AN IMPROVEMENT board has been set up by Powys County Council in a bid to turn around historic corporate safeguarding issues that have been criticised by Audit Wales.
At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, February 7, councillors were briefed about the first meeting of the board which took place in December before the Audit Wales report was published.
Just before Christmas Audit Wales, the body that examines how public bodies manage and spend public money, published a follow up review of arrangements of corporate safeguarding at Powys.
Corporate safeguarding means not allowing bad treatment and abuse of employees and others that the council would be responsible for.
Between June and September last year Audit Wales assessed how the council had addressed the findings and proposals for improvement from a report back in 2014 as well recommendations also given in a nationwide report on corporate safeguarding from 2015.
Audit Wales said: “Concerningly, the council still does not have proper control of its corporate safeguarding arrangements, which exposes both the council and its residents to risk.”
They have published 11 recommendations that the council needs to address.
Cabinet member for a safer Powys, Cllr Richard Church said: “We’re now embedding the process of corporate safeguarding throughout the organisation, and I’m very encouraged to see the improved levels of training that has happened amongst both councillors and staff.”
Interim director of housing and social services Nina Davies said: “At the time of the meeting the report had not been published however we had seen a draft.
“A development plan outlining actions to address the expected recommendations was discussed at length.”
She added that the Audit and Governance committee would discuss the draft council response to their report at a meeting later this week.
Council leader, Cllr James Gibson-Watt noted there had been 137 adult social care safeguarding referrals in November.
“Is that an unusually high number,” asked Cllr Gibson-Watt.
Ms Davies said: “That is high, the numbers did reduce in December and it highlights the challenges that adult social care is under.
“We took the decision on December 13 for adult social care to go into business continuity due to increasingly high sustained levels and complexity of referrals coming to the service.”
Cabinet noted the report.
Among the 11 Audit Wales recommendations are:
- Urgently assure itself that it has robust arrangements in place for corporate safeguarding.
- Agree and implement a corporate safeguarding policy and ensure it is easily accessible and understandable to staff, councillors and other stakeholders, and that it is reviewed periodically to ensure it is kept up to date and embedded in the day-to-day workings of every service in the council.
- Publicise the roles and responsibilities of the lead officer and lead member for corporate safeguarding to strengthen leadership and accountability.
- Accelerate the completion of mandatory safeguarding training for staff and members so that: “all members and staff fulfil their roles and responsibilities in helping to keep people safe from harm and abuse.”
- Improve the quality of information that goes to cabinet and scrutiny to facilitate improved oversight of corporate safeguarding.
- Assure itself that all directorates are fully considering safeguarding risks.