[Jin Takhar, Equality, Diversion and Inclusion Manager, and David Pattison, Director of Governance, to present briefing]
Jin Takhar, Equality, Diversion and Inclusion Manager, presented the briefing paper which details the actions taken to date to embed equality's monitoring arrangements in Adult Services. The Equality, Diversion and Inclusion Manager explained the review of equality data within Adult Services was part of a wider review of monitoring arrangements being conducted across the Council. The Equality, Diversion and Inclusion Manager, reassured members that there is a strong commitment to move the work forward.
The Equality, Diversion and Inclusion Manager, advised the panel that since her appointment in January 2020 there has been agreement of the importance to collecting good quality data on all our service users across all protected characteristics and using this information to design and evaluate the delivery of services. The Equality, Diversion and Inclusion Manager commented on the progress made to date and the new guidance for managers setting out the importance of why they should be collecting equalities monitoring data and acting upon the information that they have. In addition, managers are asked to analyse and to look at service outcomes and delivery and the impact this is are having on our service users. The guidance has been widely circulated and discussed at various leadership team meetings. In July 2020, a detailed desktop assessment was done across all 52 areas of the business across the Council with a focus on understanding of whether data is collected across all the protected characteristics.
The Equality, Diversion and Inclusion Manager, commented that the Council collects a lot of equality data which is recorded in 24 different systems and there was concern about the quality of the data and how it is used. The Equality, Diversion and Inclusion Manager, advised that the service is reviewing systems in terms of their capacity and functionality to record data across all protected characteristics and this includes looking at the adult care system. There is a plan to support each of the directorates over the next 12 months to review their data systems.
The Equality, Diversion and Inclusion Manager commented on plans to develop an understanding of what service user data is being collected and to better understand any gaps in information across all protected characteristics. There is an expectation that an action plan would have been agreed in the next three months which will set out exactly how any missing data will be collected.
The quality of the data collected will be reviewed in March 2021 to assess if there is enough robust data available to determine that all sections of our communities are being supported. A series of workshops are planned which will target staff in adult social care about respecting people's identity. This will cover asking appropriate questions when inviting our service users due to disclose information about their protected characteristics and hopefully this will go some way towards building confidence in our colleagues and moving forward also help to improve our disclosure rates.
Emma Bennett, Director of Children’s Services, commented that she supports the aims of the report and the issue is considered in the weekly management meetings. The need to consider the issues from a children's perspective was also highlighted. There is work ongoing to draft a pledge which the service will consider picking up the challenges detailed in the briefing paper. The service is engaging with frontline childcare practitioners in terms of capturing their experiences of working for Council and consideration given to how this learning could be used to improve the collection of monitoring data in adult services.
The Director of Children’s Services is committed to getting the data right and then using this to inform how the service might use it to identify areas for further action, where there is evidence of disproportionality.
The panel discussed whether the need for a question giving people the option not to provide personal information about themselves given that the survey itself is optional. The Equality, Diversion and Inclusion Manager explained that non-responses to questions about their personal life will tell the Council something of value, as it will show that more work is needed to offer reassurance that this information can be shared with confidence.
The panel agreed to receive an update report on progress to a future meeting. The panel also suggested that Equalities Champion be invited to a future meeting of the panel to contribute to the discussion on the issues highlighted in the briefing paper.
The panel wanted to formally place on record its thanks to David Watts, Director of Adults, who has now left the Council. The panel welcomed Emma Bennett in her interim role as Director of Children’s and Adults.
The panel agreed to note the briefing paper.
The panel agreed to receive an update on the briefing paper to a future meeting of the panel. The Equalities Champion to be invited to attend the meeting.