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Wirral Council’s Audit and Risk Management Committee meeting held on the 26th September 2016 | The item on the Annual Governance Statement starts at 41m:22
Councillors at a meeting of Wirral Council’s Audit and Risk Management Committee on Monday finally voted to approve an amendment to the Annual Governance Statement for 2015-16 relating to the recent OFSTED report.
Councillors talked about the Annual Governance Statement and amendment to it for fifty-six minutes, followed by an adjournment for twenty-one minutes (so the spokespersons and Vice-Chair could reach agreement on it in the Library), followed by a further eight minutes before it was finally voted on.
This is what was in the amendment:
“ As Members will be aware the Council received a report from Ofsted on 20 September 2016 which rated Children’s Services in Wirral as inadequate.
Given the significance of the issues highlighted the following amendment are [sic] to be made to the Annual Governance Statement:-
Section 6 : Significant Governance Issues
The Council received a report from Ofsted on 20 September 2016 which rated Children’s Services in Wirral as inadequate. The report highlighted ‘serious and widespread failures’ in the delivery of services to children who need help and protection in Wirral; focusing on frequent changes in social workers, issues in how partners work together, and evidence of poor records management across a range of areas.
The Ofsted findings have been accepted and the response will deliver major and sustained improvements which are carefully planned and considered.
An Improvement Board has been established and will initially be led by the Chief Executive until the appointment of an Independent Chair. The Improvement Plan has to be agreed with the Department for Education before 30 December 2016. A Department for Education adviser will assist the Council and Ofsted will return quarterly to review progress.
Description of Governance Issue
Responsibility / Lead Officer
Ofsted highlighted serious and widespread failures in the delivery of services to children who need help and protection in Wirral; focusing on frequent changes in social workers, issues in how partners work together, and evidence of poor records management across a range of areas.
Improvement Board established to lead the process including identification and delivery of an Improvement Plan.
Improvement Board / Julia Hassall (Director of Children’s Services)
Improvement plan before 30 December 2016
Later in the same meeting councillors heard from Wirral Council’s external auditor Grant Thornton that because of the OFSTED report, their value for money opinion for 2015/16 would be qualified.
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The First Improvement Plan has a subheading of “for safeguarding adults; making a positive contribution for adults with a learning disability; increased choice and control for adults with a learning disability; providing leadership and commissioning and use of resources”.
It’s a long (fifty-three page) plan that details improvements Wirral Council was to make in twenty-one areas which states under governance “Cabinet will receive progress reports every two months” which is something that doesn’t seem to happen any more.
The twenty-one areas that Wirral Council needed to improve in are safeguarding adults, a shared approach to recognising and responding to allegations of abuse, training of staff who are involved with safeguarding or supporting vulnerable adults, focusing safeguarding activity on those who need it, ensuring that safeguarding is supported by “robust quality assurance arrangements”, improved scrutiny of provider activity and risks, focusing on people with limited opportunities to engage in and contribute to their local communities, wider representation and involvement and support for people using services and their carers in planning and managing change, ensuring that people with learning disabilities and their carers have access to advice, information and support, ensuring people’s needs are “holistically assessed” and supported by partners, the transformation of support planning to promote independence, to address gaps in the awareness of the needs of and support to carers, ensuring that reviews are appropriately times and focused, strengthened arrangements for management and learning from complaints and compliments, ensuring the Safeguarding Adult Board and Learning Disability Partnership Board drive improved outcomes for local people, promoting stronger communication with and involvement of local people and service providers in shaping the vision and development of local services, to develop “robust joint planning to address local needs secured by effective deployment of resources and management of risk”, to “expand its approach to prevention to deliver improved outcomes for people with learning disabilities and their carers”, to “ensure the workforce across the sector has the relevant knowledge, skills and experience to do their job well”, to “robustly challenge and enable the local market to address gaps, raise standards and meet new personalisation requirements” and finally to “ensure joined-up and efficient use of resources across the council, health and housing services”.
The first Improvement Plan with the detail of how they hope to achieve these aims can be read by following the link.