Agenda and minutes

People Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 24th March, 2022 10.30 am

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Lewes

Contact: Beth McGhee, Senior Policy and Scrutiny Adviser  07975 729931


No. Item


Minutes of the previous meeting - 18 November 2021 pdf icon PDF 298 KB

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25.1     The Committee RESOLVED to agree the minutes of the meeting held on 18 November 2021 as a correct record and agree the recommendations made at the meeting.



Apologies for absence

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26.1     Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Bob Bowdler, Charles Clark, Chris Dowling, Kathryn Field, Stephen Shing, and Miss Nicola Boulter (Parent Governor Representative).



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.


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27.1     There were no disclosures of interests.



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.


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28.1     There were no urgent items.


Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) Annual Report pdf icon PDF 298 KB

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29.1     The report was introduced by the Chair of East Sussex SACRE. In the introduction the Chair noted that the coronavirus pandemic had continued to limit some of the usual activities of SACRE, such as school visits, and that the opportunity had therefore been taken in 2021/22 to work with schools to revise the locally agreed religious education syllabus for the county, to be adopted from September 2022.


29.2     The Committee welcomed the update and discussed the report. This covered:


·                     Remote meetings – the Committee noted that the Chair of East Sussex SACRE had mentioned in the introduction that remote working had improved attendance at primary and secondary school network meetings and asked whether the intention was for these meetings to continue to be held remotely. The Chair confirmed that remote meetings would continue to be held wherever possible to maintain improved accessibility for teachers.


·                     Faith schools – the Committee asked what impact the new religious education syllabus would have on faith schools. The Chair of East Sussex SACRE confirmed that faith schools tended to follow the agreed religious education syllabus, but with optional modules relevant to the school added (for example on Christianity in Church of England schools), so would be subject to the new syllabus. Roman Catholic Diocese schools had their own separate syllabus. The Committee noted feedback from Trevor Cristin that representatives of Church of England schools in the Diocese of Chichester spoke highly of the work of East Sussex SACRE.


·                     Community building – the role of collective worship in building a sense of community in schools was discussed. As part of this, the Chair of East Sussex SACRE noted that the broader religious education syllabus assisted with improving understanding of different communities’ religious and world views; and helped improve understanding in secular communities of what religion had to offer to those who were religious or who lived in more religious societies around the world.


29.3     The Committee RESOLVED to note the update.



Child Exploitation and County Lines Presentation pdf icon PDF 189 KB

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30.1     A presentation on child exploitation and county lines was delivered by Stuart Hale, Detective Superintendent and Force Lead for Exploitation (Sussex Police) and the Strategic Lead for Specialist Adolescent Services (ESCC Children’s Services Department). The presentation explained that ‘county lines’ were when gangs and organised criminal networks exported illegal drugs from an area into one or more importing areas in the UK using dedicated mobile phone lines or other forms of deal lines. It was explained that child exploitation formed a significant element of county lines activity as gangs used children to move drugs between places. The presentation covered work by Sussex Police to identify and disrupt county lines and the work of the East Sussex Safeguarding Children Partnership’s (ESSCP) Multi-Agency Child Exploitation (MACE) group to safeguard children involved in county lines. A copy of the presentation that was delivered was included in the meeting agenda.


30.2     Committee Members and the Lead Member for Education and ISEND thanked the presenters for providing an interesting and detailed presentation on their work. The Committee and Lead Member then asked questions on a range of matters arising from the presentation: 


·                     Age profile – the Lead Member asked what the age profile of children involved in county lines tended to be. The Strategic Lead for Specialist Adolescent Services responded that the age-range of cases handled by the MACE hub and Vulnerable Adolescent Risk Panel (VARP) tended to be ages 14-17. The panel had seen cases of younger children in the past but this was rare.


·                     The long-term effectiveness of police interventions – the Lead Member asked whether it was common for a county line to be replaced by gangs following disruption. The Sussex Police Force Lead for Exploitation responded that unfortunately gangs would often replace county lines following disruption and that the police worked with the National Crime Agency (NCA) to address this, as the NCA had resources to tackle organised criminal activity at a more strategic level. Sussex Police also worked with charities and providers to promote support to users of county lines (for example, in sending a text message to all drug users on a line when it was disrupted to advertise support services) to reduce the chance that they would seek to purchase drugs through an alternative line. Sussex Police were also working with the Metropolitan Police to analyse information about users collected through county line operations to date to better target support for drug users in future.


·                     School exclusions – the Lead Member noted that the presentation had highlighted the prevalence of fixed term exclusions among the cohort the MACE group worked with and asked whether it tended to be the case that children became involved in county lines because they were subject to school exclusions or were excluded from school because they had become involved in criminal activity through county lines. The Strategic Lead for Specialist Adolescent Services responded that the MACE group saw cases of both circumstances, but knew that exclusions from school significantly increased a child’s  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.


Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources (RPPR) pdf icon PDF 222 KB

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31.1     The Chair introduced the item, outlining that it was the final stage of the Committee’s input into the RPPR cycle for the 2022/23 financial year; and an opportunity to review the Committee’s input into the cycle and consider any changes or improvements that should be made ahead of scrutiny’s engagement in the next RPPR round. The Chair highlighted that the report recommended two enhancements for scrutiny involvement in future RPPR cycles following consultation with the Scrutiny Chairs and Vice-Chairs Group:


·         That the Committee consider relevant parts of the end of year monitoring report and State of the County report annually at the Committee’s July meeting, to enhance scrutiny’s consideration of performance achievements and challenges over the preceding year, and support earlier engagement with the forward-looking demographic, policy and financial analysis in State of the County; and


·         that the Committee hold an annual work planning awayday in early September to consider key issues arising from State of the County for services in the Committee’s remit and ensure that those issues are incorporated in the Committee’s ongoing work programme.


31.2     The Director of Children Services and Director of Adult Social Care both commented that they felt scrutiny’s input to the RPPR process currently worked well but that the changes set out in the report would enhance it further by enabling the Committee to start their scrutiny of the Council’s business and financial planning earlier, and to align this with the Committee’s work planning.


31.3     The Vice Chair of the Committee commented that the RPPR process generally worked effectively, as it provided information on outcomes achieved with the money invested in services. The Vice Chair supported the report recommendations and expected that the changes proposed would enhance the Committee’s input, noting that the Committee’s effectiveness in scrutinising RPPR was dependent on receiving relevant information about budget and business planning at the earliest opportunity.


31.4     The Committee RESOLVED to agree the report and the enhancements to the RPPR scrutiny arrangements recommended at paragraph 2.6. </AI5><AI6>



People Scrutiny Committee Work programme pdf icon PDF 480 KB

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32.1     The Chair introduced the report on the Committee’s latest work programme and updates on scrutiny work that had taken place since the last Committee meeting were received. The key issues discussed were:


Reference Groups


Loneliness and Resilience Reference Group


32.2     Councillor Ungar, as Chair of the Loneliness and Resilience Reference Group gave an update on the work of the Reference Group which had met twice since the Committee’s last meeting in November 2021. Councillor Ungar reminded the Committee that the reference group had been providing scrutiny input into a public health-led project to consider the impact of loneliness on East Sussex residents and identify opportunities for a systematic approach to mitigate its worst effects. The Group had had a positive meeting earlier in the week where they had considered the findings and draft recommendations of the project, which the Group were supportive of, and had suggested elements that would need to be considered in the practical delivery of the recommendations. The Reference Group planned to hold another meeting to consider the final report and how the recommendations would be taken forward and would then report back to the Committee.


32.3     Other Members of the Reference Group welcomed the work that had taken place so far and looked forward to considering the final recommendations and practical outcomes of the project.


Initial Scoping Boards


Adult Social Care (ASC) Workforce Challenges


32.4     The Committee agreed at their November 2021 meeting to proceed to scoping a potential scrutiny review of Adult Social Care Workforce Challenges. Councillor Ungar, as Chair of the Initial Scoping Board outlined that the Board had met earlier in March and received a presentation from the Department on work they had started, or were about to begin, to address challenges in the ASC workforce locally, building on the recommendations of a People Scrutiny review of this area that was undertaken in 2019. Councillor Ungar fed back that there had been a good discussion of the work taking place and the Board had made suggestions of areas the Department could expand their approach. 


32.5     Councillor Ungar summarised that, as set out in the work programme report, the Board had agreed to recommend to the Committee that as the Department were just starting, or about to progress, a wide-range of work in response to ASC workforce challenges, it was not an appropriate time to commence a scrutiny review of this area. Instead, the Board had requested the Department provide a progress report to the Committee in nine months setting out what had been delivered in that time and the impact it was having. In the meantime, the Board asked that the Department proceed at-pace with delivering the planned work they had shared with the Board and with completing all the recommendations of the previous scrutiny review, particularly the recommendation that all councillors were supported to promote the role of Personal Assistants.


32.6     The Committee RESOLVED to agree the recommendation of the Initial Scoping Board not to proceed with a review of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32.


Developing Care Markets - Home Care and Care Homes pdf icon PDF 483 KB

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33.1     The Head of Supply Management and the Learning Disability Commissioning and Supply Development Manager (Market Resilience and Engagement) delivered a presentation to the Committee on the latest position of the local care market for older people’s homecare, older people’s bedded care and specialist working-age adult care. The presentation also highlighted the current risks and challenges facing providers and the local care market. A copy of the presentation that was delivered was included in the meeting agenda.


33.2     The Committee welcomed the update, discussed the presentation, and asked questions on the following issues:


·                     Funding reforms – the Committee considered the potential impact of upcoming national funding reforms highlighted in the presentation, including whether there would be challenges presented by self-funding clients having unviable expectations of what the local authority could arrange in terms of care packages. The Director of Adult Social Care and Health responded that the biggest challenge for the Department was expected to arise from the element of the planned reforms that would enable self-funders to ask the local authority to arrange residential care placements on their behalf, as the fees the Council paid to providers were expected to need to be uplifted significantly to cover the loss in income providers would see from self-funding clients moving to local authority rates. This uplift would be required for those providers’ business models to remain viable; and an exercise to determine the sustainable fee rate required to be paid by the Council to providers was currently underway.


·                     Categories of residential care provision – the Committee asked if the categories of residential care provision outlined in the presentation (for example ‘nursing dementia’) could be further split by different models of living arrangements and whether the Department had assessed to what extent different living arrangements resulted in better outcomes for residents. The Head of Supply Management and Learning Disability Commissioning responded that the categorisations used in the presentation mirrored the registration categorisations used by the Care Quality Commission. The Head of Supply Management recognised that the definitions were broad and covered a range of models; for example, a ‘registered residential home’ covered provision that catered to 4 or 5 clients as well as provision that catered to 40 or 50 clients, both with potentially very different living arrangements. However, it would be very challenging for the Department to develop a more detailed, consistent categorisation of those models of care and that prevented assessments of the impact of those arrangements on outcomes from being made.


·                     Specialist working-age services – the Committee asked if the Department expected that the increase in referrals to specialist working-age services post-COVID, highlighted in the presentation, would be maintained longer-term. The Head of Supply Management and Learning Disability Commissioning responded that it was unclear if referrals to these services would be maintained at the higher post-COVID level long-term but knew we could expect to provide support over a long period of time for those who were being referred as they were younger clients who often required support over their  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.