Agenda and minutes

Adults and Safer City Scrutiny Panel - Tuesday, 12th November, 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 3 - 3rd Floor - Civic Centre

Contact: Earl Piggott Smith  01902 551251 email:

No. Item




Apologies were received from the following members of the panel:


Cllr John Rowley

Cllr Rupinderjit Kaur

Cllr Linda Leach – Cabinet Member for Adult


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest recorded.


Minutes of previous meeting (16 October 2019) pdf icon PDF 463 KB

[To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record]


That the minutes of the meeting held on 6 October 2019 were approved and signed by the Chair as a correct record.


Matters arising


Minute 5 – Adult Social Care Annual Report: The Local Account 2018-19


The panel queried the response to concerns about the lack of data about LGBT+ people in the report and the importance of including qualitative and quantitative data to show awareness and sensitivity to the issue. David Watts, Director of Adult Services, responded that the service had considered the previous comments and referred to national guidance about what information should be included in the annual report. The Council is required nationally to try and collect data sexuality and gender of employees but there is no requirement to provide this information. The Director of Adult Services advised that the Council is following Government guidance which has set the 40 per cent response rate. 


The panel commented that while a figure of 40 per cent survey return is considered to provide a statistically robust data, there was still value to be gained from analysing all survey responses and to include a reference to it in the annual report.


The Director of Adult Services advised the panel that following the previous discussion on the issue it has been agreed to make changes to the report and to proactively offer support to social workers to have a conversation about the issues. The work is being supported by Communications Team who are preparing promotional material.


The panel referred to a recent presentation by Dr Michael Brady (National Adviser for LGBT+ Health), who highlighted the importance of collecting and using data about the quality of services to LGBT+ community and the need to better understand the issues when commissioning services. The panel commented on the difficulties and challenges facing people wanting help or support and considered that more work was needed to encourage more people from the LGBT+ community to complete survey forms.





Draft Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2020-2021 to 2023-2024 pdf icon PDF 289 KB

[James Barlow, Finance Business Partner, to present report]

Additional documents:


The Finance Business Partner (Corporate) presented the budget report and explained the changes made to the content in response to feedback during the consultation period.  The Panel were invited to comment on the budget proposals relevant to its remit. The Panel were advised that comments on the proposals would be added to a report to be considered by Scrutiny Board before being presented to Cabinet.


The Finance Business Partner advised the Panel that an extra £6.2 million had been added to the adult social care budget to address budget pressures. The Director of Adult Services outlined the range of budget pressures and challenges that the service had faced, such as meeting the commitment to the National Living Wage, which had proven to be more difficult to achieve than originally expected.


The Director of Adult Services commented on the five core principles that supported the workstreams aimed at supporting the achievement of the priorities detailed in the Our Council Plan 2019-24, which related to adult social care.  The Director of Adult Services added that he wanted to avoid following a ‘salami slicing’ approach to meeting savings targets and instead the focus had been on introducing different models for transforming the service.  The changes were aimed at achieving a better balance between the quality of service offered and meeting budget savings targets.  The following were given as examples, Transforming Adult Social Care Programme, the Better Care Programme and work done as part of Sustainable Transformation Programme (STP), which is a partnership of health and care services working across the Black Country.


The Panel were advised that the STP was looking at delivering more cost-effective joint commissioning of services, which sometimes were better done at a Black Country level rather than each authority providing their own local service, which could be difficult and also more costly due to the small numbers.


The Panel queried the lack of detail in the proposed restructure of the Commissioning Team and would have liked to have seen information about the current and proposed new structure to allow more informed comment.  The Director of Adult Services advised that details about the changes to the structure were currently part of discussions with employees and trade unions, so he was not able to comment in a public meeting or provide more details in the report at the current stage.  The Panel queried the expected impact on the service of meeting the savings target of £300,000 and whether this would involve the deletion of specific posts. The Director of Adult Services advised that no decision had been made yet and some of the savings could be achieved through the process of voluntary redundancies and the deletion of vacant posts to achieve the savings target.


The Panel queried the reference to the core principals and specifically the idea of unlocking capacity within communities to provide an effective and supportive environment.  The Panel were concerned about the reduced capacity with the voluntary sector due to previous funding reductions and the extent to which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Wolverhampton Multi-Agency Safeguarding Arrangements ( presentation to follow) pdf icon PDF 256 KB

[Dawn Williams, Head of Safeguarding, to present report]



Dawn Williams, Head of Safeguarding, gave a PowerPoint presentation on plans to abolish Wolverhampton Safeguarding Board and replace it with a new organisation Wolverhampton Safeguarding Together. The Head of Safeguarding advised the panel that this would be final time that the annual safeguarding board report would be presented in the format detailed in Agenda item. The Head of Safeguarding outlined the original aims behind the setting up of Safeguarding Boards. The Head of Safeguarding outlined the reasons highlighted during a review about the limited effectiveness and impact of the current structure and working arrangements. The Head of Safeguarding advised the panel that Children Safeguarding Boards were established in 2006 and Adults Safeguarding Boards in 2014.  A key issue highlighted from a local review was that the current arrangements were considered to be too bureaucratic and that there was a lack of ownership of the issues and the delivery of priorities. As a result of new national guidance, a number of changes were required to be made to local safeguarding arrangements to improve their effectiveness. The Head of Safeguarding outlined the new structure and the aims of the Wolverhampton Safeguarding Together.


The Head of Safeguarding outlined the benefits of the new working arrangements. The change is considered to be positive and will create an environment which offers the right level of challenge to partner agencies and support the move to adopting a whole family approach to the issue of safeguarding. The plan is to have the new working arrangements fully embedded by the end of March 2020.


The Head of Safeguarding listed the members of the Wolverhampton Safeguarding Together Integrated Executive Working Group. The Head of Safeguarding outlined the role and membership of the Wolverhampton Safeguarding Together Integrated Scrutiny and Assurance Group.  A key part of the role was to embed learning and support improvement in the effectiveness of the service. The panel discussed the safeguarding role of schools in supporting safeguarding agenda.


The Head of Safeguarding explained the reasons for removing the role of Independent Chair. A new Independent Scrutineer would be appointed at no cost and role would be very different. The expectation is that the person would commit to 10 – 12 days year to check on progress and to offer challenge about the progress towards achieving the priorities. An independently facilitated stakeholding event is being planned to review progress against key priorities. The scrutiny role of the independent scrutineer would be supported by case file audits, peer reviews and external partnerships to provide an independent review.


The panel queried the line of authority for safeguarding matters in the new structure. The Head of Safeguarding advised that findings and recommendations of the work of sub-groups would be reported to the Executive Group who have lead responsibility for safeguarding.


An issue of concern can be escalated to the Executive Group which is part of the changes introduced to support partner organisations to be more dynamic, flexible and responsive. The effectiveness of the work of the Executive Group would be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Wolverhampton Safeguarding Board Annual Report 2018/19 (for information) pdf icon PDF 1 MB

[Dawn Williams, Head Of Safeguarding, to present]



The panel agreed to note the report.


Briefing on panel visit to Action for Independence (verbal report)

[Earl Piggott-Smith,Scrutiny Officer, to present verbal update]



Earl Piggott-Smith, Scrutiny Officer, briefed the panel about the visit to Action 4 Independence in Wolverhampton on 5.11.19. The aim of the visit was to meet members of the social work team to talk about their experiences of supporting people with a diagnosis of dementia and also to get their views of using the ‘3 Conversations’ approach. Cllr Moran briefed the panel on findings from the visit and overall view of the support offered. Cllr Moran commented that dementia presents a number of challenges to the social work teams as it not a condition that a person will be improve and their health will decline. The important value of using telecare to support families and a person with a diagnosis was highlighted. Cllr Moran supported the introduction of ‘3 Conversations’ as the approach reflects best practice in social work. In discussion with social worker team the issue of managing caseloads of 30- 40 was highlighted as a concern and the impact of picking up more cases when on duty. Furthermore, the pressure on front line staff working on complex cases added to already high stress levels.  There was recognition by the panel of the need to support staff and for them to have access to support, and specialist clinical support. The Director of Social Worker accepted that the new ways of working presented a challenge to social work teams at this stage of the process and referred to his own experiences of working in social work team. The Director of Social Worker offered reassurance about casework management and explained that in the past caseload of 60 -70 cases were the norm, but it was important to note not all the cases would be active.


Cllr Bennett commented on issue of number of calls to City Direct which were directed to social work teams and expressed concern about the impact of delays in callers getting their issues resolved. The Director of Adult Services commented that this is new role for managers who in the past would have allocated cases. In the new arrangements social workers on duty have to be able to self-allocate which presents a challenge to them, but this does require social work team managers to understand the issues facing duty staff and have discussions about work allocation. The panel were advised that social work teams are encouraged to meet informally through ‘huddles’ to talk about difficult cases which are causing them stress and to get advice and support.


The panel expressed concern about lack of awareness about welfare support offered from the Council experiencing work stress. The Director of Adult Services advised that while specialist clinical support is not available other forms of support are available. The support service is actively promoted, and managers should be aware of the process for making a referral. The Director of Adult Services advised that calls to the Council are referred directly to the appropriate teams to respond and the work being to reduce caller waiting times. The panel commented about whether  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Adults and Safer City Scrutiny Panel 2019 20 - Draft Work Programme pdf icon PDF 363 KB

[Earl Piggott-Smith,Scrutiny Officer, to present report]


Earl Piggott-Smith, Scrutiny Officer, presented the draft programme for information and comment. The panel were advised the item on dementia scheduled for 28.1.2020 had been deleted from the work programme following a discussion. The work programme will be updated to reflect other possible topics that could be added as future items.



            The panel accepted the change to the panel work programme.