Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Office

Contact: Christine Rothwell  Tel. 01302 735682

No. Item


Apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Majid Khan, David Nevett, Bev Chapman and Bernadette Nesbit.


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




Declarations of Interest, if any.


A declaration of interest was declared by Councillor Jane Kidd by virtue that she works for the voluntary sector.



Minutes from the meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee held on the 4th February 2021 and the 24th June 2021. pdf icon PDF 168 KB

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The minutes of the meetings held on 4th February and 24th June, 2021 were agreed as a correct record.



Public Statements


There were no public statements made.



2021/2022 - Quarter 1 Finance and Performance Improvement Report pdf icon PDF 1 MB

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The Director of Corporate Resources provided an overview and highlighted that it had been a challenging period.  As national restrictions had lifted, the authority had managed the transition and recognised the health and safety of staff, customers and those using services who still required protection from Covid-19. It was also noted that the pandemic had an impact on service delivery and the long-term performance implications for some services would need to be carefully monitored and performance indicators may alter as a result.


Key areas impacted as a result of Covid-19 were highlighted as;


  • Domestic Violence.
  • Waste Collection.
  • Fly Tipping.


Areas that performed well were:


  • Business Rates Collection.
  • Council Tax Collection.
  • Directing spend within the local community.


Members were informed that the authority’s financial position was described as being balanced, having utilised resources given from government.  It was outlined that going forward there would need to be a detailed look at the challenges faced by services, and the implications on performance and resulting costs.


Councillors explored the following topics in more detail;




Potential risks In response to a question around potential risk, it was explained that there were three risk areas for the Council’s budget identified in the last quarter. 


An update on each was provided as follows;


1.     Children – there were unprecedented numbers of children referred to the service with increased costs for direct placements and social work support.  It was explained that this leads to delays in delivering savings as a result of the focus on children needing protection.  Members were reminded how the Future Placement Strategy, which sought to develop further provision within the borough had been delayed, and in the current market it was proving to be increasingly more challenging to deliver.


2.     Environment – Members heard that as a result of more people being at home, waste levels had increased since lockdown and the waste collection service had also experienced staffing challenges due to Covid and HGV driver shortages.  Fly tipping levels continued to be a challenge and additional resources had been introduced to manage this effectively.


3.     Business rates – It was recognised that whilst we need to monitor closely, performance in quarter 1 demonstrated that the top 50 largest businesses were on track to meet payment requirements.  Members were informed that consideration was currently being given to those on tapering arrangements to ensure they maintain pre-covid payment levels.  It was concluded that overall, the collection and payment rates were now at a pre-covid level.


4.     Sickness indicator – The committee noted an increase of absence and it was explained the authority set a challenging target due to low levels of sickness last year. It was reported that there were a number of staff on maternity leave and the workforce had become tired as a result of the pandemic.


5.     Staff Sickness and Long Covid – A Member raised concern about the impact of Long Covid on staff performance, and the future analysis of overall sickness and Covid related sickness within  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.


St Leger Homes of Doncaster Ltd (SLHD) Performance & Delivery Update 2021/2022 Quarter 1 (Q1) pdf icon PDF 832 KB


The Chair of the Committee welcomed the Chief Executive of St Leger Homes, Dave Richmond to the meeting.


In response to questions there was discussion on the following;


Re-letting Properties – It was recognised that the indicators for rent loss, total number of voids and time taken to re-let voids showed an improving trend.  Members were informed of a number of properties that would not be re-let due to reasons such as demolition and it was reported that the total number of voids had been improving significantly over the previous 6-9 months. It was hoped that the number of voids would reduce further making Doncaster comparative to other organisations in other areas.


It was noted that the challenges to turn properties around were:


·       Condition of properties being in poor state of repair.

·       Covid restrictions affecting the number of operatives allowed inside a property at one time.

·       Supply of materials.

·       Customer’s decision to decline properties offered.


A Member was keen to understand the reasons why more properties were being handed back in a poor state.  It was explained that many tenants did not provide the required notice period to end their tenancy, returning keys on the day they leave and therefore preventing a final check taking place on the property.  Further reasons included tenants with more challenging lifestyles and poverty was also viewed as a contributing factor.


The Committee enquired about the refurbishment costs or best estimates of the damaged homes be provided.


Impact of Covid-19 – The impacts of Covid-19 on working practices at St Leger Homes Doncaster were identified as an issue, in addition to difficulties experienced by those in trades due to the supply of materials because of haulage issues.


Hotel Placements and Temporary Accommodation – It was explained significant progress was made to reduce numbers of people in hotel placements during the quarter.  Members heard how there had been a significant rise in the number of people fearing they would be made homeless (St Leger Homes Doncaster having received 2000 referrals a month, compared with 500 per month during the same time last year).  It was acknowledged that increased pressure had been placed on temporary accommodation with 99 households in temporary accommodation.   It was explained that in order to manage increased workloads, St Leger Homes Doncaster had worked extensively with both the Council and colleagues.  Members were assured that in order to help with additional pressures, teams were fully staffed with additional resources also being provided and workloads reallocated.   It was recognised that during Covid lockdowns, properties had not churned as normal and people, particularly families, had not given up tenancies meaning there were fewer opportunities to place people into larger homes. The Committee wished to note their concerns that homelessness cases were increasing.


RESOLVED that the Committee note the progress of St Leger Homes Doncaster performance outcomes and the contribution made to support Doncaster Council strategic priorities.



Performance Challenge of Doncaster Children's Services Trust Quarter 1, 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

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The Chair of the Committee welcomed James Thomas, Chief Executive and Rob Moore Director of Corporate Resources and Company Secretary of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust.


The Committee considered the following areas as set out below;


Front Door Referrals – It was reported that there were 6134 contacts received during Quarter 1 to social care front door services, which were made up of requests for guidance or information, or people considering the need to make a referral because of concerns for a child or family. The Committee noted the process after initial contact made which included a multi-agency triage approach and then an initial decision made as to whether the response required a referral, early help intervention, another agency response, advice and guidance provided or redirecting people to other organisations.


In terms of how children or families met the thresholds for a referral, it was explained that there were four threshold levels (universal, levels 2 and 3 are an enhanced service and then statutory intervention).


Members were informed that most contacts came from the police and this was perhaps due to their protocols and the nature of the incidents being dealt with.


Parent and Family Support Services – In response to a question, it was confirmed that PAFSS had remained open and continued to practice during Covid-19, with a reduction in referrals being experienced during the first lockdown.  It was continued that when referrals were made, an increasing number had higher complexities, with more children being referred to level 4 due to the complexities of their needs.  It was explained that the pathways into a service did not change during lockdowns, so that schools and professionals could make contact in the same way with an opportunity to see if early help was the right pathway.


Children Taken into Care – It was explained that the increase of children taken into care (when there had been a reduction in social care referrals) was because the complexity of needs within the home of those presenting to front door services had increased during the lockdown period. It was also noted that families presented with delayed need or increased complexities required a response at a higher level.


Child Protection Plan – The Committee were advised that a child protection plan was the step before child protection proceedings were actioned and the increase in children subject to a plan was due to the families presenting having more complex issues. It was also acknowledged that those that required a higher level of response were new to the system or had required involvement some time ago, therefore presenting with new need.


In-House Foster Costs – In terms of the costs of foster care, it was reported that using in-house foster carers was the preferred option because they provide a better service to children and families and were also financially better for the authority. It was stressed that it was a challenging environment but the hope was to move the ratio of foster carers used to 75% in-house  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Complaints and Compliments Annual Report 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 359 KB

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The Chair of the Committee welcomed Dulcie Aulton, Head of Customer Service at Doncaster Council, Dawn Jones, Customer Experience Manager from Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, Carl Lewis, Head of Communications at Doncaster Culture Leisure Trust and Louise Robson, Customer and Communications Manager for St Leger Homes Doncaster.


The Committee discussed the following topic areas;


Impact on Complaints and Compliments ­– Members were advised that during the pandemic, complaints and compliments functions continued to operate across all four organisations and each experienced a reduction in complaints.  It was explained that due to staff working on Covid response, the time taken to resolve a complaint was on average longer than pre-pandemic.  Members heard how there were rise and falls in the number of complaints during the lockdowns with an increase in compliments both internally and externally.


Types of Compliments and Complaints – The types of complaints the organisation received were noted as;


·       Doncaster Council reported a reduction in complaints overall, in further detail;

i)            Waste and Recycling saw a reduction by 20% even though the service faced numerous challenges.

ii)           During Quarter 4, there was an increase in complaints in relation to Household Waste Recycling Sites being closed and traffic management around the sites once they had reopened.

iii)         Adults Health & Wellbeing saw a 30% reduction, the complaints received were about house visits and Personal Protective Equipment.

·       Doncaster Children’s Services Trust noted a 150% increase in complaints around family time arrangements that resulted in the Trust working with families to offer solutions.

·       St Leger Homes Doncaster received a marginal increase in complaints about the length of time that repairs took due to a supply and materials issue.  It was added that during 2021 there had been a reduction in complaints received.

·       Doncaster Culture Leisure Trust received complaints about payments for memberships during lockdown, and a decrease in complaints about cleanliness of facilities.


Members were pleased to hear that the compliments received were heartfelt thanks from residents in relation to a positive response during the pandemic.


Management of Complaints – Members acknowledged that this was the third annual complaint and compliments report and as each year passes and as it evolves, all four organisations continue to work more closely together in the management of complaints to achieve a consistent response. It was acknowledged that the most significant factor from working together was how all four organisations collectively used feedback and identified lessons learnt, capturing any trends that appeared and addressing them at an earlier stage.


Councillors online – A Member referenced the Councillor online process and communication about complaints, it was suggested that there could be a workshop to support Members to develop a better understanding of the process and how it can be developed further.


RESOLVED that the Complaint and Compliment Report for the period 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021 be received and noted.



Overview and Scrutiny Work Plan 2021/22 and the Council's Forward Plan of Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 690 KB

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The Chair welcomed comments from Members of the Committee who were Chairs or Vice Chairs, and each provided an update of the work of their Panels and summarised what they would be looking at over the coming months.




The 2021/22 Overview and Scrutiny work programme was noted and approved; and

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