Agenda and minutes

Children’s Services, Education & Skills Scrutiny Board - Thursday 5th January 2023 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Suite. View directions

Contact: James Hughes  Democratic Services


No. Item



To receive any apologies.

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Apologies received from:

·  Cllr A Burrow with Cllr Mrs G Sleigh attending as a substitution.

·  Cllr R Holt with Cllr Mrs D Hol-Allen MBE attending as a substitution but sending her apologies.

·  Stephanie Freeman (SPCV) with Heather Delaney attending as a substitution.


Declarations of Pecuniary or Conflicting Interests from Members

To receive declarations of interest from Members in accordance with the Code of Conduct (Members are directed to the guidance attached.)

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Cllr L McCarthy declared an interest to the Chairman.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 288 KB

To receive the minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 1st November 2022.

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The minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 1st November 2022 were approved with all actions arising marked as complete.


Questions and Deputations

To deal with any questions or deputations received.

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There had been one request made by a member of the public to make a deputation. The member of the public was not in attendance and therefore the deputation was not made.


Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) Update - Budget Strategy 2023/24 - 2025/26 pdf icon PDF 374 KB

Each scrutiny board in January will receive a report outlining the budget proposals identified within their respective portfolios for the period from 2023/24 to 2025/26.


The report outlines the forecast budget position in respect of this portfolio in more detail, explaining the pressures identified over the period to 2025/26 and the actions proposed to mitigate them.



Additional documents:


The Finance Manager (Children’s Services) presented the report in conjunction with the Director of Children’s Services. Questions were as follows:


·  Cllr B Groom – With OFSTED/Commissioner and the LGA Peer Review reports all being anticipated shortly, how much of the outcomes we expect to see in these reports has been baked into the budget we have received tonight?

o  Director of Childrens Services – We have included the outcomes as best we can and also looked to other Councils who have experienced similar intervention as we are now. What tends to happen is that staff morale drops, and we see an increase in staff turnover as a result. The biggest unknown in terms of the reports and the one with the highest impact on the service, Sir Alan Wood’s CBE report would be the one to look out for.

·  Cllr B Groom – In terms of the savings that have been presented in the report the majority look to be savings as a result of in housing provision. Is there any further in housing that we could do in the future?

o  Finance Manager (Children’s Services) – There is an inbuilt year on year savings in terms of the fostering service, the small residential homes scheme is unlikely to be able to stretch further but will always keep schemes under review for any potential expansion to save. The Service and Resources Directorate are always looking ahead over the current and future MTFP to identify where we can make savings.

·  Heather Delaney (SPCV) – Is there more work that could be done on joint commissioning to limit the burden to the Council and encourage our partners to pay their fair share?

o  Director of Children’s Services – Yes, we are looking at this currently and in particular at the LSCP. There is potential around joint arrangements with other Local Authorities and a more regional approach to, for example, buying residential placements in block.

·  Cllr Mrs G Sleigh – Can you provide more depth on item 1.20 (Social Work Recruitment and Retention and staff development) as to what work we are doing and whether we can do more as a region?

o  Director of Children’s Services – The recruitment and retention of Social Work staff is a challenge everywhere. As a sector we are seeing fewer professionals join the profession and increasing demand from service users. The key is how we differ in our approach to recruiting new staff and we need to adapt to the desired lifestyle that graduates now want which is more aligned to agency working and we can be smarter in our approach here. However, there will always be the key fundamentals which are job fulfilment, support in your role and progression which will be key to attracting and retaining staff alongside this we also need to shout about what we are doing well and what we are good at as a service. There is work currently ongoing to develop an academy for new staff into the profession  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Verbal Update on The Improving Outcomes for Children in Solihull Plan

For the board to be updated on ongoing work of the action plan.

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The Director of Children’s Services gave a verbal update which noted the huge levels of information, focus and recommendations that the service received from various partners/agencies. With the upcoming reports of OFSTED, Commissioner and LGA Peer Review on Finance there was a need to change the way we present plans.


Moving forward the service will work from two plans:

·  Childrens Social Care Plan – this will be informed by the findings of OFSTED.

·  Multi-agency Plan – This will be overseen by the Improving Outcomes for Children in Solihull Board (IOCSB).


The Director for Children’s Services informed the board that by the next meeting, in March, the Children’s Social Care Plan should be available for the Board to scrutinise.



The Board noted the Verbal Update.


Support for 16+ Care Experienced Young People pdf icon PDF 292 KB

For the Board to scrutinise the offer made to looked after children post the age of 16.



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The Employment & Skills Programme Manager presented the report supported by the Employment and Skills Manager. Questions included:

·  Cllr S Gethen – Do all schools work well with your team?

o  Employment and Skills Programme Manager – We work closely with the schools careers teams but naturally some communicate with us more than others. We are looking at how we communicate externally to ensure that we aren’t using jargon/abbreviations.

·  Cllr S Gethen – Does your team support children/young people with SEND?

o  Employment and Skills Manager – Yes we do.

·  Cllr D Gibbin – On p.28 3.6 the numbers of NEET is increasing – is this a sign that the programme may not be working as well as it could be?

o  Employment and Skills Programme Manager – I think it is hard to use the 2020 statistics as a starting point for analysis due to the nature of the year with the COVID-19 pandemic.

·  Cllr D Gibbin – Are providing support for Solihull children/young people that are then placed outside of the Borough?

o  Employment and Skills Manager – We try and find them the support for where they are, that may be referring them to the Local Authority where they are placed. We try to do what we can where possible.

·  Cllr D Gibbin – The report identifies that the European Social Fund funding will expire in December 2023 with the Shared Prosperity Fund Funding not coming in until around April 2023. What will this mean for the team?

o  Employment and Skills Programme Manager – We will be reporting to Cabinet in June on priorities for the service and how we can utilise the funding of the Shared Prosperity Fund.

ACTION: The report that will be sent to Cabinet in June is to be circulated to members of the CSESSB.

·  Cllr A Wilson – What would be the reason that 2 of the young people are not suitable for the labour market?

o  Employment and Skills Programme Manager – We always follow up with people that have been deemed not suitable for the labour market to ensure that if their circumstances have changed we can support them but the reasons tend to be very serious in which we wouldn’t expect their circumstances to change.

·  Cllr L McCarthy – Do the 34 children that have been identified include children under Kinship Care arrangements?

o  Employment and Skills Manager – Yes



The board considered the support available for Care Experienced Young People.


Independent Review Of Children's Social Care Task & Finish Group Report Update & Next Steps pdf icon PDF 279 KB

The purpose of this report is to update Members of the Childrens Services, Education & Skills Scrutiny Board on the work the Task and Finish Group, established by the Board on Monday 12th September, has completed on the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, authored by Josh McAllister, report.


The report will set out what the next steps are for the Task and Finish Group and seeks a decision on which steps the Board wishes to take.


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The Democratic Services Officer for the Board introduced the report.



The Board agreed to close down the Task and Finish Group.


Work Plan pdf icon PDF 463 KB

For the board to note and be updated on the Work Plan for the 2022-23 Municipal Year.

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The Board noted the Work Plan. Due to the large number of items planned for March the Board agreed to start the meeting at 17:00pm.