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Committee Scrutiny Committee for Audit and Best Value Date 10
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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