Families and Wellbeing Policy and Performance Committee (Wirral Council) 9th July 2013

A report on the Families and Wellbeing Committee held in Committee Room 1, Wallasey Town Hall on the 9th July 2013

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Video footage of the first meeting of Wirral Council’s Families and Wellbeing Committee (that replaces both the Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee and its Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee) can be watched above with a playlist of all parts here. If you’d like to be notified each time I upload a video, simply subscribe to my Youtube channel.

The agenda and reports for the meeting are as usual on Wirral Council’s website. In a meeting that lasted over two hours what was actually decided? Well they agreed the minutes of the previous two meetings of the Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the previous meeting of the Children and Young Peoples Committee.

They noted a report and presentation on their terms of reference (which had previously been agreed at the last Extraordinary Council meeting back in April). They noted (and received a report on) the policy and performance procedure rules (which had already been agreed with minor amendments by the Coordinating Committee a week ago). All this (which along with a few interests being declared at the start of the meeting) took a staggeringly long thirteen minutes. These last two reports were something the Committee have no say over as it falls outside their terms of reference.

Then they went onto discuss the role of co-optees. There are ten co-optees on this Committee, some required by law, others were transferred over from the Families and Wellbeing Committee’s predecessor committees. Curiously none of the ten co-optees had been invited along to the meeting where their very existence was debated. I’ll point out here that who the co-optees are is decided by Council, not the Families and Wellbeing Committee. After much umming and ahhing as well as correction by Fiona Johnstone of the mistaken belief by one councillor (who shall remain nameless) that the Chief Executive of Arrowe Park Hospital and a doctor from the Clinical Commissioning Group had been co-optees of the former Health and Wellbeing Committee, Cllrs Moira McLaughlin, Denise Roberts, Mike Hornby and Pat Williams decided to meet in a task and finish group to mull over the co-optees’ future.

So after twenty minutes of noting reports and discussing things that fell outside their remit, did they finally at agenda item seven get to something within their committee’s remit and that it was worthwhile having fifteen councillors (plus two Cabinet Members) and about a dozen senior officers present for? Item seven was another Powerpoint presentation on the “Directorate Plan” given by Claire Fish, Julia Hassall and Chris Begya (in place of Graham Hodkinson).

The slides went on and on, the jargon and management phrases flowing seamlessly from senior officer’s lips. “We’re operating in a challenging fiscal environment” was said instead of the simpler “We’re making cuts”, “synergies” was used instead of cuts, “commissioning approach” instead of privatisation. Julia Hassall told councillors that that they had been “imagining where they’ll be in 2016” and invited them into her “vision of the future”. She then got onto slides about pyramids. You may think Ancient Egypt is way, way outside the remit of the Committee, but these weren’t Powerpoint slides about crumbling relics, these were “pyramids of need”.

Words cannot express how mind-numbingly dull it was watching the admittedly enthusiastic Julia Hassall explaining which children went where on each level of her “pyramids of need”. However it was, yes you’ve guessed it, more code for cuts as confirmed at the end by her saying that they had a balanced budget and were well on track to finding £11.4 million of cuts.

Cllr Williams complained that it was difficult to take in the information from the Powerpoint slides and could they have copies? Cllr McLaughlin also asked this (as well as a question about educational outcomes). Whilst Cllr McLaughlin was asking Julia Hassall a long question, Julia Hassall stood there nodding, seemingly doing a good impression of the Churchill insurance dog but without the “Oh yes”. When she wasn’t nodding, she had her head tilted to one side as if she was a teacher being asked a question by a pupil who hadn’t been paying attention. In a long answer with many, many, many hand gestures that really should’ve had their own accompanying music, Julia Hassall mentioned the Corporate Parenting Group and agreed in response to a question of Cllr McLaughlin that she would circulate the minutes of its last meeting to councillors (which was the subject of a recent FOI request of mine that was refused by Wirral Council on the basis it would take too long). Various other councillors asked questions or made comments, then Chris Begya of the Department of Adult Social Services gave her presentation.

This again was jargon heavy, “safeguarding peer challenge”, “Care Quality Commission” and “national sector led improvement organisation” peppered her talk which again was basically along the theme of the previous one, a hundred and one way to mention cuts without actually using the word. Bad budgets were mentioned, so were savings, so was a “more transparent leadership” and on that final point the Director of Adult Social Services was so transparent he wasn’t even there! As before councillors made comments and asked questions finishing with the Chair thanking Claire Fish, Julia Hassall and Chris Begya.

Claire Fish briefly (yes senior officers can actually be brief) talked about item eight, the Families and Wellbeing dashboard, but spent a lot longer fielding questions from councillors on it. A large print version of item nine (public health dashboard) was circulated to councillors, with a long summary from Fiona Johnstone, which again attracted questions from councillors (along with some very long answers).

Moving to item ten, the end was almost in sight! Cllr Povall gave a brief summary as to where the Task and Finish Group on the Francis Report had got to, there was a long discussion on the work program (eventually they agreed that the Chair and spokespersons would meet up to decide it), there were no questions on item twelve and finally after just over two hours in the sweltering heat of Committee Room 1 the meeting finished.

Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Wirral Council) 5th November 2012 Agenda and reports

Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee 5th November 2012 (Wirral Council) agenda and reports

As Wirral Council are having trouble publishing the agenda and reports for Monday’s Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee (5/11/2012) on their website they are available from this website until Wirral Council sorts out their issues.

Edit: Update 31/10/2012 The agenda and reports including the missing What Really Matters Consultation result (Cabinet report) are now on Wirral Council’s website.

Maybe their IT department is as overworked as ours is. 😉

Health and Well Being Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Date: Monday, 5 November 2012
Time: 6.00 pm
Venue: Council Chamber, Wallasey Town Hall

Contact Officer: Lyndzay Roberts
Tel: 0151 691 8262
e-mail: lyndzayroberts@wirral.gov.uk
Website: http://www.wirral.gov.uk


Members of the Committee are asked to declare any disclosable pecuniary and non pecuniary interests, in connection with any application on the agenda and state the nature of the interest.

Members are reminded that they should also declare, pursuant to paragraph 18 of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules, whether they are subject to a party whip in connection with any item(s) to be considered and, if so, to declare it and state the nature of the whipping arrangement.

2. MINUTES (Pages 1 – 12)
To receive the minutes of the Health and Well Being Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 10 September 2012.

Report to follow


5. WELFARE REFORM (Pages 25 – 40)

To receive a Verbal Update Report




The Forward Plan for the period September to December 2012 has now been published on the Council’s intranet/website and Members are invited to review the Plan prior to the meeting in order for the Committee to consider, having regard to the Committee’s work programme, whether scrutiny should take place of any items contained within the Plan and, if so, how it could be done within relevant timescales and resources.

The Committee was requested to consider what issues should form the basis of its work programme for the ensuing municipal year.


Health and Well Being Overview and Scrutiny Committee – 20/6/2011 – Part 1

The new Chair Cllr Glasman welcomed people to the meeting, she asked for any declarations of interest or declarations of party whip. There were none so she asked people to introduce themselves.

Sue Lowe why the resolution passed at the last meeting (below) had not resulted in a report on this meeting’s agenda or an agenda item referring to it.

Committee recommends to Cabinet that the current process of change should continue with all due diligence for the best interests of service users and their carers, ensuring that the quality of service is maintained or improved, and that a progress report be brought to the next scheduled meeting of this Committee.

Howard Cooper apologised there was not a report but said he would give a verbal update.

Cllr Watt said it was an important report that the previous committee had requested. Howard Cooper went into detail about the changes, starting with residential care for vulnerable adults after the Cabinet resolution. He said there were tender arrangements made for older people last year. 85% of providers had tender for the work at the new rate of fee. Roughly half the providers (but the wording varied) had been reluctant to accept the new fee. There was the potential for legal action, however Wirral Council’s view was that the contracts were provided at a price, therefore the providers were bound by the contract. These contracts continued to exist.

People’s needs had been assessed and placements found at homes. They had contracts for the full range of services and had not yet received a legal challenge. There was a fall of business for residential and nursing care provision. Short break respite placements were continuing in homes contracted for this purpose to meet demand. This time of year (between the school holidays and the Spring) was the peak time for demand. There was also short break provision for people with learning disabilities which had previously been provided at Mapleholme.