Cabinet Update October 2018

Parish Council Summit

Our thanks to the parish councillors who attended the inaugural Parish Council Summit on Wednesday 17 October. The event was an opportunity to share experiences and discuss how Herefordshire council and parish and town councils can better work together to provide the best services for residents. With around 100 attendees, it will come as no surprise that we collected a wealth of thoughts and ideas which we will be collating and sharing with ward members in the near future.

What clearly stood out is that councillors welcomed information on the demographics of their local population to assist them in making decisions. There is already some information available (https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/info/200148/your_council/598/about_herefordshire/2), and we will be looking at how we can support this further.

We plan to hold the next summit in early 2019.

Cabinet decisions – meeting Thursday 18 October 2018

Cabinet approved the approach to recommissioning of a domestic abuse support service and the outline of a new domestic abuse strategy for Herefordshire.

Domestic abuse has a huge cost socially and financially, and to the children affected. In our county last year 1,294 referrals were made to the domestic abuse support service and 3,877 calls were made to the helpline.

It is essential that victims of domestic abuse and their children are safe and can access good quality advice and support, so Cabinet welcomed the focus on early intervention and education.

With around 4% of domestic abuse victims being male, Cabinet was also pleased to see a recognition of their specific support needs and an extension of support available to male victims.

 Cabinet received the outcome report of the recent Ofsted inspection and approved the associated action plan.
The Ofsted inspection in June 2018 took place under the new Inspection of Local Authority Children’s services (ILACS) framework, with a much stronger focus on looking at practice and outcome (rather than processes), which has been largely welcomed by professionals.

The inspection report recognised a number of areas of good practice including early help, home education and MASH, and the £1.6m investment already made in making improvements in children’s services. Most importantly Ofsted found that no children were at risk of immediate harm

However, the report also highlighted poor management within some areas of the service, which is not acceptable and something which we are determined to change. We are already making progress, and the action plan provides a strong focus on ensuring further improvements are delivered, embedded and sustained. The action plan will be closely monitored and regularly refreshed and renewed. Updates will be provided to Cabinet as part of performance and budget reporting and the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee will regularly review progress against the plan.

Cabinet received the annual progress update on the corporate parenting strategy.

The term ‘corporate parent’ means the collective responsibility of the council, elected members, employees and partner agencies for providing the best possible care and safeguarding for every child in council care.

Progress has been made over the past year. The number of children in stable placements (over 2.5 years) has increased from 74 to 101, the number of children who move placement more than three times remains low, and six care leavers are studying at  university.

There is more we can all do to offer opportunities to children in care and care leavers, and councillors are being asked to consider whether they could offer or facilitate work experience or apprenticeships.

Currently Herefordshire Council has 335 children in its care and provides support for 180 care leavers.

Cabinet approved the Herefordshire Autism Strategy 2019-2022

The council, in partnership with the CCG and the Herefordshire Partnership Board have co-produced the autism strategy, which spans all age groups from childhood into adulthood.

The strategy sets out a clear framework for improvements in a range of areas to ensure that people with autism have the same opportunities, and health and quality of life outcomes, as everyone else. The aspiration is that ‘reasonable adjustments’ in services start to become business as usual, as a reflection of the importance we place on supporting people with autism.

Fuel Poverty help available

In all instances we ask that you s refer  residents that you think would benefit from some interventions to Keep Herefordshire Warm on 0800 677 1432.

Emergency Funding is now available for low income households in a ‘no heat’ situation due to broken gas central heating

Keep Herefordshire Warm

Fuel Poverty has been flagged as a priority measure by the Herefordshire Health and
Wellbeing Board. In the last set of figures that was released by the Government,
Herefordshire was defined as having the third worst percentage of people living in fuel
poverty in the country.

Keep Herefordshire Warm is a partnership between Herefordshire Council and
Marches Energy Agency. Run by a charity, Keep Herefordshire Warm provides a
freephone advice line and is available to all residents of Herefordshire offering the
following:

Free & Impartial Energy Advice on:

 Keeping Warm at Home
 Energy Bills, Tariffs & Suppliers
 Heating & Hot Water
 Insulation & Heating Grants *
 Health related grants *
 Support during Power Cuts
*subject to eligibility and availability of funding

Energy Efficiency Grants:

 Grants for cavity wall and loft insulation – ‘for all’ (no qualifying criteria) – this funding
will end shortly
 Grant support for heating replacements
 First time central heating – grant support to install central heating for the first time

Households qualify if they are:

 In receipt of means tested benefits
 On low income and have limited savings and

o have an energy inefficient home or high energy costs or
o are vulnerable in some way (including over 60s, young children, illness or
disability)

 Those not qualifying will be advised on alternatives where appropriate (e.g. trust fund
applications).

Priority Services Register and Warm Homes Discount

 People using electricity for medical equipment or for their heating are particularly
vulnerable in the event of a power cut. Sign up for the Western Power Distribution
Priority Services Register through Keep Herefordshire Warm for priority assistance
and support.
 Many people don’t know they are eligible for £140 off their energy bills. Many
schemes are now open but operate on ‘first come fort served basis. We can help
residents to apply

Cabinet Report September 2018

Cabinet decisions – meeting Thursday 27 September

Cabinet reviewed the West Mercia Youth Justice Plan 2018/19 and recommended to Council for approval.

The West Mercia Youth Justice Plan 2018/19 identifies three indicators for Herefordshire:
· First time entrant figures have reduced – 72 in 2017 (86 in 2016), out of 16,101 young people aged 10-17 in the county (less than half of one percent)
· The use of youth custody has reduced – one custodial sentence in Herefordshire in 2017
· Re-offenders are more likely to re-offend in Herefordshire than the rest of West Mercia, but are re-offending less frequently.
The plan has previously been considered by Children’s and Wellbeing Scrutiny committee, and it is recognised that there is still a lot of work for partners across all agencies.

Cabinet approved the Fostering and adoption service annual report 2017/18.

The fostering and adoption services received positive feedback during the recent Ofsted inspection, which highlighted the good practice of the adoption service in finding timely placements and providing post adoption support. The rate of adoption from care in 2014-17 was higher in Herefordshire than other comparable councils.
Despite bucking the national trend and successfully recruiting new placement families there is still a shortage of foster carers in the county due to an increase in the number of children needing placement. Additional training for foster carers is a priority for the coming year.
To help support young people leaving care, a reduction in council tax for care leavers has recently been approved.

Cabinet approved the corporate budget and performance report – end of June 2018.

The 2018/19 projected outturn is £1.422m, which is a more positive position than being reported in many other areas of the country. Following a recent statutory independent balance sheet review, it was commented that the council’s balance sheet is ‘very robust’.
The projected overspend reflects an increase in looked after children in residential placement, and additional residential placements for people with learning disabilities.

Enabling residents to live safe, healthy and independent lives

The integrated community equipment stores has issued more equipment year on year over the past four years supporting more people to remain at home.
The success of the refugee resettlement scheme continues – with two more families arriving in June, and accommodation for additional families identified.
Adult social care services are increasingly more responsive and signpost people to appropriate support, which has in turn led to a reduction in the cost of care packages. The Community Broker service won the Care Innovator award in the Hereford Times Health and Social Care awards.
There has been progress towards the development of Hillside as a facility for nursing home beds, which will increase capacity for these much needed facilities in Hereford, and help reduce delayed discharges from hospital.

Keep children and young people safe and give them a great start in life

Outcomes from all primary school key assessment points indicate that pupils in the county are now achieving standards higher than the national average.
The number of children subject to child protection plans has reduced due to additional capacity to review cases and consider how best to support children and young people. Cabinet has released £1.6m to help address key issues, including the recruitment of additional staff.
Like many other parts of the country, Herefordshire is seeing an increase in the number of looked after children, and an increased complexity of need. Work is in progress towards reducing this number.

Supporting the growth of our economy

Good progress has been made in major infrastructure projects, with work continuing towards the delivery of the south wye transport package southern link road, and the identification of a preferred route for the Hereford Bypass.
The current development of high quality offices and workshops on the enterprise zone at Rotherwas demonstrates the confidence of private industry in the local economy. As part of the area’s regeneration, the cycle way adjacent to straight mile has been started and phase one is due to be completed by end October.
Major investment in the county’s roads continued over the summer through the £8.5m challenge fund substantial resurfacing roadworks.
There has been significant additional investment of £2.8m from revenue reserves and £1.25m secured from the government’s pothole fund for the county’s highways following the severe winter weather last year.
Fastershire won the Superfast category at the national Connected Britain awards, recognising the progress made in Herefordshire in broadband provision. Funding of £5m has been secured from the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Scheme to provide some of the hardest to reach properties and businesses in the county with superfast broadband access, with the aim of bringing superfast coverage to 98% of the county over the next two years.