Agenda item

Questions

Questions to be asked by Members of the County Council of the Leader of the Council, a Cabinet Member, or a Chairman of a non-Scrutiny Committee.  The question will be answered by the relevant Member and the Member asking the question may then ask a follow up question which will also be answered

Minutes:

Mr J. Taylor asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Finance, Resources and Transformation whose reply is set out below the question:-

 

Question

 

In the light of media reports last week saying that the number of officers at Staffordshire County Council earning over £100,000 had increased, can the Leader tell me how many staff (in-house and agency staff) are on the National Minimum wage?”

 

Reply

 

Staffordshire County Council employs no one on the National Minimum wage; all of our employees currently earn more than the National Minimum wage.

 

Supplementary Question

 

Being as there are no employees of the County Council on the National Minimum Wage, does that include agency staff and, secondly, does that mean that it is a policy of the County Council not to have employees on below the “Living Wage”?

 

Reply

 

It would be our policy not to pay people at or below the National Minimum Wage; similarly, it would be our policy not to pay people who work indirectly for us at or below the National Minimum Wage.  As far as the Living Wage is concerned, I do not have that information here with me today and so I will respond after the meeting.

 

Mr J. Taylor asked the following question of the Cabinet Member for Learning and Skills whose reply is set out below the question:-

 

Question

 

The Labour Group is committed to enhancing opportunities for all young people in Staffordshire, including through apprenticeships. Can the Leader therefore tell me how apprenticeships have been created within the Authority and across Staffordshire in the last 4 years?

 

Reply

 

Between 2009/10 to 2011/12 14,146 young people from Staffordshire have started an apprenticeship. Over the three year period apprenticeships have increased year on year with 5,212 young people starting an apprenticeship in 2011/12 compared to 3,912 in 2009/10, an increase of 33% in apprenticeship starts over the period.

 

Within Staffordshire County Council, since September 2009, a total of 336 apprentices have been recruited and successfully completed the apprenticeship course. Of these, 130 have been successful in gaining a substantive post within Staffordshire County Council following completion of their apprenticeship.

 

Apprenticeship opportunities have been offered in a variety of functions including corporately as Outdoor Education Instructors, Grounds maintenance, ICT technicians, Catering,    Social Care and customer services, Business Administration and Animal Health. In addition within Schools as Teaching Assistants, ICT Technicians, Support Supervisors and Business Administration Support.

 

Supplementary Question

 

Of the 336 apprentices that have been recruited by the County Council, can the Cabinet Member tell me how many of those were young people from the “Looked After” system?

 

Reply

 

I do not have that information here with me today and so I will respond after the meeting.

 

Ms S. Woodward asked the following question of the Leader of the Council whose reply is set out below the question:-

 

Question

 

A consortium of charities, including Barnardo's & the Fostering Network, said last week that care leavers were being abandoned by their corporate parents, by which they mean each and every member here, and called for care leavers to be entitled to on-going support until they are 25 including being able to remain with foster carers with until they are 21. What plans does the Leader have to respond to this call in the light of every member's responsibility as a corporate parent?

 

Reply

 

Staffordshire County Council is very proud of the services it provides to its looked after children and care leavers.  As these children and young people’s corporate parents we take these responsibilities seriously.  I am pleased to be able to advise Ms Woodward that, despite the challenging financial situation, Staffordshire has protected its services to this vulnerable group of young adults, ensuring that we meet these young people’s needs in accordance with our statutory responsibilities.

 

Staffordshire has developed a strong profile regionally as Corporate parent through the work of its Corporate Parenting Panel and its relationship with the Children in Care Council.  The current legislation requires this corporate parenting responsibility to extend until a child who has been cared for by Staffordshire County Council reaches the age of 21.  Where a child is still receiving education this extends until the young person reaches the age of 25.

 

Across the region Staffordshire has led on a regional supported accommodation tender to ensure that our young people leaving care are able to reside in suitable accommodation that meets their needs and where they can receive the correct amount of support.  Staffordshire also has policies that allow children, in certain cases, to remain with their foster carers after they reach the age of 18 where this is considered in their best interests.

 

Staffordshire offers a range of support to care leavers post 18 years of age.

 

The combined pressures that exist across front line services to our looked after children and care leavers needs to be considered in the context of increased demand.  Nationally it is estimated that an extra 9000 foster carers are required for those children aged up to 18.  Locally we are campaigning hard with considerable success, to ensure that more people come forward to foster for Staffordshire’s children.  Extending the age that all children can remain with their foster carers into adulthood would increase pressures on the availability of carers and our capacity to meet the needs of younger Looked After children.

 

Supplementary Question

 

The Leader says in his response that Staffordshire County Council lead on a regional supported accommodation tender to ensure that our young people leaving care are able to reside in suitable accommodation including support; I would like to know what the result of that tender was and what sort of liaison took place between the County Council, District Councils (with their housing responsibility) and registered social landlords.  Clearly providing appropriate accommodation for young people leaving the care system is crucial and I would welcome more information on this?

 

Reply

 

I obviously have not got all that information to hand now but would suggest that Ms Woodward has a good look at Families First and the way that we work.