Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Bromley Civic Centre

Contact: Philippa Gibbs  020 8461 7638

Items
No. Item

49.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Marina Ahmad.  Councillor Kevin Brooks attended as substitute.

50.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

51.

QUESTIONS FROM COUNCILLORS AND MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ATTENDING THE MEETING

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, questions to the Chairman of this Committee must be received in writing 4 working days before the date of the meeting and must relate to the work of the scrutiny committee.  Please ensure questions are received by the Democratic Services Team by 5pm on Thursday 4th April 2019.

 

Minutes:

There were no questions.

52.

MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 23 JANUARY 2019 AND MATTERS OUTSTANDING pdf icon PDF 117 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 23 January 2019, excluding exempt information, were agreed and signed as a correct record.

53.

PRE DECISION SCRUTINY OF PORTFOLIO HOLDER DECISIONS

The Sub-Committee to consider the following report(s) where the Children, Education and Families Portfolio Holder is recommended to take a decision.

 

53a

BUDGET MONITORING pdf icon PDF 114 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report ECHS19033

 

The Sub-Committee considered a report providing the budget monitoring position for 2018/19 based on activity levels up to the end of December 2018.

 

The Sub-Committee noted that issues remained around the High Needs element of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG).  Nevertheless, a £281k underspend would be added to the £1.180k carried forward from 2017/18 giving an estimated DSG balance of £1,295k at the end of the financial year.  This figure included the additional £788k High Needs funding for 2018/19 that the Government announced in December 2018.  In response to a question, the Head of Education and Children’s Social Care Finance confirmed that in light of the increasing pressures on the High Needs Block it would be prudent to retain the surplus around this level.  The final 2018/19 outturn would need to be evaluated before any decisions could be taken.

 

In relation to Adult Education; in response to a question the Head of Education and Children’s Social Care Finance explained that the £128k overspend was a result of, amongst other things, possibly overestimating the fees that would be generated in 2018/19.  The Director of Education explained that there had been a focus on supporting corporate priorities and the courses that were required to do this were the less lucrative courses to run.  There had also been an element of overspend around staffing and this would be resolved going forward.  The current projections for 2019/20 were that the service would be cost neutral as growth had been included in the budget.  The Sub-Committee also noted that some of the overspend had been the result of action that had been taken in response to recommendations from Ofsted.

 

Members noted that the Children’s Social Care Division was currently overspending by £3,051k (net of management action of £800k).  The overspend before management action stood at £4,250k.  Placements for children continued to be a pressure.  Members were reminded that the number of placements was volatile and had further increased above budgeted levels, particularly in residential homes, independent fostering arrangements and special guardianship arrangements.  This was in part due to the increase in the number of children reaching the threshold for secure placements and no secure placements being available.  There had also been a significant increase in the cost of outreach services connected to the placements.  Officers were being proactive in addressing this issue.  In addition to the £800k already received from Bromley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) an additional contribution of £900k had been secured following positive discussions.  The Local Authority had been able to put a strong case to the CCG with good evidence and the additional funding would go towards addressing the increasing pressures.  Members noted that in particular Fostering, Adoption and Resources was a needs-led service and as a result figures were volatile.  The Head of Education and Children’s Social Care Finance confirmed that growth had been assumed for 2019/20 in addition to the £900k received from the CCG.  The Service continued to identify ways in which further pressures could be mitigated.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53a

53b

CAPITAL MONITORING Q3 - ECF PORTFOLIO pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD19040

 

The Sub-Committee considered a report summarising the current position on capital expenditure and receipts following the 3rd quarter of 2018/19.  On 13th February 2019, the Executive had agreed a revised Capital Programme for the four year period 2018/19 to 2021/22 as set out in the report.

 

Members noted that in the 2019/20 Municipal Year the Sub-Committee would be receiving post-completion reports for the following projects: Langley Park Boys School, The Highway Primary, and Universal Free School Meals.

 

In response to a question from the Chairman, the Director of Education reported that that the DfE had confirmed that the application for a Special Free School had been approved.  A sponsor to run the specialist provision would now need to be identified through a competitive process.  An event would be held in May 2019, and potential bidders would be invited to attend.  The specification had now been published and was available to bidders.  Bids would need to be submitted by September 2019.  The Secretary of State, or the Regional School Commissioner as representative of the Secretary of State, would determine the outcome of the applications although there was not yet a timeline for a final decision.  The Director of Education confirmed that there had been a significant amount of interest however the event in May would provide a good indication of the number of interested bidders.

 

RESOLVED: That the Portfolio Holder be recommended to note and confirm the changes agreed by the Executive on 13th February 2019.

 

54.

PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report ECHS19034

 

The Sub-Committee considered its regular update on the performance of services for children.  The Assistant Director for Strategy, Performance and Engagement reported that there were 4 indicators not meeting expectation and the report provided detailed management commentary around these indicators.

 

In response to a question concerning whether, in relation to the percentage of Care Leavers (aged 19,20, 21) who were in Education, Employment and Training, the Local Authority had comparative data for residents who were not care leavers, the Assistant Director confirmed that the national measure on the whole population related to 16 and 17 year olds.  There was a need to considered whether it was a fair comparison as Care Leavers faced very different challenges to young people who had not been living in care.

 

In response to a question concerning the initiatives that were being utilised to increase employment amongst Care Leavers the Sub-Committee heard that Bromley had been working with Lewisham to jointly secure DfE funding for a specific project.  The Virtual School had also been arranging educational based trips (for example, to colleges and the theatre) for Care Leavers in order to expose young people to the wide range of learning opportunities that were available.

 

Work was also ongoing in relation to apprenticeships.  The DfE had offered opportunities for apprenticeships for Care Leavers that would be taken up.  In addition to this Bromley CCG had also offered 1 apprenticeship opportunities and one of our contractors 2 placements .  Work continued in relation to ensuring that there was a contractual requirement for companies providing services on behalf of the Local Authority to offer apprenticeship opportunities for Care Leavers.  So far, 5 apprenticeships had been secured against a target of 6 but there was always more that could be done.

 

In relation to average caseloads, the Director of Children’s Social Care confirmed that the most recent data demonstrated that caseloads in the Referral and Assessment Service (RAS) had reduced to, on average, 16.  Some of the issues around caseloads had been due to vacancies within RAS.  The Sub-Committee noted that RAS was effectively the ‘front door’ to Children’s Social Care and there would always be a need to deal with what came through the front door.

 

In response to a question, the Assistant Director confirmed that current performance around adoption was positive.  The Service was performing well in terms of adoption and matching.  The Director of Children’s Social Care reported that Early Permanency Panels were being held at an earlier stage in the process, and foster-to-adopt performance was positive.  In addition to this the fortnightly Fostering and Adoption Panels ensured that there was no delay at any stage of the process.  It was too early to assess the impact of the Regional Adoption Agency supported by Coram however this would be monitored.

A Member who also sat on the Fostering and Adoption Panel remarked that through her role on the Panels she felt that the performance culture in the organisation had changed.  Officers were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.

55.

EXPENDITURE ON CONSULTANTS 2017/18 & 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CSD19039

 

At its meeting on 7th February 2019, the Executive, Resources and Contracts PDS Committee considered the attached report on expenditure on consultants across all Council departments for both revenue (appendix 2) and capital (appendix 3) budgets. The Committee requested that the report be considered by all PDS Committees.

 

The Sub-Committee noted that some of the revenue expenditure related to the Ofsted Inspection and would now be coming to an end.

 

The Head of Education and Children’s Social Care Finance reported that some of the capital spend was in relation to consultancy for basic need school building works.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

56.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 AS AMENDED BY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT (ACCESS TO INFORMATION) (VARIATION) ORDER 2006 AND THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000

The Chairman to move that the Press and public be excluded during consideration of the items of business listed below as it is likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings that if members of the Press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the press and public be excluded during consideration of the items of business listed below as it was likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the press and public were present, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.

57.

EXEMPT MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 23 JANUARY 2019

Minutes:

The exempt minutes of the meeting held on 23rd January 2019. were agreed, and signed as a correct record.

 

Concluding Remarks

The Chairman noted that this would be his last meeting in the Chair.  The Chairman and the Sub-Committee thanked all Officer and Member colleagues, both past and present, for their support and input into scrutinising the budget and service performance and holding both officers and the Portfolio Holder to account.

 

Councillor Nicholas Bennett proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman.  Chairing the Sub-Committee had involved a great deal of work and the Sub-Committee had done a lot of good work, especially in relation to considering annual reports, which had enabled the Select Committee to undertake in-depth scrutiny reviews.

 

Councillor Judi Ellis seconded the vote of thanks, noting that the calm and patient manner in which the Chairman had managed the Sub-Committee meetings had enabled Members to develop a detailed and secure understanding of budget and performance monitoring.

 

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