Agenda and minutes

Healthier Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 3rd July, 2023 10.00 am

Venue: Hybrid - Neuadd Cyngor Ceredigion, Penmorfa, Aberaeron / remotely via video conferrence

No. Item


Welcome and Apologies


i.    Councillor Carl Worrall apologised for having to leave the meeting early.

ii.   Councillor John Roberts apologised for his inability to attend the meeting due to other Council commitments.

iii.  Councillors Elaine Evans and Sian Maehrlein apologised for their inability to attend the meeting.

iv. Donna Pritchard, Corporate Lead Officer- Porth Gofal and Greg Jones, Interim Corporate Lead Officer- Porth Cymorth Cynnar apologised for their inability to attend the meeting.


Disclosures of personal interest (including whipping declarations) Members are reminded of their personal responsibility to declare any personal and prejudicial interest in respect of matters contained in this agenda in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act 2000, the Council's Constitution and the Members Code of Conduct. In addition, Members must declare any prohibited party whip which the Member has been given in relation to the meeting as per the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011.


Audrey Somerton-Edwards, Interim Corporate Lead Officer- Porth Cynnal declared a personal interest in item 3, in accordance with the Code of Conduct for Local Government Employees.


Recruitment Challenges in Through Age Wellbeing Services pdf icon PDF 255 KB


Councillor Alun Williams (Cabinet Member for Through Age and Wellbeing) presented an update to the Committee on Recruitment and Retention of Social Care Staff. The Council had a legal duty to provide safe statutory services for those most in need within the communities of Ceredigion. Whilst responsibility for this ultimately lied with the Council’s Statutory Director of Social Services (SDSS), there was an organisational responsibility to support the SDSS to ensure these responsibilities were discharged effectively and in a manner that resulted in a safe service.


The risk of not having a safe service would at worst present a risk to life in terms of service users, and significant financial risk and toll on staff capacity should the council be placed into special measures. Whilst agency staff were used within the local authority’s social care structures, where recruitment was challenging, the cost of doing so represented value for money given the safe service that they were critical to maintaining. Agency staff were carefully selected and managed well to ensure the needs of the council and of service users were met. The challenge to recruitment in social care was nationally and was likely to remain so without a significant focus on the issues from Welsh Government.


Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) inspected the local authority’s adults and children’s services in March 2023. Following a robust inspection, an extremely positive report was provided with many examples of the significant good work that took place every day and citing the strong senior leadership that was in place. They also acknowledged areas for improvement that the local authority presented to them and confirmed that there were no areas of no compliance.


The recruitment and retention of an appropriately sized workforce was one of the most significant challenges facing local government and the public sector in general, with increased vacancy rates across all areas. As well as explaining the challenges in detail, the report also captured the ways in which the council was being innovative and creative in attempting to respond to them. The ability to attract and retain talent was critical to maintaining a skilled workforce capable of delivering quality services to the local authority’s communities. The Council employed a workforce of around 3,700 employees, to a fulltime equivalent workforce of around 2,600 employees, largely female based at approximately 66%.


The recruitment and retention in the local authority’s Through Age Wellbeing social care services had proved to be increasingly challenging, especially over the past 18 months, post-Covid period. These services employed a workforce of around 700 employees, a full-time equivalent workforce of 500 and a higher than the corporate average female workforce percentage of 74%. Of these roles, 240 were supporting statutory services and vacancy levels in these roles were currently at 45 (19%), and 21 of these were occupied by agency staff. Of the remaining 460 roles, vacancy levels were at 88 (19%) but only 9 of these were occupied by agency staff, in residential homes and Enablement team.


The agency staff covering statutory  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Direct Payments Support Service pdf icon PDF 1 MB


Consideration was given to the Direct Payments Support Service Progress Report. A Direct Payment was money awarded by a Local Authority to allow Service Users to arrange their own package of care. Direct Payments could be offered to anyone who had been assessed as eligible to receive community care services. Once assessed, an individual must be offered the choice of a direct payment. The amount allowed depended on how much and what assistance was required and this would all be included in the care plan produced by the assessor. Some chose to use a care agency instead. Local authorities were required to provide support and assistance to people to manage their Direct Payment and employment responsibilities. This was the role of the Direct Payments Support Service.


Audit Wales has described the benchmark characteristics of a local authority that effectively encouraged, managed and supported people to use Direct Payments. An overview of the Current Situation was provided as noted in the report.


It was agreed to note the information and update on developments within the Direct Payment Support Service.


A report on the Housing Register pdf icon PDF 804 KB


Councillor Matthew Vaux (Cabinet Member for Partnerships, Housing, Legal and Governance and Public Protection) explained that the purpose of the report was to provide information on the Housing Register’s application process, the banding and the links and benefits involved. It was highlighted that the information captured helped the service identify trends, for reflection within the Policy and the Housing Strategy.


Llyr Hughes provided a presentation to the Committee, outlining the following:

·       Purpose of the Register/ Service Demands

·       Partners

·       Application Process & Policies/ Registers

·       Common Allocation Policy & Banding

·       Applications- 01/04/2022 to 31/03/2023

·       Current Breakdown of Current Banding

·       Reasons for Move

·       Allocations - 01/04/2022 to 31/03/2023

·       Contact Details


Members were provided with the opportunity to ask questions which were answered by Llyr Hughes, Cerys Purches-Phillips and Councillor Matthew Vaux. The main points raised were as follows:

·       In response to queries about the need to renew housing applications annually, it was noted that this was to ensure information was current and correct and there was still a housing need. There was a robust mechanism in place to ensure every attempt was made to contact applicants when their renewal was due, and it was key that details were correct in the event an offer of accommodation was made.

·       Registered Social Landlords held responsibility for tenancy management, as opposed to the local authority, who held responsibility for pre-tenancy. Members were encouraged to contact the relevant housing association if there were issues to report.

·       The importance of not having pre-conceptions on social housing allocation was highlighted; there was a policy and process to follow including meeting the local connections criteria to ensure applications were banded appropriately.

·       There was no evidence to suggest there was increased homelessness following the introduction of Rent Smart Wales, but anecdotal information suggested landlords were leaving the market.


Following questions by the Committee Members, it was agreed to note the report.


To consider the Forward Work Plan 2023/2024 pdf icon PDF 170 KB


It was agreed to note the contents of the Forward Work Programme presented subject to the following:

·       Extend an invitation to local registered social landlords (Barcud, Wales and West Housing and Caredig) to address the Committee (March 2024)

·       Update on Hywel Dda University Health Board mental health services


Minutes of the previous Meeting and any matters arising therefrom pdf icon PDF 89 KB


It was agreed to confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 24 May 2023.


Matters arising: None.