Venue: Microsoft Teams - please copy and paste the following link into your browser: https://bit.ly/3ghZzhh
Contact: Christian Scade, Deputy Democratic Services Manager 020 7926 0045, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Declarations of Pecuniary Interest
Under Cabinet Rule 1.5.2, where any Cabinet Member has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (as defined in the Members’ Code of Conduct (para. 4)) in any matter to be considered at a meeting of the Council, a committee, sub-committee or joint committee, they must withdraw from the meeting room during the whole of the consideration of that matter and must not participate in any vote on that matter unless a dispensation has been obtained from the Monitoring Officer.
There were none.
RESOLVED: That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 30 November 2020 be approved as a correct record of the proceedings.
The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Ed Davie, introduced the report and outlined how Lambeth would meet its responsibilities to commission and provide secure, safe and high-quality placements for children who were looked after and care leavers. Cabinet was asked to note the following points:
- The Sufficiency Strategy was a core strategy required by Ofsted as part of the Inspecting Local Authorities Children’s Services framework.
- It was predicted that between 360 and 400 children would become looked after at any point over the next 3 years.
- The Council was supporting 312 young people through Special Guardianship Orders.
- The Council looked after 97 children who were unaccompanied. This number had risen over the past 4 years.
- The ages of children coming into care was changing, with more older children coming into care.
- The number of children coming into care was rising, after years of it declining. During 2020, the Council had supported more care leavers than at any point since 2015.
The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People went on to explain that Children’s Social Care, working with Commissioners, had identified five priorities. These objectives, set out in the report, would ensure Lambeth had the types of placements, residential provision, and infrastructure required to meet the varying needs of children who came into care.
A representative from Lambeth’s Children in Care Council and a Foster Carer both made representations on this item which focused on:
- The need for regular unannounced inspections, including the use of mystery shoppers, for all services commissioned.
- Concerns about children in care being placed in homes outside of the borough.
- The importance of maintaining good relationships with the borough’s that children looked after were placed in.
- The work that had taken place to expand Lambeth’s in-house foster care service, which would reduce demand on commissioned and out of borough placements.
- The financial assistance and support that was available when fostering, including work that had taken place to redesign the tiers of payments received by carers.
- The importance of foster carers receiving 24/7 wraparound support and the positive developments concerning fostering hubs, which would be rolled out using the mockingbird model.
- The need for placements to be continuously reviewed to ensure objectives were being met.
- The importance of having clear transition arrangements in place to support young people to move successfully into independence and adulthood.
Councillor Nicole Griffiths, Co-Leader of the Opposition, also made representations on this item. The following points were highlighted:
- Constant reviewing and inspection was needed, but this required the input of young people, and Lambeth itself needed to remain informed and not rely on third parties.
- It was hoped that the Foster Carers Campaign next year was successful.
- It was requested whether a housing offer for would-be foster carers could be made to provide them with the space and accommodation to become foster carers.
- Where safe to do so, the default should ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
Councillor Andy Wilson, Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance, introduced the Financial Planning Report 2020/21 to 2024/25 and highlighted the way in which the Council had worked with the community in response to Covid-19. The following points were also noted:
- Under best-case scenario modelling the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy faced a funding deficit of £13.4m over the next five years.
- Due to the Council’s prudent financial management Lambeth would be able to absorb the expected deficit in the medium term, through a mixture of income generation, savings and use of reserves.
- Uncertainties remained, including the impact of continued social distancing measures, the impact of Brexit, the lack of long term decisions on the Fair Funding Review, and no solution from the government in relation to delivering a long-term funding settlement for Adult Social Care. Collectively this represented unprecedented uncertainty and a significant challenge for all local authorities.
- The saving proposals, set out in the report, had been brought forward to ensure Lambeth had a balanced budget, with 80% of the necessary savings from income generation. This was to ensure that the impact on frontline services would be minimal, with the most vulnerable protected.
It was explained that costs associated with Covid-19, including protecting care homes, providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and delivering tens of thousands of food and aid packages to the most vulnerable, had come at a significant cost. As a result, the Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance highlighted disappointment that the government’s pledge to reimburse local authorities had not been fully met.
It was explained that the Financial Planning Report 2020/21 to 2024/25 had been considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, on 9 December 2020, and the Children’s Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee, on 7 December 2020. The Leader of the Council thanked Overview and Scrutiny Members for their contribution and invited Councillor Liz Atkins, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, to summarise the Committee’s observations and recommendations which had been set out via a supplementary agenda paper.
Councillor Scott Ainslie, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, also spoke on this item, with the content focusing on:
- Praise for delivering a report which provided financial resilience, given a lack of central Government forward planning and delays, during Brexit and Covid-19.
- Finance figures and accounts were often unnecessarily complicated and needed to be clearer and more accessible to aid transparency, as per the Sir Tony Redmond 2019 Review.
- It was queried how the recovery of non-paid council tax and how temporary accommodation cost reductions were to be met; and whether the Council was effectively managing and financing Procurement and Contract Management teams to get the most out of its contracts.
- A shift in the Council’s Waste Strategy, in order to lower consumption, was requested.
- Services coming back in-house was supported, especially as this would help improve accountability. However, the Council needed more officers to ensure comprehensive services were delivered.
During the discussion that followed, Cabinet considered a wide range ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Councillor Andy Wilson, Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance, provided an overview of budget and performance issues for quarter 2 2020/21. Councillor Wilson explained that the report included a range of information including direction of travel, a summary of key performance indicators by Borough Plan outcomes, as well as key areas of concern.
The following points were noted in relation to the 76 measures identified as Tier 1 Borough Plan indicators:
- Despite a slight drop in the number of indicators rated green, and increase in those rated red, the overall picture continued to be positive with each of the 4 Borough Plan pillars remaining green.
- The percentage of looked after children looked after continuously for 12 months who had their annual health assessment; and the percentage of children aged 16+ with an up to date pathway plan were indicators that had turned green for the first time.
- A number of indicators, which had seen an impact on performance in quarter 1 because of Covid-19, had improved at quarter 2.
The following points were noted in relation to the 41 measures identified as Tier 2 Priority Service KPIs:
- Performance for quarter 2 had shown a mixed picture. However, there had been a notable improvement with the majority of indicators rated green. It was noted that this reflected the easing of restrictions following the lockdown for Covid-19.
- Of the red rated indicators, residual household waste had missed the target for the second quarter in a row, whilst the overall boroughwide tonnage remained consistent despite the closing of businesses due to lockdown, with a shift of waste to the domestic stream.
In terms of budget information, the Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance explained that the Council was forecasting a gross overspend against budgets of £43.2m for the financial year, mainly due to Covid-19 related expenses and shortfalls in income. This was offset by government grant funding of some £30m. However, as set out in the report, it was noted there would still have been some in-year financial pressures had the pandemic not taken place. For example, in relation to Adults and Health, in Children Services SEN Transport, and in relation to temporary accommodation.
Councillor Nicole Griffiths, Co-Leader of the Opposition, made representations on this item with the following points noted:
- It was asked if a layperson’s analysis could be presented in future reports to aid transparency and understanding.
- Concern was expressed on the five weakest performing indicators, set out in section 2 of the report.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and budgetary information on Homes for Lambeth (HfL) was requested.
- Further information on the Buy Back Strategy was requested in the report.
In response, the Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance explained that the aim of the report was to present budget and performance information as transparently as possible via a single report, rather than two separate documents. Recent improvements to the presentation of performance data were noted. However, it was recognised ... view the full minutes text for item 5.