Agenda and minutes

Social Care Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 21st October, 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Committee Rooms A/B - Neath Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Charlotte Davies 01639 763745 Email: 

No. Item


Chairs Announcements


It was announced that Agenda Item 7 on the Cabinet Board Agenda ‘Carers Partnership Board Annual Report 2020/21’ had been withdrawn from consideration at this meeting.

The Committee held a minute silence to mark the 55th Anniversary of the Aberfan Disaster.


Update on the Impact of Covid-19 on Disabled Facility Grants pdf icon PDF 248 KB


Officers provided an update report on the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on the Disabled Facility Grant (DFG) service and recovery.

Members welcomed the significant increase in the number of jobs that had been completed from the end of May 2021 to September 2021 (raised from 19 to 73 during this period); and also welcomed the positive feedback received from clients who had a DFG carried out.

The circulated report detailed that demand for builders remained significantly higher than normal, with homeowners carrying out home improvements; and that some materials were still difficult to source. It was queried how much of an impact this was having on the service, and if there was alternative ways of souring materials. Officers explained that this was a national problem, with the biggest issue being the shortage of contactors; the majority of contractors were still very busy carrying out the works that had been commissioned during the height of the pandemic. It was explained that the contractors were able to source materials, however there had been a significant rise in the cost of materials. Members were informed that the majority of the DFG works currently being carried out were tasks such as shower conversions; the materials for these types of jobs were easier to source, and there was less demand for plumbers as opposed to general builders. It was added that works relating to extensions had been most affected, however there were still jobs being completed, just at a slower pace than previous years; the Council had taken on additional builders to try and help progress the jobs, and were on a waiting list with contractors.

A discussion took place in regards to the Occupational Therapy (OT) Service and the capacity of the service. It was mentioned that the OT service was at full capacity for a short time, however there was currently a shortage due to staff leaving the service. Officers explained the reasons for the delays in service and the process behind the waiting list system; the report highlighted that there was currently a small waiting list of 15 awaiting release into the system. Despite this, it was confirmed that the flow through the service was working well.

Reference was made to the recent Welsh Government announcement regarding removing the means testing on small and medium sized adaptations. Members asked for information regarding Neath Port Talbot Councils position on this. Officers anticipated that the demand would increase massively if the means testing for small and medium DFGs were simply removed; if a decision was to be made to remove the means testing, it would be necessary to put conditions in place to try and control the demand. It was noted that there was various factors to take into account, particularly around the budget; however, it was important that this was controlled without discriminating against those who genuinely could not afford the works to be completed. Members were informed that discussions had started to take place with Welsh Government regarding the future  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1a


Pre-Decision Scrutiny

To select appropriate items from the Cabinet Board agenda for Pre-Decision Scrutiny (Cabinet Board reports included for Scrutiny Members)


The Committee scrutinised the following Cabinet Board items:

Quarter 1 Performance Monitoring Report 2021

Members were provided with the Performance Information, and the Complaints and Compliments Data for Children and Young People Services, and Adult Services for the 1st Quarter Period (April 2021 – June 2021).

Members highlighted a number of the positive performance indicators, and congratulated Officers on their hard work in achieving targets; especially given the circumstances of the pandemic.

Reference was made to the graph contained within the circulated report which detailed the number of social worker vacancies, disciplinary investigations and grievances across Adult Services. It was asked why the social worker vacancies and the long term sickness levels were so high.

Officers explained that some elements of the report was misleading due to the way in which the data was presented; Members were assured that there were no current issues with vacancies or long term sickness levels within Adult Services. It was stated that the vacancies detailed in the graph related to vacancies across the whole of Adult Social Care, and were not specific to Social Workers. Officers confirmed that 20 of the vacancies were linked to the in-house domiciliary care service; these posts originally weren’t filled as they were being retained to support the budget issue, however over the last two years there had been an external recruitment campaign for those posts. It was noted that the Council had unfortunately not been able to fill them; not being able to recruit people into domiciliary care was a national issue. Members were informed that a further 20 of those posts were new posts which had been established on a temporary basis from different funding streams over the last two years; they were not vacancies within the Council, instead they were posts that had not been established permanently into the base budget. It was mentioned that the only vacancies within quarter 1 were 4.8 full time equivalent (FTE) posts.

Following this, Officers provided information on the sickness levels that were presenting high levels on the graph (39.5 FTE). It was noted that 21.5 FTE were staff from the in-house domiciliary care service; this was not unexpected due to the demand of this particular service throughout the pandemic. Members were informed that the Adult Service workforce was in the best position that it had been in for many years in terms of sickness levels; the sickness rates were currently in single figures.

It was stated that the Heads of Adult Services was working with Human Resources Officers to change how the data was presented; the data will be split into Principle Officer Remits to try and ensure that the figures were more meaningful and reflected a more accurate picture of Adult Services.

A discussion took place in regards to vacancies for Occupational Therapists. Officers confirmed that there were vacancies within this service, and that it was an ongoing, national problem with recruitment; there had been many occasions where individuals had opted to work for the National Health Service  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.


Forward Work Programme 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 259 KB


The following item was requested to be added to the Forward Work Programme:

·        Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) and Waivers – a report which will provide Members with a better understanding of the processes.


Members noted the Social Care, Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Forward Work Programme.