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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 2nd September, 2013.

 

Present:  Councillor R.L. Traherne (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. M.E.J. Birch (Vice-Chairman); Councillors R.J. Bertin, Ms. R. Birch, E. Hacker, Dr. I.J. Johnson, Ms. R.F. Probert, J.W. Thomas and S.T. Wiliam.

 

Also present: Councillor S.C. Egan.

 

 

322     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – 

 

These were received from Councillor Ms. K. Edmunds.

 

 

323     MINUTES – 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 15th July, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

324     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

325     OPENING REMARKS -

 

The Chairman welcomed Rachel Evans, the new Head of Children and Young People Services to her first meeting of the Committee since her appointment.

 

 

326     REGULATORY REPORTS – IMPROVEMENT TRACKING (REF) –

 

Audit Committee, on 8th July 2013, were informed that the Council was subject to a number of regulators, who passed judgements on its work and made various recommendations / proposals for improvements to services.  These were generally, but not always, submitted to the Audit Committee and also often considered by Scrutiny Committees and the Cabinet.  Service Plans also contained actions arising from regulatory reports. 

 

Previously, there had been no one document which would allow the overseeing and tracking of implementations of regulators’ recommendations / proposals.  With this in mind, a document had been prepared for consideration by the Committee.  It was intended that the Committee would receive six-monthly update reports in the proposed format.  The intention would be that the Committee would be asked to agree that actions identified as completed would be removed from the tracking report. 

 

The Chairman asked whether the proposed format could include an additional column indicating which recommendations / proposals had been submitted to the relevant Scrutiny Committee for consideration.  The Operational Manager (Corporate Policy and Communications) indicated that this could be accommodated, but pointed out that the only actions which would have gone to Scrutiny Committees would be those contained in Service Plans. 

 

Members considered the proposed format of the report and concluded that it would not be practical to simply receive an overall report comprising such comprehensive detail.  It was considered that the recommendations / proposals should, instead, be submitted to the relevant Scrutiny Committees for consideration and determination as to whether they had been completed. 

 

Mr. S. Barry (Wales Audit Office) commented on the rationale for embracing the information in one report.  He pointed out that the WAO had, indeed, been critical of other councils who did not have adequate monitoring of regulators’ recommendations / proposals. 

 

In light of the above, the Committee did not agree recommendation (2) of the report relating to the Committee itself removing actions deemed to have been completed. 

Audit Committee had recommended –

 

(1)       That the work achieved to address the recommendations / proposals made by regulator be noted.

 

(2)       That the relevant Scrutiny Committees and / or Cabinet consider the recommendations / proposals and determine whether they have been completed and, therefore, should be removed from the tracking report.

 

In noting these actions deemed to have been completed, Members enquired as to how the remaining actions could be measured.

           

The Director advised that this was an issue for the Regulators and not for the Council.  Nevertheless, he was due to meet with CSSIW later this week and offered to ask for their perspective on the outstanding actions.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the recommendations / proposals marked 'completed' be deemed to be completed.

 

(2)       T H A T the Director of Social Services be authorised to speak to the Regulator about the precise wording of the ongoing actions. 

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       The recommendations / proposals are complete.

 

(2)       To make the wording of the actions less ambiguous, and more readily measured.

 

 

327     DISABLED FACILITIES GRANT DELIVERY IMPROVEMENTS (REF) –

 

Cabinet, on 15th July 2003, was advised of the changes made in the processing of Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) to improve its delivery time, and to agree further changes planned for 2013-14.

 

The approval and payment of Disabled Facilities Grants was mandatory and formed one of the Welsh Government's national performance indicators, PSR/002.

 

Since 2008 the Council had acknowledged the time to deliver a DFG, from the first point of contact when client requested an adaptation through to the delivery of the works, had to be improved.  Officer time and financial resources had been invested in the service to secure improvements and this had been reflected in the Council’s performance improving over the last few years as detailed below:

 

Performance Indicator

Delivery of Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs)

Service Perf.

2009/10

Perf.

 

2010/11

Perf.

 

2011/12

Perf.

 

2012/13

Perf. Wales

2012/13

& VOG 2013/14 target

Private Sector Renewal

PSR/002: The average number of calendar days taken to deliver a DFG

802

569

398

346

326

 

Private Sector Renewal

PSR/009a: The average number of calendar days taken to deliver a DFG for children and

young people

N/A

1,139

647

454

377

(Actual   510 )

 

Private Sector Renewal

PSR/009b: The average number of calendar days taken to deliver a DFG for adults

N/A

544

392

337

321

 

 

The improvement in the delivery of DFGs had been noted by the Welsh Government in their published document 'Local Authority Service Performance 2011-12'.  The publication, stated that the Vale of Glamorgan had seen three years of decreases in completion times and that the Vale of Glamorgan had seen the largest improvement.

 

This was also reflected in the Council's position in the delivery time of DFGs compared to other authorities.  In 2009/10, the Council was 22nd with the longest delivery time across Wales.  However, in 2010/11, our rating had increased to 20th and in 2011/12 the Council was 17th, supporting the conclusion that our service performance is improving both in terms of our delivery time and in comparison to other authorities.

 

Over the last 6 years officers and Elected Members had worked, using best practice examples, to improve the Council's delivery time for DFGs.  The service had also been reviewed by internal and external Audit.  Appendix 1 attached to the report outlined the completed Action Plan that dealt with previous actions and audit recommendations.

 

The report outlined that a further action plan had been developed which should ensure nobody was on the OT waiting list for more than 2 weeks and again this would make significant improvements to the Council's delivery time for DFGs.  The action plan for this 2013/14 was attached at Appendix 4 to the report.

 

Cabinet had resolved –

 

(1)       That the Disabled Facilities Grants Delivery Improvements Action Plan attached at Appendix 4 to the report be agreed.

 

(2)       That a copy of the Disabled Facilities Grants Delivery Improvements report be submitted to the Scrutiny Committees Corporate Resources, Social Care and Health, and Housing and Public Protection for information purposes.

 

(3)       That a detailed report on Disabled Facilities Grants be brought to Cabinet on a quarterly basis.

 

(4)       That staff be thanked for all their hard work on the Disabled Facilities Grants Delivery Improvements.

 

In referring to Table C1 of Appendix 4 to the reference, Members enquired as to the value of the additional funding which had been provided to cover the cost of the additional DFG work.  The Committee were advised that the value of the sum was £200k. 

 

A Member also enquired if the Council offered a loan to the client towards the contribution that the client would have to pay.  The answer to the question was not available, and Members requested that a report be brought before a future meeting of the Committee. 

 

Having considered the reference, and comments made at the meeting, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the decisions of Cabinet be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T a report on the possibility of providing loans for DFG facilities be brought before a future meeting of the Committee.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       Having regard to the decision of Cabinet.

 

(2)       To consider whether a loan could be made to the client towards the contribution that they would have to pay.

 

 

328     IMPROVEMENT PLAN 2013/14 (MD) –

 

The Part 2 Improvement Plan attached at Appendix A to the report was a document primarily looking back over 2012/13.  It contained key performance measures along with targets and actions for 2012/13.  Members were advised that the performance information would be used by the Wales Audit Office to assess the Council’s capacity to improve, and was therefore of critical importance to the reputation of the Council.

 

The Plan was substantially complete, although further minor amendments would be required following the receipt of additional information being provided by Chief Officers, changes to performance information provided by the Local Government Data Unit and from proof reading.  Information would need to be included prior to the final draft being presented to Cabinet.

 

Committee were primarily interested in Objectives 2 and 6:

 

Objective 2: To reduce the time taken to deliver disabled facilities grants to children and young people and to adults to achieve the Welsh average performance of 2010/11 (386 days) as a minimum.

 

The Council’s performance of 346 days (2012/13) to deliver a disabled facilities grant meant that it had achieved overall its improvement objective of reducing the time taken to deliver disabled facilities grants to children and young people and to adults to 386 days. 

 

The process for delivery of DFGs had become more streamlined as a result of regular detailed reviews of the whole framework.  Electronic tendering was now standard practice.  An occupational therapist, funded by the Council, was based within the team.  This had kept down the time taken for responses and had provided improved continuity for customers.  New guidelines had been established and widely communicated to staff, ensuring a consistent approach to the handling of DFGs. 

 

Waiting times for DFGs had reduced continually over the previous four years.  The Welsh Government’s Local Authority Service Performance report (2011/12) identified the Vale of Glamorgan as the most improved Authority in Wales for the delivery of DFGs. 

 

Objective 6: To increase attendance at secondary schools to achieve the Welsh top quartile performance of 2011/2.

 

Overall, attendance at secondary schools in the Vale was an improving picture, although the target of being in the top quartile had not been achieved. 

 

In 2011/12, attendance improved by 1.44% to 92.81% in secondary schools.  This placed the Vale 7th in rank order in the second quartile of performance when compared with Welsh Councils.  To be in the top quartile, the Vale needed to be ranked 5th or higher.

 

In order to continue to improve performance, a monthly Attendance Forum had been established which monitored individual schools’ attendance targets.  Schools identified as having lower attendance rates and / or higher levels of unauthorised absence had been targeted for intervention.  The attendance of vulnerable pupils, including those who were looked after or at risk of offending, were carefully monitored.

 

Having considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the contents of the Improvement Plan for 2013/14 be endorsed.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure that actions were taken to improve the performance of the Council.

 

 

329     SCRUTINY COMMITTEES’ DRAFT ANNUAL REPORT MAY 2012 – APRIL 2013 AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE WORK PROGRAMME (MD) –

 

The Scrutiny Committees’ Annual Report, which had been circulated prior to the meeting, included details of the work of all Scrutiny Committees for 2012/13 together with the details of the forward work programmes for each Committee.

 

The report had been prepared in accordance with Section 6.03d of Article 6 of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Constitution which stated that Scrutiny Committees must report annually to Full Council on their workings and make recommendations for future work programmes and amended working methods as appropriate. 

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed a complete list of the work programme for the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) which detailed the reports which were scheduled to be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in the forthcoming months.  Members were informed that the information, together with the Annual Report, would be made available on the Council’s website. 

 

Tabled at the meeting were revised appendices to the Annual Report which had taken account of the membership changes that had taken place within the Scrutiny Committees for 2012/13 together with additional information on Call-in statistics and Requests for Consideration of Matter which provided more detailed information on the requests that had been made. 

 

In considering the Key Issues considered by Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health), Members expressed the view that a further paragraph should be included relating to the Social Services budget, to include reference to the Directorate having achieved a balanced budget. 

 

In considering the Committee’s draft Work Programme, the following suggestions for inclusion were made:

 

-                 Integrated Services, including work done by the King’s Fund and the Wyn Campaign (to be reported to Committee in November 2013)

-                 Merger of LSCBs (to be reported to Committee 'as and when')

-                 Social Care and Wellbeing legislation currently being considered by the National Assembly for Wales (to be reported to Committee in November 2013)

-                 Child protection (to be reported to Committee in February 2014).

 

In referring to the submission made by the Committee to the Scrutiny Committees Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group for a Task and Finish Group, the Chairman advised that insufficient resources were available to accommodate the Committee’s request.  Members expressed their disappointment at this decision.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the Annual Report for the period May 2012 to April 2013 be approved subject to:

 

-                 the Chairman preparing an additional paragraph to be included under the heading 'Key Issues Considered' on the subject of the Social Services Budget

-                 any further minor amendments being agreed in consultation with the Chairman

 

and that the Annual Report be submitted to Full Council in September 2013.

 

(2)       T H A T this Scrutiny Committee’s Work Programme as attached at Appendix 2 to the report be confirmed subject to the addition of the Work Programme items identified above, it being noted that the schedule of approved list of items for consideration may be subject to change depending on prevailing circumstances.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To approve the draft Scrutiny Committees’ Annual Report to allow it to be submitted to Full Council in September 2013.

 

(2)       To confirm the Scrutiny Committee’s Work Programme.

 

 

330     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL, 2013 TO 31ST JULY, 2013 (DSS) –

 

Committee received a report which:

 

-                 brought to the attention of the Committee the position in respect of Revenue and Capital expenditure for the period 1st April 2013 to 31st July 2013 regarding those revenue and capital budgets which formed this Committee’s remit

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

 

The current forecast for Social Services was an overspend at year end of £673k.  This was following the deduction of savings identified for the year of £2.04m. 

 

Children and Young People’s Services – the main issue here was the need to manage continued pressure on the Children’s Placement Budget.  The current projected outturn for the jointly funded Residential Placements budget for Looked After Children was an overspend of £232k, whilst the previously reported position at the end of May was breakeven.  The reason for this increase was that one young person moved from a foster placement into a residential placement (£129k) was one young person, who was previously supported at home, became looked after and was accommodated in a residential placement (£128k).  It was anticipated currently that this level of overspend could be offset by underspends elsewhere within Children’s Services and, therefore, a breakeven position was anticipated.

 

Adult Services – the major issue was the continuing pressure on Community Care Packages, the Division’s most volatile budget and one most dependent upon levels of service demand which were not within the Council’s direct control.  At present, the projected year end position was an overspend of £1.429m, but this was after the reduction in budget to accommodate the savings target for the year of £685k.  Any additional funding received from Welsh Government for the implementation of the First Steps initiatives, which resulted in the introduction of the £50 cap for non residential services, would reduce this overspend.  Actions were being taken to review all processes and to address this shortfall.  There were potential underspends elsewhere in Adult Services of around £463k which would be used to offset this position resulting in an overall projected overspend at year end of £966k. 

 

Areas of savings had been identified this year which were £293k over the required target.  This could be used to offset the overspend on Adult Services, resulting in a projected overspend for Social Services at year end of £673k. 

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st July 2013. 

 

With regard to the Social Services Budget Programme Update, the Directorate was currently required to find savings totalling £6.0m by the end of 2016/17.  Savings totalling £6.189m had currently been identified.  The surplus would be used to mitigate any additional savings to be found in future years.

 

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.  Progress updates would be reported as part of the overall financial monitoring report for the Directorate.

 

The Director advised that the Welsh Government was considering a recommendation as to how additional funding to compensate for lost income because of the £50 cap on charging for non-residential services could be awarded.  On the basis of present proposals, the Vale’s share would be £118k, although at this point the formal decision could not be known and additional representations have been made by the Leader to relevant members of the Welsh Government Cabinet.

 

In referring to Project Reference A3 of Appendix 4 to the report 'Targeted Reduction in Specific Care Package Budgets', it was proposed that this issue be referred to Cabinet.

 

Questions were asked regarding Project Reference A6 of Appendix 4 to the report 'Residential Services – Current Contract with Hafod Homes' and Committee were informed that a meeting with the Chief Executive of Hafod was to be held. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the position with regard to the 2013/14 Revenue and Capital monitoring be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the progress made on the Social Services Budget Programme be noted and referred to Cabinet for information.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       That Members are aware of the position with regard to the 2013/14 revenue and capital monitoring relevant to the Scrutiny Committee.

 

(2)       That Scrutiny and Cabinet Members are aware of the progress made to date on the Social Services Budget Programme.

 

 

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

 

Committee received a report which advised of:

 

-                 progress in consolidating implementation of the All-Wales Procedures for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults

-                 the Vale of Glamorgan Area Adult Protection Committee (AAPC) Annual Report 2012-13

-                 2012-13 data for Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) referrals

-                 consultation with vulnerable adults who had been subject to the POVA process

-                 progress in delivering changes required by the Welsh Government in respect of the partnership arrangements for safeguarding and protection people at risk.

 

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

 

Good progress had been made in consolidating the All-Wales Procedures for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults.  The Designated Lead Managers (DLMs) in the Vale of Glamorgan meet regularly to review the position.  The South Wales Safeguarding Adults Strategic Management Board had also maintained oversight of the procedures and worked across the South Wales area to support operational delivery of the procedures. 

 

The Vale of Glamorgan AAPC continued to undertake regular audits of the procedural work undertaken by the relevant agencies.  These collaborative audits between Social Services, Health and Police had confirmed a good overall level of compliance and provided evidence of agencies working together to identify and reduce risk.  The audits had also identified where practice needed to improve and enabled agencies to respond swiftly in making the changes required.

 

The AAPC itself continued to work collaboratively in taking forward the multi-agency and multi-disciplinary agenda needed to protect vulnerable adults.  Its Annual Report for 2012-13 included commitment statements and summary reports from each member agency, an overview of local / regional / national developments and the referral data for 2012-13. 

 

The referral data highlighted that the number of POVA referrals received by the Vale of Glamorgan increased from 223 in 2011-12 to 232 in 2012-13.  There was also recorded evidence that the number of reported safeguarding concerns received by Social Services had increased.  During 2012-13, there were over 80 safeguarding calls recorded by the POVA team that required safeguarding action but did not trigger the threshold for procedural action, plus a further 17 referrals that did not require any safeguarding intervention.

 

The reduction in POVA referrals from 288 in 2010-11 may be partly the result of improved recording but there had been a drive also for 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.  Of the 232 referrals received during the year, nearly 20% were assessed against the threshold and found inappropriate for the POVA process and signposted for safeguarding action through an alternative route. 

 

Organisations that provided or commissioned care made the most referrals, with 34% coming from direct service providers themselves.  9% came from the vulnerable adults, carers or relatives.  The highest number of referrals concerned allegations of physical abuse, though the proportion of physical abuse, neglect and financial abuse were very similar.

 

Of those referrals which proceeded:

 

·               nearly 40% were proved, admitted or likely on balance to have occurred

·               nearly 55% were considered to be unlikely or on balance disproved, or the investigation was inconclusive

·               6% were withdrawn.

 

As part of the quality assurance framework, the Directorate had implemented a consultation process with vulnerable adults who had been subject of POVA procedures.  A pilot exercise had been undertaken.  The potentially sensitive issues surrounding the POVA process meant that the process of sample selection was complicated.  The sample was based on all POVA referrals received in 2012 where the vulnerable adult was aware of the referral.  The relevant social workers were contacted to ascertain:

 

·               the current status of the case

·               that the vulnerable adult had sufficient capacity

·               whether contacting the vulnerable adult would cause them any harm / distress and if they would be willing to be interviewed.

 

The initial enquires made by the Policy and Quality Assurance Officer resulted in a sample of five vulnerable adults being contacted, of whom three responded.  Although a predictably low sample size, having the opportunity to hear directly from vulnerable adults about their experiences was invaluable in helping to inform improvements.

 

Findings confirmed that no one was dissatisfied with the protection service they received and provided reassurances that vulnerable adults felt believed and taken seriously.  People generally felt that their views had been taken into account and noted they felt safer as a result of their experience.  Respondents did offer suggestions about the need to improve the information given to them about the process and to involve them more fully.  The findings of the consultation were shared with the AAPC and actions agreed.

 

In advance of proposed legislation which would introduce an independent safeguarding body at a national level and 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 protection 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.

 

Unlike LSCBs, AAPCs did not have a basis in statute, although this would be part of the proposed legislation.  Changes in structure could be made, therefore, on the basis of agreement between the constituent agencies.  Discussion with regard to collaborative regional options for local AAPCs had taken place at the South Wales Safeguarding Adults Strategic Management Board and at the Vale of Glamorgan AAPC.  These discussions had acknowledged the strong merits in adopting the same regional footprint for both the LSCB and the AAPC, especially as it was possible that the two bodies may be required to merge over time.  It was agreed at the last AAPC to develop the principle of establishing a Joint Cardiff and Vale Safeguarding Adults Board with a suggested timescale of September 2013.  In response to the proposal, an independent audit of the AAPC had been commissioned to identify perceived strengths, weaknesses and priorities for future development. It was anticipated that the findings of the audit would help develop the form and function of the new Board.

 

In acknowledging the quality of the report, Members asked if further reports could include comparable data, and that this be in the form of actual numbers and not in percentage terms.

 

A request was also made for a Workshop on POVA matters to which all Councillors were to be invited.

 

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 continues to be reported to the Scrutiny Committee on a six monthly basis, including the actual number of POVAs proved, admitted or on balance disproved.

 

(3)       T H A T a workshop be held for all Members of the Council on safeguarding matters.

 

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.

 

(3)       To increase awareness of this important function of the Council.

 

 

332     ANNUAL REVIEW OF THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL ADOPTION SERVICE (DSS) –

 

Committee were provided with the Annual Review of the Vale of Glamorgan Council Adoption Service in line with statutory guidance.

 

Regulation 22 of the Adoption Service (Wales) Regulations 2007 require all Adoption Agencies, both voluntary and statutory, to complete an annual review of service quality.  The Annual Review for 2012/13 was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. 

 

The Regulation 22 Annual Report dealt with the performance of the Vale of Glamorgan Adoption Service.  There was some comparator data from local authorities which were part of the South Wales Adoption Agencies Consortium (SWAAC) which related only to those children and adopters who were referred to SWAAC and thus provided only a partial picture of adoption in Wales.  Performance information was not systematically collated across all local authorities in respect of all children referred to adoption and their outcomes.  This was a matter that the national Adoption Agency would be expected to address.

 

The Service had experienced a 38% decrease in referrals for adoption during the last year, although the annual numbers were small and this may not represent a trend.  During 2012/13, approximately 5% of Looked After Children were referred for adoption in the Vale of Glamorgan compared to 7% the previous year. 

 

The Vale of Glamorgan was well placed in its ability to attract and approve adopters in sufficient numbers for its own children.  During 2012/13, the Adoption Service received 25 registrations of interest from prospective adopters, compared with 20 the year before.  Despite the increase in the number of people registering interest, the same number of families (7) were approved in 2012/13 as in 2011/12.  Overall, there had been a decrease of almost 50% in the number of initial enquires made to the Adoption Service during 2012/13 compared to 2009/10 data but conversion rates (i.e. the proportion of people registering interest who are subsequently approved) had almost doubled for the same time frame.

 

Ten children in the Vale of Glamorgan were placed for adoption during 2012/13, compared to five placed during 2011/12.  Three children were made subject of Adoption Orders during 2012/13, compared to six during 2011/12; adoption orders were not always made during the same year that a child was placed for adoption.  During 2012/13, there was one adoption disruption – a sibling group of two who had been placed with independent agency adopters for a period of two months. 

 

During 2012/13, the average length of time taken to place a child / sibling group with adopters from the time the Court agreed a Placement Order was 7.5 months.  This calculation included children who were still waiting to be placed.  The shortest time taken was two months and there were 10 children, including three sibling groups, who had been waiting for placements for 11 months.

 

Wherever appropriate to do so, children were matched with the Council’s own adopters.  If this was not appropriate, then children were referred to SWAAC and the national Register once a Placement Order had been granted. 

 

During 2012/13, the Council matched four children with its own adopters, three with adopters on the National Adoption Register.  Of the 13 children referred to SWAAC, only three were matched with SWAAC adopters.

 

In summary, the Vale of Glamorgan Council was well placed for attracting and approving prospective adopters and, where possible, Vale of Glamorgan children were placed with the Council’s own adopters.  The Council was making a significant contribution of adopters to SWAAC compared to some other local authorities but the Council was referring fewer children, possibly because of the lower numbers of children being referred for adoption overall.  All children that the Council cannot match with its own adopters were referred to SWAAC and the National Register.  Inability to obtain suitable matches within our own resources and within SWAAC had resulted in a greater reliance on voluntary adoption agencies.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the contents of the report be noted and the Council's Adoption Team be congratulated in the quality of their work.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To provide assurances that the Council’s statutory functions in relation to providing an Adoption Service are fully met, in line with guidance and regulation.

 

 

333     SICKNESS ABSENCE UPDATE – APRIL 2012 TO MARCH 2013 (MD AND DSS) –

 

Committee were provided with information about sickness levels in the Social Services Directorate for the period April 2012 to March 2013 and were also updated on the progress made in delivering sickness absence management arrangements.

 

Absence figures, target and outturn for Social Services and corporately for the Council (excluding schools) for the period April 2012 to March 2013 were as follows:

 

 

Corporate

 

Annual target

Corporate

 

Actual against target 

Social Services

Actual against target 

Average lost days/shifts per FTE

8.9 days

10.24 days

13.71 days

Percentage of lost time by FTE

No targets set at this level.

3.9%

5.3%

Total Days Lost

Corporate - 20912.26 days

Social Services - 6729.86 days

 

A breakdown against individual divisions within the Directorate for the period was as follows:

 

Social Services Directorate

Average lost

days by FTE 

Target for the full year

Comparison for the same period last year - April 2011 to March 2012

Children and Young People - now includes YOS

9.69

10.4

 5.73

Adult Services

14.74

13.4

10.52

Business Management and Innovation

15.84

5.4

19.95

Total

13.71

11.8

11.55

 

These figures had been included within the Corporate and Schools Management of Attendance report to Cabinet on 1st July 2013.  Compared with the same period last year, there was an overall increase in the level of absence of 18.70% within the Directorate.

 

The split between short term and long term was 31% and 69% respectively, compared with 32% and 68% for the same period in the previous financial year.

 

The top three reasons for absence during the latest period were Operations and Recovery (27.73%), Stress (17.61%) and Viral Illness (17.59%).

 

Support arrangements existed for staff, which included access to the Employee Counselling, Occupational Health, Revive Office Therapy services and the Chiropractor Service.  In addition, efforts continued to be made to manage sickness absences, support the early return of employees to work and, where possible, reduce the likelihood of absence through appropriate preventative measures.

 

All managers were required to comply with their responsibilities as set out within the Corporate Management of Attendance Policy.  This was closely monitored, corporately and within the Directorate.

 

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

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Committee has asked to receive, on a routine basis, reports confirming that the Social Services Directorate was contributing effectively to the corporate aims and objectives in respect of the Management of Attendance Policy and achieving higher levels of attendance by staff.

 

 

334     MATTER WHICH THE CHAIRMAN HAD DECIDED WAS URGENT –  

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the following matter which the Chairman had decided was urgent for the reason given beneath the minute heading be considered.

 

 

335     BRYNEITHIN UPDATE –

(Urgent by reason of the need to ensure timely information was provided regarding the development of the Bryneithin site)

 

Committee were advised that:

 

-                 The demolition contract had been awarded on 24th July and possession of the site passed to the contractor on 29th.  The security arrangements have been handed over to the contractor as part of the demolition process.  Asbestos and environmental surveys would have to be undertaken and the results of the surveys addressed prior to authorising the demolition stage.  Demolition would begin towards the end of October although this might be subject to change should any problems arise with the previous stages.

-                 The survey for bat roost sites had been completed and three bats were found to be roosting under missing wall tiles to the front elevation of the house.  It was also noted that several trees supported bat roosts and so a full bat survey would be required for any mature tree that required remedial tree surgery.  This had delayed the planned work to address the health and safety issues found through an assessment of the condition of the trees.  The survey had provided other recommendations including the requirement for a licence with respect of the welfare and conservation of bats which would need to be obtained prior to demolition.

-                 The greenhouse at the rear of the property would be saved for future use by a local community group (assuming the collection was imminent).

-                 The consultation phase with key stakeholders and the local community on the initial options had started and had been publicised in the local press.  The consultation had included an event with the 50+ Forum and an event in Dinas Powys (20th August).  The consultation lasts until the 14th September.

-                 Following this exercise and along with other due diligence by the Cabinet Working Group, a final list of options would be reported for consideration by Cabinet on 21st October. 

-                 It was intended that future marketing of the site would then commence following the consideration by Cabinet in September.

 

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

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having regard to the content of the report.

 

 

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