Venue: Committee Room 3 - 3rd Floor - Civic Centre. View directions
Contact: Earl Piggott-Smith Tel: 01902 551251 or Email: email@example.com
Apologies were received from the following:
Cllr Jasbinder Dehar
Cllr Lynne Moran
Cllr Paul Sweet
Cllr Louise Miles
Emma Bennett - Director for Children's Service
Meredith Teasdale – Director of Education
Declarations of interest
Cllr Peter 0’Neill reminded panel members to declare any interests relevant to the discussion on the agenda item Secondary School Expansion Programme.
Cyril Randles confirmed any issues relating to Church of England would be declared where appropriate.
There were no declarations of interest recorded.
[To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record]
That the minutes of the meeting held on5 September 2018, subject to the agreed changes, be approved, as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
Agenda Item 7 – Future of Old Fallings Park Playground
The panel resolved that they support the consultation on the proposed disposal of the Old Fallings Adventure Playground. The Chair advised the panel that a public consultation on the proposal is still ongoing and that no decision had been made about the site. A report will be presented to Cabinet with recommendations about the future use of the site.
[To consider any matters arising from the minutes]
Minute 5 – Elective Home Education
Cllr Beverley Momenabadi, updated the panel on discussions following the meeting with local MPs during which the concerns about the current situation were highlighted. Cllr Momenabadi explained that Pat McFadden MP was unable to attend the discussion in parliament but did write to the Secretary of State with concerns about the present arrangements. A copy of the reply was shared with members of the panel. The panel agreed to note the progress.
[Earl Piggott-Smith, Scrutiny Officer, to present report]
Earl Piggott-Smith, Scrutiny Officer, presented the draft work programme for comment and invited suggestions of future topics. The panel were advised that there were currently no agenda items for the meeting on 27 March 2019.
The panel agreed to consider and suggest topics for future meetings.
[James Barlow, to present report]
Alison Shannon, Chief Accountant, presented the draft budget report and medium-term financial strategy report. The panel were invited to comment on the proposals and respond to the recommendations. The Chief Accountant also invited the panel to suggest changes to the current budget scrutiny process to improve consultation arrangements.
The Chief Accountant outlined the background to the work done to respond to the previous projected budget challenge of £19.5 million for 2019 – 2020 that was presented in a report to Cabinet on 11 July 2018 and again on 17 October 2018. The projected budget challenge figure was now estimated to be £6 million. The panel were advised that work would continue to identify budget efficiencies, budget reductions and income generation opportunities.
The Chief Accountant advised the panel that comments on the draft budget and medium-term financial strategy will be included in a report that will be presented to Scrutiny Board on 11 December 2018. The Chief Accountant outlined the next steps in the budget consultation process. The panel were invited to comment on the report.
The panel commented on the lack of detail in the budget report about the proposals for budget reductions and income generations relating the children and young people services and would like more information.
The Chief Accountant referred to the link in the body of the Draft Budget and Medium-Term Finance Report which would give Councillors more details on the Budget Reduction and Income Generation Proposals. In addition, officers were present at the meeting to provide more detail around the proposals, if required.
The following is a summary of panel discussion about proposals for budget reduction and income generations
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Tier 3 funding to Black Country Partnership Foundation Trust
The panel queried the reduction in the budget of £137,000 for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and the implications for children and young people needing support. Andrew Wolverson, Head of Service People, advised the panel that the service undertook a review of funding for services at Tier 3 as part of the budget preparation work. The review involved comparing the approach adopted by neighbouring local authorities to funding of this service and the evidence showed that very few provided funding at this level. Most of the council’s reported that they focus their funding at Tier 2 level of support for people needing a lower level of mental health support. The panel were advised that Wolverhampton CCG is responsible for meeting the needs of children and young people needing access to specialist mental support. The Head of Service People advised the panel that there have been detailed discussions with colleagues at BCPFT and WCCG about the proposals.
The Head of Service advised the panel that not all the monies have been identified as savings from the proposal and that some of the money currently paid to BCPFT will be re-used to commission a service for Children and Young People in care.
The panel queried the impact of the budget reduction on ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
[Emma Bennett, Director for Children’s Service to present report]
Louise Haughton, Principal Social Worker, presented the update report on progress in delivering the priorities detailed in the 2018 -2019 Children and Young People Service Improvement Plan. The Principal Social Worker outlined the changes to the layout and content of the report. The panel were advised the service was on track to deliver priorities in the plan by the end of Q4.
A further progress report will be presented to the panel after June 2019.
The Principal Social Worker explained that a key change to drafting a plan was to bring together performance data and the experiences of parents and children into a single document.
The panel were advised that work is being done by the communications team to produce a video to further embed restorative practice across the workforce to support the changes in the service. This was given as an example of work to deliver the vision for the Children and Young People Service.
The panel were invited to comment on the report.
The panel queried if there was a child or parent friendly version of the Improvement Plan document. The Principal Social Worker advised that there is no other version of the document but agreed to discuss the idea and report back to a future meeting of the panel.
The panel queried what work is being done to capture the experiences of children and young people who receive support from the service. The Principal Social Worker commented on the change in focus to improving the quality of practice in addition to collecting information used to measure progress against performance indicators. As part of the work done to improve the quality of the service, social workers will speak to children and young people to find out what their experiences are of the service. The aim will be to collect the information more consistently to get a better picture of the overall experiences of young people. The Principal Social Worker advised the panel that the service has introduced a programme for managers and heads of service to observe practice of people supporting families and young people to provide information about their experiences.
The panel queried what happens in situations where a parent or child declines the offer of support.
The Principal Social Worker advised the panel that if a parent declines the offer of a support then no further action would be taken, unless there are safeguarding concerns. In this situation the matter would be referred to the child protection service if there were child protection concerns. The service would try to work with the young person or family to build trust by explaining the benefits of getting early help.
The panel queried the reasons for the delay in progressing the establishment of the Regional Exploitation Group and the implications for work to respond the challenge of child sexual exploitation in Wolverhampton. The panel commented on recent cases in neighbouring authorities where gangs had been convicted of abuse. The Head of Service People commented on the different response needed ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Andrew Wolverson, Head of Service People, introduced the report and gave an overview of the work done to deliver the Government’s National Troubled Families Programme. The programme in Wolverhampton is known locally as “Families in Focus”.
An updated draft the of the PBR Action Plan was sent previously to panel members for information.
The Head of Service People advised the panel that the performance of Wolverhampton at the start of the programme was behind those of neighbouring authorities but has since improved. The Head of Service People explained the reasons for this was that a decision was made at the start to take a different approach to identifying families as part of efforts to embed the approach as part of an overall family support programme which is expected to lead to better outcomes in the future. The number of claims has increased to 30%, which is better than regional and national performance.
The Head of Service People advised the panel that the approach had been recognised nationally and the Council is seen as example of good practice and had visits from other authorities to see the work being done to support families.
The Head of Service People advised the panel that the council is working with partner organisations to get them on board with the different approach to supporting families.
The panel discussed the challenges to delivering the programme. The Head of Service People advised that getting people into employment was the issue that all authorities were struggling to make progress. The Head of Service commented on initiatives such as Work Box scheme, which is aimed at helping people back into employment and training.
The panel queried the financial implications to the Council if the target set by Government is not reached. The Head of Service People replied that a decision was made not to set up a separate team to deliver the programme and instead the approach has been to embed the new ways of working, with a focus on improving future practice.
The panel queried the implications in the action plan of the decision to put on hold the peer review with Birmingham City Council. The Head of Service People advised the panel that while there was a willingness from Birmingham, a decision was made by the Council not to go ahead with the plan at this time. The council is currently working with a London borough to offer peer challenge, who is doing good work on reducing levels worklessness.
The panel discussed the funding of the Troubled Families programme.
The panel queried if Families in Focus programme would be able to help in a situation where a family was at risk of losing their home. The Head of Service advised that the programme would not be able to pay rent arrears in this situation but would refer a family to an agency that could offer financial advice.
The focus of the current approach is ensuring key people are aware that a family is in financial difficulties at ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
Exclusion of press and public
[To pass the following resolution:
That in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business as they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information on the grounds shown below.]
That in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business as they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information on the grounds shown below]
PART 2 - EXEMPT ITEMS, CLOSED TO PRESS AND PUBLIC
Part 2 – exempt items, closed to the public and press
That in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business as they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information falling within the paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A of the Act
Secondary School Expansion Programme 2019-20 and Primary School Provision
[Bill Hague, Head of School Organisation, to present report]
Bill Hague, Head of School Organisation, presented a report on the Secondary School Expansion Programme 2019-20 and invited panel members to comment on the proposals. The panel were advised that comments on the proposals would be included in the report to Cabinet on 21 November 2018.
The panel were briefed on work done to provide both temporary and
permanent solutions to meet short and medium-term demand for secondary school places in Wolverhampton. The Head of School Organisations commented on the range of challenges facing the service in meeting demand and avoiding an oversupply of school places.
The Head of School Organisations explained work done to assess demand for places and the options for meeting the changing needs of the local population.
A key challenge facing the Council is that it is not in full control of all the factors relating to the effective and timely supply of school places in Wolverhampton. The Regional Schools Commissioner is responsible for determining if academies can expand to meet increased demand for places.
The panel were advised that the Council were not planning to establish any new primary schools at present. However, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has proposed the opening of a primary free school in the Wednesfield South Ward. The Secretary of State is the decision maker in relation to any applications to establish a Free School. This decision will have implications for meeting the demand for secondary school provision in the future, if approved.
The panel were briefed on the level of a future demand for secondary school provision and the options for meeting this need. A key aspect of the strategy of meeting demand for extra places is working with schools to fully utilise the existing space, where possible before undertaking any major building work.
The panel discussed the assessment of proposals relating to each of the schools listed in the report. The panel expressed concern about schools being be allowed to expand if they are performing poorly according to Ofsted.
The Head of School Organisation reassured the panel of what action the Council would take in such circumstances to ensure children received a good education.
1. The panel agreed to note the report and the progress made to meet the projected demand for secondary school places in the future.
2. The panel note the options being discussed for increasing school capacity and level of funding required to deliver them.
The meeting closed at 19:40