Top

Top

SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 12th March, 2014.

 

Present:  Councillor J.C. Bird (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson (Vice-Chairman); Councillors R.J. Bertin, Mrs. C.L. Curtis, J. Drysdale, Mrs. A.J. Moore, R.P. Thomas and E. Williams.

 

Also present: Messrs. B. Fisher and A. Raybould (Tenant Working Group).

 

932     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillors Mrs. V.M. Hartrey and Ms. R. Probert; Mr. G. Amos and Mrs. A. Evans (Tenant Working Group).

 

 

933     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 12th February, 2014 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

934     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

935     H.M. INSPECTORATE OF PROBATION INSPECTION REPORT SHORT QUALITY SCREENING OF THE YOUTH OFFENDING SERVICE IN THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN (REF) -

 

Cabinet, at its meeting held on 24th February, 2014, had been apprised of the publication of the H.M. Inspectorate of Probation Inspection report of the Vale of Glamorgan’s Youth Offending Service. 

 

In presenting their report the Youth Offending Service Manager informed Members that during December 2013 the Inspectorate Team had undertaken a short quality screening inspection of the Youth Offending work conducted within the Vale of Glamorgan.  A copy of the Inspection Report was attached at Appendix A to the report and the Inspection criteria attached at Appendix B.  The Inspectors concluded that children and young people are being well served by the quality of assessments, reports and plans being produced by the Vale of Glamorgan YOS.  Staff were committed to delivering high quality services and were well supported in their work by management and a range of partners.  There was effective management oversight in place regarding improvement activity, which underpinned good practice.  Inspectors judged staff supervision and quality assurance arrangements had made a positive impact in almost all of the cases inspected.

 

The key strengths identified during the inspection were:

 

·         the quality of Pre Sentence Reports (PSRs) prepared for the Court

·         the engagement of children and young people and parents/carers in assessments

·         risk of harm and vulnerability issues were being managed effectively in most cases and

·         clear attention was being given to addressing sentence compliance and non-engagement issues.

 

In response to Members’ queries regarding diversity and assessments, the Youth Offending Service Manager advised that the service was generally tailored to working and supporting male offenders. The rising trend in female offenders meant that there was a need to identify additional resources for females to ensure they receive the same degree of support. Currently there were insufficient availability of evaluated programmes for young women particularly in regard to relationship matters, however this was being addressed.

 

The Inspection was able to review real, everyday working practices within the Service and issues of quality had been addressed through staff supervision and closer monitoring by managers. 

 

Having regard to the contents of the Inspection report it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the contents of the Inspection Report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure that Members were able to exercise effective oversight of the Youth Offending Service.

 

 

936     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL, 2013 TO 31ST JANUARY, 2014 (DDS AND DVSH) -

 

The Principal Accountant indicated that the Revenue Budget was projected to outturn for 2013/14 with an underspend of £200,000. 

 

In relation to the Public Sector Housing (HRA - the Housing Revenue Account) this currently showed a favourable variance of £300,000.  The main reasons for the favourable variance were noted as, an underspend on premises costs (£80,000) such as furniture and fittings at the sheltered schemes and Ty Iolo Hostel, further underspends on the Incentive to Move Scheme budgets (£40,000) and staff vacancies (£103,000) particularly within the Housing Management Team.  In addition, the Welfare Advice Team’s expenditure to date is less than anticipated (£30,000).  There are further savings of £15,000 on anti-social behaviour support from external bodies. 

 

In regards to the General Fund Housing, the Housing General Fund currently showed a favourable variance of £282,000.  The reason for this favourable variance was mainly due to the reduction in the number of homeless individuals requiring emergency accommodation due to a long-term increased focus of prevention by the Homelessness Team.

 

For Public Protection a £87,000 favourable variance was currently projected against the profiled budget.  This was primarily due to staff vacancies within the Division which had been held pending the outcome of a proposed collaboration project with Cardiff and Bridgend Councils.  It was anticipated that the underspend could be in the region of £100,000 by the end of the financial year.  However, any underspends would be set aside to meet future liabilities. 

 

Attention then turned to the Capital Monitoring and the Principal Accountant indicated that details of financial progress were set out in Appendix 2. 

 

WHQS - Rewires - a virement was requested in order to transfer £1,240,000 from the WHQS Roof Renewals to fund increased projected expenditure against this scheme.  The amended budget would be £3,461,000. 

 

The Principal Accountant advised Members that Voids in relation to non-WHQS works that a virement had been requested to transfer £470,000 to fund increased projected expenditure against this scheme from the WHQS Non Traditional Properties Budget.  The amended budget would be £825,000.

 

WHQS - Bathrooms - a virement had been requested to transfer £900,000 to fund increased projected expenditure against this scheme from the WHQS Non Traditional Properties £525,000, WHQS - Roof Renewals £60,000 and WHQS - Kitchen Replacements £350,000.  The amended budget would be £3,902,000.

 

In referring to the Emergency Contingency Budget, the Principal Accountant informed the Committee that an amount of £190,225 had been requested to transfer from the Housing Improvement Programme in order to fund the Emergency Build Work.

 

Appendix 3 to the report provided non-financial information on capital construction schemes which have a budget of over £100,000. 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position with regard to the Revenue and Capital Budget for the period 1st April, 2013 to 31st January, 2014 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

That the Scrutiny Committee note the position with regard to the 2013/14 Revenue and Capital Monitoring.

 

 

937     IMPROVEMENT PLAN PART 1 (IMPROVEMENT OBJECTIVES 2014/15) (DDS AND DVSH) -

 

The Committee’s views were sought on the proposed Improvement Objectives for 2014/15 as set out in Appendix 1 to the report which also included a rationale for each improvement objective. 

 

The Corporate Plan was a key means of the Council complying with the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009, which required the Council to set improvement objectives annually and demonstrate continuous improvement. 

 

The Corporate Plan 2013 - 2017 was approved by Cabinet on 25th February, 2013 following extensive consultation with key stakeholders and partners.  The Plan set out a 4-year vision for the Council, structured around eight priority outcomes which reflected the priority outcomes in the Community Strategy 2011-2021.  The outcomes were also reflected in Service Plans for 2014/15 and had informed the development of service outcomes and objectives.

 

Eight improvement objectives were proposed for 2014/15 including four carried forward from 2013/14, which had been amended to reflect the areas of focus for further improvement work in 2014/15.

 

Two objectives which specifically applied to the Committee were:

 

·         To reduce the time taken to deliver disabled facilities grants to children and young people and to adults. (Objective 6)

·         To improve our responsive repair service for tenants.  (Objective 8).

 

In referring to Objective 6, reducing the time taken to deliver Disability Facility Grants to children and young people and Adults, a Member queried as to whether many complaints were received and whether there was an issue of duplication of works.  The Head of Public Protection in response informed Members that they did receive complaints from time to time but that these mainly related to managing people’s expectations.  Issues of duplication of works have been addressed and site visits are carefully co-ordinated in order to minimise the level of disruption experienced by Service Users.

 

Discussion then moved on to Objective 8 improving the responsiveness of repairs for tenants, the Committee were made aware of actions that are being taken in order to progress the outcomes.

 

The Committee were pleased to note the good work and high standards that had been reported in respect of renovation work undertaken to improve the facilities at Youden House. 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the proposed Improvement Objectives for 2014/15 be endorsed.

 

Reasons for recommendation

 

(1)       To ensure the Council identified key annual improvement priorities for 2014/15 in line with the requirements of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.

 

(2)       To ensure that Improvement Objectives focused specifically on those areas where there was a need for improvement, reflecting the work being undertaken across the Council to improve the quality of life for Vale residents.

 

(3)       To enable the Council to more easily demonstrate achievement of its priorities.

 

 

938     QUARTER 3 DEVELOPMENT SERVICES PERFORMANCE REPORT 2013-14 (DDS) -

 

The performance results for Quarter 3 of 1st April to 31st December, 2013 were presented to the Scrutiny Committee by the Head of Public Protection.

 

Overall, Development Services were on track to achieve the objectives contributing to its service outcomes, with 78% of actions currently either completed or on track.  The service’s contribution to the Corporate Plan were also on track, with 93% of actions on track for completion.  Of the 44 actions within the Service Plan, 3 were completed, 38 are on track and 3 have slipped.  There were 3 actions relating to the Improvement Objectives, 2 were on track and 1 had slipped.

 

The Head of Public Protection, in referring to matters within the remit of the Scrutiny Committee, advised Members of the situation regarding the slipped action, relating to the introduction of a Framework Contract to enable the more effective delivery and adaptation works. Officers had been liaising with Swansea City Council who had agreed to supply copies of their tender documentation. These were being reviewed to ensure that they met the needs of the Council. He anticipated that this action should be completed during Quarter 1, 2014/15.

 

In querying this action, a Member questioned as to how the quality of the work was being monitored.  In response, the Head of Public Protection advised Members that unless work had been completed to the acceptable standards and had received prior approval, no payments were made to contractors. 

 

The Committee noted that in relation to Performance Indicator PPN008iiiQ in respect of animal welfare that in view of the large scale horse seizure that had recently been observed how was the situation being currently monitored?  In response, the Head of Public Protection informed Members that the RSPCA was the lead organisation in monitoring the current situation and that the Council would continue to work with partner agencies to control any further issues.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the Service performance results and actions identified to be taken to address service and performance be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement of action taken in meeting performance in Quarter 3.

 

 

939     DRAFT DEVELOPMENT SERVICES SERVICE PLAN 2014/18 (DDS) -

 

The Head of Public Protection presented to the Committee the draft Development Services Service Plan for 2014-2018.

 

In terms of the remit of the Committee Outcome 1 and Objective 2 were most relevant to this Committee. 

 

The actions within the Service Plan were to inform Team Plans and Personal Development Objectives for individual members of staff via the Personal Development Review System.  Outcomes and targets at all levels were scrutinised as part of the Council’s performance and monitoring arrangements.  The Head of Public Protection, in referring to the draft Service Plan referred Members to the actions detailed within the Appendix that sets out how each Outcome will be achieved.

 

Appendix 4 of the report outlined the Development Services planned savings requirements and the Head of Service alluded to the level of staff vacancies that were currently contained within the service structure. 

 

The Committee made reference to the level of savings and were concerned and sought some clarification of the impact that these would have on the services and in particular in relation to Substance Misuse Policy.  In reply, the Head of Service informed Members that the Area Planning Board was responsible for the delivery of the Substance Misuse Policy and that this was under a multi-agency framework and close partnership working. 

 

As a general comment, in relation to the size, format and look of draft Service Plans, a Committee Member expressed the view that the layout needed to be more user friendly and more focussed on future outcomes and objectives with less emphasis placed upon previous completed actions. In relation to this, Officers advised members that the format of the Service Plans have been set out following guidelines and recommendations issued by the Wales Audit Office.

 

RECOMMENDED -T H A T the content of the Service Plan 2014-18 for Development Services be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In exercising effective scrutiny of the Service Plans for the Service area.

 

 

940     QUARTER 3 HOUSING AND BUILDING SERVICES PERFORMANCE REPORT 2013/14 (DVSH) -

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services presented the performance results for Quarter 3 for 1st April to 31st December, 2013.

 

Overall, Housing and Building Services were on track to achieve the objectives contributing to its service outcomes, with 65% of actions currently either completed or on track.  Overall the contribution to the Corporate Plan were being progressed with 69% of actions on track for completion.  Of the 32 actions within the Service Plan, 10 actions had been completed, 2 were on track, 9 had slipped and 1 had not been started. 

 

Housing and Building Services did not have any Improvement Objective actions in the Service Plan for 2013/14. 

 

The Committee gave consideration to the Service’s performance with particular consideration being given to the following matters:

 

Performance Indicator

Comment

HS01/A003 (CP/H9) – Develop a Housing Solutions Service to focus on delivering further service improvements by merging the current HOMES4U and Homelessness Advice Teams.

Overarching group had met to discuss Solutions Service. Officers have met with Welsh Government. Currently awaiting decision from Welsh Government on whether funding was to be made available for feasibility study.

HS02/A010 (CP/H1) - Develop a new Local Housing Strategy which will include an Older People’s Accommodation Strategy

Evidence Day with all stakeholders to take place in February.  On target for completion March 2014.

HS02/A011 - Deliver a new Tenants Handbook

Intention this action become 14/15 if required by Tenants.  Discussion is required via Tenant’s Engagement Strategy Forum.

HS02/A016 - Prepare a feasibility study for the provision of an older people’s village

This was a Social Services action.  Consultant appointed to write an Older Person’s Accommodation Strategy with Care and Housing Representatives as part of a sub-group to oversee and provide data evidence to inform the Strategy.

 

It was noted that the aspirations behind this project were too high and that these could not be met within the specified timescales.  Some work had been undertaken in this area as part of the Evidence Workshop sessions. Two workshops had taken place in order to discuss the provision of housing for older people within the Vale and in order to discuss possible and future projects of this nature.

 

In addition to this a bid had been submitted jointly with social care and health professionals in the Vale and Cardiff as part of the Independent Care Fund i.e. revenue and capital monies available from Welsh Government for creating links between the three sectors in terms of supporting older people. An Accommodation Solutions Officer is part of the bid whose role would include working with professionals to diagnose the accommodation needs of people admitted into hospital at an earlier stage.

HS04/A025 - Develop a leaseholder handbook outlining the WHQS process and how leaseholders will be affected by service charges.

Cabinet report concerning leaseholders and charges associated with WHQS external works had been submitted to Cabinet in January 2014.  Head of Service to hold leaseholder meetings in February 2014 to discuss content of report and to maintain ongoing communication with leaseholders. 

 

The Head of Service advised Members that many residents owning leasehold properties were not aware of their duties under the lease agreement that they must contribute to external repairs associated with the property. Mandatory and discretionary loans would be made available to leaseholders to help them meet the costs if they required this. 

HS05/A029 - Develop and implement a recharging policy for tenants

Draft recharging policy produced and will be discussed at tenant’s Quality and Design Forum.  Final policy will be reported to Cabinet in April 2014.

HS05/A030 - Develop an ICT Strategy for Housing Services

A strategic approach being adopted by the team in terms of focusing on Key stone as the adopted Asset Management platform and Consol and Opti-time as the contractor management systems

HS05/A033 - Develop and implement anti-social behaviour monitoring within the OHMS system

To be implemented in line with adoption of new Anti-Social Behaviour Policy.

HS05/A034 - Train frontline staff in use of new anti-social; behaviour policy and procedures.

Provision training dates set for February 2014 this will be followed by awareness training for all relevant front line staff

HS05/A027 (CP/H13) Review the effectiveness of the current OHMS housing management system to ensure smarter working practices.

Slipped - Keystone training, plan programme agreed.

HS05/A037 Implement the HouseMark benchmarking system for housing services.

Business Support Manager in place, implementing a new structure to include graduate which will take into account housing / building systems. Directorate reviewing use of current performance management framework.

HS05/A040 Develop an estate inspection regime.

Communal Area inspection scheduled development. Staff trained in Fire Risk Assessment.

HS05/A041 Publicise regular performance reports for tenants.

Performance data collated. Report due in April 2014.

HS05/A042 Review current warden support for older tenants in Sheltered Housing Accommodation

Next meeting arranged for January. Housing Management and Social Services to consider models for older person’s accommodation. Also linked to HS02/A016)

HS05/A045 Implement a legionella risk assessment programme to be made available to all schools.

The revised code of practice had still not been published by the HSE. Specifications are to be issued on the existing version with completion due by the end of March.

HS06/A055 (CP/H12) Review the role of Tenant Engagement Associates (TEAs) to improve links with community groups, other Council services, partners and stakeholders.

This is a role for Housing Tenants Review group with appropriate support, training opportunities for group members identified.

HS06/A054 (CP/H12) Organise tenants’ visits to other Registered Social Landlords and other tenants groups to share experience, knowledge and best practice.

Consult Housing Forum Review (Members will be attending). Residents awaiting date for visit.

HS06/A053 (CP/H12) Analyse and identify gaps and under represented groups across the Vale and develop a strategy to address these.

Report delayed until February 2014. Collating sub groups and Funday evidence.

HS06/A050 (CP/H12) Establish a Tenant Young People’s Forum.

All young people who are tenants to be contacted asking them how they would like to get involved in making Tenant Choices. Looking at offering FREE Child Care Facilities whilst attending meetings, transport to events, holding coffee mornings / play scheme opportunities and incentives.

HS06/A049 (CP/H12) Establish a rural Vale Tenant and Resident Association.

Deferred until 2014. Attended Vale Show but little response due to small amount of tenants attending event. Recycling Events in rural areas to be arranged with Housing Officer where it is hoped to get a positive response for establishing a Rural Vale Residential Group.

HS06/A057 Publish four Vale Standard newsletters during 2013/14.

Evaluate newsletter frequency. Next publication due Spring, input from all teams required.

HS06/A046 (CP/H12) Review options for establishing a tenants resource centre in the Vale.

To be considered as part of Tenants Engagement Strategy.

HS08/A066 Complete and implement a business plan for all Building Cleaning and Security functions which reviews the current structure.

Action to be carried over to 2014-15. Ongoing consultation with existing service users and further discussion required on the amalgamation of existing service areas and the   potential development of a Facilities Support Services Unit.

 

Having noted the contents of the performance review document, the Committee were keen to highlight the importance to engage and involve representatives from all categories of the older people’s population in the planning of the Older People’s Accommodation Strategy in relation to future housing projects.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the 3rd Quarter Performance report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In exercising effective scrutiny of the performance of the Service area.

 

 

941     DRAFT HOUSING AND BUILDING SERVICES SERVICE PLAN 2014-18 (DVSH) -

 

In presenting the Service Plan, the Head of Housing and Building Services advised Members that the Service had three main functions

 

·         a Council House Landlord function

·         Strategic and Strategy Housing Services - Non-Landlord

·         Facilities Services - Public Community Buildings.

 

In achieving the identified service aims the following people outcomes had been developed:

 

·         Everyone has a home they can afford and meets their needs

·         Customers are very satisfied with the services we provide.

 

She also referred to the strengths and weaknesses of the services and also tabled for the Committees consideration a summary of activities against objectives 1 to 7 of her Service Plan.  The Services seven objectives set out to be achieved in the 2014-2018 timescale period:

 

1.       To be an excellent landlord in terms of housing and asset management services.

2.       To be a "community investor" adopting a more than "bricks and mortar" approach to service delivery.

3.       To identify and provide excellent housing related support services that meet the needs of our residents.

4.       To increase the supply of affordable housing.

5.       To significantly reduce homelessness in the Vale.

6.       To establish a shared vision for housing in the Vale.

7.       To deliver customer-focussed, cost effective services.

 

For each of the 7 Service Objectives a number of action points had been devised which detailed the criteria for success, the level of priority, the officer responsible, the start and finish date and how the work will be resourced.

 

The Committee, with reference to the Service Plan discussed the opportunity for suggestions and recommendations of changes and amendments to the Service Plan be afforded to Members, it being noted that suggestions would be e-mailed to the Head of Housing and Building Services so that appropriate consideration of these can take place and then incorporated into the Plan as necessary.  The Committee would then have the opportunity to review the amendments to the Service Plan once any recommendations had been implemented

 

In summing up the Committee thanked the Head of Service for providing a comprehensive overview of her plan and welcomed the production of the summary document and requested that in future such summary documents be provided for all future service plans particularly given the cross cutting nature of the plans and the different scrutiny committees remit.

 

Having regard to the above matter it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the Housing and Building Services Service Plan for the period 2014 - 2018 be endorsed.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In exercising effective scrutiny for the Service Plans for the service area.

 

 

942     TASK AND FINISH ACTIVITIES FOR 2014/15 (HDS) -

 

The Committee was updated on Scrutiny Reviews being undertaken and were requested to agree a process to consider topics for review in 2014/15. 

 

The Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group at its meeting on 27th February, 2013 gave consideration to a report for prioritising Task and Finish activities for the current municipal year.  The Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group subsequently agreed its priorities for 2013/14 as follows:

 

Priority 1 - Traffic Management - Impact of traffic flows within the County, including reference to sustainable travel

 

Priority 2 - To be agreed following completion of Priority 1.

 

As in previous years each Scrutiny Committee was required to recommend items to be put forward for review to the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group to prioritise.  In order to assist the process Committees were asked to limit the number of such items to two per Committee.

 

It was suggested that Committees consider items that had been highlighted resulting from a number of surveys and questionnaires that had already been undertaken with the public by the authority. 

 

In considering possible topics the Committee discussed the rationale and the criteria’s behind such Task and Finish Group activities and highlighted the timescales for such reviews are usually limited to three months.  The Committee was made aware that further resources have been put in place in order to support the Task and Finish Group activities and an opportunity has been afforded to Members in order to put forward ideas and suggestions.

 

Having considered all the options available it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the update on Scrutiny Reviews be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the process for considering reviews in 2014/15 as contained within the report and as previously endorsed by the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group be agreed.

 

(3)       T H A T the review to be submitted for consideration on behalf of the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) be as follows:

 

"An examination of affordable housing within the Vale of Glamorgan encompassing the use of land trust and co-operatives and the potential to increase rural housing stock and undertaking a detailed assessment of opportunity for new housing developments within the Vale."

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1-3)    In recognition of the role of Scrutiny and to facilitate Scrutiny Work Programmes as outlined in the Council’s Constitution.

Share on facebook Like us on Facebook