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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 1, Town Hall, Upper Street, N1 2UD. View directions

Contact: Jonathan Moore  0207 527 3308

Items
No. Item

190.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Gill and Mary Clement.

191.

Declarations of Interest

If you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest* in an item of business:

§  if it is not yet on the council’s register, you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent;

§  you may choose to declare a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest that is already in the register in the interests of openness and transparency. 

In both the above cases, you must leave the room without participating in discussion of the item.

 

If you have a personal interest in an item of business and you intend to speak or vote on the item you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent but you may participate in the discussion and vote on the item.

 

*(a) Employment, etc - Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.

(b)  Sponsorship - Any payment or other financial benefit in respect of your expenses in carrying out duties as a member, or of your election; including from a trade union.

(c) Contracts - Any current contract for goods, services or works, between you or your partner (or a body in which one of you has a beneficial interest) and the council.

(d) Land - Any beneficial interest in land which is within the council’s area.

(e) Licences- Any licence to occupy land in the council’s area for a month or longer.

(f)   Corporate tenancies - Any tenancy between the council and a body in which you or your partner have a beneficial interest.

 (g) Securities - Any beneficial interest in securities of a body which has a place of business or land in the council’s area, if the total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body or of any one class of its issued share capital. 

 

This applies to all members present at the meeting.

Minutes:

None.

192.

Declaration of Substitute Members

Minutes:

None.

193.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 160 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:
That the minutes of the meeting held on 21 November 2016 be confirmed as a correct record and the Chair be authorised to sign them.

194.

Chair's Report

Minutes:

The Chair reported that the scrutiny visit to the Lift Youth Hub had been helpful and expressed her thanks to the young people and officers who attended.

 

It was advised that officers had circulated a revised list of performance indicators to members of the Committee for comment. The Chair reminded members to comment on the performance indicators by the end of January. 

195.

Items for Call In (if any)

Minutes:

None.

196.

Public Questions

Minutes:

Ernestas Jegorovas queried the progress of reducing energy usage in schools, commenting that increased energy efficiency would contribute to savings targets. It was advised that ten schools had installed photovoltaic panels however there had been no further installations since the reduction in the feed-in tariff in January 2016. It was noted that the Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee had previously reviewed the community energy work in the borough and would be monitoring progress as part of the scrutiny process.   

 

 

197.

Post-16 Education, Employment and Training: Witness Evidence pdf icon PDF 264 KB

To include:

 

a)    Mer-IT (voluntary organisation)

b)    Groundwork London (charity)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

a)    Evidence from Mer-IT

 

The Committee received a presentation from Mercedes and Alex from Mer-IT, a small community organisation which provided training, work experience and workshops to young people and others.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         Mer-IT worked to develop the skills and experience of young people by providing free ICT training and other computer-based opportunities. The organisation also worked with unemployed people, older people and people with learning disabilities.

·         The organisation offered a five day course focused on repairing broken laptops. Participants were able to keep the repaired laptop on completion of the course. 

·         Mer-IT operated a community repair service, where young people working with the organisation offered free laptop repairs to the local community. It was commented that this supported community cohesion and helped young people to develop their interpersonal skills. 

·         All young people working with the organisation were offered one day of work experience at a refurbishment warehouse.

·         Mer-IT commented on how they worked with young people who were difficult to engage with. It was suggested that offering an incentive, such as a free laptop, encouraged these young people to participate in extra-curricular activities. It was also considered important to offer practical knowledge and experience which young people could apply in their daily lives.

·         It was commented that small community organisations faced barriers to providing their services. In particular, having insufficient time to complete funding applications and receiving income inconsistently meant that it was difficult to plan and implement long-term projects. As a result it was sometimes not possible to offer support consistently.

·         Mer-IT accepted 12 people per course and would work with between 50 and 60 young people over summer each year. The organisation had been running for three years and had a waiting list of around 100 people.

·         The Chair commented on the importance of small community organisations in supporting the development of young people and queried how the council could best support such organisations. In response, it was advised that community groups were able to engage with the council’s community and voluntary sector development officers, who could provide advice and guidance on funding and other aspects of running a community organisation.

·         In response to a question, it was advised that Mer-IT did not offer formally accredited courses.

·         Although Mer-IT did not work with schools on a regular basis, the organisation had worked with 12 pupils from Highbury Fields School who faced various challenges.

·         A member of the public queried if Mer-IT monitored the progress of young people who participated in their courses. It was advised that routine monitoring did not take place, however it was known that some young people had since taken up ICT-related employment. The organisation had received feedback from young people that they would like workshops to run on a more regular basis.

 

The Committee thanked Mercedes and Alex for their attendance.

 

b)    Evidence from Groundwork London

 

The Committee received a presentation from David Williams, NEET Achievement Coach Manager, on the work of Groundwork in supporting young  ...  view the full minutes text for item 197.

198.

Post-16 Education, Employment and Training: Notes of Scrutiny Visit pdf icon PDF 151 KB

Minutes:

Noted.

 

199.

Islington Safeguarding Children Board: Annual Report pdf icon PDF 190 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by Alan Caton, Independent Chair of the Islington Safeguarding Children Board.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         Safeguarding children was a challenging and complex area of work and the Safeguarding Children Board worked to ensure the effectiveness of local safeguarding mechanisms. It was emphasised that safeguarding children was everybody’s responsibility.

·         The safeguarding issues affecting children in Islington included neglect, child sexual exploitation, and domestic violence. The Board was also acutely aware of the increase in serious youth violence in recent years and had developed a multi-agency gang protocol to support interventions which sought to prevent and minimise gang violence.

·         The Board had been reassured by an independent review that the council’s Early Help services were effective and well-funded; however the Chair of the Safeguarding Children Board emphasised the importance of continuing to monitor the progress of such services.

·         The importance of listening to children and young people was highlighted, particularly in the context of child protection conferences.  The Chair of the Safeguarding Children Board had met with the Youth Council alongside partners from the Metropolitan Police to talk about knife crime and other issues.

·         It was noted that very few private fostering arrangements were known to the council. The Chair of the Safeguarding Children Board commented that there were likely to be many such arrangements which were not known to local agencies and highlighted the safeguarding risks associated with private fostering. The Safeguarding Children Board had called for Islington Council to be proactive in investigating such arrangements.

·         The Board considered that health partners should be further involved in children’s social care strategy discussions, as health colleagues were only involved in four out of ten instances. Systems had since been implemented to improve this.

·         Two serious case reviews had taken place in 2015/16 and work was underway to disseminate learning from those reviews. A review of knife crime had recently been completed.

·         The Chair of the Safeguarding Children Board advised that changes to safeguarding frameworks had been proposed through the Children and Social Work Bill. It was important to ensure that oversight of local safeguarding arrangements remained robust through any transition period.

·         The Committee commended the Safeguarding Board for producing a focused report which clearly communicated the safeguarding achievements and risks in Islington.

·         It was queried how local agencies were working to tackle CSE in the borough. In response, it was advised that there had been too few successful prosecutions in the past and work was underway to both raise awareness of CSE and to bring perpetrators to justice.

·         It was queried how effective working relationships were between local agencies involved in safeguarding. In response, it was advised that it had previously been a challenge to engage the CPS in safeguarding issues however this was improving.

·         It was commented that a recent inspection of the Metropolitan Police’s safeguarding activity had been particularly poor and it was hoped that their safeguarding procedures would improve as a result.

·         In response to a query on how to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 199.

200.

Safeguarding Children Annual Report pdf icon PDF 208 KB

Minutes:

The report was presented by Finola Culbert, Director of Targeted and Specialist Children and Families Services.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         There had been an increase in contacts and referrals to children’s services which reflected trends across London. It was understood that this was a result of greater awareness of child safeguarding issues. Safeguarding cases had also increased in complexity, which was thought to be a national trend. 

·         It was reported that 79% of assessments were completed within 45 days, which officers considered to be a good level of performance. Although the report indicated that there had been an increase in waiting times for initial conferences, it was commented that this issue had since been resolved.

·         The number of repeat child protection plans was very high in 2015/16; however an audit had found that the majority of children subject to repeat plans had their previous plan several years ago. Officers were satisfied that this increase could not have been anticipated.

·         Whilst officers were not satisfied with the number of known private fostering arrangements, it was commented that the council was largely reliant on other agencies reporting such arrangements. The council was encouraging its services and other agencies to ask young people about their living arrangements.

·         The reduction in the number of Children Looked After in Islington was more significant than the reductions experienced by Islington’s statistical neighbours. It was commented that the current cohort of looked after children was older than previous cohorts due to an increase in the number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children, who were usually teenage.  

·         It was advised that there was no limit to social worker caseloads; however Ofsted expected a maximum of 15 cases per worker, which the council was achieving on average. It was reported that newly qualified social workers had a caseload of around 12 cases, with more experienced workers taking on more cases.

·         It was reported that the Safeguarding Children Board had reviewed the council’s practices in relation to young people being kept in police custody overnight and this was contributing to ongoing judicial review proceedings. It was suggested that the issues raised through the judicial review were not unique to Islington. 

·         Islington was the lead authority for the North London ‘Step Up to Social Work’ programme which sought to recruit new social workers. It was hoped that this would reduce the number of agency staff employed by the service, which was around 20%

·         Following a question related to the judicial review, it was advised that the number of young people in custody who met the criteria for overnight accommodation was very low.

 

The Committee thanked Finola Culbert for her attendance. 

 

201.

Executive Member Questions pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, answered questions related to his portfolio.

 

Following a question, the Executive Member expressed his frustration with the lack of progress from central government on county lines drug dealing. It was advised that this issue was well known to London Boroughs and the surrounding County Councils which were mapping arrests and compiling data, however a centralised approach was needed. The Executive Member suggested that the Home Office had not given the issue sufficient priority and was not considering the issue from a safeguarding perspective.

 

The Committee queried the impact of the campaign against the Ladbroke House Free School. In response, the Executive Member commented that the concerns of the council and the community had not been addressed and therefore it was essential to campaign publicly on the issue. It was reported that a feasibility document revealed through a Freedom of Information request did not make reference to either Highbury Fields or Highbury Grove schools.

 

Ernestas Jegorovas queried if Islington would take up the offer from central government to fund Mental Health First Aid training in schools. In response, it was advised that the council already offered free Mental Health First Aid training to anyone who lived, worked or studied in the borough; however additional resources for this from central government would be welcomed.

 

The Committee thanked Councillor Caluori for his attendance.  

 

202.

Review of Work Programme pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Minutes:

Noted.