Agenda and minutes

Children & Learning Overview & Scrutiny Sub-Committee (Decommissioned 13th June 2022) - Tuesday, 8th December, 2020 7.00 pm


Contact: Taiwo Adeoye - 01708 433079  Email:


No. Item




The Sub-Committee noted the protocol on the operation of meetings during the Covid 19 pandemic restrictions.




Members are invited to disclose any interests in any of the items on the agenda at this point of the meeting.  Members may still declare an interest in an item at any time prior to the consideration of the matter.



There were no disclosures of interest.



MINUTES pdf icon PDF 214 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 17 September 2020 and authorise the Chairman to sign at a later date.


The minutes of the meeting of the Sub-Committee held on 17 September 2020 were agreed as a correct record and would be signed by the Chairman at a later date.




The Sub-Committee to note the content of the Protocol on Pre-Decision Scrutiny

Additional documents:


The Sub-Committee considered the pre decision scrutiny report and NOTED its contents.




Report and presentation attached.

Additional documents:


The Sub-Committee received the quarter two performance indicators (PIs) update. The PIs are the standards by which performance of services are measured within the Council.


The update provided an overview of performance against the six performance indicators currently monitored by the Sub-Committee in 2020/21.


The report outlined that all six of the indicators have been given a Red Amber Green status; RAG status - two rated Green, one rated Amber and three indicators rated Red.


The report provided the following highlights:


The percentage of Looked after Children (LAC) with an up to date pathway plan in place improved. It was noted that performance data relating to pathway plans were reviewed weekly and there remains a focus on ensuring that young people were engaged with the pathway planning process and that their voice was evident.


It was stated that the percentage of LAC cases with supervision in the last three months was currently strong and above the year-end target. Member were informed that a new systemic case supervision template have been embedded in Liquidlogic, which have enabled regular performance reporting in the area and close monitoring by the Head of Service and Group Managers and discussion at weekly performance meetings.


The report outlined the following areas of potential areas for improvement:

The percentage of contacts progressing to Early Help (EH) in the year to date was down compared with the previous year, It was stated that this was partly due to the schools being closed and then open to a limited number of pupils for part of the year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Early Help service have seen an increase in referrals to EH universal services directly from General Practitioners in relation to perinatal mental health and also from the Speech and Language Team (SALT). There have also been increased referrals in for baby massage, starting solids and the Butterflies group, which was believed to be a result of health colleagues catching up with 1 and 2 year old checks.

The percentage of LAC 16 years and under who have been continuously looked after for over two years and in the same placement dropped. Member noted that part of the long term plans to improve placement stability have included the development of a systemic training offer for all carers with adolescents. The systemic training involved a therapeutic parenting approach which commenced for in-house carers in September 2020. It was also noted that the Assistant Director had convened a working group to focus on placement stability and an action plan was in place with progress being made.


The percentage of Education, Health Care (EHC) Assessments that were completed within 20 weeks was down. It was stated that the short term direction of travel for the indicator at the end of quarter 2 (30 September) would usually be lower as schools who contributed to the process were closed during the summer holidays.


The report outlined that former relevant young people aged 18-21 who are in education, employment or training  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.



Report attached.


At the request of Members, the Strategic Finance Manager presented a report that detailed the monitoring position for the service for 2020/21 based on figures up to period five (31st August).


The report provided a full statement on the estimated costs and income lost relating to the COVID pandemic and also provided details of the pressures faced by the service.


The report detailed the position as at period five on the business as usual including emerging pressures and also savings that are unlikely to be achieved in 2020/21 due to delays caused by the pandemic.


The Sub-Committee noted that the service have been incurring expenditure since March relating to the COVID pandemic.


The report detailed that the financial implications on budgets for 2020/21 continue to be appraised fully during the year to assess the effects of Covid-19 and recovery plans, and any further peaks of the pandemic that may have an impact on demand for services in the autumn. The actual spend at period five was £0.236m, although the Directorate was projecting Covid-19 related expenditure of £0.836m for 20/21.


The report outlined the following Covid Income losses to the service.


In Children Social Care, with the closure of schools a majority of primary and secondary pupils have been income losses to services including Children’s Centres and My Place. Financial risk related to loss of rental income and fees and charges was reported at £0.200m.  


In the Learning and Achievement Service, the Catering Service was forecasting a significant loss of income due to reduced charges for catered meals in schools associated with school closures and reduced numbers in schools. The full year estimate of lost income was circa £3.8m, but this had been mitigated by reduced spend on produce, and staffing (subject to successful Furloughing), resulting in a net effect of £0.290m.  The financial impact was constantly being reviewed since schools reopened in September.


The Adult College was forecasting a significant loss of income due to reduced fees and grants associated with current course closures and reductions in provision from September 2020. The full year estimate was circa £0.370m.


In addition, Members noted the loss of income from the cancellation of Havering Education Services courses and services provided to schools as part of the Traded Services model as well as reduction in provision from September 2020 was approximately £0.650m.


The total loss of income due to Covid for the service was currently projected at £1.510m for 2020/21.


The Sub-Committee noted the report.







Report attached.

Additional documents:


The Sub-Committee received the Children’s Services Annual Complaints report 2019-20. The annual report was a requirement for monitoring by Members as part of the Children Act 1989 Representations Procedure (England) Regulations 2006.


It was noted that Complaints in 2019-20 decreased by 25% in 2019-20 (80) compared to 2018-19 (106) with a small number of complaints made by Young People (8).  The number of enquiries trebled relating to ongoing Court proceedings or Court decisions outside of Children’s Services remit.  There continues to be a steady number of complaints escalating to Stage 2 investigations in 2019-20 (6) and was at the same level as in 2018-19.


The Sub-Committee was informed that many complaints received continue to be regarding the unwelcomed intervention of Children’s Services which reflected in Intervention & Support Services receiving the highest number of complaints in 2019-20 and ‘attitude/behaviour of staff’ being the highest reason.  There have been a decrease of complaints received by Triage Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) & Assessments by 59% in 2019-20(13) compared to 2018-19(32). 


In 2019-20 complaints regarding inaccurate information decreased significantly by 77% (5) compared to 2018-19 (22) resulting from continued audits and quality assurance by Team Managers during the assessment process.  It was stated that the services continue to use the quality assurance framework and other feedback loops to guage standards provided to children and families.


The number of complaints upheld and partially upheld accounted for 24% (19) and 15% (12) respectively of the total complaints.  Those upheld or partially upheld resulted in an apology linked to the need to provide explanation or further information about the reasons for intervention or particular parts of the process that initially may not have been clear. 


The report detailed that complaints received were mainly by email (38) with the next preferred method by telephone (22).  Response times also improved in 2019-12 with 67% (51) responded to within the 20 working day timeframe.  Members noted that efforts to improve response times while recognising the increased complexities of cases and balancing the priorities of the service. 


It was noted that there was an Increased expenditure in 2019-20 for Independent Investigators of £19,531.65 resulted from Stage 2 investigations carried over from 2018-19 and costs associated with Stage 3 Review Panels. 

Payments made as resolutions to complaints totalled £8,200 in 2019-20.


Monitoring information was based on the child(ren) within the family unit in which a complaint was made.  There were increase of those aged between 15-17 and 18+ in 2019-20.  Male children were higher across most age groups except 0-5 and 15-17.  Children recorded with a disability was low across all ages, and diagnosed with mainly Autism or Aspergers Syndrome.  ‘White British’ children highest representation and reflects the borough’s population make up with ‘White and Black Caribbean’ and ‘any other Black Background’ increasing in 2019-20.  Children of ‘Catholic, ‘Christian’ or ‘Church of England’ faiths increased in 2019-20.


The report indicated that number of compliments received was low in 2019-20 although it was not representative of the good work that was ongoing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.



Report attached.

Additional documents:



The Sub-Committee received the Children’s Services Complaints, Comments and Compliments Policy. It was stated that local authorities have a statutory requirement for complaints which are set out in The Children Act 1989 section 26 and The Children Act 1989 Representations Procedure (Children) Regulations 2006. 


The Sub-Committee noted that the policy sets out how the service would deal with statutory complaints and compliments.


The Policy outlined the statutory complaints process for Children Services for children or young person who are looked after by the local authority or child in need, fostering, adoption or Special Guardianship arrangements and care leavers to the local authority.  Also for parents, someone with parental responsibility or a person with sufficient interest in the child can make a complaint on behalf of a child or young person, with the consent and views of the child where appropriate.


The statutory complaints covers the social care functions of the service in relation to a child or young person looked after by the local authority, a child in need, adoption, fostering and Special Guardianship arrangements and care leavers to the local authority.


A complaints involving the court would be determined with legal advice whether a complaint can progress under the statutory procedure without prejudicing proceedings.


A complaints involving other organisations or another local authority may need referring to the relevant organisation or local authority where the service would provide a coordinated response.


Where a complaint had been investigated under the complaints procedure or by the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman or Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman; or where there are court proceedings, tribunals or disciplinary or criminal proceedings, such would not be considered. It was stated that data subject requests and Freedom of Information requests do not fall within the complaints arrangements. 


The process detailed that confidentiality would be maintained unless legally obliged to disclose and the time limit for making a complaint was 12 months.


There were three stages in the process. 


·         Stage 1 would try and seek local resolution and respond within 10 – 20 working days.  If dissatisfied the complaint could escalate to Stage 2. 

·         Stage 2 - independent investigation, carried out by an Independent Investigator and Independent Person. The reports are sent to the local authority, adjudicated on by the Assistant Director/Director, who would respond giving their decision providing the reports.  The Stage 2 takes between 25 – 65 working days to conclude from the date the Statement of Complaint is agreed.  If dissatisfied the complaint can escalate to Stage 3.

·         Stage 3 – Review Panel, its purpose was to review the Stage 2 investigation.  The Panel held within 30 working days with the Chair providing recommendations to the Assistant Director/Director within 5 working days following the Panel.  The Assistant Director/Director would respond giving the decision within 15 working days following receipt of recommendations.


It was explained that complaints or providing feedback, including compliments, were able to be made in various ways and support or assistance could be provided for those making a complaint, through advocacy or  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.