Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 9th November, 2022 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Antechamber, Level 2, Town Hall Extension. View directions

Contact: Rachel McKeon 

Media

Items
No. Item

50.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 101 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2022.

Minutes:

Decision

 

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2022.

51.

Revenue Budget Update - Cover Report pdf icon PDF 115 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer

 

This report sets out the financial challenge facing the Council, the latest forecast position, and the next steps. The Council is forecasting an estimated budget shortfall of £44m in 2023/24, £85m in 2024/25, and £112m by 2025/26. After the use of c£16m smoothing reserves in each of the three years, this gap reduces to £28m in 2023/24, £69m in 2024/25 and £96m by 2025/26.

 

This report sets out the high-level position. Officers have identified potential savings options to reduce the budget gap totalling £42.3m over three years.

 

Even after these proposals there remains a budget gap of £7m to close to get to a balanced budget in 2023/24 and further savings options will be developed between now and January 2023 and be reported back to Scrutiny committees in February. Each scrutiny committee is invited to consider the current proposed changes which are within its remit and to make recommendations to the Executive before it agrees to the final budget proposals in February 2023.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer that set out the financial challenge facing the Council, the latest forecast position, and the next steps.

 

Key points and themes in the report included:

 

·         The Council was forecasting an estimated budget shortfall of £44m in 2023/24, £85m in 2024/25, and £112m by 2025/26. After the use of c£16m smoothing reserves in each of the three years, this gap reduced to £28m in 2023/24, £69m in 2024/25 and £96m by 2025/26;

·         Setting out the high-level position;

·         Describing the officer-identified potential savings options to reduce the budget gap totalling £42.3m over three years;

·         Noting that even after these proposals there remained a budget gap of £7m to close to get to a balanced budget in 2023/24 and further savings options would be developed between now and January 2023 and be reported back to scrutiny committees in February; and

·         Each scrutiny committee was invited to consider the current proposed changes which were within its remit and to make recommendations to the Executive before it agreed to the final budget proposals in February 2023.

 

Decision

 

To note the report.

52.

Children and Education Services Budget 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 415 KB

Strategic Director for Children’s and Education Services

 

The Council is forecasting an estimated budget shortfall of £44m in 2023/24, £85m in 2024/25, and £112m by 2025/26. After the use of c£16m smoothing reserves in each of the three years, this reduces to £28m in 2023/24, £69m in 2024/25 and £96m by 2025/26. Officers have identified potential savings options to reduce the budget gap totalling £42.3m over three years.

 

This report sets out the priorities for the services in the remit of this committee and details the initial revenue budget changes proposed by officers.

 

Even after these proposals there remains a budget gap of £7m to close to get to a balanced budget in 2023/24 and further savings and cuts options will be required to be worked between now and January and be reported back to Scrutiny committees in February. Each scrutiny committee is invited to consider the current proposed changes which are within its remit and to make recommendations to the Executive before it agrees to the final budget proposals in February 2023.

 

Despite the socio-economic climate, Children’s and Education Services has continued to make service improvements.  In part this is associated with continued and strengthening partnerships across Manchester and the conurbation that support even greater collaboration and robust leadership; underpinned by an effective performance/assurance framework.

 

The focus of the Directorate has continued to be delivering a safe, effective and efficient intervention that prevents the unnecessary escalation of children’s needs. This is translated into a budgetary approach that is driven by ‘cost avoidance, effective care planning, commissioning and ensuring services are efficient.   

 

In addition, maintaining the Directorate’s commitment to securing a stable, confident and talented workforce to provide a high quality of social work practice and management oversight, whilst ensuring the education system is inclusive, delivers good or outstanding schools and meets the needs of all learners. This requires the Directorate to adapt, anticipate and respond to the challenges with purpose and focus. It is through this approach the Directorate has formulated a set of proposals that does not have any workforce implications and delivers £11.725m plus £75k Youth and Play services;this service’s budget currently sits in the Neighbourhood Directorateand are detailed in Appendix 1.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services which was the first in the cycle for the budget programme 2023-26. It set out an overview of the services within the remit of this Committee and their key priorities. The budget growth assumptions in the Medium-Term Financial Plan were set out. The report provided a draft set of officer proposals for further savings for 2023-26, developed in the context of the financial challenge facing the Council.

 

The main points and themes within the report included:

 

  • Service overview and priorities;
  • Service budget and proposed changes;
  • Future opportunities and risks;
  • Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG); and
  • Workforce implications.

 

Some of the key points and themes that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:

 

  • Concern and frustration about the Council being forced into the position of having to make cuts over many years and the impact of this on children and families, particularly when they were also facing the cost-of-living crisis;
  • Concern about the financial position that schools were in and what could be done to continue to make improvements to schools with less money;
  • Noting that Manchester’s Children’s Services had recently been judged as “good” by Ofsted, were there concerns about maintaining that improvement, especially in light of the cuts that would need to be made;
  • The impact of cuts to youth services;
  • Recruitment of foster carers and support for kinship carers;
  • How could the budget pressures in the High Needs Block of the DSG be addressed;
  • Concern about the costs of travel to school for children whose families had been placed in bed-and-breakfast accommodation in a different area;
  • Concern about how some academies managed their budgets; and
  • Concern about families not being able to afford school uniforms and that many families who were on low incomes were not eligible for free school meals.

 

The Chair highlighted the combination of pressures affecting families and the importance of universal free school meals.  She stated that the Council had been forced by the government to make cuts over a number of years, that services had been cut to the bone, the impact this was having on children and families and that it was not possible to keep finding more cuts.  She stated that the government had said it was committed to levelling up in the most deprived areas but that this had not happened.

 

The Executive Member for Children Services reported that the Council had made youth services a big priority and that it was very disappointing to have to be considering this reduction; however, he highlighted that the Council had significantly increased its investment in youth services in 2022 so, while this proposal represented a decrease in this additional investment, it was still a higher budget for youth services than in previous years.  He expressed concern that, while the Council was working with partners to improve the lives of children and young people, these partner organisations were also experiencing funding cuts, which made this more challenging.

 

The Strategic Director of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.

53.

LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) Annual Report 2021-2022 pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services

 

The purpose of the annual report is to provide an overview and analysis of the management of allegations against adults who work with children in a paid or voluntary capacity in Manchester, for the period 1st April 2021 to 31st March 2022. This includes how effective the safeguarding partnership is in discharging its statutory responsibilities. The report considers the learning and development over the last twelve months and sets the priorities for 2022-2023 based on the analysis of activity.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services which provided an overview and analysis of the management of allegations against adults who worked with children in a paid or voluntary capacity in Manchester, for the period 1st April 2021 to 31st March 2022. This included how effective the safeguarding partnership was in discharging its statutory responsibilities. The report considered the learning and development over the last twelve months and set the priorities for 2022-2023 based on the analysis of activity.

 

The main points and themes within the report included:

 

  • Keeping children safe;
  • Overview of enquiries and referrals data;
  • Managing allegations;
  • Service reflection;
  • Service achievements; and
  • Key priority areas.

 

Some of the key points and themes that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:

 

  • What happened in situations where an allegation could not be proven;
  • Information-sharing and support on safeguarding for voluntary organisations and faith groups; and
  • Were there any concerns about under-reporting.

 

The Service Lead (Safeguarding) reported that LADO investigations were multi-agency, including the individual’s organisation, and that, in cases where allegations were not proven, any training needs, for example, understanding that they should not be alone with children, would still be identified.  She informed Members about the training that was available for organisations, including sessions to make them aware of the role of the LADO and that they could ring the LADO for advice if there was anything they were not sure about.

 

The Strategic Lead (Safeguarding and Practice Improvement) advised that, although they could not be sure of what was not being reported, when compared to other north-west councils, Manchester appeared to be doing well in terms of people knowing about and using the service.  She advised that they wanted to be able to focus on prevention, helping organisations to have recruitment and work practices which kept children safe, and making parents aware of what standards should be put in place for groups involving children.

 

In response to a question from the Chair, the Service Lead (Safeguarding) advised that in the previous year the LADO had received no referrals from Youth Justice and Youth Work but that, following training, enquiries and referrals from these areas had increased.  She agreed with a point from the Chair about using a range of methods, such as billboards and libraries, to make people aware of the safeguarding measures that they needed to put in place if they were running a group for children and young people.  In response to a question from the Chair about private tuition, she advised that the service had a responsibility in relation to making parents aware of safeguarding, including when arranging private tuition for their children, and the role of the LADO.  The Chair advised that information should also be provided in other languages.

 

Decisions

 

1.            To note the report, including the progress and impact being achieved by the LADO service in Manchester.

 

2.            To agree the goals set out for 2021/2022 with regards to the continuous drive for improvement of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.

54.

Adoption Counts Annual Report pdf icon PDF 110 KB

Report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services

 

This report fulfils the obligations in Adoption National Minimum Standards (2011) and Adoption Service Statutory Guidance (2011) Adoption and Children Act 2002 to report to the “executive side” of the local authority. This has guided the structure and information set out in the report below.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services which fulfilled the reporting obligations in the Adoption National Minimum Standards (2011) and Adoption Service Statutory Guidance (2011) Adoption and Children Act 2002.

 

The main points and themes within the report included:

 

  • Contextual information;
  • Performance;
  • Quality of children’s reports;
  • Marketing, recruitment and assessment of adopters;
  • Practice developments;
  • Adoption Panel;
  • Adoption Support;
  • Recommendations; and
  • Governance and future opportunities.

 

Some of the key points and themes that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:

 

  • The importance of providing training on developmental trauma;
  • The recruitment of potential adopters from a range of communities, including work in mosques in north Manchester to encourage people to consider adoption, and that this kind of work should be replicated elsewhere;
  • The importance of making people aware of the package of support that Manchester offered to adoptive parents; and
  • The importance of life story work.

 

The Deputy Director of Children’s Services expressed his support for work to recruit adopters from diverse communities through community leaders, which he advised, Adoption Counts and the councils wanted to continue.  In response to a Member’s question on how many black children had been adopted by non-black families, he advised that he could obtain this information and provide it.  He outlined the support available to adopters before and after adoption, including high quality training and support in relation to trauma, and confirmed the use of an ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) trauma-informed approach in the service.  In response to a Member’s question, he advised that there were a range of factors leading to the increase in Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs).  He recognised the importance of life story work and advised that there had been a focus on the quality of this area of work for some time.  The Strategic Director of Children and Education Services shared positive comments from an Ofsted inspector about a Later Life letter they had seen as part of their inspection.

 

In response to a Member’s question about the adoption of older children, including cases where a foster family wanted to adopt a young person they were fostering, the Deputy Director of Children’s Services advised that this should remain open as an option for an older child, if it would meet the child’s needs and give them a sense of permanency.  The Strategic Director of Children and Education Services highlighted that, after a child had been living with a foster carer for 12 months, the foster carer could apply for adoption without needing the permission of the local authority. 

 

In response to questions from the Chair, the Deputy Director of Children’s Services advised that there was a sophisticated advertising campaign to recruit potential adopters, including targeted advertising on social media, and work to find people to adopt sibling groups.  In response to a further question, he reported that there were still some delays in legal proceedings but that these were easing. 

 

Decision

 

To note the report, subject to the above comments.

55.

Manchester Complex Safeguarding Hub pdf icon PDF 311 KB

Presentation of the Strategic Lead (Complex Safeguarding) and Claire McNicholls, Named Nurse (Safeguarding)

 

To receive a presentation on the Manchester Complex Safeguarding Hub Annual Report 2021/2022.

Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation of the Strategic Lead (Complex Safeguarding) and Claire McNicholls, Named Nurse (Safeguarding) on the Manchester Complex Safeguarding Hub Annual Report 2021/2022.

 

The main points and themes within the presentation included:

 

  • Overview of the Complex Safeguarding Hub;
  • Partnership arrangements;
  • Governance, accountability and assurance arrangements;
  • Performance and outcomes;
  • Impact; and
  • Priorities 2022/2023.

 

Some of the key points and themes that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:

 

  • Grooming via social media;
  • Disproportionality in terms of referrals in relation to young people from black and minority backgrounds and that it would be useful to receive an update when more work had been done in relation to this;
  • What support was available for families of children who were being exploited by criminal gangs;
  • Support for child victims with SEND, in particular from the police; and
  • How to increase awareness, for example of the signs to look out for in the exploitation of children and new online threats, including engaging with parents, communities and faith organisations.

 

The Strategic Lead of the Complex Safeguarding Hub explained that the methods used to target children for exploitation were dynamic and that, in particular since the pandemic, exploitation of children had moved online in relation to both child criminal exploitation (CCE) and child sexual exploitation (CSE).  In response to a question about why referrals for CSE were much lower than for CCE, she reported that this kind of exploitation could often be hidden.  She reported that very young children often now had devices, that social media and games were used to target children and that work was taking place to raise awareness about these risks.  She outlined the support available for families whose children were being exploited by criminal gangs, including Early Help, support from a Social Worker and commissioned early intervention support.  

 

Detective Chief Inspector Ian McNabb from GMP informed Members about support which would be available for families in relation to CCE from the not-for-profit organisation Catch22.  He highlighted some of the challenges for the police in dealing with CCE and the need to look at a range of ways to respond to it, including disruption.  In response to the question about children with SEND, he advised that the police had made significant improvements in how it dealt with vulnerable victims and he outlined some of the approaches that could be used, such as finding the best way to communicate with the child, ensuring the child was supported through the process and looking for other evidence.  In response to a Member’s question about “paedophile hunters”, he reported that most cases ended in successful prosecutions, although sometimes these cases did present additional risks for the police in managing the perpetrator and in the prosecution, due to the way the evidence was presented.  He advised that a case-by-case assessment was carried out in these situations.  In response to the question about the use of social media in the exploitation of children, he advised that a lot of work was taking place on this,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.

56.

Overview Report pdf icon PDF 141 KB

Report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit

 

The monthly report includes the recommendations monitor, relevant key decisions, the Committee’s work programme and any items for information.

Minutes:

A report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit was submitted. The overview report contained key decisions within the Committee’s remit, responses to previous recommendations and the Committee’s work programme, which the Committee was asked to approve.

 

Decision

 

To note the report and agree the work programme.