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 SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 1st December, 2014.

 

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

 

Also present: Councillor S.C. Egan.

 

 

637     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillors Ms. R.F. Probert and S.T. Wiliam.

 

 

638     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 3rd November, 2014 be approved as a correct record, it being noted that Councillor Ms. R.F. Probert was present at this meeting.

 

 

639     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

No declarations were received.

 

 

640     CSSIW ANNUAL PERFORMANCE EVALUATION 2013-2014 – PRESENTATION BY GILLIAN HUWS-JOHN AND MARGARET ROONEY –

 

The Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) had reviewed and analysed evidence from the 2013-14 performance year, and Committee received the overall evaluation of the Vale of Glamorgan’s Social Services and evidence areas of progress and areas for improvement. 

 

The CSSIW Area Manager began the presentation by summarising some of the key points identified within the performance evaluation.  The CSSIW had noted that the Director’s Annual Report highlighted the success and challenges and it had set out the Council’s priorities for 2014/15.  Measured against national strategic indicators there was some variability in the Council’s performance, although overall it was considered to be good.  The Council continued to provide strong leadership and planning within Social Services and there were clear and robust financial plans in place.  The evaluation noted that the Council reported an increased demand for services, which was leaving a number of service areas under pressure.  However, the Council had a number of strategies in place to attend to these service gaps. 

 

Reshaping Services

 

In Adult Services, it had been reported that the Council had developed good initiatives and provided a good foundation for joined up commissioning in the future.  An area of improvement had been highlighted in relation to the rate of Delayed Transfers of Care from hospitals for social care reasons.  This was almost double the Wales average figure and it had been reported that this was due to a significant growth in demand for services and vacancies in key teams. 

 

For Children’s Services, the Children and Young People’s Commissioning Strategy made clear reference as to how social care needs for children, young people and their families would be met within the resources available to the Council during the period 2013 to 2018.  Priorities included the need to maintain effective partnership working with all agencies.  The Council had also continued to promote stability and permanency for Looked After Children through its strategies of revoking care orders for children and young people who had been placed at home with their parents. 

 

Getting Help

 

The CSSIW had identified that within Adult Services there was a good range and availability of domiciliary care services.  Reference was made to the Carers Support Officer and the impact this appointment had made in respect of more effective and timely assessments of carers’ needs.  Waiting lists within the Occupational Therapy service continued to show good improvement but the evaluation did highlight that there were still areas for improvement in respect of timescales for the delivery of Disability Facilities Grants. 

 

In respect of Children’s Services, preventative services featured very strongly within the Council’s planning and intervention programmes, with Flying Start and the Families Achieving Change Together (FACT) team highlighted within the evaluation.  The Looked After Children inspection noted concerns about the ability of services for children and adolescents with emotional and mental health issues.  It had also been recognised that this was a national problem across all Local Authorities.  The Council had made significant improvements within its youth offending work and a Short Quality Screening assessment made by HM Inspectorate of Probation found a very positive picture within the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

The Services Provided

 

Following the assessment of services provided within Adult Services, Members were advised that there was a good range of services provided that met the needs of all vulnerable groups.  The Council managed services but were also developing more resilience through increased integration and partnership working. 

 

The evaluation had evidenced that within Children’s Services the demand for the FACT team was high and at times exceeded available capacity.  An area of progress was around the increase in the number of foster carers and the increased focus on providing placements for respite, sibling groups and children with especially complex needs. 

 

Effect on People’s Lives

 

The Committee noted that areas of progress within Adult Services included the implementation of the Integrated Discharge Service model and the recruitment of a placement advisor.  However, the monitoring of contractor services by the Local Authority was an area highlighted for improvement. 

 

Within Children’s Services, Members noted the need to improve rates of statutory health assessments, Personal Education Plans and the percentage of young people formerly looked after known to be engaged in education, training or employment. 

 

Capacity

 

In assessing the Council’s ability to deliver Social Services, the evaluation highlighted that effective plans for managing the financial challenges were in place and the Council had developed a plan intended to prepare the workforce for the future.  The CSSIW’s review of commissioning concluded that contract monitoring could be improved by developing a clear focus on the quality of care experienced by the service user.  Members were also asked to note the continued work with Cardiff Council and the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board to resolve difficulties in securing sufficient long term nursing home placements. 

 

Providing Direction

 

Findings from the peer review exercise had concluded that there was good chairing at Scrutiny, good relationships between officers and Members, and that party political considerations did not impinge on effective scrutiny.  The Council also continued to provide strong leadership in Social Services and the Council continued as lead in respect of improving regional working. 

 

In closing the presentation the Regional Director briefly summarised how the CSSIW came about its findings.  She advised Members that a number of visits and inspections were undertaken during the year and that regular meetings with officers and staff members had been undertaken.  Inspectors also had opportunity to speak to service users through various forums and engagement events. 

 

Members were then given the opportunity to comment on the inspection and evaluation review and the following points were raised.

 

The Chairman, in reference to the Council’s ability to manage demand for family services, queried whether there was any useful advice that the Inspectors could share with Members.  In response the Regional Director advised that it was important to focus upon the lower level of needs for families requiring support services.  It was also important to develop an integrated preventative support service. 

 

A Member, in recognition of the issues facing the FACT Team and issues around Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), queried whether there was anything that could be learned and shared from best practices identified by the Welsh Government (WG).  In reply the Committee was advised that the problem was around limited resources and throughout Wales this was widely known.  Regarding the FACT service, the Committee was informed that CSSIW had undertaken a site visit as opposed to a full inspection.  However, the service had received very positive feedback and had shown that it was able to support its service users to a high standard and the skill level of the staff was highly regarded.  In some parts, the success of the service had increased demand and this had created a significant challenge for the service.  Further to the point of sharing of best practice, the Regional Director acknowledged that other Local Authorities had similar issues and were taking different strategies in order to tackle these.  It was a concerted effort to identify the right size of service delivery and whether there was a need for less or more resources.  One important development had been around using the full skills and abilities of a wide range of professionals to undertake different aspects of work - for example, did all Care Management Reviews need to be undertaken by a fully qualified social worker? 

 

A Committee Member, referring to key Performance Indicators and national set indicators, queried whether there were any particular areas where the Vale needed to do better.  In response the Area Manager stated that one area that the evaluation focused on was in relation to Looked After Children and the rate of Personal Education Plans completed.  Members were also advised that there was a need to get behind and understand the number of people aged 65 and older supported within the community and that the Council should focus more on outcomes for individuals. 

 

In reply to a query regarding the length of time taken to complete the report, the Committee was advised that the evaluation was based on a full year’s work that included a snapshot of the national set indicators at the end of the relevant financial year.  A big part of the evaluation was the Director of Social Services’ Annual Report which would be completed in a retrospective manner and thus the timescales for producing the final report would be greater than a calendar year.

 

A Committee Member enquired as to what area CSSIW would like to evaluate first during the next period of evaluation.  The Committee was advised that follow up work would be pursued in relation to the Cardiff and Vale Mental Health Service.  Members were also asked to note that quarterly meetings between the CSSIW and officers would be key in assessing progress and monitoring outcomes following the evaluation. 

 

A Committee Member sought clarification as to whether other partner agencies would receive an opportunity to comment upon the report.  The Committee was advised that as the report was specific to the Vale of Glamorgan Council, it was not shared with organisations like health or other partners.

 

In reply to a query in relation to how Performance Indicators could be affected by a small cohort, such as Looked After Children not in education, employment or training, the Committee was advised that the issue of young people who were not in education, employment or training was not just related to Looked After Children.  If the cohort within the Performance Indicator was small, this would be quantified within the narrative.  It was stressed to Committee that this was a corporate responsibility and it was important for a Council to treat Looked After Children as if they were their own so this was a very important Indicator. 

 

Further to this, the Committee Member commented that most national set indicators were very quantitative but provided very little qualitative information.  The Member queried whether the Inspectors could provide any feedback and general overview of the quality of Services that they had observed as part of the evaluation.  In response, the Committee was advised that feedback had been very positive, particularly in relation to care staff within residential homes. 

 

At this point the Director of Social Services provided some comments and made reference to the report being a credit to Social Services’ staff and also service providers.  He stated that the Council still faced considerable challenges and it was good to know that the service was building upon good practice. 

 

In conclusion, the Chairman thanked the representatives of CSSIW and stated that the report reflected very well on the staff of the Directorate.  It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the key messages to emerge from the evaluation, including areas of progress and areas for improvement be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the report and presentation of the Chief Inspector’s Annual Performance Evaluation of the Vale of Glamorgan’s Social Services Department 2013-14 be referred to Cabinet.

 

(3)       T H A T the staff of the Directorate be informed of the Committee’s appreciation of the good performance highlighted within the CSSIW’s performance valuation for 2013-14.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that Members are kept informed about outcomes from independent evaluation of Social Services performance in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

(2)       To update Cabinet of the good work and areas of progress and improvement highlighted within the Annual Performance Evaluation for 2013-14.

 

(3)       To pass on the Committee’s thanks to staff within the Directorate. 

 

 

641     REQUEST FOR CONSIDERATION – ASSOCIATION OF DIRECTORS OF SOCIAL SERVICES CONFERENCE 2014 –

 

Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson had requested that the matter be considered by the Scrutiny Committee in order to update Members on the theme of the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) Conference of this year held in June 2014. 

 

In response the Director of Social Services thanked Councillor Dr. Johnson for the chance to reflect and report on an important event within the calendar. 

 

The theme for this year’s conference was labelled "It’s About Me: Putting People at the Centre of Care".  The main focus was in relation to wellbeing and maximising people’s potential by building upon individual and community capacity.  Members noted that there were a number of key note speeches made at the event that included input by the President of the ADSS, the Deputy Minister for Social Services, the Director General for Health and Social Services, the Head of Co-production from New Economics Foundation and the Director of Social Services and Integration from the Welsh Government (WG). 

 

During the event there were three plenary sessions:

 

·         Plenary 1: Perspectives in Safeguarding – Corporately and in Education

·         Plenary 2: Transforming Services – Delivering Integration

·         Plenary 3: Better Conversations at the Co-production Table.

 

Video recordings of key note speakers and plenary sessions were available upon request.  A wide range of workshops gave participants an opportunity to hear about practical tools, skills and ideas to take back and apply in their organisations, the full programme was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. 

 

The Committee was advised that notwithstanding the wide range of interests and organisations represented, there was considerable consensus about how Directorates should be seeking to tackle the challenges posed by policies and legislation adopted in Wales to deal with issues such as increasing demand, public services resource constraints and changes to public expectations.  Most emphasis was placed on the aspirational aspects of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014:

 

·         Seeking to promote wellbeing through prevention / early intervention

·         Providing information and advice

·         Developing new models of service where are more flexible and responsive

·         Promoting changes in the way services engage with people who depend upon services for care and support and

·         Focusing on outcomes.

 

Participants at the conference were clearly committed to ensuring that people’s voices and rights were central to decision-making as their circumstances change, focusing on their strengths and working with them creatively to maintain their independence.  However, there was a need to recognise the risks involved to vulnerable people and service providers in not managing well enough increased demand.  This highlighted a need for changes, not only in the way public services as a whole promote wellbeing, but perhaps also in the social compact.  There appeared to be an emerging policy that individuals, families and communities would be expected, wherever possible, to contribute more of their own resources and to reduce their expectation of social services. 

 

The Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 set out a whole range of new challenges, which would have to be met at a time of severe financial restraints for local government and social services.  The WG had made it clear there would be no additional resources for this purpose, apart from limited transitional funding.  Local Authorities should remain very cautious about whether there would be sufficient resources available to meet increased commitments and expectations in the face of growing demand for services.

 

Councillor Dr. Johnson thanked the Director of Social Services for the update and requested that further reports be provided on an annual basis as this was an important way of understanding issues at a national level.

 

The Chairman, in reference to the future expectations for individuals and families to wherever possible contribute more of their own resources to cover the cost for their care needs, queried whether this was something that the WG believed as a way forward.  In response the Director of Social Services stated that it could be said that the WG policy around this was inconsistent.  He reflected upon the introduction of the £55 cap and previous WG commitments of wholesale contribution and alluded to the political will to safely protect the most vulnerable and how best to meet their needs. 

 

Having considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the key messages to emerge from the Conference be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee receives an annual report concerning the themes and topics discussed within the Conference.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To ensure that Members are kept informed about policy and service developments across Wales.

 

 

642     INITIAL REVENUE BUDGET PROPOSALS 2015/16 (DSS) -

 

The Council was required under statute to fix the level of Council Tax for 2015/16 by 11th March, 2015 and in order to do so, would have to agree a balanced Revenue Budget by the same date.  To be in a position to meet the statutory deadlines and the requirements for consultation set out in the Council’s Constitution, much of the work on quantifying the resource requirements of individual services needed to be carried out before the final Revenue Support Grant (RSG) settled was notified to the Council.

 

The Council’s budget was determined largely by the RSG settlement set by the Welsh Government (WG).  The provisional RSG settlement was received from WG on 8th October, 2014 with the final settlement likely to be received by December 2014. 

 

Provisional Settlement 2015/16

 

The WG on 8th October, 2014 had advised the Council that its provisional Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) for 2015/16 was £212.270 m.  The SSA 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.

 

The Council had been advised that from the WG’s RSG an amount of £155.982m would be received along with a share of the Non-Domestic Rates (NDR) of £36.525m.  Together, these figures would constitute the Council’s provisional Aggregate External Finance (AEF) of £182.507m.  WG reported that this represented a cash reduction of 3.4% (£5.4m) for 2015/16.

 

However, after taking into account an additional burden for 21st Century Schools Initiative, this actually represented a cash reduction of 3.5%.  This was a small reduction that the 4.5% which projected in the Medium Term Financial Plan and this had been taken into account as part of the initial budget proposals for 2015/16. 

 

The Committee noted that following transfers into the RSG settlement for 2015/16 were as follows:

 

·         Integrated Family Support Service - £280,000

·         Autistic Spectrum Disorder - £40,000.

 

In addition a transfer of £10,000 for the settlement of the National Adoption Service was also highlighted.

 

Revised Budget 2014/15

 

Appendix 1 to the report set out the amended budget for 2014/15.  Included were necessary adjustments to be made to the original budget. These budget adjustments had no overall effect on the net budget of the Council and were as follows:

 

Asset Rents, International Accounting Standard (IAS) 19, Transfers / 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 transfers and pension adjustments to comply with accounting standards.  Also included were transfers of functions and responsibilities between Directorates as detailed below:

 

·         £336,000 from Children and Young People to Education, in respect of the transfer of responsibility for the Children and Young People’s Partnership

·         £19,000 to Children and Young People from Education, as an additional contribution towards the jointly funded Residential Placements budget for Looked After Children.

 

The following table compares the amended original budget with the projected outturn for 2014/15.  

 

 

 

2014/15

2014/15

Variance

 

Amended

Original

Projected

(+)Favourable

Service

Budget

Outturn

(-) Adverse

 

£’000

£’000

£’000

 

 

 

                          

Children and Young People

14,240

13,940

                     +300

Adult Services

36,512

37,312

                     -800

Business Management and Innovation

301

301

                           0

 

 

 

 

Total

51,053

51,553

-500

 

The projected outturn for the Social Services Directorate was an overspend of £500,000 when compared to the amended original budget. 

 

Children and Young People Services - This service was currently anticipated to outturn £300,000 under budget at year end.  The major issue affecting this service was the need to manage continued pressure on the Children’s Placement budget.  At present, however, the budget for the jointly funded Residential Placements for Looked After Children was projected to outturn within target.  There were potential underspends elsewhere in Children’s Services relating to key budgets of £52,000, £54,000 relating to administrative staff, £50,000 on legal expenses, £60,000 due to additional adoption income and £84,000 on alternative means of provision and accommodation costs required for the current cohort of children.

 

Adult Services - This service was currently anticipated to outturn £800,000 over budget at year end.  The major issues were the continuing pressure on Community Care packages, the Division’s most volatile budget and the one most dependent upon levels of service demand which were not entirely within the Council’s direct control.  At present, the projected year end position was an overspend of £1m as a result of increased demand for services, particularly from frail older clients.  This service would strive to manage demand, not only to avoid a further increase in the overspend but also to reduce the overspend.  The annual deferred income budget for 2014/15 had been set at £725,000 and as at 31st October, 2014 income received to date was on target.  The year-end projection was still set at a £100,000 under recovery as house sales slowed over the winter months.  This position was included as part of the projected overspend within the Community Care Packages budget.  There were potential underspends elsewhere in Adult Services of around £200,000 which could be used to off-set this position.  These areas were £114,000 on staffing, £19,000 on transport, £38,000 on premises and £29,000 on supplies and services. 

 

Budget Strategy

 

On 30th June, 2014 Cabinet had approved the budget strategy and as in previous years required all Directorates to make the following provisions:

 

·         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 should find the cost of increments and staff changes from their base budgets unless the relevant specific approval had been given for additional funding.

·         The effect of replacing grants 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 included the effect of interest rates and financing costs of the Capital Programme, increases in taxes, increase in levies and precepts charged by outside bodies and changes to housing benefits net expenditure.

·         Services would be expected to achieve savings already approved by Cabinet as part of the 2014/15 final budget proposals and Directors had been asked to consider bringing forward the implementation of these savings ahead of the scheduled date and also to consider areas for further savings.

·         It was envisaged that the cost of service development would need to be met from within the respective Directorates. 

 

Having regard to the above, it had therefore been proposed in respect of the 2015/16 budget strategy, for Directors to be instructed to prepare initial revenue budgets for 2015/16, in accordance with a timetable agreed by the Managing Director.  Preparation should be made 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 2014/15 final revenue budget report.

·         Budgets to be broken down subjectively and objectively in as much detail as deemed appropriate.

·         Budget reports to include revised estimates for 2014/15.

·         Full account to be taken of the revenue costs, other than debt charges, of new capital schemes coming into use.

·         Minimum savings targets to be met initially as detailed in the 2014/15 final revenue budget report.

·         Directors would continue to draw up Service Plans that set out the aims and objectives for the service and any possible future developments and efficiencies.

·         It was to be expected that the revenue costs of service development would need to be met from within the respective services. 

 

Medium Term Financial Plan 2015/16

 

The Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) 2014/15 to 2017/18 was approved by Cabinet on 11th August, 2014.  The MTFP was produced using the assumption of a reduction in funding of 4.5% in 2015/16 and a further 4% reduction in 2016/17 and a 2% reduction in 2017/18.  Savings totalling £18.2m were identified for the period with a shortfall in funding across the three years of £14.2m. 

 

2015/16 Initial Budget Proposals

 

Shown at Appendix 2 was an updated full list of cost pressures for the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) meeting.

 

When approving the budget strategy for 2015/16, Directors had been asked to review savings already approved, with a view of implementing them ahead of the target date and to consider areas for further savings.  Details of the proposed areas for savings were attached at Appendix 3 to the report.  The savings did not include the cost of any potential redundancies. 

 

A summary of the overall base budget for 2015/16 was attached at Appendix 4 to the report.  This had been arrived at by adjusting the 2014/15 budget for items such as inflation and unavoidable growth, but did not include identified cost pressures for savings.  These were shown as a note to the table and were further detailed in Appendix 2 and 3 to the report respectively.

 

Total cost pressures associated with this Committee totalled £1.898m and included £1.14m for the discontinuation of the Intermediate Care Fund Grant. 

 

Once the base budgets for 2015/16 had been established, it would then be compared to the funding available to identify the extent of any shortfall.  With a provisional AEF of £152.507m and Council Tax at the current level of £36.690m, total available funding would be £209.197m.  When compared to the base budget of £216.958m, this would result in a funding deficit for 2015/16 of £7.761m. 

 

If all identified cost pressures were funded, this would increase the shortfall to £13.438m and if all proposed savings were achieved the shortfall would be reduced to £4.581m. 

 

Projected Budget Shortfall 2015/16

 

 

£000

Funding Available

 

Provisional AEF

152,507

Council Tax

56,690

Provisional Funding Available

209,197

 

 

Base Budget

216,958

 

 

Provisional Shortfall Against Base Budget

7,761

 

 

Assume all Cost Pressures Funded

5,677

 

 

Provisional Shortfall with Cost Pressures funded

13,438

 

 

Assume all Savings Achieved

(8,857)

 

 

Provisional Projected Shortfall for 2015/16

(4,581)

 

The projections of the budgets shortfall included an assumed pay award of 1% for 2015/16.  The implications of the proposed pay award had not yet been assessed and would be included within the final budget proposals report. 

 

There would be difficulties in maintaining the quality and quantity of services in the future without exploring opportunities for collaboration and alternative forms of service delivery.  The Council had already commenced its programme of re-shaping and transforming services, as approved by Cabinet on 11th August, 2014. 

 

The General Fund Reserves as at 30th March, 2015 was projected to stand at £11.46m.  The 2015/16 base budget included the use of £2.5m from the General Fund Reserve and there would be a further use of £1.5m in 2016/17.  The Section 151 Officer has stipulated that the minimum balance on the General Fund Reserve should be no less than £7m. 

 

As part of the usual budget process, an examination of the level of reserves was undertaken to ascertain the adequacy and strategy for use.  A view of their level and purpose had been undertaken and the requirements for each of the specific services had been considered in light of the Council’s priorities and it had been necessary to move funding from lower priority areas to higher priority areas.  As a result, it had been proposed that some specific reserves be unearmarked and transferred to the Schools Investment Strategy Reserve to allow for the continued investment in school buildings and their developments.  Set out at Appendix 5 to the report was actual reserves as at 30th March, 2014 along with the estimated reserve balance for each year up to 31st March, 2018.  The use of all reserves would be reviewed further by the Budget Working Group as part of the final budget setting process.

 

The Committee was being asked to review the level of cost pressures with a view to suggesting ways in which these could be managed downwards and / or mitigated.  The Budget Working Group would consider the comments made by the Scrutiny Committee, together with results of the consultation.  The final proposals of the Cabinet would include a review of the financial strategies required to achieve a balanced budget and the report indicated that Cabinet’s final budget proposals would be considered by Council at a meeting to be held on 4th March, 2015. 

 

A Committee Member sought clarification as to whether there would be a balanced budget for the financial year 2014/15.  In response Members were advised that there was currently an anticipated overspend of £500,000 and that measures had been taken to address the issue.

 

In discussing the cost pressures highlighted at Appendix 2 to the report, the Committee was advised that the £150,000 cost pressure identified for Children and Young People in relation to additional costs for children with increasingly complex needs was a reasonable and realistic projection. 

 

In respect of cost pressures for Adult Services, the amount of £207,000 relating to the increase in demographic growth in older people and older people mental health services had been based on a 2% increase in demand, based upon WG population analysis.  The Committee had been previously made aware of the changes in legislation for the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and was fully informed of the cost pressure of £250,000. 

 

In noting the discontinuation of the Intermediate Care Fund (ICF) grant amounting to £1.114m, the Director of Social Services advised Committee that the ICF grant was only realistically available in time for the second quarter. In essence, the service had only three to four months in which to make meaningful changes in terms of restructuring.  In the medium-term, it is essential that some of these new projects and services displace spending on more traditional programmes.  He further advised that the ICF had been used to achieve many positive outcomes and that there were signs that the changes implemented were having a major impact. 

 

Members were asked to note that the £77,000 cost pressure identified against the Support People grant reduction had been the result of a 7% cut in WG funding. 

 

A Committee Member commented that there were two types of cost pressures, the first related to increasing demand and the second as a result of fallout from changes to WG grant funds.  He queried whether, in relation to the ICF grant, there was anything that could be done to review the decision to remove grant funding.  In reply the Director of Social Services stated that, at present, there still was not a final decision made but the Local Authority should be informed by the WG on 10th December 2014.  Representations by all Local Authorities in Wales had been made to the WG and evidence provided to demonstrate the effectiveness of the services provided through the grant funding.  He advised that they were not in a position to challenge the WG’s decision any further.  He also advised that the Regional Collaboration Fund (RCF) was likely to be reduced significantly, another major source of funding for remodelling adult social care services. 

 

In answer to a query as to whether the savings targets were achievable, the Director of Social Services commented that the service had a budget programme ongoing for at least the past six years.  It was fair to say that the ability to meet savings targets was becoming more difficult.  He alluded to the "demand tsunami" in Children’s and Adult Services and commented that savings were very challenging, but the service was committed to meeting its targets. 

 

In reference to the Looked After Children placed out of county, Members were advised that the target reduction for bringing Looked After Children back to this area was being achieved.  The Director of Social Services advised that there had been a commitment to savings in this area and that the service model had been redesigned through the greater use of community placements, the creation of a new residential unit and greater use of family support services. 

 

A Committee Member queried as to how the service would maintain its quality and standards.  In response the Director of Social Services advised that it was likely that the Council would see increased concerns about the quality of care; this is a national picture and not necessarily due to the level of savings expected within the Vale of Glamorgan.  He alluded to the impact of the WG’s £55 cap on care costs and the increase in demand that this has placed on the service.  It would be a considerable challenge to maintain standards in the future and he commented that, in some Local Authorities, increased demand in areas such as Looked After Children had adversely affected the quality of care management processes and reduced the level of service resilience. 

 

Having considered the report and in regard to the financial pressures facing the Council, the Committee subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the amended budget for 2014/15 as set out in Appendix 1 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the initial revenue budget proposals for 2015/16 be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) be advised that Social Services is facing significant cost pressures and increased demand for services from all areas of its work.

 

(4)       T H A T Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) be advised that it was the unanimous view of the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) that the cost pressures detailed at Appendix 2 be fully funded.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To advise Committee of amendments to the 2014/15 budget.

 

(2)       In order that the Scrutiny Committee are advised of the initial revenue budget proposals.

 

(3)       In order to highlight the specific cost pressures and future demands facing the service.

 

(4)       In order that the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) be informed of the view of this Scrutiny Committee as part of the budget setting process.

 

 

643     INITIAL CAPITAL PROGRAMME PROPOSALS 2015/16 (DSS) -

 

The Committee was provided with an update on the progress of the Capital Programme for 2014/15 and were required to consider the initial capital proposals for 2015/16. 

 

Appendix A detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 30th September, 2014. 

 

The Committee noted the amount of £400,000 had been carried forward to the 2015/16 budget for a new Social Services Client Record System.  A national exercise was underway to identify one supplier of a Social Care and Community Health Service Record System.  The Council was an interested party in this exercise and was not looking to change the current supplier until the current exercise had been completed.  The awarding of the national contract was now delayed until the end of 2014 and therefore the funding was unlikely to be utilised in the current financial year. 

 

Members were advised to note that in relation to the 2015/16 to 2019/20 Capital Programme the Welsh Government (WG) had announced the provisional General Capital Funding on 8th October, 2014.  The 2015/16 capital settlement represented a £62,000 decrease on the final settlement for 2014/15 and that this equated to a cut of 1%.  Members noted that there was no indication of the level of funding likely beyond 2015/16 and that therefore in line with the approach adopted in the Medium Term Financial Plan the proposals assumed a reduction of 10% each year of the programme from 2016/17.  The proposed schemes relevant to this Committee were shown at Appendix B to the report. 

 

In line with the financial strategy, the Council would mitigate the deteriorating situation by looking to progress only those schemes which were deemed to be a corporate priority, whilst also seeking to gain assurance that such schemes be delivered on time and within budget. 

 

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

 

Analysis of Net Funding Required for the Indicative 2015/16 Capital Programme

 

GENERAL FUND

£’000 

£’000

 

 

 

Welsh Government Resources

 

 

Supported Borrowing

3,398

 

General Capital Grant

2,068

 

 

 

5,466

Council Resources

 

 

Capital Receipts

2,260

 

Reserves/Leasing

9,920

 

Unsupported Borrowing

2,074

 

 

 

14,254

Net Capital Resources

 

19,720

 

 

 

HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT

£’000

£’000

Housing Reserves

4,141

 

Housing Capital Receipts

0

 

Housing Unsupported Borrowing

11,292

 

Net Capital Resources

 

15,433

 

The indicative 2015/16 Capital Programme was shown at Appendix B to the report and included allocations already approved by the Council and the amendments requested within the report. 

 

Capital Bids 2015/16 to 2019/20

 

New capital bids had been invited for return by 30th September, 2014 but the number of bids received was low.  Departments had been requested to rank their own bids in order of importance before submission and bids from each Department were forwarded to the Corporate Asset Management Group (CAMG) for evaluation.  The CAMG used a risk matrix tool in order to identify the priority and to identify the risk posed to the Council if schemes were not pursued. 

 

Only those schemes assessed as Corporate Priority 1 or higher and medium risk or higher were included in these proposals. 

 

In addition to bids meeting the criteria for inclusion within the Capital Programme, there had been a number of changes approved by Cabinet since the final budget proposals that had impacted on the Capital Programme. 

 

The total net capital expenditure of the proposed Programme over the next five years was approximately £96.144m.  If all proposals for the Council as a whole were approved, the effect upon the General Fund useable capital receipts would be as shown in the following table:

 

Capital Receipts

General

Ringfenced Social Services

Ringfenced Education

 

    £000's

           £000's

           £000's

Anticipated Balance as at 1st April 2015

8,233

1,225

0

 

 

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2015/16

(1,660)

0

(600)

Anticipated Receipts – 2015/16

0

0

1,285

Balance as at 31st March 2016

 6,573

1,225

685

 

 

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2016/17

(5,525)

0

(1,684)

Anticipated Receipts – 2016/17

0

0

2,500

Balance as at 31st March 2017

1,048

1,225

1,501

 

 

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2017/18

0

(1,225)

(800)

Anticipated Receipts – 2017/18

0

0

2,500

Balance as at 31st March 2018

1,048

0

3,201

 

 

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2018/19

0

0

0

Anticipated Receipts – 2018/19

0

0

0

Balance as at 31st March 2019

1,048

0

3,201

 

 

 

 


Anticipated Requirements – 2019/20

0

0

0

Anticipated Receipts – 2019/20

0

0

2,800

Balance as at 31st March 2020

1,048

0

6,001

 

 

 

 

Anticipated Requirements between 2020/21 and 2025/26

0

0

(6,001)

Anticipated Receipts between 2020/21 and 2025/26

0

0

0

Balance as at 31st March 2026

1,048

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Members were asked to note that the capital receipts received in 2014/15 from the sale of Gardenhurst had been ringfenced for Social Services capital expenditure.  Options for the use of this money were being explored by the Council but it was expected that the full capital receipts of £1.225m would be utilised for older person accommodation in 2017/18.  Following specific suggestions proposed by the Budget Working Group and in order to resource the Capital Programme reserves would be utilised over the period of the Capital Programme between 2015 and 2020. 

 

The Committee was advise that the Project Fund would be used to fund schemes assessed on an invest to save basis, and in certain circumstances business critical schemes may be funded from this reserve with the prior approval of the Director of Resources.  A balance of £2m would be retained as a balance on this fund.  The projected usage of the reserve over the period was shown below:

 

Project Fund

 

£'000

 

Anticipated Balance as at 1st April 2015

4,244

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2015/16

(1,684)

Anticipated Receipts – 2015/16

100

Balance as at 31st March 2016

2,660

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2016/17

(400)

Anticipated Receipts – 2016/17

60

Balance as at 31st March 2017

2,320

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2017/18

(100)

Anticipated Receipts – 2017/18

60

Balance as at 31st March 2018

2,280

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2018/19

0

Anticipated Receipts – 2018/19

0

Balance as at 31st March 2019

2,280

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2019/20

0

Anticipated Receipts – 2019/20

0

Balance as at 31st March 2020

2,280

 

The project fund forecast balances needed to be seen in the context of significant pressures for spending which were not yet included within the Capital Programme.  These included the backlog of schools, highways and buildings improvements. 

 

The Scrutiny Committee was asked to first consider the Initial Capital Programme proposals as shown in Appendix B to the report and then make any recommendations for changes.  The reasons for any changes would need to be recorded in order to assist the Cabinet and the Budget Working Group draw up the final proposals.  Cabinet’s Final Capital Programme Proposals would be considered by Council on 4th March, 2015.

 

In discussing the Capital Programme, the Committee noted that the Stage 1 bids for Social Services both related to the Hen Goleg site.  In total 18 bids for Stage 1 funding had been made with one from Social Services, 11 from Visible Services and six for Development Services. 

 

A Committee Member asked whether more information could be provided in respect of the £1.2m allocated for Older People’s Accommodation in 2017/18.  In response, the Director of Social Services stated that the amount of £1.2m was from the sale of the Gardenhurst site which would be released during 2017/18.  He alluded to the planning and consultation process of projects of this kind which would usually take some time to complete.  The Committee Member queried the scale of such a project when compared to £8m apportioned to the creation of the extra care facility and queried as to what could be achieved with the money.  In reply the Committee was advised that the service was still considering ideas and it would be hoped that a partner organisation could be persuaded to invest money in order to jointly develop the site. 

 

Members raised concern regarding the level of contingency money available as a result of budget reductions to the Capital Programme.  Members were asked to note that in cases requiring emergency and vital repairs, money would have to be made available. 

 

Having considered the report the Committee subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the 2014/15 Capital Programme be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure that Members were aware of the position with regards to the 2014/15 Capital Programme relevant to this Scrutiny Committee.

 

 

644     UPDATE ON HOW THE COUNCIL IS MANAGING INCREASED DEMAND FOR FAMILY SUPPORT SERVICES (DSS) -

 

The Head of Children and Young People Services presented the report, the purpose of which was to update the Scrutiny Committee as to how the Council was meeting the challenges of increased demand for family support services. 

 

Attached at Appendix 1 to the report was the tiered model of services that was in place to guide the way in which resources were allocated and to help with the decision making of individual cases. 

 

Work to implement the model within Children and Young People Services and in partnership with other Directorates across the Council, the NHS, the Third Sector and the independent sector had produced significant results.  By ensuring a focus on early intervention and preventative action the service had been able to support families to stay together and to reduce the need for children to be looked after.  This had helped the service to manage demand for care and support at lower levels of intensity / intrusiveness.

 

There was a growing recognition that some of the difficulties which children and young people experience were as a consequence of factors affecting other members of the family.  Consensus had emerged that the best way to support families was through whole family services provided in an integrated way tailored to the needs of individual families. 

 

Most family support services were provided through the use of fixed-term grants from WG that required robust arrangements for partnership working between agencies.  The Head of Children and Young People Services talked through some of the funding programmes and schemes associated with Children’s Services. 

 

Families First funding was provided to Local Authorities to improve outcomes for children, young people and families.  A Families First Action Plan would set out how the programme would be implemented and would contribute towards nationally assessed outcomes.  The Families First in the Vale of Glamorgan programme currently provided funding for the following projects:

 

·         Families Achieving Change Together (FACT) Team

·         Raising awareness of welfare rights

·         Family support programme

·         Disability focus

·         Partnership for young parents

·         Putting families first

·         Young people support programme

·         Young carers

·         C-Card scheme

·         Family mentoring and volunteering.

 

It was noted that the critical success of the Families First programme was the "Team around the Family" approach, which had been used extensively across the UK with good evidence for positive outcomes. 

 

In deprived areas of Wales, Flying Start targeted Early Years programme for families with children under four years of age.  This programme was universally available to all eligible children and their families in the areas where the service runs.  The core elements of the programme included:

 

·         Free quality, part-time childcare for two-three year olds

·         An enhanced health visiting service

·         Access to parenting programmes

·         Early language development.

 

Members were advised that the Integrated Family Support Service (IFSS) helped families to stay together by encouraging them to take positive steps to improve their lives.  Referrals were made to the service when there were concerns about the welfare of children such as substance misuse, domestic violence or abuse, history of violent or abuse behaviour or mental health issues.

 

Families who experienced such difficulties may be at risk of having their children placed into care or having their names placed on the Child Protection Register.  The IFSS worked with families to help them make positive changes so that any concerns were lessened and children could safely remain at home.  It provided targeted support and helped connect Children’s and Adult Services, focusing on the family as a unit.

 

The Communities First programme provided funding to narrow the economic, education / skills and health gaps between the most deprived and more affluent areas.  There were three strategic objectives that helped to achieve these outcomes:

 

·         Prosperous communities

·         Learning communities

·         Healthier communities.

 

The Youth Engagement and Progression Framework aimed to reduce the number of young people at risk and not in education, employment or training (NEET).  This framework was based around six component elements that aimed to:

 

·         Identify young people most at risk of disengagement

·         Provide better brokerage and co-ordination of support

·         Provide stronger tracking and transition of young people through the system

·         Ensure provision meets the needs of young people

·         Strengthen employability skills and opportunities for employment

·         Provide greater accountability for better outcomes for young people.

 

A multi-agency management board was responsible for overseeing Flying Start and Families First and comprised of representatives from the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (UHB), the Vale Centre for Voluntary Services (VCVS), Learning and Skills and Children and Young People Services.

 

A 'Poverty Alignment Group’ had been tasked with looking at common features, joint working and closer alignment of project delivery and recently and the Head of Housing and Building Services had recently been given the title of 'Poverty Champion’.

 

It was critical to the success of the Council’s strategy that the overall range of services commissioned or delivered by the Council was responsive and flexible enough to meet varying levels of need and demand.  This meant avoiding long waiting lists or insufficient throughput within services.  It was nearly always the case that demand for family support exceeded supply and this was becoming even more apparent with growing levels of family poverty and breakdown.  Particular difficulties in managing demand for the FACT team had been noticed.

 

To some extent, this was a consequence of the team’s success in providing very good quality family support services that had produced a significant rise in the number of direct referrals.  It was also possible that reductions in other services and resources meant less preventative work was being done with families which had impacted upon referrals to FACT. 

 

Referrals to FACT were increasing

 

2013/14

Number of referrals

Quarter 1

80

Quarter 2

53

Quarter 3

71

Quarter 4

85

Full year total

289

 

 

2014/15

Number of referrals

Quarter 1

82

Quarter 2

82

Half year total

164

 

Members were advised that in response to the high levels of referrals, the team had been undertaking visits to all referring partners (including schools and Headteachers’ meetings) to raise awareness of what constituted an appropriate referral.  Alongside amendments of the referral form, these meetings with referring agencies had helped to improve the standard of referrals and enabled more appropriate allocation of FACT resources.  There was a very issue regarding the increasing complexity of referrals, requiring the FACT team to work at a higher threshold than WG had originally intended.  This was experienced on a national level across the whole of Wales and was not particular to the Vale.

 

The success of FACT was dependent upon whether the service improved the key issues identified at initial assessment, via the distance measured tools used by the team (JAFF scores and Outcome Star).  Due to the increasing complexity of issues within the families referred, members of FACT were working with families for longer.  There was an inherent challenge for the team in determining whether to close cases more quickly and not achieving positive changes or continue to work until the outcomes were achieved.  In summary, where statutory services focused on working with families to reduce risk, FACT were working on lowering risk as well as improving outcomes and emotional wellbeing for the whole family. 

 

The FACT team no longer held a waiting list, this was in order to ensure that referrers themselves did not stop working with families.  In recognising the move away from Tier 2 referrals where FACT should be focusing, the Families First Management Board had allocated resources to the development of a Resource Panel.  Where families were to be referred to FACT and assessed to be below the current threshold, they would be referred to the Resource Panel.   This would operate until March 2015 as a trial in order to:

 

·         Identify which partners could or should provide alternative support

·         Challenge partners to ensure they were supporting children and families in line with their statutory duties

·         Help inform planners where there were genuine gaps in provision for further consideration by the Families First Management Board.

 

In reference to the Families First Plan, Members had been advised that it was delivering 11 effective projects.  Since 2012/13, there had been an increase of 57% in the number of families benefiting from the Families First services with an increase of 80% in the number of children and young people. 

 

The report highlighted that Families First had worked closely with Communities First and Flying Start to ensure families received seamless and holistic services.  Across these partnerships some Families First were expanded through the secondment of Communities First staff that helped deliver the same family support models (Transitions and Putting Families First).  The Family Support Programme was managed by Flying Start as this project reflected a Flying start model of delivery into an area that was not yet eligible for Flying Start funding.  As a consequence, the Vale had been able to expand successful projects and increase the numbers of children, young people and families receiving a service.  This model of working, pioneered in the Vale of Glamorgan and joining up the three main poverty related grant programmes, was not being promoted at a national level.  Families First was making a significant contribution to the development of the Engagement and Progression Framework (EPF).  Much of this work was delivered in conjunction with the Youth Service and the current provision was being audited by the EPF.  Once identified, a key worker would be assigned and a referral to support systems made, again seeking to reduce the need for more intensive forms of provision.

 

From April 2013 to March 2014, a total of 367 young people categorised as NEET were positively engaged through Communities First, Vibe Experience, G2E, the Young Parents’ Partnership and the People Business Wales.

 

The Chairman expressed the view, alluding to the huge demand for services and the challenges around lack of resources and short term funding, that it may be preferable if all grant money was allocated as part of the Council’s Revenue Support Grant (RSG) and he also referred to the number of annual grants and the potential for duplication.  In response to this, the Head of Children and Young People Services stated that there was a need to agree closer working arrangements and better alignment between service providers and it was her view that this approach should be taken further, particularly in order to tackle the poverty agenda across the Council. 

 

A Committee Member queried as to how the allocation of grant monies could be rationalised.  The Director of Social Services advised that greater devolution of funding would be an asset.  Current Welsh Government (WG) guidelines around grant funding were aimed at tackling specific problems, thus it was not possible to transfer funding from one service area to another.  In his opinion, it would be useful if grant funding was part of the overall RSG and this would help better manage needs on a local level.  He also alluded to the disparity of some grant funding which, in some cases, could last seven to eight years and in some cases funding was not flexible enough.

 

In reference to exit strategies in relation to the ending of grant funding, the Committee was advised that in the example of the cessation of the funding for the Intermediate Care Fund, some Local Authorities had employed staff on long term contracts and were now faced with the prospect of considerable redundancy pay outs.  This was something that the Vale of Glamorgan had been able to avoid.

 

In response to a question regarding the pilot development of a resource panel, the Head of Children and Young People Services informed Members that the resource panel was seen as a way of intervening below the FACT threshold and supporting more effective engagement between agencies.  It would also provide an opportunity to address the quality of referrals in order to inform appropriate allocation of resources.   

 

Further to this, a Committee Member went on to query whether any good practice had been identified in other Local Authorities in order to make this process work more effectively.  The Committee was advised that no good practice examples had been identified elsewhere. 

 

Referring to the publication of the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation, a Committee Member queried whether the service was able to drill down into data at the Lower Super Output Area (LSOA) or was data available at more general geographical areas.  In reply, Members were informed that the service was able to provide both.  The service would be able to identify exactly where people came from and the service would use data as a way to identify where resources were best allocated. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the approach taken to provide appropriate levels of family support services in order to manage growing demand, especially within the service provided by the Families Achieving Change Together team, be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet in order to highlight concerns around the number of grant funding streams and the short term nature of funding.

 

(3)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee receives a further update report in six months’ time.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that Members are kept informed about service developments.

 

(2)       To raise awareness of the number of grant streams available and the short term funding arrangements.

 

(3)       To further apprise Members of developments within this important service area.

 

 

645     QUARTER 2 SOCIAL SERVICES PERFORMANCE REPORT 2014-15 (DSS) –

 

The Social Services performance results for Quarter 2, 1st July to 30th September 2014, were presented before the Committee for the purpose of consideration.

 

The Director of Social Services advised that the Service Plans were designed to focus on the achievement of key objectives within each directorate which, in turn, contributed towards the achievement of identified outcomes within the Corporate Plan 2013-17, the Outcome Agreement 2013-16 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2014-15.  Quarterly performance reports had been developed to reflect the Service Plans and designed to ensure that the Council reported performance in the context of progress against its objectives.

 

The service was well on track to achieve the objectives which contributed to its service outcomes, with 93% of actions currently either completed or on track to be completed.  Of the 14 Corporate Plan actions, 92% were either completed or on track to be completed, with one action reported as slipped (8%). 

 

In relation to the Improvement Objectives, there were nine actions which were either completed or on track to be completed. 

 

The one action relating to the Outcome Agreement was currently on track for completion.  There were nine measures relating to the Outcome Agreement, all of which were reported on a quarterly basis.  Of these, six had met or exceeded target and three had missed target by more than 10%. 

 

Of 67 performance indicators within the Service Plan, 49 had met or exceeded target, 11 were within 10% of target, six had missed target by more than 10%.  A Red, Amber, Green (RAG) status was not applicable to one Performance Indicator.

 

The indicators that had missed target related to:

 

·         OA3 - Rate per 1,000 population of over 65s who have had a UA assessment and the rate per 1,000 population of over 65s who have had an Occupational Therapist (OT) assessment.  The original target set against these two indicators had been based on incorrect data.  Revised targets of 42 and 33 respectively had been proposed for 2014/15 however this was still subject to negotiation with WG.

·         OA3 - Percentage of community supported clients receiving 20 hours or more care per week.  A performance of 17.90% was reported against a quarterly target of 25%.  Regular reviews of complex cases had resulted in reducing packages where possible and appropriate to do so.

·         SS/M003b - The average number of working days between initial enquiry and completion of the care plan, for non-specialist assessments.  A performance of 17.42% was reported against a target of 15%.  This performance reflected the significant increase in demand on the services.

·         SCC039 - The percentage of health assessments for Looked After Children due in the year that had been undertaken.  A performance of 51.18% was reported against a target of 70%.  This was a cumulative indicator so performance would increase as the year progressed, as indicated by the improvement from Quarter 1 to Quarter 2.

·         SCA007- The percentage of clients with a care plan at 31st March whose care plans should have been reviewed that were reviewed during the year.  A performance of 75.10% was reported against a target of 87%.  This performance was indicative of the increase in demand for services.  Priority had to be given to progressing new Integrated Assessments over reviewing established cases.

 

No exceptional performance was reported by the service for this quarter.

 

Slippage was reported in a number of actions:

 

·         A working group was currently looking at accommodation with care options for older people and reviewing current provision across Social Services and Housing, in order to ensure a range of options were available for those people requiring support [SS/A010 (CP/H2)].

·         Limited progress had been made in developing formal governance arrangements with the Council’s statutory partners for the Mental Health service, although a community review had now commenced (SS/A054).

 

A detailed report of the Directorate’s overall performance was provided at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

The Chairman asked for an update in respect of the dialogue with Welsh Government over amendments to two Indicators within the Outcome Agreement for which the target setting had been incorrectly calculated.  The Director of Social Services advised that negotiations with Welsh Government had been ongoing for at least three months and this issue would be raised further. 

 

In answer to a query regarding Outcome Agreement OA3 (the rate per 1,000 population of over 65s who have had a UA assessment), the Head of Adult Services clarified that the abbreviation UA stood for "Unified Assessments".  He also advised that the target setting for 2014/15 was lower than that achieved previously in 2013/14 as a result of changes to the demographic population.  He also advised that the number of assessments completed was predicted to be comparable to that achieved last year. 

 

On a similar note, in answer to a query regarding the rate of occupational therapy assessments completed for the over 65s, the Head of Adult Services advised that the target setting reflected the level of resources allocated to the Occupational Therapy service as part of the ICF and RCF grant monies. 

 

A Committee Member queried the value of targets, particularly when real demand was difficult to predict.  The Head of Adult Services commented that the targets were set as a way of challenging the service.  Some Performance Indicators were of greater value than others but certain Performance Indicators used in conjunction were a useful way of analysing data and assessing levels of expenditure. 

 

In querying as to why the service was not meeting its targets for health assessments for Looked After Children, the Committee was advised that this was a cumulative Indicator and that by the end of the year the target should be achieved. 

 

The Committee questioned the level of priority given to Performance Indicator SCA-007 (the percentage of clients with a care plan at 31st March whose care plans should have been reviewed that were reviewed during the year).  In reply the Head of Adult Services advised that this was a low priority given the other significant challenges currently being faced.  On its own, he questioned the value of this Indicator but considered that with other Performance Indicators this would tell a more complete story. 

 

The Head of Adult Services then provided Members with a very brief and rough approximation of the average cost of a care package.

 

A Member enquired whether new computer technology was making it easier for social workers to undertake their role.  In reply the Head of Adult Services stated that the answer was yes and no.   He summarised developments made to the SWIFT record management data system and to the introduction of a new integrated assessment form that would result in social workers spending more time using a personal computer.  The service had introduced tablet PCs to improve access to e-mail technology and made reference to the introduction of a new national record system.  He also went on to advise Members that many care management computer programmes were available and he highlighted a computer based budget information system used to provide a cost analysis of care packages.  However, he issued a word of caution as these could require a large amount of laborious data inputting.

 

As a final point of this discussion, the Head of Adult Services was able to take Members through the actual number of cases where there was a delay in their transfer of care and discharge from hospital.  Members were asked to note the following:

 

Month

Actual for 2013/14

Actual for 2014/15

April

10

4

May

15

7

June

6

3

July

4

6

August

10

4

September

12

5

 

The Director of Social Services felt that it was important to bring the actual figures to Members’ attention in order to show improved performance. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the service performance results and the remedial actions to be taken to address service underperformance be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T progress to date in achieving key outcomes as outlined in the Corporate Plan 2013-17, the Outcome Agreement 2013-16 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2014-15 be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T the report is referred to Cabinet and that Cabinet notes the Committee’s concern that the targets in OA3 have yet to be amended and are still based on incorrect data.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure the Council was effectively assessing its performance in line with the requirement to secure continuous improvement outlined in the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2009.

 

(2)       To consider the Quarter 2 Social Services performance results as at 30th September 2014 in order to identify service areas for improvement.

 

(3)       To ensure that the targets are accurate.

 

 

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