Agenda and minutes

People Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 27th September, 2022 2.30 pm

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

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


No. Item


Minutes of the previous meeting held on 22nd July 2022 pdf icon PDF 338 KB

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9.1       The Committee RESOLVED to agree the minutes of the meeting held on 22 July 2022 as a correct record and agree the recommendations made at the meeting.



Apologies for absence

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10.1     Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Nuala Geary (substituted by Councillor Ian Hollidge) and Kathryn Field (substituted by Councillor Carolyn Lambert), Mr Trevor Cristin (Diocese of Chichester Representative), Miss Nicola Boulter (Parent Governor Representative) and Mr John Hayling (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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11.1     Councillor Ungar declared a personal, non-prejudicial, interest that a family member was responsible for managing and administering the Household Support Fund for a local authority.



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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12.1     There were no urgent items.



Annual Review of Safer Communities Performance, Priorities and Issues pdf icon PDF 452 KB

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13.1     The Head of Safer Communities introduced the report which outlined the performance of the Safer Communities Partnership for the 2021/22 year against the Partnership’s business plan priorities. The Head of Safer Communities’ introduction covered trends in some criminal activity from local police data, service performance priorities and issues, residents’ community safety priorities highlighted in responses to the latest East Sussex Reputation Tracker Survey, and the Partnership’s successes with securing additional income, all of which were set out in more detail in the report and appendices. 


13.2     The Chair thanked the Head of Safer Communities for the comprehensive report and particularly for Appendix 2, which had been provided in response to a previous request from the Committee. The Committee asked questions and made comments on the following areas:


·                     Anti-Social Behaviour Crime Reports – the Head of Safer Communities was asked to comment on Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) figures included in Appendix 1 of the report and reports of ASB for wards in Hastings. The Head of Safer Communities clarified that while reports of ASB had steadily increased in the data period captured in Appendix 1 (2018/19-2020/21), in the rolling data for August 2021-July 2022, compared to the rolling data for August 2020 to July 2021, reports of ASB nuisance crimes had decreased in Hastings by 47% which was positive and showed progress in the right direction. It was recognised that there remained some significant issues with ASB in Hastings Town Centre and a member of the Safer East Sussex Team attended a multi-agency partnership group focussed on addressing this specifically. A question was also asked on whether there had been any interrogation of whether the decrease in reports of ASB in 2021/22 referenced in the cover report related to a decrease in reports, rather than a decrease in incidents. The Head of Safer Communities responded that unfortunately the Safer East Sussex Team were not able to determine this from the data available, but did ask borough and district council colleagues to notify the Team of any community tensions so that they could understand if there were concerns about increases in ASB that were not being reported.


·                     Insights from domestic abuse figures – the Head of Safer Communities was asked to comment on domestic abuse figures and clarified that while incidents of domestic abuse had slightly decreased (by 4.7%) between 2020/21 and 2021/22, overall reports of domestic abuse had marginally increased and the number of high-risk domestic violence and abuse cases discussed at the East Sussex Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) had increased. The proportion of high-risk cases considered at the MARACs was also higher than seen nationally. The Head of Safer Communities was asked to comment on what could be inferred from these figures and they responded that the increase in reports suggested victims were more likely to come forward to ask for help, but the reduced number of recorded incidents suggested not all reports would be progressed through the criminal justice system or result in a prosecution and conviction. A  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


East Sussex Safeguarding Adults Board (SAB) Annual Report 2021-2022 pdf icon PDF 323 KB

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14.1     The Director of Adult Social Care and Health introduced the report on behalf of the Independent Chair of the East Sussex SAB, Deborah Stuart-Angus, who would usually present the report but had had to send apologies to this meeting. The Director highlighted that the report covered the work of the partnership board in the 2021/22 year, and the work and focus of the Partnership during this time had continued to be heavily impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Director’s introduction covered key highlights from the report under the SAB’s five strategic themes; and noted that a number of areas covered in the report, such as the safeguarding issues presented by domestic abuse and modern slavery, linked to the work of the Safer Communities Partnership covered in the previous agenda item, and vice versa. The Director also highlighted the increasing complexity of safeguarding cases that the agencies in the SAB were seeing, with incidents of self-neglect and coercion and control particularly challenging to respond to. The Director concluded by highlighting common areas for learning and assurance arising from Safeguarding Adults Reviews (SAR) that had taken place in 2021/22. The Interim SAB Development Manager was invited to comment and added that the SAB continued to be very active, including in SAR activity, with three SARs underway currently and that area of the SAB’s work increasing.


14.2     The Chair thanked the Director and SAB Development Manager for the report. The Committee asked questions and made comments on the following areas:


·         General Practitioner (GP) safeguarding referrals – a question was asked on whether numbers of safeguarding referrals from GPs had improved, noting that this had been an area of concern for the Committee in previous years. In response, the Director committed to follow up with the figures but understood that safeguarding referrals from Primary Care more broadly, including from roles other than GPs, such as practice nurses, had significantly improved. A lot of work had been done through the SAB and NHS Commissioners to raise awareness of adult safeguarding in health, to bring this in line with the awareness of children’s safeguarding. 


·         Partnership Protocol – a question was asked on how the partnership protocol mentioned in the report was applied in practice. The SAB Development Manager responded that the protocol had been in place since 2016 as the focus of the safeguarding partnerships frequently overlapped. Recently, a piece of work had been undertaken looking at common learning themes from reviews (Domestic Homicide Reviews, Safeguarding Adults Reviews, Drug and Alcohol Related Death Reviews and Local Children Safeguarding Practice Reviews). This had identified a number of areas to focus on and there would now be bi-monthly meetings of review managers, which would include sharing recommendations from reviews underway and ones that had concluded, to ensure action planning was smarter and avoided duplication. The partnerships were also looking at other ways to amalgamate learning to make better use of capacity and resources. Other areas of joint working had included ensuring SARs and Domestic Homicide Reviews  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.


Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources (RPPR) pdf icon PDF 223 KB

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15.1     The Director of Adult Social Care and Health introduced the report which provided the latest update to the Committee in the current RPPR cycle. The report covered the latest assessment of the policy and financial position for the Council for 2023/24 and beyond, due to be considered at the next meeting of the Cabinet, including an initial assessment of the potential financial impact of the planned ASC charging reforms. The report also covered proposed use of the one-off £5.175m Services Grant for 2022/23, taking account of feedback from the Committee’s consideration of proposed use for the funding at its awayday earlier in September. The Director outlined that a prudent approach to use of the funding was being recommended to Cabinet; holding most of the funding in reserve given the particularly uncertain financial outlook for the Council. The exception was the recommendation to allocate £270k to activities to support recruitment and retention given the workforce challenges faced by all Departments. The Director noted that the proposal of introducing a Family Safeguarding model, which the Committee had been supportive of, was now also proposed to be taken forward on a longer term basis within the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP).


15.2     Following the Director’s introduction, the Committee asked questions and made comments on the following areas:


·                     Plan for Patients – a question was asked on whether the £500m fund Government had announced alongside the Plan for Patients would replace the funds lost from the cancelled National Insurance increase. The Director of Adult Social Care and Health responded that the fund was separate to funding for the charging reforms and the Department understood that it had been allocated to support the health system through the winter, particularly with facilitation of hospital discharges. The exact allocations for ESCC, the means of allocation (e.g. whether it will be allocated to the NHS or local authorities) and conditions for use were unknown.


·                     Market Sustainability Plan – the Committee asked if it would be possible to receive a copy of the Market Sustainability Plan once finalised and reviewed by the Department for Health. In response, the Director explained that the estimated impact of the Fair Cost of Care exercise was included within the report to Cabinet and would be talked through at a Whole Council Forum for councillors the following day. The Director confirmed the Committee could receive a copy of the Market Sustainability Plan, although the Director would need to take advice on whether this was done confidentially given the potential commercial implications for the market of the information included within it.


·                     Funding for future financial uncertainty – a question was asked on whether there was scope to reduce the proposed funding to be set aside for managing uncertainty following announcements in the Chancellor’s recent mini-budget statement, such as the cancellation of the planned National Insurance increase which ESCC would no longer need to budget for. The Chief Finance Officer responded that from a budget perspective, the reduction in employer National Insurance requirements was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Work programme pdf icon PDF 391 KB

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16.1     The Chair introduced the report on the Committee’s latest work programme, outlining that the draft work programme appended to the report reflected changes agreed at the Committee’s recent work planning awayday. The Chair asked the Committee for any further comments or changes regarding the work programme and the following was discussed:


Report on Armed Forces Covenant

16.2     The Chair asked if the Committee could receive an update report on ESCC’s work on the Armed Forces Covenant and the work needed for ESCC to achieve a gold accreditation. The Director of Children’s Services explained that the Lead Member for Children and Families had recently become the Armed Forces Champion. The Covenant had been placed on a statutory footing and a number of steps had been taken to look at enhancing ESCC’s work in this area. This included arranging training for councillors and members of staff on the new Armed Forces Covenant duty, looking at what would be required to move ESCC from silver to gold in the employer accreditation programme and undertaking a staff survey to determine how many members of staff had a connection to the armed forces community. While the survey had only just started and only 50 returns had been received to-date, 20% of respondents had said they had a link. The Director explained that in terms of the staff accreditation, ESCC was very close to meeting the requirements to be gold standard and the ambition was to achieve this by the time of ESCC renewing the signing of the Covenant in 2023. An event was planned to be held after the local elections in 2023, inviting district and borough partners to sign the covenant and put a spotlight on actions taken by each council to discharge their obligations under the covenant.


16.3     The Director and Lead Member for Children and Families added that it had been challenging to secure full engagement from borough and district partners on this work but engagement continued. ESCC hoped that in playing a leadership role it would be able to demonstrate to other public sector organisations what was possible, and the contextual pressures facing all councils, which made it challenging to engage in work such as this, were also noted. The Chair of the Committee asked if the work on the Covenant needed to be better highlighted to borough and district councils and the Director responded that as the legal basis for the Covenant was a new development, there was a need for general awareness raising and this was the reason for provision of the staff and councillor training.


Loneliness and Resilience Reference Group

16.4     Councillor Clark commented that it was important the reference group held its final meeting to consider the final recommendations of the work that had taken place and how that would be progressed. Councillor Clark remarked on the ongoing importance of tackling loneliness, including thinking about how to connect with, and share information on services, with elderly people who do not have access to computers.


16.5     Councillor  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


East Sussex Safeguarding Children Partnership Annual Report 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 179 KB

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17.1     The Independent Chair of the East Sussex Safeguarding Children Partnership introduced himself and the report, which the Independent Chair reminded the Committee was a report covering the work of the multi-agency Partnership, rather than solely the safeguarding work of ESCC. The Independent Chair noted that the Committee had requested that this report cover learning for East Sussex from the national reviews into the deaths of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson and the Independent Chair assured the Committee that the Partnership had carefully considered the messages from the National Panel’s report. The Independent Chair had written to all the strategic leads for safeguarding in the Partnership to ask what steps they were taking to respond to the recommendations in the national reviews and he had been re-assured by the responses received, with a number of actions taking place, including a mock-Joint Targeted Area Inspection.


17.2     The Independent Chair highlighted that the Partnership had conducted eight multi-agency rapid reviews of cases of child serious injuries or deaths and four of those had resulted in a Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review in 2021/22. The Independent Chair added that the East Sussex system and all strategic leads were very open to learning from those reviews. The Independent Chair also highlighted a range of key developments and achievements within the report and concluded by commenting that the ESSCP was one of the best safeguarding partnership he had seen in his time working in safeguarding, with really strong leaders in all agencies who all agreed that safeguarding was key.


17.3     The Committee asked questions and made comments on the following areas:


·                     Sufficiency of resourcing for safeguarding – a question was asked on whether there was sufficient resource to carry out the work that safeguarding partners felt was needed to address issues identified by the ESSCP. The Independent Chair responded that while they felt there was not enough resource to do all that the ESSCP would want to, and they would always be supportive of more investment in safeguarding, the resources the partnership and its members did have were extremely well managed and effective. The Director of Children’s Services added that while they would also always support opportunities to invest in children’s services and safeguarding work, even if more funding was to become available it would be challenging to recruit more children’s social workers at this time. The Director felt that the service had just about enough resource for what it needed to deliver but noted that caseloads of social workers were the highest they had been, with some social workers responsible for 23-25 cases as opposed to the 16-18 cases that were aimed for. All cases were managed very carefully. The Director added that the proposals to implement a Family Safeguarding Model through RPPR involved recruiting 36 additional workers to deliver adult support which was a significant investment but was expected to deliver savings in the longer-term by keeping children out of care wherever safe and possible.


·                     Child exploitation in work – a question  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.