Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Warspite Room, Council House

Contact: Jake Metcalfe, Democratic Advisor 

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Items
No. Item

98.

Declarations of Interest

Councillors will be asked to make any declarations of interest in respect to items on the agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Name

Minute Number

Reason

Councillor Laing

102 – Education and Children’s Social Care Policy Brief

Governor for Horizon Multi-academy Trust

 

99.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 146 KB

To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting held on 15 June 2022.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes from 15 June 2022 were agreed as a true and accurate record.

100.

Chair's Urgent Business

To receive reports on business which in the opinion of the Chair, should be brought forward for urgent consideration.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business from the Chair.

101.

Tracking Decisions pdf icon PDF 193 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members discussed the action log and its progress and received updates on actions that had not been marked complete. 

 

102.

Education and Children's Social Care Policy Brief pdf icon PDF 150 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Sarah Gooding, Policy and Intelligence Advisor introduced this item to members and advised that since the reports had been published Kit Malthouse had been appointed as the new Education Secretary.

 

In response to questions raised it was reported that:

 

a)     

Data of Plymouth’s looked after children that had been placed more than 20 miles from the city would be circulated to the Committee;

 

b)     

Members of the Committee would be advised how Plymouth responded to the Department for Educations consultation on Early Years Funding Formula;

 

c)     

The sufficiency and quality of early year’s providers had either been good or outstanding;

 

d)     

Plymouth had continued discussions with the Department for Education on ensuring that the quality and safety of children in Early Years settings continued even if the ratio changed from its current 1:4 format into 1:5;

 

e)     

An Early Years setting which closed in the City, had done so due to not having a registered person which had been a legal requirement. Plymouth City Council informed OFSTED who ordered the setting to close immediately. The Council had been in close contact with parents and other providers in the city to respond to the closure;

 

f)      

Plymouth City Council did not use the alternative registered provision register and alternative provision could only be used as a supplementary to education in school and children should not be removed from their registered setting to attend an unregistered setting. Plymouth did not have any pupils attending unregistered provision and due to this had not responded to the consultation. 

 

The Committee agreed to note the report. 

 

 

 

103.

Josh MacAlister's Independent Review of Children's Social Care - Briefing pdf icon PDF 205 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Carlyle, Jean Kelly (Service Director for Children, Young People and Families) and Jane Anstis (Head of Service for Children, Young People and Families) and Emma Crowther (Strategic Commissioning Manager) presented this item to members and highlighted the following key points:

 

a)     

The Independent review had 72 recommendations of which two thirds required a government response either through legislation, updating statutory guidelines or whether additional financial resource was required. Josh MacAlisters report recommended additional funding of £2.6 billion and a five year plan to put those changes into action;

 

b)     

The report would transform what had been a succession of incremental changes over 30 years since the Children’s Act 1991. The review had 7 key themes from early help through to children, young people and families within Social Care systems;

 

c)     

Changes were unable to take place until legislation had been passed;

 

d)     

The review had highlighted Plymouth’s commitment to its care experienced young people and many of the recommendations that hadn’t required government involvement had already been or was being implemented in Plymouth;

 

e)     

It was acknowledged that Plymouth had a recruitment and retention issue, but this had also been a national problem. Plymouth did not have an experience of this being more than other local authorities;

 

f)      

Plymouth had experienced placement sufficiency challenges which had led to children being placed outside of the city boundaries and also into residential and Independent Sector foster care placements;

 

g)     

Plymouth had been experiencing difficulties in recruiting foster carers and within the review, Josh MacAlister recommended the recruitment of 9,000 foster carers in three years;

 

h)     

‘A Bright Future’ set out Plymouth’s ambitions for its children in care. This had included the ambition to increase the number of local foster placements and to increase the skills and expertise of foster carers locally. Plymouth wanted children to remain in Plymouth so that they remained in their schools and maintained important links with family and friends;

 

i)      

There had been a challenge in opening new children’s homes in Plymouth and it had been reported that it would cost £1 million to set up a new home due to associated costs. There had been a challenge in the availability of placements in managing need, particularly for children and young people with complex needs and in relation to the volume of placements required;

 

j)      

Whilst OFSTED did provide good quality assurance on current placements, it was recognised that the organisation could provide a disincentive due to the risk and fear of receiving an inadequate rating. It was noted that it could end a care home managers career if those inspections had been poor;

 

k)     

Foster carers had been leaving the profession in greater numbers due to a number of factors including; an aging population, health vulnerabilities and due to COVID many foster carers reflected on their own lifestyles. This current climate had led to children who required foster placements being placed within residential placements and in turn led to less residential beds and in turn led  ...  view the full minutes text for item 103.

104.

Risk Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 154 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Ross Jago (Head of Governance, Performance and Risk) presented this item to the Committee and highlighted the following key points:

 

a)     

One risk had been identified as a red risk for the continued demand on Children’s Social Care with two amber risks concerning school improvement and the fulfilment of statutory duties. One further risk had been identified as green concerning early intervention and prevention.

 

In response to questions raised it was reported that:

 

a)     

Plymouth monitored its pressures in relation to financial risk consistently, there had been an increase in the number of children in care which was being managed through early help and intervention.

 

b)     

Following a deep dive of the Children’s Social Care budget at the Performance, Customer Focus and Finance Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the 30 November, the deep dive may be something that the Committee would want to have a focus on and therefore would go on the work programme. 

 

The Committee agreed to note the report. 

 

105.

Financial Monitoring Report - Month 4

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Louise Jenkins (Finance Business Partner for schools and learning) and Helen Slater (Principal Technical Accountant) presented the item to the Committee and highlighted the following key points in relation to month 5:

 

a)     

The Children’s budget had been showing a gross pressure 3.843 million with mitigations of £1.951 million which left a net pressure of £1.928 million at month 5;

 

b)     

The pressure had been due to a number of reasons but mainly a £1.4 million increase for high cost placements for children with complex needs and disabilities. £634,000 for an increase in home to school transport costs. An adverse variation of £370,000 for short break services due to the additional needs and volume of children accessing services. There had also been additional costs associated with legal and specialist assessments;

 

c)     

Children’s services had a delivery plan target of £3.942 million with the majority of those savings being achieved or on track to be achieved.

 

In response to questions raised it was reported that:

 

a)     

Within the mitigating actions for the budget there had been £500,000 from the Integrated Care Systems (ICS) with negotiations taking place. For every new entrant into Care there had been a panel looking at all aspects of care and there would be respectful challenges to the ICS to ensure a fair contribution was in place;

 

b)     

As part of the deep dive into the finances, Councillors requested a breakdown of associated high cost placement to better understand the spend;

 

c)     

A financial analysis had been completed against Plymouth’s statistical neighbours and England and Wales local authorities that are good or outstanding to benchmark Plymouth’s spending. The majority of that review demonstrated that Plymouth was a low/medium spending authority and had not been an authority that had been commissioning highly;

 

d)     

The Committee agreed to write a letter to the Secretary of State for Education requesting more money within the government settlement to help with the costs of inflation.

 

The Committee agreed to note the report.

 

 

 

 

 

106.

Performance Scorecard pdf icon PDF 331 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Carlyle, Paul Stephens (Performance Advisor) and Hannah Daw (Performance Advisor) presented the Performance Scorecard report to members of the Committee.

 

In response to questions raised it was reported that:

 

a)     

Children on repeat Child Protection plans had been relatively high. The figure reported had been reporting on whether a child/young person had returned onto a child protection (CP) plan in the last 12 months or at some stage in their lifetime. Many of the children subject to CP plans had been living with neglect issues relating to domestic abuse which could improve and change over time. Plymouth had been working hard to work to one significant plan to improve outcomes and then step them down or out of the service once the risk had reduced. It was recognised that this could take a long time. 

 

The Committee agreed to note the report. 

 

107.

Plymouth Safeguarding Partnership pdf icon PDF 149 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Carlyle, Karl Knill (Head of Service for Plymouth’s front door service) and John Clements (Independent Scrutineer) presented the item to members of the Committee and highlighted the following key points:

 

a)     

‘Working Together’ was the statutory guidance which outlined what areas had to do in respect of safeguarding children. Within the Partnership there had been three statutory leads; Devon and Cornwall Police, ICB and the Local Authority and they were required to produce arrangements for safeguarding taking into account local and national contexts. This in turn would lead to other partners across the city working together to keep our children safe;

 

b)     

Plymouth had a very committed leadership and membership to safeguarding with good representation at leadership, managerial and practitioner levels. There had also been good representation of a range of different groups in the City;

 

c)     

The work plan for the partnership focussed on neglect, child sexual harm, being trauma informed and getting the right support at the right time and place;

 

d)     

The Partnership had introduced a new quality assurance framework and quality assurance work plan for the year;

 

In response to questions raised it was reported that

 

a)        

The strategy and its effectiveness had been incorporated in the Partnerships own data set and Sharon Muldoon had been driving this across the strategic partnership but with a focus on the key proxy indicators such as the number of children on CP plans or subject to re-referrals. Behind the plan would be a number of audits taken at key points throughout the year with the first one looking at child sexual harm that would identify what the current practice looked like and the outcomes of those children;

 

b)       

The Scorecard had included more areas to best advise the Partnership how well the system had been working;

 

c)        

Partners in the city would have their own internal training programmes for staff. There had been a document entitled ‘keeping children safe in education’ which was refreshed annually and then cascaded through all schools. Safeguarding training would be carried out within schools at the start of each year. Multi-agency training had been provided by the Partnership concentrated on those operating in a more specialist area having involvement within Child Protection conference or Team around the child/family meetings. There were also more specialist training for neglect, child sexual abuse or domestic abuse amongst others;

 

d)       

John Clements would explore as to whether an invitation had been sent to faith groups in the city to join the Partnership and report back to the Committee;

 

e)       

Officers would look into a mechanism to report the work of the Partnership more widely for members of Plymouth City Council.

 

f)         

The Committee requested John Clements of the Plymouth Safeguarding Partnership to come back to the last scrutiny of the municipal year to report on how the plan of the Partnership is working and whether John could be accompanied by the young safeguarders to talk to the Committee about what they do. 

 

The Committee agreed to note  ...  view the full minutes text for item 107.

108.

National Review into the murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson, National Panel pdf icon PDF 172 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Carlyle and Karl Knill (Head of Service for Plymouth’s front door) presented this item to members of the Committee and highlighted the following key points:

 

a)     

The review reported

 

      i.        information sharing between organisations as having been an issue and nobody having the full picture of concerns for a particular child;

 

     ii.        There had been a lack of robust and critical thinking challenge;

 

    iii.        The triggering of statutory child protection processes had not been taking place at the right time and the workforce didn’t have the right skills and experience to undertake complex work;

 

    iv.        There had been a reluctance in challenging and working with reluctant parents;

 

     v.        The had been a lack of understanding of the lived experience of children;

 

    vi.        There had been a poor understanding at times of domestic abuse;

 

  vii.        The uncertainty that the right organisational structures were in place to enable effective child protection work to take place;

 

b)     

Significant work had been undertaken in Plymouth over a 12 month period to address some of the points within the report. Plymouth had worked to ensure education colleagues were involved which significantly improved the likelihood of getting safeguarding right for the children of Plymouth;

 

c)     

The scorecard had been updated for the partnership to bring in more multi-agency data and would enable change in areas across the city;

 

d)     

The report highlighted that within both authorities that they didn’t have the right multi-agency oversight in place. Plymouth had already put in place arrangements to change this and the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub would report into the Plymouth Safeguarding Partnership to provide oversight and scrutiny on a quarterly basis;

 

e)     

An assurance plan had been created to provide assurances on issues that could be affecting Plymouth to ensure Plymouth families were not experiencing what had been found elsewhere;

 

f)      

An assurance plan had been created to provide assurances on issues that could be affecting Plymouth to ensure Plymouth families were not experiencing what had been found elsewhere;

 

g)     

Government needed to provide some legislative change to enable change within some of the recommendations of the review;

 

In response to questions raised it was reported that:

 

a)        

The Partnership had introduced a refreshed case resolution protocol to ensure challenge and critical scrutiny is recorded robustly;

 

b)       

There had been a specific training programme offered by the Partnership focussed on domestic abuse. The principal social worker of children’s social care had emphasized a specific focus on upskilling the workforce on domestic abuse;

 

c)        

Plymouth had been working with the NSPCC to reduce the level and impact of sexual abuse across the city. There had been a regular range of events that happened such as the PANTS campaign targeted at children in primary school in terms of raising awareness with children at a young age so they are able to think about their safety. The NSPCC had been carrying out healthy relationships work which had been reaching young children in an appropriate and sensitive way;

 

d)       

When it came  ...  view the full minutes text for item 108.

109.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 129 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members discussed the work programme and added:

 

·         Recruitment and Retention Strategy 

·         Plymouth Safeguarding Partnership Update