The report detailed proposed targets for improvement for 2015-16 for all Performance Indicators reported by Social Services.


Through the national performance improvement framework, the Council had an obligation to collect, monitor and report on a number of Performance Indicators as set by the Welsh Government to measure their shared priorities with local authorities, these being National Statutory Indicators (NSIs) and Public Accountability Measures (PAMs). The Council also reported against a set of local Performance Indicators which it had developed to help measure progress against its local priorities. 


All measures would be reviewed annually to ensure that these reflected changes in national policy, and remained responsive to local priorities.  It would also ensure residents, Elected Members and senior officers could scrutinise key areas of Council performance throughout the year.  The Council’s approach to target setting was set out within the Target Setting template as outlined at Appendix 1 to the report.


Outlined in Appendix 2 to the report was a full suite of Performance Indicators that would continue to be collected and reported on during 2015/16.  Against each Indicator a target had been set and a rationale had been provided to explain why the target had been set and that level. Where possible, any internal / external factors that had driven this decision to set the target at that level had also been provided. 


The review process also presented an opportunity to identify whether existing Performance Indicators were still appropriate and relevant for reflecting priorities for service delivery.  Having reviewed these, the Directorate had proposed no deletion or addition of new Indicators for 2015-16.  In total, of the 89 Indicators, for 81 of these it had been possible to set a target and direction of travel. 


The Chairman in referring to performance indicator SCC007a (The percentage of referrals during the year that were allocated to a social worker for initial assessment) queried the rationale behind the reduction in target which seemed to indicate that the service appeared to be under resourced.  In response, the Head of Children and Young People Services stated that the target set was challenging and realistic. Specifically, this indicator referred more to the front door part of the service and in particular to the initial assessment stage and did not relate to child protection issues.  If there were concerns around child protection, these would be allocated to a social worker immediately.  She stated that in the Vale the service had judged that the practice adopted of utilising experienced Social Care Officers was appropriate.  Furthermore, Members were asked to note something that had previously been raised by Mr. Evans from the Care Council for Wales, regarding how the front end of the service was staffed and the level of qualifications for social care staff.  She assured Members that robust monitoring and quality assurance processes were in place and that all decisions were signed off by an experienced social work practitioner. 


Further to this, a Committee Member queried as to what the service was doing in respect of ensuring staff were appropriately qualified and why other local authorities had not adopted the same process.  In response to this, Members were advised that there were a number of staff members who had progressed and qualified to become a social worker but there was always a place for experienced staff who wanted to continue working at the Social Care Officer level.  The Director of Social Services stated that it would remiss of this service not to make best use of these staff.  He mentioned, that given the choice between a newly qualified social worker or a staff member with considerable experience and proven skills, most individuals might well choose the latter.  He also mentioned that the support and supervision available to these staff was reassuring and that it was important to ensure that the number of qualified social workers within the service were used to best effect.  Members requested that a further report on this issue be presented in due course.


In querying performance indicator SCC037 (The average external qualification point score for 16 year old Looked After Children, in any local authority maintained learning setting) the Committee noted that previous year’s exceptional performance was primarily as a result of one individual and this indicator could be affected by the small size of the cohort. 


A Committee Member enquired as to who would carry out health assessments for Looked after Children.  In response, Members were advised that health professionals would undertake the assessments. They were also advised there had been a reduction in the number of LAC Nurses employed by the University Health Board.  The Committee questioned the level of influence that the Authority could have in relation of this indicator as most of the resources required would come from the University Health Board.  The Committee requested comparative data for Cardiff to be circulated to Members to highlight if this was an issue for the Local Health Board to address. 


At this point, the Director of Social Services advised the Committee that some of the data and performance indicators in relation to Looked after Children were about portraying a picture at the national level  as opposed to monitoring local performance. 


A Committee Member sought clarification as to when would the new key performance indicators come out.  In response, the Director of Social Services stated that a technical group was looking at a national outcome framework and that this was still ongoing. 


In referring to the undertaking of Unified Assessments, a Committee Member queried if these could be carried out during a client visit.  In response, the Head of Adult Services stated that this was something that the service was currently doing and social workers were encouraged to do.  All social workers had been allocated a tablet computer but there was an issue of connectivity, which would be remedied by new IT systems.  He also stated that a number of social workers did not want IT to interfere during a personal visit but he stated that this was the way the service was heading.  He alluded to the use of on-line assessments for individuals and the potential costs around IT training and the integration of the new equipment.


RECOMMENDED - T H A T the proposed targets for improvement for 2015/16 for all performance indicators reported by Social Services be agreed and to be referred to Cabinet.

Reason for recommendation


To inform Cabinet and to ensure that the Council is consistently setting challenging yet realistic performance improvement targets for its priorities in line with requirements under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.”


Attached as Appendix – Report to Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 15th June, 2015