IRVINE, 24 February 2004 - At a Meeting of the Social Services Committee of North Ayrshire Council at 2.00 p.m.
Alan Munro, Anna Donn, Margaret Munn, John Bell, Jack Carson, Ian Clarkson, Drew Duncan, Jane Gorman, Jean Highgate, Alan Hill, Elisabethe Marshall, John Moffat, David O'Neill, Samuel Taylor and Nan Wallace.
B Docherty, Corporate Director, S Paterson, Head of Service (Children, Families and Criminal Justice) and L Skehal, Head of Service (Community Care) (Social Services); A Grossart, Finance Manager (Finance); J Stevenston, Communications Officer, M Adams and A Sobieraj, Corporate and Democratic Support Officers (Chief Executive's).
Councillor Munro in the Chair.
Apologies for Absence
John Reid and Margaret McDougall.
The Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee held on 13 January 2004, copies of which had previously been circulated, were confirmed.
2. Social Services Standing Sub Committee
Submitted the annexed report (Appendix SS1) being the Minutes of the Meeting of the Social Services Standing Sub Committee held on 4 February 2004.
The Committee agreed to approve the Minutes.
3. Changes to Supporting Young People Leaving Care in Scotland
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Social Services) on changes to support for young people leaving care from 1 April 2004.
The Support and Assistance of Young People Leaving Care (Scotland) Regulations 2003 place new duties on local authorities from 1 April 2004 to provide improved, standardised services to young people who are, or were previously, looked after at home or looked after away from home.
The Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) will transfer responsibility to local authorities for providing regular financial support to all 16/17 year olds who have been looked after away from home. The financial allocations to North Ayrshire are £33,534 in 2003/04; £134,134 in 2004/05; and £167,688 in 2005/06. It is estimated that the Council's allocation is £208,871 less per year than required to implement the regulations. The Scottish Executive has advised local authorities to monitor the position for six months and inform it of any funding shortfall.
The Committee agreed (a) to approve the arrangements for these developments within the Council; and (b) that the Corporate Director (Social Services) monitor progress and report to a future meeting.
4. Supporting People Strategy: Social Services
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Social Services) on the impact of the Supporting People Strategy on Social Services and its future implementation.
The national Supporting People programme and funding framework deals with the housing support needs of vulnerable people in different forms of accommodation and tenure. Local authorities, in partnership with service users and other agencies, provide a range of support services which are commissioned, delivered and funded from the Supporting People Grant.
The Council received total funding of approximately £14 million for this programme. The allocation to Social Services was approximately £11 million. A corporate Supporting People Team within Property Services works in partnership with Social Services to develop a wide ranging programme of services to meet current and future needs.
This new investment has required Social Services to negotiate new contracts with voluntary sector providers and to recruit new staff. An annual process is now being developed to manage the funding, review its effectiveness and to ensure that it is targeted at the most vulnerable sectors of the population.
5. Supporting Front Line Staff
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Social Services) on developments in relation to the national Supporting Front Line Staff Initiative.
The Supporting Front Line Staff Initiative was introduced in 1999 and focused on key areas for improvement for those staff working in front line services. These included dealing with stress, reducing absenteeism, violence to staff, change management, reducing the burden of administrative work and the promotion of ICT. A funding package was agreed with the Scottish Executive and a Project Manager was appointed to further develop, introduce and promote front line initiatives within Social Services across all 32 local authorities.
A Focus Group will now be established within Social Services comprising front line staff and Trades Union representatives. Reports will be presented to the Social Services Workforce Planning Group on a regular basis.
6. Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Social Services) on the implications of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003.
The purpose of the Act is to develop future mental health services to ensure people with mental disorders received effective care and treatment and it defines mental disorder as mental illness, personality disorder and learning disability.
The new duties and powers placed on local authorities include:-
Providing services for people with mental disorder including care and support services;
Enquiring into the case of a person with mental disorder where they may be at risk of harm;
Applying for a range of warrants, e.g. authorising a mental health officer to enter premises to carry out their enquiries;
Compulsory powers of emergency detention, short term detention, compulsory treatment orders and other powers in relation to entry, removal and detention; and
Dealing with people who may be exposed to ill treatment or neglect or who are unable to look after themselves, their property or financial affairs.
The Council has been allocated £325,000 to undertake its responsibilities under the Act. The Scottish Executive has extended the implementation date of the Act to 1 April 2005, in recognition of the significant new work generated for all agencies. Local Authorities and Health Boards are required to submit a joint implementation plan by 1 April 2004.
It is proposed that a proportion of the financial allocation to North Ayrshire will be used to fund Mental Health Officer posts. The joint structure agreed with Health should include appropriate arrangements for service delivery during evenings and weekends.
7. Commission for the Regulation of Care for 2004/2005: Proposed Registration Fees
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Social Services) on the implications of the Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care (Care Commission) Consultation on 'Proposals for Maximum Fees' for the regulation of care services from 1 April 2004.
The Care Commission took over local authority functions for registration and inspection in April 2002. On 15 December 2003 the Commission issued a consultation on its proposed charging fees.
The proposed fees for 2004/05 represent the first year of a phased 3 year move to self financing by the Commission. These show a substantial increase varying according to fee type, with typical increases of between 80% to 100%. Similar increases will be applied in 2005/06 and 2006/07. Fostering and Adoption Services and Offenders Accommodation activities which were not currently subject to registration, will be included from 2004/05.
The current Social Services budget is insufficient to finance these fee costs. The consultation's timing within the Council's budgetary cycle also raises concerns given the magnitude of the fee increases. It is proposed that the Council request the Care Commission to delay implementation of the proposals until 2005/06 and to apply only inflationary increases in 2004/05.
The Committee agreed to approve the report as a basis for the Council's formal response to the Care Commission's consultation.
8. Introduction of Direct Payments
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Social Services) on progress in implementing a Direct Payments Service within North Ayrshire.
From 1 June 2003 local authorities were required to offer all eligible disabled people requiring community care or children's services a direct cash payment instead of arranging services for them. Some people continue to be excluded from direct payments due to existing mental health or criminal justice legislation.
Direct payments can be used to:-
Directly employ support staff;
Engage an agency to provide support;
Pay for short term respite and aids and adaptations;
Buy services from any local authority;
Purchase children's services; or
A combination of the above.
The Scottish Executive originally proposed to extend the scheme to all community care and children's services client groups from 1 April 2004, with the exception of those excluded by regulation. Implementation has now been deferred until April 2005 to allow the Executive to work with Direct Payments Scotland, local authorities and other support organisations on dealing with the existing eligible client groups, before a phased roll out to new client groups.
It is proposed that the Social Services Direct Payments scheme in North Ayrshire be extended to one new care group initially, with the first new eligible group being older people. The existing scheme previously approved by the Committee requires only minor modification to meet the additional responsibilities in force from 1 April 2005.
9. Volunteering in Social Services
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Social Services) on progress within Social Services in delivering the Council's Volunteering Policy.
The North Ayrshire Volunteering Policy was launched in September 2002 and required Council services to identify a person with direct responsibility for volunteering. Social Services established a Volunteer Coordinator post in 2003.
There are currently approximately 114 volunteers working within Social Services including people who are retired, unemployed, single parents, six form pupils and students. Social Services recognise and value the significant skills and contributions made by volunteers to the work of the service.
Social Services propose to further assist local people to engage in a voluntary activity through advertising, recruitment and support to volunteers. A public information leaflet has been produced on the working of the service.
10. Revenue Budget 2003/2004: Budgetary Control
Submitted report by the Assistant Chief Executive (Finance) on the budgetary control position for Social Services at the end of December 2003, and on projections for the financial year 2003/04.