The Director of Social Services presented a copy of his Annual Report for 2014/15.  He stated that for the second year in a row, through a workshop, Members of the Committee had had the opportunity to have dialogue with officers and to raise any issues and recommend changes.  This was an approach that was welcomed.

The Annual Report gave the Director an opportunity to provide people in the Vale with a rounded picture of Social Services - based on evidence drawn from a wide range of sources such as what users and carers say, key performance indicators and measurements of progress against the overall goals of the Council.

The Report was written for a wide range of people, including service users and carers but also Elected Members, the Council’s own staff, and a range of partners and providers who helped deliver services.  It was used by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) as evidence for their annual evaluation of the Council and to guide their inspection programme in the Vale of Glamorgan.

In planning how the Director would deliver the services over the next four years, a Service Plan for the period 2014 - 2019 had been put in place which provided an overview of the Directorate’s improvement work.  Approved by Cabinet on 13th April, 2015 this outlined what the Directorate was trying to achieve; why this was important; how it would be achieved; how we would monitor progress and what success would look like.  The outcomes and priorities for 2015/16 contained in the Plan were a simple part of the Annual Report.  

The Director’s Annual Report was important for the people of the Vale of Glamorgan, Members of the Council and partners, both statutory and in other service sectors.  It outlined the current context within which Social Services were operating and detailed proposed priorities for improvement.  A Challenge Version of the Director’s Report was attached at Appendix 1.  

As in previous years, each Head of Service in the Directorate had also provided an Annual Report, including an assessment of how well each Division was doing in different service areas and priority objectives for improvement 2015/16.  These were attached at Appendices 2, 3 and 4.  They were published separately but at the same time as the Director’s Report.  All the reports represented the views of the Director and other managers in Social Services, they were not Council policy at this stage.  Social Services end of year performance information was attached at Appendix 5.  

Circulating the Challenge Version was intended to allow key stakeholders an opportunity to comment and make observations before the Report was finalised, ensuring that it accurately reflected the position of Social Services.  Attached at Appendix 6 was the Challenge Feedback Form.  

The Report was set within the context of:

  • increasing demand for health and support
  • managing the impact of the U.K. government’s austerity measures on public sector finances, which meant ongoing cuts to budgets for the foreseeable future
  • efforts to focus more of the Directorate’s work on supporting people to remain as independent as possible.

The priority objectives contained in the reports would be delivered within the financial constraints set by the Social Services Budget Programme, which was approved by Cabinet and reported regularly.  

The final reports would be presented to Cabinet for approval of the priority objectives and then circulated widely.  They would be made available via the Council’s website.

A Committee Member sought clarification around the drop in the number of visits by the Complaints Officer.  In response to this, Members were advised that the main reason for this was that mediation had allowed for quicker resolution of complaints.  Should members of the public not be content with the Directorate’s response, at any stage they were able to pass on their complaint to the Ombudsman.

With regard to implementation of the Welsh Government’s “More Than Just Words” initiative, the Head of Business Management and Innovation explained that the aim of this was to strengthen the use of the Welsh language among frontline health and social services.  She stated that the provision of Welsh was improving and that a lot of resources were available in Welsh should a person choose.  The service could respond in writing through Welsh and, as part of a person’s assessment, the service would ask a person’s preferred language.  This meant that the service knew exactly who its Welsh speakers were.  

In answer to a Member’s question regarding the promotion of services in Welsh, the Committee was informed that all leaflets and service information was available in Welsh.  Members were asked to note that the Family Information Service, for example, kept a record of all child-minders that were able to speak Welsh.

In response to a Member’s query regarding an update on Dementia resources, the Head of Adult Services advised that the Vale of Glamorgan was one of the lead Authorities within Wales in this area of work.  A post had been created within Rondell House in order to look at how services could be improved and the Directorate had been able to acquire funds from the European SPIDER Project which had been used to develop the service.  In addition, a Cardiff and Vale Dementia Task and Finish Group had been created to look at dementia services.

A Committee Member enquired as to the progress with regard to a query raised at the previous Committee meeting, around the number of health assessments completed for Looked After Children.  In response, the Committee was advised that comparative data for Cardiff Council and the Vale Council had been distributed to Members.  This had highlighted that the performance of both Authorities was below the Wales average.  In order to look into this issue further, the Head of Children and Young People’s Services stated that she would be meeting with colleagues from the Local Health Board.  

Having considered the reports the Committee


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

(2)    T H A T the Committee agrees with the improvement priorities for Social Services as set out in the Director’s Annual Report for 2014/15 - Challenge Version.

(3)    T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet for consideration.

Reason for recommendations

(1-3)    To provide Elected Members with an opportunity to contribute to the challenge process for the Director’s Annual Report 2014-15.”

Attached as Appendix – Report to Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 13th July, 2015