Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Commission
Monday, 15th July, 2019 5.30 pm

Venue: Room 10

Contact: Mrs KM Howard  01744 676106

Media

Items
No. Item

9.

Apologies for Absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors C Preston, L Preston and Pritchard and Mr D Thorpe.

 

10.

Minutes of the meeting held on 3 June 2019 pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

*           Resolved that the Minutes of the meeting held on 3 June 2019 be approved and signed.

11.

Declaration of Interest from Members

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No Declarations of Interest from Members were made.

12.

Public Notice of Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 58 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A report was submitted which updated the Overview and Scrutiny Commission on Key Decisions that the Cabinet expected to make. Members were informed that there were a number of Key Decisions expected to be made within areas which would be subject to each Scrutiny Panel’s key policies and strategy reviews.

 

A brief description of each Key Decision had been included in the report for Members to consider and identify any issues of particular relevance to be taken into account in the key policy/strategy reviews.

 

A Public Notice of Key Decisions published on 18 June 2019 was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

*           Resolved that the report be noted.

13.

Scrutiny Report - Outcome of Ofsted Focused Visit 2018 pdf icon PDF 49 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A final report was submitted and presented by the Chairman of the Children and Young People’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Panel, Councillor Charlton which updated Members on the Scrutiny Review of Outcome of Ofsted Focused Visit 2018.

 

The aim of the review had been to ensure that Members had more of an oversight into the findings of the 2018 Ofsted Focused Visit.

 

The report detailed the review’s method of investigation, background, findings and conclusion and made the following recommendations:

 

1.    Practice Standards continue to be embedded across the department and that further evidence of ongoing case file audit processes are reported back to the Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel early in 2020;

2.    The role of elected members as critical friends to the Children’s Improvement Board continues and that regular updates on the progress of the Children’s Improvement Board are provided to the Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel;

3.    The Voice of the Child requires greater and continuous embedding within the department and that innovative ways for better engagement with our looked after children is required;

4.    The response from partners to the Multi-Agency Early Help Strategy for Children, Young People and Families in St Helens 2019-22 is monitored to ensure all partners are aware of their roles and responsibilities;

5.    A review of the Performance Information collated should be undertaken to ensure this is still timely, relevant and adds value; and

6.    Training for Councillors with regards to their role as Corporate Parents be continued throughout the year and especially at the start of each municipal year when new members are elected.

 

*           Resolved that:

 

(1)        the report be noted; and

(2)        the final report be forwarded to Cabinet.

14.

Scrutiny Report - Collection of Council Tax Arrears pdf icon PDF 48 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A final report was submitted and presented by Councillor Charlton which updated Members on the Scrutiny Review of Collection of Council Tax Arrears.

 

The aim of the review had been to seek reassurance that the collection of Council Tax in St Helens was fair and that the most vulnerable residents were safeguarded and early help with debt management was offered.

 

The report detailed the review’s method of investigation, background, findings and conclusion and made the following recommendations:

 

1.    That the feasibility of a dedicated Officer or Independent Advisor, within the Councils Revenue and Benefits department to identify and work with vulnerable clients be investigated;

2.    If any of the Councils departments identify a person as vulnerable, then information should be shared. All attempts by the Revenue and Benefits department to work with the clients should be undertaken prior to Enforcement Agency referral;

3.    Important information held about clients i.e. if they are classed as vulnerable, should be shared, within the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018) between the Enforcement Agencies and Councils systems in a more productive and useful way;

4.    Consideration should be given to operating workshops in conjunction with partners, to offer targeted people guidance and advice with regards to debt management and budgeting skills; and

5.    The Council should ensure that it adopts the Local Government Associations’ National Council Tax Protocol – Revised Collection of Council Tax Arrears Good Practice Protocol.

 

A query was raised with regards to the definition of a vulnerable person for the purpose of the review and was advised that within the review it had been identified that there was no clear or shared definition of ‘a vulnerable person’, with each agency having its own description of what defines vulnerable.

It was agreed that developing a shared definition of a vulnerable person this should be included as a recommendation.

 

*           Resolved that:

 

(1)        the report be noted; and

(2)        the final report with the additional recommendation proposing
            developing a shared definition of a ‘vulnerable person’ be
            forwarded to Cabinet.


Councillor D Long here entered the meeting.

 

15.

Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 47 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Manager presented the draft Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report for 2018/19 which provided a summary of the work carried out during the 2018/19 municipal year by the Overview and Scrutiny Commission and its Panels.

 

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, the Overview and Scrutiny Commission must report annually to Council on its working and that of its Panels in 2018/19 and make recommendations for further Work Programmes and amended work methods, if appropriate.

 

*           Resolved that:

           

(1)          the Overview and scrutiny Annual Report 2018/19 be approved; and

(2)          the report be submitted to the meeting of Council scheduled for 30 October 2019.

16.

Update on Scrutiny Work Programme 2019/2020 pdf icon PDF 248 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A report was submitted and outlined by the Scrutiny Manager which updated Members on the Scrutiny Work Programme 2019/2020.

The report detailed the results of consultation undertaken to assist Members in their selection of topic areas for inclusion in the Work Programme 2019/2020.

The Work Programme had been developed by considering:

·         Corporate priorities and objectives as set out in the Council’s Plan;

·         Partnerships’ strategic priorities and objectives; and

·         The interests and concerns of Members, Council Officers, members of the public and other stakeholders; such as community and voluntary groups and local businesses.

 

The Overview and Scrutiny Commission was requested to examine a list of suggested topics which had been submitted for possible inclusion in the Work Programme. The list of suggested topics for consideration by each Panel was detailed at Paragraph 5.1 of the report.

 

The Scrutiny Work Plan Prioritisation Aid had been attached to the report at Appendix 1 in order to assist Members in considering the right factors when reviewing each potential item for the work programme and helping to identify if it should be considered a high or low priority.

 

The Commission discussed the work programme proposals and Members raised questions regarding the inclusion of an additional topic of Key Stage 2 / Key Stage 3 Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Provision and transition, the difference between a Task and Finish Review and a Spotlight review and the suitability of a Spotlight review to look at waiting times for Mental Health and service satisfaction and requested clarification on a Panels task and finish process.

 

It was acknowledged that transition for an individual between services for children and young people to services for adults was an important topic for review. The Commission was advised that it had been agreed between the Children and Young People’s and Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Panel chairs that the Health and Adult Social Care Panel to look at this issue. The Chair of Health and Adult Social Overview and Scrutiny Panel advised that a review on this would be undertaken around Christmas time.

 

The Scrutiny Manager explained the difference between a Task and Finish Review, which was usually an in-depth review undertaken over several months and a Spotlight review which was usually a quick review undertaken over a shorter period.

The Chair of Health and Adult Social Care acknowledged that Mental Health and its Services was a vast area that would take a significant amount of time to review, the spotlight review was a starting point in this process in order to provide an oversight of the issues. 

 

The Chairperson also advised the Commission that there would need build into the work programme a review of the Budgeting Process for 2019/20 and elements of the Modernisation Agenda as the year process progressed.

 

*           Resolved that:

 

(1)          the report be noted;

(2)          the Overview and Scrutiny Commission agree the Scrutiny Work Programme 2019/2020 and delegate the prioritisation and scheduling of the individual work programme to each Panel; and

(3)  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.