Agenda and minutes

Contact: Christine Rothwell  Tel. 01302 735682

Link: Click here to view audio visual recording of the meeting

No. Item


Apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Bev Chapman, Councillor Richard A. Jones also Bernadette Nesbit, Paul O’Brien.



To consider the extent, if any, to which the public and press are to be excluded from the meeting.




Declarations of Interest, if any.




Minutes from the Meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee held on 11th and 25th February 2021 pdf icon PDF 164 KB

Additional documents:


The minutes of the meetings held on 11th and 25th February, 2021 were agreed as a correct record.



Public Statements.

[A period not exceeding 20 minutes for statements from up

to 5 members of the public on matters within the

Committee’s remit, proposing action(s) which may be

considered or contribute towards the future development of

the Committee’s work programme].





2020/21 - Quarter 4 Finance and Performance Improvement Report pdf icon PDF 2 MB


The Director of Corporate Resources provided an overview and reminded Members the report was a summary of activity that took place earlier in 2021, specifically looking at the performance and financial position.


It was highlighted to Members that;

·         The Doncaster Council Covid-19 Timeline (Appendix A) identified key milestones and challenges for the Authority.

·         The Authority received significant additional financial support amounting to £166 million pounds of business.

·         Some Performance Indicators were modified, or set aside to take into account the affects of Covid-19.


The Committee acknowledged it had been a challenging year, and commended the maintained performance. The Authority ended the year with a favourable outturn position, given that it responded to Covid-19 as well as continuing to carry out normal business.


Councillors then explored the following topics in more detail;




Financial Risks - In response to a question it was explained that COVID-19 had amplified risks the Council already had, the top three financial risks were identified as;


1.    Children in terms of supporting children that have not been within the normal school environment with learning and attainment.

2.    Environment as a result of people being at home more, there was an increase in waste which had additional costs implications.

3.    Council Budget – there would be challenge around the Council’s income, particularly business rates. A significant amount of relief was provided by Government during the pandemic, however the level of business support would not continue.


It was also advised that as an organisation a number of individual risks could accumulate, and this would be monitored over the coming months. The Authority had received unprecedented levels of initiatives, and some of those resources carried forward into 21/22 to help mitigate other impacts as a result of Covid-19. Implementing them effectively to manage the next phase of recovery was another risk identified to Members.


Council Tax and Business Rates – Members were assured that to help increase income, business rates were monitored monthly making sure appropriate business rate payments by the largest businesses in the Borough were made. This monitoring was to be extended to the next tier of 50 businesses with regular meetings with the Business Rates Team, and Business Doncaster. There were also number of initiatives described to Members that are running to support both existing and new businesses in Doncaster.


Staff Sickness - The Committee acknowledged the positive trend for staff sickness within the report and thanked management and staff for delivering services throughout difficult circumstances. Whilst specific reasons for the trend were unknown it was felt the new way of operating, with most employees working from home, allowed greater flexibility to manage personal wellbeing, childcare and people could work more effectively. Staff surveys showed a positive response to this way of working and therefore it was suggested the trend would continue.




Carers Additional Needs – Members were provided with a number of examples of initiatives put in place to support the additional needs of carers during and after the pandemic,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


St Leger Homes of Doncaster Ltd (SLHD) Performance & Delivery Update: 2020/21 Quarter Four (Q4) and year end outturn pdf icon PDF 912 KB


The Chair of the Committee welcomed the Director of Property Services of St Leger Homes of Doncaster to the meeting.


In response to questions there was discussion on the following;


Performance affected by COVID – Members acknowledged a positive outcome from COVID was that rent arrears had been dealt with more efficiently.

It was reported that access to customer’s properties was incredibly difficult during that time. The gas servicing programme required access to every home, which took a disproportionate amount of effort given the extra safety measures and different ways of communication.


Voids were a key priority to the organisation but were very challenging given the safe ways of working for trade groups meant scheduled clean downs and prolonged periods of times in homes. As social distancing is lifted this should ease.


Nationally Members understood there was a shortage of materials and prolonged delivery times, but this again should ease with the lifting of restrictions, and be a short to medium term issue. Going forward this could affect carbon zero projects, it may push costs up and lengthen projects times. It was noted that currently additional costs were being absorbed, moving forward variations would have to be applied.


Bed & Breakfast Accommodation – The Committee learnt of some circumstances that led to individuals and families being placed in Bed & Breakfast accommodation during COVID lockdown. These included, evictions, some being asked to leave by family, prison discharge, and domestic abuse. The Government directive in March 2020 was “everyone in” and, and this was achieved in Doncaster.


It was reported assistance requests had gone up significantly.

Learning from the pandemic had taken place, enabling St Leger to be able to respond to any similar emergency.


Members were informed that there were plans in place to move hotel placements into more secure accommodation, which does have its challenges as it is the individual’s choice. Some may not take up the places but work was ongoing to support them into sustained accommodation in the future.


RESOLVED that the following be noted;


The progress of SLHD performance outcomes and the contribution SLHD makes to supporting DC strategic priorities.



Performance Challenge of Doncaster Children's Services Trust: Quarter 4, 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 812 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair of the Committee welcomed the Chief Executive, Director of Corporate Resources and Company Secretary, Head of Young Peoples Services from Doncaster Children’s Services Trust to the meeting.


The Committee addressed a number of areas as set out below;


Early Intervention – It was clarified to the Committee that whilst there was a significant increase in overall contact to front door services at Childrens Social Care, there was a reduction in those that converted into a referral into social care as families were diverted into early help and preventative services.


Referrals into social care had shown evidence of hidden harm and those families were presenting at crisis point, had more complexities and likely to be cases that required Child Protection Plans, safeguarding referrals or care. The complexities were a direct result of the pandemic. 


It was noted that as the complexity of needs had gone up, the activity and work load of case workers increased.


Out of area placements – It was explained to Members that the majority of the Trust’s budget was spent on the care ladder, of which out of authority placements was a cost pressure. Key to resolving that was the Future Placement Strategy which should see the opening of additional homes this year, bringing back 8 children into the area.16+ accommodation would become regulated this year moving another 4 children into the area. Importantly it was stressed that moving children back to the Borough was the right thing to do by the children, and also the most cost effective solution.


The Committee understood that there would always be out of authority placements for various reasons, however they were reviewed regularly, with a focus on 16+ placements.


A Member felt that as well as South Yorkshire Police and other partners, Councillors could help by utilising local intelligence, and advising the Trust to ensure any new accommodation was in the right environment for looked after children.


The Trust explained plans to reduce costs outside of the care ladder such as to increase in-house foster carers and reduce their estate by possibly co-locating. Also noted was the development of a social work academy, with 3 cohorts of social workers planned for this year. Cohorts would become financially beneficial over the next few years. The Trust described ways to retain and attract social workers with increased social worker pay, and reducing costly agency social workers. Members expressed that it was the right thing to do from a child’s perspective to offer stability and continuity of social workers and it was felt that retaining our own social worker was a priority.



RESOLVED that the following be noted;


The Performance Challenge of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust Quarter 4, 2020/21.



Youth Justice Plan 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 324 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair of the Committee introduced the Head of Young Peoples Services, Doncaster Children’s Services Trust.


The following areas were then discussed;


Patterns of Offending – The Committee were advised patterns of offending had not changed through the pandemic. What was seen for a number of years relates to young people’s emotional regulation, and offences that occur when they struggle to regulate their emotions. Offences that are reported were low level violence. The Trust reported that nationally and locally there was more child criminal exploitation.


Multi Agency Approach – Members were pleased to note that the multi-agency approach was very effective, and Doncaster as a partnership resources its Youth Offending Services very well. The Trust detailed services that other areas do not have access to such as psychology services, seconded police officers and speech therapists. Children in Doncaster have access to services that have significant impact on their lives, which has the ability to prevent offending.


In response to the question it was noted that National Police National Computer data for reoffending reported Doncaster was jointly 12th lowest in UK, the best Doncaster had ever been. It was thought this was as a result of the strength of offer the service provides as well as not treating children as offenders. This was seen as an effective way of young people creating aspirations for themselves.


Education, Employment and Training – It was stated to the Committee that before COVID Doncaster had one of the best performance indicators for children in education and employment whilst subject to youth justice services, this year those figures had reduced but reflected results nationally. The Trust detailed benefits Doncaster had and other areas do not such as a careers advice service, and dedicated staff to provide support and advice so that young people have minimum barriers to opportunities. The Trust believed that by next year the performance should come back to be around the same as in previous years, as the lifting of restrictions eased.


Engagement with Youth Offending Services – Members noted that all services were delivered in Children’s homes, as COVID restrictions meant in-house provisions were not permitted. The Trust described the process a child goes through when they arrive in to the Youth Offending system such as building relationships with a Case Worker, dyslexia screening and speech and language assessment. It was explained that it was the same offer for all, but if a child did not want to do that at home, then a safe alternative space could be provided.


Speech and Language Assessment – In response to a question the Committee were informed that due to capacity and a national shortage of speech and language therapists the ability to offer preventative solutions was limited. Although it was agreed that it would be a good idea to have earlier intervention at school level.


The Chair concluded that a letter to the Mayor advising of the Committee’s support of the Youth Justice Plan should be submitted, highlighting the shortage of speech and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Edenthorpe Neighbourhood Plan - Adoption 'Making' of the Edenthorpe Neighbourhood Development Plan pdf icon PDF 347 KB


The Chair and Members of the Committee recognised the development of the plan and the work of all involved.


RESOLVED that the following be noted;


Edenthorpe Neighbourhood Plan – Adoption ‘making’ of the Edenthorpe Neighbourhood Development Plan.



Overview and Scrutiny Work Plan 2021/22 and the Council's Forward Plan of Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 348 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair welcomed comments from all the Committee Members, and each described the work of their panels going forward.




·         2021/22 Overview and Scrutiny work programme – latest version, be approved.

·         Council’s Forward Plan of key decisions, be noted.

·         Terms of Reference of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, be noted.

·         Appointment of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, be noted.