THE Terms of Reference of the Improvement and Assurance Board have been changed as part of the education service now comes under its remit.

At their last cabinet meeting on Tuesday, November 5,  portfolio services considered the changes, that now mean that Powys County Council’s (PCC) biggest departments are being scrutinised by a board that reports to the Welsh Government.

Council leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris (Independent – Llangynidr,) said: “You will know a number of us sit on this board that the chair is totally independent.

“He (Jack Straw) gives us a written report at certain periods which is presented to me and cabinet and the minister.

“There has been a review of the board, this report is from September and we have added elements of our education service that need to be monitored and reported to the minister and they will be included in the next report by Mr Straw.”

Portfolio holder for Children’s Services, Cllr Rachel Powell (Independent – Beguildy), added: “This is a really important report as it provides us with a narrative for our improvement journey.”

Cllr Powell said that the report explained what children’s services were doing to turn things around that that are not heard when purely  discussing PCC’s finances.

She added that this going alongside the financial report would give a better explanation of how Children’s Services is improving.

Finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies (Conservative – Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant/Llansilin), said: “I welcome the role of the board, it gives us extra scrutiny and challenge around these services.

“There was some criticism of the board from the finance panel, but it is for this council and cabinet to take the decisions around these services.”

The Improvement and Assurance Board was established in March 2018 to: “assist the leader in driving forward the required change and improvement in the local authority.”

It followed the highly critical report by the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) into PCC’s Children’s Services which was published in October 2017.

Chaired independently by the former chief executive of Swansea Council, Jack Straw, the board remit covers, Children’s Services, Adult Services, corporate and transformation activity and now education improvements.

The terms of reference now say the boards will:

  • Continue to support and provide assurance to the director of Social Services in regards to all Social Services function, in particular the delivery of the respective improvement plans for children and adults.
  • Oversee, monitor and support the progress made by the Council’s Education Service in terms of addressing each of the recommendations made by Estyn in their inspection report of September 2019
  • Advise the Welsh Minister and Welsh Government officials regularly on progress and make, if necessary, recommendation for further support or modification to the existing support package.
  • In addition the board will, up to every four months, monitor progress made in relation to the council’s corporate function, in particular transformation and improvement activity.