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Apologies and Substitutes
There were no apologies for absence.
Cabinet Member Updates
1) Mrs Bell reported that symptom-free Covid-19 testing had started at 12 sites across districts in Kent. KCC’s Chairman, Mr Gibbens, had been one of the first to book at the testing site at Sidney Cooper Gallery in Canterbury and was interviewed by BBC Radio Kent during the test. The Armed Forces assisted KCC in setting up the testing site. Further testing sites were to open so that there would be 2 in each district by the end of January 2021.
The total number of tests conducted to 8 January 2021 was 41083 of which 450 were positive, meaning that those people could isolate and reduce their risk of transmission to others. Bookings were available on the KCC website and bookings would also be available via a dedicated telephone line.
Adult Social Care had continued to work closely with the hospital trusts and social care providers on discharges from hospital. There were a number of designated beds in care homes available for adults of any age who were Covid-19 positive and leaving hospital.
The Kent and Medway CCG website had up to date information on the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme. More hospital hubs, primary care services and large vaccination centres were to open and services were to take vaccinations out to care homes and to the housebound.
2) Mrs Chandler said despite unprecedented pressures on the Social Work Team, all families with an assigned Social Worker had been contacted to ensure that families continued to receive the correct level of support and assistance. KCC had continued to ensure that all families were provided for through the help and support of the Social Work Team.
KCC had only received 6 new Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASCs) over the festive period which was considerably lower than previous years. However, this was a result of the closed border to France.
Covid-19 testing was being conducted at reception centres which had helped to reduce the number of UASC kept in quarantine and had allowed for a speedier transition.
There had been a reduction in the number of UASC as a large cohort transitioned to Care Leavers on 1 January 2021.
3) Mr Long said the rapidly changing guidance to schools from the Department for Education to the evolving Covid emergency had required Education officers to work through Christmas to provide much needed advice and support to Kent schools. All mainstream primary and secondary schools were to remain closed to all except the children of critical workers and vulnerable children. Special Schools and Pupil Referral Units were to remain open to all pupils as these fall within the vulnerable category. A school survey revealed that there were 5162 vulnerable children and 16,340 critical worker children and it was expected that the numbers would rise. The definition of vulnerable includes those without adequate access to online learning, and this was also starting to have an impact.
Early Years Settings, in line with government guidance, remained open to all pupils and had 13,899 in ... view the full minutes text for item 200.
1) Mr Long introduced the Kent Commissioning Plan for Education 2021-25 and advised that this was a ‘living’ document which sought to raise education standards whilst supporting what parents wanted for children’s education.
2) Mr Adams highlighted the key issues from the Plan. Work was being undertaken to deliver school places for September 2021, with the impact of the pandemic.
3) There were significant challenges presented by a lack of information from central government about funding. It was reported that there was normally a 3 year rolling programme of funding but this had been delayed.
4) There was continuing engagement and dialogue with the Department for Education around funding issues, demographic growth and school expansions.
5) In response to questions and comments, it was noted that:
· A greater proportion of school age children were being given Education, Health and Care plans than in many other authorities and a high proportion were attending special schools but work was underway to ensure in future a greater number could be supported within mainstream education.
· There had been challenges for the early years sector due to the pandemic and the way that providers had been funded based on headcount. KCC was lobbying the Department for Education to change the funding position.
· In most districts, there was a deficiency of selective school places and as set out in the Commissioning Plan, further schemes were being worked on to produce temporary capacity.
6) Resolved that the Kent Commissioning Plan for Education 2021-25 be approved.
Kent & Medway Employment Task Force update - Kickstart & Apprenticeships in Kent (presentation)
Michelle Flegg, Workforce Development Strategy Manager was in attendance for this item.
1) The Leader introduced the update as the Chairman of Kent and Medway Employment Taskforce. The Taskforce included representatives from schools, universities, further education colleges, representatives from the Department of Work and Pensions, as well as representatives from the business community. The Taskforce coordinated work to respond to the employment crisis and pressures arising from the pandemic.
2) Ms Flegg updated Members on work being done in relation to Kickstart and Apprenticeships in Kent. The economic impact of the pandemic was greatest for young people and partnership work with other employers would help to mitigate the effects and provide opportunities for young people.
3) The apprenticeship levy had been introduced in 2017 and KCC contributions equated to approximately £2.1million per year. All public sector employers were subject to a target requiring the creation of apprenticeship training opportunities for new and existing staff to the value of 2.3% of headcount.
4) There were different levels of apprenticeship training across many disciplines at KCC, including a social work degree programme for existing members of staff.
5) Since 2019, all levy paying employers have been able to share a proportion of their levy with other employers to support apprenticeship training. There was a virtual event planned for February 2021 to raise awareness of the benefits, mechanisms for sharing the levy and to consider the design of a collaborative approach.
6) Kickstart Gateways were being established to support employers able to offer less than 30 apprenticeship placements. Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Dover Chamber of Commerce, CXK Ltd, Sevenoaks District Council and Gravesham Borough Council were approved Kickstart Gateways. KCC was applying for Kickstart Gateway status via the Education People.
7) The government’s new Kickstart scheme was to create 6-month work placements aimed at those aged 16 to 24 who were on Universal Credit and were deemed at risk of long term unemployment. The scheme placements aimed to develop the skills and experience of the participants. The scheme was to create new roles and was not to replace existing or planned vacancies. KCC had agreements from the DWP for 50 placement opportunities, with an option for this to be increased.
8) In response to questions, it was noted:
· Work was being done to raise awareness around skills that would be needed by the workforce going into the future, such as digital skills. Green energy and retrofitting related jobs would be considered by the Task Force. Education partners were involved with the Task Force and were making sure young people were being skilled for future employment.
· KCC was committed as an employer, as a Gateway and also playing a wider role in supporting others with Kickstart and apprenticeships.
9) Resolved that the Kent & Medway Taskforce update on Kickstart & Apprenticeships in Kent be noted.