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Paper 9 - 24 March 2000 Meeting


24 March 2000


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

1. There have been two meetings of the Social Affairs and Health Executive in the past few weeks in order to do justice to the importance of some of the emerging issues. (Especially the Waterhouse Report).

2. Following a previous decision of the Executive, the details of and broad terms of reference for three proposed task groups have been discussed. Each group will be time limited and membership will be drawn from the Local Government Association (LGA) data base but with considerable input from the information of interested members held by the political groups. To make things even more complex the groups will be made up with reference to other LGA Executives, hopefully resulting in an integrated output! The Task Groups cover:

People with Learning Disabilities
Childrens services. (including adoption services)
Workforce planning.

3. The Executive is also having a thorough review of its representation on Outside Bodies, but until that is complete we have gone through the motions of making sure all the relevant spaces are filled in line with political balance.

4. In order to learn lessons from the early experience of the newly formed Social Services Authorities that emerged after Local Government Review, a meeting is to be held in order to bring representatives of such authorities together. Three authorities, each representing a different background, (probably Worcestershire, Milton Keynes and Middlesborough) will be asked to make presentations.

5. We have received an updating on the three Care Bills that are currently in Parliament:

The Care Standards Bill
The Children Leaving Care Bill
The Carers and Disabled Children Bill

6. Understandably the Executive is primarily keen to make sure that the interests of the clients are protected, but it was pointed out that staff rights should also be considered. The human rights aspect of being accused of untoward behaviour and being placed on a register without the accusations being proved are not acceptable. The LGA will lobby for speedy resolution of appeals. There was also concern that the loophole of resigning in order to avoid investigation should be closed.

7. The view that vulnerable adults receiving care should have the same protection as children was also endorsed.

8. Supporting People. There was a paper for information on the changes that are about to come into place to the funding of housing related support in respect of private sector tenants. It is very important that social services departments set up arrangements to respond to requests for simple community car assessment of housing related support needs, provide confirmation of assessments to housing benefit departments and establish a liaison officer as a matter of urgency. This is important in order to identify the correct amount of funding under the transitional scheme, as this will in turn be used to inform the amount and distribution of Supporting People funds from 2003. (Hampshire was mentioned as an example of good practice).

9. The Waterhouse Report, which was the 'main event' of the last meeting, and along with other reports from similar investigations, will be central to the work of the Executive for some time to come. At this meeting we aimed to identify the main issues at Local Government level, to enable the creation of a framework for future work. The point was made that it is not just Local Government which is affected by the report but other services such as the Police as well as the private sector. We were also warned that there are at least 10 other major investigations on a similar theme in progress at the moment which will continue to highlight past deficiencies in care, as well as items for future action.

10. Some form of checklist will be produced through which work already underway can be identified against that which still needs to be done. The main areas that were identified for attention were broadly:

The Comprehensive Spending Review
Workforce Planning
Professional and member issues
Other Local Government sectors such as Education and Legal services
Mental health services
Greater crosscutting work and spreading information on good practice
Possible amendments to Bills currently going through Parliament and the creation of a Childrens' Commissioner

New Forest District Council

Date: 14 March 2000
Annex: 0
Contact: Councillor Mrs M Robinson - 023 8026 5478

Last update: 00/00/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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