Education, skills training, external communications and mental health were among the areas under scrutiny by the Council’s four Scrutiny Committees for 2019/20.
Scrutiny Committee members have continued to contribute to key policy decisions this year, despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Council’s Scrutiny Annual Report for 2019/20 has now been published and presented to a meeting of full Council, who have endorsed the findings.
In addition to the topics that scrutiny have considered at their meetings, the committees also conducted in depth reviews into a range of areas.
The Children Committee looked at the role of Special Educational Needs and Disability Co-ordinators (SENCO) with a focus on Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP). The committee recognised the importance of the work advocacy groups do in Knowsley. The committee recommended the establishment of an ongoing consultative group of children and young people with SEND to ensure they are listened to and feel valued. They also recommended introducing a SEND Engagement Officer to the service.
Economic Growth and Prosperity Committee
The committee conducted a review of business partnerships with education, skills and training providers to support skills development of Knowsley residents. The committee recognised that the close working relationship between the Knowsley Chamber of Commerce and the Council through the ‘Growth Hub’ provided local businesses and schools with a comprehensive and seamless service and highlighted the importance of this arrangement. The committee also recognised there was a need for closer alignment between business and skills provision to ensure that both were working towards mutual goals.
Health and Adult Social Care Committee
The committee conducted a review of male mental health and suicide. The committee recognised the passion and commitment demonstrated by Council officers in tackling the issue and the tangible difference it is making. They also recognised the challenges and obstacles experienced in tackling the issue, including limited resources and the need for closer working with partner agencies.
The Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee also conducted a review of the quality of adult social care. The committee highlighted that funding would be key to the future success of this service, together with engaging health partners at a local and City Region level.
Sustainable Borough Committee
The committee conducted a review of the Council’s external communications. During the review, the Committee was given an insight into the many different functions of the Communications Team and the ongoing challenge to get messages across to audiences in an “overcrowded online world of good news, bad news and fake news”. The Committee was impressed by the work of the Communications Team and found that Knowsley’s digital outputs are among the most popular and best followed in the Liverpool City Region. Further reassurance was provided by the endorsement of the Council’s Communications Team by local partners and journalists.
A Climate Emergency Scrutiny Committee has been established for 2020/21. This Committee has been formed in response to the Council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency in Knowsley. The new Climate Emergency Scrutiny Committee will provide oversight, support and challenge to the Council as it aims to meet its commitment to be a net carbon neutral Council by 2040.
The full Scrutiny Report can be found here.