Deputy Leader (Policy)
Strategic Director, Delivery
Contact: REligon@lambeth.gov.uk; Rebecca Eligon, Head of Policy, Partnerships and Equalities, Cooperative Business Development, 020 7926 2125
(Report 15/16-25) (Key decision)
The Deputy Leader of the Council (Policy) introduced the report and highlighted the following:
· The Council took no pleasure from the inadequate report and it was very important not to hide from the findings, to accept the judgement and remedy the situation with strong actions, as this was both a political and organisational priority.
· Immediate action was to be taken in number of areas, but others would take time. The Priority Action Plan (PAP) had been drafted. Secondly, all available resources would be utilised in delivering the PAP including the Local Government Association (LGA), Department for Education (DfE), other local authorities, and Ofsted itself. An improvement board would include representatives from the above listed organisations, alongside Lambeth officials, councillors, school staff, and other local institutions. The journey of improvement was one to be taken together.
· Frontline staff were noted for their dedication, with many working their entire professional lives on vital Council services, but there was a need for improved management in place to succeed. The Cabinet would have updates every three months, and during this process information would be released detailing tangible progress.
· Sue Foster, Strategic Director Delivery, commented that the PAP set out immediate actions to address recommendations, but it would go wider than those proposed by Ofsted with a set of corporate actions and would be scrutinised at next month’s Cabinet in detail.
· Andrew Tullis, Unison, gave a joint trade union response on behalf of GMB and Unison, raising concern at children’s services being rated as inadequate after having received an outstanding report previously and that this duty formed the most important responsibility of local government. He noted that there had been several cornerstones of policy missing, including: excellent management, support for staff, and permanent staff numbers (with a resulting over-reliance on agency staff). He suggested that the Council worked with the trade unions to bring back security and stability, to guarantee no compulsory redundancies, a halt to changing management structures (to stop distraction by experiments with new models of delivery), and an emphasis on in-house service provision. The change of the Council into clusters had disrupted dialogue with minimal benefit, and practical support was needed instead of grand plans.
The Leader of the Council welcomed the broad sentiments of response, remarking that it was a fundamental political priority, and agreed that the absence of regular permanent staff to implement rigorous systems had contributed to the inadequate appraisal.
Cabinet Members and officers made the following comments:
· The Deputy Leader (Finance and Investment) noted the engagement with unions and the new chair of Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB), but asked what interaction with DfE had taken place. The Cabinet Member for Housing acknowledged the three month reporting of the improvement plan, but enquired as to tangible milestones. The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care said she had met a lot of staff over the years, noting their commitment, and said the whole organisation, not only this staff, were corporate parents.
In response to these ... view the full minutes text for item 3