Agenda and minutes

Informal Meeting, Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 2 February 2022 7:00 pm

Venue: Meeting to be held virtually

Contact: Claudia Wakefield, Senior Governance Officer 

No. Item


Declaration of Members' Interests

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, Members are asked to declare any interest they may have in any matter which is to be considered at this meeting.


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes - To note the minutes of the meeting held on 5 January 2022


The minutes of the meeting held on 5 January were noted.


Update: Early Help Improvement Programme and Early Help Target Operating Model


The Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health Integration (CMSC) presented an update on the Early Help Improvement Programme and Early Help Target Operating Model (TOM), emphasising that this related to the Targeted Early Help provision and not to the Universal Early Help provision that still sat within the Community Solutions service. The presentation detailed the immediate actions undertaken since the Independent Early Help review in July 2021, the short-to-medium term actions currently underway, and future work, priorities and governance arrangements.


Whilst praising the work undertaken to date, the Chair highlighted the Committee’s need for reassurance that the Improvement Programme was being developed and delivered as planned. As such, she requested that an informal meeting take place in either May or June 2021, between the newly appointed Chair of the Committee and report authors, to discuss progress. This would take place between the local elections and the beginning of the new municipal year. She also requested that the item be formally discussed at the first Committee meeting of the new municipal year.


In response to questions from Members, the CMSC and the Commissioning Director, Care and Support (CDCS) stated that:


·  The Council needed an effective Early Help service that would be able to provide much needed support to vulnerable families within the Borough. The Council was also receiving increasingly high levels of demand within its casework. Providing an effective Early Help service would help to support families at an earlier stage and this would also prove more cost-effective for the Council, as cases would not decline, thus escalating into more expensive statutory social care services.

·  The Council was now working under a vastly different set of circumstances, in comparison to previous Early Help Improvement work. It now knew some of the causal factors that had resulted in its previous position and had taken great care to eliminate these. It also now had a leadership hierarchy that was very experienced in running effective Early Help services, from the Director of Children’s Services through to the new Head of Early Help. In designing the new Early Help TOM, the Council had worked alongside the industry experts- Social Care Institute for Excellence- as well as in collaboration with staff, schools and partners, to try to capture what was wrong, and correct this. The Council now had better levels of investment within the Early Help service, as well as was making sure that it had the right mixture of skills and capability at each level of the service. It now also had partners actively involved in the design of the Early Help service, who were understanding and committing to doing what was needed as part of the wider system.

·  The Performance Management Framework and quality assurance model used for Early Help now mirrored that used for other parts of the care and support system, which had been routinely tested and commended by Ofsted, and internal audit colleagues had also been invited to undertake an internal audit of the new processes. The Performance Management Framework  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.


Social Infrastructure Update and Plans


The Director of Community Participation and Prevention (DCPP) introduced an update on the Social Infrastructure in the Borough. He provided some context as to the invaluable work of BDCAN and volunteers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, providing support to residents in relation to food, welfare and self-isolation, as well as to the vaccination response. The Council had continued to build on this support over the past few months, collectively working alongside its social sector partners to further build on the relationships, values and approaches that underpinned the work of BDCAN, to grow the social infrastructure capacity within the Borough and to enable residents to have their say, influence and lead action on issues that mattered to them within their neighbourhoods.


The Head of Community Participation and Engagement (HCPE) and the Community Engagement Manager (CEM) detailed some of the achievements since the last presentation to the Committee on 4 November 2020 (minute 24 refers), the principles underpinning the Social Infrastructure within the Borough and the progress made since 2016, with increased participation from residents, relationships based on trust and increased sector capacity. They discussed next steps and projects, how the team was building on its volunteer offer and encouraging increased participation, and how it was looking to sustain interest in the work established so far. The next priority related to ensuring that the Citizens’ Alliance Network was as impactful as it could be for the Borough’s residents, as a platform to enable residents to set the agenda around local issues that mattered to them and co-ordinate action. The HCPE detailed the next steps to be undertaken to achieve this, as well as to build a more relational Council, that promoted meaningful engagement.


In response to questions from Members, the DCPP stated that:


·  The Council was already working alongside lots of its community partners in terms of the support and offers that were provided for volunteers, and was keen to continue this work. Whilst there was more that could be done, the team had spoken directly to its volunteers to ask them about the types of recognition that they might like to receive from the Council and its partners, introducing a ‘Volunteer of the Month’ as part of this. The Council had also increased the breadth of training programmes and opportunities that volunteers could access, with a key priority of the Council being to help more volunteers into employment, increasing their skills and income.

·  The Council was also working alongside volunteers and community organisations, to improve the experience for volunteers who might express an interest in wanting to offer their time and expertise, but who in the past found registering their interest to be a rather arduous process. The Council and partners now had a great digital platform to improve this process, and whilst there was more to done, a key priority was to reach out and hear from volunteers directly, so that the experience could be tailored to them.

·  Recognition was a key part of the offer for volunteers, especially for longer  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.


Work Programme


Whilst the Committee was shortly due to receive an email update on Reside, a Member’s Briefing on this subject had been cancelled. The Chair would discuss any further information that the Committee needed for assurance, and next steps, with the Committee clerk who would liaise with the relevant officers to obtain this information.


The Work Programme was noted.