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HOMES AND SAFE COMMUNITIES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 25th July, 2016.

 

Present:  Councillor C.J. Williams (Chairman); Councillor J. Drysdale (Vice-Chairman); Councillors A.G. Bennett,  J.C. Bird, Mrs. C.L. Curtis, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, Ms. R.F. Probert, R.P. Thomas and Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson.  

 

Also present:  Mrs. G. Doyle and Mr A. Raybould (Tenant Working Group).

 

 

216       APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –  

 

These were received from Councillor E. Williams and Mr. D. Dutch (Tenant Working Group).

 

 

217       MINUTES –  

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 15th June, 2016 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

218       DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

219       CORPORATE SAFEGUARDING UPDATE (REF) –

 

Cabinet, on 20th June, 2016, was provided with an update on the work that had been undertaken to improve corporate arrangements for the safeguarding and protection of children and adults who required specific Council services and to ensure that these arrangements were effective.

 

The report advised that in 2011, the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) and Estyn published a joint report following their investigation into the way that Pembrokeshire County Council was managing allegations of professional abuse and its arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children in education services.  Following that report, a Corporate Safeguarding Group, chaired by the Director of Social Services, was established in the Vale of Glamorgan to ensure that robust arrangements for protecting children, young people and adults were in place.

 

The Group worked to an action plan that addressed findings from experience, inspection and audit.  As part of this action plan, the Safeguarding Group had implemented a Safer Recruitment Policy for the Council and Schools.  The Policy had now been adopted and robustly applied by all Vale schools and throughout all Council departments. 

 

Appendix 1 to the report was the Corporate Safeguarding Update for June 2016 that brought together safeguarding activity undertaken by the Resources, Learning and Skills, and Social Services Directorates.  This provided a comprehensive account of safeguarding activity across the Council.

 

The Committee raised a number of queries: 

  • What was the Membership of the Corporate Safeguarding Group
  • When will the new versions of the “Working Together” and “In Safe Hands” national documents be available
  • The percentage of employee’s who start with the Council without a risk assessment (2% at 21days and 2% no assessment in place) and the rise in the POVA rates indicated that there were pressures in meeting demand
  • Was the Council able to handle the rise in demand as a consequence of revised safeguarding arrangements, particularly in relation to safer recruitment
  • Was more information available in relation to the “DBS E Bulk” solution
  • Whether the new arrangements had made any real difference i.e. had the Council picked up anything new that was not picked up before
  • Whether the new arrangements had improved the quality of safeguarding or had it made the process more “bureaucratic”

Although the Committee was unclear of whether the Council had sufficient capacity to meet demand, the Committee commented on the high number of appointments that had not complied with the Safer Recruitment Policy. The Committee therefore requested for a further update report to be provided within its October meeting, in which, officers would be asked to comment on the impact of the new safeguarding arrangements.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the work that had been undertaken to improve corporate arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children and adults be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T a further report be provided at the Committee’s October meeting.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To note recent developments in corporate arrangements for safeguarding.

 

(2)       In order to evaluate the impact of the Council’s new safeguarding arrangements.

 

 

220       CLOSURE OF ACCOUNTS 2015/16 (DEH) –

 

The Operational Manager (Accountancy) presented the report, the purpose of which was to update the Committee of the provisional financial position for the 2015/16 financial year. 

 

With regard to revenue, the report advised that on 4th March, 2015 (Minute No. 941) Council had agreed the Authority’s Revenue Budget requirement for 2015/16.  Appendix 1 provided details of the revised budgets that took into account the following adjustments. 

  • IAS 19 Retirement Benefits – the purpose this Standard was to ensure that the operating costs of providing retirement benefits to employees were recognised in the accounting period in which they were earned by employees.
  • Asset Rents – this charge could vary each year due to an increase / decrease in the valuation of assets.  The movements needed to be incorporated into the accounts. 
  • Recharges – these related to movements in charges between internal Council services.
  • Carbon Reduction Commitment Scheme – the scheme required the Authority to report on carbon dioxide emissions associated with the use of electricity and gas within its buildings.  Payment was then made to the Environment Agency to cover the charge in respect of those emissions.

The following table provided a comparison of the amended budget and the actual expenditure for the Committee:

 

Service

 

Year - 2015/16

Amended Revenue Budget

Total  Provisional Actual

Variance +Favourable

(-) Adverse

 

       £’000

          £’000

             £’000

YOS

688

686

+2

Regulatory Services

2,103

2,107

(4)

Council Fund Housing

1,174

1,174

0

Private Housing

11,324

11,342

(18)

GRAND TOTAL

15,289

15,309

(20)

 

The report detailed the variances which were set out as follows:

 

Youth Offending Service – Favourable variance of £2,000

 

There was a favourable variance of £37,000 on staffing due to maternity and sickness.  This had allowed a transfer to reserve of £35,000 to protect against future grant reductions.

 

Regulatory Services – Adverse variance of £4,000

 

On 1st May 2016, the Regulatory Service entered into a collaboration with Bridgend and Cardiff Councils and the Vale now acted as host for the Shared Service.  There was a drawdown of £113,000 from the Regulatory Improvements reserve to cover the Vale Council's element of the implementation costs incurred which related to IT, project management and redundancy costs.  There was a favourable variance of £66,000 against the Vale Council's contribution to the Shared Service, mainly as a result of staff underspend in the service.  This allowed a £70,000 transfer to the Visible Services reserve.  These figures related to the Vale of Glamorgan Council's element of the Shared Service only and not the joint service as a whole which was reported to the Joint Committee.

 

Council Fund Housing – Breakeven

 

There were favourable variances of £57,000 on staffing due to vacancies and £10,000 on supplies and services in the Housing Solutions Team.  In addition there was a £228,000 favourable variance on temporary accommodation for the homeless and an £18,000 favourable variance relating to the Community Safety budget.

 

There had been a transfer to reserves of £313,000 to ease future pressures on the service.

 

Private Sector Housing – Adverse variance of £27,000

 

There was an adverse variance on Disabled Facility Grant (DFG) supplies and services as a revenue contribution to capital expenditure of £32,000 was required to fund additional capital monies spent on DFGs during the year.  There was also an adverse variance in the Renewal Area’s supplies budget whereby costs on survey fees and consultants exceeded the budget by some £23,000.  Though fee income did improve as the year progressed in the Renewal Area, it remained £18,000 short of the target at year-end as a result of capital works slipping into 2016/17.  There were other small variances amounting to a net £31,000 adverse variance within this service. 

 

There was a favourable variance of £77,000 on agency fee charges on DFGs as the number of grant applications processed had remained high during 2015/16.

 

Rent Allowances / Council Tax Benefits – Favourable variance of £9,000

 

There were favourable variances of £220,000 on Discretionary Housing payments. Discretionary Housing payments were used to provide support to claimants adversely affected by some of the key Welfare Reforms.  The saving was due to a lower take-up from claimants than anticipated, however, there remained uncertainty over future demand.  There were also favourable variances of £252,000 from recovered overpayments and associated subsidy and £637,000 on the Council Tax Reduction Scheme due to lower than anticipated take up.

 

There had been a transfer of £1.1m to the Visible Services reserve.

 

In terms of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA), the report stated that on 4th March, 2015 (Minutes No. 939) the Council agreed the Authority’s 2015/16 HRA budget. 

 

The 2015/16 HRA resulted in a deficit of £408,000 compared to the amended budget deficit of £1.265m.  A breakdown of this was shown in Appendix 2 to the report.  The working balance opened at £1.876m and closed at £1.468m. 

 

In terms of capital expenditure, the Council on 4th March, 2015 (Minute No. 940), agreed the Authority’s capital budget for 2015/16.  Attached at Appendix 3 was a breakdown of the 2015/16 Capital Programme by scheme.  The overall outturn for this Committee was a variance of £4.4m.  The major variances were outlined as follows:

 

Housing Improvement Programme – Slippage of £3.814m

 

The main area of underspend related to external work for roofing and wall insulation.  This was delayed mainly due to weather conditions.  Internal works for the WHQS programme were nearing completion and therefore while the majority of work had been completed, final accounts needed to be agreed with the contractors.  It had therefore been requested that £3.814m be carried forward into 2016/17 to allow for the completion of the schemes.

 

Castleland Renewal Area – Slippage of £483,000   

 

The 2015/16 budget for the Castleland Renewal Area was intended to complete four phases of a residential facelifting programme on the upper section of Holton Road as well as commencing a scheme aimed at renewing the shop fronts to the commercial premises.  Phases 1-3 were completed, however, Phase 4 turned out to be far more complex than normal due to the structural instability of the block and required a revision to the Housing Renewal Policy to allow for solid wall stabilisation works to be covered under Facelift Assistance.  The time implications involved in obtaining structural engineers’ reports, revising the policy, applying for Building Regulation and Planning Permission as well as discussions with owners delayed the commencement of the scheme.  In addition there was a limited response to the initial offer of 85% Commercial Improvement Grants for new shop fronts and in order to maximise take up, the Housing Renewal Policy was revised for a second time to increase the grant offer to 95%.  A second consultation with owners was required to confirm their consent to the revised contribution before the necessary Building Regulation and Planning Consent could be sought.  In addition, the new policy of obtaining owners’ contributions prior to commencement of work proved difficult and affected the programme of work.  The carry forward of £483,000 had been requested to continue works in 2016/17.

 

With regard to reserves, attached at Appendix 4 was a schedule showing the Committee’s reserves as at 31st March, 2016. 

 

A Committee Member queried the amount of £133,000 allocated for the management of asbestos.  In reply, the Head of Housing and Building Services stated that the Council had made a decision to remove asbestos from those properties that were part of the WHQS works.  Funding for this work was previously within the overall WHQS budget but it had been decided to create a separate budget to cover the costs for the removal of asbestos.

 

In referring to the discretionary housing payments, a Committee Member enquired whether the Council was doing enough to encourage people to participate in the scheme.  In reply, the Head of Housing and Building Services advised Members that residents in the Vale would be eligible for the discretionary housing payment as long as they met the specified criteria.  The Council had been able to support a number of individuals as a result of changes to the benefit system.  She added that within the Vale, the discretionary housing payment scheme was working effectively and that payments would be made to individuals as long as they were needed. 

 

A Committee Member, in referring to the format of the table shown within paragraph 5 of the report, stated that this table was too simplistic and did not show the level of transfers to and from reserves.  In reply, the Operational Manager (Accountancy) stated that further information would be added to this table for future meetings.

 

The Committee also expressed its appreciation in relation to the £56,000 favourable variance for the rent collected on dwellings that was mainly as a result of a lower level of voids.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the report and the financial measures taken and proposed be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In order to update Members of the financial measures taken and proposed.

 

 

221       REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 31ST MAY 2016 (DEH) –

 

The Operational Manager (Accountancy) presented the report, the purpose of which was to update Members in respect of revenue and capital expenditure for the period 1st April to 31st May, 2016. 

 

The report advised that on 2nd March, 2016 (Minute Nos. 885 and 884 respectively) Council had approved the Revenue and Capital Budgets for 2016/17.

 

The Revenue Budget and projected outturn for 2016/17 was shown in the table below.  As it was fairly early in the financial year, the current forecast was for a balanced budget.

 

 

Revenue  Budget

 

Probable  Outturn

Variance

(+) Favourable

(-) Adverse

 

£000

£000

£000

Public Sector Housing (HRA)

(22)

(22)

0

Council Fund Housing

744

744

0

Private Sector Housing

11,262

11,262

0

Regulatory Services

2,056

2,056

0

Youth Offending Service

696

696

0

TOTAL

 

14,736

14,736

0

With regard to the Public Sector Housing (HRA), it was expected to outturn on target and any underspends in year would be offset by additional contributions to Capital Expenditure thus reducing the reliance on Unsupported Borrowing. 

 

For the Council Fund Housing, as it was early in the financial year, it was anticipated that this budget would outturn on target, although there was a slight underspend to date as a result of staff vacancies.

 

With regard to Private Housing, there was currently a small adverse variance as the favourable variance relating to additional Disabled Facility Grant fee income was slightly outweighed by the adverse variance on Renewal Area fee income.  Again, as it was early in the financial year, it was anticipated that this service would outturn on target.

 

For Regulatory Services, an allocation of £2.056m represented the Vale’s budget for its share of the Shared Regulatory Service (SRS).  A separate set of accounts was maintained for the SRS and was periodically reported to the Shared Regulatory Services Joint Committee.  At this stage of the year it was anticipated that the SRS would outturn on target.

 

With regard to capital expenditure, Appendix 2 detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st May, 2016.  Members were asked to be aware that Appendix 2 did not include requests for unspent committed expenditure to be slipped from 2015/16 into 2016/17. 

 

Appendix 3 provided non-financial information on capital construction schemes with a budget of over £100,000. 

 

Having considered the report, the Committee

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the 2016/17 Revenue and Capital budgets be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise the Committee of the position with regard to the 2016/17 revenue and capital monitoring.

 

 

222       END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE REPORT 2015-16 (DEH) –

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services presented the report, the purpose of which was to present end of year performance results for the period 1st April, 2015 to 31st March, 2016 for Housing and Building Services. 

 

The 2016 performance report for the Directorate was attached at Appendix 1. 

 

The report advised that overall, Housing and Building Services had achieved its key priorities for 2015-16 as outlined in its Service Plan with 23 (68%) of Service Plan actions completed at end of year.  Of the 34 actions contained within the Service Plan, slippage had been reported against 10 actions. 

 

In terms of the contribution made to achieving corporate priorities, the Service had completed 7 of its 9 actions against the Corporate Plan, with slippage reported for 2 actions.  The Service had no Improvement Objectives or Outcome Agreement actions for which it was responsible.

 

Of the 37 Performance Indicators that were monitored annually, 15 (41%) met or exceeded target during the year, 7 (19%) were within 10% of target, 3 (8%) had missed target by more than 10% and for 12 (32%) of the measures, a status was not applicable.  The 4 Indicators that had missed target related to HS/M005, HHA017b and HS/M020. 

 

Against Outcome 1(Everyone has a home that they can afford that meets their needs), the delivery of the Council House Improvement Programme of all internal improvement had been completed which had contributed towards the Council’s priority of providing decent homes to tenants.  The Service remained on track for all Council Housing stock to be fully compliant by 2017. (HS/A078).

 

Two streams of leadership and management training had been delivered – one for senior managers and one for aspiring leaders furthermore, all managers had received site safety training through a recognised training provider.  This had successfully contributed towards the adoption of a "right first time" approach by the service which had seen as increase in the productivity of the workforce and improvements in the quality of work carried out, thus ensuring that homes were safe and tenants were satisfied with the work undertaken by the Council.  (HS/A080).

 

158 additional affordable housing units were delivered in 2015-16 out of which 55 were adapted or accessible which had allowed the Council to increase the availability of decent, affordable and accessible homes to the public (HS/A119).

 

A significant proportion of the Building Services Change Plan had been delivered.  The restructure within Building Services had crystallised the client and contractor functions which had contributed towards improved financial control and a well-run trading account (HS/A070).

 

Slippage was reported in relation to eight actions under Outcome 1:

 

HS/A048: Progress was being made on the development of a Tenant and Leaseholder Engagement Strategy.  The Strategy would be considered by Scrutiny Committee during 2016 and adopted thereafter. 

 

HS/A076:  The development of an Asset Management Strategy had slipped.  This would now be delivered during 2016-17 following a review of the WHQS delivery programme which now entered its final year.  The Strategy would need to be supported by a wider survey of housing assets including garages and land which would be undertaken over the next 12 months to support a robust Strategy.

 

HS/A073: The development of an Environmental and Neighbourhood Improvement Strategy and associated operational plan had been delayed to ensure consultation with the Tenant Working Group to inform the draft strategy content.  Further consultation sessions were taking place with stakeholder and other tenant groups to ensure key issues and priorities were captured.  The Strategy was to be finalised and reported to Cabinet during 2016.

 

HS/A074: The development of a Customer Care and Communication Strategy and associated operational plan had slipped.  The Strategy would be finalised and reported to Cabinet during 2016.

 

HS/A088: The development of a Community Investment Strategy and associated operational plan had been delayed to allow consultation with a Tenant Working Group to inform a draft Strategy.  Further consultation sessions were taking place with stakeholders and other tenant groups to ensure key priorities and issues were incorporated into the Strategy.

 

HS/A117: Whilst the development of a Fuel Poverty Strategy had slipped, the delivery of the Arbed energy schemes and the energy advisor role continued to be delivered.  The development of a wider strategy for fuel poverty would be delivered as a supplementary document to the Asset Management Strategy.

 

HS/A092: Work continued to progress the delivery of a wide range of options for older people requiring support and the development of a feasibility study for the provision of an older people’s village.  Housing staff continued to be engaged with Social Services to develop Housing with Care Strategy.  However, the Housing Service was currently awaiting the outcome of a new Integrated Care Funding bid to continue the work of the regional Accommodation Discharge Service and minimise the delayed transfers of care for those aged 60 and over.  In addition, the Committee also noted that an Accommodation Solution officer had been recruited to facilitate people leaving hospital more quickly.  Also, the Committee was asked to note the work undertaken by the new step down facility at Redland House and the fast tracking of disability facility grants.

 

HS/A123: The implementation of the first year of the newly adopted Local Housing Strategy had slipped because there had been changes in staff responsibility for Empty Homes due to the restructure and amalgamation of posts with Cardiff and Bridgend Councils.  In addition, there had also been staff changes in the Planning department who deal with the delivery of Section 106 Agreements.  This action would be carried forward during 2016.     

 

Underperformance was reported in relation to four indicators aligned to Outcome 1:

 

HS/M005: Whilst the average number of days to let an empty property had missed target, void performance had steadily improved over the year and whilst the cumulative figure sat at 35.18, the spot target for this measure was 29.4; which had met the target for 30 days of the year.  In 2016 there would be new measures put in place to further improve performance, with a new cumulative target of 28 days.

 

HS/M020: The percentage of properties with a valid electrical certificate had missed target as there were still a large number of properties with outstanding condition or installation certificates awaited from WHQS contractors.  Further works were being undertaken by the Asset Team to ascertain the definitive list of properties to be programmed in for a condition inspection over the next 12 months.

 

HS/M021: Although the percentage of homes under Local Authority ownership brought up to WHQS had slipped, the external work programme was due to be completed over the next year; as such this figure should improve greatly as the internal works programme was completed.

 

HHA017b: The average number of days that all homeless households spent in other forms of temporary accommodation had failed to meet its target of 100 days, with a reported performance of 121.85.  The service continued to seek alternative suitable permanent housing solutions which had resulted in the average number of days further reducing between quarters.

 

Against Outcome 2 (Every customer is highly satisfied with the service we directly provide - non-housing services) teams had examined internal services provided to clients and responded to the Reshaping Services agenda by revising services and improving the efficiency of the workforce to ensure that customers were highly satisfied with services provided by the Council.  This project would continue to develop in response to the ongoing challenge (HS/A110).

 

A mobile working solution had been implemented and was now operational.  This had contributed towards the successful completion of work within timescales ensuring homes were safe and tenants were satisfied with the works undertaken.  The Asset Management System continued to be updated to ensure all information received from the WHQS work programme was entered correctly; this would ensure that the information held by the Council was accurate and reliable and that homes were safe (HS/A124).   

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services also added that it would be useful for the Scrutiny Committee to receive a presentation of the findings following the survey of tenants.

 

Slippage was reported in relation to two actions under Outcome 2:

 

HS/A105: The review of internal stores had slipped.  Tenders had been issued to consultants to consider the wider commercial issues and value of stores function. The project would now be delivered during the 2016-17 financial year.

 

HS/A106: Work was ongoing in developing of a facilities management approach to public buildings in terms of cleaning compliance and responsive repairs.  The Schools Service Level Agreement (SLA) had been reviewed and amended to make service delivery clearer.  A regular SLA liaison meeting had established with Public Buildings to check service delivery and efficiency.  Schools' compliance was now being considered as part of a wider project to evaluate the roles and responsibility of all compliance work delivered by a range of Directorates and would be progressed during the 2016 financial year. 

 

No underperformance was reported in relation to the five Indicators aligned to Outcome 2:

 

Against Outcome 3 (All citizens in the Vale live and work in safe and secure communities), the Community Safety restructure had been completed and took effect from 1st March.  The restructure would ensure that an holistic approach to community safety in the Vale was adopted with staff having the ability to work in any area of Community Safety thereby contributing to the outcome that all citizens live and work in safe and secure communities.  Staff had also taken part in housing team meetings to strengthen the joint work that was carried out (HS/A126). 

 

During Quarter 4, the Education, Prevention and Training sub group was established for domestic violence.  This should contribute towards a reduction of incidents of domestic abuse and substance misuse in the Vale ensuring that residents feel safe and secure in their communities.  Terms of Reference for the sub group have been agreed which would ensure that roles and responsibilities were clearly defined going forward (HS/A127).

 

In referring to the number of strategies around Housing Services that had slipped, the Committee agreed that a timetable would be provided to show when reports would be presented to the Committee. 

 

With regard to indicator DS/MO12 (the percentage of all domestic abuse incidents which are repeat offences), a Committee Member queried when the date would be available.  In reply, the Head of Housing and Building Services stated that the Police needed to undertake more work in recording incidents.

 

In querying progress in relation to action reference HS/A105 regarding the review of the internal stores service, Committee was advised that tenders had been issued to consultants to consider the wider commercial issues and value of the stores function.  In addition, Members noted that this was being progressed via the National Procurement Centre.  The Council had concerns as whether the level of savings was achievable and this was why a consultant had been brought in. 

 

A Committee Member queried the satisfaction levels as shown in Indicators HS/M004 and HS/M022.  In reply, the Committee noted that the average score for HS/M004 was relatively high while the percentage of tenants satisfied as detailed within HS/M022 was low and the Committee queried whether these figures were correct.  In reply, the Head of Housing and Building Services stated that results from these indicators would be checked and a response would be forwarded via e-mail.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Housing and Building Services performance results and the progress made towards achieving key outcomes as outlined in the Corporate Plan 2013-17, the Outcome Agreement with Welsh Government 2013-16 and the Improvement Plan Part 2 2015-16 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure the Council was effectively assessing its performance in line with the requirement to secure continuous improvement as outlined in the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2009.

 

 

223       YOUTH OFFENDING SERVICE: END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE REPORT FOR THE PERIOD APRIL 2015 TO MARCH 2016 (DSS) –

 

The Youth Offending Service (YOS) Manager presented the report, the purpose of which was to inform Committee about the performance of the YOS during the period April 2015 to March 2016. 

 

Attached at Appendix 1 to the report was an update of the performance for April 2015 to March 2016.  This included an analysis of the performance data and also provided a summary of the changes to the Welsh Key Performance Indicators during 2014/15. 

 

The report advised that performance data for First Time Entrants to the Youth Justice System was for the 12 months from January 2015 to December 2015.  Performance reflected a 7.5% increase in First Time Entrants, when compared to the same period in 2014 (rising from 40 to 43).  The YOS Manager stated that there was a downward trend in performance for the nine month period to September 2015 and that it may be that the YOS had reached a plateau in relation to further reductions.  In addition, a reduction in reoffending continued to be a key priority for the YOS.  The information presented showed a decrease in the binary rate (number of young people reoffending) from 44.2% to 41.9% and this was lower than the South Wales average at 43.6% but higher than the Welsh average of 40.3%.  The Committee was also advised that the frequency rate of reoffending (number of re-offences committed by young people) demonstrated a decrease, from 1.54 to 1.05.  Performance was therefore positive because both rates had decreased.

 

Members were informed that there had been a further decrease in the number of young people in the overall cohort (95 down to 86 young people) and a decrease in the number of reoffenders (42 down to 36).  There had also been a decrease in the number of re-offences (146 down to 90).  This reflected positive performance in relation to reoffending. 

 

The YOS had seen a reduction in the custodial rate, with only two young people being sentenced to custody between April 2015 and March 2016.  This compared to six for the same period in 2014 to 2015.  This continued the positive downward trend in custody since it was identified in 2014 that the Vale was experiencing higher than average custodial rates.

 

In respect of engagement in education, training and employment, the Performance Indicator had changed and it now reflected the number of hours in education that a young person had been offered, alongside the number of hours the young person attended the provision.  This information enabled stakeholders to identify whether performance was being affected by a lack of suitable provision or if there were attendance issues which needed to be addressed.  The detailed performance information was outlined in Appendix 1, but overall the year showed a decline in performance.  The information presented showed that not all young people within the cohort were in receipt of the mandatory 25 hours full statutory school age provision or 16 hours for post 16 provisions. 

 

The report outlined that performance for statutory school age showed that some young people were not attending any provision despite these being offered.  The Educational Welfare Officers were involved and attempts made to identify alternative placements for young people placed outside of the area.  Performance for young people post 16 demonstrated the difficult environment within which the Careers Wales Officer was working.  A number of young people who had been disengaged from education or training had started to engage with the Moving Forward Project.  These young people had attended five hours per week to prepare them for work placements or training placements.  This involvement ended before intervention by the YOS ceased.  As a result, there was a dip in performance as the young people were not receiving any provision at the end of their Orders. 

 

A decline in performance was also reported in relation to access to suitable accommodation during quarters 3 and 4 of 2015/16.  This related to three young people that had been placed in bed and breakfast while waiting for more suitable supported accommodation.

 

Performance in respect of access to appropriate support for substance misuse issues demonstrated that some young people could be difficult to engage in the assessment process within the five day timescale.  However, once young people did engage following assessment, the majority of them would continue to engage in treatment.

 

With regard to Victim Participation, the Committee was advised that this was a local measure.  The YOS had a duty to comply with the Victim’s Code of Practice and to promote community confidence in the Criminal Justice System.  In order to demonstrate the work undertaken by the YOS in relation to restorative justice, a local performance measure had been introduced based on the former Youth Justice Board measure which was no longer in use nationally i.e. the engagement with 25% of victims in direct restorative practices.  The Vale of Glamorgan YOS actively promoted restorative practices and this was reflected in the performance for the year which in every quarter was 50% engagement or above. 

 

In relation to funding, the YOS Manager advised Members that performance achieved was within allocated resources and Members should be aware that the Youth Justice Board grant that was confirmed on 20th April, 2016 included a 12% reduction in funding. 

 

In querying the support for mental health, the Committee was advised that there was a new performance measure regarding access to mental health services.  Improvement in this area was a key strategic aim of the Welsh Government / Youth Justice Board.  This measure identified if young people were appropriately screened within ten working days of sentence and, where appropriate, received a mental health assessment within 10 working days of screening.  Evidence from performance for the year indicated that screening and assessment was not taking place within identified timescales in every case. 

 

The YOS manager advised that the YOS did not have access to dedicated provision in respect of mental health, as many young people and children would not meet the tier 3 threshold for treatment by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.  Work was therefore ongoing by the Health Board to develop new emotional wellbeing and mental health services for children and young people across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.  It was anticipated that performance in this area would not improve significantly until these services were embedded and referral pathways established.

 

A question was raised by Chair in relation to a response from the Youth Justice Board in relation to the reduction in funding. No response was received and a reminder of the letter had been sent to the incoming Chief Executive to request a response.

 

Having considered the report, the Committee

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the performance of the Youth Offending Service during the period April 2015 to March 2016 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure that Elected Members are able to exercise effective oversight of the Youth Offending Service performance against designed indicators (UK, devolved and local).

 

 

224       BARRY COMMUNITIES FIRST CLUSTER PROGRAMME PERFORMANCE 2015-16 (HRP) –

 

The Head of Regeneration and Planning presented the report, the purpose of which was to provide an update on the progress and performance of the Barry Communities First (BCF) Cluster programme for the reporting period 2015-16.  The report also provided an update on the developments and progression of the programme for 2016-17 and beyond.  For this item, the Committee also welcomed the BCF Cluster Manager.

 

In presenting the report, the Head of Regeneration and Planning stated that Communities First originated in 2002 and had had a presence in Barry since then.  However, the programme was reviewed in 2012 and changed significantly in 2013 to the specific “Tackling Poverty” programme that it was today.  The Barry Cluster was one of 52 Clusters spread throughout Wales in areas where there were significant and qualifying levels of relative deprivation. 

 

The BCF Cluster programme was initially created in 2012 and was located in the Lower Super Output Areas of Castleland, Cadoc, Court, Gibbonsdown and Buttrills.  These areas were chosen because they fell into the bottom 20% of the most deprived areas in the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

Committee was advised that the Cluster programme had three main themes, these being Healthy, Prosperous and Learning Communities.  The programme had an extensive Community Involvement Plan (CIP) which was essentially a statement of intent around how the Cluster programme and team would engage with the Cluster community.

 

BCF staff worked very closely with other departments of the Council and external stakeholders such as the Glamorgan Voluntary Service, Job Centres, Cardiff and Vale Citizens Advice Bureau and Public Health Wales.   Virtually all projects involved partnership with other agencies and this ensured that the programme remained relevant and did not duplicate any work being undertaken. 

 

BCF now had very strong links to two of the Vale’s other Tackling Poverty programmes, these being Flying Start and Families First.  Closer alignment of all three programmes was being further developed under the auspices of the Vale’s Poverty Alignment Group (PAG), which also included Supporting People and Public Health Wales. 

 

The report outlined the importance of multi-agency partnership working to the overall functioning of the BCF programme.  The BCF was overseen by a multi-agency Partnership Board which offered direction and guidance, especially in specialist areas e.g. from Cardiff and Vale Citizens Advice Bureau and Cardiff and Vale Credit Union. 

 

Attached at Appendix 1 to the report was the 2015/16 Delivery Plan that included targets that were agreed with Welsh Government when funding was approved.  The report advised that most targets for 2015/16 had been met or exceeded.

 

In terms of prosperity, this area covered supporting people into work and was split into services for 16 to 24 year olds and people aged 25+.  Targets were met by the Prosperity team running job clubs, meeting participants on the programme on a 1:1 basis and by events such as vocational training, job fairs and specific recruitment projects with employers such as Asda.  All were run in conjunction with partners e.g. BCF staff visiting Barry Job Centre Plus (JCP) on a weekly basis to discuss issues with JCP advisors and to collect referrals.

 

With regard to job fairs, Committee was advised that last year a total of 28 employers had attended the event in the Vale. 

 

The report stated that the Jobs Growth Wales (JGW) mentor role ended during the reporting period and instead, the role had been subsumed into the Not in Employment, Training or Education (NEETs) role.  This decision was taken because the Welsh Government ended their specific JGW programme for Communities First Clusters throughout Wales.

 

With regard to the Digital Drop-In project, the report advised that this had only just failed to reach its targets, but they were within an acceptable intervention rate (less than 15%).  This decrease was the result of the previous postholder leaving and a relatively new member of staff taking on those duties. 

 

In the theme of Learning, the report stated that two Learning projects were currently being run, one was for children moving from Primary School to Secondary School and was called the Transition Project and the other was a partnership with Families First, Putting Families First (PFF).  This project was designed to work with parents on building confidence to become better parents, improve the way they encouraged their children to learn and also to reinforce positive messages about their children attending and doing well at school.

 

In addition, BCF would also run a number of projects during the school holiday period.  In the Summer of 2015 a project was run in conjunction with Parkside Christian Centre and Gibbonsdown Children’s Centre to take a group of children to experience the facilities at Atlantic College.  In turn, BCF supported Atlantic College with their Annual Conference where BCF staff provided information and expertise to the students about poverty in Wales.

 

With regard to the theme of Health, projects were managed by the two Community Wellbeing Coaches who began their employment with Newydd Housing with funding initially provided by the Barry Regeneration Partnership Board, before being transferred to the Vale Council and BCF in 2014. 

 

Health provision was split into four projects, these being Promoting Physical Wellbeing, Promoting Mental Wellbeing, Encouraging Healthy Eating and Reducing Risks in Sexual Health, Smoking and Substance Misuse.  The report stated that although these projects had not achieved the same number of outcomes as the previous year, the outcomes achieved were still quite substantial, e.g. 680 people when questioned stated they had a positive attitude to improving their physical health as opposed to 739 previously.

 

The report also informed Members of the work in relation to Community Involvement.  This included the Pyramid of Engagement model and was used to communicate and interact with the Cluster communities, a process which was very similar to co-production.  However, it had been recognised that BCF had not been entirely successful at supporting Cluster residents to reach the highest level e.g. to shape the Council’s services at a more strategic level on a regular basis or in becoming Partnership Board members. 

 

The report stated that BCF had a number of shared outcome projects with other organisations.  For example, Cardiff and Vale Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) provided a Financial Inclusion project which aimed to improve financial capability, manage debt and raise income for Cluster residents.  The Committee noted that although the project had not reached its targets, overall it had done well given the nature of the reporting framework i.e. the funders CAB Cymru imposed the same target expectations on the Cardiff and Vale CAB as Clusters with much larger populations.  Due to the relatively low numbers, the CAB had agreed to move the Outreach provision from the main office, where there was relatively little footfall, to the Flying Start building on Gladstone Road for the 2016/17 period. 

 

The report further advised that the Club Innov8 project included five schools in the area, Bryn Hafren Comprehensive, Cadoxton Primary, Jenner Park Primary, Palmerston Primary and Colcot Primary Schools.  The project also included the Big Learning Company and ran from 2013 until 2016.  It was classed as a joint funded project between the Welsh Government and the schools, who were expected to use their Pupil Deprivation Grant (PDG) to fund the project on a 50:50 basis (£120,000 p.a.).  The report advised that the main barrier throughout the project was the inability to persuade other Cluster schools to utilise their PDG and join this project. 

 

As a result of the BCF involvement in this project, it had taken the opportunity work with some of the schools mentioned as part of the Big Learning Company’s Welsh Government funded Digital researchers Shared Outcomes project, which improved outcomes in the area of Transition.

 

In terms of the future of the Cluster programme, Welsh Government had not yet made a firm commitment about the future of Communities First Programme beyond March 2017. Communities for Work was a new European Social Fund and Welsh Government programme designed to sit alongside Communities First.  However, BCF had not received any official indication from the Welsh Government about the future of this programme beyond March 2018.

 

In querying how the BCF advertised its services, the Committee was advised that this was carried out in various different ways.  This included close working with partner organisations to promote the BCF and also through the use of regular Facebook posts and also through Twitter feeds.  BCF would also put up posters and would also hand out leaflets during events.  The BCF was well known to local schools and job centres and it was important to continually remind these organisations of the work of the BCF and how to make referrals.

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services also alluded to the importance of the Financial Inclusion Group and the close work undertaken by this and the BCF.  She advised that a mapping exercise was being undertaken because both groups had a strategic partnership and it was important that each group had a split focus to ensure that all individuals received some level of support.

 

A Committee Member commented on the good range of outcomes achieved by the BCF project and queried the feedback process.  In reply the BCF Manager stated that the BCF used the CEMP system to record customer feedback and this had been developed by a community worker as opposed to an IT specialist.  It was therefore not an onerous task to record customer views and opinions. 

 

In reply to a query about the expectations that the BCF had of the Scrutiny Committee, the BCF Manager advised that this related to publicising the work of the BCF and also around the Committee providing support and advice. 

 

The Chairman stated that it was a shame that other schools had not signed up to the Club Innov8 project.  The BCF Manager stated that the BCF had tried hard to persuade other schools to participate in the project, but some schools were reluctant to use their PDG for this purpose.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the progress of the 2015/16 Barry Communities First Cluster Programme and Delivery Plan be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T an update on the progress and performance of the Barry Communities First Cluster be provided for the next reporting year.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To keep Members of the Scrutiny Committee apprised of the performance and progress of the BCF Cluster Programme.

 

 

225       1ST QUARTER SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND WORK PROGRAMME SCHEDULE 2016/17 (MD) –

 

Members were advised of progress in relation to the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations and were asked to confirm the work programme schedule for 2016/17.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the status of actions listed in Appendices A and B be approved and those actions listed below agreed completed.

 

09 March 2016 [previous Scrutiny Committee (Housing   and Public Protection)]

Min. No. 924 – Supporting   People Local Commissioning Plan 2016 - 2019 (REF) – Recommended 

(2)   That Cabinet be informed that Scrutiny   Committee regretted the possibility that cuts in the Supporting Services   budget may be necessary.

 

 

(3)   That Cabinet be requested to recognise the   value of preventative work in reducing the cost of budgets for statutory   services.

 

 

 

(2&3)   Cabinet, on 11th April, 2016,   resolved

[1]   That the contents of the report be noted.

[2]   That Cabinet values the prevention and   mitigation work carried out by the department and are acutely aware of the   cuts affecting services.

[3]   That the department be thanked for their   hard work in supporting people.

(Min. No. C3132 refers)

Completed

13 April 2016 [previous Scrutiny Committee (Housing   and Public Protection)]

Min. No. 996 –   Improvement Plan Part 1 (Improvement Objectives 2016/17) (DEH) – Recommended that the   proposed Improvement Objectives for 2016/17 be endorsed and that Cabinet be   informed of the view of the Committee that each Improvement Objective must be   linked to its outcomes and actions.

 

 Cabinet, on 25th   April, 2016, noted the contents of the report and resolved that the comments   from the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) be considered   alongside the report to be discussed later on the agenda.

(Min. No. C3148 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 997 – Service   Plan 2016-20: Shared Regulatory Services (DEHS) – Recommended

(2)   That the Service Plan be forwarded to   Cabinet for their consideration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(3)   That consideration be given to awareness   raising presentations to take place at the Voluntary Sector Joint Liaison   Committee and the Community Liaison Committee regarding the Action ‘Extend   the Rapid Response system to protect vulnerable people from the activities of   rogue traders’.

 

 

 

(2)   Cabinet, on 9th May, 2016,   resolved that the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and   Public Protection) be noted and further consideration alongside the Service   Plans from the remaining Scrutiny Committees in a consolidated report due to   be submitted to a future Cabinet meeting.

(Min. No. C3168 refers)

Completed

(3)   Appropriate Officer advised to discuss   with relevant Chairmen the appropriateness of such presentations.

Completed

Min. No. 998 – 4th   Quarter Scrutiny Decision Tracking of Recommendations (MD) – Recommended

(2)   That the following items be included   within the Forward Work Programme:

  •   The Council’s Revenue and Benefits Manager be invited to attend a   meeting of the Committee re Housing (Wales) Bill (Minute No. 367, 10th September,   2014)
  •   The Head of Adult Services/Locality Manager be invited to address a   future meeting of the Committee regarding the Supporting People Local   Commissioning Plan 2015/2018 (Minute No. 843, 4th February,   2015).

 

  

 

Committee’s Forward Work   Programme schedule updated.

Completed

18 May 2016

Min. No. 47 – Vale of   Glamorgan Council Housing - Policy on Application of the Welsh Housing   Quality Standard (REF) – Recommended that the draft Vale of Glamorgan Council Housing Policy   on Application of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard be endorsed and that   Cabinet be so informed.

 

 

Cabinet, on 6th   June, 2016, resolved that the comments from the Scrutiny Committee Homes and   Safe Communities be noted and the “Vale of Glamorgan Council Housing – Policy   on Application of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard” be endorsed.

(Min. No. C3200 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 48 – Service   Plan 2016-20: Housing and Building Services (DEH) – Recommended 

(2)   That Cabinet be informed of the view of   the Committee that there were still two areas of weakness that should be   addressed in future Service Plans, i.e.

1.  There was no section for analysis of strengths and weaknesses in   delivery of the ‘main functions’ which would inform the priorities and   actions to follow.

2.  The Action Plan format listed individual ‘actions’ first and then   ‘outcomes’ expected from each action;    this was action focussed not outcome focussed as required.  It was felt that intended outcomes should   be identified first and then the actions listed which would contribute to   achieving each outcome.  This would   provide a more purposeful approach with coherent grouping of actions towards   outcomes, and prompt considerations of actions necessary or desirable to   achieve outcomes which were not currently undertaken.

 

 

Cabinet, on 23rd   May 2016, resolved that the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee Homes   and Safe Communities be noted and considered alongside the Service Plans 2016-20   report later on the Agenda.

(Min. No. C3185 refers)

Cabinet, on 23rd   May 2016, resolved that the Service Plans for 2016-20 be agreed.

(Min No C3186 refers)

Completed

15 June 2016

Min. No. 104 – Call-In – Vale   of Glamorgan Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment May 2016 – Recommended

(1)   That the Homes and Safe Communities   Scrutiny Committee endorses Cabinet Resolution for the Head of Regeneration   and Planning to issue a letter to the Travellers currently occupying the   unauthorised site at Hayes Road, Sully to provide them with the assurance   that no planning enforcement action will be pursued against their residential   use of the site within the subsequent five year period from the date of the   letter.

(2)   That the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny   Committee endorses the Council adopting the Vale of Glamorgan’s Gypsy and   Traveller Accommodation Assessment, May 2016.

 

 

(1&2)   Cabinet, on 20th June, 2016,   resolved

[1]   That the original resolutions of cabinet   made on 6 June, 2016 (Minute number C3206 refers) be endorsed.

[2]   That it be noted the Managing Director   will use his Emergency Powers to ensure the Vale of Glamorgan Gypsy and   Traveller Accommodation Assessment, May 2016 is submitted to Welsh Government   and the Independent Planning Inspector before the end of June deadline, as   part of the LDP examination in public requirements.

(Min. No. C3217 refers)

Completed

 

(2)       T H A T the work programme schedule attached at Appendix C be approved and uploaded to the Council’s website.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To maintain effective tracking of the Committee’s recommendations.

 

(2)       For public information.

 

 

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