Agenda and draft minutes

Cabinet - Thursday, 9th December, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Emily Kennedy  Tel: 03000 419625 Email: emily.kennedy@kent.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

23.

Apologies and Substitutes

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

24.

Minutes of the meetings held on 30 September 2021 and 28 October 2021 pdf icon PDF 200 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved that the minutes of the meetings held on 30 September and 28 October 2021 were a correct record and that they be signed by the Chair

25.

Cabinet Member Updates

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1) Mrs Bell said there had been a rise in Covid infection rates above the average for England but below the average for the south east. The age-groups that were most affected were children of ages 5 to 14 years old and there had been an increase in those 40 to 50 years old, believed to be due to transmission to the household contacts of school children. From 9 December, there were to be two mobile testing units in schools in Kent which would test young people and staff.

 

The numbers of cases in Ashford were of particular concern and this was being analysed to understand the reasons. No outbreaks had been identified in the area and it was suggested that the rise was due to cases in schools and the subsequent spread to households.

 

The Delta variant had remained predominant and a few cases of the Omicron variant had been confirmed in Kent.  It would be a few weeks before it could be determined if the Omicron variant was more transmissible but there were early indications that it was more transmissible. 

 

The vaccination programme had delivered outstanding results for the people of Kent and in line with national guidance, the booster programme was being extended. KCC’s Public Health team had continued to deliver asymptomatic testing, the local Test and Trace Partnership and management of outbreaks and incidents.  The government had issued new measures on Covid, including face masks in public settings and working from home. Residents were urged to follow the guidance and take regular lateral flow tests to reduce the spread of the virus.

 

The Department of Health and Social Care White Paper, People at the Heart of Care, had been published setting out a 10-year vision for adult social care and provided information on funded proposals to be implemented in the next 3 years. There were 3 core objectives in the White Paper: people having control, choice and support to live independent lives, people being able to access outstanding quality and people finding care fair and accessible. KCC’s Making A Difference Everyday approach in the emerging adult social care strategy strongly aligned with the proposals in the white paper, such as a focus on choice and independence and digital technology to assist care and support.

 

The Carers’ Strategy was to be informed by the White Paper and good progress was being made on the engagement programme for carers.  Workshops had been held which gave residents the opportunity to tell KCC about their experiences of being a carer.

 

2) Mrs Chandler said on 7 December, directors of Children’s Services across the UK received a letter from Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families, and Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults, which contained words of support to all Social Workers following the tragic death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes. Mrs Chandler thanked all KCC’s Social Workers for their continued dedication, strength, resilience, and compassion which they give to all our children and young people. The letter was to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

Civil Society Strategy pdf icon PDF 180 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Lydia Jackson, Policy and Relationships Adviser and David Whittle, Director of Strategy, Policy, Relationships & Corporate Assurance, were in attendance for this item.

 

1) Mr Hill introduced the report and said that the Civil Society Strategy was an excellent piece of work which would greatly help engagement with important partners.  It was hoped that the strategy would be launched early in 2022.

 

2) Ms Jackson outlined the report. The Civil Society Strategy acknowledged informal groups and individuals in the community as well as formal and larger charities and social enterprises. The importance of these had been demonstrated over the course of the pandemic. Alongside the Strategy, there was also a budget commitment to support the sector and this was to provide the framework for the infrastructure offer. Support was already being put in place and was to be evaluated. Member engagement would be sought with regard to the support offer.

 

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, there had been positive developments in KCC’s partnership working. The Strategy was to provide a framework to develop KCC’s partnerships and collaborations as well as ensuring a strong, independent social sector and civil society in Kent.

 

3) Mrs Bell said that within Adult Social Care (ASC), there had been a focus for some time on networks of support within communities and the part this played in creating innovative ways of supporting people.  This was being developed and strengthened as part of a new approach to supporting people via ASC Making a Difference Everyday programme.

 

3) RESOLVED to agree the recommendations as set out in the report.

27.

Corporate Risk Register pdf icon PDF 217 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mark Scrivener, Corporate Risk & Assurance Manager ; David Whittle, Director of Strategy, Policy, Relationships and Corporate Assurance; and Ben Watts, General Counsel were in attendance for this item.

 

1) Mr Scrivener introduced the report and Members were reminded that the Register represented a ‘snapshot’ of any one moment in time.  There had been developments since the report was published.  Work was being undertaken to look at estimated timescales for risks to achieve their designated target levels with input being sought from responsible officers and cabinet members.

 

There were 3 new risks proposed to be added relating to capital programme affordability, impacts around climate change and supply chain and market factors.

 

2) It was noted that it had been difficult for KCC to plan with the uncertainty of the previous few years and while there was to be more certainty moving forward with a 3-year financial settlement, core spending power would need to keep up with spending and growth demands. There was still some uncertainty with regard to government grants that would need to be worked through.

 

3) Mr Whittle said that risk relating to Information Governance was prominent.  During the pandemic there had been a huge increase in the number of cyber-attacks on both public and private organisations.  Mr Whittle as Senior Information Risk Officer (SIRO) and Mr Watts as Data Protection Officer (DPO) were conscious of the marked increase in risk.

 

4) Mr Watts said there were pressures on the organisation to manage statutory duties relating to Information Governance alongside other important statutory duties.

 

3) RESOLVED to note the report

28.

Revenue and Capital Budget Monitoring Report - September 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 193 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Matt Dunkley, Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education was in attendance for this item.

 

1) Mr Oakford introduced the report which set out the overall forecast position as at the end of September 2021, which excluding Covid-19 and schools was a £18.7 million overspend. £13.9 million was from Adult Social Care and £6.8 million was from Children’s, Young People and Education. Urgent action was required to break even by the end of the financial year. If any overspend was to be funded from reserves, this would add to the pressures for 2022-23 and weaken KCC’s financial resilience.

 

The Covid-19 position showed a forecast spend of £37.9 million. There were corporately held budgets of £16.1 million and the remainder of this spend was to be met from the Emergency Covid-19 reserve. This meant breaking even. Work was ongoing to look at which of the Covid-19 costs would continue.

 

KCC had set a saving target of £39.4 million but £30 million was forecast to be delivered.  Earmarked general reserves were forecast a net draw down of £77.6 million and this reflected the use of the Emergency Covid-19 reserve and the impact on the forecast overspend, if it was not reduced by the end of the financial year.

 

The Capital forecast showed an underspend of £103.4 million, £125.3 million of this related to re-phasing.  There was £21.9 million of real overspend.

 

The schools’ delegated budget was reporting £52.8 million overspend, which reflected the impact of high demand, additional SEN support and high cost per child of high needs placements. The projected deficit on the high needs budget had increased by £48 million. The high needs deficit was the single most significant financial risk for KCC.

 

Monitoring of district council tax collection would become even more important. The impact of increased council tax reduction discounts and reduced collection rates would mean a reduction in the council tax base for the current year. The scale and pace of recovery would be a key factor in 2022-23 budget and medium-term financial strategy.

 

2) Further to comments and questions from Members, it was noted:

 

·       There were pressures in Adult Social Care (ASC) nationally and many of the pressures were demand led and therefore, not within KCC’s control. There was a duty under the Care Act to meet people’s unmet care needs and this had become increasingly challenging. Supporting the independent care sector was vitally important as this was where the majority of KCC’s ASC services were commissioned. Despite pressures it was expected that ASC would deliver £8.9million of savings in the current year. Making A Difference Everyday would help with the pressures on ASC and where this model had been used elsewhere, significant savings had been identified.

·       Work was ongoing to understand the increase in requests for EHCPs and it was hoped that measures to address needs at an earlier stage would have a positive impact on spending.

·       Home to school transport had been affected by increases in transport costs as well as numbers of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28.

29.

Quarterly Performance Report pdf icon PDF 154 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Rachel Kennard, Chief Analyst was in attendance for this item.

 

1)    Rachel Kennard outlined the report for Quarter 2, reporting results until the end of September 2021. Overall, the position was positive. 26 of the KPIs were ‘RAG’ rated as green, 4 rated as amber and 3 performing below target rated as red.

 

2)    The 3 areas that had been ‘RAG’ rated as red were:

 

·       Under Customer Services, percentage of calls to Contact Point which were answered.  The service had been impacted by continued issues with staffing and recruitment.  This was a problem that had been felt nationwide with the job market.  The situation had stabilised for the Out of Hours service but attrition of staff remained high for the day time service.

 

·       In Quarter 2, 75% of complaints had been responded to within timescale which was below the floor standard of 80%. The volume and complexity of complaints being received by some services, alongside day-to-day management was proving challenging. Work was being undertaken to clear the backlog.

 

·       There had been an improvement for the KPI under Children, Young People and Education, ‘ECHPs issued within 20 weeks’. The KPI was based on a 12 month rolling average to September. The indicator showed that 40% were issued within 20 weeks, an increase of 3 percentage points on the figure in the previous quarter.  The service expected to clear the backlog by June.

 

3) Further positive points from the report were noted:

 

·       12 indicators showed a statistically significant improving trend which indicated sustained improvement over a period of 6 to 7 quarters. Only 2 had shown deterioration.

 

4) It was also noted during Members’ discussion of the Quarterly Performance Monitoring Report:

 

·       The trend with regard to CYPE indicators was positive and the indicator that was RAG-rated as red was also improving.  Good performance in Community Services was noted.

 

·       New processes and procedures were being put in place to address issues with keeping up with demand with regard to Freedom of Information requests and Information Governance.

 

5) Resolved that the Quarterly Performance Report – Quarter 2 be noted.

 

30.

Border Readiness pdf icon PDF 535 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Simon Jones, Corporate Director for Growth, Environment and Transport was in attendance for this item.

 

1) The Leader and Mr Murphy introduced the report.

 

2) Mr Brazier said that the Highways network was functioning but was perpetually on the edge of failure. There was limited resilience in the face of challenges, despite the efforts of KCC and government funding was required.

 

3) Mr Jones outlined the report which summarised what had been done to adapt and offered some reassurance of Kent’s border readiness in the short term. It was recognised that there was inherent fragility of the system, it would be important to reinforce and maximise the effectiveness and the potential that existed in Kent. Support from local and national partners was sought to unlock Kent's potential.

 

4) Further to comments and questions from Members, it was noted:

 

·       It was felt there was a good resumption of discussions with government around pro-active approaches to infrastructure. It was important that KCC’s partners were engaged and the partners now had a long history of working together. This had been demonstrated in their quick responses with regard to Dover Traffic Assessment Project (TAP) which had been used 3 times a week or more. There was a willingness to present to government where specific issues had been seen. The report addressed how issues would be dealt with in the short, medium and long-term.

·       Concerns were raised about the effect on residents of HGVs and examples of poor behaviour from HGV drivers. Also raised were welfare issues where problems occurred with traffic. A balanced approach was needed when working with communities and HGV drivers.

·       Thanks were given to the Kent Resilience Forum and KCC officers for their work on border readiness.

 

4) RESOLVED to note and agree the recommendations in the report.