Agenda and draft minutes

People Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 12 January 2023 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber - County Hall, New Road, Oxford OX1 1ND. View directions

Contact: Jonathan Deacon 

Link: video link

No. Item


Introduction and Welcome


The Chair welcomed attendees to the meeting, including Ruth Bennie, a recently appointed Co-Opted Member.  Ms Bennie, in keeping with the requirement of the Council’s Constitution, is the Church of England representative appointed by the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education.


Apologies for Absence and Temporary Appointments


Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Andy Graham, Cllr Mark Lygo, Cabinet Member for Public Health & Equality and also Fraser Long, the recently appointed Co-optee who, in keeping with the requirement of the Council’s Constitution, is representing the Roman Catholic Church.


Declaration of Interests - see guidance note on the back page


There were none.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 400 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 10 November 2022 and to receive information arising from them.


The Committee considered the minutes of the previous meeting held on 10 November 2022. It was AGREED that the Chair should sign the minutes as an accurate record.


The following action was AGREED:


1)          That the Committee be provided with specific education data which would enable Members to assess the appropriate subject matter for scrutiny.


Petitions and Public Address

Members of the public who wish to speak at this meeting can attend the meeting in person or ‘virtually’ through an online connection.


To facilitate ‘hybrid’ meetings we are asking that requests to speak or present a petition are submitted by no later than 9am four working days before the meeting i.e., 9am on Friday 6 January 2023. Requests to speak should be sent to


If you are speaking ‘virtually’, you may submit a written statement of your presentation to ensure your views are taken into account. A written copy of your statement can be provided no later than 9am 2 working days before the meeting. Written submissions should be no longer than 1 A4 sheet.


The Chair advised the Committee that two people had expressed a wish to address the Committee. Having received legal advice, it had been decided that the meeting was not the right forum to raise the requested points owing to the difference between these points and the items on the agenda.  The two residents had been advised as such.


The Chair added that, however, one of Scrutiny’s aims is to be a doorway for the public to make their views heard, and to support the Council’s strategic aim to foster a thriving participatory democracy. It was important that the Council ensured that residents were given a platform to address the Council’s Committees, including the People Overview and Scrutiny Committee.  He suggested that when the Work Programme item was considered later in the meeting, a meeting was added to the schedule of meetings to look at SEND Performance, Practice, Support and Mitigation Activity.


Unpaid Carers Services pdf icon PDF 510 KB

Report by the Interim Corporate Director of Adult and Housing.


The Oxfordshire Way is guiding the Council’s approach to strengthening support for Carers. This is our vision of supporting people to live well at home in their community, remaining fit and healthy for as long as possible. The Oxfordshire

Way aims to provide people with the ability to support themselves through personal, local and system assets to lead independent lives. It is critical that carers are supported to protect their health and wellbeing, so they can continue to care in the way that they wish to and have a life alongside caring.


The paper provides information about the carer population in Oxfordshire and explains the measures used to understand the wellbeing of our carers. It revisits the results of the survey of Adult Carers in England and presents current activity which is being conducted collaboratively with voluntary sector partners and unpaid carers in our community that aims to explore carer experiences and develop an action plan that aims to increase positive outcomes and overall satisfaction for carers who are in need of support. It summarises services provided by both Adult Social Care and Children’s services, including the service offered for families looking after the special educational needs of children and related provision. It also provides an update on the development of a new strategic plan, the Oxfordshire All Age Unpaid Carers Strategy, to support carers across the health and social care system.


The People Overview and Scrutiny Committee is RECOMMENDED to:


a)    recognise the immense contribution carers make to our society, caring for family, friends and neighbours; and,


b)    acknowledge the importance of providing high quality support for carers, because whilst caring can be a rewarding and positive experience for both the carer and the cared-for person, being a carer is also associated with a higher risk of poverty, poor mental wellbeing and physical health, and can restrict social, education and employment opportunities.


Cllr Tim Bearder, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Karen Fuller, Corporate Director of Adult and Housing, initially addressed the Committee.  They explained that this item had been included in the Work Programme following the Oxfordshire Adult Services paper in April 2022 and a commitment to report back on progress in relation to feedback from the Carers Survey.  Immediate actions taken to improve carers experiences and wellbeing included training, information and communications to ensure that they were aware of the options available to them.  In terms of quality of services and support, there was a review of all providers’ inclusion of unpaid carers and relatives in their quality improvement processes and partnership working was taking place with Carers Oxfordshire in the provision of increased breaks, access to services and support opportunities.


The Committee was advised that from April 2021 to November 2021 there had been just over 3,600 carer assessments.  In the same period during 2022 there had been over a thousand more carer assessments.  Wellbeing payments had been made to 696 carers from April 2021 to November 2021 and this had increased to 1111 for the same period in 2022.  Respite care was also being offered.


The Committee also heard from Jonny Bradish, Service Manager, Children’s Social Care, in relation to the directly provided services for young carers.  He stated that all potential young carers started with an assessment.  A young carer’s strength and needs were identified through the Early Help processes.  The Council’s Locality Community Support Service (LCSS) supported interventions to be fulfilled whilst children and young people remained in the community delivered by professionals who already had a connection with the child and their family.  They would co-ordinate a multi-agency team which sought to support families. 


Mr Bradish referred to other directly provided services including the Council’s Early Help teams offering the benefit of an allocated key worker and regular home visiting.  This was particularly appropriate when complex needs had been identified which are likely to impede the development of a child or young person.


Overall, in 2021/22 there were 743 children who were listed as being young carers and 216 received a continuing service.


Councillor Bearder concluded the presentation with positive comments received from carers regarding short break respite services and meals for carers and their families.  He emphasised that the Council was developing a new strategic plan, the Oxfordshire All- Age Unpaid Carers Strategy, to support carers across the health and social care system.  It was bringing together the work of Children’s and Adult’s departments in relation to carer support.  It was important to raise awareness of services for carers.  There was a value to providing support to carers in order that greater interventions, in the form of statutory supported services, were not required.


In addition to Cllr Bearder, Ms Fuller and Mr Bradish, responses to questions and points raised by the Committee were received from Cllr Liz Brighouse, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Young People's Services, Kevin  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6/23


SEND Finances pdf icon PDF 309 KB

Report by the Director for Children’s Services


The report was introduced by Cllr Brighouse and Mr Gordon. They advised that the issues relating to SEND were complex and needed to be understood in the national context.  It was a critical point for SEND finances across the country and it required Central Government to intervene.  A response was awaited from the Government to the Green Paper on SEND which had been issued for public consultation but had closed in Summer 2022.


Hayley Good, Deputy Director of Education, Kate Bradley, Head of SEND and Sarah Fogden, Finance Business Partner, Children, were in attendance to provide a presentation and respond to questions and points raised by the Committee.  It was stated that there had been some indication that the Government would provide an update on the SEND Green Paper during January 2023 but this was yet to be confirmed.  From a local perspective, there had been a significant increase in requests for Education and Health Care Needs Assessments and subsequently for Plans.  Every time there was a Plan funding was attached to this.  The number of Plans since the reforms had been introduced had increased from 2,233 in 2014/15 to 5,025 in 2021/22. This was an increase of 125%.  The allocation of funding from Central Government had increased by 49% during this time.  Changes were needed to prevent the deficit becoming wider.


It was explained that the High Needs Block (HNB) via Central Government was intended to enable local authorities to meet their statutory duties for Children and Young People with SEND up to the age of 25.  The HNB was based on a formula including historical spending patterns plus local factors including population and levels of deprivation.  Oxfordshire had a relatively high number of ‘floor funded schools’ and were funded at the minimum amount.  The formula meant that if needs varied from year to year they were not fully reflected in local budgets and a pupil with the same need could attract significantly more or less funding in one local authority than another.  Oxfordshire was the 22nd lowest funded out of 151 local authorities.


It was confirmed that the High Needs Funding grant received by the Council was £74.5m and the demand for services via the HNB was expected to cost £92m in the current year.  The forecast overspend was therefore £17.5m.  In Oxfordshire, 16.3% of the children in special schools were in independent provision compared to 12.3% nationally.  Parents could request a preference for a placement at a special school, including in independent provision.


The Committee was advised that there had been a detailed public consultation on the local area SEND strategy which covered education, social care and health and included proposals to make SEND system reforms locally.  This also looked at some system reform opportunities as it was recognised that there were aspects that needed to be done differently going forward.  Work was now proceeding on the implementation plan and this was due to be shared in the coming weeks.


In terms of seeking to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7/23


Action and Recommendation Tracker pdf icon PDF 174 KB

The Committee is RECOMMENDED to note the action and recommendation tracker which is being used to monitor the implementation of formally agreed actions and recommendations.


The Committee received the action and recommendation tracker which enabled Members to monitor progress against agreed actions and recommendations.  It was confirmed by Marco Dias, Interim Scrutiny Officer, that all actions were either completed or were being progressed towards completion.


The action and recommendation tracker was NOTED.


Committee's Work Programme and the Council's Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 241 KB

Attached is a proposed work programme for Committee’s forthcoming meetings. The Committee is recommended to AGREE its work programme, having heard any changes from previous iterations, and taking into consideration the Council’s Forward Plan and any issues arising from the Business Management and Monitoring Report.

Additional documents:


The Committee was provided with an indicative draft Work Programme for the year ahead, the Business Management and Monitoring Reportand also the current version of the Council’s Forward Plan.  Mr Dias stated that the updates to the previous iteration of the Work Programme included that the ‘Update on Family Solutions Plus’ had been re-scheduled for the next meeting on 30 March in order that SEND Finances could be considered at the current meeting.  Items on Children’s Social Care Placement Sufficiency,Market Management and Fostering and also Adult Social Care Demand Management and Assurance had been added to the meeting on 15 June.


The Chair’s proposal for a meeting to consider an item on SEND performance, practice, support and mitigation activity was discussed.  Members considered that there were a number of matters to be taken into account in relation to the item that would be difficult to include within the existing scheduled Work Programme meetings, including in the event that residents were given the opportunity to air their concerns and to receive any feedback from the webinar with families.  It was AGREED that the timing and nature of the meeting would be discussed outside of the meeting between the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Committee and the Director for Children’s Services.


The following actions were also AGREED:


1)    That the Terms of Reference of the Education Commission be circulated to the Committee.  It was noted that the Director for Children’s Services mentioned the potential for setting up a special session in the next few months to consider the work of the Education Commission and its findings.


2)    That an item on the new Homelessness Strategy / Oxfordshire Homelessness Alliance be added to the Work Programme.