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Paper 14B - 26 November 1999 Meeting


26 November 1999


Report-back by Councillor Mrs Maureen Robinson (New Forest District Council)

The forum was held the evening before the start of the LGA/Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) conference in Torquay as the executive considered that this would be convenient for lead social services members and make best use of their time.

Policy forums are envisaged to be one way of involving a broad range of members in order to meet one of the objectives of the new LGA structure. In the event, attendance was disappointing, with only about 24 members attending. Informal feedback later revealed that there had been some communications problems with some members either being confused about the timing of the forum, or not having received notification.

The theme for debate was the Modernising Social Services agenda, although inevitably there was also a link to the Conference theme of 'Removing the Barriers'.

To facilitate the discussion, LGA officers made three brief presentations, covering

Modernising Social Services
Performance Management

The meeting then broke into two discussion groups in which members were encouraged to share experiences of innovative local partnership initiatives. Not all the feedback was positive with several members taking the opportunity to air problems in partnership working. In particular the flexibilities of the Health Act 1999 gave cause for concern. In summary the following issues were identified:

The need for local authorities to be fully engaged in the process of moving from PCGs to PCTs.

The potential danger of planning and service fragmentation caused by multiple PCTs within or across boundaries.

Complexities of developing new partnership models within different quality systems, i.e. Best Value and clinical Governance.

The reluctance in some areas of the NHS to engage with local government and to sustain that engagement without financial incentives.

The debate now needs to be kept alive in some way by the LGA.

I also attach for information a copy of the Social Affairs and Health bulletin on key policy issues that are being pursued by the team at the LGA.

New Forest District Council


Social Affairs and Health Executive - Information Bulletin No 1 (September 1999)

Members will recall that at the first meeting of the Executive, I was asked to prepare a bulletin on key policy issues being pursued by the team.

This is the first effort. Any feedback would be gratefully received at the next meeting of the Executive.

1. Violence to Social Care Staff

The Secretary of State launched a major initiative on this at a summit on 23 September. Councillors Bury and Jones attended. I was asked to speak from an employers' perspective. A Task Force is being set up under the Chairmanship of Chris Davies, retiring President of ADSS at the personal invitation of the Secretary of State.

Contact Officer: Carol Caporn 0207 664 3255
e-mail: carol.caporn@lga.gov.uk

2. Quality Protects

There will be a national Quality Protects Conference on 9 November, to which the Department of Health will invite all leaders of local authorities with social services responsibilities. A joint DoH/LGA guide for councillors on quality protects will be launched at the conference. The former Children Task Group have assisted in drafting this and in holding regional seminars for councillors on quality protects in June and July. Attention is drawn to the DoH Quality Protects newsletter, which has a councillors page. (Further copies available from DoH PO Box 410 Wetherby LS23 7LN fax 019731 845381).
Contact Officer: Dorothy Blatcher 020 7664 3338

e-mail dorothy.blatcher@lga.gov.uk

3. Empowering Members Initiative

As part of the LGA Empowering Members' Initiative, the IDeA has, with assistance from councillors, produced a multi-media learning resource for councillors interested in education and social services. The Informed Councillor CD Rom "issues in children's welfare" is available from the IDeA on 020 7296 6523, price 58.75.
Contact Officer: Dorothy Blatcher 020 7664 3338

4. Working Together

Draft guidance on "Working Together to Safeguard Children; new government guidance on inter- agency co-operation" was published at the end of August. Views are invited by 31 October. The Executive will be consulted on the LGA response. LGA and advisers have contributed substantially to this revised draft. (Copies available from DoH fax 01623 724 524 or email doh@prologistics.co.uk. There is also a copy in the LGA library).
Contact Officer: Dorothy Blatcher 020 7664 3338

5. Adoption

The joint LGA/BAAF (British Agencies for Fostering and Adoption) draft guidance for councillors on adoption, the main lines of which were approved by the former Children Task Group and Social Affairs and Health Committee is nearing completion. The Executive will be sent copies.
Contact Officer: Dorothy Blatcher 020 7664 3338

6. Leaving Care

Following consultation with the Executive, the LGA's response on "Me, Survive, Out There?" has been sent to DoH. Authorities have submitted applications for beacon status for leaving care schemes.
Contact Officer: Dorothy Blatcher 020 7664 3338

7. Volunteering

A draft joint briefing by LGA, ADSS (Association of Directors of Social Services) and the Volunteer Centre UK, on involving volunteers in social care is being sent to you. This follows a DoH circular "Promoting Volunteering and Relations with the Voluntary Sector in the NHS and Social Care and contains good practice examples.
Contact Officer: Dorothy Blatcher 020 7664 3338

8. Workforce and Training

The National Training Organisation for the PSS, TOPSS, met on 14 September and considered a training strategy. When ready, the draft will be sent to the Executive for support, together with proposals on future funding and representation. Dorothy Blatcher and Tony Smith IDeA email Tony@netsmith.freeserve.co.uk.
Contact Officer: Dorothy Blatcher 020 7664 3338

9. Health Act 1999

DoH and DETR consultation on new flexibilities for all principal local authorities, NHS Trusts and Primary Care Trust. These will include powers to:

pool budgets and resources;
introduce lead commissioning; and
establish integrated provision.

The guidance covers "a number of critical issues which are fundamental to the development of partnerships and the best use of resources to meet need and user choice". The LGA will ensure a Local Government response is made. Consultation lasts until 15 October.
Contact Officer: Carol Caporn 0207 664 3255

10. Assessing Together: Opening Doors for People with Learning Difficulties

The Disablement Income Group commissioned work to develop a guide on assessments for people with learning difficulties. This is aimed primarily at social workers/care managers and their Managers. As the current Head of Group contributed comment to the draft, she has now been invited on behalf of the LGA and as a recent "Director" to provide the foreword for the publication.
Contact Officer: Carol Caporn 0207 664 3255

11. Comprehensive Spending Review

It is likely that the next CSR round will be announced in July 2000 to cover the three years from the following April ie 2001/2004. Work is commencing on the LGA input.
Contact Officer: Roger Mortimore 0207 664 3257
e-mail: roger.mortimore@lga.gov.uk

12. Youth Offending Teams

Discussions are progressing with the Youth Justice Board (YJB) on the production of a joint LGA letter (with the Chair of the LGA, Sir Jeremy Beecham and the Chair of the Board, Lord Warner, as signatories), to the leaders of all councils regarding the establishment of Youth Offending Teams. It is intended that the letter will draw attention to the importance of the contribution to be made by local authority elected members to the new youth justice arrangements, particularly in terms in securing effective inter-agency collaboration and co-terminosity with other initiatives, such as Quality Protects.Contact Officer: Duncan Tree 0171 664 3244
e-mail: duncan.tree@lga.gov.uk

13. Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) (Amendment) Regulations 1999

The Social Services Advisory Committee (SSAC) recently consulted on regulations proposed by the Secretary of State for Social Security which would increase the period during which JSA would not be payable, to 26 weeks where there has been a third or subsequent failure, within a period of 12 months, to comply with a New Deal Option Requirement.

Consultation with advisers in the Association's member authorities revealed significant concerns with the proposed regulations, and in particular their implications for vulnerable young people.
Contact Officer: Duncan Tree 0171 664 3244

14. ONE

ONE, the Government's proposed "single gateway" into the benefits system for all people under 60, is currently being piloted in a number of areas around the country. Under ONE (which will be put on a national footing from April 2000) claimants of all major benefits will be required to attend interviews about their capacity to find work. Failure to attend the interview may lead to suspension of benefit.

Certain groups of people will be excluded from these new arrangements (for example people who are terminally ill) but many of those people who currently receive help from Social Services (for example people with physical difficulties, people with mental health problems and carers), will be required to participate. It is important, therefore, ONE is as sensitive and responsive as possible to (the often complex) needs of this vulnerable client group. Officers are now, therefore, in the process of establishing a reference group, comprising representatives from social services in those authorities where ONE is being piloted, to ensure that these needs (and those of SSD staff who offer help and support) are accounted for in the final design of the new package.
Contact Officer: Duncan Tree 0171 664 3244

Last update: 13/10/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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