Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Cabinet Minutes

Thursday, 16th March, 2017
Jim Cooke Conference Suite, Stockton Central Library, Church Road, Stockton on Tees, TS18 1TU
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Cllr Robert Cook (Chair); Cllr Jim Beall, Cllr Nigel Cooke, Cllr Mrs Ann McCoy, Cllr Michael Smith and Cllr Norma Wilburn.
Julie Danks, Margaret Waggott, Peter Bell (DCE), Ged Morton (HR&L), Chris Renahan (EG&D) Martin Gray (CHS), Reuben Kench (CL&E), Jamie McCann (CS), Ann Workman, Liz Hanley (AH) Jane Humphreys, Julie Nixon (TT).
In Attendance:
Sarah Bright (Silk Healthcare); Parveen Mughal, Dr. Rob Sagoo (Stockton-On-Tees Care Home Asssociation).
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Steve Nelson.
Item Description Decision
The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and outlined the evacuation procedure and the procedure for the recording of the meeting.
Councillor Bob Cook declared a personal non prejudicial interest in respect of agenda item 9 - Minutes of Various Bodies as he was a member of TVCA.

Councillor Nigel Cooke declared a personal non prejudicial interest in respect of agenda item 10 - Children’s Hub Performance as he was on TEWV NHS Foundation Trust.

Councillor Mrs Ann McCoy declared a personal non prejudicial interest in respect of agenda item 10 - Children’s Hub Performance as she was on TEWV NHS Foundation Trust.

Councillor Mike Smith declared a personal non prejudicial interest in respect of agenda item 13 - Accommodation for Care Leavers and Homeless Young People as a family member had applied for an Accommodation Grant.
The minutes of the meetings held on 9 February 2017 and 16 February 2017 were confirmed and signed by the Chair as a correct record.
Cabinet Decision Record D170026

1. The fees for older persons care home services set out in paragraph 11.1 of the report be approved.

2. The fees for mental health care home services set out in paragraph 12.5 of the report be approved.
Cabinet Decision Record D170027
RESOLVED that the proposed revised the Council's Regulatory Service Enforcement Policy be approved.
Cabinet Decision Record D170028

1. Officers progress to the next project stage, scheme design and the development of an associated business plan for the Victoria site, to illustrate how the scheme could be delivered and the likely scale of investment required.

2. Officers further explore the appropriate relationship between SBC and Thirteen Housing Group to take forward the Victoria redevelopment. It was noted that this would include giving detailed consideration to whether additional partners/investors are required.

3. A final report be presented to Cabinet (anticipated to be within six months).
Cabinet Decision Record D170029

1. The recommendation arising from the meeting of the Members Advisory Panel be noted as follows:-

‘That the current practice of the Council recording meetings of Council, Cabinet and Planning Committee meetings cease with effect from the 2017/18 Municipal Year.’

2. The current practice of the Council recording meetings of Council, Cabinet and Planning Committee meetings cease with effect from the 2017/18 Municipal Year.
Cabinet Decision Record D170030
RESOLVED that of the meetings detailed be approved / received, as appropriate.
Cabinet Decision Record D170031

1. The performance report be noted.

2. Six monthly performance reports be reported to Cabinet.
Cabinet Decision Record D170032

1. The work being undertaken to develop a regional adoption agency be noted.

2. The Council’s commitment to the ongoing development of a Tees Valley Regional Adoption Agency be confirmed.

3. Cabinet receive a further report on this development where a key decision will be required to move to the creation of the Tees Valley Regional Adoption Agency.
Cabinet Decision Record D170033
RESOLVED that the following appointment be made to the vacant Governorships subject to successful List 99 check and Personal Disclosure:-

Michael Boyle - School Nomination - Priors Mill CE Primary School
Cabinet Decision Record D170034

1. The report be noted.

2. Further reports be received updating Cabinet on the potential funding implications for Children’s Services when the new arrangements come into place for funding Housing related support.
Cabinet Decision Record D170035

1. The progress made by the Licensing Service over the past 12 months be noted.

2. The work identified which will enhance the Licensing Service further be noted.
4.30 pm - 6.30 pm.


Consideration was given to a report on Older People's and Mental Health Care Home Services Fees.

The Council was required on an ongoing basis to promote the efficient and effective operation of the local market in care homes. It was important that the fees paid for this publicly funded care were sufficient to ensure that the care provided was safe, available at the right time and of the right quality. Provision should be sustainable on reasonable commercial terms.

In order to review and decide on what the Council should set as its usual cost, an exercise to assess actual costs had been carried out. This had sought to enquire into and develop a deeper understanding of what the actual costs of providing care home services in Stockton were, including the local factors that relate to the market in Stockton.

The assessment of the actual costs of providing care within Stockton was aimed at establishing a fair fee for Council funded care home services. The Council may take into account local factors and any other relevant matters, as well as its own resources. Adopting the recommendations would meet providers’ costs and see an overall increase in the rates paid.

On 25 July 2013 (following a consultation process with providers) the Council’s then Corporate Director of Children, Education and Social Care (CESC), in conjunction with the Lead Cabinet Member, approved the setting of a number of usual costs for care home services for older people for the period of 1 October 2012 to 30 September 2013 and made an offer of a usual cost for the period of 1 October 2013 to 30 September 2014.

The usual cost was essentially the fee or rate the Council was prepared to pay to care home providers for care home services (“the fees”).

The decision of 25 July 2013 became the subject of a judicial review pre-action protocol letter sent on behalf of the Stockton and Billingham Care Home Association (the Association). Whilst the Council did not accept the arguments put forward by the Association at that time, in the interests of maintaining the essential relationship with the providers and with a genuine aim of ensuring providers receive a fair fee for care that takes account of the actual costs of that care, the Council agreed to review the decision afresh, subject the following conditions:

a) that each of the (care home) constituent members of the Claimant, who have not already submitted data agree now to provide to the Council a fully completed financial template in the format and for the periods previously required by the Council, to enable the Council to review its decision on the Usual Costs and take account of actual costs of providing care and other local factors. Such complete template to be provided by each (care home) constituent member of the Claimant on or before 22 November 2013.

b) that the [providers] provide such other information to the Council that the [providers] require the Council to have due regard to in order to verify and review the actual costs of providing care and other local factors.

The Council further agreed to backdate any change in fees for older people's care homes resulting from the review of the decision to 1st October 2012, which was the date when the Council received a formal written request. At that, stage fees for mental health homes were not part of the review.

Whilst the Council had not accepted all the arguments made by providers in respect of the sufficiency of fees and the financial burden said to be imposed, and does not agree with the providers contention as to why it had taken so long to conclude the review, it was recognised that to maintain and indeed improve provider goodwill, that once the fee was set (and subject to any scrutiny procedures or legal challenge), immediate steps should be taken to expedite the payment to providers of any backdated fees, so as to alleviate what providers perceive as historic underfunding.

During the review period, the underlying rates that were implemented following the 25 July 2013 decision had been maintained, except in so far as they had been uplifted to keep pace with inflationary pressures. Details of interim payments were attached to the report.

Prior to determining a final recommendation to Cabinet, officers had consulted all commissioned providers, and the Association about the proposed rates and the Council’s approach to enquiring into actual costs. Providers and the Association were each provided with a report draft Cabinet report entitled ‘Older People’s And Mental Health Care Home Services Fees’ along with its supporting appendices which detailed the proposals. The consultation period ran from 1 August 2016 until 30 September 2016 (which includes as extension of time request by the Association).

It would be inaccurate to look at this as a single consultation event, in isolation of the extensive work that had taken place between officers and the Association. However, it did represent a culmination of the work to date.

Comments were received from 3 individual providers and one coordinated response from the Association which represented 17 Care Providers (according to its own statement of membership).

Members took into account the views of providers and to this end a number of changes to the original draft proposals had been made. Clearly, the primary concern of providers was with regard to the fee levels and the need to maintain the standard of quality of care in the borough. Full details of consultation responses alongside views given by officers of the Council to address and respond to these were attached to the report.

A table within the report contained the Proposed Fees (usual costs) for 2012 to April 2016.

Following the consultation and taking fully into account comments made by providers and the Association the Council had adjusted and improved these proposals as well as applying a further year’s inflationary uplifts to take account of April 2017 onwards. This was detailed in table within the report.

There were four Mental Health Care Homes in the Borough. Whilst they were originally not part of the pre-judicial review action, they had since become part of the Association and it was agreed that the Council would review their fee level in parallel. In October 2014, the Council made a decision to pay £391.18 from 6th December 2013 based on financial information provided by two homes. This was not accepted by providers. However, these fees had been uplifted by the same indices for Oct 2014, Oct 2015 and April 2016 applied to the Older People’s homes without prejudice to the outcome of the further fee review being undertaken. This resulted in fee increases of 1.56%, 1.04% and 2.95% respectively.

As part of the agreement to review the decision afresh the areas covered in paragraph 7.10 following discussion with the providers’ representative had been considered in relation to Mental Health Care Homes.

In the light of all the considerations set out above in the report, the Council was prepared to backdate the Mental Health Care rate uplift to 1 October 2012 as well, even though this request was made secondary by the Association.

The draft consultation report provided the following proposals for 2012 to April 2017. Following the consultation and taking fully into account comments made by providers and the Association the Council had adjusted and improved these proposals as well as applying a further years inflationary uplifts to take account of April 2017. This was detailed in table within the report.

Members had been provided with a copy of the response to the Council proposals from the Stockton and Billingham Care Home Care Home Association.
Consideration was given to a report on the review of the Council's Regulatory Service Enforcement Policy.

The Regulatory Services Enforcement Policy was designed to make sure that everyone knew the overriding principles that the Council’s Regulatory Services would apply when carrying out enforcement work. The current version of the Policy was approved by Cabinet in September 2011 (minute CAB 50/11 refers) and was due for review and renewal.

The Enforcement Concordat, introduced by the Cabinet Office in 1998, was formally adopted by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council in August 2001. Prior to the introduction of the Enforcement Concordat, each regulatory service within the Authority was responsible for devising and implementing their own enforcement policies without the benefit of any central guidance. A copy of the Enforcement Concordat was attached to the report.

In April 2003, Cabinet approved a combined Regulatory Services Enforcement Policy for the first time. This Policy had subsequently been revised in November 2006 and in September 2011. This process therefore represented the third review of the Council’s Regulatory Services Enforcement Policy.

Enforcement, in the context of this Policy, included action aimed at ensuring that individuals or businesses complied with the law, carried out in the exercise of, or against the background of, delegated statutory powers. This was not limited to formal enforcement action such as prosecution, but included, for example, the provision of advice to aid compliance.

The Enforcement Policy therefore covered all of the Council’s Regulatory Services, including Trading Standards, Licensing, Environmental Health, Animal Health, Planning, Building Control and those functions dealing with car parking enforcement, anti-social behaviour, environmental protection, housing and benefits enforcement.

In April 2014, the Government issued updated national guidance to regulators in the form of the Regulators’ Code, a copy of which was attached to the report. The requirements of the new Regulators’ Code had been included in the revised draft of the Policy.

Regulatory Services within the Council had been consulted on the draft revised Policy. In addition consultation had taken place by means of a public notice in a local newspaper and via the Trading Standards and the ‘Consultation Have Your Say’ pages of the Council’s website; this consultation closed on 31 January 2017. No comments were received from any member of the public.

The draft revised Regulatory Services Enforcement Policy showing track changes was attached to the report.
Consideration was given to a report on Victoria Estate Regeneration: Urban Village Living (Promoting Active and Healthy Ageing).

The report updated Members on progress made regarding the development of an urban village promoting active and healthy living for older persons on the former Victoria Housing Site. The report also provided details of the research into resident demand for such a village, the financial viability of the scheme and some outline concepts on design with a view to moving the project to detailed business planning stage in partnership with Thirteen Housing Group.

The Victoria estate was uniquely placed in terms of its proximity to the municipal heart of Stockton and its ease of pedestrian access to the town’s retail and leisure facilities. The sites location offers an opportunity to develop a new housing offer for older persons one that did not exist within the Borough. The scale of the regeneration proposed would transform Victoria and bring significant inward investment which would impact positively on supporting the Council’s broader vision for a vibrant Stockton town centre.

It was proposed that the project moved to the detailed design and planning stage. Next steps would include:

• Producing a detailed scheme design and associated business plan to illustrate how the scheme could be delivered and the likely scale of investment required from partners (this will involve procuring appropriate external support such as architects).

• Exploring joint venture/ investment model between SBC and Thirteen Housing Group and considering whether additional partners/investors were required

Following this a further report would be presented to Members for consideration and an investment decision and then subject to the necessary approvals the scheme would become ‘live’ and work would commence on other work streams such as marketing, development of homeowner products, working with stakeholders and future residents and, considering operating options.
Consideration was given to a report on the recording of Council meetings.

Council at its meeting held on 19th November 2014 agreed to the Council recording / web-broadcasting meetings of Council, Cabinet and Planning Committee, these being meetings most likely to engage members of the public.

It was agreed also that a review of the filming and broadcasting of these meetings would take place after a period of time. The report contained recommendations from the Members Advisory Panel (MAP) who had undertaken a review of the extent to which this policy had enhanced engagement with the public and offered value for money.

MAP met on 7th December 2016 and noted that for the period January 2016 - June 2016 the number of ‘views’ of meetings recorded was extremely low, and therefore the level of engagement with the public that this had enabled had proven to be disappointing.

The number of ‘views’, as registered with YouTube upon which the recordings were posted and promoted via a link on the Council’s website, were as follows:-

Council - Highest recorded number of views 20th January 2016 - 173 views
- Lowest recorded number of views 6th April 2016 - 16 views.

Cabinet - Highest recorded number of views 19th May 2016 - 194 views
- Lowest recorded number of views 11th February 2016 - 18 views.

Planning - Highest recorded number of views 25th May 2016 - 209 views
- Lowest recorded number of views 5th June 2016 - 21 views.

The viewing figures since this time had remained modest averaging at 81 views for the period from September 2016 to present date.

This was considered to be a very small number of views considering the population within the Borough was 191,600 +ONS 2011 Census. The occasions on which the viewing figures had been at their highest relate to Council’s consideration of public questions on Children’s Homes, Cabinet’s consideration for the North Shore Hotel and Planning Committee’s consideration of a boutique hotel in Yarm.

Across the region only 5 other local authorities record and publish any of their public meetings and in each case, these meetings were restricted to full Council only.

The service to record the Council’s Council, Cabinet and Planning Committees was contracted out at a cost of £10k per annum. The Council did not have the equipment or expertise to provide this service in house. The cost would therefore seem to be prohibitive given the level of demand for this service.

As there was no requirement for the Council to film and record public meetings and the Council was only required to make provision for those individuals who wish to, MAP were invited to consider whether it wished to continue with these arrangements given the level of engagement achieved to date and it subsequently agreed that:-

‘The current practice of the Council recording meetings of Council, Cabinet and Planning Committee meetings cease with effect from the 2017/18 Municipal Year.’

It was noted that in the time since the introduction of the legislation affording members of the public the opportunity to report and comment on public meetings, there had been no occasions when members of the public had invoked the protocol and requested permission to make their own recording of the meeting.
In accordance with the Council’s Constitution or previous practice the minutes of the meeting of the bodies indicated below were submitted to Members for consideration:-

SLSCB - 15 December 2016
SSP - 13 December 2016
TSAB - 20 December 2016
TVCA - 2 November 2016
TVCA - 13 January 2017
Consideration was given to a report on Children's Hub Performance Report Quarter 1 / Quarter 2.

The report provided information on the first six months’ Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 performance of the North of Tees Multi-Agency Children’s Hub which became operational on 1 June 2016. The staffing structure was attached to the report.

During this time Stockton Local Authority had its four week Inspection of Children’s Services (SIF) - it was noted by Ofsted:

“The Children’s Hub provides Stockton-on-Tees, in partnership with Hartlepool Borough Council, with a new single point of entry to children’s social care. This new initiative brings together key agencies across the North Tees area which deliver services jointly to both boroughs. The Children’s Hub benefits from partner agencies being co-located. This is already leading to earlier and more effective identification of risk, improved information sharing and joint decision-making. While contacts remain high, the number of strategy meetings and cases transferred for assessment have been reduced in the first two weeks of implementation. Information sharing and decision-making are effective, but the new arrangements currently lack evidence of recorded management decisions.”

Since the Hub became operational regular Multi-Agency meetings had taken place to monitor the performance and quality of the work in the Hub.

The Multi-Agency Strategic Management Board (SMB), which was set up to establish the Hub, had continued to meet regularly alongside the meeting of operational partners - known as the Partner Review meetings.

The membership of the two meetings was attached to the report.

A key set of performance indicators had been agreed by the SMB, and Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 performance was attached to the report. The performance indicators where possible were measured against baseline performance information for 2015/2016. The key areas to highlight in Q1 and Q2 performance were as follows:

• The percentage of enquiries passed to the Assessment Team that were closed as No Further Action prior to assessment has reduced from baseline of 10.2% to 4.77%.

• The percentage of Social Care Assessments resulting in No Further Action has reduced from a baseline of 21.83% in 2015/16 to 8.77% up to Q2.

• Percentage of dashboard cases resulting in No Further Action is 27.82%.

• Percentage of cases leading to Pathway to Early Help 13.77% - this has reduced from 2015/16 figure, and needs to be considered alongside number of cases referred direct to Early Help.

• Percentage of cases resulting in Pathway to Single Agency is 4.45%.

• Percentage of Re-referrals within 12 months of the previous referral is 19.8%.

• Percentage of all Referrals, including Early Help with an outcome/decision within one working day is 72%. A piece of work is to be undertaken to ensure all Social Care cases are responded to in one day.

• Police Chub attendance at Strategy discussions/meetings is 96%.

• Health Chub attendance at Strategy discussions/meetings is 88%.

A number of Qualitative Audits had also been undertaken over the first 6 months of the Hub becoming operational.

The first Audit which was undertaken by Stockton Borough Council staff was in response to the recommendation in the Ofsted SIF report regarding the lack of evidence of management decision making on the Hub referrals.

As a result of this recommendation new processes were put in place and an audit of cases in November 2016 confirmed that management oversight was now evident in all of the Hub cases that went to the Social Work Assessment Teams.

This was not the case however of all cases that went to Early Help. A further more recent audit of referrals to the Hub to the Early Help Team did identify that in all cases there was now management oversight evident.

During the month of September 2016, all agencies undertook a 20% dip sample of cases to ensure that the referrals and action that had also been identified were completed.

In Stockton’s case this sample included 37 children where the cases then went to the Assessment Teams (Social Work Teams) and 23 cases where the cases went from the Hub to the Early Help Team (cases which did not meet the threshold for Children’s Social Care).

In relation to the 37 cases which were referred to the Assessment Teams, the Service Manager for the Teams confirmed the following:

• All children sampled were appropriate to transfer to the Assessment Teams.

• All thresholds were agreed by both the Hub and Assessment Team Managers.

• All referrals were responded to in a timely manner.

• There was written evidence of management decision making in relation to all children.

In relation to the 23 cases referred to Early Help, the Service Manager for Early Help confirmed the following:

• In 16 of the 23 cases it was appropriate for cases to go to Early Help, in the 8 cases where this was not felt to be appropriate, the view in these cases was that 5 cases could have gone from the referring agency straight to Early Help and did not need to go via the Hub, the remaining 3 should have been considered on the dashboard for social care assessment.

• In 21 of 23 referrals the Hub referral was clear, and the reasons for the referral clearly outlined.

• There was limited reference to the threshold document in the referral with only 4 of the 23 evidencing that.

• Only 4 of the 23 also had dashboard information currently (this is due to partner agencies’ capacity to check their systems and records). The CHUB Team Manager rag rates the referral on initial information only higher levels go on the on the dashboard the partners do not give information or support decision making on these referrals.

• In 20 of the 23 cases 86% the referral was appropriate to be passed from the Hub to Early Help Team. The remaining 3 should have been considered for social care assessment

Since the Hub was established a dispute resolution process had been introduced - there had only been a small number of cases where agreement had not been reached on cases. Future performance reports would provide exact numbers.

The Hub also asked all partner agencies to confirm that when the Hub had referred to single agency partners that actions had taken place on the cases as recommended.

The following findings came from this Audit:

• In 100% of the referrals to CAMHS actions had taken place.
• In 80% of the referrals to NTHFT actions had taken place.
• In 100% of the referrals to Schools actions had taken place.
• In 15 out of 62 (24%) actions had taken place with Harbour. Noted this was not because Harbour did not make contact with families, it was because families would not engage - this information has been passed to Harbour and a more detailed piece of work is taking place to understand why families have not engaged.

• Police - 100% of Police referrals action was taken.

Alongside this work all referrals received into the Hub that were No Further Action (NFA) or where advice and guidance was offered were sent back to the referring agency to consider if the referrals had been appropriate.

The following was found (note these are single children, some would be families):

• A & E - only 15 out of 30 were felt to be appropriate
• CAMHS - 4 out of 8 (50%)
• Education - 8 out of 35 (23%)
• Health - 5 out of 15 (33%)
• Probation - 100% = 10/10
• GPs - 4 out of 5 (80%)
• Police - 57 out of 76 (75%)
• Adult Mental Health - 3 out of 8 (38%)
• Harbour - 6 out of 6 (100%)

Since the Hub was established regular meetings had taken place with the Hub staff and school representatives, including attendance at the termly Safeguarding Schools Forum. The Designated Education Officer role in the Hub (DEO) also had been contacted on a regular basis to give advice on cases and guidance on when to refer cases into the Hub. Further work would continue in order that schools understand thresholds more fully and also referrals to Early Help Service.

A further piece of work was also being undertaken by the previous DCS, looking at a sample of the Education No Further Action referrals and the outcomes. The outcome of this work would be reported in next performance report.

Stockton Borough Council also under took an audit of all referrals received into the Hub by North East Ambulance Service (NEAS). There were 12 in total:

• On 9 out of 12 the referral was clear
• In 11 out of 12 the reason for referral was clear
• In 7 out of 12 this was an appropriate referral to

Another piece of work undertaken was the analysis of school referrals and time that these arrived into the Hub.

Hartlepool Borough Council and Stockton Borough Council together checked 22 referrals of which:

• 46% arrived into the Hub after 3.00pm
• 41% arrived into the Hub after 3.30pm
• 27% arrived into the Hub after 4.00pm
• 23% arrived into the Hub after 4.30pm
• 18% arrived into the Hub after 5.00pm and not referred by school to EDT

and a number of referrals arrived after 4.30/5.00pm - as a result of this piece of work, further work was taking place with schools to ensure they refer any concerns into the Hub promptly and that they were aware of the need to contact EDT if it was after normal working hours.

During the first six months of the Hub, one complaint was received in relation to the Hub - this was being adjudicated on at the Independent Investigation stage.

The Hub had also requested an External review of the Hub arrangements and colleagues from North Yorkshire Local Authority had agreed to undertake a review in early March with a view to making any recommendations which would improve the processes within the Hub and with partners.
Consideration was given to a report on the Development of Tees Valley Regional Adoption Agency.

The report informed Members of the national policy agenda in relation to adoption and the local response to develop a Tees Valley Regional Adoption Agency with the assistance of a grant from the Department for Education.

Adoption reform was a key priority for the Government building on work commenced under the coalition government through its publication Further Action on Adoption: Finding More Loving Homes (January 2013). This publication outlined a vision for a new adoption system with a key focus on tackling the adopter recruitment challenge calling for a system where there were fewer organisations recruiting and assessing adopters but operating on a much greater scale.

Over the past 18 months, the momentum in the reform of adoption services has increased through the following actions:

• The introduction of the Adoption Leadership Board and Regional Adoption Boards;
• The passing of the Education and Adoption Act making provision to require joint arrangements for carrying out local authority adoption functions in England; and
• The publication by the Department for Education in March 2016 the document ‘Adoption: A Vision for Change’ which outline the Government’s vision of an adoption system where:

- Decisions about placements are always made in children’s best interests;
- Service delivery has at its heart innovation and practice excellence;
- Social workers are highly skilled professionals who make high quality, evidence based decisions and do not tolerate damaging delay for children in their care;
- Matches are made without unnecessary delay;
- Every adoptive family has access to an ongoing package of appropriate support with a right to high quality, specialist assessment of need;
- The voice of adopters and their children is at the heart of national and local policy decision making and delivery of services.

As part of the reform of adoption services, the Department for Education (DfE) committed funding to stimulate change in the sector supporting early adopters of regional adoption agencies to accelerate their development and early implementation. The DfE had provided financial and practical support too local areas to develop regional adoption agencies and all projects had been allocated a coach from the Department’s delivery partner, Deloitte and Mutual Ventures.

In October 2015 the Tees Valley local authorities submitted an expression of interest to the Department for Education for an adoption reform grant to scope the development of a Tees Valley Adoption Service. Initially this project was being led by Middlesbrough Borough Council, however, since January 2016, Hartlepool Borough Council had fulfilled the lead authority role.

In April 2016 the Tees Valley Regional Adoption Agency (TVRAA) submitted a Transition Plan to DfE providing outline proposals, work completed to date and a high level implementation plan for the forthcoming year. This was a requirement for accessing DfE grant funding to support the development and implementation of the RAAs nationally.

Included in the Transition Plan were a draft vision and set of objectives developed by the local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies that make up the TVRAA Management Board based on engagement with adopters and staff. At this stage initial options for the TVRAA delivery vehicle were considered and evaluated against the identified strategic objectives for the RAA and it is proposed further work be done on two options:

(i) That the TVRAA should be constituted as a separate legal entity controlled and ‘owned’ by the participating local authorities and partners.

(ii) One local authority hosts on behalf of the five Tees Valley Local Authorities. Stockton would be willing to host if this were the preferred option.

In order enable local authorities to continue developing on the work undertaken to develop the transition plan, the DfE provided interim funding for May and June 2016 whilst longer term funding decisions were taken. During this period, the DfE amended its funding arrangements for RAA projects and determined to create five ‘demonstrator sites’ that would receive full funding to be the first regions to develop RAAs. All remaining RAA areas received an allocation of £100k between July and October to continue to develop their RAA model. TVRAA was not identified as a demonstrator site and therefore decided to continue to develop the design of the TVRAA and prepare an outline business case for the RAA.

Between July and November a significant amount of work had been undertaken on the design and future model for the TVRAA resulting in the development of process maps in relation to the ideal child / adopter journey, roles and functions of the RAA, processes and pathways and an Outline Business Case for the RAA was attached to the report.

The Outline Business Case (OBC) set out potential benefits and risks of establishing and delivering a regional adoption agency, an overarching vision and associated operating principles and the processes, roles and functions that were required to deliver it. The process of developing the OBC had been used as an opportunity to build consensus on an optimum model for the delivery of a regional adoption agency through:

• Identification of best practice across Tees Valley based on qualitative performance analysis and qualitative practice workshops;
• The co-productive design process in which the ideas and ambition had come from the people who deliver adoption and children’s services in Tees Valley; and
• Anchoring the service design in the needs of those who experience adoption, namely children, adopters and birth parents.

A governance structure was in place for the programme headed by the RAA Management Board made up of the Directors of Children’s Services and senior managers from local VAAs and key partner agencies. Beneath this sits an implementation group of managers leading adoption work across the Tees Valley and a ‘Customer Design Authority’ which was made up of adopters and adoption experienced individuals.

The workstreams had been identified as follows:

• Practice and organisational design
• Commercial, legal and governance
• Human Resources
• Finance
• Performance
• Property

From January 2017, work would start in earnest on the development of the full business case for the RAA through the creation of a series of workstreams that would effectively organise and coordinate activity to deliver the programme through to go live and beyond. It was proposed that this was a staged process across three phases:

• January - May 2017 - Detailed design, transition planning and development of Full Business Case to enable the necessary local approvals to be secured for implementation;
• June - November 2017 - Formation of and transition to the new RAA model including necessary consultations.
• November 2017 - June 2018 - Go live and focussed optimisation of the new model.

It was noted that not all of the Tees Valley local authorities had a dedicated adoption services. Within some of the authorities, these were an integrated team with the fostering service. Through the workstreams, these issues would be addressed to consider how to provide resilience both to the RAA and retain an appropriate level of capacity within the fostering services.
In accordance with the procedure for the appointment of school / academy governors, approved as Minute CAB 27/13 of the Cabinet (13 June 2013), Cabinet was invited to consider the nominations to school / academy Governing Bodies listed in the attachment to the report.
Consideration was given to a report on Accommodation for Care Leavers and Homeless Young People.

The report provided an update to Members on the work that had taken place since a report came to Cabinet in July 2016 around the accommodation needs of care leavers and homeless young people.

The report also updated Members on the Government Review of Supported Housing.

There was a legal requirement for the Council to provide suitable accommodation to care leavers and homeless young people aged 16 and 17.

Since July 2016, a small working group, led by the previous Director of Children’s Services, had met to discuss the identified needs for accommodation for care leavers and homeless young people in the Borough.

The group was comprised of representatives from Children’s Services, Housing, Finance and Children’s Commissioning (Public Health).

The group had considered all of the children looked after 16 plus who either were or would become eligible care leavers in future years with a view to projecting need for accommodation - this included 130 care leavers and 62 sixteen and seventeen year old young people in care.

There had been an increase in young people looked after “staying put” within their foster placements and where it was known this would be the plan for looked after children who would become care leavers this had been factored in.

The number of staying put placements was 19 and it was predicted that would increase by a further 12 over the next 24 months (19 expected to start and 7 expected to cease) and there may be further pressures thereafter. Whilst this was seen as very positive practice for the young people this would put increased pressure on the Supported Accommodation budget to the value of £60k in 2017-18 rising to £120k in 2018-19 and would also mean a number foster placements would not be available to other looked after children.

The breakdown of Supported Accommodation was attached to the report. It was felt that this level of Supported Accommodation should meet the needs of young people.

A review of all of the Supported Accommodation receiving payment of Housing Related Support funding made by the Local Authority had been led by Julie Nixon. Representatives of the Children’s Working Group had also been part of this work.

A report outlining that work to date went to Cabinet on 19 January 2017 - Commissioning of Short Term Housing Related Support Services. The report highlighted that new revised contracts would come into place by July 2017 - this would include those services for children and young people.

Access to supported accommodation for young people aged 16 and 17 or care leavers is following an assessment of need by the lead worker (Personal Advisor or Social Worker) and a subsequent referral to Youth Accommodation Panel.

The panel sat every 3 weeks and considered referrals for emergency accommodation in retrospect, requests for planned supported accommodation and requested for priority banding for those young people ready to take up their own tenancies independently via Choice Base Lettings, and was a direct link to the housing ‘Gateway’ in respect of access to other all commissioned accommodation and if needed additional floating support.

The panel was managed and chaired from Children’s Services (Resource Team), however the membership was wider and included providers of young people’s commissioned accommodation and support and other relevant services including the link to the ‘Gateway’ via the Housing representative, Youth Direction, Leaving Care and Youth Offending.

Accommodation was not considered in isolation, there was recognition that for young people to be successful in their transition to independence, the right support must be in place at the right time and this support should to be holistic hence the wide membership of the panel.

Having membership on the panel from Housing and a link to the Housing ‘Gateway’ supported seamless move on plans for young people and was a mechanism that promoted timely decisions re-tenancies through Choice Base Lettings and priority banding reducing the risk of delay. This promoted a smooth transition from accommodation provided for young people to accommodation provided for adults.

Since the report to Cabinet in July 2016 the Ofsted Report - Single Inspection Framework had been published.

Ofsted looked at the outcomes and experiences of children who may become homeless and also of services for care leavers.

The Sub-Judgement for the Experience and Progress of Care Leavers was Outstanding - as of January 2017 only 5 Local Authorities out of 117 Local Authorities inspected.

Ofsted noted the following in the report:

- Care Leavers at University are supported to return to their chosen living arrangements in the area at holiday times.

- Strong partnership arrangements were evidenced that ensure that virtually all care leavers move onto suitable accommodation of their choice and when they are ready to do so. At 90% this is well above that found nationally. (The current figure is 89%.)

- Young Inspectors review all semi-independent accommodation to check that it is of a suitable standard and somewhere that they would want to live.

- Accommodation and living needs are addressed well because of the effective youth accommodation panel and services that tackle young people’s needs holistically and ensure the right support is put in place.

- Care Leavers are encouraged to remain in supported placements beyond the age of 18 and an increasing proportion do so.

- The number of staying put arrangements had doubled from 2014/15 to 2015/16. Young people value the support they get and there are an increasing range of transitional flats and supported living arrangements which provide an effective transition into independence.

- Young people value the work of the dedicated weekend support worker as well.

Between April 2016 - January 2017, there were 24 referrals relating to 21 young people (3 young people referred into the Department on 2 occasions as being homeless). Of the 24:

• 12 young people went to live with other family members - with support offered by the Local Authority;
• 2 young people were provided with emergency short term accommodation and then returned home within a few days;
• 2 young people were found accommodation, but declined to become looked after;
• 4 young people became looked after;
• 1 young person is currently in supported accommodation and will become looked after;
• 2 young people were not deemed to be homeless following an assessment by the Social Work Team;
• 1 young person staying with extended family for short period whilst accommodation sought.

Ofsted noted the following around Services to Homeless Young People:

- Service and support for young people aged between 16 and 17 who become homeless or at risk of homelessness are very comprehensive.

- There are excellent multi-agency arrangements and a range of services are offered to ensure that any vulnerable young person will be offered a holistic assessment, appropriate accommodation and if required and agreeable to them, will become looked after by the Local Authority.

Government had recently released a consultation paper regarding how in future (from 2019/20) it proposals to fund supported housing. ‘Supported housing’ covered a range of accommodation some of which was short term (with the aim of managing crises / rehabilitation / providing a stepping stone to independent living) and some of which was long term (and supports individuals to live independently in the community). The types of people in supported housing included vulnerable young people such as care leavers and homeless young people. The details were attached to the report.

The costs of supported housing were frequently higher than mainstream housing for a variety of reasons (higher maintenance, repairs and rates of turnover, the specific characteristics of residents, the inclusion of communal areas and facilities such as enhanced security etc.). At present rents and eligible service charges were covered via the payment of Housing Benefit (or Universal Credit), however in future Government proposes to limit the payment of the core rent and service charges up to Local Housing Allowance rates and for this to continue to be funded through Housing Benefit (or Universal Credit). Government then proposed to devolve funding to Local Authorities to provide additional ‘top-up’ funding to providers, reflecting the higher average costs of offering supported accommodation. This funding would be ring-fenced and the ‘top-up’ would be set on the basis of projections of future need.

A piece of work was being undertaken (involving a range of officers across Finance, Social Care and Housing) to identify the impact of these proposals on the Council, on commissioned housing providers (including supported accommodation services provided to young people) and on both current and potential supported housing tenants. A bespoke report would be presented to Cabinet once this exercise had been completed and additional information was released by Government.
Consideration was given to a report on the progress made by the Licensing Service over the last twelve months, and the planned activity going forward.

Over the past 12 months the Licensing Service had undertaken a period of review and progression. Clear local policies had been developed in line with legislation and consultation with users, including:

• The Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Policy January 2016
• The Licensing Act 2003 Statement of Licensing Policy January 2016
• Gambling Act 2005 Statement of Licensing Principles January 2016

There was strong evidence that this policy foundation was leading to positive outcomes. The Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Licensing Policy had removed 41 accident damaged vehicles from the fleet, trained over 500 drivers in safeguarding, encouraged an additional 49 new vehicles to be registered that comply to Euro 5 emissions, and following intelligence and complaints 19 drivers had been revoked or refused licenses. Training in safeguarding for Stockton licensees, door staff and those involved in the night time economy had been delivered to 80 attendees.

Licensing administration and business processes had been reviewed to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of managing the issue of all licenses, permits and registrations. Improvements had been made to the licensing website as a proactive pre-application advice channel, and on-line application / payment portal. Improvements in the use of technology had been made including looking at the digitalisation of the Licensing Service and mobile working for officers

Intelligence routes had been identified and had been improved between the Licensing Service and the Police, and the Licensing Service and the Stockton CCTV Centre, with an increase in contact and joint working between all. In addition work assessing how this intelligence was being used and ensuring it was used in a risk assessed prioritised way was ongoing. Compliance activity based on this intelligence was supporting the consideration of developing a purple flag scheme for Stockton’s licensed premises within the Stockton Town Centre area. An event for Stockton’s licensees, door staff and those involved with the night time economy would be planned, where information would be presented to attendees on the corporate vision of the Stockton Town Centre area, with a view to getting all concerned on board to improve services and promote the area.

Officers, Committee Members, Members and the Cabinet Member for Access, Communities and Community Safety completed a comprehensive four day training package provided by the Institute of Licensing. The four sessions covered Licensing Committees, Taxi Licensing, Licensing Act 2003 and Gambling Street Trading & Street Collections.

As an outcome of the training sessions a number of areas requiring further work were identified:

• The implementation of two separate Committees to deal with different parts of the Licensing regime. A table showing the functions of the two Committees is attached as Appendix 1.
• The need to consider the Licensing Services current consultation practices against actual consultation requirements in relation to the Licensing Act 2003 and applications received.
• To look at how Officers present Committee reports to members and for Officers to include any recommendations in those reports.
• To research the potential benefits of late night levy’s which have been introduced by other Local Authorities.
• To research the work which has been carried out between other Local Authorities and alcohol retailers to work together in tackling street drinking and associated crime caused by this.
• To revisit the implementation of a Licensing Service penalty points system and licence suspension, as tools to ensure compliance of Private Hire Operators, Licensed Drivers and Licensed Vehicles and therefore improve conduct and service.
• Working with Private Hire Operators to encourage appropriate vetting procedures for unlicensed staff who have access to potentially sensitive information (i.e. call takers).
• Review of the current codes of conduct for licensed drivers.
• A Scrutiny review of gambling to understand the impact of Gambling in the community.
• The implementation of returns information from Street Collections, including the percentage of the collection which will to go to charity, to be made available to the public via the website.
• To produce a set of standard procedures for the Committee process to ensure continued professionalization of the delivery of Committees

It was proposed the aforementioned work would be progressed over the next Municipal Year, further updates would be provided to Cabinet as appropriate and necessary.

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