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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 19th April, 2016.

 

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

 

 

1026   MINUTES – 

 

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

 

 

1027   APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors H.J.W. James and P. King.

 

 

1028   DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

1029    EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY – OVERVIEW REPORT (REF) -

 

The Cabinet at its meeting held on 11th April, 2016 had noted the progress and endorsed the continuation of the above Strategy throughout 2016/17.  The matter had been referred to the Scrutiny Committee as part of consultation process relating to the draft Staff Charter.

 

The Strategy attached at Appendix 1 to the report had been developed to ensure that employees from all service areas understood the rationale for the Reshaping Services Programme, its implications for staff and the Council’s Workforce Plan.

 

Over the previous nine months, work had progressed through eight separate phases of engagement, details of which were set out in paragraph 6 of the Cabinet report.  The work had involved over 1,800 employees and the support and sponsorship of the Council's senior leadership team.

 

The engagement work had progressed through phase 5 and 6 over the last two months and following the endorsement by the Cabinet would be the subject of consultation on the proposed Staff Charter over the next two months.

 

The Cabinet report represented a summary of the work to-date and brought together the various themes and strands from each of the following four working groups: 

  • Expectations of my Manager;
  • Seeking my Views;
  • Keeping me informed;
  • Developing my Skills.

The terms of reference for each work group, the main outcomes and the specific proposals were set out at pages 10 - 13 of the report, and a summary of all proposals was set out in the project plan attached at Appendix B, however, some of the main proposals related to the following: 

  • The launch of a Staff Charter as a basis for consultation with all employees;
  • The strengthening of the Council's Leadership Café;
  • A review of the effectiveness of internal staff communications;
  • The forming of a staff editorial team to help shape the Core Brief process;
  • The review and re-launch of the Council's employee appraisal scheme;
  • The roll-out of a skills audit to help improve capacity across services;
  • The forming of a staff engagement group to maintain regular dialogue with CMT.

The Staff Charter is seen as the vehicle for summarising the outputs from the nine month engagement process, reflecting the work from each of the four project working groups and well as providing a means for evaluating progress in each area.

 

The process of consultation would provide the opportunity for all employees to comment on the 'product' of the engagement process and, in essence to be comfortable that it reflected the outcomes from the work over the preceding nine months.

 

Progress against each of the actions within the report would be monitored through a range of forums over the next three years, including the Council's Trade Union/ Management Change Forum and also through the means of ongoing representation and involvement from each of the engagement working groups.

 

The key challenge would be to ensure that momentum was maintained and the range of commitments achieved.  The early delivery of key actions would also ensure that confidence in the process was maintained, engagement levels were increased and the continuing challenges of the Reshaping Services Programme supported.

 

In referring to the data contained within the appendix relating to “seeking my views” and in particular to staff responses, a Member enquired if the data represented a cross section of the staff as a whole.  In response, the Head of Human Resources indicated that the survey process was conducted only in relation to those attending the various engagement conferences.  It was not an “Authority-wide” survey but gave a useful indication.

 

In response, the Member considered the percentages as being low in the last three categories and particularly in relation to the readiness of staff to accommodate change.  He suggested that this may impact on the progress of the Council’s Reshaping Services Programme.

 

The Head of Human Resources responded by indicating that the engagement process had reiterated the point that all services would need to be reviewed and had helped prepare the ground for this.  The Strategy, and in particular the Staff Charter approved by Cabinet, would address such issues going forward, with the Charter itself being used as a baseline to measure key activities such as communication, engagement and progress in the development of staff skills.

 

Another Member described the Strategy and in particular the Staff Charter as “superb”, taking account of the number of staff who had been involved and had made a contribution in its development.  He felt that it was important to sustain the progress made to date and to ensure that those staff that were for various reasons still unengaged with the process, were managed appropriately.

 

The Chairman thanked officers and staff involved in the development of the initiative.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Employee Engagement Strategy be endorsed.

 

Reason for recommendation

In acknowledgement of the consultation process in relation to the above Strategy.

 

 

1030   IMPROVEMENT PLAN PART 1 (IMPROVEMENT OBJECTIVES 2016/2017) (MD) –

 

The following Five Improvement Objectives were proposed for 2016/17: 

  • Objective 1 (Reducing poverty and social exclusion)
  • Objective 2 (Promoting regeneration, economic growth and employment)
  • Objective 3 (Raising overall standards of achievement)
  • Objective 4 (Encouraging and promoting active and healthy lifestyles).
  • Objective 5 (Deliver the Council’s transformational programme, ‘Reshaping Services’ to meet the future needs of citizens of the Vale of Glamorgan, within the context of unprecedented financial challenges).

The five objectives comprised: 

  • Proposals for two new objectives which related to Objective 1 (Reducing poverty and social exclusion) and Objective 4 (Encouraging and promoting active and healthy lifestyles).
  • Two amendments to existing objectives were proposed which related to Objective 2 (Promoting regeneration, economic growth and employment) and Objective 3 (Raising overall standards of achievement). Extending the area of focus for the Council in 2016/17 bringing these in line with the broader objectives outlined in the Corporate Plan 2016-20.
  • It was also proposed that one current objective be carried forward into 2016/17 to reflect the continued focus on Reshaping Services to meet future needs of all Vale citizens (Objective 5).

One objective applied specifically to this Committee which was, Objective 5, however, the work of the Committee also contributed towards Objectives 1, 2, and 4.

 

Appendix 1 to the report outlined the proposed objectives for 2016/17 and provided a rationale for each objective.  The measures to be undertaken to make a difference were identified including, a sponsoring Director with responsibility for ensuring the achievement of key outcomes.

 

The Council was also required to consult on its proposed Improvement Objectives and these would be published on the Council’s website from March 2016 inviting comments from the public.  At the same time elected Members, other key stakeholders, including the Local Service Board, Town and Community Councils, voluntary sector organisations and local businesses would also be invited to comment.  Proposals would subsequently be made to Cabinet based on the findings from the consultation.

 

Challenging targets had been set against all measures for improvement, reflecting the Council's commitment to continuously improve the services it provided to citizens of the Vale of Glamorgan.  At the same time, the Council was also mindful of significant financial and service demand pressures over the coming year and key targets and milestones for proposed Improvement Objectives had been set within this context.  This meant that in some areas for example, it would be an achievement to maintain existing levels of service performance whilst absorbing reductions in funding, managing increasing service demand or both.

 

Subject to the views of the Scrutiny Committee and any subsequent revisions proposed by Cabinet, the Improvement Objectives would be considered at the Council meeting on 27th April, 2016.

 

In response to the report, a number of Members expressed their disappointment in relation to the lack of inclusion of end of year data which made it impossible to verify if the targets set for the forthcoming year were sufficiently robust.  In addition, where data for target setting had been included, the Committee considered it would have been useful if an explanation or context for inclusion had been provided.

 

The Chairman referred to Improvement Objective 5 page 19 of the appendix to the report (Reshaping Services) and considered the project milestones lacked detail, specific project information and how the same were to be delivered in a timely manner.  In response, the Head of Performance and Development said that detailed timescales were set out in the relevant project documentation and that the Improvement Objectives were intended to be a summary.  He further reminded the Committee that the matters under consideration were part of the Council’s new performance framework linked to the four well-being outcomes in the Corporate Plan and that much of the information Members were referring to was in the process of being developed.  He alluded to the Member Working Group who would be meeting in the near future to discuss future reporting arrangements for performance information.  In regard to the Reshaping Services Programme he also referred to the last report on the subject presented to the Cabinet in December 2015 and subsequently reported to the Committee for consideration.  He also alluded to the initial budget process report also considered by the Committee in December, which had also contained detailed information regarding the programme including the re-profiling savings linked to specific projects.  He indicated that a further report on progress of the Programme would be submitted to the Committee.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the proposed Improvement Objectives for 2016/17 be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T the Head of Performance and Development submit a detailed progress report on the Council’s Reshaping Services Programme as soon as practicable to the Scrutiny Committee.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To enable Council to identify its key annual improvement priorities for 2016/17 in line with the requirements of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.

 

(2)       To address the concerns of the Scrutiny Committee in regard to progress of the delivery of projects contained within of the Programme.

 

 

1031   SERVICE PLAN 2016/20 – RESOURCES (MD) –

 

Service Plans for 2016/20 specifically identified how each Head of Service would contribute towards the achievement of Corporate Plan well-being outcomes by asking two questions: 

  • "Which well-being objectives does the service contribute to and what actions will we be taking this year to achieve these?"
  • "How will we manage our resources to achieve these actions and support our service?.

Informed by the recent self-assessment, the Service Plans also comprised a brief overview of the issues facing the service against each of the corporate health perspectives (Risk, Customer Focus, Resources – workforce, finance, assets, ICT). The Plans also included an action plan for how resources would be used to support the delivery of well-being outcome actions as well as managing risks, collaboration and engagement activities.

 

The Council was currently consulting widely on proposed Improvement Objectives for 2016/20 and these would be reflected within relevant Service Plans once approved by Council on 27th April, 2016.  The proposed Improvement Objectives and associated actions for 2016/20 reflected the four well-being outcomes in the Corporate Plan, ensuring that the Council was focusing on the areas in need of the most improvement.

 

Appendix 1 contained the Service Plans for Legal Services, Finance Services, Human Resources, Performance and Development, ICT Services and Democratic Services.  Key areas of note within the Service Plans are: 

  • Section 1 – Introduction: Set the context for the Service Plan and provided an overview of the service area, the purpose of the Plan, and the key service considerations which have informed development of the Plan.
  • Section 2 – Our Priorities for 2016/20: Outlined the specific actions that the service would be taking during 2016/17 to contribute towards the corporate well-being objectives and outcomes.  It also identified the key enabling actions the service would be taking to support its achievement of the well-being outcomes for example through reshaping of its services.
  • Section 3 – How we work and our Resources: Described how the service will use its resources to deliver its priorities in the Service Plan and outlines key workforce development priorities, significant ICT projects, required budget savings and areas of focus in relation to assets, procurement and major capital projects.  This section also identifies how the service would engage with stakeholders and work in partnership/collaborate to achieve its priorities and incorporated a service risk evaluation.
  • Appendices A and B (within the Service Plan) contained the Service Improvement Action Plan for 2016/17.  This identified planned service actions, intended outcomes and key milestones, relevant performance measures to demonstrate progress, responsible officer, timescales for completion and the anticipated resources requirements of planned actions.
  • The revised Service Plan format, which took on board comments and feedback received by the Policy and Performance Team (PPT) in the past, was intended to be easier to complete and will facilitate clearer links with Team Plans.  It was recognised, however, that the format would continue to evolve over the next couple of years as the new performance management arrangements bedded in. 

The Directorate would now develop Team Plans to underpin the Service Plan.

 

In addressing the Committee, each Head of Service in turn commented on their individual Service Plans, each referring to their respective priorities and actions to contribute to the well-being outcomes and objectives of the Corporate Plan during the lifetime of the Plan itself.  The Head of Legal Services also highlighted the support provided and to follow in respect of The City Deal project, the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 20154.  They also touched upon how the service was resourced, its work to meet the objectives of the Council’s Workforce Plan, where relevant (Legal Finance, Property and ICT) to support other Councils’ services key projects in delivering the Council’s Reshaping Services Programme, the savings targets that the service was itself expected to achieve as part of the above Programme, proposed consultation / engagement to be undertaken and collaborative / partnerships planned.

 

The Committee made comments in relation to Legal Services and ICT Service Plans particularly, their ability to support the key projects of the Reshaping Services Programme.  The Committee sought an assurance from both Heads of Service that they had sufficient staff resilience to deliver the stated actions within their service plans.  Both Heads of Service confirmed that sufficient resources were in place.

 

Discussion also explored wider matters relating to the Reshaping Service Programme and the pace of the delivery of various projects involving the transfer of community assets and in particular Libraries.  The Committee also expressed concern that insufficient detailed information had been made available to Members in relation to the delivery of the Programme e.g. CCTV and arrangements for the cutting of road side verges.  In response the Head of Performance and Development referred to discussions with Town and Community Councils, which were still ongoing.  Updates on progress of various projects had been made available via Core Briefs and on the regularly updated Reshaping pages on StaffNet, and Members could access this information through the same portal.

 

The Committee requested the Head of Performance and Development to ensure that Programme delivery updates be made specifically available for Elected Members via the MemberNet facility as opposed to StaffNet.

 

The Chairman requested the Head of Performance and Development draw the Corporate Management Team and the Leader’s attention to the concerns of the Committee relating to the pace of library transfers to community groups.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Service Plans in respect of Legal Services, Finance Services, Human Resources, Performance and Development, ICT and Democratic Services for 2016/20 be endorsed and referred to Cabinet for further consideration.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To confirm the Service Plan as the primary document against which performance for the Resources Directorate will be measured and to allow Cabinet to consider any views of the Scrutiny Committee and to give further consideration to the Plans.

 

 

1032   4TH QUARTER SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS (MD) -

 

The report updated Members on progress in relation to uncompleted recommendations made by the Scrutiny Committee during April to March 2015; 3rd Quarter October – December 2015 (Appendix B) and the 4th Quarter January – March 2016 (Appendix C). 

 

The Chairman referred to the progress of the delivery of the Welsh Language notification app (minute no. 263 refers) and requested that the Head of Performance and Development to investigate the delays in the delivery of the project given the project had slipped from January 2016.  The Head of Service indicated that he would

raise the matter with the relevant officer.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the following actions detailed below be accepted as completed:

 

 

8 December 2015

Min. No. 660 –   Initial Revenue Budget Proposals 2015/16 (MD) – Recommended

(3)   That the views of the Scrutiny Committee   be referred to Cabinet.

Cabinet,   on 11th January 2016, noted the contents of the report.

(Min.   No. C3038 refers)

Min. No. 661 –   Initial Capital Programme Proposals For 2015/16 (MD) – Recommended

(1)   That the Initial Capital Budget Proposals   for 2015/16 be endorsed and Cabinet informed accordingly.

Cabinet,   on 11th January 2016, noted the contents of the report.

(Min.   No. C3037 refers)

12 January 2016

Min. No. 749 –   Draft Corporate Plan 2016-20 (REF) and Performance Management Framework (REF)   –   Recommended

Corporate Plan

(2)   That 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.

Cabinet, on 22nd   February 2016 resolved that the changes to the Corporate Plan 2016-20 be   noted and, following any further required amendments, the Plan be submitted   to Council for consideration on 2 March, 2016.

(Min.   No. C3084 refers)

 

Council, on 2nd   March 2016, Resolved – that the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in   Cabinet Minute No. C3084, 22nd February, 2016, be approved   and the Corporate Plan 2016-20 approved accordingly.

(Min.   No. 886 refers)

Performance   Management Framework

(2)   That 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.

Cabinet, on 22nd   February 2016 resolved

(1)   That the   proposals for changes to the Council’s Performance Management Framework as   described in the report be approved.

(2)   That the   proposed review of the Council's Scrutiny Committees' names and terms of   reference be agreed and the matter be referred for further consideration by   the proposed working group as set out in resolution 5 below.

(3)   That the report   be referred to the Democratic Services Committee for consideration.

(4)   That subject to   resolutions 1-3 above, the proposal to establish a working group of Elected   Members and Officers to develop further the arrangements that would support   the revised Performance Management Framework, including consideration of the   review of the Council's Scrutiny Committees, be approved.

(5)   That a further report be brought to   Cabinet following conclusion of the review by the working group on matters   relating to the naming and terms of reference of the Council's Scrutiny   Committees.

(Min.   No. C3085 refers)

 

 

Council, on 2nd   March 2016, Resolved – that the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in   Cabinet Minute No. C3084, 22nd February, 2016, be approved   and the Corporate Plan 2016-20 approved accordingly.

(Min.   No. 886 refers)

Min. No. 752 –   Sickness Absence Report – April 2015 to September 2015 (REF) – Recommended

That   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).

Added   to work programme schedule.

Min. No. 755 – 3rd   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 C to the report be approved and be made available on   the Council’s website.

Work   programme uploaded to the Council’s website.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To maintain effective tracking of the Committee’s recommendations.