Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Conference Room, Civic Centre, Silver Street, Enfield, EN1 3XA. View directions

Contact: Elaine Huckell 

Items
No. Item

163.

WELCOME AND APOLOGIES

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed attendees to the meeting.  Apologies for absence had been received from Tony Murphy and Alicia Meniru and for lateness from Councillor Nneka Keezor. 

164.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Members of the Council are invited to identify any disclosable pecuniary, other pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests relevant to items on the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

165.

HOUSING ALLOCATION SCHEME UPDATE ON CONSULTATION pdf icon PDF 147 KB

To receive a report from Laura Martins (Acting Strategy & Policy Hub Manager)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Laura Martins (Acting Strategy & Policy Hub Manager) and Susan Sharry (Head of Housing Strategy) presented a report on the consultation being undertaken on the Housing Allocations Scheme.   Councillor Levy explained that this was the first time an item was presented to OSC for pre-decision scrutiny. Comments would contribute to the consultation which ends on 8 September 2017.

 

The following issues were highlighted by Laura Martins :

  • The Housing Allocations Scheme was being reviewed in order to continue to prioritise applicants fairly whilst ensuring that it meets current legal requirements. It aims to help in the prevention of homelessness and temporary housing pressures and to effectively manage estate regeneration.  An undertaking was made in 2012 that the scheme would be reviewed at this time.
  • The scheme aims to simplify the process.  There are severe pressures on social housing in the borough and whilst the scheme will not solve this problem it is hoped that members of the public will be able to understand as clearly as possible the realistic options available to them.
  • One of the main challenges has been to ensure that people who would be most affected by the policy would be able to take part in the consultation. As part of this, 10 community sessions have been held and also a meeting with ‘registered landlords’ group would take place on 8 September 2017. Officers have also engaged directly with communities and discussions held with community groups. There have been advertisements in the local press and the council website.  As at the time of this meeting there had been 577 responses
  • The responses currently indicate that a lot are in favour of the proposals.  It is apparent that the aim to reach people affected by the policy has been realised with 32% of respondents claiming either Council Tax support or Housing Benefit.  24% have a disability or long term health problem and 26% of respondents are from a BME community.
  • Responses will be analysed and evaluated, and a report would be shared and discussed with the Executive Management Team and the Cabinet Member by early October 2017. The final version of the Housing Allocation Scheme document will go to Cabinet in February 2018. The scheme will go live in 2018.

 

Councillor Smith said the new scheme proposals do not appear to be very different from the existing ones, it appears to mainly ‘fine tune’ the policy.  He spoke of the large number of questions in the survey (approximately 50 to 60) and said it was positive that we had received a significant number of responses. He said the issues were very thought provoking.

 

In answer to a question from Councillor Levy about whether help had been given to people to guide them through the survey process, it was answered that support had been provided including that given for community groups.

 

Susan Sharry spoke of the key proposed changes to the scheme:

·         The number of ‘demand groups’ to be reduced from 6 to 5, with existing Enfield Council and housing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 165.

166.

FOSTERING & ADOPTION SERVICES IN ENFIELD pdf icon PDF 99 KB

To receive a report from Debbie Michael, Adoption Manager.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Anne Stoker (AD Children’s Social Care and Principal Social Worker), presented the reported which updated the Committee on the work of the Fostering and Adoption Services between April 2016 and March 2017.  She highlighted the following:

  • In 2016/17 Enfield recruited 12 foster carers and were looking to increase the number this year.
  • There is an on-going challenge as the number of foster parents leave the service although it should be remembered this is often because they go on to adopt the children they have been caring for, also some have left due to retirement. The team is actively recruiting.
  • Ten children were adopted in Enfield in 2016-17.  It was noted that there has been a significant increase in Special Guardianship Orders (SGO’s) and this is substantially higher than the other North London Consortium boroughs.  The increasing number of SGO’s are made by Courts rather than Placement Orders.  SGO’s enable children to stay in their family.

 

The following issues were raised

  • It was asked if the large shift to SGO’s meant that children stayed with their birth mother.  It was answered that children would be moved to be looked after by family or friends.  It was thought this would usually result in a more positive outcome for the child as they may stay with a friend’s family or other family member so they would not need to leave their school.  It was driven by what the child wants and probably allows for better contact with the parent.
  • That in an emergency situation it may not be possible to match a child with all characteristics of the foster parent. On those occasions it is necessary to find the safest place for the child.
  • Although events/ advertising is sometimes undertaken for prospective foster parents, Anne Stoker said she is hesitant about how we advertise as it is important that children are not treated as commodities. Meetings of prospective foster parents and children would happen when we already have an expression of interest.
  • It was confirmed that the reason why there had been an overspend regarding Children’s Services allowances, this was because of the large increase in the number of SGO’s where an allowance is paid.  Such an increase had not been expected and it was acknowledged that as this was a demand led service nothing could be done to reduce the cost.
  • In answer to a question whether there were problems in finding adoptive parents for children with disabilities, it was stated that this had not been a problem in Enfield because of the good work of the joint service which ensures that the needs of the children and foster parents are met.
  • It has been acknowledged that the DfE scorecard indicators to benchmark performance are not sufficiently sensitive to reflect the range of circumstances of the children and families involved.

 

167.

ENFIELD SAFEGUARDING CHILDRENS BOARD (ESCB) ANNUAL REPORT pdf icon PDF 175 KB

To receive a report from Grant Landon (Service Manager, Practice & Partnerships). 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Grant Landon (Service Manager Practice & Partnerships) presented the Annual report of the Enfield Safeguarding Children Board.  He highlighted the following:

  • The Safeguarding Board is comprised of agencies and partners across Enfield to analyse, scrutinize and offer challenges to ensure the safeguarding of children across the borough.
  • The Alan Wood review of local safeguarding children boards in May 2016 recommended significant changes to the way safeguarding arrangements are structured in the country. We have continued to prepare a business plan with a summary giving the key priorities.
  • One of the specific safeguarding concerns is ‘Child Sexual Exploitation/ Missing/ Trafficking’ and it was pointed out that there will be an Overview and Scrutiny Workstream for 2017/18 on ‘Human Trafficking/ Modern Slavery’ the lead member for this will be Councillor Rye.
  • Domestic Abuse/ violence against Women and Girls - A new Joint Tarageted Area Inspection framework introduced early 2016 to understand how effectively agencies in the area respond to specific issues for a six month period.  The theme was children living with Domestic Abuse.
  • Radicalisation and Prevent – the Board works closely with the Prevent service in the Community Safety Unit.
  • Safeguarding Boards would continue to change and adapt to meet future challenges, the three key areas to bring together are the Police, Health (CCG) and Social Services.

 

The report was NOTED and the following issues raised:

  • Members thanked Grant Landon for his encouraging report. It was suggested by Councillor Smith that it may be helpful for an assessment to be made  if more detailed performance data/ figures were available to show trends. It was stated that in many situations there was limited data obtainable. The main issues related to the increased demand for help and support and the borough’s attempts to ensure this is met.
  • That consideration be given as to whether it is feasible/ beneficial to combine the four reports that relate to Children’s Services at this meeting into one for future OSC meetings.
  • Councillor Levy referred to the possibility, in future, that an OSC standing workstream be established for Children’s issues.

 

Grant Landon was thanked for his report update.

 

168.

ENFIELD ANNUAL INDEPENDENT REVIEWING OFFICERS (IRO'S) REPORT 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 99 KB

To receive a report from Maria Anastasi, Service Manager for Safeguarding & Quality Service.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Anne Stoker, presented this item which updated OSC on the annual IRO report April 2017 to March 2017. 

 

She highlighted the following:

  • Independent Reviewing Officers represent the interests of looked after children and there are 7.5 officer posts in the borough.  They also chair the Child Protection conferences.
  • There was a decline in the number of children subject to child protection plans of approximately 10%.  It was thought this may be due to the use of the ‘signs of safety model’, which have put clear safety plans in place which are easily understood by parents and professionals. 
  • This is a demand led service with more complex issues as more families move into the borough. The process is well managed with clear plans in place.

 

The following issues were raised:

  • It was questioned whether we should be concerned as the number of children being looked after and their issues have increased although the number of children subject to a child protection plan had declined? Anne referred to the consistent approach used to support families and that social workers were using the same clear protection/ safety plans as previously.
  • The rates of adoption for looked after children was queried and it was thought to be approximately 14%.  It was pointed out that there have been changes to allow for young people over the age of 18 to stay with their foster carers. Anne mentioned that more young people were coming later into care.
  • It was confirmed that when a child who is subject to a child protection plan moves into Enfield from another borough then we would assume responsibility for this. 
  • The report was helpful as it enabled comparisons/ trends to be made.

 

169.

ENFIELD ANNUAL LOCAL AUTHORITY DESIGNATED OFFICER (LADO) REPORT 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 98 KB

To receive a report from Maria Anastasi, Service Manager for Safeguarding & Quality Service. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Anne Stoker, presented this item which updated OSC on the annual LADO report April 2017 to March 2017. 

 

The following was highlighted:

  • The role of the LADO is undertaken by the Service Manager of Safeguarding and Quality Service who is responsible for overseeing investigations, alerting senior council officers to allegations of a serious nature and making referrals to the Disclosure and Barring Service.  She also offers advice and guidance to staff where there are low level concerns.
  • There were 50 allegations during the year which met the threshold for formal LADO involvement and 10 of these allegations (20%) were substantiated.

 

The following issues were raised:

  • It was confirmed that in some instances where a person is found guilty i.e that allegations are substantiated, then they may receive a prison sentence.
  • There is evidence that allegations have been covered up in the past in other authorities/institutions. We need to be sure that this would not happen in Enfield.  Although insufficient evidence may have resulted in an allegation being unsubstantiated all referrals were logged for the future.
  • It was asked how often there are cases of whistleblowing.  It was answered that this happens occasionally, in which case only the highest level of officers would investigate, in order to protect the whistleblower. In the past we have received anonymous letters and these are always looked into. 

 

Anne Stoker was thanked for presenting the reports.

 

AGREED

That consideration be given as to whether it is feasible/ beneficial to combine the four reports that relate to Children’s Services into one for future OSC meetings.

 

170.

WORK PROGRAMME 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 310 KB

To review and agree the Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme for 2017/18.

Minutes:

It was noted that there would be more Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings this year compared to last year.  This includes a joint meeting with  Crime Scrutiny held on the 11 July 2017, on knife crime and a joint meeting with Health Scrutiny to be held on the 8 November 2017.

 

Workstreams agreed for 2017/18 include

  • Human Trafficking/ Modern Slavery – Lead Member - Michael Rye
  • Transport Connectivity – Lead Member – Nneka Keazor
  • Primary School Exclusions – Lead Member – Guney Dogan

 

171.

MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING pdf icon PDF 108 KB

To agree the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees held on

25 July 2017 and 14 August  2017.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

AGREED the minutes of the meetings held on 25 July 2017 and 14 August 2017.

172.

DATE OF NEXT MEETING

14 September 2017 – Provisional Call-in Date

 

12 October 2017 – Business meeting

 

 

Minutes:

 

 

 

12 October 2017 – Business meeting

Items for discussion

  • Meridian Water and
  • Retail in Town Centres.

 

 

Councillor Levy thanked everyone for attending the meeting

 

173.

.

To consider, if necessary, passing a resolution under Section 100A(4) of the

Local Government Act 1972 excluding the press and public from the meeting

for the item of business listed in Part 2 of the agenda on the grounds that it

will involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in those

paragraphs of Part 1 Schedule 12A to the Act (as amended by the Local

Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006), as are listed on

the agenda (Members are asked to refer to the Part 2 agenda).