Committee Scrutiny Committee for Audit and Best Value Date 10

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					Committee:              Scrutiny Committee for Audit and Best Value

Date:                   10 December 2002

Title:                  Meeting of the Scrutiny Committee for Audit and Best Value
                        held at 2.00 pm at Pelham House, St Andrews Lane, Lewes,
                        East Sussex

Subject:                Minutes

Attending:              Barnes Freeman Gadd Murphy Tutt Vickers


         OFFICERS PRESENT -          Legal Adviser - Andrew Ogden, Deputy Director of Legal and
                                            Community Services
                                     Financial Adviser - Sean Nolan, Director of Corporate
                                            Resources
                                     Scrutiny Lead Officer - Roger Howarth, Scrutiny and Best
                                            Value Co-ordinator

34.      MINUTES OF LAST MEETING

34.1 RESOLVED - to approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of
the Committee held on 18 October 2002.

35.      APOLOGIES

35.1     Councillor Birch.

36.      DISCLOSURE OF INTEREST

36.1 Councillor Barnes declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest by virtue of
being Chairman of the Bexhill and Rother Primary Care Trust.

37.      REPORTS

37.1 Reports on the matters dealt with in the minutes below are contained in the
minute book.

38.      RECONCILING POLICY AND RESOURCES

38.1 The Committee considered a report by the Chief Executive and the Director of
Corporate Resources. A copy of a further report by the Director of Corporate
Resources titled 'County Council Offices - Further Recommendations' which would
be considered by Cabinet on 18 December 2002, was circulated for information
purposes.

38.2 In response to queries raised by Members, the Chairman informed the
Committee that he would ask the appropriate officer to write confidentially to
Members with an estimate of the current market value of Pelham House.

RESOLVED - to (1) inform the Cabinet that the Committee supports the budget
strategy followed by Cabinet for the current year, but cautions against planning for
future budgets on the assumption that Government's funding limits will be maintained
at present levels
        (2) ask the Cabinet for a more detailed definition of the term, 'Core Services'

        (3) recommend the Cabinet to give careful consideration to ensuring that the
proposals for providing meeting space in County Hall deliver Best Value through a
sound economic justification (including the possible use of other local authority
accommodation).

39.    BEST VALUE REVIEW OF PROPERTY SERVICES : MONITORING
       REPORT

39.1 The Committee considered a report by the Director of Corporate Resources
and approved the Chairman's suggestion that this item be considered with the item
minuted in paragraph 38 above.

39.2 RESOLVED - to note the progress to date that has been achieved in
response to the recommendations of the Best Value Review of Property.

40.    COUNCIL PLAN    - QUARTERLY PROGRESS REPORT, FIRST SIX
       MONTHS (APRIL TO SEPTEMBER 2002)

40.1   The Committee considered a report by the Chief Executive.

40.2   RESOLVED - to (1) note the progress made on targets set out in the report.

          (2) inform the Cabinet that the Committee believes that the Council Plan
should remain a dynamic document to which changes may be appropriate from time
to time, but that at the end of the year the Committee should have the opportunity to
consider targets in the original Plan to aid the measurement of performance.

41.     DISTRICT AUDITOR'S ANNUAL LETTER 2001-02

41.1 The Committee considered a report by the Director of Corporate Resources
and the District Auditor's Annual Audit Letter 2001/02.

41.2   The Committee thanked the District Auditor for his report.

41.3 RESOLVED - to receive the report and the District Auditor's Letter for
2001/02.

42.    FUTURE WASTE CONTRACT RISK ASSESSMENT

42.1   The Committee considered a report by the Director of Corporate Resources.

42.2 RESOLVED - The Committee noted the report and agreed the proposed
approach to the Future Integrated Waste Contract and Private Finance Initiative.

43.    BEST VALUE REVIEW OF CHILDREN IN PUBLIC CARE

43.1   The Committee considered the final report of the Project Board.

43.2   The Chairman thanked the Project Board team for their work on the review.
43.3 RESOLVED - to approve the final report of the Project Board and refer the
following recommendations to the Cabinet for consideration and County Council for
approval:

Children and Young People

1.     The County Council should approach the Chief Executives of District and
       Borough Councils to discuss how to secure preferential access for children
       and young people in public care to sporting, leisure and cultural activities.
       District Councils should be asked to consider providing family cards for foster
       carers that will allow free access to facilities to foster children and their own
       children. Target Date: April 2003

2.     The County Council should corporately scope the size of the problem of
       children placed by other local authorities in East Sussex. The County Council
       should then make representations to local MPs and through the Local
       Government Association to national government to:

       (a) make statutory provision to ensure the complex needs of looked after
       children placed in the county by other local authorities are properly planned
       for prior to placements being made;

       (b) and, if numbers are significant, ensure that funding to meet the child's
       needs follows the child.
       Target Date: April 2003

3.     A named Officer should be identified from within the existing resources of
       Education and Social Services and with links to Health to respond corporately
       to other local authorities placing children in East Sussex and to ensure that
       information about these children is quickly and properly disseminated. Target
       Date: April 2003

Service Planning

4.     The Social Services Department should improve its capacity to plan new
       services for children by better statistical information and analysis of the needs
       of its service users and the effectiveness of different services. An audit
       planning tool, such as "Matching Needs and Services" from the Dartington
       Social Research Unit, should be used in conjunction with Education and
       Health to audit :

       (a) the requirement for residential provision for looked after children
       Target Date: April 2003

       (b) the requirement for other services for looked after children
       Target Date: September 2004

5.     Joint planning arrangements for children in public care, or who are at risk of
       coming into care, should be re-established with Education and Health. These
       arrangements should:

       (a) plan local provision to minimize the need for agency placements;
       (b) monitor and review agency placements; and

       (c) be chaired by an independent person. Target Date: April 2003


Contracting

6.     Social Services and Education should jointly commission a manager, from
       within existing resources, to improve the Council’s contracting capacity for
       purchasing services for children in public care. These improvements should
       include:

       (a) ensuring all contracts stipulate clear outcomes, monitoring arrangements
       and exit plans Target Date: September 2003

       (b) consideration of using a small number of preferred providers;

       (c) involvement of Health as appropriate in placements jointly funded by
       them.

7.     Joint commissioning and contracting arrangements should be sought with
       other authorities to improve the purchasing power of local authorities, with
       private sector agencies providing services for children in public care. Target
       Date: April 2004

Residential Care

8.     The two units at Lansdowne should be separated as proposed in the Joint
       Review. The secure unit should be reprovisioned and improved on the
       existing site and the residential unit should be relocated to less institutional
       premises. It is recommended that a feasibility study should be undertaken to
       inform the Cabinet’s consideration of this against other County priorities, but
       the Board recommends that this step should be regarded as not only
       necessary but likely to be cost effective in the medium term. Target Date:
       September 2003

9.     Consideration should be given together with Health and Education to the
       need for local residential provision for some groups of disabled children who
       are in public care. Target Date: September 2003

10.    A more dynamic model of residential care should be developed with better
       planning of admissions and moving on so that children have a proper sense
       of progression (links to recommendation 11) Target Date: April 2003

Foster Care

11.    Increased resources should be directed towards the Fostering Service in
       2003-4 to provide additional support packages for foster carers including
       easily accessible advice and support at all times; increased activities in
       school holidays;    more flexible respite;    help with transport and an
       acknowledgement of the needs of foster carers' own children. This could
       helpfully be supplemented by efficiency savings identified in the Review.(see
       Rec. 19)
12       The payment structure for foster carers should be reviewed in light of the
         need to recruit and retain – specialist foster carers for children with complex
         needs; mother and child placements; placements for children from ethnic
         minorities and carers working in an integrated manner with the residential
         units to move troubled adolescents into family placements. Target Date:
         September 2003

13       Foster carers entitlements should be clarified by:

         (a) re-writing the Foster Carers Handbook;

         (b) the continuation/ provision of support if carers are the subject of child
         protection investigations;

         (c) a greater appreciation of their work by children's social workers and
         Members of the County Council;

         (d) clear targets for assessment and approval times. Target Date: April
         2003

Education & Training

14.      The Looked After Children Adviser and The Educational Support Team
         (TEST) should continue to support and challenge schools regarding
         educational issues for children and young people in care to raise their levels
         of educational attainment and promote inclusion. Successful systems
         elsewhere should be investigated by the Looked After Children Adviser to
         see what can be learnt from them. Target Date: September 2003

15.      The Local Education Authority through The Education Support Team should
         seek the agreement of Governors to ensure that all staff in schools are aware
         of the additional educational needs of looked after children and the
         importance of Personal Education Plans being in place. Target Date:
         Ongoing

16.      New schemes should be explored by the Leaving Care Service in conjunction
         with Connexions Sussex to ensure that alternative training and employment
         opportunities are available to young people in public care. Target Date:
         September 2003

Health

17.      (a) Social Services, in association with the PCTs, to establish, with the East
         Sussex County Health Care Trust, a screening service for children in care, or
         at risk of admission to care, because of emotional and behavioural problems.

         (b) The recommended model is a nurse-led service, with access to the multi-
         disciplinary team in CAMHS, which :
                  - visits families and foster families,
                  - makes preliminary assessments and
                  - offers advice on behaviour management.
                  - prioritises referrals to consultants and other professionals.
         Target Date: April 2004
18.    All Primary Care Trusts should be encouraged to develop the role of the
       Designated Nurse for looked after children so that all aspects of the health
       care of looked after children can be monitored and improved. Target Date:
       April 2003

Finance and Resources

19.    Current strategies adopted by the Social Services Department to prevent
       children going into agency placements should continue and the Department
       should plan to identify 2% efficiency savings (calculated by the Board at
       between £90,000 and £130,000) mainly from the agency placements budget.
       These efficiency savings should be used to balance additional spending in the
       in-house services and should be realised on a phased basis as:

       (a) elimination of overspend on agency budget. Target Date: April 2004

       (b) between £90,000 and £130,000 to be shifted from agency to fostering
       and other in-house budgets Target Date: April 2005

       c) monitoring to be undertaken of the stability of social work staff working with
       Looked After Children. Target Date: Ongoing

Corporate Parenting

20.    The role of the Corporate Parenting Panel should be strengthened, with its
       annual report being presented to the Cabinet and then to the County Council
       to ensure there is general recognition of its responsibilities for corporate
       parenting. This annual report should summarise the work of the Panel. It
       should also, where appropriate, make recommendations to Cabinet.
       Recommendations not agreed by Cabinet should be notified to the County
       Council. Target Date: April 2003

21.    The Corporate Parenting Panel should monitor the implementation of the
       recommendations of this Best Value Review. Target Date: Ongoing

44.    BEST VALUE REVIEW OF SERVICES MANAGED AND DELIVERED
       THROUGH OUTSOURCED CONTRACTS

44.1   The Committee considered the final report of the Project Board.

44.2 RESOLVED - to (1) refer the following recommendations to Cabinet for
consideration and County Council for approval:

The County Council’s Fleet Management requirements

1.     The Director of Social Services to ensure that the individual roles and
       responsibilities of Social Services staff, in respect of core fleet management
       and maintenance for Social Services vehicles, is more clearly defined and
       understood by all parties involved with Social Services vehicles. Timescale:
       April 2003.

2.     The Director of Transport and Environment, in consultation with all other
       departments, to clarify the vision for the County Council’s core and non-core
       fleet requirements over the next five years in order to inform the process of
       re-tendering the current vehicle maintenance contract. Timescale: By
       September 2003

3.     The Board supports the continued research, development and
       implementation by the Director of Transport and Environment, of a viable
       action plan for maximizing the potential use of alternative fuelled vehicles in
       order to enhance the environment, in accordance with national and European
       guidelines. Timescale: Ongoing

Condition of the County Council’s Fleet

4.     The Director of Transport and Environment to:

       a)      develop and implement procedures and systems that will enable all
       parties involved with fleet vehicles to monitor, agree and record the fitness for
       purpose of each vehicle from procurement through to disposal. Timescale:
       By June 2003

       b)    prepare and implement a viable plan to achieve continuous
       improvement in the fitness for purpose of the vehicles in the fleet.

Arrangements for management and maintenance of the fleet

5.     The Director of Transport and Environment to clarify the individual roles and
       responsibilities of Client/users, County Transport Group and Colas and the
       correct lines of communication. Timescale: April 2003

6.     The Director of Transport and Environment to prepare and implement a viable
       plan to resolve Client/user concerns about the unsatisfactory condition of
       some of the replacement vehicles. Timescale: June 2003

7.     The Director of Transport and Environment to investigate whether it would be
       viable to offer a vehicle delivery/collection service for customers. Timescale:
       By April 2003

8.     The Director of Transport and Environment to:

       (a)     improve procedures and systems currently used to formally record
       that when a vehicle is issued, or handed back, to a customer it is roadworthy
       and fit for purpose, and to record the condition of replacement vehicles on
       return;

       (b)   improve procedures and systems currently used by drivers to
       carry out and record daily checks on vehicles.Timescale: January
       2003

9.     The Director of Transport and Environment to ensure that County Transport
       Group and Colas develop and implement a more joined up approach to
       customer care, including obtaining more replies to customer feedback
       surveys for analysis and action to continuously improve customer care and
       satisfaction. Timescale: February 2003

Procurement of Fleet vehicles
10.    All departmental Directors to ensure that all County Council vehicles are
       procured through the County Transport Group in order to fully utilize and
       maintain a core area of expertise and secure value for money for clients.
       Timescale: January 2003

11.    The Director of Transport and Environment, in consultation with all other
       departments, to provide a clear vision/estimate of the vehicles that the County
       Council will need to procure over the next 5 years in order to inform future
       procurement strategy to achieve value for money. Timescale: By September
       2003

12.    The Director of Transport and Environment to ensure that the County Council
       rationalizes and standardizes vehicle design wherever possible if this will
       enable a better deal to be obtained by maximizing “off the shelf” and/or bulk
       buying. Timescale: February 2003

13.    The Director of Transport and Environment to ensure that the range of
       procurement options is widened to include procurement of vehicles through
       consortiums where appropriate. Timescale: April 2003

Special Structures

14.    The knowledge and skills within County Transport Group feature highly in the
       current delivery of this service. The Director of Transport and Environment to
       ensure that future options for service delivery should take this fully in to
       account as part of the re-procurement exercise. Timescale: By September
       2003

Cost of ESCC Fleet Management service provision

15.    The Chief Executive to:

       (a)    ensure that the new employee lease car scheme is reviewed annually
       to check value for money to the County Council; Timescale: Ongoing

       (b)   identify the saving accrued through the implementation of the new
       employee lease car scheme and notify the Director of Corporate Resources.
       Timescale: February 2003

16.    The Chief Executive to identify a single office to have overall corporate
       responsibility (ie client role) for the car leasing scheme. Timescale: By April
       2003

17.    The Chief Executive to monitor the success of referring drivers to Driver
       Awareness training, to develop policies to improve standards for all staff who
       drive on County Council business, and to deal with drivers who continue to
       offend. Timescale: June 2003

                         (2) maintain a watching brief on the leasing scheme and its
overall cost to the County Council; and

                        (3) agree an extension of time for the completion of parts 2
and 3 of this review.
45.    BEST VALUE REVIEW OF ICT SERVICES: MONITORING REPORT

45.1   The Committee considered a report by the Director of Corporate Resources.

45.2 RESOLVED - to note the progress being made on the fifteen
recommendations approved by the County Council at its meeting on 21 May 2002.

46.  BEST VALUE REVIEWS AND THE COMPREHENSIVE PERFORMANCE
ASSESSMENT

46.1   The Committee considered a report by the Chief Executive.

46.2 RESOLVED - to note the report and agree the delegation set out in paragraph
2.5 of the report.

47.    FORWARD PLAN : December 2002 - March 2003

47.1   The Committee noted without comment the Forward Plan.

				
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