West Midlands Regional Update June 2018
Regional Improvement Alliance
Since the last report, the regional governance group for the improvement programme has met. It has agreed a number of issues relating to data sharing with other parties including Children’s Trusts, escalation arrangements, clarifying the roles of different parties and agreeing the funding principles for future regional working.
The LGA Leadership Essentials regional programme for lead members and scrutiny chairs is well advanced, and the next event is in June. A central theme of the regional improvement programme is about raising the ambition for children and young people, and this will be a thread through all the work.
The region does not have a PiP but does have a number of good authorities. Staffordshire is now on the DfE framework and is playing an active part in the regional improvement work. The region is in discussion with the DfE about regional support from the PiP programme and will be advising that more work needs to be done on the communication of the offer, which is currently by PiP rather than by support need making it more difficult to establish the best partnering arrangements.
Two councils in the region have had a focussed visit under the new inspection arrangements. Both have been positive and helpful in improving services further and reinforcing strengths and good practice.
Strategic Migration Partnership
The region was successful in being awarded £1.9m of regional funding as well as some individual LA funding, to strengthen knowledge, skills and services for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
One of the funding principles in the region is the delegation of funding to other parts of the system to build capacity, resilience and sustainability. Every local authority will be accessing new funding through this approach and the voluntary and community sector will be accessing nearly £0.5m. One resulting advantage of this is that a number of voluntary sector organisations are looking to combine approaches and develop one that is more sustainable.
Public Health colleagues are leading on the development of a multi-level training programme which will establish a consistent understanding across education, health and care.
The business plan has now been approved and the funding released, so the region will be in a position to start reporting further positive action over the next few months.
The region has recently had very positive meetings with all the HEIs in the region to establish a single teaching partnership approach – no mean feat in an environment where there is no tradition of the HEIs working together on a regional footprint, and where there were two teaching partnerships and a third emerging one.
Social worker supply, particularly in the north and south of the region is challenging for particular roles. This is created in part by the significant packages that are on offer for permanent staff in authorities that are in intervention within and outside the region. Turbulence is also being caused by pay rates, outside the cap, which are offered by authorities in neighbouring regions and are enticing staff out of the West Midlands.
The recent national ADCS Workforce Policy Committee meeting about MOUs and agency staff was helpful and we support the further national activity on this.
Managing Risk and Demand
The region has made a small step forward in bringing together health, adult care and children’s colleagues to focus on tackling some issues together rather than apart. We held a joint leadership workshop at the end of April which has identified some potential projects for further work together.
We are also exploring how we can harness community strength and resilience to reduce risk and demand for all our services. We are not sure how yet but getting everyone in the same room together across the region was a powerful start.
The region has had regional commissioning frameworks in place for residential and fostering placements for a number of years. These are now reaching the end of their life-cycle, and due to the changes in demand, need and people in leadership roles, the region is looking afresh at how to commission collectively to best effect. One of the sobering facts is that only 35% of residential placements are made through the existing frameworks – so whilst the framework has been successful in managing price for those placements, 65% of commissioning choices have been at enhanced costs and there are a number of questions about quality. Part of our regional work therefore is considering how we future-proof longer-term commissioning arrangements so that they keep up with need and changing thinking.
Finally, in a widely dispersed region, we know we need better arrangements for people to keep in touch and to stay abreast of what is going on in the region. We have invested in a new website https://www.teamwm.org.uk which we hope will help us do that. It will also be a place where we will share practice, approaches and links to other resources which we are learning from.
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