Agenda and minutes

Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture Select Committee - Tuesday, 21 January 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Ashcombe Suite, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN

Contact: Ross Pike, Committees Business Manager 

No. Item




    Apologies were received from Liz Bowes and Barbara Thomson.  





    To agree the minutes of the previous meeting of the Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture as a true and accurate record of proceedings.




    The minutes were agreed as a true record of the meeting.



    All Members present are required to declare, at this point in the meeting or as soon as possible thereafter:

          I.        Any disclosable pecuniary interests and / or

        II.        Other interests arising under the Code of Conduct in respect of any item(s) of business being considered at this meeting



    ·         Members are reminded that they must not participate in any item where they have a disclosable pecuniary interest

    ·         As well as an interest of the Member, this includes any interest, of which the Member is aware, that relates to the Member’s spouse or civil partner (or any person with whom the Member is living as a spouse or civil partner)

    ·         Members with a significant personal interest may participate in the discussion and vote on that matter unless that interest could be reasonably regarded as prejudicial.


    None received.



    To receive any questions or petitions.


    1.    The deadline for Member’s questions is 12.00pm four working days before the meeting (15 January 2020).


    2.    The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting(14 January 2020)


    3.    The deadline for petitions was 14 days before the meeting, and no petitions have been received.


    None received.



    Purpose of report: To provide details of the budget for scrutiny prior to Cabinet and Council meetings.

    Additional documents:




    Julie Iles, Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning

    Mary Lewis, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families


    Rachel Wigley, Director of Financial Insight

    Daniel Peattie, Strategic Finance Business Partner

    Dave Hill, Executive Director for Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture




    Key points raised during the discussion:


    Peter Martin declared a personal interest – grandchild applying for an Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP) in Surrey.


    1. The Director of Financial Insight gave an overview of the council’s budgetary position and strategy. They stated the budget was in the consultation phase and that comments and observations from each of the Select Committees would be communicated back to the Resources and Performance Select Committee ahead of Cabinet. Cabinet would then decide whether to recommend the budget to council on February 42020. The budget was underpinned by the concept of financial envelopes for each directorate. Service strategies and proposals had been developed to ensure costs were contained within these financial envelopes.


    [Amanda Boote arrived at the meeting at 10.08]

    2.    The Director stated that the financial strategy set out how resources would be directed to deliver on both the organisation strategy and the transformation and ambitions of the council. Significant progress had been made as an organisation from financial recovery towards financial stability, whilst continuing the journey of improvement. The Director stated that two years previously the council had been relying on reserves to balance the budget however, the budget for 2020/21 would be based on sustainability and investment. The Transformation Programme would continue to deliver efficiencies, providing offset against continuing demand for services. For the council’s picture as a whole, in terms of revenue, there was £78m worth of demand pressure from services which were partly offset by £38m in proposed efficiencies. Therefore, the council’s net budget increased from £928m to £968m in 20/21. The £40m increase was from additional funding from central government. The Capital Programme proposed over the coming years was £1.4bn. The Director highlighted that the cost of borrowing had been included in the council’s budget.

    [Peter Martin arrived at the meeting 10.10]

    1. The Strategic Finance Business Partner highlighted placements, Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), the High Needs Block (HNB) and transport as being key areas of financial risk for the directorate. The number of children with SEND being transported by the council had been increasing year on year as was the use of taxis, both of which had exerted great financial pressure on the council. Education had previously been picking up costs that they were not statutorily required to. Members were informed that one of the main areas of commissioning activity over the next few months would be Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), which would be out for tender imminently.


    [Yvonna Lay arrived at the meeting at 10.20]

    1. The Strategic Finance Business Partner stated that the Directorate’s 2020/1 budget for HNB is a £24 million budgeted overspend in SEND including £13m of additional funding and requiring efficiencies of £14m to manage demand pressures and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5/20



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    Purpose of report: to review and agree the Corporate Parenting Strategy which will be published and become a Council wide document



    Additional documents:




    Mary Lewis, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families


    Davie Hill, Executive Director Children, Families, Culture and Lifelong Learning

    Tina Benjamin, Director – Corporate Parenting

    Simon Hart, Independent Chair of Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership


    1.    The Chairman invited the Director – Corporate Parenting to introduce the Corporate Parenting Strategy document. The Director informed the Committee that the principles established in the 2017 Children Social Work Bill were at the heart of the Corporate Parenting Strategy. The thinking around this strategy was to bring together the expectations of the Local Authority to make explicit what the duties were and how governance would be managed and monitored. A report would be established to inform council on the annual performance and outcomes for LAC within one document. The Director – Corporate Parenting asked that the Committee to endorse the document and comment on how it had been presented.


    2.    A Member asked how the strategy had been developed with partners. The Director informed the Committee that there was more that could be done to work with partners albeit they were extending their roles with partners on delivery. 


    3.    The Vice Chairman applauded the strategy for being ambitious and compassionate though he acknowledged existing challenges, the biggest of which seemed to be around leaving care. The Committee suggested adopting a more strategic approach and stepping up work on duties to care leavers, apprenticeships, and supporting care leavers with student loans. The Vice Chairman asked whether there were opportunities for them to consider, with partners and the chamber of commerce, assisting care leavers with scholarship applications, and generally encouraging young people in care to pursue higher education.


    4.    The Cabinet Member stated that the Corporate Parenting Board had made significant improvement following a restructure that slimmed down the membership of the board The most recent report from the Children’s Commissioner stated that the ‘corporate parenting was developing well’. The Cabinet Member stated the importance of partners working alongside the board in all aspects of corporate parenting. They believed that the strategy did express the desire of the corporate parenting board to give children healthy lives. They suggested that something could be added to the strategy on how to bring partners in more closely to the corporate parenting work.


    5.    A Member stated that foster parents should be recognised as partners as they are key in looking after Surrey’s children on behalf of corporate parents. The Cabinet Member informed the Committee that there was foster carer representation on the Corporate Parenting Board. Nevertheless, the Cabinet Member stated that they were happy to look at the wording of the relevant part of the report to see how it could perhaps be strengthened to greater reflect the importance of foster carers, and the partnership aspect. The Cabinet Member also stated that under levels of corporate parenting responsibility an additional bullet point could be added to summarise that the chair/ members of the corporate parenting board would take a lead role in promoting awareness of applying  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6/20



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    Purpose of report: to provide a summary of the recent inspections of Surrey’s children’s services including the latest Ofsted Monitoring Visit and the final review by the Children’s Commissioner.


    Additional documents:




    Mary Lewis, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families

    Dave Hill, Executive Director for Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture


    1. The Chairman thanked the service for the progress that had been made which had been evidenced through the Ofsted and Children’s Commissioner inspections. The Chairman recognised that there was more progress to be made but emphasised the importance of acknowledging the effort that had gone into making these improvements and the drive to ensure that Surrey’s children were supported.


    1. A Member asked whether all four social care area teams were performing well and whether the Executive Director had any concerns about a particular area. The Executive Director assured that the quest for consistency across the four social care quadrants was critical for the service. It was stated that historically the north east quadrant had most issues but a cultural change had been prompted by the office’s move from Leatherhead to Walton upon Thames. The Executive Director summarised that there was an improved situation with a strong group of directors who were working closely together.


    1. The Vice Chairman referred to a paragraph on page 67 of the report which discussed how ‘many reports will be further improved by greater concentration on the progress and measurement of planned objectives and fewer lengthy activity descriptions.’  The Executive Director there was day to day management of social workers by the team manager and the service manager. There was also a development and training programme in place and quality assurance measures, such as the audit programme which was focusing on particular areas rather than general practice. There was also a great deal of peer reviewing between the four quadrants which included carrying out mock inspections.


    1. The Chairman asked what was being done to improve practice with regard to improving reporting of child protection plans. The Executive Director stated that there were coaching sessions with the relevant teams to improve the quality of practice.


    1. The Vice Chairman also asked whether there could be guidance for schools that supported children who had been subjected to trauma and abuse. The Executive Director insisted that chronology of key events, with regard to neglected and abused children, were documented so that patterns could be discerned. They informed the Committee that they were considering a trauma-informed practice and that everyone interacting with a child who had been subject to trauma should be aware of that child’s experience. They stated that good progress was being made albeit it was still an area that required further attention.


    1. The Executive Director informed the Committee that at the beginning of April there would be a further monitoring visit from Ofsted with no pre-indication of what area of the service they would be looking at. The Executive Director informed Members that they report on the visit to the Select Committee.



    1. The Select Committee notes the overall findings and feedback from the recent Children’s Commissioner Visit and the fourth Ofsted Monitoring Visit.


    1. Recommends that the Select Committee receives a further update at the 25  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7/20



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    Purpose of report: For the Select Committee to review the attached Recommendations Tracker and Forward Work Programme, making suggestions for additions or amendments as appropriate.



    Additional documents:


    1. A Member of the Committee highlighted their concern that EHCPs were not being done quite as robustly as they had been done previously. The Chairman stated that this was discussed with the performance team and the Chairman and the Vice Chairmen would identify any arising issues with regard to EHCPs and inform the task and finish group.




    i.         The Committee reviews the attached forward work programme and recommendations tracker at each of the meetings.

    ii.       Many items need to be further scoped in terms of purpose and timing – would welcome the Committee’s views on these.





    The next public meeting of the committee will be held on Thursday 26 March 2020 at 10:00am in the Ashcombe Suite, County Hall.


    The Committee noted its next meeting would be held on 26 March 2020.