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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Civic Centre, High Road, Wood Green, N22 8LE

Contact: Rob Mack, Principal Scrutiny Officer 

No. Item



Please note that this meeting may be filmed or recorded by the Council for live or subsequent broadcast via the Council’s internet site or by anyone attending the meeting using any communication method. Although we ask members of the public recording, filming or reporting on the meeting not to include the public seating areas, members of the public attending the meeting should be aware that we cannot guarantee that they will not be filmed or recorded by others attending the meeting. Members of the public participating in the meeting (e.g. making deputations, asking questions, making oral protests) should be aware that they are likely to be filmed, recorded or reported on. 


By entering the meeting room and using the public seating area, you are consenting to being filmed and to the possible use of those images and sound recordings.


The chair of the meeting has the discretion to terminate or suspend filming or recording, if in his or her opinion continuation of the filming, recording or reporting would disrupt or prejudice the proceedings, infringe the rights of any individual or may lead to the breach of a legal obligation by the Council.


The Chair referred Members present to agenda Item 1 as shown on the agenda in respect of filming at this meeting, and Members noted the information contained therein.


Apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Mallett and Morris, and from Usma Naseer.


Items of Urgent Business

The Chair will consider the admission of any late items of urgent business (late items will be considered under the agenda item where they appear. New items will be dealt with as noted below).




Declarations of interest

A member with a disclosable pecuniary interest or a prejudicial interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered:


(i) must disclose the interest at the start of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent, and

(ii) may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter and must withdraw from the meeting room.


A member who discloses at a meeting a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not registered in the Register of Members’ Interests or the subject of a pending notification must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest within 28 days of the disclosure.


Disclosable pecuniary interests, personal interests and prejudicial interests are defined at Paragraphs 5-7 and Appendix A of the Members’ Code of Conduct.





To consider any requests received in accordance with Part 4, Section B, Paragraph 29 of the Council’s Constitution.




Minutes pdf icon PDF 183 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting of 6 November 2017.


The minutes of the meeting held on Monday 6 November 2017 were agreed.


Scrutiny of the Draft 5 Year Medium Term Financial Strategy (2018/19 - 2022/23) pdf icon PDF 313 KB

To consider and comment on the Council’s draft 5 year (2018/19 to 2022/23) Medium Term Financial Strategy proposals relating to the Panel’s remit (i.e. Priority 1).

Additional documents:


The Chair invited the Cabinet Member and officers to give an overview of the budget proposals for Priority One.


Margaret Denison, interim Director of Children’s Services outlined a number of areas where efficiencies were being sought. As an example, referring fewer, more appropriate cases by working closely with the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board and better educating staff while maintaining the existing threshold. This would allow more scope for earlier interventions, which were more effective as well as more efficient overall. Examples from elsewhere, including Hertfordshire, were being examined to see how a multidisciplinary approach could be more family friendly, better performing and more cost effective. There was now an opportunity to work with officers and invest in such an approach, and repay the upfront investment over time from the savings generated.


It was noted that the Council faced similar issues to other boroughs in the recruitment and retention of Social Workers, which remained a problem for the Council. Work was underway on improving the proportion of Social Workers that were permanent employees, rather than agency workers, and would continue once the permanent Director of Children’s Services took up post.


In response to a question about possible payment-by-results services, the Panel heard that this could be one of a range of options, and there were examples elsewhere, for example in Children and Adolescents’ Mental Health Services, where it had worked.


Asked about the £2.8m overspend for the current year, and whether there was a reason the service regularly overspent, the interim Director set out the difficulty in projecting the demand on the service, and that almost all boroughs were overspending on Children’s Services, according to responses to a London Councils survey. To help better prepare for the future and manage risk, she advised the best approach would be to predict the cost associated with different interventions required, and then model overall costs depending on the demands anticipated, although she doubted the necessary systems were in place to do this at present. The Panel agreed that the consideration of forecasting and possible zero-based budgeting may be a good scrutiny review for the future, which was welcomed by the interim Director.


Asked about whether the problems of unpredictable demand were exacerbated by austerity, the interim Director set out that the drivers of demand – the failure for parents to meeting children’s needs, childhood trauma arising from bereavement or domestic problems, and adult substance abuse or mental health – had certainly not improved in the recent past. The Panel discussed that some of these drivers would have worsened over recent years, and that some Authorities, such as Newham, had taken action in areas indirectly related to Children’s Services to help the demand on the service. It was agreed that this would be an interesting area for a future scrutiny project.


Considering the budget proposals titled New Models of Care, the Panel noted that there had been some preparatory work in developing new models, and they were now at the stage of implementation. This included  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.


Work Programme Update pdf icon PDF 125 KB

To consider the proposed work programme of the Panel for the remainder of the municipal year.

Additional documents:


The Panel discussed the Committee’s work programme.


Yvonne Denny requested that there be questions to the Cabinet Member at a future meeting on how the needs of children with Special Educational Needs were being met, given the challenges posed by budget reductions, for example in transport. The Cabinet Member confirmed the appropriate officer would accompany her to the March meeting.


The panel asked that the Scrutiny Officer give an update on the proposed date for the scrutiny work on restorative justice.


The Chair suggested that the Panel’s March meeting include a review of its work over the past four years.


Following a Panel Member’s request that the Borough Commander attend a future meeting, the Chair suggested that interested members should attend the Environment and Community Safety Scrutiny Panel’s session with the Borough Commander.




New items of urgent business

To consider any items admitted at item 3 above.





Dates of Future Meetings

To note the dates of future Panel meetings:


-       8 March 2017.