Derby City Council

Banwait fails more of the ’50 pledges’…and slips one by 7 months!

In April the Council Cabinet presented it’s 50 Pledges to the people of Derby. 2 of the pledges then failed as reported, previously, in Derby News:

Banwait’s 50 Pledges ; Cllr Bolton fails 1st target date. (OFSTED “Good” rating on all Children’s Homes)

Banwait’s 50 Pledges ; 2nd one fails target date (Issuing Neighbourhood charter)

A revised version of the 50 Pledges is being brought to the Council Cabinet on 21st June “following a period of informal consultation”.

More have failed, since first issue….this is a summary of those pledges where an outcome should have been achieved, by now:

Children’s Homes (Cllr Bolton) ( Article link above)

The pledge relating to the Children’s Homes remains unchanged despite the fact that 2 Homes fail the “Good” rating target – they still  “Require Improvement” (  1 of the Homes requiring improvement, previously, no longer appears on the list) . The source of information  used in this article has been confirmed by Andy Smith, Strategic Director of People Services. This should have been achieved by April 2017, and hasn’t….and still hasn’t by June 2017.

Neighbourhood charter (Cross Portfolio – ‘Super 6 pledges’) (Article link above)

Original pledge April 2017

 

New Pledge June 2017

The pledge relating to the Neighbourhood charter has changed substantially. The commitment to spend £1.6m has been removed as it was clear that this did not relate to additional money, and the target date has slipped back from April 2017 to November 2017; a tacit acceptance that the original pledge had failed, as detailed in my earlier article

Breakfast Club (Cllr Russell)

The Breakfast Club pledge continues to be made, despite it having failed by over 50%.

In April 2017, the Club was operating in 4 named schools, with a total of 155 being registered in the scheme. Typically, there are fewer than this number actually attending each day. There are no plans to extend this during this remainder of this school term – significantly short of the 400 claimed for “each school day in academic year Sept 2016 to July 2017.”

Early Intervention Support (Cllr Bolton)

Cllr Bolton pledged:

“The Council will offer early intervention support to 400 vulnerable families working with schools.”,

by March 2018. When asked, the Council could not confirm how many families are currently being supported

“we do not collate, at this point, the Early Intervention numbers offered by schools”.

So it is impossible for anyone to assess whether the pledge has already been achieved, or whether it is remotely achievable with current resources – it’s an empty promise.

She also committed by April 2017 that

“50% of early help resources will be directed at group work every year”.

In trying to identify where the Council is on this, now, in April 2017, it confirmed that

“there is not an identified formula for staff allocation until we identify demand”.

A demand which, currently they have no process for identifying. Another failed pledge and an empty promise!

The “menu” committed for April 2017 was published to the schools on 20th May –  a 100% slip to the pledge

Social workers

Cllr Bolton pledged that by April 2017 that there would be:

“No reductions in the overall number of social workers who support vulnerable children”.

It is true to say that there are 13 more contracted Social Workers in this category since 1 April 2016 – 9 of whom are on zero hours contracts. The total is now 145. In addition to this there are 34 Agency workers, 11 more than last year. This pledge has been achieved, although it would have been more credible if the target had been set for the future, not the past.

Council House Rent

Cllr Hussain pledged

“The Council will protect its tenants from any rent rises until 2020.”.

This will be achieved simply because, under the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, all Local Authorities are legally obliged to reduce social housing rents by 1% per year. This is an empty pledge.

Conclusion

The concept of the ‘pledges’ is a great idea….provided that the Council is transparent in their performance, and publishes the actual status. Failing so early is unacceptable, re-committing failed pledges is incompetent.

Also, they need to be drafted in such a way that the achievement, or otherwise, of them is beyond question ; there are too many committed for “Summer 2017”, as opposed to a specific month. The success criteria are far too vague to be unambiguously evaluated.

Despite there being priority outcomes around protecting vulnerable children, and raising achievement and skills there is not one pledge on the subject of Special Educational Needs Children – a whole area where the Council is singularly failing on so many fronts. – that is very telling about its real commitment to these children.

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