Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 8 March 2023 7:00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Barking

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 confirm as correct the minutes of the meeting held on 24 January 2023 pdf icon PDF 96 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on 24 January 2023 were confirmed as correct.


Minutes - To confirm as correct the minutes of the meeting held on 8 February 2023 pdf icon PDF 101 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on 8 February 2023 were confirmed as correct.


OFSTED Inspection Readiness: Update Report pdf icon PDF 94 KB

Additional documents:


The Commissioning Director for Care and Support (CDCS) delivered an update on the Council’s Children’s Social Care OFSTED Inspection Readiness. This detailed:


  • The OFSTED Inspection process, the Council’s own Self-Evaluation which set out its plans and areas for priority improvement for the forthcoming 12-month period, and annual engagement meetings between the Council and OFSTED to discuss these.
  • The continuous journey of improvement that Children’s Social Care had undergone since the Council’s last full OFSTED inspection, as well as the two focused assurance visits from OFSTED that had also been undertaken in this intervening period.
  • The current context and landscape against which recent improvement activity had taken place, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and local challenges such as increased population growth, which had exacerbated pressures within Children’s Social Care.
  • The position of Children’s Social Care within Barking and Dagenham, such as an improvement in the quality of the majority of cases and a positive workforce morale.
  • Areas for future improvement, such as consistency in the quality of services (for example, due to increased demand); however, this was improving as caseloads had been reducing steadily over the last six months. 
  • Further challenges within Children’s Social Care, such as a lack of children in care placements to meet national demand and increased complexity of cases;
  • Whilst OFSTED had previously rated the service as ‘requires improvement’ in 2019, with a number of the categories coming close to ‘inadequate’, many of the categories were now close to being ranked as ‘good’, with some likely to be rated as such, due to the improvement work that had taken place. These improvements were not to be underestimated, with the past four years having been very challenging due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Whilst local authorities were unaware of when they would receive a visit from OFSTED, the Council continuously worked to ensure that it would be ready whenever this occurred.


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


  • It was essential that the Council’s Self-Assessment was a realistic portrayal of its current social care position and that it focused on future improvement efforts.
  • Early Help services did form a small part of the inspection, as part of the ‘Health and Protection’ section. The commissioning of the Independent Review of this service when it was located elsewhere in the Council had led to a number of improvements within it, with various aspects of the service now likely to be described as ‘good’. Whilst more work was to be undertaken, the service was working to reduce pressures within Children’s Social Care and to provide a safe pathway out of this service as risk de-escalated.
  • Increased migration into the Borough was responsible for increased service demand; the demand on both Adults’ and Children’s social care services was increasing broadly proportionately to the growth of the population.The Council needed to continuously consider how it would meet increasingly challenging financial pressures, such as increases in the costs of buying the services that residents needed and balancing this  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.


Pre-Scrutiny Briefing: CQC Inspection pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Additional documents:


The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health Integration (CM) delivered an update on the Care Quality Commission (CQC Inspection). This was a new national inspection regime, with the CQC looking to begin its inspections of Adult Social Care Services from April 2023. The CM stated that:


·  The CQC planned to inspect 20 local authorities between April and September 2023.

·  New guidance as to the inspection framework was currently being published on a weekly basis, which was creating uncertainty in terms of how the CQC would be ready to begin its inspections from April;

·  The CQC would be assessing how the Council met its obligations under the Care Act; as such, it was not just assessing Adult Social Care services, but also those of departments such as Housing, Community Solutions, Employment and Public Health.

·  The CQC would also be assessing how local authorities worked alongside their respective Integrated Care System (ICS) partners, which was creating uncertainty in terms of how the CQC would inspect those authorities that belonged to larger ICS arrangements, such as Barking and Dagenham.

·  Current guidance stated that the CQC would focus on four areas as part of its inspections (working with people, providing support, ensuring safety and leadership) and would be based on how local authorities could deliver against specified quality statements.

·  A project group was currently in place to consider current practices and to complete the Council’s Self-Evaluation for Adult Social Care.

·  The Council had also commissioned some independent reviews, where it was aware that there were potential issues in services; the Local Government Association (LGA) was currently reviewing the Council’s safeguarding pathway, which could create some challenges around the interface between Community Solutions and Adult Social Care, and the positioning of the Intake team within Community Solutions currently.

·  The Council would also need to look at aspects such as providing assurance around services, despite historical underinvestment, as well as further develop its joint working practices.

·  The CM and the CDCS would present further reports to the Committee, following the completion of the Council’s Self-Evaluation, once they had received the outcomes of the independent reviews and following more information around the CQC inspection process.


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


  • Wording within the Health and Care Act 2022 meant that the CQC was able to both intervene and support local authorities through their inspections, which was likely included to enable the CQC to act however it felt that it needed to do so, in order to improve local services.
  • When the report talked about preventing social care, this related to shifting the Council’s resources and focusing its efforts to ensure that services were provided to residents at an earlier date, such as through additional support in their homes or through Voluntary sector support, so that people did not progress to statutory social care services.
  • The latest part of the framework had only been published as of the week commencing 6 March 2023. Whilst local authorities had now received the ‘I  ...  view the full minutes text for item 35.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair informed the Committee of the following changes that had been made to the Work Programme since the last meeting, which were agreed by the Committee:

  • An item on the Metropolitan Police Turnaround Plan 2023-25 was now proposed to be added to the April 2023 meeting. In order to accommodate the Borough Commander’s diary, the Committee would be moved from the current 5 April date, to the 4 April, in order to enable him to attend to present this item. It was proposed that the Flytipping and Parks items currently scheduled for this agenda would be rescheduled to a date within the new municipal year, to accommodate this addition.
  • An item on the vision for the Council’s new Corporate Plan was now proposed to be added to the 4 April 2023 meeting, following a request from the Leader for the Committee to hear this item.
  • The Barking & Dagenham Traded Partnership: Repairs & Maintenance item that had been due to be presented to the meeting scheduled for 8 March 2023, was now proposed to be presented at the 10 May 2023 meeting. This was due to several changes in personnel and a further deep dive undertaken on the overall repairs position, the results of which the report authors wished to include in the update to the Committee.
  • The Self-referral to the Regulator of Social Housing item that was due to be presented to the meeting scheduled for 5 April 2023, was now proposed to be presented at the 10 May 2023 meeting, to compliment the Barking & Dagenham Traded Partnership: Repairs & Maintenance item.
  • The Update: Quality of schools’ recovery post Covid-19; Update: How are we incorporating Race & Social Justice work into our schools’ education programmes?; and Readiness for inspection of services to support children/young people with SEND items that were due to be presented to the meeting scheduled for 10 May 2023, were now proposed to be presented at the 7 June 2023 meeting, to accommodate changes in the May schedule.
  • The Housing for Vulnerable Groups item that was due to be presented to the meeting scheduled for 7 June 2023, would now be rescheduled to a date within the new municipal year.