Agenda and minutes

People Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 1st October, 2018 10.30 am

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Lewes. View directions

Contact: Stuart McKeown, Senior Democratic Services Adviser  01273 481583

No. Item


Minutes of the previous meeting held on Monday 25 June 2018. pdf icon PDF 105 KB


8.1       RESOLVED to agree the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record.



Apologies for absence


9.1       Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Liddiard, Loe and Whetstone.


Disclosures of interests

Disclosures by all members present of personal interests in matters on the agenda, the nature of any interest and whether the member regards the interest as prejudicial under the terms of the Code of Conduct.




10.1     Councillor Ungar declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest as he is a Director of Aspiration Housing and a Director of the Eastbourne Housing Investment Company Limited (with regard to Agenda item 5 and item 12 of these Minutes).


10.2     Councillor Webb declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest as, in relation to his role as a Hastings Borough Councillor, he has attended meetings where matters relating to the Flagship School were discussed (with regard to Agenda item 5 and item 12 of these Minutes).



Urgent items

Notification of items which the Chair considers to be urgent and proposes to take at the appropriate part of the agenda. Any members who wish to raise urgent items are asked, wherever possible, to notify the Chair before the start of the meeting. In so doing, they must state the special circumstances which they consider justify the matter being considered urgent.



11.1     The Committee welcomed Ofsted’s judgement of ‘outstanding’ with regard to its recent inspection of Children’s Social Services.   Members were grateful to officers for their hard work and professionalism in securing this positive outcome.  The Committee therefore asked that its congratulations and gratitude be recorded in the formal Minutes of the meeting.



Scrutiny review of Educational Attainment KS4 - progress on action plan pdf icon PDF 145 KB

Report by the Director of Children’s Services.


Additional documents:


12.1     The Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee appointed a Scrutiny Review Board to review Educational Attainment at Key Stage 4.   The review investigated the issues and challenges that secondary schools and academies face in relation to the recruitment and retention of teachers and the potential impact this has on educational attainment.   The final report of the Review Board was presented to the Children’s Scrutiny Committee in June 2017.   Following its progress through Cabinet and Full Council, a six monthly monitoring report was considered at the final the meeting of the Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee in March 2018.   The latest report provided Members of the People Scrutiny Committee (the successor body to the Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee) with a second opportunity to review the Departmental Action Plan.    Following a request from Members, the report also included the revised East Sussex Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy.  


12.2     Elizabeth Funge, Head of Education Improvement, introduced the report and highlighted the Children’s Services Department’s desire to develop a revised Teacher Recruitment and Retention strategy in collaboration with key partners, such as Teaching Schools and Teaching Partnerships.   </AI5>




12.3       The Committee welcomed the report and then discussed a number of issues in relation to the Action Plan and the revised recruitment and retention strategy document.  Members agreed that it is important that local housing plans include an element relating to Key Worker accommodation.  The Committee also discussed the proposed establishment of ‘The Flagship School’ in Hastings.  In response to this, the Department undertook to provide the Committee with a written briefing on recent developments regarding SEN school provision in the county.


12.4   The Committee asked for more detail regarding what quantitative data the Department had to support the objectives set out in the revised recruitment and retention strategy.  More specifically, the Committee requested more detail as to how the Department identify which subjects have teacher shortages.  


12.5     In response the Department informed Members that it had conducted surveys to establish what the key recruitment and retention pressures are for schools and academies within the county.  However, precise data was difficult to obtain.   The resources are no longer available within the service to conduct detailed data collection processes.   Furthermore there are a wide range of different types of educational establishment in the county and this has made the data collection process more difficult to achieve.   Given this, the Department have developed a pragmatic approach to identifying the key recruitment and retention challenges.   This involves developing and maintaining good working partnerships with all the local educational establishments.  Whilst such relationships do not provide ‘perfect’ data, the Department are confident it provides evidence which is sufficient for the purpose of developing an informed strategy.   One example of the Department’s approach in this respect relates to its programme of external advisers and consultant Head teachers.    The dialogue between these colleagues and schools results in useful data regarding teacher shortages for specific subjects.    The Committee were also informed that the Government provide data to the Department  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


East Sussex Local Safeguarding Children Board Annual Report - 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 230 KB

Report by the Director of Children’s Services.

Additional documents:


13.1     Reg Hooke, Independent Chair of the LSCB, introduced the annual report and highlighted the LSCB’s priorities for the past three year period (as set out in paragraph 2.4 of the covering report and in more detail in Section 3 of the Annual Report).  Mr Hooke also drew the Committee’s attention to the revised version of the Department for Education’s guidance document, ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’.  The revised guidance was published in July 2018 and sets out new arrangements which require three safeguarding partners (the local authority, police and clinical commissioning groups) to publish new arrangements by the end of June 2019.  


13.2     A summary of the key points discussed by the Committee are set out below:


·       Home education.  The Committee asked for the LSCB’s views on the potential safeguarding risks for children who are home educated.   In response, the Committee were informed it is the LSCB’s view that there is a lack of regulation relating to this area.   As a result, this is a group of children which the LSCB and relevant stakeholders cannot be complacent about.   Given the lack of regulation, the Board’s focus has been on those children who are at most risk (for example, children who have been placed on a Protection Plan).


·       Impact of new arrangements for scrutiny.   In response to a query regarding the impact of the new arrangements, the Committee were informed that in terms of reporting to scrutiny, and for the time being at least, the process would remain unchanged.


·         Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). The Committee asked for clarification as to how the LSCB measures the impact of its efforts regarding the multi-agency response to CSE.   In response, the Committee were informed that a number of different methods are used in this respect. One key tool is the examination of trends.  In this example, trends relating to the number of cases being moved from the ‘High Risk’ to ‘Low Risk’ category are used to help identify the impact of the LSCB’s measures.


·         Sexual offences against children data.  In response to a query regarding the figure of ‘500 sexual offences against children’ statement which appeared in an infographic in paragraph 2.4 of the Annual Report (page 55 of the agenda), the Committee were informed that the data relates to sexual offences reported to and recorded by the Police (not convictions).   Whilst the data does not reflect the total number of offences committed against children, it does provide an important picture of abuse committed against children. Trends in data may reflect increased public awareness and changes in policing, rather than an increase in incidence (Data also reflects the year in which an offence was reported, not the year it was committed, so a proportion of offences will be historic). 


·         Exploitation by organised crime groups.   The Committee asked for clarification regarding the steps being taken to combat the exploitation of children and young people by criminal gangs for the purposes of supplying drugs.   In response, Mr Hooke informed the Committee that this  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources (RPPR) 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 152 KB

Report by the Chief Executive.

Additional documents:


14.1     Becky Shaw, Chief Executive introduced the item by providing an overview of the context within which the current RPPR process is taking place.   This included discussing the strategy of developing a ‘Core Offer’ in the light of proposed further savings of £45m required over the next three years. The Committee were also informed that further detail will be provided to Members after the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivers the Government’s budget on 29 October (with a response to the budget being considered at Cabinet in November).  


14.2     The Committee sought further clarification regarding what services would either be potentially be included or excluded from the Core Offer.  In response, the Chief Executive commented that no decisions had been made yet, and that whilst she was sympathetic to the requests for more detail, it was not possible to do so at the time of the meeting.   


14.3     The Committee noted the Core Offer extract (attached as Appendix 3 to the report), and asked for clarification as to whether safeguarding was being given an appropriate level of priority.  In response, the Committee were informed that Appendix 3 is not a priority list and that instead, it should be viewed as a work in progress document.   The Chief Executive also confirmed the Council has been lobbying the Government regarding providing local authorities more discretion over such matters as the fees the Council are able to charge for certain types of service.   


14.4     RESOLVED:   to establish a Scrutiny Review Board which will meet on Thursday 10 December 2018.



People Scrutiny Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 225 KB

Report by the Assistant Chief Executive.

Additional documents:


15.1     The Committee discussed its draft work Programme which is comprised of a number of ongoing Scrutiny Reviews, Reference Groups and planned reports.


Current Scrutiny Reviews


15.2     In relation to the ‘Coping with Change – the Way Forward’ Scrutiny Review, Councillor Galley provided an update on the Board’s activities and confirmed that the review is on course to deliver its final report to the Committee at its meeting on 27 November 2018.


15.3     In relation to the Changing Care Market’ Initial Scoping Board, the Committee agreed that there is sufficient merit in a review of the areas identified by the Board.   The Committee therefore RESOLVED to:


(1)  Appoint Councillors Davies, Ensor, Galley, Sheppard and Ungar to conduct a review of the Changing Care Market; and

(2)  Appoint Councillor Ensor to act as Chair of the Changing Care Market Review Board. 



Initial Scoping Reviews


15.4     In relation to the ‘Fostering Service’ Initial Scoping Board, and on the basis of the evidence considered as part of the scoping process, the Committee RESOLVED to:


(1)  not proceed with a formal Scrutiny Review of issues relating to the Fostering Service; and

(2)  support the suggestions of the Initial Scoping Board as set out in Section 3 of Appendix 2 of the report.


15.5     As part of the process it follows to review the Work Programme, the Committee considered a proposal to appoint an initial scoping board to look into issues relating to Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC).  The Director of Children’s Services informed the Committee that he would value scrutiny input into this challenging area for the Department.  For example, the numbers of UASC may start to increase and this is a challenge for the Department as the Government only part fund the costs associated with this group.    The Department also indicated that it would value the insights Members could provide into the views of local communities on this subject.  


15.6     With the above in mind, the Committee RESOLVED to:


appoint Councillors Field, Webb and Whetstone to undertake scoping work with a view to establishing whether a recommendation should be made to the People Scrutiny Committee to approve a formal review being undertaken. 









Reference Groups


15.7     The Committee discussed the membership of the Educational Attainment and Performance Scrutiny Reference Group and the details of its next meeting.   The Committee RESOLVED:


(1)  to appoint Matthew Jones, Parent Governor Representative, to the Educational Attainment and Performance Scrutiny Reference Group; and 

(2)  that the next meeting of the group should take place in January.


Reports for Information


15.8     Councillor Galley updated the Committee with regard to the additional SACRE report listed under the ‘Reports for Information’ section of the Work Programme.   The Committee were informed that the Department have undertaken to include within SACRE’s Annual report a section which considers the issue of the provision of Religious Education in secondary schools (the Annual Report will be considered by the Committee in March).  As a result, the Committee agreed to remove this item from the Work Programme.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Safeguarding Adults Board Annual Report and Strategic Plan pdf icon PDF 91 KB

Report by the Director of Adult Social Care and Health.

Additional documents:


16.1     George Kouridis, Head of Service, Adult Safeguarding, introduced the item and highlighted some of the key issues contained within the Safeguarding Adults Board (SAB) Annual Report.  This included: 


·           the four safeguarding adult review (SAR) referrals made in 2017-18; and

·           the key findings of the ADASS Peer Review of Safeguarding.  The review was undertaken in March 2018 and delivered an overall positive review of adult social care and found no issues with regard to Safeguarding Adults practice.   The one key area the review did identify for development relates to the ability of staff to take on appropriate levels of risk.  The review recommended therefore that the service should provide support and training which empowers staff in this respect.   As a result an Action Plan has been implemented which includes, for example, a new threshold decision making process guidance tool for partners and providers. 


16.2     The key points discussed by the Committee are summarized below:


·         Implementing the findings of SAR.   The Committee welcomed the overall positive situation described in the annual report.  Although further clarification was sought regarding the mechanisms the Department have in place to ensure learnings are acted upon.   The Committee also sought clarification regarding whether the Department believes it has sufficient resource available to successfully implement the findings of its SARs.   In response, the Committee were informed that training is key for the Department.  So, for example, the last referral to the SAB resulted in an ‘open discussion’ amongst staff regarding the issues. At a strategic level, the Department have a process for monitoring the implementation of the recommendations of a SAR.


·         Staffing Levels.   In response to a question about staff levels within the safeguarding team, the Director of Adult Social Care informed the Committee that an 8% reduction in staffing levels will have an impact across the Department.   The Department’s response to this is to re-focus its resources on key areas, such as safeguarding.   This response should also be seen in the context of the broader changes taking place across the Council, whereby resources for the most vulnerable are prioritised.   Within the context of adult social care, this re-prioritisation process may have an impact on, for example, how long people wait for an assessment.   The Director also noted that its peer review process is still relatively well-funded in terms of support to the SAB.  


·         Mental Health - responsibility for responding to a threatened suicide.   Councillor Ensor asked which agencies would be responsible for responding to and caring for an individual who was making threats in public to commit suicide.   In response, the Committee were informed that the NHS would ultimately be responsible, but that there would also potentially be an element of Adult Social Care involvement too.  


·         IndependentChair of the Safeguarding Adult Board.   In response to a question from the Committee, it was confirmed that the Chair of the Safeguarding Adult Board, Graham Bartlett, would normally be in attendance for this report.   However, Keith Hinkley, Director of Adult Social Care, confirmed Mr  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.