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 SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 23rd June, 2015.

 

Present:  Councillor M.R. Wilson (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. P. Drake (Vice-Chairman); Councillors, H.C. Hamilton, P. King, and G. Roberts and E. Williams.

 

Also present:  Councillor B. Brooks (Cabinet Member - Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety).

 

 

134     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors A.C. Williams, R.A. Penrose, H.J.W. James and K. Hatton.

 

 

135     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 21st April, 2015 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

136     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

Councillor P. King declared an interest with regard to Agenda Item No. 9 - Wales Audit Office Report, he was a Community Councillor for Llandough and he withdrew from the meeting during this item.

 

 

137     DISABLED FACILITIES GRANTS PERFORMANCE REPORT (REF) -

 

On 11th May, 2015 Cabinet was apprised of the Council’s performance in delivering Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) during the financial year 2014/15 and referred the report onto the Committee.

 

The Head of Public Protection presented the report which highlighted that the Council had a statutory duty to consider and approve applications for DFGs where there was an identified need and the property could be reasonably adapted.  DFGs would fund the adaptation of privately owned homes to allow residents to live as independently as possible in their own home for as long as possible. 

 

The time to deliver a DFG was a national Performance Indicator.  The Council had previously acknowledged its performance into delivering DFGs had to be improved.  Significant improvement was achieved in 2013/14 (284 days) and further improvement had been achieved during 2014/15 which had seen the time taken to deliver a DFG reduced to 199 days.  Performance of the DFG service continued to improve year on year.  A detailed breakdown of the DFG service performance at the end of 2014/15 was attached in the DFG performance review at Appendix 1 to the Cabinet report.

 

Improvement was in part due to the introduction of the Framework Contract during the autumn of 2014.  This has streamlined the DFG process by removing the need to go out to tender on each individual application and therefore has significantly reduced the average delivery time for adaptions to all applicants.

 

In addition to introducing the Framework Contract for Builders, during 2014/15 the DFG service undertook a consultation event with the clients.  This event took place on 3rd March, 2015 and clients who had accessed the service were invited to speak to the team about their experience and their opinions were sought on improvements that were recommended.  Through this event it was noted that the service was valued by customers and adaptations installed had made a difference to their day to day life. 

 

During Quarter 4, the Business Improvement Team had concluded work with the DFG service using the Business Improvement Tool Kit to identify improvements in the service.  Using lean service improvement methodology, staff from C1V, occupational therapists and grant officers were led through a 2 day workshop in order to define the existing process, identify bottlenecks and areas of duplication, and collate progress improvement suggestions.  In addition, the time taken to deliver a number of service requests were mapped against each identified process and decision stage in order to highlight the potential consequence of each current action.  Staff were subsequently tasked with returning to their workplace and making the changes in order to enhance the delivery of the service and free up capacity.  The actions that were agreed and the ideas to be introduced where workable were included in Appendix 2 to the report.

 

The Committee noted that the improved time to deliver a DFG was now below 200 days, but this still represented almost seven months and Members were keen to explore how this figure could be improved further.  The Committee queried whether the service could analyse the data for each stage of the process in more detail and whether the service had been able to identify any best practice used by other authorities that would assist in reducing the time.  In response, the Head of Public Protection stated that it was becoming more difficult to reduce the time to deliver a DFG.  The Data Unit Wales was collating information around DFGs across Wales but this project had now been discontinued. He alluded to the work of the Technical Group for which the Principal Housing and Pollution Officer was part of and had been able to pick up and implement a number of elements of best practice.

 

The Head of Public Protection also referred Members’ attention to Appendix 2 which, following a review of the process, detailed further improvements that would be implemented over the coming months.

 

A Committee Member offered their thanks to all involved for the improvement but was still mindful that time to deliver a DFG to a child was still too high.  In reply, the Head of Public Protection explained that the difficult issue for the service was that with children, cases were usually more complex and it was difficult for the service to meet the expectation of some parents.  The service had devised a policy document to help inform parents of what to expect and this was helping in speeding up the process.  He offered Members reassurance that Children’s adaptations was a priority for the service.

 

The Committee agreed that a report covering performance benchmarking across Wales be presented in the Autumn and that this report should also consider best practice along with a review of each individual stage of the DFG process.

 

In referring to the use of mobile technology, the Chairman queried whether the service had any concerns.  The Head of Public Protection advised Members that the only concern was that a significant portion of the elderly population preferred and valued face to face contact rather than use an online facility, so it was important to ensure that a number of channels of communication were available.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the report on performance for delivering Disabled Facilities Grants during 2014/15 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the progress made on process changes to improve the delivery of Disabled Facilities Grants be noted.

 

(3)       T H AT during the autumn the Committee receives a report regarding best practice and benchmarking performance, which also provides an analysis of the average time associated for each individual DFG stage.

 

(4)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee thanks the officers for their progress in getting down the figures for Disabled Facilities Grant.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To note that the Council’s performance in delivering Disabled Facilities Grants during 2014/15.

 

(2)       To note the progress made to improve the Council’s delivery of Disabled Facilities Grants.

 

(3)       To identify best practice used with the DFG process and to identify if there are any stages of the process that require closer attention.

 

(4)       To offer the Committee’s thanks.

 

 

138     BUILDING CLEANING AND SECURITY REVIEW (REF) -

 

Cabinet, on 1st June, 2015, was provided with an update on developments in the Building Cleaning and Security Service as part of the Reshaping Services Project.  At this meeting, Cabinet approved changes to the Cleaning and Security Services provided at corporate office buildings.

 

The report was presented by the Director of Visible Services and Housing who was joined by the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety.

 

In providing a background summary, it was noted that in total the Cleaning and Security Service was resourced by 299 individual members of staff.  The Council operated an internal cleaning and security service within the Visible Services and Housing Directorate.  Services were provided to schools and the Council’s other public buildings, including Council offices.  The Council’s Facilities Management Team undertook the client role (purchased services from the Cleaning and Security Service) and managed the budget associated with cleaning and security at office buildings.  Schools could choose to make arrangements under Service Level Agreements with the Cleaning and Security Service for cleaning within schools. 

 

Over recent years, the Building Cleaning and Security Service had seen a reduction in the number of schools and office sites procuring cleaning services.  This had reduced to 84 from 99 over a five year period.  With a reducing number of clients, the Building Cleaning and Security Service was now apportioning overheads over a small number of customers and this was eroding its overall financial viability, necessitating the fundamental examination of the service.  It was noted that the service scored highly in terms of customer satisfaction, measured by regular client surveys. 

 

The Cabinet report set out proposals to change the level of office cleaning and security provision at Council office buildings in order to assure appropriate service levels and to achieve the approved savings contained within the Council’s Final Revenue Budget proposals for 2015/16 associated with building running costs.  It was also proposed that the review of Cleaning and Security Services (which was to be undertaken as part of tranche 2 of the Reshaping Services Programme) should ascertain the long term viability of the service and, where appropriate, identify alternative ways of delivering these services.

 

Security and Cleaning Services commissioned by the Council’s Facilities Management Team and provided by the Council’s internal Cleaning and Security Service were provided at the following buildings:

  • Civic Offices
  • Town Hall
  • Docks Office
  • Alps Depot
  • Court Road Depot
  • Provincial House.

The Council also operated on a wide range of other locations.  A review of these assets was currently underway in order to identify opportunities for rationalisation and further efficiency savings and would be reported to Cabinet as a separate point.

 

Appendix A, illustrated the current and proposed number of working hours at each of the in-scope corporate office buildings.  Currently there were a total of 29 posts working a total of 1,083 hours per week. The proposals would result in there being 15 posts working a total of 565.5 hours per week employed by Building Cleaning and Security Services.  In addition, proposals were being developed for there to be one employee employed for a total of 37 hours by Learning and Skills directly.  The proposed number of employees was subject to change in line with consultation outcomes.

 

It was recognised that the changes being proposed would have an impact for a range of stakeholders.  Financial cost, equality and employment implications had and would continue to be fully considered and revised as appropriate.  Details of these implications and the impact on Building Services provision and users could be found within paragraph 20 and other relevant sections of the report. 

 

In summary these included, for the Civic Offices, removal of the car park attendant with access to the car park via a security pass.  The Committee noted that some issues with this proposal had been identified and a review of car parking arrangements at the Civic Offices and Barry Leisure Centre was underway.

 

The proposals included the removal of on-site security guards from all corporate buildings, with the exception of the Alps and Court Road depots.  This was due to the need to maintain a 24 hour presence for both operational and insurance purposes.

 

Opening hours of buildings (and therefore shift patterns) had been derived based on an analysis of the usage of these buildings, including the times when the buildings were used for Council meetings.  These shift patterns included an allowance, where appropriate, for the time required to ensure buildings were secured before being alarmed and locked overnight.

 

It was further proposed that the existing service at Provincial House continued unchanged in terms of number and pattern of hours worked.  This would be subject to review depending on the future need to retain this building.  The security provision at this office would therefore be contracted on a temporary contract basis.

 

It was also proposed that there should be a Building Assistant role based at the Town Hall site, reporting to and paid for by the Learning and Skills Directorate.  This role would predominantly provide support to the Library service, but also provide a degree of security/porter function to Arts Central and the Mayor’s Office, with a contribution towards the costs being made by Arts Central and Mayor’s Office.

 

The remaining security (porter) roles at the Civic and Docks Offices would be updated to reflect the range of duties now required from these posts and these posts would be re-designated as ‘Premises Assistants’.  Also there would be changes to porter cover and night time security with Premises Assistant Cover from 7am till 3:30pm on Saturdays with closure of the building on Sundays.

 

The current mobile guard service would continue unchanged across all corporate buildings, offering a mobile presence on weekdays between 8pm and 8am and for 24 hours a day at weekend

 

Changes to Cleaning Services was shown at Appendix D, which detailed current and proposed staff profile (number of employees and number of working hours) at each of the in-scope buildings.  At present, there were 42 employees working a total of 614.5 hours per week.  Proposals would see there being 26 employees working a total of 330.5 hours per week.

 

Current vacancies within each service area had been analysed and could be found at Appendix E.  Within the security service there were four vacant posts across a number of sites, offering a total of 148 weekly hours.  Within the cleaning service there were 31 vacant posts again over a number of sites, offering a total of approximately 329 average hours each week.

 

The report stated that the implementation of changes would require a clear communication and engagement strategy with staff and the recognised Trade Unions from across the Council.  To ensure a consistent approach was adopted, it was proposed that changes to both Cleaning and Security functions be progressed following a timeline of key activities as detailed in the report.  As part of the consultation arrangements, the service would progress these proposals in accordance with the Council’s agreed policies and procedures, in particular, the Change Management and Avoiding Redundancy Policy and Procedures. 

 

Implementation of the proposal for both the Security and Cleaning functions was estimated to realise a total budget saving of £308,037.  Based on the project plans, these savings would be realised from 1st December, 2015 which would equate to an estimated budget saving of £120,000 in 2015/16 and the remaining £187,000 in 2016/17.  This would contribute to the £500,000 saving set out in the Council’s Final Revenue Budget proposals for 2015/16 for a review of Council-wide property costs including running costs, as formally approved by Council on 4th March, 2015 (Min. No. 941).  The remainder would be realised from further property related savings initiatives. 

 

Supplementary information regarding an analysis of overheads was provided at the meeting.  Members noted that in relation to Building Cleaning services, overheads were currently around 12% of the turnover level of Building Cleaning services.  Within the current review it was anticipated that the Building Cleaning turnover would reduce by £154,000 by making changes to the level of service provided at Council offices.  Using the 12%, this turnover would have made a contribution to overheads of around £18,000. 

 

For the Security Services, whilst reviewing the costs of the Security Service the same level of overheads had been attributed to the new revised service and therefore this cost had already been factored into the revised charge to the corporate office accommodation budget for these services.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety commented that this was the hardest and most difficult report that she had brought to Committee, which affected some of the lowest pay staff in the Vale.  She stated that there had been a top-down approach in respect of rationalisation but it had now become vital to now implement these proposals.  Cabinet had had many conversations around these proposals and the decision had come down to the amount of funding available which had left Cabinet with no choice.  She went on to state that she was confident that the Council could work with the staff involved, such as those close to retirement and that there was always a natural turnover of staff which meant that posts could become vacant as proposals progressed.  She praised the effort and work of the Director of Visible Services and Housing in ensuring that the Council talked to staff and communicated proposals prior to anything being decided and that it was important for these proposals to now go out for consultation.

 

The Committee felt that it was important for the Council to retain proportionality and to ensure that all areas were taking the necessary strain.  Members raised a number of queries regarding overhead costs, consideration of 'client costs’ and with the loss of schools, whether the Council was seeking alternative clients.  The Director of Visible Services and Housing  advised Members that a further £200,000 savings would be required for 2016/17 and that 'client costs’ would be addressed as part of the Reshaping Services programme.

 

Further to these points, the Chairman commented that the Council needed to be cleverer around who was offered services. The Chairman briefly alluded to the adoption of new approaches to fund services such as the use of the 'Contribution Model’ where the direct cost was accounted for but there would be a contribution to indirect cost often referred to as 'overheads'.  He explained that there was a need for a marketing strategy to promote services to outside organisation such as Banks and other private sector businesses.  The Chairman recommended that the response from the cleaners who were looking to retain their jobs even with less hours be considered and he was pleased that the Director for Visible Services was actively looking at this, in any forthcoming Cabinet report.

 

As a follow up to the Chairman’s comments, the Director of Visible Services and Housing stated that a Marketing Officer would shortly be appointed on a temporary basis.  Their role would be to look at attracting new business and to promote the range of services available.  He alluded to the consideration of a Council-owned company that would be able to operate in a different fashion to the Council service and be able to attract greater income.  He offered a word of caution; as such a company would need to consider staff terms and conditions which were bound by agreements with trade unions.

 

The Director also advised that there was a need to look at relationships with schools and the way that Service Level Agreements with schools were devised.  He stated that the loss of a number of school contracts was a blow and the service needed to a plan to ensure that there was closer working arrangements with them.

 

A Committee Member queried whether the intruder alarm system installed at the Town Hall and the Civic Offices was linked to the Police.  In response, the Director of Visible Services and Housing explained that he wasn’t entirely sure but he suspected that they were.  He would clarify this and would advise Members accordingly.

 

As a final point, Members requested that the next follow up report to Cabinet also be referred to this Committee.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T Cabinet’s decision to approve the proposals for changes to cleaning and security services at the corporate buildings be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T the views and opinions of the Committee, as outlined within the body of the minutes be referred to Cabinet for consideration.

 

(3)       T H A T the Committee receive a follow up report once presented to Cabinet.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To endorse the Cabinet’s decision.

 

(2)       To inform Cabinet on the views of the Scrutiny Committee in relation to ways of attracting new clients such as private sector businesses and the need to consider the Council’s relationship with schools.

 

(3)       To ensure that the Scrutiny Committee be kept informed of developments around the proposals for changes to cleaning and security services. 

 

 

139     REVENUE MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 30TH APRIL, 2015 (MD) -

 

The Scrutiny Committee was advised of progress in relation to revenue expenditure for the period 1st April to 30th April, 2015.  As it was early in the financial year the forecast for the 2015/16 Revenue Budget was for an outturn within targets at year end.  The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget for 2015/16 was also forecast to outturn on target.

 

As far as the Education Budget was concerned it was projected to balance at the end of the year.  Provision had been made within this budget to make unsupported borrowing debt repayments in relation to the Schools Investment Strategy of £698,000 per annum, with any favourable variance on debt repayments being redirected to the Schools Investment Strategy.  A potential transfer of approximately £250,000 may be required from the School’s Long Term Supply reserve to fund the scheme in 2015/16.  Premiums to the school would be increased from April 2016 to ensure the scheme was self-funding.

 

Social Services was currently anticipated to outturn within budget for 2015/16.  However, a major issue concerning this service for the coming year would be the continued pressure on the Children’s Placement Budget and the continuing pressure on the Community Care Packages budget.  Members noted that from April 2015, Welsh Government had approved an increase in the weekly cap for charging for non-residential services from £55 to £60 per week. 

 

It was also currently projected that all services under the Visible Services and Housing Services budget along with Development Services would outturn within target at the year end. 

 

Also in relation to the General Policy Budget, again as it was early in the financial year it was currently projected that this budget would outturn within target. 

 

All other services were estimated to outturn on budget.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the position with regard to the Council’s 2015/16 Revenue Budget be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the following virements be noted and referred to Cabinet for approval:

 

  • £1.355m from Learning and Skills to Planning and Transportation for education related transport services, following the establishment of an Integrated Transport Unit within Development Services.
  • £22k from Public Protection to General Policy for Port Health.
  • £210k from Public Protection to a new heading for the Coroners Service.
  • £385k from Private Housing to Economic Development, following the transfer of the Disabled Facility Grants and Renewal Area teams, as a result of an internal reorganisation.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       That Members are aware of the project Revenue outturn for 2015/16.

 

(2)       To align budgets with organisational changes.

 

 

140     CAPITAL MONITORING REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 30TH APRIL, 2015 (MD) -

 

The report regarding Capital Programmes for 2015/16 showed no variances within the budgets.  Profiled expenditure had been requested from project managers and would be updated in the next report. 

 

Members were asked to note that Appendix 1 to the report did not include requests for unspent committed expenditure to be slipped from 2014/15 into 2015/16.  A request for this slippage would be included in the Closing Down report presented to a future Cabinet meeting.  For all schemes where it was evident that the full year’s budgets would not be spent during the year, relevant officers had been required to provide an explanation for the shortfall and this should be taken into the earliest available Cabinet meeting.

 

Members’ approval was sought in relation to the Castleland Renewal Area for which the budget for this was £996,000, however, £100,000 would be required to enable outstanding works to be completed in the Penarth Renewal Area. 

 

Also for the Llandough Sustainable Transport Scheme approval was sought for the inclusion of £175,000 into the 2015/16 Capital Programme, funded from Section 106 monies to allow enhancement works for the bus shelters in Llandough, thus enabling a more co-ordinated approach to delivery of a number of related schemes in Llandough.

  

RECOMMENDED -

(1)       T H A T the position with regard to the 2015/16 Capital Programme be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Committee notes the virement of £100,000 from the 2015/16 Castleland Renewal Area Scheme to the Penarth Renewal Area Scheme and for this change to be referred to Cabinet for approval.

 

(3)       T H A T Committee notes the additional funding of £175,000 for the Llandough Sustainable Transport Scheme, funded from Section 106 months and for this increase to be referred to Cabinet for approval and inclusion in the 2015/16 Capital Programme.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To allow Members to be aware of the progress on the Capital Programme.

 

(2&3)  To update the 2015/16 Capital Programme.

 

 

141     WALES AUDIT OFFICE REPORT: REVIEW OF THE COUNCIL’S STRATEGIC APPROACH TO RESHAPING SERVICES (MD) -

 

The Head of Performance and Development presented the report the purpose of which was to advise Members of the results of the review of the Council’s approach to Reshaping Services undertaken by the Wales Audit Office (WAO) in 2015. 

 

Members were advised that the Auditor General of Wales was required to carry out an audit which discharged its statutory duties and fulfilled its obligations under the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004, the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009, the Local Government Act 1999 and the Code of Audit Practice.  As part of this audit, bespoke pieces of work were undertaken as part of an agreed Annual Regulatory Work Programme aimed at enabling the Council to make improvements in economy, efficiency and effectiveness of financial or other management practices. 

 

The review of the Council’s approach to Reshaping Services formed part of the Vale’s Regulatory Work Programme for 2014/15.  A copy of the report was attached at Appendix 1 and this detailed the review findings and proposals for improvement. 

 

The WAO concluded that 'the Council’s Reshaping Services Strategy conforms to good practice and demonstrates that it is following the right process to achieve transformation.’ 

 

The report made five proposals for improvement:

  • P1 - the Council should continue to gather and learn from experience of other authorities
  • P2 - the Council should ensure that staff resource is adequately assessed and relevant skills in place before selecting any alternative model
  • P3 - the Council should consider developing its criteria for selecting alternative models of service delivery to ensure that models were selected according to corporate objectives, which would assist in helping the Council define an agreed vision for the future
  • P4 - the Council should consider the use of best practice frameworks and business case reviews and partnership working to add strength to its Reshaping Services Strategy as it moved to the next stage of transformation
  • P5 - the Council should consider referring to BS11000 to strengthen its ability to enter into and ensure the management and governance of all its partnerships were robust.

Responding to a Member’s query about recommendation 5, referring to BS11000, the Head of Performance and Development advised Members that he was unaware of any council that have applied for this and that following some research it was found that the only organisations identified to have this standard were private sector companies seeking to strengthen their partnership working arrangements with public sector bodies.  The Committee agreed that it was worthwhile developing more information on BS11000 and for a further report to be provided for Members’ consideration.

 

The Committee’s second query was in relation to the undertaking of a risk analysis as part of the Reshaping Services strategy.  In response, the Head of Performance and Development stated a risk log was an essential element of the overall programme and its component reviews, and this would be given due weight as the business cases were developed. 

 

Members also discussed the case study of Greenwich Leisure contained within the appendix of the report and Members noted that this was a good example to follow. The Chairman aired some words of caution around the future of block grants in Wales and advised that some services in England were becoming self-sufficient and that we in Wales were playing catch-up.

 

Finally, the Committee noted that Reshaping Services was more to do with assessing specific services and was looking at how services could be delivered differently.  As part of this, each Directorate would have to record why any alternative models of service delivery relating to a specific service had been discounted.

 

RECOMMENDED

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the Wales Audit Office report into the review of the Council’s approach to the Reshaping Services be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T a further report be presented

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To ensure the WAO’s proposals for improvement as outlined in the report are addressed as part of the Reshaping Services Change Programme.

 

 

142     REGULATORY AUDIT PLAN 2015 (MD) -

 

The Council’s Regulatory Audit Plan, produced annually by the Wales Audit Office, was presented to the Committee.

 

The Auditor General Wales was required to carry out an audit which discharged its statutory duties and fulfilled its obligations under the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004, the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009, the Local Government Act 1999 and the Code of Audit Practice.  This involved:

  • Examination and certification of the Council's financial statements to ensure they are 'true and fair';
  • Assessment of the Council's arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the use of resources;
  • Audit and assessment of whether the Council has discharged its duties and met requirements of the Measure; and
  • Bespoke pieces of work aimed at enabling the Council to make improvements in economy, efficiency and effectiveness or financial or other management practices.

The Regulatory Audit Plan 2015 outlined work to be undertaken in the Council during April 2015 and March 2016 by and on behalf of the Auditor General.

 

A copy of the Regulatory Audit Plan was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.  Key highlights were as follows:

  • Certification work would be undertaken on the Council's grant claims and returns as part of the annual financial audit.
  • The Council would be subject to an in-depth Corporate Assessment during 2015/16 (scheduled for February/March).  This was a full review of the Council's capacity and capability to deliver continuous improvement which was undertaken once every four years by the Auditor General Wales in addition to the annual 'light touch' review.
  • Local government specific work was planned on the approach of councils to income generation and charging for services, council funding for third sector services and the effectiveness of local community safety partnerships.
  • A number of national value for money studies had been programmed to take place during the year including, picture of public services, regional education consortia, regeneration investment funding for Wales, flood and erosion risk management (focus on coastal flooding).  These studies were funded by the National Assembly and presented to the National Assembly's Public Accounts Committee to support its scrutiny of public expenditure.  Where relevant local authorities would be required to provide evidence as part of the data gathering process.

The Regulatory Audit Plan was a product of negotiation between the Council's Relationship Manager and other regulators of various services and was informed by a consideration of the risks and challenges facing the Council, audit and inspection knowledge and the Council's own mechanisms for review and evaluation.

 

The draft Plan was considered by the Corporate Management Team and no changes were made.  The Audit Committee also considered the draft Plan on 20th April, 2015 with a referral made to Cabinet for final approval.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the Regulatory Audit Plan for 2015 be accepted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To progress the Regulatory Work Programme and to ensure that robust scrutiny of the Regulatory Audit Plan takes places.

 

 

143     CORPORATE AND CUSTOMER SERVICES END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE REPORT 2014/15 (MD)

 

The purpose of the report was to present end of year performance results for the period 1st April, 2014 to 30th March, 2015 as outlined in Appendix 1. 

 

Corporate and Customer Services had completed 52% of Service Plan actions at end of year, with a further 3% on track for a later completion date.  Details were available under each objective.  There were a total of 38 actions in the plan; 20 were complete, 1 was on track, 16 had slipped, and 1 was not due.  The action that was on track was due for completion on 31/03/2016.  Of the outstanding actions, 7 would be progressed and carried forward to the 2015/16 Service Plan, 8 actions would be transferred to Team Plan level and 3 actions would be deleted.  The rationale for deleting these actions was outlined in the Appendix to this report.

 

The Department completed 56% of the actions against the Corporate Plan that were included in the 2014/15 service plan and a further 5% of actions were on track for a later completion date.  Of the 18 actions within the service plan, 10 had been completed, 1 was on track, and 7 had slipped.

 

Of the 28 performance indicators in the plan, 10 (32%) had met or exceeded target at end of year, 3 (11%) were within 10% of target, and 6 (25%) had missed target by more than 10%.  Data was unavailable for 6 (21%) indicators, and performance status was not applicable for 3 (11%) indicators.  The 6 indicators that had missed target by more than 10% relate to: CC/M002a, CC/M002b, CC/M003a, CC/M004, CC/M005, and CC/M022.  The reasons for underperformance and any proposed remedial action was provided under the relevant objective.

 

In querying the performance indicator CC/M002b (average time number of weekly unique visit to the Council’s Welsh language web site) Members noted that the direction of travel for this was good but that the current status was poor.  The Committee was advised that as an indicator this was down for removal as part of the target setting which would be detailed at Agenda Item No. 13.  The Committee was informed that the Council had a statutory responsibility to provide a Welsh language version of the website but they did not have a responsibility to record the number of people accessing the site.  Members were made aware that due to resources issues the Welsh website would not contain the same level of information or detail as the English version.

 

The Chairman raised a query regarding the Council Tax website and the time that had been taken for a pin number to be provided in order to use the website.  In response, the Head of Strategic ICT informed Members that this was a security measure and he would look into why there had been a delay in issuing the pin. 

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the service performance results and remedial actions to be taken to address service under performance be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the progress to date in achieving key outcomes as outlined in the Corporate Plan 2013-17, the Outcome Agreement with Welsh Government 2013-16 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2014-15 be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

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

 

(2)       To consider the Corporate and Customer Services end of year performance results as at 31st March, 2015 in order to highlight areas for service improvement.

 

 

144     RESOURCES END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE REPORT 2014/15 (MD) -

 

The purpose of the report was to present end of year performance results for the period 1st April, 2014 to 30th March, 2015 as outlined in Appendix 1. 

 

Overall, the Directorate had completed 73% of Service Plan actions at end of year, with a further 4% on track for a later completion date.  There were a total of 48 actions in the plan; 35 were completed, 2 were on track, and 11 had slipped.  The two actions that were on track were due to be completed during September 2015 and March 2019.  Of the outstanding actions, 9 would be carried forward to the 2015/16 Service Plan and 2 actions would be transferred to Team Plan level.

 

The Directorate had completed 75% of the actions against the Corporate Plan that were included in the 2014/15 Service Pan.  Of the 8 actions within the Service Plan, 3 are completed and 1 has slipped.

 

There are currently no actions relating to either the Improvement Objectives or the Outcome Agreement.  There were four measures relating to the Outcome Agreement, one of which was also an Improvement Objective measure.  Data was not received for 1 (25%) measure, 2 (50%) measures had met or exceeded target at end of year, and 1 (25%) measure was within 10% of target.

 

Of the 23 performance indicators in the plan, performance status was not applicable for 1 (4%) indicator.  17 (74%) met or exceeded target at end of year, 5 (22%) were within 10% of target and none had missed target.

 

The Head of Human Resources asked Members to note the implementation of the Staff Engagement Strategy in relation to the Reshaping Service Programme.  This was important in order to make all staff aware, for which over 1,200 staff would be informed from over 30 sessions.  Following this, a number of workshops would be arranged in order to more closely examine staff views and opinions.  Members noted that it would be advisable for Members to also be involved in these sessions. 

 

In querying the progress made within the Space Project and specifically around developments within Provincial House, Members were advised that the lease on this building would expire during November 2016.  By this time all staff would need to vacate the building as part of stage 2 of the project and it was planned that space for these departments would be found within the Civic Offices, but there may be a need to look at hot desking or agile working.  An update on this would be reported back to the Scrutiny Committee in due course.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the service performance results and remedial actions to be taken to address service underperformance be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T progress to date in achieving key outcomes as outlined in the Corporate Plan 2013-17, the Outcome Agreement with Welsh Government 2013-16 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2014-15 be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

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

 

(2)       To consider the Resources end of year performance results as at 31st March 2015 in order to highlight areas for service improvement.

 

 

145     TARGET SETTING (MD) -

 

The Head of Performance and Development, presented the report the purpose of which was to advise Members of the proposed targets for 2015-16 for all performance indicators reported by the Resources Directorate.  The report also highlighted the proposed deletions and additions to the Resources performance indicator dataset.

 

The report advised that at CMT on 25th March 2015, a new approach to target setting was endorsed.  This approach focused on adopting a more challenging approach to how the Council set targets by ensuring that there was an assessment of how the Council had performed.  This involved evaluating how the Council had performed against target and making best use of external benchmarking data (where available) whilst balancing this against how much of a priority the indicator was to the Council and whether there was capacity to improve performance.  All proposed targets for 2015-16 must had an accompanying rationale that clearly explained the reasons for setting the targets at that level.  The Council's approach to target setting was set out in the target setting template outlined at Appendix 1.

 

Outlined in Appendix 2 was a full suite of performance indicators that will continue to be collected and reported on during 2015-16.  Against each indicator a target had been set and a rationale had been provided to explain why the target had been set at that level.  Where possible any internal/external factors, which had driven this decision to set the target at that level, had also been provided.

 

For the National Statutory Indicators (NSIs) and Public Accountability Measures (PAMs) Welsh benchmarking data was currently only available for the 2013/14 period by way of comparison.  Therefore targets in relation to NSIs and PAMs should be based on performance in relation to top quartile results (in Wales) or the Welsh average during 2013/14.  Where this had not been possible, a robust rationale should be provided in Appendix 2 to explain why performance had been set lower than the rest of Wales.

 

In relation to the Outcome Agreement indicators, these targets had already been pre-agreed with the Welsh Government until 2016 (these Outcome Agreement indicators were identified in Appendix 2 by an OA reference as part of the indicator description).  Although in principle these targets had been pre-set with Welsh Government, in instances where the Council’s end of year performance exceeded our target for 2014/15, Directors had the opportunity to set more internally challenging targets (that were separate to the target agreed with Welsh Government) in order to continue to drive the upward trend in performance.  Where this was the case, this had been reflected in the rationale section of Appendix 2, where relevant to the Outcome Agreement indicators.

 

For the remaining local level indicators, targets had been set based on the overriding principle to secure continuous improvement (i.e. targets should be set to improve on previous year's performance for 2014-15).  However, where it had been identified that budgetary pressures and or service delivery pressures were likely to impact on the Council’s ability to continue to improve performance, this should be clearly stated in the rationale section of Appendix 2, relevant to the indicator.

 

This review process also presents an opportunity to identify whether the existing performance indicators were still appropriate and relevant for reflecting our priorities for service delivery.  As part of both service planning and this process, Directorates were asked to identify which indicators they wished to retain, replace delete or add. This was only applicable to locally derived performance indicators and not ones that were set nationally or in agreement with the Welsh Government.  These exemptions (for deletion/replacement) apply to four types of indicator that include NSIs, PAMs, Improvement Objectives (that had been set for 2015-16 only) and Outcome Agreement Indicators (that had been agreed with Welsh Government until 2016).

 

During 2014-15, the Council reported on a total of 413 indicators.  Following a review of our performance for 2014-15, 357 indicators are being proposed to be collected and reported on during 2015-16.  342 of these indicators are existing measures that will be carried forward from last year.

 

Any proposed deletion and addition of new indicators for 2015-16, was detailed in Appendix 3.  For any new measures, generally no targets had been set, as 2015-16 provides service areas with an opportunity to establish a performance baseline. In instances where it was possible to set a target for a new measure this had been carried out and indicated within the Appendix.

 

By way of summary, across the suite of Council performance indicators proposed for 2015-16:

  • 49.8% (142) of indicators had targets that had been set to improve on the previous year's performance result (2014-15 performance)
  • 29.3% (84) of indicators had targets that had been set to remain the same when compared with the previous year; and
  • 21.3% (61) of indicators had performance targets that had been set lower compared with last year's results.

For the Resources Directorate this was further broken as follows:

  • There were 56 indicators and for 30 of these it had been possible to set a target and direction of travel.
  • 31.2% (10) of targets had been set to improve on the previous year's performance result (2014-15), 28% (9) of targets had been set to remain relatively static and 34.4% (11) had targets set lower than the last year's performance.
  • Of these indictors, 4 had been set to either achieve or continue to achieve the best possible performance.
  • For 2015-16, 19 indicators had been proposed for deletion and 3 had been identified as new indicators.
  • No Resources indicators that were also Outcome Agreement indicators had revised internally challenging targets set.

Further to the Committee’s previous query regarding the removal of indicator, RS/M028b (the average number of weekly visits to the Council’s Welsh language website), Members were advised that the Council did not have a statutory responsibility to report on this indicator but it did need to ensure that the Council did have a Welsh language website.  The Committee queried whether the information for this indicator would still be collated and in response Members were advised that the data for this would still be collected and available.

 

A Committee Member queried the reason as to why it had been proposed to remove a number of indicators regarding the use of Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter.  In response, the Head of Performance and Development stated that these were of limited value as performance indicators, since they did not provide an accurate measure of engagement with the Council and could fluctuate considerably due to factors outside of the Council’s control.  For that reason, setting targets was not appropriate.  These indicators would however continue to be monitored by the service for management information purposes.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Committee endorse the proposed Resources Directorate targets as outlined in Appendix 2 and for this to be referred to Cabinet for consideration.

 

(2)       T H A T the Committee endorse the proposed deletions and additions to the Resources Directorate performance indicator dataset for 2015-16 as outlined in Appendix 3.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To inform Cabinet and to ensure that the Council consistently sets challenging yet realistic performance improvement targets for its priorities in the line with requirements under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.

 

(2)       That the Council reports a relevant set of performance indicators against which it can demonstrate achievement of its priorities.

 

 

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