Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: County Hall, Worcester

Contact: Alyson Grice/Samantha Morris  Overview & Scrutiny Officers

No. Item


Apologies and Welcome


Apologies were received from Mr B Allbut, Mr R W Banks and Mrs R L Dent.



Declaration of Interest and of any Party Whip





Public Participation

Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Head of Legal and Democratic Services in writing or by e-mail indicating the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case 10 January 2019).  Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/e-mail address below.






Confirmation of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting

(previously circulated)



The Minutes of the Meeting held on 16 November 2018 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.




Budget Scrutiny: Draft 2019/20 Budget Children and Families pdf icon PDF 77 KB

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As part of the Council's development of the 2019/20 budget, the Overview and Scrutiny Panels and the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee had been asked to consider the 2019/20 draft budget, following a review of the 2018/19 budget position in November.  The Cabinet Members with Responsibility (CMR) for Children and Families, and Education and Skills, the Director of Children, Families and Communities and the Chief Financial Officer had been invited to attend.


By way of introduction, the Chief Financial Officer made the following main points:


·       The draft 2019/20 budget proposed a 3.99% increase in Council Tax Precept and overall there would be a £6.2 million net increase in cash.  However, the budget would also see pressures from inflation and levels of demand.  Diligence work and forecast modelling on demand for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and social care placements was ongoing.

·       Members were reminded that no figures were yet available for school capital allocations beyond 2019/20.

·       The Dedicated School Grant would be discussed by the Schools Forum in January and the outcome of these discussions would be reported to Cabinet.


The CMR for Education and Skills reminded the Panel that the budget for SEND included additional funding for staff and home to school transport.  This was the second year of the new funding formula which had provided an extra £10.2 million overall, which he considered to be a step in the right direction.


In the course of the discussion, the following main points were made:


·       In response to a question about whether the additional funding provided for the setting up of Worcestershire Children First (WCF) would be adequate, the Chief Financial Officer reminded Members that there was still a great deal of work to be done on the structure and financial needs of the new company.  The company was due to launch on 1 October 2019, therefore the 2019/20 budget included provision for 6 months.  Diligence work involving the Director of Children, Families and Communities, the Programme Team, the DfE and Mutual Venture would provide challenge and explore the experience of other authorities.  Members were reassured that the financial situation would be subject to rigorous checks.

·       As the service was improving, a question was asked about whether it was still necessary to set up a separate Company.  In response, the CMR for Education and Skills recognised that the Company was being set up as a result of  clear direction from the DfE.  He acknowledged that, as the service improved, questions may be asked about how long it would need to be in existence.  There were significant costs involved in setting up and running the company and he recognised that most Members would prefer to spend money on improving lives rather than on bureaucracy.  The Director of Children, Families and Communities reassured the Panel that Officers and Members would be detailed and thorough in scrutinising how the additional resource was spent as they would want it to have a direct impact on the lives of the County's children.  It  ...  view the full minutes text for item 351.


Performance Monitoring pdf icon PDF 74 KB

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The Chairman of the Panel had requested performance monitoring data for children's social care and the Panel had been provided with a data set for 2018/19 Q2.


The agenda item was introduced by the Service Manager for FFD and Partnerships.  In the course of the discussion, the following main points were made:


·       The Family Front Door (FFD) had seen an increase in the number of referrals.  However, the service was continuing to work on the correct application of thresholds to ensure the right referrals for the right children and there had been positive engagement in multi-agency strategy discussions.

·       A number of new permanent managers had been appointed and there had been an improvement in the timeliness and quality of assessments.  80% were now completed within 45 days.  In response to a question about why the number of assessments taking more than 45 days had increased from 13% to 19%, Members were informed that this covered a period which had seen a higher than usual level of staff holiday.

·       In response to a question about the impact of staff starting assessments and then leaving the Council, the Director of Children, Families and Communities reminded the Panel that a stable workforce was key.

·       A Member noted that the FFD had seen the largest number of referrals in July and 75% of these had been signposted to universal services.  He went on to question whether this indicated a problem with over-referral and asked whether training was available for schools to ensure appropriate referrals.  The Service Manager confirmed that analysis of the referrals received had revealed a feeling from schools that, if in doubt, they should refer.  This situation was getting better but she acknowledged that the service still received some inappropriate referrals.  She confirmed that the service was working with the Safeguarding Adviser – Education to build confidence in schools and schools were responding positively to this.

·       It was suggested that year on year figures would be helpful to allow the Panel to identify trends.

·       The Panel was advised that there was a reduction in the number of repeat child protection plans as a result of much clearer social work practice. 

·       It was confirmed that LAC were no longer included on the Child Protection Register.

·       With reference to Children in Need, a question was asked about how the figure of 49 per 10,000 compared with similar authorities.  Although the Service Manager did not have the figures to hand, she agreed to get back to Panel Members following the meeting.

·       The Panel was told that the Authority now employed 3 Missing Children Officers who undertook return interviews and compiled critical data about age groups, hot spots, and push and pull factors.  It was confirmed that the Council did not currently have any cases of young unaccompanied asylum seekers who had gone missing.  The Panel Chairman felt this was very positive and should be seen as real evidence of success.  The Service Manager welcomed the fact that more young people were willing to be engaged  ...  view the full minutes text for item 352.


Commissioning a Prevention and Early Intervention Service for Children and Young People pdf icon PDF 73 KB

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The Cabinet Members with Responsibility (CMR) for Health and Well-being, and Children and Families and the Director of Public Health had been invited to the meeting to update the Panel on the 13 December 2018 Cabinet decision in respect of Commissioning a Prevention and Early Intervention Service for Children and Young People.


In the course of the discussion, the following main points were made:


·       The Director of Public Health reminded Members that it had previously been expected that a new contract would run from April 2019.  As no bids had been received, a contract variation period had been arranged.

·       The service was provided in a rapidly changing environment in the context of the Ofsted inspection and service improvement plan, and the SEND inspection.

·       It was confirmed that services were mainly delivered by health visitors and school nurses and included level 1 services, such as parenting programmes.  Level 1 and 2 early help services were provided by 10:32 Barnado's in Wyre Forest, by Action for Children in south Worcestershire and by Redditch Borough Council in Redditch and Bromsgrove.  It was confirmed that regular quality assurance and monitoring via an integrated service dashboard ensured that there was service equivalence across the 3 providers.

·       In response to a question about the use of volunteers, Members were reminded that this related to the concept of community parenting and equipping people to help others by developing peer support networks.  There was solid evidence that peer support worked.

·       The parental support programme was a 12 week programme which provided practical support.

·       It was confirmed that the timetable for changes was predicated on reducing the risk of disruption, ensuring sufficient time for transition and no 'sharp edges'.  Members were reassured that there would be complete continuity with the previous specification.  It was confirmed that one of the drivers behind the move to an integrated service was to avoid duplication of service provision.

·       The Director of Public Health suggested that it would be helpful for her to attend a future Panel meeting to give a further update on service developments.

·       The representative from Healthwatch asked how the service intended to target specific hard to reach groups.  In response, Members were reminded that this was a universal service in the first instance with all families having access to health visitors and midwives antenatally.  This initial contact would allow professionals to identify levels of risk.

·       A Member from outside the Panel suggested that by calling this the 'early intervention service' it had a very similar name to social care 'early help' and this created potential for confusion.


It was agreed that a further update would be brought to a future meeting of the Panel.




Work Programme 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 73 KB

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This item was not discussed.