Agenda and minutes

Safe and Strong Communities Select Committee
Thursday, 7th November, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Oak Room, County Buildings, Stafford

Contact: Helen Phillips  Email:

No. Item


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of the previous meeting held on 1 October 2019 pdf icon PDF 148 KB


RESOLVED – That the minutes of the Safe and Strong Communities Select Committee meeting held on 1 October 2019 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.


Children and Families System Transformation Part 2 pdf icon PDF 942 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People

Additional documents:


[Members of the SEND Working Group invited to attend for this item]


The Select Committee considered the draft Cabinet paper on the Children and Families System Transformation Part 2, noting progress made. The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People reminded members that developments with the System Transformation had previously been considered by the Select Committee.


Members received a presentation outlining the whole system model for change and progress to date, highlighting outcomes, which included:

·         effectively managing the removal of the £2.4m Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) funding plus delivering an additional circa £750k as part of the Transformation process;

·         achieved £4.2m Earned Autonomy funding;

·         18% reduction in Local Support Team (LST) caseloads over the past 12 months;

·         17% reduction in the total number of social care cases open in the last 12 months;

·         piloted district Locality Hubs in the Moorlands and South Staffordshire; and,

·         worked with partners to develop a graduated response to need.


Additional pressures had included an increase in the number of looked after children and subsequent pressures on care and court planning, and the Virtual School.


The Select Committee received details of: the underpinning values to the Transformation; the Staffordshire Model; investment in elements of the model; and, stabilizing actions required to address the looked after children number increase. Members also received details of the Business Case for £8.1m investment from 2019/2020 to 2025/26 with a predicted cashable return on investment of £17.072m by 2025/26 and a non-cashable saving of £15.611m from growth avoidance. Members heard that with the current Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) commitment delivered, the underlying overspend on looked after children mitigated, and the predicted return on investment, the impact on the overall MTFS by 2025/26 would be an improved position of £3.453m, with a projected break even date of April 2023.


Members also received details of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) changes as part of the whole system approach. Stabilisation activity had been introduced to mitigate the funding shortfall for SEND. Future delivery provision would be part of the District Model and would inform the SEND strategy, with funding for children with SEND being via the high needs block.  Key elements of the SEND Transformation included: SEND locality hubs; inclusive mainstream education settings for children with moderate learning difficulties; broadening the remit of Special Schools to support mainstream settings; and, the Special Schools Strategy. It was important to look at the individual child’s needs rather than a “label” to ensure appropriate support. More focused SEND partnership working was in place, which included representation from parents and carers. There was also a change to the way in which need was responded to, which aimed to provide a timely, appropriate and graduated response.


Members noted that the Out of County Placements (OCP) for children with specific SEND were independent non state funded special schools.


Members agreed that to “do nothing” was not an option and that the proposals were welcomed. However, there was concern that the success of much of this work was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.


Regional Permanency Arrangement Development (Phase One) pdf icon PDF 493 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People


The Permanency Partnership between Staffordshire County Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Shropshire Council and Telford and Wrekin Council fulfilled the statutory requirements of the Education and Adoption Act 2016 and delivered the vision set out by the Government in “Regionalising Adoption” (DfE 2015).  In April 2017 these four local authorities established the North Midlands Regional Adoption and Permanency Partnership. The Partnership aimed to improve outcomes for children who entered care and required permanent care away from their families of origin. This included children who were adopted from care, children living with special guardians and kinship carers, and those who required long-term foster care.


This Partnership was the only regional arrangement to have secured Department for Education (DfE) transformation grant funding to develop services for this broad “permanence” agenda.


The Select Committee noted that a phased transformation programme had been developed to align partner local authority functions and practice. The arrangements would operate a hub and spoke model, enabling local authorities to benefit from the delivery of some core services whilst maintaining individual independence. Staff would continue to be employed and based in their current local authority, with opportunities for secondment explored for specific regional roles and functions within the Partnership.


A central Regional Permanency Hub would co-ordinate and deliver core functions across the partnership’s footprint. Locality Permanency Hubs would operate within individual local authorities and would form part of the wider Children and Families System. A Service Management Board was in place to be accountable for the regional arrangements.


Members understood that the Partnership gave benefits in marketing and economies of scale as well as better use of digitalisation and technologies. It helped to pool expertise and enabled better engagement with stakeholders.


Members noted work was well on track to meet the “go live” date of April 2020.



a)    the statutory requirement to be part of a Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) by 1 April 2020 be acknowledged;

b)    the progress to date in the formation of the RAA between Staffordshire County Council, Stone-on-Trent City Council, Shropshire Council and Telford and Wrekin Council be welcomed; and,

c)    the Partnership’s ambition to go beyond adoption and develop a regional model of wider permanence be supported; and

d)    a report detailing progress to date be brought to the Select Committee in six months time.



Building Resilient Families and Communities Programme (BRFC) pdf icon PDF 550 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People

Additional documents:


The Building Resilient Families and Communities (BRFC) programme was Staffordshire’s response to the Government Troubled Families Initiative, developed to improve multi-agency responses to the needs of families who had multiple needs that resulted in a high cost to the public purse.  After evidencing positive performance in delivering the programme Staffordshire were one of 14 local authorities that successfully achieved “Earned Autonomy” status in April 2018. This moved funding from a Payment by Results model to up-front funding with the aim of supporting accelerated service transformation for Early Help. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government had confirmed that funding would be available up until 2020-2021.


The Select Committee considered progress made to date in delivering the BRFC programme and the outlined vision for ongoing delivery into 2020-2021. They noted the number of families attached to the BRFC programme had steadily risen, exceeding the original target of 4,680 families, and was now working with a total of 6,049 families encompassing 23,667 people. Work with 2,796 families had successfully closed, which gave a conversion rate of 60%. A challenging target of 80% conversion rate had been set for March 2020.


The number of families who received subsequent interventions from children’s social care was 2.5% of the families who had achieved successful outcomes as at January 2019. Whilst there would always be a small percentage of families that remained challenging, BRFC worked to build resilience and an understanding of how to manage when difficulties re-emerged.


Locality work was supported through district governance arrangements, enabling local ownership and leadership. Each district had developed their own Family Improvement Board which worked to bring together partners from public, private, voluntary and community sectors and families themselves to deliver improved outcomes for children and their families.


Members requested details of the quarterly progress on the earned autonomy district investment plans. They felt the evidence given was very encouraging. Members also noted that as BRFC was part of the wider outcomes for Children and Family Services in future this work would be considered by the Select Committee as part of the wider Transformation programme.


The Select Committee was informed that this would be the last meeting before Barbara Hine, BRFC Co-ordinator, retired. On behalf of the Select Committee the Chairman thanked Barbara for all she has contributed and in particular her expertise, commitment and advice to the Select Committee.




a)            the progress with the BRFC be noted;

b)            quarterly progress on the earned autonomy district investment plans be forwarded to Select Committee Members;

c)            future scrutiny of BRFC will be part of the wider Transformation programme.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 253 KB


The Scrutiny and Support Manager outlined the following proposed additions to the Work Programme:


·         an update on taxi licensing following the Regional Licencing Groups scrutiny of Wolverhampton’s approach to taxi licensing;

·         a progress report on the Regional Permanency Arrangements in six months time; and,

·         that future scrutiny of BRFC will be as part of scrutinising the Children’s Transformation.


RESOLVED – That the proposed amendments to the work programme be agreed.