Agenda item

External Scrutiny Bodies - Update Reports


a)        West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Council representative, Councillor Chalk; and


b)        Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) – Council representative, Councillor Chalk.


The Committee considered updates in respect of recent meetings of the following external scrutiny bodies:


a)          West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Council Representative, Councillor Michael Chalk


Councillor Chalk presented a written update on the focus of the latest meeting of the WMCA’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which took place on 11th July 2022.  Members were informed that the meeting had been live streamed and this could be viewed on the WMCA’s website.


Members noted that during the meeting there had been discussions about the skills budget for the WMCA.  Questions were raised about the potential for some of this funding to be shared with non-constituent authorities such as Redditch Borough Council.  The Committee was advised that the Leader, who served on the WMCA Board, had a positive working relationship with the Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority region, who was keen to provide support to non-constituent members.  However, the skills budgets for combined authorities was intended for constituent member authorities only.  In two-tier authority areas such as Worcestershire, skills funding was allocated to the county Council.  Redditch Borough Council could potentially access some skills funding from the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and this had occurred in the past.


Reference was made to the level of qualifications that were supported using the skills funding provided through the WMCA.  Members were informed that this was intended for Level 3 qualifications, although there had been discussions about the potential to provide funding available to also support level 2 qualifications.  There were recognised providers that delivered training for level 3 qualifications, although the number of providers had recently reduced following a review.


The Committee discussed the educational attainment levels in the Borough and concerns were raised about the number of people who were not in education, employment or training (NEETs).  In this context, there was general agreement that more action needed to be taken to access additional funding to support measures to improve the local skills base.  Members commented that work in respect of the manufacturing and innovation centre, as part of the work on town centre regeneration, would potentially help to address this situation.


b)          Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) – Council Representative, Councillor Michael Chalk


Councillor Chalk confirmed that the latest meeting of the Worcestershire HOSC had taken place on 8th July 2022.  During the meeting, representatives of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) had been interviewed about the integrated care system.


Members discussed the update provided and in doing so questioned whether WAHT had provided any information at recent meetings of HOSC regarding the Trust’s finances.  The Committee was informed that this had not been discussed during recent meetings.  However, Members were asked to note that in 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government had written off NHS debts, including WAHT’s £20 million debts, although the current financial position of the Trust remained to be clarified.


Reference was made to public transport links to Worcestershire Royal Hospital and concerns were raised about the impact that a reduction in services provided by Diamond Buses locally might have on Redditch residents attending appointments at the hospital.  Members commented that people experiencing an emergency could dial 999 for an ambulance but residents attending other appointments or returning from the hospital could not travel in this manner.  It was noted that the lowest car ownership levels in the county were in Redditch, so these changes to services would have a disproportionate impact on Redditch residents.  The suggestion was made that this issue should be raised for the consideration of HOSC, although Members were informed that the subject might be more appropriate for the consideration of Worcestershire County Council’s Environment Overview and Scrutiny Panel.


Consideration was also given to the extent to which HOSC had recently debated drug and alcohol recovery programmes and the availability of such programmes in the Borough.  Members were advised that there were three rehabilitation clinics in the county, one of which was situated in the Borough, and consideration was being given to extending coverage to other parts of the county.


Finally, ambulance waiting times in Worcestershire were briefly discussed.  Members were advised that representatives of various NHS partner organisations had attended a recent meeting of HOSC to discuss ambulance waiting times.  At the meeting HOSC members had had some concerns and would continue to monitor the situation.




the updates in respect of the latest meetings of the WMCA Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Worcestershire HOSC be noted.

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