Scrutiny

Stockton-on-Tees Town Hall

A national lockdown is in place which means you must stay at home.

For information about the rules, any disruptions to Council services, how to book a COVID-19 test and the support available for residents and businesses visit www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus

Scrutiny helps ensure that local people receive high quality services and involves the Council's Select Committees checking that the services and policies meet the needs of local people according to the Council’s own aims and standards.

The Council has five themed Select Committees comprising nine Councillors on each (politically balanced). Some Select Committees also have non-Councillor co-opted members.

Select Committees examine, review and challenge the work of the Council – in essence, a watchdog role. They cannot make decisions, but do make recommendations to the Council and other organisations.  

 

Executive Scrutiny Committee

Scrutiny provides Councillors who are not part of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s decision-making Cabinet the opportunity to review decisions, policies and performance that affect the Borough.

Scrutiny is a Councillor-led process which helps to ensure that the Council's services and policies meet the needs of local people according to the Council's own aims and standards. The Executive Scrutiny Committee co-ordinates the Scrutiny Work Programme, providing a strategic steer for the work of the Select Committees.

In light of events surrounding the ongoing global pandemic, the Executive Scrutiny Committee will receive updates on the Council’s response to and recovery from COVID-19.

 

Adult Social Care and Health Select Committee

Review of Hospital Discharge

The NHS provides broad guidance around hospital discharge and each hospital has its own discharge policy. There is a good track record of current local practice providing timely and appropriate discharge of patients, though some concerns have been raised around isolated cases of elderly family and residents being discharged from hospital without the appropriate support and care. This review provides an opportunity to check that current discharge arrangements are robust and whether any aspects could be strengthened.

A further related issue that has been highlighted involves circumstances where a person’s main carer goes into hospital and there is a need to ensure that the person left at home has the support they need. When their carer is discharged and may not be well enough to take care of them properly, it is vital that the Council’s Adult Social Care service is aware of the situation and can put any necessary safeguards in place.

In related matters (though separate from the above), this review will also briefly examine the impact of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic on hospital discharge to care homes, an issue which has gained national attention following the UK Government’s response to a surge of hospital admissions in March 2020.  This element of the review will focus on the national guidance, the process around hospital discharge to care homes, and any potential learning ahead of an anticipated second COVID-19 surge.

In summary, the overall review will therefore form two individual parts, with the first phase exploring hospital discharge to care homes in relation to COVID-19, and phase two resuming the review of those discharged back to their own home (not care homes).

Phase 1 of the review reported to Cabinet in November 2020.

Phase 2 of the review is scheduled to report to Cabinet in May 2021.

 

Quality Assurance Work

As well as undertaking in-depth reviews, the Committee looks at a range of other information to keep an overview of performance. These include NHS Quality Accounts and Healthwatch reports, as well as visits to local health and social care services (note: visits are currently suspended due to COVID-19 social distancing guidance).

 

Children and Young People Select Committee

Review of Care Leavers EET

At the start of the review, the Council had 229 Care Leavers and this number will continue to rise alongside recent rises in the number of children entering our care.

Of these young people 66% were EET (in employment, education and training ) and 34% were NEET (not in employment, education and training).

Although outcomes for young people in Stockton were in line with national averages, the review would examine whether the Council was doing enough and what more needed to be done to further improve performance and outcomes for young people.

The Select Committee will be exploring the following key lines of enquiry as part of the review:

  • What is the current data and intelligence around our care leavers who are not in education employment or training (NEET)?
  • What options are there to improve our performance?
  • What support is there currently for this cohort of young people?
  • What gaps in services are there so that a business plan can be developed to improve multi-agency and cross partner agency working?
  • What best practice is there nationally?
  • What do young people think about the support they have received?
  • How well are Council Services working together and working with other agencies?
  • What support is there for care leavers supporting families?
  • What additional support is there for care leavers with a disability?

The review is scheduled to report to Cabinet in June 2021.

 

Member Visits to Frontline Services

In addition to review work, Select Committee Members undertake a programme of visits to frontline services as part of their wider quality assurance work (note: visits are currently suspended due to COVID-19 social distancing guidance).

 

Crime and Disorder Select Committee

Review of Fraud Awareness (Personal)

A wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain, fraud covers a variety of misdemeanours including cyber-crime, doorstep crime, and telephone and postal-enabled offences.  However, unlike other crime types such as theft, burglary or assaults which are reported directly to Cleveland Police, fraud cases are instead reported to a National Recording Centre based in the City of London known as Action Fraud.

The impact upon victims of fraud can be devastating, with people sometimes losing their life savings.  The Victim Care and Advice Service (VCAS) (which offers free, independent and confidential support for individuals and their families throughout the Cleveland and Durham areas) receive between 150-170 such victims every month, though the current thinking is that about 5% of victims actually report an offence, meaning that the actual figure will be between 3,000 and 3,500 victims per month.

The emergence of COVID-19 in 2020 has led to numerous reports of increasing fraudulent activity, with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) (badged as the world's largest anti-fraud organisation) stating that the pandemic is the perfect storm for fraud.  Within such a context, this review will therefore aim to:

  • Understand the process for reporting (personal) fraud offences, including the role of key stakeholders in the handling of cases.
  • Establish how the public are made aware of the required reporting mechanisms and how this is reinforced by local organisations, including work around reducing the risk of becoming a victim of fraud.
  • Ascertain the ways in which local victims of fraud are identified and supported.
  • Identify any local COVID-19-related fraud concerns and whether any targeted awareness-raising / support may be required.

The review is scheduled to report to Cabinet in May 2021.

 

People Select Committee

Review of Carbon Monoxide Awareness

A one-off session to highlight the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, and raise awareness, will be held in January 2021.  This will cover:

  • The causes and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Information on the installation of carbon monoxide detectors
  • Information on Gas Safety Week and Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week

 

Place Select Committee

Review of Burial Provision

The Council has a statutory responsibility to provide suitable burial provision which is discharged through the provision of cemeteries in Billingham, Oxbridge, Durham Road, Thornaby and Eaglescliffe.

Stockton Borough Council are also responsible for the maintenance of 9 closed churchyards within the Borough although these sites are not open for any new interments.

Of the current cemeteries, Eaglescliffe and Oxbridge are closed for new grave purchases although they are still used for interments where graves have been purchased for one or more people. This leaves the only provision at the remaining 3 sites in Billingham, Thornaby and Durham Road.

This review will:

  • Map the current levels of provision (including the internment of cremated remains).
  • The impacts of the opening of Stockton Crematorium on burial provision.
  • Investigate the opportunities to expand provision in existing/open Council cemeteries.
  • Assess if new burial sites need to be identified and, if so, in which areas of the Borough additional provision should be prioritised.

The review is scheduled to report to Cabinet in May 2021.

 

Other Scrutiny

A Tees Valley Joint Health Scrutiny Committee comprising the five Tees Valley Authorities exists to act as a forum for the scrutiny of regional and specialist health scrutiny issues which impact upon the residents of the Tees Valley and for sharing information and best practice in relation to health scrutiny and health scrutiny issues. The North East Health Committee fulfills the same role for the region as a whole. Time-limited Joint Committees may also be established to respond to consultation on changes to local health services, as and when needed.

Scrutiny support is also provided to the Cleveland Police and Crime Panel whose remit is to be the scrutiny body with a range of statutory duties, and the responsibility for scrutinising and supporting the Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner’s activities over a range of policy areas.  

For further information on our Select Committees, including copies of final reports, please visit our egenda Council Meetings and Papers page or telephone 01642 528158.