Chief Social Work Officer's first annual report highlights successes and challenges
12th February 2020
Highland Council's new Chief Social Work Officer's first annual report highlights successes and challenges.`
Highland Council's new Chief Social Work Officer for Highland Council, Karen Ralston, has enjoyed a successful first year in her role.
Members today noted the 2018/19 annual report at the meeting of the Health, Wellbeing and Social Care committee.
The report highlights that Highland Council continues to, in partnership with NHS Highland, delivers high quality services as well as developing new approaches to caring for and supporting children, young people and adults.
Interim Head of Children's Services, Karen Ralston said: "Through the partnerships everyone is committed to making the Highlands the best place to grow up, live and prosper in.
"Communities remain at the heart of the collaborative approach and the Community Planning Partnerships have allowed for more meaningful contribution to local decision making."
She added: “Social work and social care staff, including staff working across our Commissioned Services have, and continue to be dedicated and committed to providing support, care and protection to our most vulnerable children, young people and adults throughout the last year despite the challenging times."
Children's Services have benefited from access to the Change Fund, which has invested in Edge of Care Delivery in recognition of increased needs of families.
Karen added: “As Chief Social Work Officer I will continue to work alongside elected members and the Chief Executive Leadership team at putting people and communities at the heart of any decision making, planning and improvements. The voice and children, young people and adults using our services will be integral to this work.”
During the past year the following achievement have been recognised in social work and across social care:
The development of the ‘no wrong door’ approach to support children and young people on the edge of care
The increased portfolio of supported flats/accommodation for young adults
The provision of a new dedicated CAMHS service for care and experienced young people
The development of a suite of support services for care experience children and young people
The continued development of the CHAMPS board to strengthen the voice of care experienced children and young people through increased resource
The effective commissioning of third sector partners to improve both core services and early intervention activity
The continued development of the Highland practice model to ensure effective integrated children’s services across Education, Health and Social Care
Karen also acknowledges there have also been challenges including the unique demography of the Highlands.
She said: “Social work services continued to face a number of challenges due to significant demand and constrained budgets that impact on service delivery and meeting the needs of communities within Highland.
“Work has continued to be progressed in adult services, to continue the shift towards community-based provision.
“There have been increasing recruitment challenges regarding social worker and social care vacancies, particularly for posts in care at home and within children’s services, and posts in the more rural parts of the authority.”
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has warned that the Scottish Government's Budget will hit vulnerable communities the hardest. COSLA has warned the Government that it has not considered successive years of cuts, or rising inflation and demand and have therefore put council services at risk.
Following a review taxi fares in Highland have been held at the same level by the Highland Council Licensing Committee held on 18 February 2019. The papers and the debate on this issue can be seen at items six on the webcast - https://highland.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/469655 There is a 14 Day period for appeal.
A study is underway into the feasibility of replacing Scotland's second busiest ferry service with a fixed link bridge or tunnel. The Highland Council, HITRANS and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) are joint funding the study at the Corran Narrows in Lochaber.
The standstill period under the Council's Trades Services Framework agreement was due to close with effect from Monday 17th February 2020, with the intention of a proposed go live date with the new arrangements and contracts of 24th February. The standstill period is a defined period of time between the notice of the contract award decision and the award of the contract.
On 14th February 2020 the Highland council place an advert in the Northern times newspaper regarding the Spaceport planning application as follows. - THE HIGHLAND COUNCIL TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (SCOTLAND) ACT 1997 TOWN and COUNTRY PLANNING (ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT) (SCOTLAND) REGULATIONS 2017.
Members today approved a modest 3% rent increase for residential rents and service charges following detailed consultation with tenants. The increase will result in a rise in the average weekly council house rent from £75.38 to £77.74 (£2.26), which means that Highland rents are still 8th lowest of the 26 councils which retain housing.
Highland Council Trading Standards are again warning unsuspecting residents of the emergence of a new Council Tax scam. Today a call was received by the Council from a Council Tax payer alerting to a Council Tax scam whereby scammers are now texting people and informing them that they are due a Council Tax rebate.
The Highland Council has published the Highland Common Good Asset Register following the completion of a consultation process required by the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. The Register has been published on the Council's website and can be accessed from the download link on the page titled "Common Good Asset Register" or at the following link: https://www.highland.gov.uk/info/20010/community_planning/840/common_good_asset_register For ease of reference, the Register has been divided in the separate former Burghs having recorded Common Good Funds - Cromarty, Dingwall, Dornoch, Fortrose and Rosemarkie, Invergordon, Inverness, Nairn and Tain.
According to the draft Scottish Govenment budget, Highlands and Islands Enterprise will get £58.2 million in the upcoming financial year - down from £61.1 million last year. 2018/19 the budget was £71.7 million.
The Highland Licensing Committee, at their meeting on 14 January 2020, made their final resolution in relation to the licensing of the public performance of plays under the public entertainment licensing regime after the repeal of the Theatres Act 1968. This was after the completion of the 28 day statutory consultation period as set out in section 9 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.
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