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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 28 November, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Childrens Services

 

Establishing the Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative

Purpose of the Report

1.         To provide an update to Cabinet on the decisions needed to establish the Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative.

2.         To seek approval to establish the Vale, Valleys, and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative as outlined in this report (and to refer matters as appropriate to Council).

3.         To seek authorisation to implement the business and service delivery model for the Collaborative and to undertake further consultation with the recognised trade unions and staff to implement the proposed service delivery model.

4.         To seek approval to establish and recruit to the posts of the Regional Adoption Manager and the Business Support Manager for the Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative.

5.         To seek approval to the Vale of Glamorgan Council acting as the host authority for the Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative.

Recommendations

That Cabinet:

 

1.         That Cabinet approves (and recommends to Council for approval) the business case, service delivery model and implementation plan, subject to further consultation with the trade unions and staff, for establishing the Vale, Valleys, and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative based on the model set out and described in Appendix 1, with governance arrangements based on a Joint Committee model.

2.         That Cabinet approves the Vale of Glamorgan Council as the host (employing) authority for the Vale, Valleys, and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative.

3.         That Cabinet agrees that the post(s) of the Regional Adoption Manager and Business Support Manager are established and advertised by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

4.         That a further update report be brought to Cabinet following conclusion of the consultation with affected staff and trade unions detailing any substantial changes to the resource, employment, and legal implications set out in this report.

5.         That in considering this matter, Cabinet considers the views of the Scrutiny Committees and recognised trade unions and the Council’s duties under the Equality Act 2010 and the Equalities Impact Assessment attached as Appendix 2.

6.         That delegated authority be given to the Head of Legal Services in consultation with the Managing Director, the Director of Social Services and the Cabinet Member for Social Services to agree and finalise a Partnership Agreement covering the matters set out in the body of this report, and to authorise signature of the Partnership Agreement by the Head of Legal Services.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To enable the Regional Collaborative to be established on an agreed basis in terms of cost, funding, income, savings, service level, structure and timing (of) and implementation of the Regional Collaborative to enable the creation of the shared service with appropriate governance mechanisms.

2.         To enable the efficient and effective administration of the service in line with the Joint Committee governance model.

3.         To enable the Regional Collaborative to be established in line with the timescales set out in this report and associated appendices and for the appointment of the Regional Adoption Manager and Business Support Manager to be undertaken.

4.         To ensure that Cabinet continues to exercise effective oversight of this key function.

5.         To consider the views of the Scrutiny Committees and recognised trade unions.

6.         To enable completion of the final version of the Partnership Agreement.

 

Background

6.         Cabinet will be aware of the proposals for establishing the Vale, Valleys & Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative which were contained in the reports of the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services on 18 November 2013 and the 14 July 2014.  The recommendations of these reports were resolved by the Cabinets in Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil to allow for the development of the Regional Adoption Collaborative. The Vale of Glamorgan Cabinet did not make the recommendation in relation to the appointment of the Regional Adoption Manager and made an in principle decision to the Vale of Glamorgan acting as host local authority.

7.         Since the date of the last Cabinet Report and the decision of the Executive, plans to progress the National Adoption Service on a national and regional level have continued.  The structure for the National Service is attached at Appendix 3.  As the host authority for the central elements of the National Service, Cardiff has worked with the WLGA to establish a national tier of the service with the appointment of the Director of Operations and other key personnel.  The National Adoption Advisory Group has been established.  The National Adoption Service was formally launched at the Senedd in Cardiff on the 5th November during National Adoption Week.

8.         It is Welsh Government’s expectation and a commitment by local government that all five Regional Collaboratives which will form part of the National Adoption Service in Wales are to become operational in 2014.  The other four Regional Collaboratives are either operational already or will achieve this aim within the agreed timetable.  In order to ensure the long term sustainability of the National Service and as part of implementing the Social Services & Well-Being Act (Wales) Act 2014, Welsh Government officers are in the process of drafting legislative powers pursuant to the Act which will require local authorities to collaborate in relation to the provision of their adoption services.  These new powers will be subject of a consultation process.

9.         Within this Regional Collaborative, considerable work has been undertaken to progress plans to develop the collaboration, a business case and a service delivery model.  The Project Development Officer has continued to oversee the development of the implementation plan.  A number of technical groups with representation from each of the four local authorities have continued to agree issues in respect of financial, human resources (HR), legal and IT and information governance matters.  The technical groups have provided detailed information and advice at the request of the Steering Group in overseeing the development of the Collaborative.

10.      Joint working arrangements in respect of training of prospective adopters and the sharing of assessments of prospective adopters and the resources available in respect of placements for children have been developed across the region.  Plans are also in place to establish a Regional Adoption Panel which will operate from locations north and south of the regional area.  Expressions of interest have been invited from members of the existing Adoption Panels to join a central list of Panel members to support the new Regional Panels.

11.      Work is continuing in relation to the development of procedures and protocols with local authorities to underpin the work of the Regional Collaborative.  National Performance Indicators in respect of the provision for adoption services have been published by Welsh Government and, with effect from April 2014, all Regional Collaboratives have been required to report upon their performance as measured against the National Performance Indicators.  Systems have been developed at a local level to capture the data and report as required on a quarterly basis.  The Vale of Glamorgan has responsibility for uploading the regional data onto the national database and the Collaborative has fully complied with the reporting requirements in a timely manner.

Relevant Issues and Options

12.      This report sets out the results of the detailed work undertaken by the Councils to date on developing proposals for the Regional Collaborative.  The business case which supports the implementation of the Regional Collaborative and which contains the proposed service delivery model can be found at Appendix 4.  The key issues are summarised below.

13.      The policy and legislative background in respect of the development of the Regional Collaboratives sets a very clear agenda for change, as detailed in earlier reports considered by the Executive.  In the business case, Welsh Government’s expectations for the establishment and operation of all Regional Adoption Collaboratives in 2014 are considered in line with legislation which makes provision for joint arrangements in relation to an Authority’s adoption service.  Welsh Ministers currently may only direct two or more local authorities to enter into specified arrangements for the provision of their adoption but, before giving a direction under this section, they must consult the local authorities to which it is to be given.

14.      The anticipated timescale has presented a challenge in terms of developing an agreed service delivery model across the four authorities which best delivers the aims of the Collaborative in delivering an integrated, comprehensive service which will promote service priorities and ensure performance measures are met.  A number of proposed service delivery models were considered as set out in the business case.

15.      It is proposed that the current model of delivering adoption services across the four local authority areas involved in this Regional Collaborative will change from four generic teams to services being provided by three co-located specialist teams. It is envisaged that the specialist focus will improve service delivery and outcomes, particularly in respect of the recruitment and assessment of adopters and increase placement opportunities for children requiring adoptive placements.  It will also ensure that, through the creation of a specialist team specifically for adoption support services, this function will be afforded the same priority as other service areas.

16.      Reorganising teams and amalgamating staff in one location may result initially in short term disruption to service delivery.  However, it is intended that staff will retain their own caseload upon transfer to the host authority until the reorganisation takes place.  We believe that the immediate impact upon service delivery will be outweighed by longer term benefits and efficiencies as a result of collaborative working.

17.      The proposed service delivery model and staffing structure in respect of the Collaborative has formed part of the consultation process and was based upon a detailed analysis of the service needs over a period of three years and likely projected future service needs.  A summary of the relevant data is contained in the business case.  The Regional Collaborative will be enhanced by the creation of two new posts, the Regional Adoption Manager and Business Support Manager. The ability to recruit to these posts will be a key milestone in establishing the Collaborative and the proposed transfer of staff.  This is reflected elsewhere in other Collaboratives in Wales which have already established similar regional management arrangements.

18.      In deciding the number and type of posts required (both at a managerial and practitioner level), the need to streamline the number of managerial posts within the new structure was considered.  It was recognised that practitioners working in adoption generally have more experience than newly qualified practitioners and so they need less supervisory oversight.  The proposed structure does not retain the Senior Practitioner posts which currently exist in two authorities; however, only two of these individuals are ‘in scope’ for transfer.  The rationale for this is outlined in detail in the business case but is derived from a lack of uniformity in the role across the four authorities and the potential for duplication with other roles within the structure.

19.      The proposed structure of the business support staff reflects the anticipated workload to be generated by the Collaborative and having regard to economies of scale resulting from co-location.

20.      The financial and budgetary implications of the new service along with the proposals for premises, IT requirements and governance arrangements are set out in the business case.  These requirements can be achieved within budget.

21.      The key milestones to be achieved in implementing the Collaborative, including the steps which have been achieved to date, are detailed in the business case.  The timescales proposed to ensure that the essential elements of the Collaborative are operational remain challenging.  The commitment to ongoing consultation with staff and recognised trade unions throughout this process will mitigate against some of the risks, along with robust joint working and decision making arrangements between the partner authorities.

 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

22.      There will be one off implementation costs to cover the procurement of new IT and communications equipment, relocation, marketing and other peripheral costs.  These are projected to total £38,000.  It is intended to fund these initial costs from grant monies made available by Welsh Government to implement the new legislation.  These costs have been apportioned to authorities as follows:

 

Cardiff (37.1%)

£000

RCT

 (34.8%)

£000

Merthyr (11.5%)

£000

VOGC (16.6%)

£000

TOTAL

 

£000

One off Costs

14

13

5

6

38

 

23.      Each local authority’s existing budgets and expenditure have been reviewed and an indicative budget for the first year of operation has been established.  Contributions to be made by each authority to the Collaborative have been projected.  Overall, the budget has been set to provide an initial level of saving in the service of £19k.  However, it is anticipated that further efficiency savings will be made once the Collaborative is operational. 

24.      It is considered that this collaboration can provide an improved level of service for users, will be a more efficient and resilient service, while achieving an overall level of savings and will aim to reduce the overall LAC population across the region.

25.      Certain areas of expenditure will not be included in the budget to be transferred for the first year (e.g. adoption allowances, adoption support and agency fees).  While these payments will be administered by the Collaborative, they will be directly recharged to the responsible authority until standardised policies for their payment are put in place and further work is undertaken on developing a formula for their recharge.

26.      The initial proposed budget and contributions from authorities is as follows:

Costs

TOTAL

Cardiff

Merthyr

RCT

VOG

 

£000

%

£000

%

£000

%

£000

%

£000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staff

1,010

37.1

375

11.5

116

34.8

351

16.6

168

Other Staff

37

37.1

14

11.5

4

34.8

13

16.6

6

Commissioning

46

37.1

17

11.5

5

34.8

16

16.6

8

Running

117

37.1

43

11.5

14

34.8

41

16.6

19

Panel

30

37.9

11

10.2

3

44.6

14

7.3

2

Hosting

30

37.1

11

11.5

4

34.8

10

16.6

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annual Cost

1,270

 

471

 

146

 

445

 

208

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current Budget

1,289

 

472

 

154

 

454

 

209

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over/(Under) Current Budget

(19)

 

(1)

 

(8)

 

(9)

 

(1)

 

27.      The proposed accommodation for the Collaborative at Ty Pennant, Pontypridd has been costed and leasing arrangements will be agreed via the respective Estates Department of the Vale of Glamorgan and Rhondda Cynon Taf.

28.      The IT requirements of the Collaborative and the provision of support to an offsite office location by the Vale of Glamorgan Council have been scoped and costed and are included in the proposed budgets previously shown.

29.      The Human Resources (HR) and Employment Law Technical Group has considered all staff transfer options and it is agreed that the principles of TUPE apply.  Staff and recognised trade unions have been advised of this as part of the consultation process.

30.      Work has been undertaken to determine contractual terms and conditions and differences which may apply. HR representatives have also identified those staff in scope for transfer.   It is acknowledged that there will be a change of staff location for some.  Terms and conditions will be maintained on the whole.  Some staff may see some changes to existing work arrangements due to operational or organisational issues.  For example, some payroll dates may change.  Such matters will be considered as part of the ongoing consultation with staff. 

31.      The staff consultation process began on 20 August 2014 following discussions with the recognised trade unions.  All affected staff have received written correspondence informing them of the process.  Consultation meetings for all staff in scope for transfer to the Collaborative were held during the week commencing 13 October 2014 in each of the authorities and are planned again for the first week in December 2014.  Trade union representatives have been involved in these meetings.

32.      The new posts of Regional Adoption Manager and Business Support Manager are key to the establishment of the Collaborative and it is envisaged that these posts will be recruited to via a competitive process ring-fenced initially to the four local authority areas.  Other management posts will be appointed via a matching process.

33.      The transfer date for staff will take effect after the appointment of the Regional Adoption Manager, enabling the Collaborative to become fully operational.  As part of the consultation process, staff have been asked to indicate a preference for a particular specialist team and these will be considered as part of the selection process for the teams.  It is anticipated that there will be no surplus staff in the restructure and that recruitment of new staff will be required.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

34.      There are no direct sustainability or climate change implications as a result of this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

Proposed Collaborative Model

35.      Following implementation of s.170 Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, which inserts a new s.3A into the Children and Adoption Act 2002, Welsh Ministers may direct two or more local authorities in Wales to enter into specified arrangements with each other in relation to the provision of specified services maintained under s.3 (1) of the Children and Adoption Act 2002.  Before giving a direction under this section, the Welsh Ministers must consult the local authorities to which it is to be given.  ‘Specified arrangements’ under s.3 (1) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 include (among other things) arrangements as set out in s.170 (3) (a)-(h) of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, and includes arrangements as to the establishment and operation of a panel to make recommendations as to whether a child should be placed for adoption; whether a prospective adopter for adoption with a particular prospective adopter.

36.      Whenever Councils consider working together, a decision will be required as to the collaboration model to be adopted.  In determining the collaborative model to be used, it is important that the decision is based on a detailed analysis of the costs, benefits and other implications of adopting the model proposed and comparison with other options available in respect of delivering the services concerned.  The body of  the report and the appendices attached set out the detail of the analysis undertaken, leading to the recommendation that a Regional Adoption Collaborative be established for the four local authorities based on the Joint Committee model.

37.      The Joint Committee model provides that the Council would delegate some of its functions relating to the provision of adoption services.  The Joint Committee has no separate legal identity and so cannot own property or enter into contracts in its own right.  It is proposed that one Authority, the Vale of Glamorgan Council, will act as host authority and take responsibility for employment of staff directly affected, enter any third party contracts required and provide all support services required.

38.      If it is agreed to proceed with the proposal, it will be necessary for the Authorities to conclude a formal agreement, referred to as a ‘Partnership Agreement’.  This agreement will set out amongst other things:

·           The extent of the matters to be delegated to the Joint Committee, and any delegations to officers in the shared service;

·           The constitutional basis of the joint committee and its terms of reference;

·           The terms of reference and membership of the Management and Executive Boards;

·           The termination and exit provisions;

·           The structure of the Regional Collaborative, staffing proposals and pensions;

·           As to the apportionment of costs, and what indemnities the Host Authority would seek from the other authorities in respect of carrying out its role;

·           The financial management arrangements;

·           Contain provision to address matters such as disputes, variations, data protection and freedom of information.

Legal Powers

39.      There are a number of legal powers available to the Councils to facilitate the proposed collaborative and creation of the Joint Committee.  These powers include Sections 101, 111 and s.113 of the Local Government Act 1972; s.2 and s.19 of the Local Government Act 2000; s.9 of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 and s.1 of the Local Authority (Goods and Services) Act 1970.  These powers include the ability to delegate functions, the ability for two or more authorities to discharge any of their functions jointly, and where this occurs, to do so via a Joint Committee, and/or by their ability to supply administrative professional and technical services.

Employment Law Implications

40.      The proposals raise employment implications for staff, including staff that support the service concerned.  This requires a continued communication and engagement strategy with staff and the recognised trade unions, which has commenced and is ongoing across the four local authorities.  The proposals will involve the initial transfer of employees to the host employer, the Vale of Glamorgan Council, in accordance with the principles of TUPE.

Crime and Disorder Implications

41.      There are no specific crime and disorder implications associated with this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

42.      In considering this matter the decision maker must have regard to the Council’s duties under the Equality Act 2010.  Pursuant to these legal duties Councils must, in making decisions, have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination; advance equality of opportunity and; foster good relations on the basis of protected characteristics.

43.      The equalities implications are set out in the Equality Impact Assessment appended to the report. It is envisaged that the Collaborative will promote equal opportunity for prospective adopters and those requiring support service by ensuring consistency of response and approach.  The Collaborative will also increase placement opportunity and choice for children requiring adoptive placements.

Corporate/Service Objectives

44.      Children and young people are engaged and supported to take full advantage of life opportunities in their community and beyond - Corporate Plan Outcome 2013/17.

45.      The provision of a quality Adoption Service meets the outcomes expressed in the Social Services Directorate Service Plan 2013/17.

46.      To provide children and young people with a clearly planned journey through care and to achieve permanence wherever appropriate to do so is a key principle underpinning the Council's Children and Young People Services Commissioning Strategy 2013/18.

Policy Framework and Budget

47.      Work has commenced to review and revise existing policies and procedures to incorporate the impact of delivering adoption services at a local, regional and national level.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

48.      This report has been subject to consultation with staff and recognised trade unions.  In accordance with each respective local authority’s collective agreements, consultation with their respective trade unions has started and is expected to continue throughout the project.  There has also been staff consultation and engagement as detailed above and this is also expected to continue throughout the project.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

49.      Social Care and Health.

Background Papers

Appendix 1    Service Delivery Model

Appendix 2   Equality Impact Assessment

Appendix 3   Structure of the National Adoption Service

Appendix 4   Business Case October 2014

 

Contact Officer

Rachel Evans, Head of Children and Young People Services

 

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team.

 

Responsible Officer:

Phil Evans, Director of Social Services

 

 

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