Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Andy Carswell  01628 796319

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No. Item


Election of Vice Chairman

To appoint a Vice Chairman for the remainder of the municipal year.


Cllr Hunt nominated Cllr Sharpe for the role of Vice Chairman. This was seconded by Cllr Bateson. Cllr Tisi nominated Cllr da Costa for the role of Vice Chairman. This was seconded by Cllr da Costa.


Three members voted in favour of the motion to appoint Cllr Sharpe to the role of Vice Chairman and two members voted against the motion. As the motion was approved, the second motion to appoint Cllr da Costa to the role of Vice Chairman fell.


RESOLVED: That Cllr Sharpe be appointed Vice Chairman for the remainder of the municipal year.

Recorded Vote
TitleTypeRecorded Vote textResult
To appoint Cllr Sharpe as Vice Chairman for the remainder of the municipal year Motion Carried
  • View Recorded Vote for this item
  • 54.

    Apologies for Absence

    To receive any apologies for absence.


    Apologies were received from Tony Wilson.


    Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 217 KB

    To receive any declarations of interest.


    There were no declarations of interest from Panel members. Cllr Baldwin stated he was a volunteer with Maidenhead Foodshare, which may be of relevance.


    Minutes pdf icon PDF 298 KB

    To approve the minutes of the previous meeting held on September 30th 2020.


    RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the minutes of the meeting held on September 30th 2020 be approved as an accurate record.


    Update on the Acute Trust

    To receive an update on the Acute Trust from CEO Neil Dardis.


    Cllr Hunt highlighted that Janet King from the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust had given a presentation at September's Panel. Due to Covid19 the Panel had requested a further update on the Trust and Cllr Hunt was pleased to introduce Nigel Foster, the Trust’s Director of Finance, to the meeting. She thanked all NHS staff for the huge contribution they had made towards tackling the Covid19 pandemic. Nigel Foster said he hoped an ongoing relationship could be built between the Trust and the Council, after Janet King had attended the previous Panel meeting. He then gave a presentation to Members giving an update on issues affecting the Trust.


    Nigel Foster said the Trust employed 10,000 people, who had been doing extraordinary things during the pandemic. Among the photos to be included in the presentation were staff from Wexham Park receiving a thank you at a Christmas angel in Slough; a bed in a refurbished staff rest area; and Di Dodsworth, the head of nursing in the intensive care team who received an MBE in the New Year’s honours. Nigel Foster said he received an email from her this week, asking to pass on thanks to a member of the IT team who had helped the intensive care team on a Saturday afternoon. He said he received an email from an ITU nurse who described her feelings of being stressed and physically and emotionally exhausted, and Nigel Foster said this reflected how a high number of staff across the Trust were feeling.


    Figures included in the presentation showed the current levels of staff sickness, which accounted for six per cent of the workforce. Of those, they were divided roughly proportionally equally into those who had Covid-related sickness, those who were isolating, and those who had some other sickness. Rates had decreased, as at one point more than 1,000 staff members were off sick.


    Members were told about the number of meetings taking place relating to the management structure at the Trust, and how this related to service delivery. This had been particularly important in recent weeks as the number of patients had increased. Nigel Foster explained that Covid patient numbers had been very low in August, but there had been around 700 in the last few days. This was more than double the number of patients that had been experienced during the first wave of infections, and had placed great pressures on the hospital. There had been a significant spike since December 10th and assistance had needed to be sought from other hospitals. Some patients had needed to be transferred to other parts of the country and there had been transfers out of the ITU, both of which were unprecedented. Some facilities within the independent sector were being used to cope with the demand.


    Nigel Foster said Wexham Park was one of the first sites in the country to start Covid vaccinations. As of the day before the Panel meeting, just under 14,000 vaccinations had been administered at  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.


    Budget 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 261 KB

    To review and discuss the proposed Budget for the 2021-22 municipal year.

    Additional documents:


    The item was introduced by Cllr Hilton, who advised that the report set out areas of growth and pressures, including those for Covid19; potential savings; and fees, charges and capital schemes relevant to the Panel’s area of interest. Comments from the Panel for consideration by Cabinet were welcomed.


    Cllr Carroll stated in his introduction to the Panel that the budget proposals represented four main principles: protection of vulnerable people; innovation; embracing of transformation; and to financially futureproof the Council’s budget. It was noted that a small increase in the adult social care precept had been proposed as part of the overall budget.


    Cllr Hunt told the Panel that she would go through each line in each appendix and invite comments and questions from members.


    Appendix A


    Kevin McDaniel advised that the seven items relating to children’s services reflected the cost of continuing to deliver services that were already being supplied. Regarding line five, Kevin McDaniel said that, following the transfer in 2017, Achieving for Children staff were in a pension fund pool administered by Wandsworth Council which meant their pension costs were no longer included in the RBWM budget.  A tri-annual re-evaluation of the fund had led to an increase in contributions, which was effective from April 2020. Other changes to the budget head described in line five reflected posts that were now being funded directly by the Local Authority as the job roles had been shown to improve delivery of services for children with additional needs; and also the removal of a staff vacancy factor budget as this has shown to be ineffective with the current level of demand.


    There were no questions or comments from the Panel relating to lines one to six.


    In relation to line seven, Kevin McDaniel responded to a question from Cllr da Costa by explaining that Achieving for Children had a credit facility with RBWM in order to help pay bills to suppliers on time. This had existed previously but had not been included in any earlier budget statements.


    Regarding line eight, Lynne Lidster explained that RBWM held an annual contract with DASH to provide support for adults and children who were victims of domestic abuse. The contract was worth £100,000, of which RBWM contributed around £67,000. The rest of the funding came from a grant from Thames Valley Police but it was unclear if they would be able to meet this funding requirement this year. The amount shown in line eight was to cover the funding shortfall in the event Thames Valley Police did not have the grant funding to contribute. Cllr Carroll stated this was a particular service that the Council wanted to futureproof, due to an increase in domestic abuse during the course of the Covid19 pandemic and lockdown.


    There were no questions or comments from the Panel in relation to line nine.


    Regarding line five, Cllr Baldwin asked for clarification on what was meant by salaries that had previously been funded from capital. Kevin McDaniel said a review of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.


    Q2 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 183 KB

    To note the contents of the report.

    Additional documents:


    Cllr Hunt informed Members that the report looked at the performance of the Council’s revised medium-term financial strategy, focusing on the impact of Covid19 and government policy and how this had affected the focus of the Council’s interim strategy. Hilary Hall advised the Panel that the indicator relating to annual reviews of residents with long-term healthcare packages had dropped below anticipated delivery levels during quarter two as a result of the peak of dealing with Covid19. However, this was now on an upward trajectory and was likely to be on target by the end of quarter three and achieved by the end of the year.


    Cllr Sharpe asked if there was anything in the report that was of major concern to officers. Hilary Hall said there was nothing to cause concern in the adult care sector, although some of the performance indicators had dropped during quarter two as a result of the impact of some services needing to be redeployed in order to help combat Covid19. Although levels of formal reviews of carers had dropped during this phase, interactions between the Council and carers had been done on a more informal basis and services had not been negatively impacted. In some cases, support for residents had been accelerated and enhanced. Kevin McDaniel agreed there was nothing in the children’s service area that caused him concern. Although more action was required to help with education, employment and training of care leavers, this was partly attributable to an increase in the number of children in crisis.


    Lin Ferguson told the Panel that a Performance Board met on a monthly basis, and scrutinised the full set of performance indicators applicable to Children's Social Care and Early Help. This had concluded that whilst individual performance indicators may shine a light on a particular issue, they should not be seen in isolation. Lin Ferguson said that when individual indicators are viewed alongside other indicators and trends over time, as happened at the Performance Board, they were more valuable. Lin Ferguson said this monthly scrutiny gave assurance that there were no systemic issues that would give cause for concern. She added the three performance indicators listed as red in the report were for those areas that had been most significantly impacted by Covid19. Particularly challenging had been training and employment opportunities for some care leavers as they either worked zero hours contracts or had part time jobs, often in industries such as entertainment that had been most badly affected by Covid19. Regarding the number of families who had re-referred to children’s social care within 12 months, Lin Ferguson said a similar pattern was being noticed at other local authorities. This related to families who did not have the resilience to be able to manage with the issues affecting them and had referred themselves as they needed additional support. Cllr da Costa said this could be viewed as a positive, because families were seeking the support they needed rather than suffering and not getting the appropriate levels  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.


    Update on the Response to the Ombudsman Public Interest Report pdf icon PDF 475 KB

    To receive an update on the above named item.


    Cllr Hunt thanked officers for all of the measures that had been implemented at the recommendation of the Ombudsman, and that all of the actions had been completed. She expressed regret for the fact the issues that led to the Ombudsman complaint had not been picked up on earlier.


    Task and Finish Group - Streams of Funding to Support Children in Care and Care Leavers pdf icon PDF 332 KB

    To note and discuss the action points of the Task and Finish Group.


    Cllr Hunt introduced the item and reminded Members that they had agreed they wanted the Council Tax exemption to be considered for implementation for care leavers up to the age of 25. Lin Ferguson stated that Council Tax exemptions were in place for care leavers aged up to 21, but the consideration for extending it up to the age of 25 was considered fair as the Council had increased levels of responsibility towards care leavers aged up to 25. Officers were looking to see if this proposal was financially feasible and would report back to Members. It was agreed that a timescale for a future meeting would be agreed between Lin Ferguson and Kevin McDaniel, with a likely date in March.


    A need for improved education and training opportunities for care leavers had also been identified, and this had been discussed at an officer group meeting the day before Panel. Lin Ferguson said a number of actions had been agreed to develop an employment, training and education strategy and action plan, and the officer group was due to meet again in March.


    Annual Scrutiny Report pdf icon PDF 313 KB

    For Members to consider appropriate content for inclusion in the Panel’s Annual Scrutiny Report to Full Council.


    Andy Carswell introduced the item and explained that the Annual Scrutiny Report would be considered by Full Council in June. Members were told a draft version of their report should be collated and agreed at the next Panel meeting in April. It was agreed that all Members would be contacted via email to ask for suggestions for items to include in the report, and responses should be sent to Cllr Hunt and Andy Carswell. The draft report would then come back to the next Panel meeting for agreement, prior to consideration by Full Council.


    Work Programme pdf icon PDF 254 KB

    To review the ongoing work programme.


    Cllr Tisi said at a recent training workshop Members had been advised to have a greater amount of discussion on the work programme to set a clearer schedule of items to discuss. Cllr Hunt suggested that discussions about future agenda items could be agreed via email. Cllr Sharpe said items to be put on the work programme should be for the benefit of residents, rather than as a training exercise for Members.


    Cllr Bateson asked about the update on the Lynwood Clinic that was listed on the work programme but had not yet been scheduled. Hilary Hall said she would investigate what this item was about. Kevin McDaniel’s suggestion that the item on school funding changes could be removed from the work programme was agreed by Members. Members also agreed they would like a future agenda item on high needs funding.