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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 12th January, 2016.

 

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

 

 

746     APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE –

 

This was received from Councillor H.J.W. James.

 

 

747     MINUTES –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 8th December, 2015 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

748     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – 

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

749     DRAFT CORPORATE PLAN 2016-20 (REF) and PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK (REF) –

 

The Head of Performance and Development presented both reports which advised that on 14th December, 2015, Cabinet had endorsed the draft Corporate Plan 2016-20 and had approved changes to the Council’s Performance Management Framework.  He indicated that the Leader and Managing Director had recently attended meetings of the Council’s other Scrutiny Committees as part of the Council’s and Cabinet’s ongoing consultation exercise on 4th, 5th, 6th and 11th January, 2016, where at that time, the matters had been discussed in detail and comments received on both of the reports’ contents. 

 

He referred to the enactment in April 2015 of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act and consequently the new Corporate Plan was closely aligned to this.  The Act placed a duty on Councils to carry out sustainable development which meant the process of improving the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of Wales.  It also required the Council to set and publish wellbeing objectives by April 2017 that maximised its contribution to achieving the wellbeing goals which were attached as Appendix A to the report.  In addition, supplementary information on the Corporate Plan was tabled and provided Members with an overview on which of the existing Scrutiny Committees would be responsible for scrutinising the proposed Corporate Plan actions. 

 

The draft Plan, attached at Appendix B to the report, had been drafted in parallel with the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP).  The priorities for the next four years had been developed in full recognition of the financial climate and achievability of the actions associated.  There was also recognition that in light of future budgetary decisions, there would be a need to review and potentially amend the Plan.  Increasingly, the Council would need to work with its partners and communities to identify alternative ways of delivering services.

 

The draft Plan was framed around four wellbeing outcomes, these being Ambitious, Open, Together and Proud.  It also stated the Council’s approach to strategic planning and recognition of the need to have robust arrangements in place.  This was followed by details of actions linked to the internal workings of the Council which would be instrumental in ensuring that there were foundations in place to promote sustainable development.  The Plan concluded with details of how the Plan would be monitored.

 

The draft Plan had also been drafted to ensure the Council’s contributions to the wellbeing goals was demonstrated and had taken account of a range of performance and engagement information to ensure it reflected what customers and partners were telling the Council.  The proposed wellbeing outcomes being: 

  • An Inclusive and Safe Vale
  • An Environmentally Responsible and Prosperous Vale
  • An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale
  • An Active and Healthy Vale.

To ensure the Council was able to deliver the Corporate Plan and promote sustainable development it was important to review a range of policies, plans and procedures managed by the organisation's corporate departments.  The Managing Director would take overall responsibility for ensuring that there was an integrated approach to corporate planning and for reporting progress to Members.  The draft Plan included a number of actions around the following key strategic areas and improvements in these areas would be fundamental to ensuring that the Council promoted sustainable development in delivering the Corporate Plan 

  • Corporate planning
  • Performance management
  • Procurement
  • Risk management
  • Asset management
  • Financial planning
  • Workforce planning.

The timetable below detailed key dates for consulting on the draft Plan, approving and publishing the Plan.

 

Activity

Date

Cabinet

14th December 2015

Consultation

December 2015 – February 2016

Five Scrutiny Committees (Draft Plan)

4th – 12th January 2016

Amendments to Plan post consultation

January / February 2016

Corporate Resources Scrutiny (Amended Plan)

9th February 2016

Cabinet

22nd February 2016

Council

2nd March 2016

Translation

March 2016

Publication

April 2016

 

The Committee was advised that for each of the four wellbeing outcomes there would be two wellbeing objectives and these outcomes and objectives would be developed through the consultation process.

 

In terms of the Performance Management Framework, the relevant Cabinet report outlined that the Council had a strong performance management track record which had been evidenced in previous Annual Improvement Reports (AIR) by the Wales Audit Office (WAO).  However, the recent AIR for 2014/15 identified the following two proposals for improvement: 

  • P1 Refine performance reporting arrangements to ensure data was presented in a way that provided a balanced picture of performance and of the outcomes being achieved
  • P2 Improve reporting so that cross-directorate / cross-service activity was considered in the context of delivery of priorities rather than completion of service-based actions.

The Council’s Performance Management Framework (PMF) set out the way in which the Council undertook performance management across the Council.  This Framework enabled the Council to regularly asses, report and scrutinise performance in order to support continuous improvement of its activities.

 

The PMF brought together the Council’s key planning, monitoring and evaluation processes through an integrated suite of documents.  These included the Community Strategy, Corporate Plan, Service Plans, Team Plans and Personal Development Plans and demonstrated the contribution made at a variety of levels of the organisation to the Council’s priority outcomes. 

 

The report outlined that the Corporate Plan would be monitored on a quarterly basis by an overall corporate health scorecard report and supplemented by specific quarterly reports for each of the four wellbeing outcomes. 

 

“Corporate Health” would be illustrated from a number of perspectives: 

  • Performance against wellbeing outcome / objectives
  • Resources (finance / savings, people, assets and ICT)
  • Customer focus and risks. 

Future reports would incorporate a Red, Amber, Green status for each of the wellbeing outcomes to give a snapshot of overall progress.  A brief position statement would be provided for the quarter covering the wellbeing outcomes and corporate health performance overall.  A brief summary of achievements by outcome would be provided as well as areas of underperformance / key challenges across the corporate health perspectives being highlighted with remedial actions to address these going forward.  These quarterly overview reports would be presented in a dashboard / scorecard format designed to make the information contained in it as accessible as possible. 

 

The report also outlined that four quarterly wellbeing outcome and objectives scorecard reports would demonstrate progress against each of the wellbeing outcomes and associated objectives.  Informed by performance data collected from Service Plans, these reports would demonstrate the cross-cutting nature of the wellbeing outcomes and draw together evidence from a range of service areas.  A brief position statement from the sponsoring Director would be provided for the quarter.  A brief summary of achievements by objective would be provided and areas of underperformance / key challenges highlighted, including a description of any remedial actions required to address these going forward.

 

These measures included amending the Scrutiny Committee structure from May 2016 to align it with the wellbeing outcomes of the Corporate Plan.  It was proposed that the Terms of Reference for the existing “service based” Scrutiny Committees be reviewed to reflect the Council’s four wellbeing outcomes and to support the cross-cutting nature of the new Corporate Plan.

 

In addition to the four wellbeing outcome-based Scrutiny Committees, the existing Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) would be replaced with a committee responsible for Corporate Resources and Performance.  In addition to this, the Council would therefore have the following Scrutiny Committees in operation: 

  • An Inclusive and Safe Vale Scrutiny Committee
  • An Active and Healthy Vale Scrutiny Committee
  • An Environmentally Responsible and Prosperous Vale Scrutiny Committee
  • An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale Scrutiny Committee.

The proposals were not merely a change in the name of Committees, but rather they represented a refocusing of scrutiny activity on the way in which the Council’s actions were delivered against its intended outcomes.

 

Quarterly wellbeing outcome and objective reports would be reported to the relevant committee, with the overall corporate scorecard report being presented to the Corporate Resources and Performance Committee.

 

Service Plans would in future be developed at Head of Service Level and would focus on the contribution made to the Council’s wellbeing outcomes and objectives. These Service Plans would contain a brief overview of the challenges facing the service against each corporate perspective (risks, customer focus, resources, workforce, finance, assets, ICT and performance) and an action plan informed by the Self- Assessment.

 

Two key questions to be addressed within the Plan were:

 

1.         Which wellbeing objectives does the service contribute to and what actions will we be taking this year to achieve these?

 

2.         How will we manage our resources to achieve these actions and support our service?

 

Below was an indicative timetable for implementation of the revised PMF, which will be phased in over the 2016/17 annual performance planning and reporting cycle.

 

Activity

Timescale

Service Self-Assessment 2015/16

March 2016

Service Plans 2016/17

March 2016

Team Plans 2016/17

March – June 2016

Personal Development and Review   for all staff

March – July 2016

Corporate Plan 2016-20

1st April 2016

Development and agreement of   performance scorecard reports

April – August 2016

Approval of Scrutiny Structures

May 2016

Quarter 1 performance reporting

September 2016

Produce specification and tender   for new performance monitoring software

August – December 2016

Quarter 2 performance reporting

December 2016

Develop data framework, design   Vale dashboards and reports and disseminate training

January 2017 – July 2017

Quarter 3 performance reporting

March 2017

End of Year performance   reporting

July 2017

 

A Member, in referring to the titles of the proposed new Scrutiny Committees, considered that grammatically they would “jar” against people and suggested that the name of the Scrutiny Committee should precede the Corporate Plan outcome e.g. Scrutiny Committee Active and Healthy Vale.  Also, in referring to the same wellbeing outcome, the Member enquired if it was necessary for the word “most” to be included i.e. Citizens of the Vale of Glamorgan lead healthy lives and the most vulnerable in our communities are protected and supported”.  In response, the Head of Performance and Development indicated that the issue of titles had been the subject of discussion by the other Scrutiny Committees when considering the proposals.  He acknowledged that further consideration would be given to this.  In regard to the specific wording of the wellbeing outcomes and the reference to “most”, he indicated that it may relate to available resources at the disposal to the Council and the likely intention therefore, was to safeguard those most in need.  

The Chairman made reference to the draft Corporate Plan and specifically to Contract Compliance and enquired of the Head of Performance and Development where this area fitted within the Council’s overall Corporate Compliance arrangements.  He indicated that this would fall under other areas of integrated planning arrangements e.g. Management of Risk.  If merited by the Scrutiny Committee to be of significance, he would consider inserting within the draft Plan an appropriate action.

 

A Member also referred to the submission of an Equality Impact Assessment to the Scrutiny Committee and when this would be done.  In response, the Head of Performance and Development indicated that subject to the conclusion of the consultation exercise a further report would be submitted to the next meeting of the Committee which would include an updated EIA.

 

In terms of proposals relating to new a new Performance Framework for the Council, concerns were expressed by number of Members who alluded to their comments made at the other Scrutiny Committees of which they were members when considering the matter.  Particular comments related to the remit of responsibility of each of the proposed new Scrutiny Committees e.g. it was argued that street lighting issues could fall under the remit of more than one Scrutiny Committee with the risk of monitoring falling between “two stools”.  They also raised issues of officer accountability and attendance at the right Scrutiny Committee, leading to officers not being necessarily held to account where appropriate.

 

The Chairman raised the issue of relevance and move towards the use of performance scorecards.  He enquired if the use of the same had been acknowledged as best practice by e.g. Regulators and other Councils and not just in Wales.  He also enquired how Members were going to be involved in the development of scorecards and their subsequent approval i.e. would they be submitted to Scrutiny Committees for comment / endorsement.

 

The Head of Performance and Development, in addressing the above points, indicated that it was the intention to move towards a different type of report regime, with scorecards considered the best way forward as these allowed for actions and targets to be grouped together providing greater focus.  In the future there would be 12 Service Plans and the Annual Self-Assessment would be done through these plans.  Members were now being asked to assess in the future the achievement of the corporate wellbeing outcomes as opposed to previously service-specific performance statistics.  Whilst acknowledging concerns made, he referred to the WAO’s previous comments regarding areas of duplication and one subject matter being reported to more than one Scrutiny Committee e.g. Disabled Facilities Grants.  The new arrangements would reduce areas of duplication and it would be ensured that the subject matter was at the right Scrutiny Committee with the appropriate officers in attendance.  If approved, the new reporting arrangements and formats would be subject of reports from September 2016.  As for the development of scorecards; he indicated that he welcomed discussion with Scrutiny Committee Members on their development.  Discussion ensued on how these discussions could be facilitated and the Chairman and another Member referred to the Scrutiny Committees Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group.  It was considered that the development of scorecards could be initially discussed at a meeting of this Group in the near future.  Brief discussion touched upon constitutional matters of doing so, of which there were none.

 

Having considered the Corporate Plan, the Committee

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the Corporate Plan be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the views of the Committee, as outlined in the minutes, be forwarded to Cabinet, with special regard to the Committee’s suggestions as outlined below: 

  • Further consideration is given to proposed Scrutiny Committee titles.
  • Further consideration be given to Contract compliance and consider inserting within the draft Plan an appropriate action.

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       That Members are aware of the revision and changes to the Corporate Plan.

 

(2)       To inform Cabinet of the Committee’s views and suggested amendments to the Corporate Plan as part of the consultation process.

 

With regard to the Performance Management Framework, the Committee

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the proposals for changes to the Council’s Performance Management Framework be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the development of performance scorecards be discussed initially at the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group and that the Head of Democratic Services be requested to convene a meeting of the Group during February, 2016.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of the proposed changes to the Performance Management Framework.

 

(2)       To inform Cabinet of the Committee’s views.

 

 

750     MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL PLAN 2015/16 TO 2018/19 (REF) –

 

The above matter had been subject to consideration by the Cabinet at its meeting held on 14th December, 2015. 

 

The above Plan was strategic in nature and set out the clear vision of the Council for its future delivery of its services within the financial constraints it faced over the medium term.  The Plan considered and set out with a clear timeframe how the Council intended to meet its service priorities and achieve cost reductions necessary over the life of the Plan.  It also set out how the Council would engage and consult with its citizens and stakeholders to inform decision making in relation to service change proposals and would evaluate and decide which business operating models provided the best options for delivering future services, incorporating that assessment over medium and long terms social and community risks of proposed spending cuts.

 

In referring to the report, the Head of Finance indicated that the Plan had been prepared following UK Government’s Strategic Spending Review and before the Welsh Government’s budget announcement.  Due to this uncertainty, it had been assumed for the financial year 2016/17 that a decrease would be at a similar level to that of 2015/16 and therefore a reduction of 4% had been used.  With regard to future financial years, with the threat of further decreases being reported, it was considered prudent for further reductions of 3% for both 2017/18 and 2018/19 should be planned for.

 

Initial estimates presented the following picture showing a projected savings target

between 2016/17 and 2018/19 of £30.9m, comprising of £17.8m of savings already

identified and £13.1m yet to be allocated.

 

Matching Predicted   Resources to Expenditure

2016/17

£000

2017/18

£000

2018/19

£000

Real   Term Decrease in Resources

7,020

5,119

4,979

Cost   Pressures

8.397

3,682

1,735

Identified   Savings

(12,170)

(5,652)

(0)

Additional Shortfall

3,247

3,149

6,714

 

There remained £3.2m of savings to be identified for the financial year 2016/17 and this was already identifying £12,2m.  The initial revenue budget proposals as presented to Cabinet on 16th November, 2015 reported a £6.4m shortfall for 2016/17.  Since that report was made to Cabinet, the Head of Finance indicated that there had been a change to the Plan as the Welsh Government budget has been announced and the reduction for the Vale is less than had originally been planned for.  The implications of the settlement are now being examined.

 

The Medium Term Financial Plan however assumed an increase in Council Tax of 2% which would equate to £1.2m although this was for indicative purposes and the final increase may change.

 

As a result of the high level of savings required there would be difficulties in maintaining the quality and quantity of services without exploring opportunities for collaboration and alternative forms of service delivery.  This would require the Council in future years successfully delivering a programme of reshaping and transforming services. 

 

Options which were recommended within the Plan for exploration as part of the 2016/17 budget process were: 

  • Considering the results of the budget engagement process in determining priorities for future savings and service delivery;
  • Review the appropriateness of the current financial strategies for Education and Schools, Social Services and Other Services;
  • Review feasibility of increasing the use of the Council Fund Reserve as part of the financial strategy;
  • Reviewing the level of cost pressures with a view to services managing and reducing demand and mitigating pressures;
  • Services funding their own residual cost pressures through reviewing their existing budgets and revised/alternative means of service provision;
  • Services meeting their own pay and price inflation etc. through reviewing their
  • staffing structure in line with changes to service delivery and workforce planning requirements;
  • Reviewing the priorities for funding statutory and non-statutory services, including establishing minimum levels of service provision; and
  • Pursuing options for reshaping services including means of alternative service

delivery in order to attempt to maintain the level of service while reducing the cost of provision.

 

Whatever strategy was taken forward by the Council it would involve the use of the Council Fund and other reserves to allow the savings required to be developed, consulted upon and implemented.  The Budget Strategy set out in the Financial Year 2015/16, final revenue budget proposals assuming a further use of a minimum of £4m Council Fund Reserve between 2015/16 and 2016/17.  As the savings target set for these years was based on this assumption, any reduction in use of the Reserve would increase the level of savings required.  However, this Medium Term Financial Plan had identified a significant increase in the high level of savings required.  As such, it may be necessary to increase the use of reserves in the short term subject to the Council’s Fund Reserve balance not falling below a figure which the Section 151 Officer deemed to be a reasonable minimum.

 

The Plan, from a Capital Programme perspective, anticipated a decrease in the Council’s General Funding allocation in 2016/17 and specific capital grants from Welsh Government coupled with limited capital receipts, continued to give the Council little opportunity to progress priorities in this area. 

 

A number of questions were raised in respect of the contents of the Plan with the Chairman commencing with a query in regard to the Council’s waste recycling contract and enquired if there was any likelihood of savings in future financial years given that the identified savings had been achieved in the current financial year as a result of the early commencement of the contract.  In response, the Head of Finance indicated that consultation was currently ongoing to look at current and existing arrangements.  However, the introduction as required by Welsh Government proposals to introduce a roadside co-mingling service may have financial implications for the Council.  Consultants had been engaged to assess the financial implications on related areas, however, until such time no assumptions could be made or indeed factored in to any savings assumptions. 

 

A Member referred to a recent media article relating to a Cabinet Member from Carmarthenshire Council in relation to spending financial reserves in advance of proposed local government mergers.  In response, the Head of Finance indicated that any spending of reserves may be subject to restrictions and approval by the Welsh Government.  The Member then referred to page 41 of the report, in particular the National Living Wage and to the increase in employers’ National Insurance contributions, and enquired as to why no cost pressures were contained within the financial information. In response the Head of Finance indicated that there should be financial figures included, particularly in respect of the implications for the Council in regard to increased costs around social care provision, although the exact costs may have not been included in the report due to the difficulty of obtaining information from the UK Government about the phasing of the introduction of the new levels.  The Member’s attention then turned to the slow progress in regard to the Reshaping Services Programme with Town and Community Councils and referred to his own Community Council who wished to make quick progress in negotiating areas that could be devolved to the Community Council.  In response, the Head of Performance and Development indicated that the Programme was a main strand through its savings strategy and in discussions were taking place with a number of Town and Community Councils across the Vale and progress had been made.  Some aspects of the initiative were currently being worked upon and consultants were being engaged to look at savings, however, he acknowledged that some savings may not necessarily be achieved as quickly as first planned but nonetheless, savings were being made. 

 

Another Member of the Committee made an observation in regard to alternative service delivery models and suggested that the transfer of services were not as straightforward as Members and officers necessarily assumed.  This was very much an unchartered area for local government and his experience as a member of a Town Council was that he was satisfied with the current progress and that Council officers had been exceptionally helpful in regard to the initiative.  He also added a note of caution in that he considered that alternative service delivery models were unlikely to realise the scale of savings identified within the Council’s various strategies and plans. 

 

In acknowledgement of the comments made, the Head of Performance and Development indicated that it was incumbent upon the Council to look at all possible service models, however, if the Council was unable to make savings this would inevitably mean that services would be cut. 

 

Another Member referred to alternative service models and enquired of the officers if the Council was looking to the private sector for examples which it could utilise to bring about potential opportunities e.g. the Council to be sector leading and to be capable of undertaking work on behalf of other Councils as part of revenue opportunities.  He was concerned that from his perspective, the Council may appear to be reticent to think outside of the box.  In response to the comments, the Head of Finance indicated that the Council was not just looking at reducing services but where the Council’s services were considered to be good or benchmarked to be good in terms of performance, to be able to compete for work from other Authorities and she alluded to work which was currently ongoing with this objective.

 

Having considered the contents of the Plan, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the contents of the draft Medium Term Financial Plan 2015/16 to 2018/19 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement of the contents of the proposed Medium Term Financial Plan for the above period. 

 

 

751     AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WALES: ANNUAL IMPROVEMENT REPORT 2015 (REF) –

 

The above report had been considered by the Council’s Audit Committee at its meeting held on 16th November, 2015.  At that time the Audit Committee had been advised of the results of the assessment by the Auditor General for Wales of the Council’s arrangements to secure continuous improvement.

 

Overall, the Auditor General for Wales’ report presented a picture of improvement over the past year.  For the 2014/15 period, the WAO’s improvement assessment was based around three themes; performance, use of resources and governance.  The Auditor General had concluded that “the Council continued to perform well in the context of national indicators and continues to manage its finances effectively: its forward planning arrangements and track record suggest it is well placed to secure improvements in 2015-16”.  A total of 13 proposals for improvement had been made.

 

The Chairman, in referring to page 22, paragraph 65 of the Auditor General for Wales’ Report, particularly safeguarding issues, enquired of officers if this had been taken account of.  In response the Head of Human Resources indicated that previous reports on safeguarding had been subject to consideration by Cabinet and this Scrutiny Committee and that the next six monthly report would be submitted for consideration in April / May, setting out progress on the Auditor General for Wales’ proposals.  In response the Chairman indicated that he was minded to include the matter of a further report on the Committee’s forthcoming work programme. 

 

Having regard to the contents of the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Auditor General for Wales: Annual Improvement Report 2015 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement that the report had been referred by the Council’s Audit Committee to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

 

 

752     SICKNESS ABSENCE REPORT – APRIL 2015 TO SEPTEMBER 2015 (REF) –

 

Cabinet, at its meeting on 30th November, 2015, had given consideration to the above matter.

 

The Cabinet, at its meeting, had been informed that overall sickness absence rates (i.e. working time lost per FTE) over the period April to September 2015 showed that the average days / shifts lots per FTE for the reporting period indicated a reduction on the half-year absence figures in comparison with 2014 (4.35 to 4.28 days lost per FTE).  Overall sickness absence levels for the half-year to September 2015 had been lower than the half-year target of 4.45 days / shifts per FTE.

 

Cabinet also at that time had considered a summary of the absence within each Directorate which was set out within the Cabinet report.  A further breakdown of absence in each Service area was included within Appendix A to the Cabinet report and identified a continued pattern of increasing sickness absence in the total corporate figures (5.35 days lost per FTE) when compared with 2013 (4.79 days lost per FTE) and 2014 (5.19 days lost per FTE). 

 

The Cabinet also at that time considered an action plan which was set out at Appendix B to the Cabinet report which contained arrangements to address sickness absence at each Directorate, including service specific considerations. 

 

In referring to the report, the Head of Human Resources specifically referred to the reasons for absence which were set out in paragraphs 19-22 of the report.  He also made reference to the Scrutiny Committee’s previous request for costings in relation to the subject matter.  “Directorate” costs were now included, albeit they did not take account of non-direct costs e.g. impact on morale and impact on other staff who were covering duties of a colleague who was on sickness absence. 

 

The Head of Human Resources referred that the Council was in the top quartile of Wales’ Local Authorities in terms of its performance and referred to revised Corporate Management arrangements in regard to attendance, particularly that the Corporate Management Team would now be reviewing sickness absence on a monthly basis, each Director had a specific Directorate plan to tackle sickness absence and the emphasis had changed in terms of all absences now being considered on a case by case priority basis.  He also alluded to monthly flagging reports still being produced, work undertaken by the Council’s Occupational Health Manager, increasing funding for Council’s preventative services e.g. counselling and introduction shortly of an Employee Assistance Programme.  He also referred to work that was ongoing from the Council’s Reshaping Services Programme Staff Engagement Strategy with the findings from this exercise to be reported to the Corporate Management Team for consideration. 

 

In response to the comments of the Head of Human Resources, a Member welcomed the attention the Council was giving to sickness absence and thanked staff in the HR section.  The Member enquired as to what components made up the costs to the Council in regard to the figure of £900,000.  In response the Head of Human Resources indicated that the cost related to the direct costs of absence (i.e. the cost of covering staff who are absent).  In response, the Member referred to hidden costs i.e. the effect on other staff in terms of the increase in workload, lost productivity, reductions in staff morale.  The Member also alluded to the costs to the Council in regard to what it paid in sick pay.  The Chairman also referred to the various measures that the Council had introduced to mitigate sickness absence and enquired of the Head of Human Resources what the costs of these preventative services were.  He also alluded to what options were available for staff to work from home.  In response, the Head of Human Resources indicated that the Council currently had an Agile Working Policy, including other flexible working policies. 

 

Discussion developed further by a Member referring to Appendix A to the report and referred to high numbers of sickness absence in Visible Services and Transport and Adult Services.  The Head of Human Resources reiterated his earlier comments in that the focus was now on priority areas and that each Directorate had formulated their own action plan to monitor their own specific service arrangements.  Another Member of the Committee also referred to the high absences in Visible Services and Transport and Adult Services and suggested that each Director should be invited to attend the Committee meeting when the next sickness absence report is submitted to the Committee for consideration.  It was clarified that the intention for all managers being invited was as a point of principle given their ownership of the service area and it was no indication that they were not performing.

 

A Member of the Committee, in referring to stress related absences, enquired of the all-Wales figures and also if stress related absence was more prominent in one service area than another.  In response, the Head of Human Resources indicated that he would seek to ascertain the all-Wales percentage figure for absence related to stress.  He did, however, provide a summary of the relative stress related absence figures in each Directorate.

 

A Member referred to paragraph 36 of the report in terms of the work undertaken by the Council’s Occupational Health service and suggested that the Council should give consideration to employing its own Occupational Health Therapists within the HR division who could work with employees to identify measures to overcome their absence from the work place. 

 

Having regard to the contents of the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Head of Human Resources submit to a future meeting, or as part of the next report to the Committee on sickness absence, the costs to the Council in respect of the following areas: 

  • Mitigation to reduce sickness absence levels within the Council
  • Insurance costs for the Council (on a Directorate by Directorate basis).

Reason for recommendation

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of action taken by the Council in respect of its management of sickness absence.

 

(2)       To assess the costs to the Council in respect of the related areas.

 

 

753     REVENUE MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 30TH NOVEMBER 2015 (MD) –

 

The Head of Finance reported the undermentioned variances in respect of the relevant Directorates where indicated:

 

Learning and Skills

 

There were significant pressures within the Inclusion Service in relation to inter-Authority recoupment. However, it was now anticipated that the Learning and Skills Directorate could outturn within budget at year end, variances being noted: 

  • Schools – the delegated budget relating to Schools was expected to balance as any over/underspend would be carried forward by Schools.
  • School Improvement and Inclusion – the service was projecting an adverse variance of approximately £688,000 however, this amount could be offset by £67,000 funded from the Excluded Pupils reserve and therefore an adverse variance of £621,000 was currently projected at year end made up by the following: 

-       There was an adverse variance on alternative curriculum placements of £67,000 which was projected to increase due to demand for the service.  However, this would be funded from the Excluded Pupils reserve.

-       Inter-Authority recoupment income – adverse variance of £457,000.

-       An adverse variance of £197,000 projected on Pupil Placements in independent schools.

-       An adverse variance of £20,000 due to increased numbers of pupils accessing the Pupil Referral Unit.

-       The above overspends would be offset by a favourable variance of £53,000 on staffing costs and other income.

 

Service Strategy and Regulation – 

  • Anticipated outturn with a favourable variance of £11,000 due to efficiencies within the Business Support Section. 

Strategy and Resources –

 

The service was now anticipating a favourable variance at year end of £598,000 (a favourable variance of £240,000 had arisen as a result of a rates refund due to the revaluation of school buildings, backdated up to five years).  

  • There was a favourable variance on the Transport Budget of £225,000 and £54,000 on salaries due to part year vacancies, £49,000 was due to payments to private nurseries as a result of a reduction in non-maintained nursery settings and other small variances of £30,000.
  • There were significant pressures in relation to Schools Long Term Supply Scheme with an adverse variance of £221,000.
  • The Early Retirement and Voluntary Redundancy Scheme was also projecting an adverse variance of £200,000.  (Note the overspends in respect of the last two bullet points would be funded from the respective reserves.) 

Children and Young People’s Partnership – 

  • This service was anticipated to outturn with a favourable variance of £12,000.
  • Provision had been made within the budget to make unsupported borrowing debt repayments in relation to the Schools Investment Strategy of £698,000 per annum;  any favourable variance on debt repayments would be directed into the Schools Investment Strategy. 

Libraries – 

  • This Service was projecting to outturn within budget after a transfer from the Libraries reserve of £103,000 to fund one off costs in relation to the implementation of the Libraries Review.

Youth Service – 

  • This service was anticipated to outturn within budget after a transfer of £13,000 from the Youth Service Reserve. 

Adult Community Learning –

  • This service was anticipated to outturn within budget after a £85,000 transfer from the Adult Community Learning Reserve.

Catering –

  • This service was anticipated to outturn within budget after a transfer of £221,000 from the Catering reserve.

Arts Development – 

  • This service was anticipated to outturn within budget at year end.

Social Services

 

The Head of Finance reported that it was anticipated that the projected outturn for 2015/16 in respect of the Directorate would be an adverse variance of £300,000 with the following variances being noted:

 

Children and Young People’s Services – 

  • This service was anticipated to outturn £450,000 under budget at the year end.  

Adult Services –

  • This service was currently anticipating to outturn £750,000 over budget at the year end.

 

Environment and Housing

 

The Head of Finance reported that this Directorate was currently projected to outturn at year end within target with the following variances being noted:

 

Highways and Engineering –

  • This service was currently showing a £47,000 favourable variance against the amended profiled budget.

Waste Management –

  • There was currently a favourable variance of £31,000 to the profiled budget.

Leisure –

  • Grounds Maintenance was currently showing a favourable variance of £4,000 against the profiled budget and Leisure was currently showing a favourable variance of £17,000 against the profiled budget.

Transportation –

  • There was currently a favourable variance of £48,000 against the profiled budget.

Regulatory Services – 

  • The new Shared Service for Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan became operational on 1st May, 2015.  It was anticipated that this budget would outturn on target.

Council Fund Housing –

  • This budget was anticipated to outturn with a favourable variance of £250,000.

Public Sector Housing (HRA) –

  • The budget was expected to outturn on target.

Managing Director and Resources

 

The Head of Finance reported that the budget in respect of the above Directorate projected that overall services under this heading would outturn with a favourable variance of £592,000 at year end with the following variances being noted:

 

Resources –

  • The budget was anticipated to outturn within budget although there was a possibility of a shortfall on Council Tax court income.

Regeneration –

  • There was currently a favourable variance of £94,000 to the profiled budget.

Development Management –

  • There was currently a favourable variance of £149,000 to the profiled budget.

Private Housing –

  • At this stage it was anticipated that the service would outturn on target at the year end.

General Policy –

  • This budget was projected to have a favourable variance of £592,000 relating to capital charges.

Having regard to the above, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the Authority’s 2015/16 Revenue Budget be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement of the projected revenue outturn for the above period.

 

 

754     CAPITAL MONITORING REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 30TH NOVEMBER 2015 (MD) –

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the following changes to the Capital Programme be noted: 

  • Penarth Library Damp Proofing – The scheme is renamed 'Penarth Library Damp Proofing and Lift Works'.
  • Llantwit Learning Community – An increase in the Llantwit Learning Community budget by £41,479 to be funded from the SEWSCAP Framework share out.
  • Overboarding Ceilings – A virement of £97,000 to the Sandstone Repairs budget. 
  • Victoria Primary External Refurbishment Works – A virement of £5,000 to the Sandstone Repairs budget. 
  • St. Helen's Infant School Works – An increase in the 2015/16 Capital Programme of £28,531 to be funded by a contribution from the school.
  • Broad Street Crossing – A virement of £109,000 to the Asset Renewal Structures budget. 
  • Additional Highways / Environmental Improvements – A virement of £27,000 to the Asset Renewal Structures budget.
  • Pedestrian Cycle Improvements at Ffordd Y Mileniwm – A virement of £69,000 to the Broad Street Crossing scheme.
  • Barry Regeneration Area Partnership – A virement of £41,000 to the Tackling Poverty Improve Health and Play Opportunities at George Street Play Area scheme.
  • Marketing and Disposal of Nell's Point – The carry forward £33.500 into the 2016/17 Capital Programme.
  • Paget Road Open Space Play Facility – The carry forward of £149,000 into the 2016/17 Capital Programme.
  • Feasibility Studies in Penarth Including the Esplanade – The carry forward of £49,000 into the 2016/17 Capital Programme.

(2)       T H A T the use of Emergency Powers and delegated authority to amend the Capital Programme in respect of the following matters be noted: 

  • Rhws Primary School Guttering – Emergency Powers used to increase the scheme budget by £22,000.
  • Llanfair Demountable – Emergency Powers had been used to increase to increase the scheme budget by £69,000.
  • Flying Start Grant – Emergency Powers had been used to approve the inclusion into the 2015/16 Capital Programme a grant in the amount of £9,500 from Welsh Government.
  • Penarth Pier Support – Emergency Powers had been used to vire £25,000 from the Structures Asset Renewal budget.
  • Culverhouse Cross to St. Athan Bus Priority Scheme – Emergency Powers had been used to approve the inclusion into the 2015/16 Capital programme of £506,000 grant from Welsh Government.
  • Additional schemes for Community Facilities – delegated authority had been approved to allocate £21,500 of the £27,000 budget for boiler and electrical works to Barry Island, Cwm Talwg, St. Francis and St. Nicholas Community Centres.

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To allow schemes to proceed in the current or future financial years.

 

 

755     3RD QUARTER SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND WORK PROGRAMME SCHEDULE 2015/16 (MD) –

 

The report updated Members on progress in relation to the Scrutiny Committee recommendations and to confirm the updated / amended work programme schedule for the Scrutiny Committee for 2015/16.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the recommendations deemed completed and set out in Appendices A and B to the report be agreed.

 

24 June 2014

Min. No. 117 – Disabled   Facilities Grant Performance 2013-2014 Quarters 2 and 3 (REF) – Recommended

(1)   That a further report be presented to the   Scrutiny Committee setting out what direct action the Scrutiny Committee   could pursue to address performance in relation to DFGs and whether it was   appropriate for such action to be undertaken through the auspices of a Task   and Finish Group.  (The Chairman   indicated that he would be raising this matter at the next Scrutiny Chairmen   and Vie-Chairmen Group meeting.)

 

 

 

 

This matter is to be raised   by the Chairman at the next Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen   Group meeting on 7th October 2014.

 

Scrutiny   Committee, on 15th October 2014 recommended that Cabinet be   requested to review the current spend and resourcing of the function in   comparison with other local authorities in Wales, particularly in the light   of the recent report and comments of the Wales Audit Office in its report to   the Council’s Audit Committee.

 

Cabinet,   on 17th November 2014, noted the Committee’s comments and resolved   that the performance of DFGs be reviewed when more information became   available.

(Min.   No. C2526 refers)

Completed

20 January 2015

 

Min. No 819 – Welfare   Reform – Progress Report (MD) – Recommended that the contents of the report be   noted and that the Scrutiny Committee receives a further progress report in   12 months’ time unless the Head of Finance considers that an earlier report   was required (six months) should any changes impact on current arrangements.

 

Added to work programme   schedule.

Completed

13 October 2015

Min. No. 505 – Capital   Monitoring Report for the Period 1st April to 31st August   2015 (MD) – Recommended that the below virements be endorsed and be referred to   Cabinet for approval:

  •   Southway Fire Works – a virement of £7,000 to the   Southway and Cartref residential home upgrade scheme
  •   Coast Protection and Land Drainage General – a virement   of £150,000 to the Causeway Improvement Scheme
  •   Llantwit Major Bedford Rise Play Area – an increase in   the 2015/16 Capital Programme of £21,000 to be funded from Section 106   monies.

 

 

Cabinet, on 16th   November, 2015, noted the contents of the report and approved the schemes.

(Min. No. C2972 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 509 – 2nd Quarter Scrutiny   Decision Tracking of Recommendations and Work Programme Schedule 2015/16 (MD)   – Recommended

(2)   That the Scrutiny Committee Work Programme   as set out in Appendix D to the report be approved and be made available on   the Council’s website.

 

 

 

 

 

Uploaded to the Council’s   website.

Completed

 

(2)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee Work Programme as set out in Appendix C to the report be approved and be made available on the Council’s website.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To maintain effective tracking of Committee recommendations.

 

(2)       To agree the Scrutiny Work Programme for 2015/16 and make available the information to the public.

 

 

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