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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 3rd December, 2012.

 

Present:  Councillor R.J. Bertin (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. M.E.J. Birch (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Ms. R. Birch, Ms. K. Edmunds, K.J. Geary, Dr. I.J. Johnson, A. Parker, J.W. Thomas and S.T. Wiliam.

 

Also present: Councillors S.C. Egan, G. John, N. Moore and E. Williams.

 

 

587     APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Councillor Ms. R.F. Probert.

 

 

588     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 5th November, 2012 be approved as a correct.

 

 

589     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

590     LOCAL AUTHORITY SOCIAL SERVICES INSPECTION EVALUATION AND REVIEW 2011-12 – PRESENTATION BY REPRESENTATIVES OF CSSIW –

 

In attendance for this item: Ms. G. Huws-John, Ms. A. Ferris and Ms. S. Van Eijkern, CSSIW.

 

CSSIW had now reviewed and analysed evidence from the 2011-12 performance year, and Committee received the overall evaluation of the Vale of Glamorgan Social Services performance which evidenced areas of progress and areas for development.

 

The representatives of CSSIW summarised the outcome of the Evaluation and Review by means of a presentation to Committee, the contents of which were as follows:

 

Summary

  • The Vale of Glamorgan council has a major change plan in place and priority areas include a focus on integration and collaboration.
  • In Adult Services strengths include promoting access to services and, in particular, access to community support and processes in relation to adult safeguarding.
  • In Children’s Services performance has been sustained including good performance in safeguarding children.
  • The Council faces significant financial challenges with a projected overspend.
  • The Director’s report gives a fair and consistent account of the work.

Good Practice Identified

  • Clarity of forward planning – the Social Services’ Change Plan is coherent and detailed and sets clear objectives, priorities and timelines.
  • Use of joint funded and shared posts to achieve economies and access to expertise in particular to areas of specialist service delivery.
  • Development of an online learning training package for staff in Autistic Spectrum Disorder. This won a national award and the tool has been adopted by several other councils.

Potential Risks to the Local Authority

  • Financial pressures in the face of increasing demands. In particular the consequences of not achieving the anticipated reduction in numbers of looked after children.
  • Workforce resilience in the longer term; recruitment and retention in the face of increasingly high caseloads.

Shaping Services

Area of Progress

  • Progress with modernisation and working in collaboration with others.

Areas for Development

  • Recruitment of foster carers.
  • Ensuring and demonstrating positive engagement of citizens in the development of services.

Getting Help

Area of Progress

  • Improved response times to initial requests for help.
  • Improved transition arrangements for young people moving to Adult Services.
  • Delivering timely assessments and reviews for looked after children.
  • Services to carers.

Areas for Development

  • Review quality of decision making and initial assessments and possible impact on re referral rates in Children’s Services.
  • Continue to review how service can reduce the numbers of people experiencing delayed transfers from hospital.
  • Review how the health needs of children looked after can be improved.

The Services Provided

Area of Progress

  • Innovation in supporting people with Autism including awareness raising in staff and facilitating access to transport.

Area for Development

  • Commissioning person centred services for younger adults with complex mental health problems which are age appropriate.

Effect on People’s Lives

Areas of Progress

  • Support for children leaving care.
  • Timeliness of responding to children’s referrals and safeguarding concerns.

Capacity

Area of Progress

  • Leading on a number of partnership / integrated working strategies.

Areas for Development

  • Recruitment and retention in Children’s Services.
  • Expenditure on residential care placements for adults and children.

Providing Direction

Area of Progress

  • Corporate support for Social Services - combined with a stable management team.

Areas for Development

  • Continue to drive the modernisation agenda to improve and develop a range of services with key partners and stakeholders.
  • Achieve sustainability in the light of increasing demand.

Members were given an opportunity to comment on the Inspection Evaluation and Review and the following points were raised.

 

A Member expressed the view that, in terms of the whole picture, complex cases arose which could not be anticipated.  The Member enquired if there were any examples of best practice for dealing with such unexpected cases. 

 

Ms. Ferris replied that the Vale of Glamorgan was good with its preventative agenda.  It was felt that, as the preventative agenda worked through, the number of referred cases would fall.  Ms. Ferris added that a positive feature of all Welsh Local Authorities was that they shared good practice ideas.

 

A Member, in noting the list of follow up actions for the following year, enquired on what grounds they had been chosen and was advised that there were a number of reasons, i.e. the subject area had been chosen by the Council, some were thematic reviews which were being carried out on a national basis and others were listed because they were regular reviews. 

 

A Member expressed the view that the CSSIW imposed more stringent conditions in England than in Wales, and asked if the CSSIW website could show a list of accredited suppliers.  The Member also enquired as to the difference between a site visit and an inspection, and what role should the Local Authority plan.

 

In reply, the Member was advised that Local Authorities should not leave it all to the CSSIW.  Local Authorities also had a role in challenging suppliers.  The CSSIW were also suffering from financial constraints and were looking towards collaboration.  The Local Authorities could hold these services to account and ensure that they were receiving value for money in delivery care plans and meeting assessed need.  CSSIW visits were unannounced, CSSIW were streamlining their process and were improving their reporting formats.

 

It was important that Local Authorities performed their role.  As holders of the purse-strings, they were in a powerful position. 

 

The Chairman asked if the Director could give a statement on Delayed Transfer of Care and was informed that the current position was that the Council was within target (which was significantly lower than the Welsh average).  Much work had been carried out with the NHS.  Work was progressing on the Integrated Discharge Service which, although not entirely in place, had made significant progress.

 

The Chairman requested that a future meeting of the Committee receive a report on the recruitment of foster carers.

 

In conclusion, the Director thanked the representatives of the CSSIW for the way in which they had conducted the exercise.  Both the Council and the Inspectorate benefit considerably from this opportunity to examine performance on an annual basis.  It was reassuring to see such a close alignment between the analysis conducted by the Inspectors and the material set out in the Director’s Report.  The evaluation letter from the Chief Inspector and the presentation by the Inspectors reflected very well on the staff of the Directorate.  Members of the Committee asked the Director to pass on their appreciation to staff for the good performance achieved.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the Social Services Inspection Evaluation and Review 2011-12 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the document be referred to Cabinet for information.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       Having regard to the contents of the Social Services Inspection Evaluation and Review 2011-12.

 

(2)       To inform Cabinet.

 

 

591     ANNUAL REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL SERVICES 2011/2012 (DSS) –

 

Committee were provided with the Director’s Annual Report 2011/2012, the summary report and an annual report by each Head of Service in the Directorate for the same period.  The reports set out an appraisal of service effectiveness and the improvement priorities for the service. 

 

As part of his statutory duties, the Director of Social Services was required by the Welsh Government to produce an annual report on the effectiveness of social care services in the Vale of Glamorgan and on plans for improvement.  This provided an opportunity for the Director to provide people in the Vale with a rounded picture of social services – based on evidence such as what users and carers say, key performance indicators and measurements of progress against the overall coals of the Council. 

 

These were important reports for the people of the Vale of Glamorgan, members of the Council and for the Council’s partners, both statutory and in other sectors.

 

The reports had been subject to consultation via a challenge process intended to allow key stakeholders an opportunity to comment and make observations before the report was finalised, ensuring that it accurately reflected the position of social services.

 

There was considerable evidence in the reports to show that, over the past year, the Directorate had worked effectively to fulfil the Council’s high expectations of the service and to meet the needs of service users and carers.

 

The reports described the formidable challenges which faced the Council – most obviously in finding ways to bridge the gap between the reducing resources available and the year-on-year growth in social care costs (resulting from demographic trends, increased citizen expectations, changing family structures and increasing numbers of people with long standing and complex disabilities).  Because of the difficult financial context and increasing demands for services, the only sustainable answer for social services in the longer term was for the Council and its partners to change the pattern of services –based upon an understanding that we needed to promote independence and focus services away from institutional settings and into people’s homes and local communities.

 

The evidence in the reports demonstrated that the Council had good foundations upon which to build in responding to these challenges.  They also showed that there was a clear direction for social services in the Vale of Glamorgan because of the way in which the Council was managing programmes of change, including the Directorate’s own three-year Change Plan. 

 

The final reports would be circulated widely, especially the summary version.  They would be made available via the Council’s website.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Director’s Annual Report for 2011/12, the annual report for each Head of Service in the Directorate and the summary report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be recommended to endorse the improvement priorities for the Directorate as set out in the reports.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that Scrutiny Committee has been informed about the views expressed by the Director of Social Services and the Heads of Service regarding service effectiveness in 2010/11 and their plans for improvement.

 

(2)       To ensure that the improvement priorities can be included in the Directorate’s Service Plan.

 

 

592     SECOND QUARTER PERFORMANCE MONITORING REPORTS (DSS) –

 

The Business Management and Innovation, Adult Services and Children and Young People’s Services Second Quarter Performance Monitoring reports were presented for the Committee’s consideration.

 

In referring to PI number SCA/001 “the rate of delayed transfers of care for social care reasons per 1,000 population aged 75 or over”, a Member noted that the Council’s figures were higher than the all-Wales average and enquired for the reasons.  The Committee were advised that the “spike” in the figures had also happened during this quarter in the previous year and that the Council had made structural changes to the hospital social work service which should bring about improvement.  The Committee were also informed that the Council were not immune from problems in the Health Service.  Committee were assured that the Council’s data was now robust. 

 

In referring to PI number SCC/010 “the percentage of referrals that are re-referrals within 12 months” a Member enquired as to the reason for the spike in the figures and was advised the method of counting referrals had been recently refined to avoid double counting.  The system of measuring such incidences was now more robust.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Second Quarter Performance Monitoring Reports be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

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

 

 

593     UPDATE ON THE SOCIAL SERVICES BUDGET PROGRAMME (DSS) –

 

Committee were updated on the progress being made in delivering the Social Services Budget Programme. 

 

On 30th July 2012, Cabinet endorsed the Social Services Budget Programme and requested that Cabinet and Scrutiny Committee receive monthly progress updates in order to exercise proper oversight and scrutiny. 

 

The Directorate was currently required to find savings totalling £8.5m by the end of 2015/16.  Progress in identifying the savings had been made and the table included within the report showed the current position.  Sufficient savings had been identified to meet the targets for 2012/13 and 2013/14.  However, there still remained £3.9m to be identified for 2014/15 and 2015/16.  The Director of Social Services had been asked to finalise actions for these periods by no later than January 2013. 

 

Detailed in Appendix 1 to the report were details of progress for each project currently identified, and the report showed the current financial position on each of the identified Social Services savings for 2012/13. 

 

The Social Services Directorate was committed to achieving a balanced budget.  The corporate programme board and project teams overseeing the Plan would continue to develop it further and ensure delivery and progress. 

 

Committee noted that the initial revenue budget proposals for 2013/14 predicted a worsening financial position for the Council and included increased savings targets for the Directorate.   Directors had been requested to formulate additional options for savings, additional income, etc. over the next four years. 

 

A Member enquired what the phrase “Managed Budget Reduction” involved and was advised that all of the Teams within the Directorate had been given reduction targets. 

 

A further Member enquired as to the deletion of the ICT Budget, and enquired as to the consequences. 

 

The Member was advised that this was a limited opportunity to make savings but did not represent the whole of the ICT Budget. 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the progress in delivering the Social Services Budget Programme be noted and that the report be referred to Cabinet for information.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

That Scrutiny and Cabinet Members are aware of the progress made to date in delivering the Social Services Budget Programme, and endorse the proposed amendments.

 

 

594     INITIAL REVENUE BUDGET PROPOSALS 2013/14 (DSS) –

 

Committee received, for consultation purposes, the initial budget proposals for 2013/14 and were informed of the amended original budget for 2012/13 for services which formed part of the Committee’s remit. 

 

The Council’s budget was determined largely by the Revenue Support Grant (RSG) settlement set by the Welsh Government (WG).  The provision RSG settlement was received on 16th October 2012. 

 

The Council was required under statute to fix the level of Council tax for 2013/14 by 11th March 2013 and, in order to do so, would have to agree a balanced revenue budget by that date. 

 

SSA (Standard Spending Assessment) represented WG’s view of the relative resources needed to provide a standard level of service in each Local Authority in Wales and its primary use was to allocate RSG to these authorities.  WG had advised the Council that its provisional SSA for 2013/14 was £218.838m. 

 

The Council’s provisional RSG was £125.934m and its share of the Non-Domestic Rates (NDR) was £37.752m.  Together, these figures would constitute the Council’s provisional Aggregate External Finance (AEF). 

 

The Council would also receive a sum provisionally set at £1.246m via the Outcome Agreement Grant for 2013/14.  The proportion of the grant eventually received in 2013/14 would be determined by a ratings score of the Council’s performance in achieving its 2012/13 Outcome Agreement targets. 

 

Transfers into the RSG settlement relating to Social Services were as follows:

  • Blue Badge Scheme (Adult Services) - £16k
  • Learning Disabilities Resettlement Grant (Adult Services) - £1.235m.

Appendix 1 to the report set out the necessary adjustments to the original estimates for 2012/13, which were required to be made as follows:

  • Asset Rents, International Accounting Standards (IAS) 19, Transfers and Recharges – these were accounting adjustments largely outside the control of Services.  They reflected charges for the use of capital assets, changes to inter-service recharges and functions and pensions adjustments to comply with accounting standards.  The overall impact on the Council was nil.

Paragraph 9 of the report detailed the amended original budget with the projected outturn for 2012/13.

 

The overall Social Services budget was at present projected to outturn on target at year end.  There were variances in individual services as set out below resulting in a net favourable variation of £49k.  However, this sum, should it arise, would be used to reduce the use Social Services made of their fund.

 

Children and Young People’s Services – the year end projected outturn was an overspend of £260k.  An underspend in the Social Services Business Management and Innovation Division would reduce the recharge to Children and Young People’s Services and thus reduce the overspend.  The Service itself was actually projected to overspend by £302k.  Children’s placements could outturn £192k over budget, which was due to a recent increase in the number of residential placements following the breakdown of the children’s existing placements with foster carers.  There was also a projected overspend on the adoption budget of £76k.  This was due to a family relocating to the Vale, who had a high cost post adoption support package.  The Fifteen Plus LAC and Sections 17 budgets were experiencing increased pressure from several sources and were anticipated to overspend by £129k, due mainly to accommodation costs for young people ages 16 to 18.  These overspends were offset by underspends of £95k on team budgets which included staffing and travel costs.  It was noted that this budget was extremely volatile, with the potential cost of placing a child being several thousand pounds per month and any increase in the number of children becoming looked after by the Council or changes in children’s circumstances over the coming months could significantly impact on the services.

 

Adult Services – the year end projected outturn was an underspend of £309k.  an underspend in the Social Services Business Management and Innovation Division would reduce the recharge to Adult Services and therefore increase the underspend.  The service itself was projected to outturn £219k under budget.  This was due to a projected increase in deferred income of £108k, with the remainder of the underspend relating to staffing budget, partly due to the fact that the budget included a provision for a 1% pay award which would not be paid this year.  The remainder of the year would be a testing time for the service and, consequently, this position could change.  The annual uplift for the care home fees had yet to be agreed and could impact on the final outturn.  Talks were ongoing with the WG regarding the impact of the £50 cap for non-residential services.

 

Business Management and Innovation – the year end projected outturn was an underspend of £132k.  This would be recharged to other areas of Social Services, showing a breakeven position under this heading.  The reason for the underspend was mainly due to staff vacancies being held under the Protection and Policy heading pending a review of service provision.

 

The Budget Strategy for 2013/14 outlined that in order to establish a baseline, Services should prepare initial revenue budgets for next year based on the cost of providing the current level of service together with any approved policy decisions and including any net savings target. This meant the cost of price increases and pay awards should be included.

 

Increases to budget approved during the course of a financial year could restrict the freedom of the Council to allocate its resources to priorities during the following budget cycle when it was aware of all the competing demands.  Consequently:

  • Supplementary estimates would only increase the base budget if Council had given specific approval to this effect.  Increases met by virement within a year would not be treated as committed growth.
  • Directors were to find the cost of increments and staff changes from their base budget unless the relevant specific approval had been given for additional funding.
  • The effect of replacing grant from outside bodies that had discontinued would not be treated as committed growth.  In addition, before any project or initiative that was to be met either wholly or partly by way of grant may proceed, the exit strategy must be approved.
  • Certain items of unavoidable committed growth would continue and these include the effect of interest changes and the financing costs of the Capital Programme, increases in taxes, increases in levies and precepts charged by outside bodies and changes to housing benefits net expenditure.
  • Services would be expected to identify and achieve recurrent efficiency and other savings, including (but not restricted to) those identified in the Medium Term Financial Plan.
  • It was envisaged that the costs of service development would need to be met from within the respective Directorates.

Having regard to the above, it was proposed in respect of the 2013/14 Budget Strategy that Directors be instructed to prepare initial revenue budgets for 2013/14 in accordance with a timetable agreed by the Director of Resources.  Preparation should be on the following basis:

  • capital charges, central accommodation costs and central support costs to be estimated centrally
  • services to prepare baseline budgets on current service levels as set out in the 2012/13 final revenue budget report
  • budgets to be broken down subjectively and objectively in as much detail as deemed appropriate by the Director of Resources
  • budget reports to include revised estimates for 2012/13
  • full account to be taken of the revenue costs, other than debt charges, of new capital schemes coming into use.

A summary of the Social Services base budget for 2013/14 was attached at Appendix 2 to the report.  This had been arrived at by adjusting the 2012/13 budget for items such as inflation and unavoidable growth.

 

IAS 19 / Asset Rents – relate to accounting items outside the control of Services. 

 

Recharges / Transfers – relate to changes in inter-service recharges.

 

Budget Adjustments – comprise three main items.  The estimated April 2012 pay award did not materialise and an adjustment had been made to remove this sum from Service budgets, the transfer into Services to fund the impact of job evaluation and an adjustment to reflect the fact that £303k of Social Services savings would be used to reduce their use of the Social Services Fund in line with the approved strategy.   Consequently, the amount of the Social Services Fund to be used in 2013/14 to balance Social Services to its base budget was estimated to be £2.241m. 

 

The total figure for inflation related to general price increases and a 1% allowance for pay awards.

 

Committed Growth included transfers into RSG as follows:

  • Blue Badge Scheme - £16k
  • Learning Disabilities Supported Housing - £1.235m.

The Final Revenue Budget proposals for 2012/13 included corporate savings targets for Services to 2014/15, and those relating to Social Services were as shown below:

 

Efficiency Savings Targets

2013/14

2014/15

TOTAL

 

£000

     £000

     £000

Social Services

1,847

1,342

3,189

Social Services Budget Plan

303

817

1,120

Total Required for the Year

2,150

2,159

4,309

 

A list of 2013/14 cost pressures was attached at Appendix 4 to the report and were not shown in any order of priority.  They excluded the cost of redundancies, which may be incurred in order to maintain the budget within the resources available.  These costs could be significant.

 

The 2012/13 Final Revenue Budget Proposals set initial corporate savings targets for the whole Council for 2013/14 and 2014/15 of £3.173m and £2.950m respectively with the exact level of saving required, together with their impact from 2013/14 onwards, to be considered as part of a Budget Review to be undertaken following the Council elections in 2012. 

 

The results of the Budget Review process would, therefore, inform the 2013/14 Budget Process.  The purpose of the Review was to ensure:

  • a sustainable budget is achieved within predicted funding levels
  • the budget is aligned to the Council’s priorities as set out in the Corporate Plan
  • best value for money was being obtained, i.e. identifying efficiency savings, opportunities for income generation and better use of external grants.

The outcome of the Review would be to put in place a four year financial strategy for the period to March 2017. 

 

The Budget Working Group (BWG) was responsible for completing the Budget Review.  In coming to its conclusions, the BWG would also use high level information on the comparative spending levels of individual services across Wales together with the financial information included in the Cost Centre Analyses.  The results of the relative risk and corporate priority assessment would also be factored in as part of this process. Service development in all areas would be dependent upon the eventual level of resources available. 

 

The shortfall for the whole of the Council in the 2013/14 budget was £8.426m assuming all cost pressures were met.  Future resource requirements had also be assessed having regard to the likely future revenue settlements, and cost pressure information provided by services to 2016/17 as shown below:

 

Matching Predicted Resources to Expenditure

2014/15

£000

2015/16

£000

2016/17

£000

Total

£000

Real Term decrease in resources

   702

1,934

1,963

  4,599

Cost Pressures

6,173

4,644

4,272

15,089

Existing Corporate Savings Targets

(2,133)

       0

       0

(2,133)

Shortfall

4,742

6,578

6,235

17,555

 

The initial projections showed a cumulative shortfall of some £25.981m for the Council as a whole by 2016/17 including the shortfall on 2013/14.  In view of the difficulty in predicting future levels of inflation and cost pressures, the above table needed to be treated with a degree of caution and the eventual position may be better or worse than stated.  In particular, changes in future settlements from WG will have a significant impact. 

 

The Review would further develop the above projections.  In addition, it would examine the cost pressures to determine which would require funding.

 

As a starting point to assist in dealing with the funding gap, the savings areas previously put forward by the Directors to meet the 2013/14 and 2014/15 targets were being analysed with a view to their implementation with effect from April 2013.  These were included at Appendix 3 to the report.

 

Clearly however, these would be insufficient and consequently it was proposed to request Directors to formulate additional options for savings, additional income, etc. over the next four years.  This included outlining the service implications and estimated HR implications (including potential redundancies, reductions in headcount and FTEs). 

 

In order to provide some guidance to Directors, it was suggested that a target be set for each Director.  Initially, it was proposed that each Director should identify savings equivalent to their pro rata share of the shortfall based on their controllable expenditure.  Over the four year period, this would approximate to an average annually recurring reduction of about 6.5%.  It was extremely unlikely that this would be the eventual outcome of the Budget Review, but it would help officers focus and provide Members with options.  Schools had been excluded from the target and would be looked at during the Review.  The target sums were as set out in the table below, and were in addition to existing targets:

 

Annual Saving Target

2013/14

£000

2014/15

£000

2015/16

£000

2016/17

£000

Total

£000

Social Services

3,571

2,010

2,788

2,643

11,012

 

An update on the progress on the Budget Review would be reported to Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee in January 2013.  Comments of Scrutiny Committee would be considered by the BWG prior to preparing the final budget proposals for initial consideration by Cabinet and Council in February / March 2013.

 

Having considered the report, and in particular Appendix 4 “Analysis of Revenue Cost Pressures 2013/14 – 2016/17”, a Member enquired if there would be any further cost pressures. 

 

Committee were advised that there were some cost pressures going across more than one year as a result of demographics.  Some attempt had been made to forecast cost pressures in future years.  Furthermore, the Directorate required time to remodel. 

 

A Member enquired as to the savings that had been found within the Directorate since 2006/07 and was advised that the sum was in the region of £8m. 

 

Committee noted that, including the savings proposed in the report, accumulative savings in real terms of some £11m. may be required. 

 

Committee were advised that, if savings on this scale were required, a point would be reached where the Council would incur considerable risks in terms of fulfilling statutory responsibilities and meeting assessed need for social care services. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the amended budget as set out in Appendix 1 to the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee be informed that this Committee expressed concern that substantial cuts of the nature proposed in Paragraph 37 of the report, namely

 

Annual Saving Target

2013/14

£000

2014/15

£000

2015/16

£000

2016/17

£000

Total

£000

Social Services

3,571

2,010

2,788

2,643

11,012

 

may negatively impact on the provision of services.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To incorporate changes to the budgets.

 

(2)       In order that Cabinet be informed of the comments of Scrutiny Committee before making a final proposal on the budget.

 

 

595     INITIAL CAPITAL PROGRAMME PROPOSALS 2013/14 (DSS) –

 

Committee received an update on the progress of the Capital Programme for 2012/13 and considered, for consultation purposes, the initial capital proposals for 2013/14. 

 

The Welsh Government (WG) announced the provisional 2013/14 General capital Funding on 16th October 2012.  The 2013/14 capital settlement represented a 10% cut in funding over last year’s allocation, though no further cut was identified for 2014/15. 

 

However, should the Westminster Government commence a further Spending Review in 2014/15, it was likely that further austerity measures could be introduced between 2015/16 and 2017/18 which could bring about further cuts which would be significant in nature.  As such, a 10% cut each year from 2015/16 to 2017/18 has been assumed.  As part of a Budget Review, covering the period 2013/14 to 2017/18, the Council will have to look to mitigate the deteriorating situation insofar as it is able by reappraising all schemes and looking to progress only those which are deemed to be a key corporate priority, whilst also seeking to gain assurance that such schemes are delivered on time and within budget.

 

In addition to funding from the WG, the Council would finance part of the Capital Programme from its own resources, e.g. capital receipts and reserves.

 

Appendix B to the report outlined the proposed 2013/14 Social Services Capital Programme.  The details of the General Capital Funding and internal resources required to fund the whole of the Council’s proposed programme were itemised in Paragraph 6 of the report. 

 

Capital bids were invited for return by 28th September, and an extremely high number of bids were received.  As bids were evaluated by the Corporate Asset Management Group (CAMG) it was necessary to reduce the number of bids actually discussed by this Group in order to allow meaningful discussion for each bid.  Departments were requested to rank their own bids in order of importance before submission and a maximum of the highest 20 bids from each Department were forwarded to the CAMG for evaluation.  Social Services submitted less than 20 bids, so all bids were discussed by the Group.

 

The Budget Working Group had prioritised bids based upon the recommendations of the CAMG.  The Social Services bids were shown in Appendix B to the report. 

 

The evaluation of the bids by the CAMG resulted in a high number of Priority A and B bids.  Such a high level of high priorities awarded did not assist in the allocation of the Council’s scarce resources and bids would be further reviewed by the Budget Working Group in terms of their corporate priority and the risk they posed to the Council if they were not pursued.  This methodology would follow that outlined in the Initial Revenue Budget Proposals report for the Budget Review, the risk assessment element of which would be undertaken in line with the Council’s Corporate Risk Management Strategy.

 

A request for all capital bids for future years that may not have been submitted as part of this bidding round had been requested in order to ensure that the full capital commitments of the Authority are known.  Any such bids received would be evaluated by the Budget Working Group in time for the final Capital Programme proposals in February 2013.  The Budget Working Group would also assess the likely level of future funding and the Capital Programme as currently drawn up.

 

Having considered the contents of the report, it was

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the position with regard to the 2012/13 Capital Programme be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee be informed that this Committee expressed concern that the cumulative effect of the substantial cuts of the nature proposed in the report may negatively impact on the provision of services.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To inform Members of the position with regard to the 2012/13 Capital Programme relevant to this Scrutiny Committee.

 

(2)       Following consultation on the future Capital Programme.

 

 

596     CORPORATE PLAN (REF) –

 

Cabinet, on 19th November 2012 was requested to consider the draft Corporate Plan 2013-17 for consultation.  The Corporate Plan set out how the Council would deliver the aims of the Community Strategy and provided a focus for the Council's approach to corporate governance and community leadership.  The Council's Medium Term Financial Plan outlined how the Corporate Plan was to be funded.  Consequently, it was vital that these plans were aligned and reflected the priorities of the Vale. 

 

A review of the Corporate Plan began in August and was being undertaken in parallel with the budget review.  This process would ensure that the Corporate Plan accurately conveyed the Council’s priorities and that budget proposals were developed in line with an up to date Corporate Plan.

 

In order to develop the priorities and objectives in the draft plan, workshops were held with Cabinet Members and officers. Following these workshops, the Corporate Management Team produced a draft plan for consultation ensuring that it was aligned to the Community Strategy 2011-21, Improvement Objectives, the Outcome Agreement and reflected the results of the Public Opinion Survey 2011/12.

 

The Corporate Plan provided a foundation for the annual Service Plans and the annual Improvement Objectives.  The Plan was structured around eight priority outcomes that were carried forward into Service Plans to ensure consistency and focus.  For every objective in the Corporate Plan there would be at least one action in one Service Plan.

 

In terms of monitoring the plan, all Scrutiny Committees received regular reports on progress in delivering Service Plans and performance indicators and this would continue. 

 

The Council would be consulting with residents on both the draft Corporate Plan and the budget review process. As both of these would focus on similar issues, a combined consultation was being planned.  A brief summary of the Corporate Plan would be compiled and presented to residents, and also be available on the Council’s web site, e-news and social media accounts.

 

In addition the Corporate Consultation Officer would be available to visit local consultative forums – such as the Older People’s Forum – to facilitate an open discussion.

 

The Leader commented that this plan was now simpler to read in plain language and that it would be aligned not only to the community strategy but also closely aligned with the budget review that was also taking place.

 

The Corporate Plan would need to be approved by Full Council.

 

Cabinet had resolved.

 

(1)       That the draft plan and timetable and proposals for consultation be approved.

 

(2)       That the report be referred to all relevant Scrutiny Committees for their comments.

 

Members expressed the view that they welcomed the Plan as a transparent and accountable document.  Questions were asked as to an assessment of the cash implications for the Plan. 

 

Members were advised that this was a strategic plan which represented the Council’s aspirations and activities that would be carried out.  The Social Services Directorate operated under a multiplicity of statutes, and the Corporate Plan stated what the Council had signed up to.  It was also about co-ordinating the activities of the Council and providing an account of how the various strands of the Council could work together.

 

A Member expressed the view that public footpaths were often inaccessible to wheelchair users and asked if Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) could be requested to recommend to Cabinet the inclusion of a request that users of wheelchairs be borne in mind when footpaths are designed. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the draft Corporate Plan and timetable and proposals for consultation be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) be requested to recommend to Cabinet the inclusion of a request that users of wheelchairs be borne in mind when footpaths are designed.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure the Council had an effective and up to date Corporate Plan which reflected the work being undertaken across the Council to improve the quality of life in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

(2)       To cater for the needs of wheelchair users.

 

 

597     PROTECTION OF VULNERABLE ADULTS: SIX–MONTHLY UPDATE (DSS) –

 

Committee were advised about:

  • progress in implementing the All-Wales Procedures for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults
  • the Vale of Glamorgan Area Adult Protection Committee (AAPC) Annual Report 2011-2012
  • 2011-2012 data for Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) referrals
  • The need to make progress in delivering changes required by the new approach adopted by the Welsh Government (WG) in respect of the partnership arrangements for safeguarding and protecting people at risk.

The Vale of Glamorgan Cabinet approved the All-Wales Procedures for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults on 21st February 2011.  The procedures were put into effect on 1st April 2011 and the report detailed progress with the implementation.

 

Each year, the Vale of Glamorgan AAPC produced an Annual Report bringing together contributions from member agencies, summarising the activity undertaken during the year and the challenges ahead.  The AAPC published the Annual Report for 2011-2012 in October and a copy was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

On 18th October 2011, the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services issued a written statement updating Members of the WG on progress in developing a new approach to safeguarding and protecting people in Wales.  The Deputy Minister confirmed the administration’s intention to bring forward a Social Services (Wales) Bill in 2012 to deliver a coherent Welsh legal framework for Social Services and to provide a delivery mechanism or implementing key aspects of the WG’s agenda for safeguarding and protection.  Exactly one year later, the Deputy Minister made a further written statement.  She announced her intention that Safeguarding Adults Boards, with specific focus on adults at risk, would be established under the legislation and that a legal framework to protect adults at risk would be developed.  This would include placing legal duties on local authorities and others, such as those in the health service and the Police, to protect adults at risk and providing practitioners with new intervention powers to ensure access to suspected victims of abuse whilst maintaining the principle that the adult’s wishes formed the basis of any support given.

 

It was reported that very good progress had been made in implementing the All-Wales Procedures for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults.  The Vale of Glamorgan AAPC had continued to undertake regular audits of the procedural work undertaken by agencies.  These collaborative audits between Social Services, Health and Police had confirmed a good overall level of compliance and provided clear evidence of agencies working together to identify and reduce risk.

 

In its annual review and evaluation of social services performance in the Vale of Glamorgan for 2011/12, the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) reported that “the Council had strengthened its processes in relation to adult safeguarding ….. these are effective, supported by other agencies and communication between agencies is good”.

 

The AAPC had continued to work collaboratively in taking forward the multi-agency and multi-disciplinary agenda needed to protect vulnerable adults.  Its Annual Report for 2011-12 included commitment statements and summary reports from each member agency, an overview of local / regional / national developments and the referral data for 2011-2012.

 

The referral data highlighted that the number of POVA referrals received by the Vale of Glamorgan decreased from 288 in 2010-2011 to 223 in 2011-2012.  This reversed an established trend of year-on-year increases.  However, there was recorded evidence that the number of reported safeguarding concerns received by Social Services (which may include situations which posed a potential risk to vulnerable people or requests for assistance) had increased.  The reduction in POVA referrals may be partly the result of improved recording and earlier assessment of concerns, so that appropriate safeguarding action was taken quickly and the POVA process was used as the route for allegations of actual abuse only.  For example, there had been a practice change which involved recording medication errors as safeguarding concerns rather than POVA referrals.

 

The Council had identified also a need for a means whereby advice on wider safeguarding issues and potential risks to vulnerable people could be offered outside the formal POVA arrangements, especially where people may not be known within social care systems or who refuse social care services.  Discussions were underway within Social Services to agree a process for this.

 

Organisations that provided care to service users made the most referrals.  The highest number of referrals concerned allegations of neglect.  Of the 223 referrals received during the year, 12% were inappropriate for the POVA process and were signposted elsewhere. 

 

Of those referrals which proceeded,

  • 55% were proved, admitted or likely on balance to have occurred
  • 41% were considered to be unlikely or on balance disproved, or the investigation was inconclusive
  • 4% of all allegations were withdrawn.

The current referral data for 2012-2013 was showing a similar picture in the number of POVA referrals, although this would be best considered over a full year and alongside evidence about the number of informal safeguarding concerns. 

 

In advance of proposed legislation which would introduce an independent safeguarding body at a national level and a regional framework for local safeguarding bodies, the Deputy Minister had told Local Safeguarding Children Boards that she expected them to begin planning for the change and to move to a collaborative model as soon as possible.  This was not currently the case with the arrangements for vulnerable adults.  However, anticipating that regional partnership arrangements for safeguarding and protecting all people at risk would need to be put in place, the Vale of Glamorgan LSCB and the AAPC had sought to adopt a common approach.

 

Dialogue with Cardiff LSCB had progressed to the point that this Scrutiny Committee had been presented with a report seeking agreement in principle to a merger between the two Boards, with an anticipated timescale of April 2013 for a joint Board.  Unlike LSCBs, AAPCs did not have a basis in statute, although this would be part of the proposed legislation.  Therefore, changes could be made in structures on the basis of agreement between the constituent agencies. 

 

A Member noted that of the referrals that had proceeded, 55% had been proven, admitted or were likely, on balance, to have occurred and enquired how this percentage compared with previous years.  In reply, Members were advised that the outcomes were fairly consistent with previous years.

 

A Member referred to a presentation given earlier in the meeting by the representatives of CSSIW, when a question was asked of the representatives as to what role the Local Authority should play in site visits to service providers, and the reply that Local Authorities should not leave it all to the CSSIW.  Local Authorities also had a role in challenging suppliers.  The CSSIW were also suffering from financial constraints and were looking towards collaboration.  Their Local Authorities could hold the services to account and ensure they were receiving value for money from care planners. 

 

In response, the Member was advised that this was already part of the Directorate’s function.  The Directorate’s fundamental duty was to provide quality care and the introduction of new activities that constituted an inspection role may lead to confused accountabilities and require considerable new resources.

 

In referring to Action Code AAPC2 of Appendix 1 to the Annual Report for 2011/12, “survey annually the views of vulnerable adults involved in the POVA process and report this back to the AAPC” a Member enquired if the timescale could be reviewed.  The timescale reported for this action was December 2013. 

 

Arising from discussions, Members expressed the view that the style of minute taking of the Vale of Glamorgan Council should be considered. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

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

 

(2)       T H A T information about the work undertaken to protect vulnerable adults continue to be reported to the Committee on a six monthly basis.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To increase awareness of the priorities, challenges and risks involved in this crucial area of work.

 

(2)       To ensure effective scrutiny of a key function undertaken by Social Services on behalf of the Council.

 

 

598      EXTRA CARE HOUSING (DSS) –

 

Committee were updated on the progress made in the development of Extra Care Housing in the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

Extra Care Housing was the term used to describe purpose-built housing which included access to flexible support and personal care, including waking night support.  This form of accommodation was a popular choice for a range of reasons, including:

  • the increased capacity for maintaining independence within a home which is their own
  • the comprehensive on-site support
  • greater opportunities for social interaction
  • a physical environment which was specifically designed to meet the needs of older people.

To support local authorities in developing this type of provision, the Welsh Government (WG) made funding available via the Social Housing Grant.  In 2006, a competitive exercise identified Hafod Care Association as the preferred provider to work with the Vale of Glamorgan Council in developing an Extra Care Scheme.  A joint proposal was submitted to WG in February 2007 and confirmation was later received that the bid for Social Housing Grant had been successful. 

 

Having looked at a number of options, it was agreed that the Theatre Royal site was the appropriate setting for the development.  Progress in relation to purchasing g the site, demolition and rebuilding was the responsibility of Hafod. 

 

Work on the site started in May 2012, and the facility was scheduled for completion in April 2014.  To date, the following works had been completed:

  • setting and securing the site
  • demolition of the existing property
  • foundations to the new structure
  • drainage works.

There had been a three week delay caused by the discovery of asbestos buried in the ground, and an issue about ownership of boundary walls.  Both of these issues had been fully resolved. 

 

The work plan for the coming six months would include the following:

  • continue with the drainage works
  • laying surfaces to the site
  • forming / laying the ground floor slab
  • pre-cast structure assembly of the building on site
  • envelope to commence (e.g. brickwork, cladding and windows).

The scheme was still scheduled for completion in April 2014, despite the delays outlined above.  This date was subject to change should the contractor encounter any significant delays in progress or reasons such as inclement weather or problems involving third parties.

 

The contractor, Leadbitter, had produced two newsletters which had been circulated to businesses and residents in the area to keep them informed regarding the work programme and also providing contact details for people should they have any concerns.

 

Project Management support was being provided for this scheme via the project management team within the Development Services Directorate.

 

A key element with the development was the provision of social care within the home.  Work was now starting to define the domiciliary care requirements of potential residents as the service would be commissioned via a tendering process.  Links had been made with other extra care schemes in order to ensure that the lessons learned could be reflected in this scheme.

 

Housing services would be looking at the allocations procedures for the tenancies in the new development.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the current position with regard to Extra Care Housing in the Vale of Glamorgan be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T a further report be submitted to Committee in six months time.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To ensure effective scrutiny of a key function undertaken by the Council.

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