Agenda and minutes

Extraordinary, Children's Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee - Tuesday 25 January 2022 7.00 pm, MOVED

Venue: Room THB-06, Town Hall, Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton Hill, London SW2 1RW

Contact: David Rose, Democratic Services,  020 7926 1037, Email: drose@lambeth.gov.uk

Note: Information on how to access the meeting is set out on the agenda. However, if you just want to watch the live broadcast you can copy and paste the following link into your browser: https://bit.ly/3fz0jiG. The video will remain available to view for 180 days. 

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Pecuniary Interest

    Under Standing Order 4.4, where any councillor 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.

     

    Minutes:

    There were none.

     

2.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 234 KB

    • View the background to item 2.

    To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 07 December 2021 as a correct record of the proceedings.

     

    Minutes:

    RESOLVED: The minutes of the meeting held on 7 December were confirmed as a correct record of proceedings.

     

3.

Youth Strategy pdf icon PDF 487 KB

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    (All wards)

     

    Report Authorised by: Interim Director of Legal and Governance:

    Andrew Pavlou

     

    Contact for enquiries:Melissa McArthur, Lead Commissioner, Children’s Commissioning and Community Safety, 020 7926 1174, MMcarthur@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Ed Davie, introduced the Strategy and noted:

    ·           Lambeth delivered numerous, high-quality play and youth services and spaces.

    ·           Central Government budget cuts, which fell heavily on non-statutory services had been neutralised by Lambeth and these resources would be increased as vital and primary sources of education.

    ·           Cuts had led to a 50% decrease in youth workers and declining levels in young people’s outcomes.

    ·           Children and young people benefitted from socialising with peers, trusted adults, youth workers, and creativity outlets outside homes, parents and guardians, or formal education.

    ·           Thanks was given to children, young people, providers and officers in co-producing the Strategy.

     

    Melissa McArthur, Lead Commissioner for Children’s Commissioning and Community Safety, added:

    ·           The Strategy’s vision was to put children and young people at heart of everything the Council did, in a happy, safe, and healthy environment; whilst meeting their aspirations.

    ·           The seven promises were detailed in the agenda pack second dispatch, pages 3 and 25-36.

    ·           The Strategy ensured that children and young people would hold the Council to account.

    ·           The Budget would refocus an additional £225,000 on 19–25-year-old cohort services.

     

    Jacob Sakil, Youth Council co-ordinator addressed the Sub-Committee as follows:

    ·           Serena Cobbinah, Lambeth Youth Councillor, had worked extensively with officers on the Child Friendly Lambeth initiative which feed into this Strategy.

    ·           The whole Youth Council had been instrumental in delivering this Strategy, which would ensure that young people were present in the Town Hall and inputting across operational levels.

    ·           The Youth Council welcomed councillors to attend their meetings and further working together.

    ·           Young people would require training to input into civic life and understand bureaucracy.

    ·           A Youth Summit would take place in July and would detail participating organisations.

    ·           The Youth Council needed to be equipped to engage young people, such as the recent event on knife crime, and have more agency in decision-making and part of ongoing conversations.

     

    In response to questions from the Sub-Committee, the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People and officers responded:

    ·           The Strategy protected vulnerable children through the provision of activities and identified at-risk children through internal teams and third-party organisations.

    ·           The Council was in dialogue with education partners regarding declining admission numbers and utilising their spaces to deliver the Strategy’s ambitions.

    ·           Lambeth continued to work with and was reviewing greater support to organisations in the faith and community sectors. 

    ·           The Dexter Road Play Project on Railton Road was an example of regenerating a previously neglected space and working with partners to ensure greater accessibility for local communities.

    ·           Recruitment was open access and aimed for wide representation through schools or placements, covering all five Lambeth town areas, and would not be limited to those usually involved.

    ·           A Strategy Board comprising senior partners, providers, councillors and officers would answer to the Children and Young People Board.

    ·           Future budget setting would detail more funding on commissioning services and link into Lambeth Made Safer, employments, jobs, skills and build complementary support within existing provision.

    ·           The Youth and Play programme  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Child Friendly Lambeth pdf icon PDF 493 KB

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    (All wards)

     

    Report Authorised by: Merlin Joseph: Strategic Director for Children’s Services

     

    Contact for enquiries: Cath Millington, Child Friendly Lambeth and Corporate Parenting Lead, 020 7926 1910,cmillington@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Minutes:

    The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Ed Davie, introduced the report as follows:

    ·           The Children Social Care Improvement Commission, chaired by Councillor Davie, had reviewed other local authorities rated inadequate, such as Leeds, who had adopted a child friendly city approach.

    ·           It was originally recommended to Council to adopt UNICEF’s programme in 2015.

    ·           Leeds thoroughly advertised its child friendly status, had over 800 ambassadors, supporting sports clubs, and promoted, protected, and amplified children’s voices.

    ·           Lambeth had the facilities and opportunities, but many children had considerable difficulties, including facing poverty, air pollution, and violence.

    ·           The Child Friendly Lambeth (CFL) Initiative would galvanise partners, such as Lambeth’s three teaching hospitals, to deliver.

     

    Catherine Millington, Child Friendly Lambeth and Corporate Parenting lead, added:

    ·           It was important for children and young people to undertake decision-making in the Council, across wider partnerships and businesses such as the voluntary sector, police, fire, and health services.

    ·           The Initiative was being delivered in partnership with UNICEF UK, which gave access to funding and extensive training opportunities.

    ·           Aspirations were underpinned by children’s rights and made lived experiences central.

    ·           Consultation to date sought to identify children’s priorities and needed collation and review prior to moving to the development phase.  This would be judged by a UNICEF Panel comprising children and children’s right experts to determine whether to accredit as a child friendly community.

     

    In response to questions from the Sub-Committee, the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People and officers responded:

    ·           Young people would be involved in the development and co-production of planning decisions, and Lambeth was working with other local authorities in the programme to identify best practice, including the Haringey child friendly planning document.

    ·           UNICEF recognised climate change as one of greatest threats, and Lambeth’s plan would include climate change, providing clean and safe travel routes, and accessible green play space.

    ·           Madrid’s redesign and recycling of street furniture into an adventure playground, providing children with design qualifications, upskilling, and having a positive environmental impact.

    ·           The UK was not good at welcoming children into public spaces and it was important that they felt welcome and valued, such as removing signage that prohibited playing games.

    ·           Funding the CFL when nurseries struggled with funding could seem contradictory, but central Government had changed their nursery funding formula, lowering funding whilst costs rose, and although Lambeth subsidised five maintained nurseries at £5m a year, it was not possible to meet the remaining funding gap for financial and legal reasons.

    ·           Lambeth could not mitigate all national government actions but could galvanise support, engage with partners and lever in resources, such from Evelina Hospital who were keen on proposals and tackling local issues such as poverty, whilst they needed more apprenticeships and jobs. 

    ·           The CFL included branding and better communications, which would promote Lambeth’s plan and contribute money, space, and time; and allow Lambeth to better meet the needs of children.

    ·           CFL was not a standalone programme and its low, sustainable costs improved future funding opportunities and would allow young people to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Update report on Ofsted pdf icon PDF 334 KB

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    (All wards)

     

    Report Authorised by: Merlin Joseph: Strategic Director for Children’s Services

     

    Contact for enquiries: Eibhlin McInerney, Head of Programme Performance, Strategic Programmes, 020 7926 8963,emcinerney@lambeth.gov.uk

     

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    During discussion of this item the guillotine fell at 9.00 pm.

     

    RESOLVED: That the meeting continue for a further period of up to 30 minutes.

     

    The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Ed Davie, introduced the report and noted:

    ·           Children’s Social Care (CSC) had been on a long improvement journey, but good progress had been made, especially on front-door services such as referrals, which meant Ofsted’s focus visit was very positive.

    ·           Lambeth received eight referrals a day on average, which entailed significant work and risk, but auditing showed that the vast majority of subsequent decisions were correct.

    ·           Further work was still needed, such as needing a substantial improvement in child protection and support.

     

    Jane Carroll, Interim Director of Children's Social Care, added:

    ·           Ofsted’s focus visit also interviewed the Cabinet Member and other officers.

    ·           Lambeth continued to regularly scrutinise its improvement plans following the focus visit.

    ·           Areas such as family services and child protection remained a concern, but the audit programme was embedding these and their evaluation to continue to improve.

    ·           Lambeth worked closely with practising partners and had strong governance processes.

    ·           Improvement work was regularly reported to the Cabinet Member and Chief Executive.

     

    In response to questions from the Sub-Committee, the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People and officers responded:

    ·           Children’s Social Care comprised just over 50% agency staff, with this being lower in Children’s Services as a whole; however, many agency staff had worked for Lambeth for many years.

    ·           Workforce permanency remained a concern and conversion from agency to permanent contracts was needed.

    ·           Lambeth continued to recruit and retain social workers, however there was a shortage of 2–3-year qualified social workers, due to a tendency to move into other roles past this timescale.

    ·           Lambeth had a Strategic and Development Board to monitor staffing, a Retention Strategy in place, and a new pay award and March recruitment campaign pending Cabinet approval.

    ·           Nearly half of all UK children’s services were rated as inadequate, which highlighted a national problem, although it remained Lambeth’s responsibility to deliver better services.

    ·           Contracted social workers received less pay compared to agency staff, however agencies could match pay increases and this needed to be undertaken in tandem with other London boroughs.

    ·           Younger social workers were more focused on initial cash elements of salaries to pay off loans and mortgages, and generally did not weigh the benefits of sick pay and pensions of contracted staff.

    ·           Agency staff were generally able to become promoted and increase their pay quicker.

    ·           Lambeth was reviewing key worker housing and other means to reduce rents to attract more to work in the borough, in addition to its appealing training packages and career progression.

    ·           Being judged as inadequate meant that it could be hard to recruit and retain staff and underlined the importance of improving services to be rated as good. Ofsted judgments had a significant impact, but remarkable work was undertaken even in inadequate authorities.

    ·           Affordable housing shortages had been exacerbated by Covid-19 and seen many leave London and either  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

2021/22 Children's Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 451 KB

    • View the background to item 6.

    (All wards)

     

    Report Authorised by: Interim Director of Legal and Governance:

    Andrew Pavlou

     

    Contact for enquiries: David Rose, Democratic Services, Legal and Governance; drose@lambeth.gov.uk, 020 7926 1037

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    This item was deferred.