Agenda item

Agenda item


To consider a report by the Principal Manager:  Business Support which seeks Members’ views on the progress made in addressing the challenges identified in 2013-14 Annual Performance Report (copy attached).


11.35 a.m. – 12.05 p.m.



A copy of a report by the Principal Manager:  Business Support, which provided an update on the challenges identified in the Director of Social Services Annual Performance Report for 2013/14 had been circulated prior to the meeting.  The report was presented to Members by the Director of Social Services and detailed the progress made to date in addressing areas highlighted in the 2013/14 Annual Report which required focussed attention to improve performance, or to address new pressures which had been identified during the course of the current year.  Whilst performance was improving in the majority of the areas earmarked in last year's report, there was still room for improvement. 


The reasons for below target performance in areas such as the number of statutory visits to looked after children and the percentage of looked after children who had experienced one or more changes of schools were well documented.  Bare statistics did not present the full picture, which was far more positive as it better met the children's needs than the need for the Authority to achieve targets.  Social care was a very complex area, as individuals' needs and their human rights had to be respected.  For example, it would not be possible to achieve a 100% assessment rate for all carers as not everyone classed themselves as a 'carer' despite undertaking the role of a 'carer' e.g. spouse or partner, parent or child.  In such cases individual choice or preferences had to be respected.  The Social Services Department was working closely with the Education Department and schools to support children identified as undertaking a 'carer' role at home.  It was also important to understand that the Council did not only support carers as individuals but also the whole community aspect of the carer's role. 


It was emphasised that whilst the WG was extremely keen to promote the use of Direct Payments and Individual Service Funds they were very time consuming, complex and bureaucratic to administer.  Some authorities in England had opted out of providing these options, there was no indication that opting out would become a choice in Wales.  Officers were continually working with families and individuals to promote them, however it was important to understand that direct payments or individual service funds did not suit every individual. 


The Supreme Court's Judgement of March, 2014 with respect to deprivation of liberty was causing immense pressure on the Social Services Department and its budget, with staff having to be trained to deal with the large increase in the number of deprivation of liberty applications.  To mitigate any risk, which had been escalated to a level of high risk for the Authority and consequently included on the Corporate Risk Register, an exercise had been undertaken to assess the potential number of applications which may be received.  The findings of this exercise had resulted in 10 extra practitioners being trained to carry out assessments.  This of course placed added pressures on constrained budgets and resources.  WG guidance on deprivation of liberty assessments was still awaited, in the meantime the Council was working to the letter of the law when undertaking the assessments. 


The Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru (ADSS) and the regulators Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) were working with the WG to try and plug this gap as soon as possible.  However, the matter had been further complicated recently through a legal challenge being been issued to the Supreme Court's ruling in England.  It was therefore unlikely that any guidance would be published prior to the legal challenge being determined.  In response to members' concerns about the risks faced by the Authority as a consequence of the ruling, the Head of Internal Audit advised that as internal auditors his team was looking at this risk as part of the overall risk relating to Corporate Safeguarding.   Members were also advised that a further progress report on all the areas highlighted in the current report would be included as part of the Director of Social Services Annual Performance Report for 2014/15, which was scheduled for presentation to the Committee at its June 2015 meeting. 


Following a detailed discussion it was:-


RESOLVED – subject to the above observations, to receive the report and note the progress made to date in addressing the challenges highlighted in the Director of Social Services Annual Performance Report 2013/14.


Supporting documents: