Agenda and draft minutes

People and Health Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 7th March, 2024 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Dorchester, DT1 1XJ. View directions

Contact: George Dare  01305 224185 - Email:


No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence.



There were no apologies for absence.




Declarations of Interest

To disclose any pecuniary, other registrable or non-registrable interest as set out in the adopted Code of Conduct. In making their disclosure councillors are asked to state the agenda item, the nature of the interest and any action they propose to take as part of their declaration.


If required, further advice should be sought from the Monitoring Officer in advance of the meeting.



There were no declarations of interest.




Minutes pdf icon PDF 163 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 12 January 2024.




That the minutes of the meeting held on 12 January 2024 be confirmed and signed.




Public Participation

Representatives of town or parish councils and members of the public who live, work, or represent an organisation within the Dorset Council area are welcome to submit either 1 question or 1 statement for each meeting.  You are welcome to attend the meeting in person or via Microsoft Teams to read out your question and to receive the response.   If you submit a statement for the committee this will be circulated to all members of the committee in advance of the meeting as a supplement to the agenda and appended to the minutes for the formal record but will not be read out at the meeting. The first 8 questions and the first 8 statements received from members of the public or organisations for each meeting will be accepted on a first come first served basis in accordance with the deadline set out below.  For further information read Public Participation - Dorset Council


All submissions must be emailed in full to by 8.30am on Monday, 4 March 2024.


When submitting your question or statement please note that: 


·       You can submit 1 question or 1 statement.

·       a question may include a short pre-amble to set the context.

·       It must be a single question and any sub-divided questions will not be permitted.

·       Each question will consist of no more than 450 words, and you will be given up to 3 minutes to present your question.

·       when submitting a question please indicate who the question is for (e.g., the name of the committee or Portfolio Holder) 

·       Include your name, address, and contact details.  Only your name will be published but we may need your other details to contact you about your question or statement in advance of the meeting. 

·       questions and statements received in line with the council’s rules for public participation will be published as a supplement to the agenda. 

·       all questions, statements and responses will be published in full within the minutes of the meeting.



There was no public participation.




Councillor Questions

To receive questions submitted by councillors.  


Councillors can submit up to two valid questions at each meeting and sub divided questions count towards this total.   Questions and statements received will be published as a supplement to the agenda and all questions, statements and responses will be published in full within the minutes of the meeting. 


The submissions must be emailed in full to by 8.30am on Monday, 4 March 2024. 


Dorset Council Constitution – Procedure Rule 13



There were no questions from councillors.




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.



There were no urgent items.




SEND Delivery Strategy pdf icon PDF 318 KB

To consider a report by the Corporate Director for Education and Learning.


Additional documents:


The Corporate Director for Education and Learning introduced the item and outlined the key parts of the report. She outlined the progress of the SEND Partnership Board and the Dorset Education Board, and how the Families First for Children Pathfinder would enhance the locality model. The current progress on SEND provision and plans for a further bid for funding was outlined.


Members asked questions and discussed the report, and the following areas were raised:


·         Parents coming together in co-operation can make good projects, an example was through a Local Alliance Group such as schools submitting bids for cookery workshops to increase belonging in schools.

·         The council ensured that children and families were getting the right support for home education. 

·         It was expected that the need for 500 additional SEND places would be met, however the original target of 809 spaces may not be met. The potential for the 309 additional places could cost approximately £23 million.

·         Each Local Alliance Group received £100k for improving inclusion and attendance in schools. There has been new innovation in communities due to this.

·         The budget for SEND in schools was held by the council as part of the High Needs Block. The funding for ordinarily available SEND provision had not increased which created a challenge for the council.

·         When local schools cannot meet the needs of a child, officers work with schools who suggested the needs could be met. The council can ask the Secretary of State to direct a school. The council would work with a school to ensure a child’s needs were met.

·         Parental choice could be challenging because parents did not always choose a local school.

·         There was a recruitment campaign for the Families First for Children Pathfinder and the Dorset Education Board had a workforce pledge for the recruitment and retention of staff in school. There were not many difficulties recruiting and it ensured that the emerging needs of children could be met.


Members noted the report, and the progress made and challenges of SEND.




Scrutiny Performance Review

A review of the relevant Dorset Council performance dashboard to inform the Scrutiny Committee’s work programme and identify items for deep dives.


The following link is the dashboard for the committee: People and Health Scrutiny Committee Dashboard.



Following a review of Dorset Council’s performance indicators, the committee identified two areas to raise. These were:


Staff sickness levels and the effect these could have on services – this would be added to the potential items for the work programme.


Data surrounding school attendance and exclusions – a report was requested on the Education Strategy and Belonging Strategy.




Cost of Living Challenge Update pdf icon PDF 175 KB

To consider a report by the Business Partner – Communities and Partnerships.


Additional documents:


The Business Partner – Communities and Partnerships introduced the item on the cost of living. The report updated the committee on £2 million that was allocated by the council for supporting the cost of living. The healthy home and energy vouchers did not use the full amount of allocated funding so 2 further projects were introduced for supporting homelessness. The usage of the cost of living support was outlined.


David Cadisch of Central Dorset Citizens Advice and Neil Hardisty of The Nest Weymouth explained how their organisations had used the funding. This included supporting people with debt help and increasing capacity of caseworkers to deal with debt and cost of living help. It had also been used for helping communities with food security.


Committee members discussed the report and asked questions. The following areas were raised:


·         A member asked why the council’s budget did not include Cost of Living funding for the next year. He was advised that it would be for the next administration following the local elections to decide on whether to replace the funding.

·         There was an issue with people using foodbanks when they could be using social supermarkets. Could the council be promoting and educating people on the use of social supermarkets. In response, the promotion of social supermarkets would be actioned.

·         The funding was well spent and used effectively. There was a need to ensure that the funding continued.


Proposed by Cllr Taylor, seconded by Cllr O’Leary.




That the Committee:


1.    Supports how the funding has been used.

2.    Thanks all the voluntary groups involved in delivering this work.

3.    Recommends to Cabinet that the funding for the cost of living support is extended and that the relevant Portfolio Holder, in consultation with the Section 151 Officer, considers options for funding. The funding should be reviewed annually in the budget setting process.




Registered Providers of Social Housing Update pdf icon PDF 118 KB

To receive a report by the Corporate Director for Housing and Community Safety.


(Report to follow.)



The Corporate Director for Housing updated the committee on registered providers of social housing, following previous work of this committee and the Housing Strategy being approved. There was widening engagement with registered providers, and they had responded well to the committee’s work.


Members discussed the report and raised the following points:


·         Concerns about the size of housing associations and the accountability of them.

·         It was difficult to get contact details for people and new councillors should be given the contacts for people who work in Housing. A single point of contact could be explored for housing enquiries.

·         Annual reports from registered providers were useful. It would be good to receive them from all providers.

·         There needed to be more engagement with local communities so that there was support for new homes. Housing associations could make the case earlier for affordable housing.

·         Developers were asking for planning conditions to be reviewed which was impacting the numbers of affordable housing in developments. Developers should be completing viability assessments before submitting planning applications.


The Chair suggested that the Housing Strategy should be reviewed by the committee later in the year.




Committee's Work Programme and Executive Forward Plans pdf icon PDF 93 KB

To consider the committee’s Work Programme and the Executive Forward Plans.


Additional documents:


There were no updates on the work programme. The work programme would be developed by the new committee following the local elections.




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 are no exempt items scheduled for this meeting.



There was no exempt business.