The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change presented a report, the purpose of which was to provide the Governance and Audit Committee with an updated Corporate Risk Assessment 2023-24 and an updated Corporate Risk Management Policy.
The Corporate Risk Assessment, attached at Appendix A to the report, had been reviewed in consultation with the Corporate Management Board. It identifies the main risks facing the Council, their link to the corporate well-being objectives under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, the likely impact of these risks on Council services and the wider County Borough, and identifies what actions are being taken to mitigate the risks and who is responsible for the Council’s response. The risk assessment is aligned with the Medium Term Financial Strategy.
The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change stated that there were currently 11 risks on the Corporate Risk Register. Every Risk had been reviewed by CMB.
The Risk Management Policy had also been amended to reflect the introduction of new Risk tracking and reporting software during 2023.
The Corporate Risk Management Policy timeline, included in Appendix B to the report, had been amended for 2023-24.
The Corporate Director, Social Services and Wellbeing stated that the issues in terms of pressures in the health and social care system were not new but the reason for escalating this to the corporate risk register at this time, was due to the level of risk within this volatile service area.
She stated that there were action plans in place focussing on the two areas depicted in red within the report which were of high risk.
There was a Social Work Review being conducted by the Head of Adult Social Care which would look at the configuration of teams and resources across adult services, with the view of improving the service area going forward.
The Corporate Director then went on to mention the challenges faced in the recruitment market within Social Care, where there was a difficulty with recruitment and retention. This was not just common to BCBC but was an issue across the whole of Wales.
She explained that the Council were therefore taking steps to combat this, by ‘growing its own’ and linking in with Bridgend College and Universities, in order to better promote Bridgend from a marketing perspective. This will hopefully attract younger people to forge a career in Children and Adult Social Care, particularly as Bridgend, in this area of work, was becoming an ageing workforce.
A real focus for the Service was rebuilding capacity and the reablement services. A reduction had been seen post COVID or during COVID, to a point where the service was delivering around 1,000 hours less a year of reablement than was being delivered prior to the pandemic. If individuals did not go through those reablement pathways, they were likely to require more care and support on an ongoing basis.
In relation to strategic work around workforce, there was a large focus in terms of marketing and work linking in with Bridgend College around their health and social care students. For reasons expressed above, there was a need to get more younger people into care related job vacancies.
To this end, job descriptions had been reviewed and the market supplement application was due to be submitted this month, in order to address the very challenging market around the care workforce.
The Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing stated that strategically, on a regional level, she would look to shift resource into those areas where there were gaps in terms of services offered locally. She added that there was a need to look to block book interim placements where it could be seen that people needed that level of support.
Though a full assessment had not been undertaken around long-term placements, the aim was to try and improve the situation and the flow through the whole system for individuals and to do that in a way which best meets the needs of individuals, but also reduces any compromise overall in terms of the whole system
The Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing, referred to a project that was being overseen by the Welsh Government under the name 1000 bed equivalent. She confirmed that it was not about beds per se, but about bed equivalents. She concluded stating that an improvement has been seen through management arrangements in this area of the service.
She elaborated that to ensure statutory duties are met in a timely way 3 levels of escalation had been introduced, namely :
Once statutory duties were consistently met in a timely manner across the whole social care services the command structure will be stood down.
The Corporate Director – Social Services also stated that this linked into the Audit Wales review of unscheduled care, in order to ensure that the Service is systemically managing issues of business continuity. She stated that actions had been put in place and was happy to share these with the Committee upon request, as referred to in more detail as part of relevant action plans.
A member suggested that the three categories of risk mentioned be depicted by way of a coloured chart with the inclusion of a RAG status, to help for easier reading and understanding of progress being made in respect of risk categories. The member also queried the risks mentioned around workforce recruitment and supplier failure.
The Chief Officer, Finance, Performance and Change, responded by stating that management would take on board suggestions around presentation to facilitate ease of understanding, etc.
A member highlighted inflationary pressures, grant funding reliance, inflations costs for materials for works gone out to tender, cost of living challenges and non-payment of council tax. He felt that these were of particular high risk that required careful monitoring.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change, responded that these risks were becoming more significant and, when next reviewed, she would look at how best to address these, through perhaps splitting risks into more defined categories in future.
There was a discussion between a lay member and the Chief Officer, Finance, Performance and Change around how the Council addressed the various risks, the key actions established, how they can be progressed and differentiated between risks and business as usual. He mentioned the implementation of target dates to enable focus on outcomes. The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change stated that while they have a very strong financial governance system in place which minimises the risks, she suggested that they could split the business as usual and any particular new actions that were brought forward because the risks move and will require alternative action.
A Lay member asked about the Policy and the changes that took place. He queried if the policy was new and how changes to the Policy would be recorded. The Deputy Head of Finance confirmed that the policy was not new but is an existing one reviewed annually, she confirmed that there were no changes in the last financial year. It was noted that any future changes to policy would be highlighted.
RESOLVED : That the Committee considered the Corporate Risk Assessment 2023-24 report together with the updated 2020-2023 Risk Management Policy.