As already stated, Tuesday’s People Scrutiny Committee was not the most scintillating affair,
nobody misbehaved themselves and interesting facts were few and far between.
I learned from David Bryce-Smith whose Deputy Directorship covers housing that the number of Bexley families banished to Manchester was now 42, the homelessness situation is far worse than it was six months ago. The first to go to Manchester hit the newspaper headlines. Now it is routine and homelessness is costing over a million pounds a year.
Councillor Alan Downing gave Cabinet Member Philip Read his opportunity to regale us with the successes he has achieved in Children’s Services since taking on the mess bequeathed to him by his predecessor Katie Perrior. Whilst things could hardly get worse it was probably not easy to pull things up from the depths to which things had been allowed to fall.
His ‘Academy’ for newly qualified social workers has allowed the projected overspend to be reduced and an improvement in the proportion of permanent staff against agency workers. His scheme to cap the level of payment to the agencies now had the support of 30 of the 32 London boroughs. He expects to lower the pay cap in due course. Permanent staff were now 67% of the total, 60% on the front line, and nearly all the temporary staff had been in post for more than six months.
Although Bexley has no hospital with an A&E Department it does have a 24 hour Urgent Care Unit, one of only three London boroughs with such a facility. There was a move to standardise facilities across London so Bexley’s favoured position was an area of concern - the Chairman’s words. However he “had the impression standards have to come up, they can’t go down”. Councillor James Hunt; the eternal optimist.