Agenda and minutes

Dorset Council - Audit and Governance Committee
Monday, 14th October, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Committee Room A/B, South Walks House, South Walks Road, Dorchester, DT1 1EE

Contact: Lindsey Watson  01305 252209 - Email: lindsey.watson@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

29.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 118 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 17 September 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 17 September 2019 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

30.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

31.

Public Participation

To receive questions or statements on the business of the committee from town and parish councils and members of the public.

Minutes:

There were no representations from parish or town councils or from members of the public.

32.

Urgent items

To consider any items of business which the Chairman has had prior notification and considers to be urgent pursuant to section 100B (4) b) of the Local Government Act 1972. The reason for the urgency shall be recorded in the minutes.

Minutes:

The Chairman reported that following his attendance at a Local Government Association (LGA) course on scrutiny, he had spoken to the Leader about arranging a meeting of group leaders, scrutiny chairmen and the Executive Leadership Team to discuss scrutiny moving forward.

33.

People Services - Children Transformation Programme Update pdf icon PDF 694 KB

To receive a presentation from the Executive Director for People, Children in respect of the People Services – Children – Transformation Programme.

Minutes:

The Executive Director for People – Children, gave a presentation to the committee which provided an overview of the directorate’s transformation programme ‘Blueprint for Change’.  The presentation covered the council’s vision for children, design principles for the whole council and for Children’s Services, the programme timeline, an overview of the major changes proposed and the localities for the service.  The Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Early Help hoped that councillors recognised the steps taken in this area including recruitment of officers at a senior level and work undertaken around the corporate parenting board.  The Chairman noted that it was important for the committee to receive the presentation in order to have an understanding of the background when they were considering financial information in this area.

 

The committee considered the issues arising from the presentation and during discussion the following points were raised:

 

·                A point was raised about the importance to a child or young person of having the continuity of contact with one social worker.  In response it was noted that it may not always be possible to avoid the need to change social workers however, consideration was being given to the systems available to and support provided to social workers in order to retain officers in this area

·                In response to a point raised about the transition of young people into adult services, it was recognised that this needed to be a respectful process which considered the important role of parents

·                A point was made that there was no reference to access to doctors and dentists, as it was thought that a large proportion of looked after children were not registered with either.  In response, the Executive Director referred to work undertaken through the Corporate Parenting Board, working with partners, to aim to ensure that the majority of children were registered

·                It was noted that there were two locality bases in the North area as this was the largest area in terms of population and this also took into account school clusters and links to other service areas.  This also took into account the amount of travel undertaken by social workers

·                In response to a question, the Executive Director provided information on the time availability of youth workers, urgent care teams and social workers

·                A discussion was held with regard to the support being provided to staff going through the transformation programme and information was provided on upskilling opportunities, looking at best practice, training for staff and the opportunity that this provided to listen to staff

·                The transformation programme aimed to provide £1m of savings through the delivery of services more efficiently

·                The presentation made reference to ‘needs not thresholds’ which related to the need to have a conversation when a referral was first made in order to understand what a child’s needs were and who would be best to meet them.  There was a need for ownership from the person making the referral

·                The presentation provided an overview of the work to be undertaken to get the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.

34.

Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) pdf icon PDF 405 KB

To receive a presentation in respect of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG).

Minutes:

The Service Manager for Finance provided an overview of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) which included what it was, how it was controlled, the role of the council and the current position for the council.  As part of the presentation, the Service Manager for Finance noted that the slide titled ‘DSG – what do we do?’ should include a note to say that the council was able to put a school in special measures.

 

Councillors discussed the issues arising from the presentation and comments were made as follows:

 

·                Reference was made to the way that the DSG was distributed to the council in four blocks, with the funding then being passed onto schools.  It was noted that the Government was setting the schools budget below the schools minimum standards

·                In response to a question it was noted that the Government had announced increases to the blocks which represented of the order of £200 per child per primary school, based on a particular formula, including deprivation factors.  Some background to the High Needs Block deficit was provided and reference was made to a current Department for Education consultation around a proposal for deficits to sit within the school rather than with the council.  The outcome of this consultation was awaited

·                Councillors discussed the budget issues in this area and the Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Early Help provided background to previous financial forecasting that had been undertaken and noted that the forecasting mechanism needed to be looked at again.  There was recognition that every child had a right to mainstream education although some would require special education provision in an appropriate setting

·                It was noted that this was a demand driven process

·                The challenge in setting the budget in this area was that notification of DSG was usually received late in the process

·                It was noted that coverage in the Press was suggesting that the additional funding to be provided by Government, could take the budget back to the position in 2015

·                In response to a question, it was reported that the pay increase for new teachers was just a proposal at present

·                A discussion was held in respect of the way that deprivation factors were measured and it was noted that a number of factors were taken into consideration and could vary by council.  The experience was that there was undeclared deprivation which could impact on the funding provided to the council in this area.  The Portfolio Holder encouraged councillors to communicate and seek understanding from local MPs of the needs of Dorset in terms of funding.  The situation in Dorset was considered against the situation in other areas such as London and although the issue was recognised by the Department for Education, there was currently no solution

·                In response to a question, it was reported that there was no provision to allow the council to charge the deficit back to the Department for Education

·                The council funded the top up of schools’ budgets in respect of education, health  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.

35.

People Services - Adults and Housing Transformation Programme Update pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To receive a presentation in respect of the People Services – Adults and Housing Transformation Programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee received a presentation with regard to the People Services – Adults and Housing Transformation Programme.  An updated version of the presentation was provided at the meeting which gave the latest basis for the transformation plan.  The Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care and Health gave an overview of the areas covered by the presentation.  She also noted that a technology room would be opening on 17 October 2019 and councillors were invited to an event to mark the opening on the lunchtime of this day.  A report with regard to the transformation plan would be provided to the People Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet in due course.

 

The committee considered the issues arising from the presentation and during discussion the following points were raised:

 

·                Reference was made to the Building Better Lives Programme and the need to link into Children’s Services and the council’s assets programme as well as looking at issues from an Adults’ Services perspective.  In addition it was noted that the methodology used for the scheme in Purbeck had been taken into account when looking at other areas and specific reference was made to mapping exercises that had been undertaken in respect of sites in Gillingham

·                Staffing issues in this area were discussed and particular reference was made to issues around the recruitment of social workers, the nomination of design champions from across the directorate to assist with designing the programme, the need to look at how people worked including flexible working and ways to grow the workforce including the use of apprenticeships

·                The use of assistive technology was discussed and issues around broadband and mobile coverage were being looked at

·                Reference was made to housing issues including the need for appropriate accommodation provision in order to retain younger people in the area.

36.

Dorset Council Workforce Data and People Strategy pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To receive a presentation on Dorset Council Workforce Data and the People Strategy.

Minutes:

The Chairman noted that the presentation on Dorset Council Workforce Data and People Strategy would now be given at the next meeting of the committee on 7 November 2019.

37.

Minutes of the Audit and Governance (Assessment) Sub-committee pdf icon PDF 81 KB

To receive and note the minutes of the meetings of the Audit and Governance (Assessment) Sub-committee held between June and September 2019.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of meetings of the Audit and Government (Assessment) Sub-committee held on 28 June, 17 September and 25 September 2019 were noted.

38.

Audit and Governance Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 78 KB

To review the Audit and Governance Committee Work Programme.

Minutes:

The committee noted the work programme and items expected at future meetings.  The Dorset Council Workforce Data and People Strategy presentation would be given at the meeting on 7 November 2019.

 

The Chairman noted that the committee had received a series of presentations over the last few meetings in order to provide background to a number of council areas.  After November, the committee would need to give consideration as to any in-depth reviews they would like to undertake.

 

A point was raised with regard to the issue of asset management which was currently included on the work programmes for both Audit and Governance Committee and Resources Scrutiny Committee.  This would be clarified following the meeting.  It was noted that the review of the Constitution was also included on both committee’s work programmes and this would be discussed at the meeting of the scrutiny and audit and governance chairmen.

39.

Exempt Business

To move the exclusion of the press and the public for the following item in view of the likely disclosure of exempt information within the meaning of paragraph x of schedule 12 A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).

 

The public and the press will be asked to leave the meeting whilst the item of business is considered.

 

There is no exempt business.

Minutes:

There was no exempt business.