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 Mrs P Agar and Mr B Clayton.


Declaration of Interest and of any Party Whip




Public Participation

Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Assistant Director for Legal and Governance 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 22 January 2020).  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 13 November 2019 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Budget Scrutiny: In-Year Performance and Draft 2020/21 Budget and Medium Term Financial Plan Update 2020-22 for Children And Families pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Additional documents:


The Cabinet Members with Responsibility for Children and Families, and Education and Skills had been invited to the meeting to present the Council’s draft budget for 2020/21.  The Director of Children’s Services & Chief Executive of Worcestershire Children First (WCF), the County Council’s Chief Financial Officer and WCF’s Director of Resources were also in attendance.


The Panel’s views would contribute to Overview and Scrutiny’s overall response to the budget which was being coordinated by the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board (OSPB).


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


·       As part of the Agenda for the meeting, Members had been given budget figures published for December Cabinet.  Updated figures had now been published ahead of January Cabinet.

·       Comments from this meeting would be considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board on 29 January 2020.

·       Although there had been a significant increase in Government funding, this was still seen as one-off funding (although some had been in place for 3 or 4 years) and therefore had not been included in the base budget.

·       The provisional settlement had been slightly better than forecast.

·       The High Needs Block of the Dedicated Schools Grant was still not at the level of in-year spend and the additional funding from Government (£8.7m) had not been included in the base budget.

·       Reserves included an allocation for unforeseen events.

·       It was proposed to increase council tax by 3.99%.  Even with this increase, council tax would be one of the lowest in comparable authorities.

·       The County Council would continue to face financial pressures in the coming years.


Members were given an opportunity to ask questions and the following main points were raised:


·       It was confirmed that the budget for positive activities was now held by public health as part of the Public Health Ring-Fenced Grant (PHRFG).  The Director of Children’s Services confirmed that £400k per year had been spent on positive activities for the last few years and this would still be the case for 2020/21.  The Director of Public Health was now embarking on the re-commissioning of contracts with the aim of bringing positive activities into the 0-19 arrangements.  The Director of Children’s Services was currently in discussion with the Director of Public Health to look at the potential to put more money into the service.  However, there was no agreement to date.

·       The Panel considered savings applied to the 2020/21 budget for WCF.  In response to a question about savings from the Post-16 Home to School Transport budget, Members were informed that the price of the Severn card was being reviewed with the potential for charges to be increased.  This review would include benchmarking with the aim of bringing charges up to the level of other local authorities after three years of no change.

·       It was confirmed that savings from Housing Support Contracts would be as a result of re-commissioning.

·       It was confirmed that a review of eligibility for Home to School Transport would be undertaken and the service would also be looking  ...  view the full minutes text for item 417.


Review of Delivery Model for Medical Education Provision pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Additional documents:


The Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Education and Skills and the Director of Education and Early Help had been invited to the meeting to update the Panel on the review of the delivery model for medical education provision ahead of the discussion at Cabinet on 30 January 2020.  The Regional Manager (Babcock Prime) was also in attendance.


By way of introduction, the Cabinet Member referred the Panel to the recommendations included in the Cabinet report and highlighted that this was the start of a more formal process of service redesign.  Over the three years that he had been Cabinet Member there had been ongoing discussions on the need for a review of medical education provision and this work was now ready to be taken forward.


The Director of Education and Early Help acknowledged that this report had been due to come to an earlier Cabinet meeting but had been delayed.  She thanked Members for their patience and informed the Panel that the service was now in a good position to take this forward.  The service was part of a continuum of provision for vulnerable learners, in this case those experiencing health difficulties (both physical and mental).  The past 18 months had seen a period of review and officers were now in a position to formalise the approach to redesign.


Members were given an opportunity to ask questions and the following main points were raised:


·       It was noted that pupils would be provided with support as soon as it was clear that they would be away from school for 15 days or more, whether consecutive or cumulative.  The period over which the 15 days would be measured would depend on the individual student and the nature of their illness.  Some schools may choose to make their own arrangements and the service aimed to offer a flexible model.

·       A question was asked about how students in Years 10 and 11 were able to access the appropriate exam board to ensure continuity with their school experience.  Members were informed that the service aimed to work with teachers and schools to ensure continuity, with the aim of not losing sight of a student’s host school.  Improvements in this area were currently being looked at.

·       In response to a Member’s question, it was confirmed that students accessing medical education provision as a result of mental health issues were not given priority for CAMHS.  Members were reminded that schools had seen growing levels of anxiety and self-harm amongst pupils, and it could be difficult for them to provide sufficient support.  The Director of Education and Early Help informed the Panel that she aimed to set up a CAMHS steering group to include the Clinical Commissioning Groups (as commissioners) and the Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust (as provider).  The Chairman also reminded Members that a Scrutiny Task Group was being set up to look at CAMHS.  Reference was also made to the recently published Care Quality Commission report into CAMHS which had judged CAMHS in Worcestershire  ...  view the full minutes text for item 418.


aWork Programme 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Additional documents:


The Panel reviewed its work programme for 2019/20 and the following points were noted:


·       The Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Children and Families suggested that the scrutiny task group looking at CAMHS may wish to consider access to CAMHS for children in care.  The Panel Chairman confirmed that the task group would aim to take evidence from around the county with the Children in Care Council and the Youth Council keen to give evidence.

·       Consideration of Worcestershire children who have been placed out-of-county in unregistered children’s homes would be part of the discussion on placements and sufficiency work.

·       Optimising the use of Children’s Centres would be considered as part of the re-commissioning of the 0-19 Prevention and Early Intervention Service.