Contractual arrangements to manage Torbay’s Children Services to be discussed

Plans for Plymouth City Council to move forward with a contractual arrangement to manage Torbay Council’s Children’s Services will be considered by Plymouth’s Cabinet on Tuesday 16 January and then discussed at Full Council on 29 January.

The report outlines the work that has been undertaken to ensure that Plymouth City Council will have the capacity to take on managing Children’s Services at Torbay, and deliver service improvements at both Councils without any additional costs to the Plymouth taxpayers.

The Council on 29 January will be asked to delegate responsibility for the fine detail of the contractual arrangement to the Chief Executive Tracey Lee, Council Leader Ian Bowyer and Leader of the Opposition Tudor Evans.

The proposals will mean that a Director of Children’s Services will be provided by Plymouth City Council, to report to both Councils’ Chief Executives and politicians. This is a legal requirement and ensures that each Council has clear responsibility for its children.

However, staffing structures across Children’s Services in both Councils will be largely unaffected. Staff employed in Plymouth will continue to work with Plymouth children, young people and families and those employed by Torbay will work with Torbay children, young people and families.

There will be some possibilities to harmonise working practices and computer systems and having a larger workforce means there will be opportunities for staff to develop and progress and will help with recruiting and retaining staff.

The opportunity to create this new contractual arrangement arose following the Department for Education’s (DfE) appointed Commissioner John Coughlan’s recommendation that Plymouth be the preferred partner to help lead improvement in Torbay’s Children’s Services.

Plymouth City Council agreed ‘in principle’ to this arrangement on 25 September 2017, subject to certain conditions including that there should be no cost to Plymouth taxpayers.

The Department of Education has understood that there are initial costs to setting up this new working arrangement and has therefore made a grant of just over £1.4 million available to cover all the costs.

If agreed at Council on 29 January, it is intended that the new contractual arrangement will come into place from 1 April 2018.