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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 16th July, 2013.

 

Present: Councillor M.R. Wilson (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. P. Drake (Vice-Chairman); Councillors K.J. Geary, H.C. Hamilton, H.J.W. James, P.G. King, R.A. Penrose and G. Roberts.

 

 

234     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors K. Hatton and A.C. Williams.

 

 

235     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 25th June, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

236     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

In relation to Agenda Item No. 6 (Barry College) Cllr Mark Wilson had dispensation from the Standards Committee to speak only on the matter and as a Governor of Gladstone Primary Cllr P Drake was able to speak and vote on the matter. 

 

 

237     REVENUE MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL 2013 TO 31ST MAY 2013 (MD) –

 

Although the Agenda read 1st April to 30th April 2013, the report was for the period 1st April to 31st May 2013. 

 

The Head of Financial Services, in presenting the report, referred to the volatile nature of some of the budgets which would be regularly monitored.  The report highlighted that overall the Education Budget was projected to balance as at the end of March 2014 and that any savings identified would be available to be redirected in the School Investment Strategy or other reserves.

 

With regard to Social Services, it was noted that the increased demand for services was added pressure for the Directorate to achieve its savings target for 2013/14.  The report specifically referred to Children and Young People’s Services and Adult Services as detailed below:

 

Children and Young People's Services - The major ongoing issue concerning this service was reported as the continued pressure to manage the children’s placements budget.  While the number of Looked After Children had been decreasing, some children had increasing complex needs which could result in high cost placements being required.

Adult Services - The major issue concerning this service was the continuing pressure on Community Care Packages, which again was an extremely volatile budget.  At present, the projected year end position was for an overspend of £995k however this included the savings target for the year of £685k.  Work was ongoing to ensure that the savings were implemented and the shortfall addressed.  There had been a projected increase in income received under the Deferred Payment Scheme which could partly offset this position.  However, it was considered that the eventual year end position would be for a balanced budget.

 

With regard to the Directorates for Visible Services and Development Services the current forecast overall was for a balanced budget, with most service areas reporting a current favourable variance.  However for Leisure Services an adverse variance of £5k. to the profiled budget was reported although the budget was currently expected to outturn on target as there were continued pressures on the service which would be closely monitored.

 

Appendix 1 to the report detailed the projected outturn for 2013/14, which was shown in comparison with the revenue budget.

 

In considering the report Members felt that in reporting favourable variances officers may be too complacent and further consideration should be given to managing services differently with the possibility of redirecting the funds to other service areas where possible.  Although aware that many issues could affect the way in which spending was predicted they considered that the Council should reconsider its current approach to budgeting.  Members were also keen to receive reports that identified trends which would inform Members as to whether the budgets were running ahead or behind.  Although aware that, particularly for Social Services, some service areas were dependent upon market forces, it was important that costs could be projected ahead.  It was also thought that future reports should be presented in graphical and percentage format and contain more detailed profiling. 

 

Having considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the position with regard to the Authority’s 2013/14 Revenue Budget be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T future reports be reformatted to provide Members with information in graphical and percentage format and to include more detailed profiling.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To apprise Members.

 

(2)       To provide Members with more detailed information.

 

 

238     CAPITAL MONITORING REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 31ST MAY 2013 (MD) –

 

Appendix 1 to the report detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st May 2013.  The Appendix also included approved slippage from unspent committed capital expenditure slipped from 2012/13 to 2013/14. These had been approved by exercising the Managing Director’s delegated emergency powers the details of which were to be included in a report to Cabinet on 29th July 2013. . 

 

The report before Committee also highlighted the following areas:

 

Learning and Skills

 

Schools’ IT Loans - an annual budget of £150k had been drawn up by various primary and secondary schools each year in order to purchase new IT equipment via initial use of the Council's IT Fund which was repaid over a fixed period, typically three years. The arrangement saved the Authority money by avoiding the relatively high interest rates charged on external lease purchase agreements and, in addition, the equipment could be retained by the schools at the end of the repayment term rather than being returned to the leasing company.  It was therefore proposed that Cabinet approve the annual increase of £50k, to £200k p.a. on this budget, for the current and future years, in order to maximise use of this scheme.

 

Cashless Catering and Management Information System - an allocation of £300k was in place for 2013/14 for the introduction of a fully integrated cashless catering operation in all primary and secondary schools which, amongst other efficiencies, it was reported should free up administration time spent on collecting school dinner money. The rollout over all schools, however, was likely to take longer than one year to complete so the client had requested that their budget be split between 2013/14 and 2014/15. It was therefore requested that £140k remain in 2013/14 but that the sum of £160k be carried forward into 2014/15 to complete the roll out.

 

Visible Services and Housing

Ewenny Road Bridge - an allocation of £1m had been approved as the Council's contribution towards Ewenny Road bridge replacement works for 2013/14.  The sum represented a 53% share of expected costs of works which would be procured and managed by Network Rail. It was currently anticipated that the planned profile for the scheme would run from January 2014 through to July 2014, although final programme details from Network Rail were awaited.  They were planning to draw down the Council's contribution once their own funding was exhausted and, as a consequence, it had become clear that the majority of the Council's £1m allocation would now not be required until 2014/15.  It was proposed therefore to leave the sum of £100k in the current year's capital programme to cover a potential drawdown this year and slip the remaining £900k to 2014/15.

 

Development Services

 

S106 Cogan Hill / Plessey Street junction phases 1 and 2 - works were required to improve the traffic flow into and out of Penarth from the Barons Court junction.  Funding was available from s106 funds from the Penarth Heights development and had to be fully spent by September 2030.  Phasing at the Barons Court junction traffic signals had recently been undertaken and it was intended to monitor functioning of these changes to ensure effective operation of these signals before proceeding with design of the Penarth junctions.  As a result, detailed design on the s106 funding was not likely to commence before January 2014 and it was proposed to reduce the current year’s budget to £30k and carry forward the balance of £227k into 2014/15 when proposed construction works could be progressed. Members were informed that if it was possible to bring the programme forward this would be done as a matter of priority.

 

Resources

 

Carbon Management Fund - the self-financing fund was established with the help of some £300k grant from Salix Finance in 2008/09 and was used to achieve reductions in energy costs at council premises.  Over 50 projects had been completed to date, including loft and cavity wall insulation, draught exclusion and pipe insulation, Leisure Centre pool covers as well as LED lighting and lighting controls.  Works costs were recharged to clients over a payback period that mirrored savings achieved in energy costs, hence replenishing the fund. There was currently £213k available in this fund that was intended to be spent on further schemes this year so it was requested that Cabinet approve the increase in the Capital Programme from the current approval of £88k (including slippage of £13k) to £213k in order to proceed with further energy reduction schemes.

 

The report also highlighted that Cabinet had previously agreed that further information would be provided where schemes had a value of over £500k and showed a variance of 20% or more between actual spend and the profile.  The Housing Improvement Programme and Disabled Facilities Grants met this criteria the details for which were contained within the report.

 

In relation to Cogan Hill/ Plassey Street junction scheme the Head of Financial Services agreed to send Members more details in respect of the proposals, including any further grant funding.  

 

In referring to the Cashless Catering and Management Information System, Members requested that the scheme be proceeded with as a matter of urgency to avoid the issue of causing any embarrassment to school children in receipt of free school meals and requested further information on the benefits of such a system.

 

In response to a query as to when the funds for Ewenny Road Bridge would commence to be drawn down the Head of Service agreed to email Members with the information.  It was also considered appropriate for a report to be presented to the Committee in due course detailing issues with other bridges in the Vale of Glamorgan

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T a report detailing other bridge strengthening schemes be presented to the Committee in due course.

 

(2)       T H A T a report on the Cashless Catering and Management Information System detailing the benefits and any issues be presented to the Scrutiny Committees (Corporate Resources) and (Lifelong Learning).

 

(3)       T H A T the following recommendations be agreed and referred to Cabinet and Council accordingly:

 

·               Schools’ IT Loans – increase the budget to £200k. (funded initially from the IT Fund, repayable by the schools) (refer to Cabinet)

·               Cashless Catering and Management Information System – reduce the budget to £140k. (carry forward £160k. into 2014/15) (refer to Cabinet)

·               Section 106 Cogan Hill / Plassey Street junction phases 1 and 2 – reduce the budget to £30k. (carry £227k. forward to 2014/15) (refer to Cabinet)

·               Carbon Management Fund – increase the budget by £125k. to £213k. (funded from the Energy Management Fund) (refer to Cabinet)

·               Ewenny Road Bridge – reduce the budget to £100k. (carry forward £900k. to 2014/15) (refer to Cabinet and Council).

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       For Members information

 

(2)      For consideration

 

(3)       To allow schemes to proceed in the current or future financial years.

 

 

239     CLOSURE OF ACCOUNTS 2012/13 (MD) –

 

The Head of Service advised that the report provided a detailed account of the provisional financial position of the Council for 2012/13.  The Council had agreed the Authority’s budget requirement for 2012/13 on 7th March 2012 which represented estimated net expenditure for the Authority of £203,056,490. Total expenditure was to be financed by Revenue Support Grant (£117,667,642), National Non-Domestic Rates contribution (£33,507,488) and Council Taxpayers (£51,881,360). The Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) for the year was £205,294,361.

 

The revenue estimates had been amended  and approved by Cabinet during the financial year, however they were at the same overall net level as the original estimate £203.556m. (before use of General Reserves of £500k). The actual expenditure against this for 2012/13 was £201.221m., which was £2.335m. below the amended revenue estimate.

 

Appendix '1' amended the revised estimates to take account of the following adjustments with it being reported that there was no overall effect on the Authority.

 

IAS 19 Retirement Benefits. The purpose of 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 the employees.  Figures provided by the actuary differed from that estimated and the movements needed to be incorporated into the accounts.

 

Asset Rents. This charge could vary for a year due to an increase / decrease in the valuation of assets. The movements needed to be incorporated into the accounts.

 

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 would then be made to the Environment Agency to cover the charge in respect of those emissions.  The original estimate to cover the estimated cost had been included in Policy; however it had now been redistributed to the relevant service.

 

The report also provided the Committee with the table below which compared the amended estimate and the actual expenditure for the Authority

 

Service

Amended Revenue Estimate

Total Provisional Actual

Variance Favourable  () Adverse

 

       £’000

          £’000

             £’000

Learning and Skills

 

 

 

Education and Schools

90,502

90,483

19

Libraries

2,609

2,606

3

Lifelong Learning

199

197

2

Youth Services

1,142

1,139

3

Catering

1,021

1,016

5

 

 

 

 

 

Social Services

 

 

 

Children and Young People

14,092

14,316

(224)

Adult Services

33,914

33,679

235

Business Management and Innovation

293

293

0

YOS

671

655

16

 

 

 

 

Visible Services and Housing

 

 

 

Environment and Visible Services

17,820

17,783

37

Parks and Ground Maintenance

3,319

3,344

(25)

Building Services

25

23

2

General Fund Housing

1,034

1,020

14

 

 

 

 

Development Services

 

 

 

Public Protection

2,469

2,467

2

Private Housing

1,542

1,517

25

Planning and Transportation

5,104

5,096

8

Leisure

4,989

4,831

158

Economic Development

874

874

0

 

 

 

 

Managing Director

 

 

 

Resources

129

53

76

Corporate and Customer Services

349

341

8

General Policy

21,459

19,488

1,971

 

 

 

 

Grand Total

203,556

201,221

2,335

 

The main reasons for the variances were detailed further in the report at paragraphs 12 to 58. 

 

In referring to the Learning and Development budget, the Head of Financial Services advised that the School Improvement Service was showing an underspend of £58k and that following concerns within the Access and Inclusion budget this had been assisted by a number of other service areas as well as some other budgets that had been decomitted in the year which were detailed in the report.  Also the contribution from the ring fenced Mainstream transport budget in Development Services of £158k.  The Strategic Planning and Performance Budget was also underspent by £59k and a sum of £190k had been contributed by schools included in the PLC Scheme which had been transferred to the School Investment Strategy Reserve as well as a £27k underspend on the schools’ long term sickness reserve.

 

Members wished to record their appreciation to all staff who had brought the budget in at an underspend. In referring to paragraph 15, the increase in the General Reserves, Members’ again took the opportunity to congratulate officers but noted that the  Council may have unplanned contingencies that it may wish to utilise the Reserves for.

 

In referring to the fact that the overall position on the 2012/13 Capital Programme was a net underspend of £2.265m. it was accepted that priorities could change throughout the year.

 

With regard to the Leisure Service refurbishment and the delays in the capital spend Members were informed that the Vice-Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee had made a request for consideration of matter for a detailed report which was scheduled to be presented to the October meeting of the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment).  The Head of Service also advised that the Property Section was currently working with Parkwood Leisure on an agreed programme of works.

 

Following further discussion Members also requested to receive a detailed breakdown on the overspend of £73k on the employee budget for Grounds Maintenance and details on the purpose of the Miscellaneous Building Services Technology reserve via email. 

 

Having considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the information as detailed above be forwarded to Members when available.

 

(2)       T H A T the service requests in Appendix 5 to the report and the use of the Managing Director’s Emergency Powers be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To inform Members.

 

(2)       To note the amendments to the 2013/14 Capital Programme due to slippage from 2012/13.

 

(3)       In view of the contents of the report.

 

 

240     END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE 2012/13 AND PERFORMANCE INDICATORS 2013/14 (MD) –

 

Committee was advised that the service plans for 2013/14 had been revised and were now designed to focus on the achievement objectives within each directorate in order to contribute towards outcomes for members of the public.  A review of performance indicators had also taken place to ensure that the Council collected indicators which effectively monitored service plan objectives and outcomes.

 

The action monitoring and performance reports which were monitored by the Committee for each service area were attached as appendices to the report which highlighted the proposals to be deleted for 2013/14.  Also attached to the report was an additional document which listed all the performance indicators for each service area which were being proposed for collection as part of the 2013/14 service plan monitoring.  All measures had been renamed for ease of reference in relation to the new service plans. In the process of reviewing the performance indicators it had been noted that the corporate indicators collected within all service areas were cross cutting and did not directly contribute to any one objective within service plans. It was therefore proposed that sickness, leavers and PDR figures be reported for all service areas to Corporate Resources on a quarterly basis and areas of concern referred to the appropriate Scrutiny Committees for analysis.

 

In considering the report the Democratic and Scrutiny officer advised that although the report covered all service areas, the performance indicators attached at Appendix 1 for Corporate and Customer Services and at Appendix 2 for HR and Democratic Services had been deferred for consideration to the September meeting in consultation with the Chairman. 

 

(i)         ICT

 

The Head of Service advised that with regard to the level for equalities, it had been agreed with the Equalities Team that Level 4 was not applicable due to the internal nature of the service.  The Vale Equalities Scheme had also now been superseded by the Strategic Equality Plan.    

 

In referring to slippage in relation to ICT/A060 the migration of Windows 7 and Office 2010 to all Council desktop PCs, Members were advised that the Department hoped to achieve the migration by April 2014. They were still in the process of identifying the initial series of devices and Managers were currently being contacted regarding potential costs and details of the purchases they needed to make.

 

In referring to the mobile website, the Chairman requested that this be looked at in detail as he was aware that in some instances it was difficult to access the information required.  For information, the Head of Service also advised Committee of the issues facing the Department with regard to spam e-mails and advised that for the period 21st May to 5th July 2013 a total of 259,000 spam e-mails had been received and blocked by the IT Department. 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the performance and action monitoring reports for ICT be agreed.

 

(ii)        Legal Services

 

The Head of Legal Services informed Committee that the position in relation to the level of the Vale Equalities Scheme was similar to that of the ICT department in that level 4 was not relevant to the work of the department and it was therefore proposed to be deleted.  With regard to the average number of working day shifts per FTE for Legal Services and the Director’s office lost due to sickness absence, the Head of Service advised that the target had been missed primarily due to long term sickness where within a small service area any instance of long term sickness could drastically increase the overall figure.  However, she pointed out that all sickness was managed in accordance with the Corporate Management Absence Policy.

 

The level of Green Dragon achieved by Legal Services was also now being monitored by the Sustainable Development Working Group and would therefore no longer be collected as a corporate performance indicator.

 

In response to queries from Members that the areas identified at 100% performance be made more challenging, it was subsequently agreed that the targets remain for this year with the suggestion that they be reviewed in 12 months time.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the performance and action monitoring reports for Legal Services be agreed.

 

 

(iii & iv)   Accountancy, Resource Management and Finance and Property

 

The Head of Service presented the reports, advising that the PI for level 4 of the Vale Equalities Scheme had been achieved by Finance and Property but was proposed to be deleted as the Vale Equalities Scheme had now been superseded by the Strategic Equality Plan.  In referring to action FP/A72 (IO) 'install loft insulation in up to four schools', he confirmed that loft insulation had been installed at two schools and although it had slipped he could confirm that in total the Council had actually over the years installed loft insulation in 33 schools.

 

In considering all reports in referring to employees that leave the Council’s employment, Members requested to see the details rather than the percentage figures as, in their view, the figures did not provide the Committee with any meaningful information.  The Head of Service suggested that it might be appropriate for the Head of Human Resources to review this indicator.

 

Having considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the performance and action monitoring reports for the above services areas be agreed.

 

(2)       T H A T the indicator in relation to the percentage of employees who leave the employment of the departments during the year be reviewed by the Head of Human Resources considering the Committee’s wish to receive the details rather than percentage figures.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that effective monitoring takes place.

 

(2)       To apprise Members.

 

 

(v)        Performance Indicators

 

It being noted that the Corporate and Customer Services, Human Resources and Democratic Services PIs would be considered at the meeting in September, an addendum appendix was also tabled at the meeting which greyed out some of the service areas.

 

In response to a request for information in relation to performance indicators RSO4/ MO13a and 13b, the Head of Service confirmed that the information could be provided on a quarterly basis. Similarly it was also agreed that RSO1/ MO05 – the percentage of staff that met their chargeable hours target at the end of the financial year and RSO8/M019 - percentage of Council tax due for the financial year which has been received by the Authority, could also be reported on a quarterly basis. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the following performance indicators be presented to the Committee on a quarterly basis:

 

            RSO1/M005

            RSO4/MO13a and 13b

            RSO8/M019

 

(2)       T H A T the performance indicator report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)   To advise Committee

 

 

241     SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS (DR) –

 

Appendices A and B to the report provided Members with the progress in relation to recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee for the financial year 2012/13 and for the first quarter April to June 2013.

 

Having considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the recommendations deemed as completed on the appendices to the report be agreed.

 

(2)       T H A T the following progress actions be agreed:

 

08 February 2013

Min. No. 834 - Revenue Monitoring: 1st April to 30th November 2012 (MD) – Recommended that the position with regard to the Council’s 2012/13 Revenue Budget be noted and a further report submitted to this Committee in April 2013 in relation to the position regarding the overspend on ALN.

 

 

It being noted that subsequent reports to the Committee had outlined the projected overspend in Access and Inclusion Services.  It was recommended that the recommendation be deemed as completed.

23 April 2013

Min. No. 1098 – Improvement Objectives 2013/14 (MD) – Recommended

(1)   That Cabinet be requested to have regard to the views expressed above in relation to the proposed Improvement Objectives for those matters within this Committee’s remit (numbers 5 and 6) as shown above.

(2)   That Cabinet be notified that this Committee would endorse the comments made the other Scrutiny Committees.

(3)    That Cabinet’s attention be drawn to the concerns expressed above in relation to Improvement Objective 2.

(4)   That the Head of Public Protection be invited to present a report in relation to the concerns expressed above at the next meeting of this Committee.

 

 

(1-3)   The Committee was advised that Cabinet had noted the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee and as such the actions were deemed as completed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(4)   Members were informed that the DFG report would be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in September 2013 and as such the action was deemed as completed.

04 June 2013

Min. No. - Recruitment (Request for Consideration - Councillor P.J. Clarke) – Recommended that the report be noted and Jobs Growth Wales be contacted regarding any funding opportunities that could be made available to the Council.

 

 

Members were informed that following a request from Councillor Roberts the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer consult with the Operational Manager for Corporate Policy and Communications and provide Members with an update in due course.

Status : Ongoing

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To have regard to the views of the Scrutiny Committee Members.

 

 

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