Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 5 October 2023 6.30pm

Venue: Meeting Room 9 - Level 3, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham ME4 4TR

Contact: Stephanie Davis, Democratic Services Officer 

No. Item


Apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Pearce, Councillor Shokar, and Victoria Aspin, Teacher Representative.





Record of meeting pdf icon PDF 256 KB

To approve the record of the meeting held on 3 August 2023. 


The record of the meeting held on 3 August 2023 was agreed and signed by the Chairperson as correct.


Urgent matters by reason of special circumstances

The Chairperson will announce any late items which do not appear on the main agenda but which he/she has agreed should be considered by reason of special circumstances to be specified in the report. 


There were none.


Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests and Whipping pdf icon PDF 471 KB

Members are invited to disclose any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests in accordance with the Member Code of Conduct. Guidance on this is set out in agenda item 4.


Disclosable pecuniary interests


There were none.


Other significant interests (OSIs)


There were none.


Other interests


There were none.


Meeting Theme: Children's Social Care

At the 2 March 2023 meeting it was proposed and agreed that as a result of work undertaken in partnership with the Local Government Association the Committee adopt a hybrid model moving forward.


This would be based on the assumption that meetings will last no more than three hours, with two hours focused on the theme and the remaining time on general matters that need to be reviewed by the Committee as existing ongoing business. 


Following consultation with the Director of People, Children and Adults’ Services it was agreed that this meeting would be Children’s Social Care Themed with reports covering Inspection of Local Authority Findings (ILACS), Workforce and Sufficiency.




The Director of People and Deputy Chief Executive supported by officers in the directorate introduced the item and gave a detailed presentation on the tabled report.


Members then raised a number of comments and questions, which included:


Members congratulated the department on the outcome of the Ofsted inspection and recognised the hard work, effort and dedication by the teams to deliver on the improvement journey to achieve the ‘Good’ rating. The efforts of the previous Portfolio Holder for Childrens Services, the previous Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and Opposition Spokesperson for the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee were commended as they all worked tirelessly to build on improvement to leadership and partnership.


Recruitment and Workforce – in response to a question on how resilience was being built into the workforce and how to sustain the ‘good’ status, officers said that this rating made working for Medway attractive and the status it afforded the Council should not be underestimated. This was a great opportunity to sell Medway as the place to work for and build a permanent workforce.


It was further asked what apprenticeships were available and officers said that degree apprenticeships were offered and many social workers currently in place had come through that route. The aspiration remained to ‘grow our own’ and many members of the workforce including at senior level had worked their way up through the service.


Agency Staff – the variance in pay for locum staff and permanent staff was queried and officers said that Medway was part of a memorandum where the cost was the same for all agencies, who were held to account on pay for staff across the South East. The offer for permanent staff outweighed the pay for agency staff due to the good staff package in place which included an extensive training and workforce development offer. Lobbying, was however taking place for laws to be brought in to address differences in pay in order to minimise competition and to offer the same terms and conditions for temporary and permanent staff.


Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) – it was asked what the provision received from Central Government for UASC in Medway was and the impact on existing services. The officer said that there were currently approximately 26 children that had been placed out of a possible 63 under the national transfer scheme. There was funding attached to every child but whether it was enough was not yet evident as this was a new scheme for Medway. Taking on additional children always puts pressure on services, but all partners were committed to working tother to provide the best possible outcomes for all children in Medway’s care. The main strain on the budget was when a child became a care leaver as Medway would be solely responsible at that stage for their funding


Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Funding - in response to a question on how much Medway had to put forward to support these children, the officer said that this was an  ...  view the full minutes text for item 285.


Children's Services Update Including Inspection of Local Authority Children's Services Findings (ILACS), Workforce and Sufficiency pdf icon PDF 294 KB

This report is in three sections and provides a summary of the findings of the Ofsted Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) which took place in July 2023, published on 11th September 2023, as well as information about two priority areas of work for the service: workforce and sufficiency.

Additional documents:




Discussion of this Item can be found at minute number 285.




The Committee noted the report.



Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) Annual Report 2022-2023 pdf icon PDF 742 KB

The Annual Report sets out how The Independent Reviewing Service met the needs of the children in care in the year from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023 and establishes the work which should be undertaken in the coming year.




Members received the report on how the needs of children in care were met by the Independent Reviewing Service and the work to be undertaken in the coming year.


Members then raised questions and comments which included:


It was suggested and agreed that Members receive a suitably redacted copy of a letter written to children and young people by the independent reviewing officers as part of their child in care review work, in order to gain a better understanding of what was contained in the letters.


Caseloads - in response to a question on better understanding of why caseloads were higher in the service in comparison to others in children’s services, the officer confirmed that the recommended caseload was between 50 and 70. Medway caseloads fluctuated between 60-70 and was within the national statutory framework.




The Committee agreed to note the report.


Capital Budget Monitoring Round 1 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 366 KB

This report presents the results of the first round of the Council’s capital budget monitoring process for 2023/24.




The Head of Corporate Accounts introduced the report on the results of the first round of the Council’s capital budget monitoring process for 2023/24.


It was clarified that there had been an underspend projected on round 1 based on returns completed in June 2023 of £115,000.00.


School Builds – it was asked what long term provision was in place for placement of children in schools by the fair access panel which had increased year on year. The officer said that each year the service produced a School Places Strategy to look forward on what was needed, this was reviewed on an annual basis. Any new housing developments in Medway came with S106 funding that also contributed towards provision of infrastructure for children that came into Medway.


Special Educational Needs and Disability Funding (SEND) – in response to a question on whether the forecasted underspend could be transferred to the SEND funding, the officer said that there was a process by which the stream for each section was set and approved by Council. This was based on the funding of that scheme which many have conditions attached and may prevent the funds from being switched to another area of service. If any funding was not used, it was returned to the funding pot for consideration for future additions to the capital programme.  




The Committee agreed to:


a)    note the results of the first round of capital budget monitoring for 2023/24.


b)    note the changes made to the capital programme as set out in 8.1 and 8.2 to the report.


Revenue Budget Monitoring Round 1 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 399 KB

This report presents the results of the first round of the Council’s revenue budget monitoring process for 2023/24. The Council’s summary position is presented in section 5, with sections 6 and 7 providing the detail for each service area.




Members considered the report on the results of the first round of the Council’s revenue budget monitoring process for 2023/24.


SEND - in response to concern regarding the changes to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Budget, the reduction in spend and the impact this may have on children in Medway. The officer reassured Members that the underspend did not mean that children were receiving less services and the reason for reduced spending was as a result of improvement to procurement and commissioning.


In response to a further question of what would happen if the department did not meet the requirements of the Safety Valve Intervention Plan, the officer said that the additional funding which was required to offset the overall deficit would not be received. Any identified issues were reported to the DfE immediately.




The Committee agreed to


a)    note the results of the first round of revenue budget monitoring for 2023/24.


b)    note that Cabinet approved the virement of £500,000 from the Independent Fostering Agency budget to the internal fostering budget to reflect the increased internal fostering rates.


c)    note that Cabinet instructed the Corporate Management Team to implement urgent actions to bring expenditure back within the budget agreed by Full Council.


Council Plan Performance Monitoring Report & Strategic Risk Summary Quarter 1 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 198 KB

Medway’s Council Plan 2023/24 sets out the Council’s three priorities and the measures used to monitor performance. This report and appendices summarise how we performed in Q1 2023/24 on the delivery of these priorities and the actions we are taking to improve performance.


This report also presents the Q1 2023/24 review of strategic risks.

Additional documents:




Members considered the report which detailed the Councils Quarter 1 Performance monitoring and Strategic Risk Summary.


Key Stage 2 – it was asked what action was taken to address the issues of pupils not meeting the required standards. The officer acknowledged that this was an area of priority, informed Members that the reasons were broad but provided reassurance that they were working with maintained schools as part of the improvement programme to support them in raising standards. The department also extended its support to Academies by working with them and sharing information, but they were accountable to Regional Schools Director and not the Local Authority. There was a literacy strategy being drawn up to address some issues presented.


Persistent absence – Members raised concern regarding the high prevalence of persistent absence in Medway schools and questioned what was being done to address the issues and improve attendance. The officer explained that an outreach service had been commissioned to go into homes and work with young people and their families who were not attending school due to anxiety to support them back into school. Support continued to be provided to schools to help them better understand the reasons for absence and what could be put in place to support families and improve outcomes.


A message of thanks was extended to the Councils Youth Team for taking the lead and working with senior staff at Greenacre School and Walderslade Girls School following a period of issues experienced at the schools.


Performance – it was asked what was being done to improve the numbers that are red on the register. The officer said that there were various actions being taken. The children social care targets that were red were mainly due to workforce issues. The workforce and sufficiency strategies that had been developed and were working alongside each other would play their role to shift those targets.  




The Committee noted the report.


Work programme pdf icon PDF 205 KB

This item advises Members of the current work programme and allows the Committee to adjust it in the light of latest priorities, issues and circumstances. It gives Members the opportunity to shape and direct the Committee’s activities over the year.

Additional documents:




The Committee considered the work programme and agreed that whilst they had requested a report to be brought to the next meeting on the offer for adolescents, due to the large agenda of the December meeting, it would be more appropriate for this to be brought to the 11 January 2024 meeting.


It was requested that a report on SEND transport be brought to the Committee prior to a decision being made and officers agreed that a briefing paper on the process and lessons learnt will be shared with the Committee. 


The importance of attendance at the data workshop meeting that was offered was stressed due to the value and ability they provide Members to gain in depth understanding of the topics for discussion as Committee meetings.




The Committee:


a)    noted the report and agreed the work programme as set out at Appendix A to the report, subject to accepting the proposed changes, outlined in italic text on Appendix A.


b)   agreed that a report on the offer for adolescents be presented at the 11 January 2024 meeting.