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20 December 2021

Updates from Board members including safeguarding update

The young people’s team met in November with one of the Board members - Nathan Nagaiah. The young people raised that they would like opportunities to meet Board members more regularly to discuss challenges they face and the changes that happen to services i.e. when Children's Centres close. It was therefore suggested that each Director “adopt” a youth organisation. Two Board members, Nathan Nagaiah and Nikki Craig will complete a report and update the Board at a future Board member around youth engagement.

The Chair, Sian Wicks, provided a brief overview of her “in touch” visits to Health Teams in RBK, LBR and RBWM. Key challenges being faced are how does the workforce move forward from the pandemic. A report has gone to RBWM commissioners which outlines the RBWM health visiting service is at a critical point with regard to staffing / health professionals shortage and pay / reward benefits. It was noted that in terms of caseloads an average there should be no more than 400; there are currently 600 cases per member of staff in this area.

Audit and Risk Committee update

The Chairperson of the Audit and Risk Committee provided an update to the Board on the recent A&R meeting.


  • HR transition project - recruitment systems and payroll in place and working well.
  • Internal audit - good report for RBK and LBR; no report for internal audit for RBWM due to auditors to be in place from April 2022.
  • Treasury plan - submitted to the three Councils for approval.
  • Annual reports and accounts - timetable is good which will ensure accounts are finalised in July 2022 and submitted in a timely manner to Companies House. Following a tender process, new auditors have been approached and it is hoped to appoint during January 2022.
  • Information Governance - small number of subject access requests, FOIs received. Accountability framework and alignment being monitored.
  • Risk - three areas are currently at risk - sufficiency strategy, the financial aspect of the SEND Futures Plan and General Fund budget with pressures on demand and pressures on reduced costs. All areas have action plans in place and work continues.
  • Procurement - two extensions to contracts agreed and one paper to be redrafted and return to A&RC for approval.
  • Policies - work ongoing, with appropriate training and communication monitored by managers.

Health strategy discussion

The Director of Children’s Services for RBK and LBR presented the Health Strategy slides to the board and gave an overview to get some collective thinking from the Board. The Board was reminded of the three current commissioned areas and the service provision map with RBK being the biggest area. There are 42 integrated care systems covering the whole of England which must be in place by 1/4/2022; the governance arrangements will be in place for April 2022 and clear protocols on how the funding will be delegated. There will not be a fully operational integrated care system by 1/4/22. The first 18 months of the ICS being in place will be about developing the system and then new working arrangements will be in place.

The Board discussed options and an opportunity to level up. More work to be done on this by Directors of Children’s Services - RBK/LBR and RBWM and the senior leadership teams.

AfC general fund budget

Board members were taken through the AfC General Fund Budget by the Chief Operating Officer. Areas covered included key inflation risks, commissioning spend and sufficiency strategy, risk and mitigations, controllable and demand-led growth. A piece of work will be carried out to look at current placements and see whether there can be any adjustments made. All three councils have been reasonable with their budget allocations especially with the pandemic. Additional funding that councils get can be bid for by AfC.