parent to the children in its care.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Elected Members and the Council as a whole had a legal and moral duty to provide the level of support, care and protection to all looked after children that any good parent would give to their own children.  It was important therefore, that this responsibility was understood and that appropriate actions to promote the wellbeing of Looked After Children were prioritised across the Council.

 

 

148     ADOPTION SERVICE - HALF YEARLY REPORT AND UPDATE ON INSPECTION ACTION PLAN (DSS) -

 

Committee received a report which:

  • provided an update on the performance of the Council's Adoption Service
  • provided an update on delivery of the Action Plan arising from the CSSIW inspection of the Adoption (Permanence) Service as reported to Scrutiny Committee on 12th December, 2011.

The half yearly report of the Vale's Adoption Service identified that, during the period November 2011 to April 2012, nine enquiries were received from prospective adopters, six couples were approved as adopters and eight couples were engaged in the assessment process.  The Vale of Glamorgan was well placed therefore, to attract and approve adopters in sufficient numbers for its own children.

 

However, not all children could be placed for adoption within the boundaries of their own local authority.  During the same period, two Vale of Glamorgan children were placed with Vale of Glamorgan adopters and one with adopters assessed by SWAAC.  Between April 2011 and March 2012, the Vale of Glamorgan Adoption Service referred three approved couples and eight children to SWAAC. 

 

The SWAAC report for 2011/12 noted an increase of 31% of children referred for placement and a decrease of 27% of adopters referred.  Currently, there were 160 children in SWAAC waiting for adoption placements and only 35 adoptive families available.  During this financial year, the Vale had already placed three children with adopters from external independent providers at a cost in fees of £65,000 because it was not possible to match children with the Vale's adopters or through SWAAC.

 

In addition to the assessment of adopters and family finding function, the Adoption and Children Act 2002 placed a duty on local authorities to provide an 'assessment of need' for all parties affected by the adoption.  The half-yearly report highlighted three new referrals for adoption support, one of which concerned two children who had moved to the Vale of Glamorgan from another area, with an existing care package totalling more than £110,000 per annum.  There had also been an increase in adoption allowances being paid and the six month total period amounted to £56,000. 

 

The updated Action Plan showed that good progress was being made in delivering the programme of work arising from the CSSIW Inspection Report.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the progress made in relation to the Action Plan, arising from the CSSIW Inspection be noted.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To ensure Scrutiny Committee is able to exercise effective oversight of this key service area and to ensure that Members are aware of the resource pressures faced by the service.

 

 

149     4TH QUARTER PERFORMANCE MONITORING REPORTS (DSS) -

 

The Business Management and Innovation, Adult Services and Children and Young Peoples Services 4th Quarter performance monitoring reports were presented for the Committee's consideration which included the details in relation to the targets that had not been met within the 4th Quarter. 

 

In view of the fact that explanations were contained within the detail of the reports, it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the 4th Quarter Performance Reports be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In order for the Committee to exercise effective scrutiny of the services.

 

 

150     SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS (DLPPHS) -

 

Members were advised of progress in relation to recommendations made by the Scrutiny Committee at its meeting held on

  • 16th April, 2012
  • 18th June, 2012.

Following consideration of the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the following recommendations be deemed completed:

 

 

16 April 2012

Min No 1081 - Wyn Campaign (Vale of Glamorgan Partnership Older People's Project) - Recommended

That Fiona Jenkins and Linda Chandler be thanked for their report and that progress updates be presented to the Committee in due course.

Added to work programme schedule.  Completed

Min. No. 1083 - Extra Care Housing (DSS) - Recommended

That  the Scrutiny Committee receives a progress report on the issue in six months or earlier depending on the availability of  information.

Added to work programme schedule.  Completed

Min. No. 1084 - Corporate Improvement Objectives 2012/13 (REF) – Recommended

(2)   That Cabinet be requested to endorse Recommendation 1 above and refer same to Full Council.

[(1)   That Corporate objective 2 be amended to read “To reduce the time taken to deliver disabled facilities grants to children and young people and to adults to achieve as a minimum the Welsh average performance of 2011-2012” .]

Cabinet, on 16th April 2012 resolved that the reference from Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) be referred to Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) for consideration (Min No C1708 refers).  Completed

18 June 2012

Min No - Impact of the Social Care Charges (Wales) Measure 2010 and the First Steps to Improvement Requirements (DSS and DR) - Recommended

(2)       That Scrutiny Committee continues to receive regular updates on progress made in resolving issues with the Welsh Government.

Added to work programme schedule.  Completed

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To maintain effective tracking of the Committee's recommendations.

 

 

151     SCRUTINY COMMITTEES' DRAFT ANNUAL REPORT MAY 2011 TO APRIL 2012 (DLPPHS) -

 

The draft Annual Report which covered the period May 2011 to April 2012 was presented for Committee approval.  Members were also requested to confirm a topic for review to be forwarded to the Scrutiny Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group for consideration.

 

In accordance with Section 6.03(d) of Article 6 of the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Constitution, Scrutiny Committees must report annually to Full Council on their workings and make recommendations for future work programmes and amended working methods as appropriate.  The Scrutiny Committees' Annual Report was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.  Members were informed that the report was slightly different to previous years in that Chairmen's comments had not been included due to the recent Local Government Elections.

 

Having considered a topic for review, it was proposed that a suitable subject would be to consider the £50 cap on charges for non-residential care services, imposed as a result of the provisions of the First Steps Improvement Package guidance, introduced by the Welsh Government. 

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Annual Report be approved and referred to Full Council.

 

(2)       T H A T the £50 cap on charges for non-residential care services, imposed as a result of the provisions of the First Steps Improvement Package guidance, introduced by the Welsh Government be suggested as a topic for review, the reason being that the resultant net reduction in income that the Council has to bear as a result of the above was estimated to be in excess of £1.4 million, and to ensure that the Social Services/Adult Services Division had in place a coherent strategy for securing financial stability within the resources available.

 

(3)       T H A T the following Members form a Task and Finish Group, should the above topic be approved by the Scrutiny Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group: Councillors Mrs. M.E.J. Birch, K.J. Geary, Mrs. A.J. Preston and S.T. Wiliam together with two other Members, their names to be notified to the Democratic Services Section.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To approve the draft Scrutiny Committees' Annual Report to allow it to be submitted to Full Council in September 2012.

 

(2&3)  To approve a topic for review and agreed membership of the Task and Finish Group should the topic be selected. 

 

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