Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX. View directions
Contact: Michelle Gerning
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To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 31October 2017 as an accurate record.
The minutes of the meeting held on 31 October 2017 were agreed as an accurate record.
Disclosure of Interests
In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to register disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) and gifts and hospitality to the value of which exceeds £50 or multiple gifts and/or instances of hospitality with a cumulative value of £50 or more when received from a single donor within a rolling twelve month period. In addition, Members and co-opted Members are reminded that unless their disclosable pecuniary interest is registered on the register of interests or is the subject of a pending notification to the Monitoring Officer, they are required to disclose those disclosable pecuniary interests at the meeting. This should be done by completing the Disclosure of Interest form and handing it to the Democratic Services representative at the start of the meeting. The Chair will then invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3. Completed disclosure forms will be provided to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion on the Register of Members’ Interests.
There were none.
Urgent Business (if any)
To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.
There were no items of urgent business.
To update the Committee on the Improvement Plan
Officers updated the Committee Members with the progress of the improvement plan. They highlighted that the Improvement Plan had been signed off by Cabinet and had been submitted to Ofsted. The Department of Education had appointed a Commissioner who had completed and submitted a report to the Minister commenting on both the quality of the plan and he Council’s capacity to improve the service. A decision on both these issues by the Minister would be published in the New Year.
Officers had been assertive in strengthening Children’s Services. The service had received strong corporate support that was led well by the Chief Executive and elected Members. The Committee learned that a £3 million investment had been made into the core services, including the recruitment of social work surge teams to deal with high demand and additional business support teams to reduce the amount of time spent on administrative duties by social workers.
Officers pointed out that there were still a number of challenges that would take time to progress. The idea behind the Improvement Plan Programme was to follow the journey of a child from the referral stage through to conclusion. The report indicated the strengths of corporate parenting panel, which had regular reviews on the considerable pressure that the service was experiencing.
The Committee learned that following changes in management, the service was implementing a new structure with temporary arrangements that had been put in place. The officers highlighted that the need of the service was to focus on the children that used the service, and to ascertain that the service was fully resourced to provide a better outcome. The new structure was scheduled to be implemented in the new financial year.
The Committee learned that there had been a forty percent increase in referrals following the inspection. With high cases loads entering from the front door service, the service had put in place additional temporary capacity to address the pressure.
The Committee was further informed of the challenges in the service including a stronger focus on transparency and improvement. They heard how the service had established new key performance indicators to better reflect the delivery of good outcomes for children and these had been developed in partnership with the Independent Chair of the Improvement Panel.
The Committee learned that recruiting permanent social workers in Children’s Services was a significant challenge. Officers were confident that good social workers who had worked in Croydon for a long period of time would build relationships, support, and would also invest in training and self-development. Officers shared that the service needed to improve on its stability in senior leadership and frontline workers which would restore relationships with families and key agencies. Officers informed the Committee that the Service was working with the Director of Human Resources to develop a “Total Rewards” scheme to attract and retain high quality permanent staff.
Children’s Services had also wanted to refresh and strengthen connections with universities to develop great students and Assessed and Supported Year in Employment ... view the full minutes text for item 60/17
The Leader shared his presentation of pressures and highlights within the Borough, which included:
- the wider pressures of Children’s Services following Ofsted’s Report that welcomed the Children’s Improvement Plan;
- the Brick by Brick scheme of affordable housing for local residents within the borough;
- the go-ahead of the redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre and the plan to provide seven thousand new jobs;
- the direct intervention of a new leisure centre in New Addington;
- the transformation of Fairfield Halls;
- the new investment in Surrey Street;
- the huge commitment and success of Box Park;
- the multimillion private sector investment in the Legacy Centre in Whitehorse Lane that provided the opportunity for hundreds of young people to participate in educational fun filled activities;
- the Choose Your Future Campaign, where young people were the centre of attention addressing what they wanted in their community;
- the extra resources for “Don’t Mess with Croydon”, which had achieved significant results; and
- the air quality in Croydon, as the borough wanted to be a part in improving quality in air, including proposals to dramatically expand the tram network.
The Leader proposed that in the next four years the Council would:
- drive a better standard in health devolution, to get more residents signed up with their GP to receiving services;
- Invest in providing decent wages to staff working in Croydon;
- The notion of Fair Funding as growth in population and infrastructure is under pressure in the borough which was a challenge.
The Leader highlighted that a lot of work would be required to secure Croydon’s future which would take some time due to the current pressure Croydon is facing with the budget and demand for services.
The Committee learned that the public commitment to the redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre would bring Croydon more opportunities. Work had been proposed to start around the end of 2018.
Members of the Committee noted that the Council was reaching the end of its four-year term and they heard that there had been areas of success and areas of work that were still challenges over that period. These had included:
- Keeping the streets clean and increasing the recycling rate.
- Building real partnerships with Stanley Halls, Ashburton Library Launch, Ward Budgets.
- Wandle Park success, although there was more work to do.
- The ongoing pressures within key services.
- South Norwood Library – and how to replicate this success in other district centres.
The Leader noted that there was real progress in most areas whilst not being complacent that there was still more that could be done. The Leader noted that money was not everything as the society’s commitment working alongside the Council was also key to a thriving Borough.
Members of the Committee heard that the Council was continuing to Champion the London Living Wage amongst businesses in the Borough. The Committee learned that the London living wage would not work in Croydon if workers were not ... view the full minutes text for item 61/17
To share with the Committee the budget plans for the municipal year 2018/19.
Presentation from the Cabinet Member for Finance and Treasury spoke of the current status of the financial position, the growth pressures and saving options.
The Committee learned that the growth pressures are having a massive impact on the local authority and the current underfunding in Croydon is having an impact. The overall position of the level of funding was highlighted in the presentation. The Committee was reminded that Croydon is an outer London borough with inner London needs and would have had an additional £28 million more to spend on Council services if funded at inner London rates.
The Committee heard that there was a lot of budget pressures within Adults and Children’s Social Care and Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN).
The Committee learned that there was a growing pressure on demand in Children’s Services following the recent Ofsted inspection. With investment being made to enable the delivery of the Improvement Plan.
The Committee learned that there had been a recruitment freeze within the borough for all but essential roles.
The Committee learned of the 2018/19 financial budget plans and growth pressure. Officers shared that £10 million pounds had been allocated to Children’s Services were the biggest pressure currently resides. The Committee learned that Adults of all age and disability group was a growing population where the service had a duty to deliver and support.
The Committee learned that complexity was increasing and staffing in SEN had increased to deal with demand. There was an improved service in out of hospital care and this was improving lives of residences.
The Committee learned of the savings and what the local authority could do to save money. These were all listed in detail in the appendix to the report.
The Committee learned that there had been options considered and discarded as savings by officers and members as part of the budget preparation process.
Members of the Committee learned that some spending was on things the Council could not control, for example concessionary fares, and would not change the overall funding in Croydon.
Members of the Committee noted the presentation. They learned that Croydon was doing more to promote commercialisation, for example, Brick by Brick.
The Chair thanked Councillor Hall and the officers for their presentation and contributions, and concluded that Council tax and the council tax precept would be a decision for the Cabinet in February.
To consider and approve the Committee's work programme for the municipal year 2017/18.
The Senior Democratic Services and Governance Officer guided the Committee through the proposed work programme for the remainder of the municipal year. It was noted that the schedule would be subject to change for the coming scheduled meetings.
The Chair made note that the forthcoming meeting in January 2018 would hear Question Time of two Cabinet Members as well as the Children’s Improvement Plan.
The Committee NOTED the work programme.