Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: MS Teams Meeting

Items
No. Item

49.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

The following declarations of interest were made by Members in accordance with the code of conduct:

 

Member

Subject

Reason

Interest

Councillor Mrs Aspinall

Minute 54 – Children’s Services Update

Member of the Plymouth Learning Academy Trust

Personal Interest

Councillor Jordan

Minute 54 – Children’s Services Update

Minute 56 Finance Update

Chairman of two charitable nurseries

Personal Interest

 

50.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 118 KB

Minutes:

Agreed the minutes of the meeting held on 6 May 2020.

51.

Chair's Urgent Business

Minutes:

There were no items of Chair’s Urgent Business however under this item it was agreed that agenda item numbers 7 and 9 would be swapped in order to facilitate good meeting management.

Order of Business

With the permission of the Chair, the order of business was changed as reflected in the minutes below.

52.

Update from the Director of Public Health

Minutes:

Dr Ruth Harrell (Director of Public Health) provided Members with an update; it was highlighted that whilst Plymouth and the South West region as a whole had fewer cases of Covid 19 than the England average, the virus was still active and social distancing measures were still to be followed.

 

People experiencing Covid 19 symptoms were encouraged to self-isolate and arrange to get themselves tested (by phoning 119 or accessing www.nhs.co.uk); those with positive test results would be contacted and asked to self-isolate for a maximum of two weeks, as well as those they had been in contact with. Contact testing was important in limiting the spread of the virus and suppressing the potential for a second wave.

 

Questions by Members related to –

 

·        

antibody testing and if those that had already had Covid 19 were immune to reinfection;

 

·        

the likelihood of a second wave of the virus as a result of the breakdown/ relaxation of social distancing measures;

 

·        

if the ‘R’ number had increased in the South West, and what Plymouth’s ‘R’ number was;

 

·        

the importance of adhering to social distancing measures and the responsibility and role of the Council in spreading this message;

 

·        

Government advice regarding those people currently shielding and the potential for a relaxation in restrictions;

 

·        

if the local authority had oversight of the local ports, specifically with regards to the recent quarantine measures imposed.

 

The Committee –

 

1.

thanked Dr Ruth Harrell and her team for all of their hard work during the pandemic;

 

2.

noted the update from the Director of Public Health;

 

3.

requested that information surrounding Plymouth’s local ports, specifically regarding the impact of the recent quarantine measures imposed, would be circulated to Members.

 

53.

Update from the Assistant Chief Executive on Council Response to Covid-19 (Gold update)

Minutes:

Giles Perritt (Assistant Chief Executive) provided an update on the Council response to Covid 19 and highlighted to Members that the Council was still operating its emergency operations centre, approximately 1900 members of staff were currently working at home, a major piece of work was taking place to ensure safe systems of work for staff and customers, significant work had taken place regarding the recovery of the economy and focus was directed towards the recovery and reinstatement of council services.

 

Questions by Members related to –

 

·        

guidance from Government, specifically with regards to the opening of the Council House and other Council buildings;

 

·        

virtual council meetings;

 

·        

which council services were facing challenges in operation, and which services would remain closed for the foreseeable future;

 

·        

the timescale for opening the Council’s First Stop premises in the city centre;

 

·        

safe systems of work at the Council to ensure staff and public safety;

 

·        

PPE equipment for Councillors;

 

·        

the impact on Plymouth’s public transport network with particular focus upon support for the local taxi industry;

 

·        

work undertaken with Plymouth’s Waterfront Partnership to prepare for the opening of premises in light of the potential re-opening of non-critical services.

 

The Committee –

 

1.

thanked the Assistant Chief Executive for his work surrounding the Gold Command Emergency Operations Centre;

 

2.

noted the update from the Assistant Chief Executive;

 

3.

requested that the City Centre Manager and Plymouth’s Waterfront Partnership Manager are invited to a future Scrutiny Management Board meeting to provide an update on plans in place for the reopening of services.

 

54.

Children's Services Update (Schools and Children's Social Care)

Minutes:

Alison Botham (Director of Children’s Services) provided an update on the impact of Covid 19 on schools and children’s social care. In relation to education, it was highlighted that since 23 March 2020 schools across the city had acted swiftly to put in place arrangements to support children and their families. Vulnerable children who were not in school were contacted on a regular basis and nearly 20% of children with a social worker had attended a school setting. As restrictions were beginning to relax and schools across the city were beginning to open to specific year-groups, local authority education officers had worked closely with schools and trade union representatives to ensure that risk assessments were put in place and reviewed to ensure the safety of all.

 

With regards to children’s social care a high proportion of work had been undertaken virtually to ensure services and support continued. Risk assessments had been undertaken for all children with an allocated social worker however those children with the highest level of risk maintained real time contact with their social worker. Both locally and nationally there was an increase of children at risk of hidden harm including domestic abuse, due to the closure of schools and households being in lockdown. The number of children in care of the local authority had increased to from 434 to 451; 17 of those children were highlighted as moving into care as a result of the impact of the Covid 19 lockdown, specifically with regards to serious neglect, alcohol and substance misuse or family breakdown. The local authority was now entering a phase of increasing the amount of real-time contact with children and families; it was expected that by the end of June 2020 that would be achieved for children with a social worker.

 

Questions by Members related to –

 

·        

the provision and allocation of digital devices for children in the city, due to the current emphasis on virtual education / resources;

 

·        

concerns surrounding the increase of the number of children in care to 451, the placement costs/ location and the complexity of need;

 

·        

the use of in-house foster carers and independent foster carers to meet the rising number of children in care;

 

·        

foster carer recruitment targets;

 

·        

if the Fostering Panel and Adoption Panel were able to meet virtually;

 

·        

social workers caseloads;

 

·        

the impact of Covid 19 on childrens’ mental health and educational attainment;

 

·        

CAMHS waiting list and referral timescales.

 

The Committee –

 

1.

thanked Alison Botham and her team for their hard work in responding to the Covid 19 pandemic and also highlighted their thanks to school staff, social workers and foster carers;

 

2.

noted the update;

 

3.

requested that a report regarding the educational impact upon the city’s children, the impact upon children’s mental health, and the impact on social workers caseloads is to be submitted to a future meeting of the Scrutiny Management Board.

 

55.

Adult Social Care and Strategic Commissioning update

Minutes:

Craig McArdle (Strategic Director for People) and Anna Coles (Director of Integrated Commissioning) provided an update on the impact upon Adult Social Care and Strategic Commissioning as a result of Covid 19. It was highlighted that the Council had worked well with partners and had responded to over 900 incidents since 11 March 2020, had delivered over 250,000 items of PPE and had seen over 6000 people through Caring for Plymouth however the main focus and challenge was linked to care homes. So far 28 care homes in the city had registered an outbreak of Covid 19, with 17 of those having had confirmed cases – three homes were still reporting confirmed cases however this highlighted a downward trajectory.

 

On 14 March the Government announced the Infection Control Fund which was designed to provide additional funding to care homes – officers were required to complete a care home support plan to detail the response so far and plans for the future. With the help of partners, including Livewell South West, CCG and UHP, an Implementation Status Provider Return was completed. Achievements highlighted in the report included accommodation support, infection control and multi-disciplinary wrap-around support. The Council was calling on the Government for more capital funding to be made available to support alterations to care homes to support infection control measures.

 

Questions by Members related to –

 

·        

PPE and concerns that some residential homes may charge costs on to relatives;

·        

the facilitation of interaction between care home residents and their family and friends;

 

·        

how members of the public who might be more susceptible to Covid 19 were expected to engage with healthcare providers and how screening would be undertaken;

 

·        

the psychological impact on women who were only allowed a supporter with them in active labour.

 

The Committee –

 

1.

thanked Craig McArdle and Anna Coles for their hard work in responding to the pandemic and highlighted their thanks to the Council’s partners and care homes;

 

2.

noted the update;

 

3.

requested that UHP and Livewell SW are invited to a future meeting of the Scrutiny Management Board in order to provide more information upon how these services will respond to health provision for the city’s residents as the lockdown rules and regulations are relaxed.

 

 

 

56.

Finance Update

Minutes:

Andrew Hardingham (Service Director for Finance) provided the Finance Update and highlighted the requirement for the Council to balance their budgets each year; officers were currently working to assess the impact of Covid 19 upon the Council’s rising costs and the loss of income on the budget. All Councils had been asked to provide information to MHCLG regarding these figures and were working with the LGA to provide data for lobbying purposes to Government to ensure Councils had the money required to continue to support communities, local economies and the care sector.

 

Questions by Members related to –

 

·        

the extra financial pressure on the Council’s current budget;

 

·        

the management of the Council’s cash flow;

 

·        

specific areas of the Council’s budget which had been affected;

 

·        

the Hardship Relief Grant;

 

·        

the requirement for another budget scrutiny session in light of the impact of Covid 19 on the Council’s budget;

 

·        

the shortfall on the Council tax budget.

 

The Committee –

 

1.

thanked Andrew Hardingham for his hard work throughout the pandemic;

 

2.

Noted the update.

 

 

(Under this item Councillor Jordan declared a personal interest as a Director of a Charity in receipt of Government grants).