Agenda and draft minutes

Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 14th June, 2022 6.00 pm

Venue: Crompton Suite, Civic Centre, Oldham, West Street, Oldham, OL1 1NL. View directions

Contact: Mark Hardman 

Items
No. Item

1.

Appointment of Vice-Chair 2022/23

The Committee is asked to appoint a Vice-Chair for the 2022/23 Municipal Year.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That Councillor Clint Phythian be appointed Vice Chair of the Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee for the 2022/23 Municipal Year.

2.

Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

3.

Declarations of Interest

To receive Declarations of Interest in any contract or matter to be discussed at the meeting.

Minutes:

Councillor Williamson declared a personal interest in agenda item 7 (Participation of Young People aged 16-18 in Education, Employment or Training (EET)), insofar as consideration of the item included reference to Positive Steps, as a Council appointee to the Positive Steps Board.

4.

Urgent Business

Urgent business, if any, introduced by the Chair.

Minutes:

No items of urgent business were considered.

5.

Public Questions

To receive Questions from the Public, in accordance with the Council’s Constitution.

Minutes:

No public questions had been submitted for consideration at this meeting of the Committee.

6.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 202 KB

The Minutes of the meeting held on 22nd March 2022 are attached for approval.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – that the minutes of the meeting of the Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 22nd March 2022 be approved as a correct record.

7.

Participation of Young People aged 16-18 in Education, Employment or Training (EET) pdf icon PDF 444 KB

Minutes:

The Committee were updated on current participation and NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) rates, alongside a summary of activities both undertaken and planned for the future to ensure that the Council was shaping and influencing opportunities where possible for Oldham’s 16-18 year olds.  Further to the submitted report, the Committee was advised of the proposed development of a Post-16 Partnership and Strategy, to which all providers of services to support young people into EET, and other interested stakeholders, would be invited to participate and contribute.

 

The Council continued to fulfil its duties around encouraging, enabling and assisting young people to participate in education or training and tracking those aged 16 and 17 through the commissioning of the targeted support offer delivered by Positive Steps, this included some dedicated resource for those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and the Children Looked After (CLA) cohort.  The effects of the pandemic on young people had been well reported, with concerns still in place about the effects on their education and wellbeing and the implications of their missing out on social and learning skills.  These issues, alongside young people’s own concerns about the future, all affected levels of engagement and motivation. 

 

The approach across partners in Oldham was to ensure that young people can access the advice and support they require and that opportunities are made available to engage with young people to hear their voices and respond as best as possible. In discussion, a reported shared concern across providers related to behaviours arising from maturity issues resulting from pandemic lockdowns and showing itself through low level disruptions to engagement with education or training was noted.

 

It was reported that currently 94.4% of Year 12s were participating in some form of EET, this rate being consistent in the past 12 months despite the additional challenges brought by the pandemic.  The impact of the pandemic had been disproportionate on CLA and Care Leavers and the struggle to re-engage and re-adjust to in person participation had required a higher level of support.  The NEET rate was reported at 3.25% and had been relatively steady over the past 12 months. At January 2022, 205 young people were recorded as NEET, with 191 actively seeking EET opportunities; some of these had been waiting for Covid restrictions to be lifted while others with health issue were a little further away from EET.

 

The following specific issues highlighted by Committee members were considered –

·         With regard to targeted, localised focus on particular areas, it was reported that that a commissioned service knows where higher levels of those NEET are and that attention could thereby be focussed.  The Cabinet Member suggested that, when formed, the Partnership could look more closely at interventions in particular areas;

·         The success of the Stepping into the NHS scheme was noted, but it was confirmed that the funding secured locally to provide this scheme would end later in the year.  It was noted that the Northern Care Alliance was considering options as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

The Digital Sector: Workshop to review apprenticeships across Oldham and the offering of digital apprenticeships by the Council - outcomes pdf icon PDF 172 KB

Minutes:

Further to Minute 7 of the meeting of the Committee held on 20th January 2022, the Committee received a report detailing outcomes from the workshop proposed by the Committee involving the Youth Council and relevant Officers to address issues relating to the development of the digital sector in the town, the review of apprenticeships across Oldham, and the offering of digital apprenticeships by the Council, as raised in a Youth Council Motion to Council.

 

The workshop had been delivered on 23rd March 2022 comprising presentations from the Get Oldham Working Team and the Workforce Development Team which were followed by a feedback session considering whether the Youth Council’s original question had been answered; whether more information was required; and reflecting on the barriers to young people taking up the offers outlined in the presentations.  Overall, the majority were satisfied with the response, but there were some who felt that whilst an overview of the issue had been provided, there was a lack of scrutiny on the work to date.  The range of responses regarding further information were diverse but had one defining theme - most of the responses were questions that could and should be answered by quality careers education and careers advice from suitably qualified careers advisors in schools. 

 

A common feeling was that young people felt they were unable to make an informed decision about apprenticeships, T-levels or other work-based pathways for several reasons, including a lack of information/awareness while in  school, particularly around T-levels and the pathways available before young people took subject options; pressure from parents to pursue an academic route; peer/parent influence such that pathways other than A-levels were an inferior option; and confusion around qualification levels and if certain qualifications met entry requirements for Higher Education.  A lack of inclusivity for those with SEND and how they accessed the pathways was further highlighted.

 

Members noted the views that careers advice in schools and at post-16 was not adequate, further noting that the statutory duty for providing careers education and advice lay with schools.  There was a concern that budget pressures might be impacting on careers provision and the need to raise this issue directly with schools was recognised.  The identified need to focus on pupils with SEND was noted and the proposed approach welcomed.  Comments regarding the level of awareness of T-levels and their equivalence to other qualifications were noted, and comment made as to the need to for approaches to counter peer and parent pressure for more academic courses when T-levels maybe a better option for individual pupils.

 

In noting the views regarding the provision of careers advice, Members queried the scope for the Council to provide a centralised careers advice event, similar to jobs fair-type events held in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, where young people could be provided an opportunity to talk to education and training providers and employers as to options open to them, and to which secondary schools would be invited to send pupils in the appropriate age  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Youth Council and the Make Your Mark Ballot

Youth Council representatives have been invited to the meeting, to include a report on the Make Your Mark ballot results.

Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation from Youth Council representatives advising of the results of the most recent Make Your Mark ballot.  Every year the United Kingdom Youth Parliament holds a UK-wide ballot where all young people aged 11–18 years can vote on what they feel is important in their lives and what they think Members of the Youth Parliament should campaign on for in the year ahead. Oldham Youth Council co-ordinates the vote across the Oldham Borough.  Due to Covid the 2021 ballot had been delayed until February 2022 meaning there was no Make Your Mark ballot in 2021. Participation in the ballot for national issues was a 42% turnout, with the local issues ballot being 41.8% turnout, the reduced turnout resulting from a small number of votes cast via the national Youth Parliament website which did not include local options.  It was noted that turnout was higher than the average ward turnout at the recent local elections.

 

The ballot identified seven National Topics and, following consultation with local young people and discussion at the Oldham Youth Council on these topics and others raised locally, a list of ten Local Topics for consideration were determined. 

 

From the identified national and local issues, specific attention was drawn to Oldham’s top three National issues of –

  1. Jobs, Money, Homes and Opportunities(for example, more training and apprenticeships, ending homelessness);
  2. Poverty (for example, ending child poverty); and
  3. Education and Learning (for example, improved climate education, free university, better mental health education)

and to the top three Local issues of

  1. Tackle racism and xenophobiaby celebrating diversity and educating Oldham residents;
  2. Tackle street harassment, including sexual harassment on the streets and public transport; and
  3. Cheaper and Safer public transport.

 

The Youth Council’s Make Your Mark report had made recommendations, with campaigns having started on some issues while looking to take Motions to full Council on others.  It was noted that ballot results were interesting as for the first time Oldham’s results differed from rest of the UK.  While the UK voted Health and Wellbeing as top, Oldham chose Jobs, Money and Opportunities, Poverty, and Education and Learning as more important.  In response, the Youth Council was recommending that organisations providing opportunities for young people’s futures should look at how they inform young people of what they do.  Opportunities around jobs and training had been at the top of the Make Your Mark issues since 2020, the past two campaigns also showing concerns around money, including paying for university, access to training and jobs and the wider aspects of poverty. There was considered to be several potential reasons for this, including a lack of awareness of what support is out there and media stories around the rise in the cost of living. The Youth Council was looking at running some research to dive deeper into why young people chose these issues and indicated that they would like to continue working with the Committee to investigate these issues for 2022. 

 

The Committee asked Youth Council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Oldham Plan and Corporate Plan pdf icon PDF 136 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The views and insights of the Committee to inform further development of a new Oldham Plan and a new Corporate Plan were sought, prior to the submission of the Plans to the Full Council later in the year.

 

The current Oldham Plan ran from 2017 to 2022 and provided an action statement for the Oldham Partnership, setting the Borough’s overarching goals and activities, enablers, and short to medium-term outcomes.  As the Plan was due to expire, a new long-term vision was being developed to give the Oldham Partnership a shared sense of direction for the years ahead.  The Council’s last Corporate Plan had run from 2017 to 2020 and established the Council’s values and behaviours, and the co-operative approach to working with residents.  This Plan expired at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic at which point it was decided that it would be more appropriate to produce a Covid Recovery Strategy as a roadmap to supporting residents in response to the pandemic. This Covid Recovery Strategy was due to expire later in the year.

 

The extensive consultation and engagement with residents, councillors, senior teams at a range of Oldham partners, and with Council staff was advised.  The new Plans were being developed in parallel to ensure that the Council’s priorities over the next two years aligned as well as possible with the Partnership’s broader vision for the future.  The Committee noted that the draft Plans as presented would be subject to substantial amendment before final approval, the draft Oldham Plan returning to partners for further consideration and revision while the Corporate Plan, having been considered at a departmental level would be reviewed again by the Cabinet before being presented at full Council.

 

In consideration of the draft Plans, the Committee considered the following matters -

 

Place Based Working – a Member suggested there was not enough focus on place-based working in the Plans, considering how to get services into neighbourhoods and how to reach residents.  It was further suggested that the recent redrafting of area boundaries had not worked.  It was noted that residents’ requests for neighbourhood services was backed up by a reported generally expressed view that fewer but local services would be preferred over a broader range of services in the town centre.

 

Health Inequalities – a Member suggested that Public Health needed emphasising in the Plans, given the variances from one area to another, the impacts of austerity in Oldham and the reductions in dedicated Public Health staffing over time.

 

Addressing inequalities – a Member highlighted difficult decisions to be made, noting that to reduce inequalities might need more investment in certain areas over others which might not be appreciated in those areas receiving less support.  The Committee was advised this issue would be further considered, noting that under the Oldham Plan’s ‘uplifting every resident’ approach different areas may have differing priorities to address than others.

 

Civic pride – Noting references to pride in the draft Plans, a Member suggested that people wanted to be proud but  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme 2021/22 - Outturn pdf icon PDF 136 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee outturn work programme for 2021/22 submission of which represented the formal conclusion of the 2021/22 work programme and complemented the submission to Council of the Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report.

 

RESOLVED – that the Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee outturn work programme for 2021/22 be noted.

12.

Key Decision Notice pdf icon PDF 22 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee reviewed the Key Decision Notice which provided an opportunity for the identification of items of policy or service development, not otherwise listed on the Committee work programme, that could be included on the Committee work programme.

 

RESOLVED – that the report and the Key Decision Notice be noted.

13.

Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 166 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee was invited to review the Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme for 2022/23.  The drafted work programme included a number of potential items and the Committee was asked to determine whether or not they wished to pursue these going forward.

 

The Chair noted that an update on the Creating a Better Place programme was scheduled for consideration at the next meeting and advised that the Committee had previously been unable to take up an offer of a tour of locations included in the programme due to a lack of numbers.  He proposed that further efforts should be made to schedule such a tour.  The Committee was also reminded that a tour of the Northern Roots site had been proposed and suggested the Committee may also wish to pursue this.

 

RESOLVED – that

1.         the submitted Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme for 2022/23 be noted;

2.         further efforts be made to arrange a tour of locations included in the Creating a Better Place programme;

3.         arrangements be made for a Committee visit to the Northern Roots site;

4.         a workshop with Greater Manchester Police be arranged as proposed at Minute 6 of the Committee meeting held on 22nd March 2022;

5.         appropriate items relating to the Green New Deal and related issues and to the Selective Licensing of Private Rented properties Scheme be included on the Committee Work Programme.