Executive Minutes

Executive Minutes

Date:
Tuesday 11 June 2019
Time:
1:00 p.m.
Place:
Mandela Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Mayor A Preston (Chair) and Councillors A High and C Hobson
Observers:
J Cain, K Flynn, A Hoy and J Robinson
Officers:
J Bromiley, E Kunonga, K Parkes, T Parkinson, S Reynolds, E Scollay, H Watson and I Wright
Declarations of interest:

There were no Declarations of Interest made by Members at this point in the meeting.

Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
19/1 MINUTES OF THE EXECUTIVE MEETING HELD ON 16 APRIL 2019

The minutes of the Executive meeting, held on 16 April 2019, were submitted and approved as a correct record.

Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for Finance, Governance and Place-Based Services
19/2 UNIVERSAL CREDIT - FULL SERVICE

The Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for Finance, Governance and Place-Based Services and the Strategic Director of Finance Governance and Support submitted a report for the Executive's consideration. 

 

The purpose of the report was to provide the Executive with an update in respect of the first 6 months of the Government’s roll out of the Universal Credit (UC) 'full' service in Middlesbrough. The report outlined the significant amount of additional work UC was causing and the plans for implementation across the country.

 

A report had previously been submitted to Executive on 4 September 2018, which had provided the anticipated volumes and potential issues associated with UC. As the full UC service had now been operational for 6 months, the full impact was accurately reported over that period of time.

 

Residents were affected by UC in a number of ways. The main impacts experienced had related to :

  • eligibility for UC
  • delay in the full award of UC being made
  • difficulty in making a claim for themselves
  • delay in getting through to UC by phone
  • problems resolving queries when things went wrong

With the introduction of UC, it was anticipated that other departments and also Registered Providers (not for profit housing providers approved and regulated by the Government through the Homes and Communities Agency) would have experienced an increase in their workload as a direct result of UC. Early indications of that impact were detailed in the submitted report.

 

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced in October 2018 that local authorities were no longer being funded to provide digital support from 1 April 2019. It was also announced that a new service for 1 year was planned with the Citizens Advice Bureau to provide "Help to Claim".

 

In terms of Council support, the volumes of residents who had required support was 244.6% higher than the DWP had predicted, which confirmed the significant issues residents were experiencing with making and maintaining their claim. To cater for the demand, 2-3 officers had been deployed in the Customer Contact Centre.

 

As with the digital support, the DWP had taken the decision to withdraw funding from local authorities to provide personal budgeting support from 1 April 2019. Although the take up of personal budgeting support was low, residents who required such help in the future would not have been able to access it.

 

Based on the latest information available, there had been 2,906 successful claims made for UC between 3 October 2018 and 12 February 2019.

 

The number of residents who were no longer in receipt of Housing Benefit continued to rise daily. Although the Housing Benefit caseload would have continued to reduce, the volume of work was very likely to increase.

 

The DWP had recently communicated that the full roll out of UC was currently anticipated to be completed by late 2023 for working-age residents. There had been no indication as to when pensioners would have been likely to move onto UC, although that would have only been considered once all working-age customers had been moved onto the benefit.

 

OPTIONS

 

The Council had no option around the Government’s decision to implement UC. The Council continued to work with partner organisations and the DWP to advise on any potential queries and to minimise those for residents wherever possible.

 

ORDERED

 

That the impact of Universal Credit since the full service was rolled out (from 3 October 2018), and the future implementation plans of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), be noted.

 

REASONS

 

The previous report in respect of UC, submitted in September 2018, could have only provided the potential effects. As Middlesbrough was now 7 months into the full service roll out, the actual impacts had been established.

19/3 STRATEGIC PLAN 2018-22 - PROGRESS AT YEAR-END 2018/19

The Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for Finance, Governance and Place-Based Services and the Strategic Director of Finance, Governance and Support submitted a report for the Executive's consideration.

 

The purpose of the report was to advise the Executive of progress against the 2018-22 Strategic Plan and the Council’s projected year-end financial position.

 

The Council’s Scheme of Delegation provided the Executive collective responsibility for corporate strategic performance and financial management/monitoring, together with associated action. Standing Orders and Financial Procedures required the Executive’s approval for major virements between revenue budgets, and in-year changes to the Council’s capital Investment Strategy.


Appendix 1 provided the necessary information to enable the Executive to discharge its performance and financial management responsibilities, setting out for year-end 2018/19:

  • a progress update against the 2018-22 Strategic Plan;
  • final revenue and capital budget outturns;
  • position statements in relation to the Council’s borrowing and its reserves;
  • an update on the Council’s Strategic Risk Register; and
  • actions that the Council has taken to address performance issues.

A revised Investment Strategy for the period to 2021/22, was attached at Appendix 2 of the submitted report, for approval.

 

Appendix 1 set out positive performance in many areas, notably:

  • 26 of the 30 priorities within the 2018-2022 Strategic Plan were on target to be achieved, with 19 of 28 measures of success showing improvement at year-end;
    and
  • all KPIs within the Middlesbrough Investment Prospectus remained on target to be achieved, and the Council had made continued good progress in delivering its capital investment strategy in support of physical regeneration in the town.

Key performance issues identified in the report were broadly unchanged from Quarter Three, and related to improving local life expectancy and addressing increases in recorded crime in the town, both of which were national issues that affected many councils. In addition, more locally, the need to link local job seekers to opportunities that were arising from the Investment Prospectus, and the transformation of children’s social care. In spring 2019, the Council launched a Social Regeneration Prospectus, eMpower, that planned to act as a basis to address those issues and other social issues evident across the town in a systematic and integrated way in the coming years.
 

The Council was reporting an overspend on its 2018/19 revenue budget, which in percentage terms was minor (further information was detailed in the financial section of the submitted report). The overspend was due principally to continued pressures in Children’s Care, in line with what was now a national trend. Strong action was planned to continue during 2019/20 to mitigate those ongoing spending pressures.

 

OPTIONS

 

Not applicable.

 

ORDERED

  • That the Council’s 2018/19 Year-End Results report (Appendix 1), and the actions taken to address the issues set out within it, be noted.
  • That the proposed revised Investment Strategy 2021/22 (Appendix 2) be approved.

REASON

 

To enable the effective management of finances, performance and risk in line with the Council’s Local Code of Corporate Governance, the Scheme of Delegation and agreed corporate financial regulations.

Executive Member for People-Based Services
19/4 DEVELOPING IN HOUSE PROVISION - 16+ PROVISION LEASE (DANIEL COURT)

The Executive Member for People-Based Services and the Executive Director of Children’s Services submitted a report for the Executive's consideration.

 

The purpose of the report was to ensure that the appropriate agreement was obtained for the leasing arrangements, in respect of the expansion of the Council's edge of care provision for children aged 16+ at Daniel Court, for a ten year period - with effect from agreement date.

 

The cost of the lease was £60,000 per annum. The total cost over the term of the lease (10 years) would have been £600,000. The decision was over the £150,000 financial threshold and was therefore a key financial decision requiring Executive Member agreement.

 

Middlesbrough Council currently had 64 children in external residential placements, costing the authority in excess of £9,000,000. The current internal edge of care provision available to accommodate 16+ children in Middlesbrough was limited. Therefore, it was difficult to house children who required residential care locally or bring children placed in residential care at a distance, back to the area and close to their communities, which was proven to be best for most children.


The development of the edge of care provision within Middlesbrough planned to support the commissioning of better placements for children, at a better value of money for the Local Authority. The aim was to support children in care at risk of placement breakdown from a foster placement, or to offer therapeutic support to a child and family to prevent a child from becoming looked after.

 

Children's Services were focussing on increasing specialist provision for children aged 16+, as the complexed needs associated with vulnerable adolescents required a specialist intervention tailored to the specific needs of that age cohort.
 

Daniel Court had been identified as an appropriate property to support children aged 16+ who met the eligibility criteria for edge of care support. The lease over a 10 year period would have cost £600,000, however, the financial savings that would have been created and the non-financial benefits to children significantly outweighed that cost (paragraphs 20 to 23 of the submitted report contained further details in respect of associated financial savings).


The Children’s Services Directorate had savings of £4,982,000 to achieve by April 2022 of which the proposal played an important part in the delivery of.

 

OPTIONS

To do nothing would have been seen as not appropriately supporting the LAC population of Middlesbrough and not responding to the financial pressures that the Directorate currently had given how the LAC population were currently accommodated.

 

For a development of that kind it was imperative that the building was of the correct size and had the appropriate configuration to allow the young people to live semi independently but with sufficient support to keep them safe. In addition the property had to be in a part of town that was deemed low risk for the young people in terms of possible exploitation by criminal networks.


Applying the criteria in paragraph 14 of the submitted report, no other building was deemed appropriate in the local area to provide the level of accommodation that Daniel Court offered (9 self-contained flats) for the 16+ population.


The Council was keen to explore the option to purchase Daniel Court outright rather than lease but that was not possible as Thirteen were unwilling to sell due to the divesting that type of property not fitting with their preferred business model. Therefore, in the interests of progressing quickly with the savings, it was decided to proceed with the lease.


Proceeding with the lease also had the advantage of Thirteen carrying out the estimated £300,000 of capital works required to bring the property up to the required standard.

 

ORDERED

 

That the 10 year lease with Thirteen Group of Daniel Court in relation to the expansion of the Council’s edge of care provision, which is designed to support the management and accommodation of the Council’s LAC population, be approved.

 

REASON

 

The Council needed to ensure that it had the appropriate provision to accommodate its Looked After Children (LAC) population. The provision planned to ensure that savings were achieved in line with the Directorate’s savings requirement. 2019/20 savings would have been approximately £700,000 gross, (£445,000 net) from moving externally placed LAC to the Daniel Court accommodation, with a full year saving of approximately £1,100,000 gross, (£519,000 net).
 

Thirteen had committed to spend £300,000 in ensuring that the accommodation was brought up to the required standard that the local authority felt was needed.


Provision on high quality, in house, accommodation for looked after young people aged 16 and 17 planned to allow them to receive a consistent service and let Council services work with them to ensure that they were as independent as possible when they left the care system at 18.


Working with Thirteen also allowed relationships to be built to help young people access a tenancy of their own when they left care and moved onto live independently.

19/5 LOCAL SAFEGUARDING ARRANGEMENTS FOR CHILDREN

The Executive Member for People-Based Services and the Executive Director of Children’s Services submitted a report for the Executive's consideration.

 

The purpose of the report was to provide information regarding the requirement to establish new safeguarding arrangements.

 

Following the Wood Review (2017) into the role and functions of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs), the Government had introduced legislation through the Children and Social Work Act 2017 to reshape the way in which local agencies worked together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The Children and Social Work Act 2017 replaced Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) with new local safeguarding arrangements, led by three safeguarding partners (local authorities, chief officers of police, and clinical commissioning groups) - each agency being equally responsible for the delivery of the new arrangements.


The arrangements planned to deliver the statutory duty to:

  • Work together to identify and respond to the needs of children in the area;
  • Commission and publish Child Safeguarding Practice Review; and
  • Ensure the effectiveness of the arrangements were subject to robust and independent scrutiny.

A further report, detailing the structure to implement the new safeguarding arrangements, was planned for submission to the Executive in August 2019.

 

OPTIONS

 

Not applicable.

 

ORDERED

  1. That the formation of new safeguarding arrangements, in line with national requirements set out in Working Together 2018, be agreed.
  2. That a further report be submitted to Executive in August 2019, outlining the detailed structure of the new safeguarding arrangements.
  3. That arrangements for internal governance and oversight of the new local safeguarding be finalised by each of the three statutory safeguarding partners.
  4. That a review of the funding for the Children’s Safeguarding arrangements be undertaken to ensure that statutory requirements were met; and
  5. That following agreement by statutory partners and consultation, safeguarding arrangements be finalised for implementation by the end of September 2019, subject to approval by all relevant agencies.

REASON


The Children and Social Work Act (2017) set out provisions which planned to replace Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCB) with new flexible local safeguarding arrangements led by 3 safeguarding partners (local authorities, chief officers of police, and clinical commissioning groups), and placed a duty on those partners to make arrangements to work together and with any relevant agencies for the purpose of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in their area.

The decision(s) will come into force after five working days following the day the decision(s) was published unless the decision becomes subject to the call in procedures.
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