Venue: remotely via Skype for Business
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of personal and prejudicial interest (if any) from Members/Officers in accordance with the provisions of the Members Code of Conduct adopted by Council from 1 September 2008 (including whipping declarations)
Councillor D White declared a personal interest in agenda Item 4 because his wife was a Business Support Officer in the Social Services & Wellbeing Directorate. He also declared a personal interest, as he was a shielder.
Councillor C Webster declared a personal interest in agenda item 4, as her son had just been accepted into Social Services as a part of the transition service, Disabled Children’s Team.
To receive for approval the minutes of a meeting of the Subject Overview and Scrutiny Committee 2 of the 11/11/20
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of a meeting of Subject Overview and Scrutiny Committee 2 dated 11 November 2020, be approved as a true and accurate record.
Verbal Update from the Corporate Director - Social Services and Wellbeing
Claire Marchant, Corporate Director, Social Services and Wellbeing
Cllr Nicole Burnett, Cabinet Member for Social Services & Early Help
Jackie Davies, Head of Adult Social Care
Laura Kinsey, Head of Children's Social Care
Pete Tyson, Group Manager Commissioning Contracts
Andrew Thomas, Group Manager - Sports and Physical Activity
Councillor Dhanisha Patel, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations
The Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing, Head of Children’s Social Care and Group Manager – Sports and Physical Activity presented on the impact of Covid-19 on the Directorate and the response.
Members asked the following:
A Member asked whether contact with Looked After Children (LAC) and their parents would be Covid-19 Tier-level appropriate, noting the possible change to Tier 4 soon by Welsh Government (WG). He also asked if risk assessments were a live document and whether checks were being undertaken with parents and foster carers to ensure children were safe and there were no symptoms of Covid-19.
The Head of Children’s Social Care explained that it had been a difficult decision to stop all face-to-face contact in favour of remote contact. Once face-to-face contact was permitted to resume, priority was given to groups such as new-born children and parents separated, children rehabilitated to their birthparents and siblings with close relationships. All contacts had been resumed. The Directorate followed WG guidance on the two-stage assessment whereby every situation was assessed to ascertain necessity and the degree of risk. It was the Directorate’s policy that all children had contact in the first instance and, if deemed a necessity, the two-stage assessment was undertaken. Contact could occur outdoors but this was difficult during winter. Venues were now being used and, in partnership with Corporate Landlords, Health and Safety and Environmental Health, deep cleans after every contact session were being undertaken. Staff wore PPE and children and their families were supported to ensure all guidance was followed. Risk assessments were reviewed continually so that in the event of further restrictions/change in guidance, local arrangements were reviewed by practitioners and managers accordingly, e.g. an addendum was developed when Bridgend had its Covid-19 fire breaker restrictions imposed in October.
A Member asked whether there were any safety measures in place for the swapping of gifts between families and whether these would be subject to a 72-hour quarantine period.
The Head of Children’s Social Care explained that this posed a challenge and discussions were ongoing. It was understandable that parents would wish to provide gifts. If children moved to physical contact, these situations would need to be managed and risk assessed.
It was a Member’s understanding that Bridgend was slower than other local authorities in rearranging contact for children and she asked what the reason was for this delay. Secondly, she asked if Bridgend would consider adding children with special needs to their priority groups for face-to-face contact because online contact was unsuitable for engagement. She asked how children were identified as a priority when those attending special schools did not have a Social Worker. Thirdly, the Member asked how many adult care homes had allowed indoor visits. The Member gave her compliments to the Commissioning Manager, who had received very good reports from managers of care homes in Bridgend on his hard work during Covid-19, and to the local authority for its swift payments process. Aside from the organisations that had provided wellbeing ... view the full minutes text for item 128.
The Scrutiny Officer presented the report. She advised that Members would recall that the Council had been advised that the Local Government Financial Settlement from Welsh Government would be later than expected, and therefore the scrutiny of the Medium Term Financial Strategy would be considered by Scrutiny Committees after Cabinet considered the draft proposals on 19 January, instead of the December cycle of meetings, as originally planned.
As set out in the table in paragraph 4.1 of the report, and following approval at November Council the dates for Scrutiny meetings had been moved to:
20 Jan at 10am – Draft MTFS for Education & Family Support and Communities Directorate.
21st Jan at 10am – Draft MTFS for Social Services and Wellbeing and the Chief Executives Directorate.
In paragraph 4.5 the Committee was reminded of the Criteria form which Members could use to propose further items for the FWP which the Committee could then consider for prioritisation at a future meeting. The Criteria Form emphasised the need to consider issues such as impact, risk, performance, budget and community perception when identifying topics for investigation and to ensure a strategic responsibility for Scrutiny and maximizes the opportunity for impact.
There were no further items identified for consideration on the Forward Work Programme for the remainder of the municipal calendar of meetings using the agreed form, and this could be revisited at the next meeting.
RESOLVED: That the Committee note the next item for the Committee’s Forward Work Programme set out in paragraphs 4.1 of the report.
To consider any item(s) of business in respect of which notice has been given in
accordance with Part 4 (paragraph 4) of the Council Procedure Rules and which the person presiding at the meeting is of the opinion should by reason of special circumstances be transacted at the meeting as a matter of urgency.