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Agenda item


To consider the controls being implemented to manage the strategic risk relating to change management.


The Committee considered the controls being implemented to manage the strategic risk related to change management.


Unfunded new burdens


Consideration was given first to the associated risk of unfunded new burdens. Ms Karen Smith, Director of Adult Services reported that in terms of mitigation, in addition to more general measures such as analysis of previous patterns and trends, the Transforming Care agenda was the primary tool designed to address adult complex needs and provide better outcomes at reduced cost to the Authority and partners. Through local steering groups and regional meetings, it was hoped that positive changes would continue to be made to the care system and result in needs being met in the community rather than relying on distant and expensive placements. The Committee noted that work was ongoing with partners to collectively meet unfunded needs, though it was acknowledged that any form of care provision involved an element of uncertainty.


With regards to implementing change, members of the Committee suggested that possibly a programme of championing change managers could be beneficial as a means of driving changes.  Following a question about how pilot programmes were evaluated in terms of their effectiveness and future suitability, Ms Smith advised that formal evaluation exercises were undertaken which would involve in-house evaluation along with those carried out by some academic institutions. From these evaluations, impact statements were often produced as a summary of how successful any given pilot programme had been.


Mrs Diane Booth, Director of Children’s Services reported that in order to address unfunded burdens within her department,  a piece of work entitled ‘journey of the child’ had begun with the primary aim of reducing the numbers of young people entering care and providing better support to those leaving care.  The plan centred round reducing demand for services, increasing the quality of existing provision, changing cultures and assessing sufficiency. A review of the current care cohort was underway and a complete review of sufficiency was expected to be completed this year.


Demand management was cited as a key element of the work and Mrs Booth suggested that partners also had a key role to play in supporting this. One of the challenges was the need for a gradual cultural shift to allow for greater flexibility and staff resilience which it was hoped would ultimately improve service delivery and affordability.


In response to further more general questions from the Committee regarding additional mitigation measures, Mrs Booth advised that less use of agency staff, better levels of management oversight and more in depth auditing of case work would all help to improve service effectiveness. In addition, it was reported that better working relationships with partners, use of external consultants and receipt of help and advice from regional neighbours would further help to ensure key risks continued to be mitigated. With reference to the results of the Dartington research designed to inform future service provision, it was noted that a tool had been developed to aid in forecasting the impact of strategic changes based on a variety of factors.


Unpredictability of Legal Rulings


Mr Mark Towers, Director of Governance and Partnerships reported to the Committee on the controls being implemented to manage the risks related to the unpredictability of legal rulings. In terms of what was being done in Blackpool on how to minimise similar risks, he explained that there was a weekly review of legal cases which were reported to the wider legal services and clients as appropriate. The Public Protection and Legal teams within the Council which continued to work proactively to pre-empt potential risks and develop measures designed to offset future threats.


Insurance claims


Mr Steve Thompson, Director of Resources, reported on the controls being implemented with regard to insurance coverage and the financial risk exposure arising due to sensitive claims. He explained that the landscape of insurance changed regularly and the challenge was to keep ahead of those changes and to minimise the potential for claims. Elements had been added to bolster the Council’s insurance coverage that included sections on cyber-security threats and medical malpractice. The Director of Resources explained that through various networks, use of advisors, systematic internal audit work and an accumulation of reserves, it was anticipated that any emerging insurance risks would be adequately prepared for.


Looked after Children (LAC) numbers and Child Protection Plans


The Director of Children’s Services reported on the controls with regard to the number of looked after children and child protection cases. It was explained as an example that the issue of care leavers represented a substantial challenge in terms of appropriate provision and levels of cost. When questioned about those issues across the UK more generally, Mrs Booth advised that the situation was similar in most parts of the country with children’s services departments overspending in many local authorities. So despite some successes in terms of reducing demand and developing a comprehensive sufficiency strategy, there remained room for further improvement.


Members questioned the significant costs associated with child placements, particularly those outside of the Borough and what could be done to address the issue. Mrs Booth reassured the Committee that despite the costs, local placements were always utilised first with all other options exhausted before the decision to use external placements was taken. It was reported that Blackpool was also on the membership of a national forum designed to tackle the issue of excessive placement costs. It was reported that additional work to promote foster parenting was being explored which could lead to further reductions in the use of external placements.


Devolution of services and partnership working


Mr Mark Towers, Director of Governance and Partnerships reported on the controls with regard to the devolution of services and partnership working. He explained that following a recent audit, work was being progressed to create a corporate framework, to provide a consistent approach, particularly as the momentum of the shared service agenda increased. Through the Good Governance Group, various networks and through periodic auditing, the situation would be monitored. A draft framework had been prepared which was due to be considered by the Good Governance Group in due course.

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