Agenda and minutes

Social Care, Housing and Public Health Policy Overview Committee
Wednesday, 23rd September, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: VIRTUAL - Live on the Council's YouTube channel: Hillingdon London. View directions

Contact: Liz Penny 

No. Item


Apologies for Absence and to report the presence of any substitute Members


There were no apologies for absence.


Declarations of Interest in matters coming before this meeting




To receive the minutes of the previous meetings dated 6 February 2020 and 14 May 2020 pdf icon PDF 139 KB

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RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meetings dated 6 February 2020 and 14 May 2020 be agreed as an accurate record.


To confirm that the items of business marked as Part I will be considered in Public and that the items marked as Part II will be considered in Private


It was confirmed that all items of business were marked as Part I and would be considered in public.


2020/21 Budget Planning Report for Services Within the Remit of Social Care, Housing & Public Health POC pdf icon PDF 113 KB


Gemma McNamara, Finance Manager, presented the information in the report. Key points highlighted included:


·         This was the first of two opportunities within the planning cycle for the Policy Overview Committee to consider issues relating to budget planning for 2021/22 and beyond;

·         The budget gap and savings requirement for the two years to 2022/23 stood at £19,987k after allowing for an assumed 3.8% per annum increase in Council Tax. This comprised a core Council Tax increase of 1.8% alongside a 2% increase relating to an Adult Social Care Precept to fund ongoing pressures within Adult Social Care;

·         The inflation requirement was driven by workforce inflation through anticipated annual 2% pay awards and a further 0.5% increase in employers’ pensions contributions, with £4.829k increases on the cost of care provision where annual pay inflation of around 4% was expected to keep pace with growth in the London Living Wage;

·         Corporate items represented the second largest contributor to the budget gap with £7,589k growth required over the Medium Term Financial Forecasting (MTFF) period;

·         Increasing demand for services linked to a growing and changing population accounted for £6,886k of the projected savings requirement, linked to Waste disposal, Adult Social Care, SEN Transport and Children’s Social Care;

·         In relation to Covid-19, General Fund pressures of £25m were projected in relation to the impact of the pandemic and the Council’s response during the 2020/21 financial year. Grants towards this of £15,617k had been confirmed and a further £8,500k was expected. It was anticipated that these funding allocations, together with the use of earmarked reserves, would contain this exceptional pressure in the current financial year;

·         Unallocated General Balances totalling £28,266k at 31 March 2021 were projected;

·         Within the MTFF there was inevitably a higher level of uncertainty than usual and both the Spending Review 2020 and the Business Rates Retention policy had been delayed;

·         The pandemic had left Councils facing huge pressures; however, Hillingdon Council was well placed to respond to the ongoing financial challenge with a solid track record of delivering balanced budgets and retaining £34,239k of unallocated General Balances at 31 March 2020;

·         In terms of next steps, the MTFF would be considered by Cabinet in December 2020 and would be consulted on during December 2020 and January 2021. This would include detailed consideration by each of the Policy Overview Committees of the proposals relating to their respective services.


Members requested clarification as to how the actual pay award for Council staff of 2.75% - higher than the 2% budgeted for – would affect these figures. It was confirmed that this had been allowed for in the budget for the coming year and, in the current year, was being contained within existing resources.


Members enquired whether the projected savings could be achieved in the next two years without the need for frontline service cuts. It was noted that this was a matter for Cabinet to determine rather than the Policy Overview Committee.


RESOLVED: That the Committee noted the financial context in which the 2021/22 budget  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Hillingdon Safeguarding Partnership Annual Report 2019-2020 pdf icon PDF 74 KB

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Alex Coman, Head of Safeguarding – Children’s Services and Claire Solley, Head of Service – Safeguarding Adults presented the Hillingdon Safeguarding Partnership Annual Report 2019-20. It was noted that this was the Partnership’s first report under the new arrangements and was a final draft version still awaiting validation from the Safeguarding Partnership’s Executive Leadership Group which was due to meet at the end of October. Key points highlighted included:


·         Safeguarding arrangements had been reviewed and the Hillingdon Safeguarding Partnership worked towards strengthening the  collaborative working between Children and Adult Safeguarding and other strategic forums in the Borough. Legislative changes had introduced a new approach to safeguarding partnerships whereby the local authority, the local Clinical Commissioning Group and the Police shared equal responsibility for safeguarding vulnerable children;

·         Hillingdon was striving to be a pioneer in its collaborative safeguarding arrangements;

·         The report focused on work done by both the Safeguarding Children Partnership and the Safeguarding Adult Board;

·         There were still distinct areas of work and separate legal frameworks for children and adults but a collaborative shared approach was possible in a number of areas – the Modern Slavery Sub Group, the Practice Development Forum and a Serious Case Panel;

·         In terms of adults, the key priorities in 2019-20 were financial abuse, modern day slavery and domestic abuse. An ambitious action plan – ‘Making Safeguarding Personal’ had commenced whereby the views of adults were at the centre of everything. 84% of individuals in safeguarding cases had been asked what they wanted to happen and 94% of these outcomes had been achieved. The total number of adult safeguarding concerns received by the local authority had increased by 20% year on year. A number of individuals had praised the local authority for the work undertaken to help them feel safe. Section 6.7 of the report outlined the work of the Provider Risk Panel and the Care Governance Board. These groups aimed to optimise the quality of the care and support delivered by providers within the Borough.  Section 6.8 highlighted the work of the high-performing Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard Team (DoLs). This team was recognised across London and nationally as an example of excellent practice. Areas to work on were to strengthen the voice of the adult with a move towards having lay Members and adults represented on the Safeguarding Adult Board. Work on the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) had commenced – this would sit alongside the existing children’s MASH to strengthen the approach across the Borough in responding to safeguarding concerns. This would also link to developments around domestic abuse - One Front Door;

·         In terms of children, colleagues and agencies who had contributed to the report were thanked for their hard work and commitment. Priorities in 2019-20 included the protection of children at risk of contextual safeguarding and a focus on neglect. It was anticipated that the new coherent strategy across all ages would lead to great outcomes.  Another key area of focus for the partnership was the learning from good practice both locally  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Annual Complaint Report for Housing and Social Care Services - 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 pdf icon PDF 310 KB


Ian Anderson - Business Manager, Complaints and Enquiries, introduced the report. Members’ attention was drawn to a poem on page 102 of the agenda pack which had been written by a young person to thank her social worker and Personal Assistant for the help they had given her.  The Committee was reminded that residents were often very appreciative of the services supplied by the Council.


Key points highlighted in the report included:


·         The data focused on the last two years 2018/19 and 2019/20 – future reports to POC would cover a five-year period;

·         During the financial year 2018/19, 2756 informal complaints had been recorded – this had reduced to 2339 in 2019/20;

·         Over the same period, the number of Stage 1 complaints had risen by 3% from 837 to 861 and Stage 2 complaints had increased from 73 to 80;

·         Statistically it appeared that 91% of complaints were being resolved at Stage 1;

·         There had been a significant drop in the number of cases investigated by the Ombudsman from 86 to 59;

·         The number of compliments received had risen from 234 to 301;

·         A large number of compliments had already been received in the period 2020/21 and it was estimated that the number would reach approximately 600 by the end of the financial year;

·         Residents had been particularly complimentary about the wild flowers across the Borough;

·         The volume of Members’ enquiries had dropped slightly from 11,308 to 11,047;

·         Residents Services accounted for 97% of all enquiries from Elected Members – the majority were in relation to Waste Services (5,949 enquiries);

·         Few Members’ enquiries regarding Children’s Services and Adult Social Care were received; however, it was noteworthy that those received were generally more complex and took longer to investigate and resolve;

·         An area for improvement was in relation to the timeliness of responses. It was important that complaints and enquiries were responded to on time. At present 99% of Finance complaints, 93% of Adult Social Care complaints and 86% of Children’s Services complaints had been responded to within target. However, 72% of Resident Services complaints had been responded to within target. The Business Manager, Complaints and Enquiries was working with the relevant teams to improve response times in this area.


Members congratulated Ian Anderson on his detailed and thorough report and appreciated its transparency and honesty. In response to Councillors’ requests for clarification, it was confirmed that it was difficult to say that 91% of Stage 1 complaints were resolved as a complainant could escalate a complaint to Stage 2 many months later. The only conclusion that could be drawn from the numbers was that the complaints process was doing what it was designed to do in that as you went up the Stages, there were fewer complaints.


With regards to a correlation between Stage 2 complaints and those which progressed to the Ombudsman, Members were informed that it was difficult to draw any conclusions from this as Ombudsman investigations took a very long time to be concluded and the findings  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Autism Review - 'Making the Council more autism friendly' pdf icon PDF 60 KB

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Members were informed that the Scoping Report had been updated and the timings revised due to Covid-19. It was confirmed that all Members had been invited to complete an online Basic Autism Awareness training module.


In terms of next steps, it was confirmed that the October meeting would focus on Children’s Services, Transitions and Preparation for Adulthood while the meeting in November would cover Wider Council Services. It was hoped that a representative from the Parent Carer Group would attend the October meeting while a member of the Hillingdon Autistic Care Service (HACS) would be in attendance at the November meeting. A survey of Council frontline services would also be conducted to ascertain how autism-friendly they were.


Members requested the attendance of a representative from the Benefits Agency at witness session 3 as it was unclear how the system worked in terms of the allocation of benefits to those with autism. This would enable the Committee to understand how autism-friendly the access to benefits was at present.


The Committee enquired whether it would be possible to invite a representative of a charity for adults with autism to attend a witness session. It was also noted that it was important to establish the autism-friendliness of establishments (including shops) within Hillingdon both for adults and children. Members were informed that the Centre for ADHD and Autism Support offered help to both adults and children but focused mainly on the London Borough of Harrow.


It was suggested that an additional witness session could be required and, if necessary, the work programme would be adjusted accordingly.


For the October meeting, the Head of Safeguarding – Children’s and Young People’s Services was informed that it would be useful to understand from parents whether they felt the Council was receptive to the issues regarding which they were seeking help. For older children, it would be beneficial to understand how the Council ensured it listened to them and how it dealt with potential conflict between what the children might want and what their parents might prefer.


RESOLVED That the Committee:


1)    Gave consideration to the updated scoping report and made comments and suggestions on the detail contained therein; and

2)    Considered the information received from officers.


Corporate Parenting Panel Minutes - 19 March 2020 pdf icon PDF 107 KB


The minutes of the Corporate Parent Panel meeting on 19 March 2020 were agreed, including resolution 5, point 33 in respect of an increase in the Membership of the Corporate Parenting Panel to include a Senior Officer from Children’s Services.


RESOLVED: that the minutes of the Corporate Parenting Panel meeting on 19 March 2020 be approved and the proposed increase in the Membership of the Corporate Parenting Panel to include a Senior Officer from Children’s Services be agreed.


Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 53 KB

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It was noted that, on 24 September 2020, Cabinet would consider the Covid-19 local outbreak control plan. It was suggested that this report be further scrutinised at the October meeting if time allowed. Alternatively, a special meeting of the Social Care, Housing and Public Health Policy Overview Committee could be convened to consider this. It was agreed that the Chairman, Labour Lead and Democratic Services would discuss this further outside of the meeting.  




1)    That the Social Care, Housing and Public Health Policy Overview Committee noted and commented on the items going to Cabinet; and

2)    That the Covid-19 local outbreak control plan be scrutinised, either at the October meeting of the Social Care, Housing and Public Health Policy Overview Committee, or at a specially convened meeting.



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 56 KB

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RESOLVED: That the Social Care, Housing and Public Health Policy Overview Committee considered the report and did not request any amendments.