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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 8th October, 2014.

 

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

 

Also present: Ms. H. Keatley (Wales Audit Office) and Mr. B. Fisher (Tenant Working Group).

 

 

503     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – 

 

These were received from Councillors J.C. Bird, Ms. R.F. Probert, Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson; and Messrs. A. Raybould and G. Amos (Tenant Working Group).

 

 

504     MINUTES – 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 10th September, 2014 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

505     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

506     IMPROVEMENT PLAN PART 2: ANNUAL REVIEW OF PERFORMANCE 2013/14 (REF) –

 

Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) on 16th September 2014 was requested to endorse the Improvement Plan for 2013/14.  The Draft Improvement Plan Part 2: Annual Review of Performance 2013/14 contained performance and information for Improvement Objectives that had been agreed in June 2013.

 

The Head of Performance and Development informed the Committee that the Part 2 Improvement Plan attached at Appendix 1 to the report was a document primarily looking back over 2013/14 and contained key performance measures, targets and actions which helped demonstrate progress towards the achievement of the Council’s Improvement Objectives. 

 

Although the Plan was substantially complete, further minor amendments would be required following changes to performance information provided by the Local Government Data Unit and from proof reading.  However, based on the Council’s overall assessment, it was concluded that the Council had been successful in achieving the majority of the positive outcomes intended in its Improvement Objectives for 2013/14, despite challenging financial times.  Overall, 7 out of the 8 Improvement Objectives that had been set for the year had been judged to have been successfully achieved with 1 partially achieved.  A summary of the conclusions of the 8 Improvement Objectives for the Vale was identified in paragraphs 8 to 19 of the report.

 

In referring further to the Appendix, the Head of Service advised that pages 65 to 86 detailed how the Council had performed against the 2013/14 national performance data set in comparison with the previous year and with other local authorities in Wales.  Data had been collected and reported on 44 national performance indicators (PIs) and, of these, 43 had data that could be compared with the previous year.  The key highlights included:

  •  In total 9 indicators had achieved the best possible performance in 2013/14. Of these 9 best PIs, 6 of these indicators continued to maintain their best possible performance (either 100% or 0%) when compared to the previous year. There was only one indicator in 2013/14 that did not continue to maintain the best possible performance when compared to 2012/13.
  • 23 indicators showed an improvement (based on their PI value).  This was up on the previous year where 21 indicators had shown an improvement (based on their PI value).
  • 14 indicators showed a decline (based on their PI value) during 2013/14 compared with 10 indicators that showed a decline during 2012/13.
  • 8 indicators that had previously shown improvement in 2012/13 (based on their PI value) now showed a decline in their performance for 2013/14.
  • 6 Indicators during 2013/14 had shown no change in their performance when compared to 2012/13.
  • Percentage wise: 52% of comparable indicators improved, 14% maintained the best possible performance and 32% declined.  In comparison 70% of comparable indicators in Wales improved as did 74.4% within the South East Wales Region.  The Vale's performance was better than Wales in 25 (58%) of comparable indicators and similarly in 24 (56%) when compared against the South East Wales Region.

A breakdown of how the Council performed in each of the quartiles against other Welsh local authorities in 2013/14 was as follows:

  • 43% (19) indicators were in the upper quartile of performance.
  • 36% (16) indicators were in the middle quartile of performance.
  • 20% (9) indicators were in the lower quartile of performance.
  • This performance showed an improvement from the previous year in which the Vale achieved 17 top quartile, 11 middle quartile and 15 bottom quartile performing indicators.

Members were further informed that the report was being presented to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) as the lead Scrutiny Committee due to the fact that publication of comparative information had been embargoed by the Wales Audit Office until 3rd September 2014.  Officers had therefore been unable to report to some of the Scrutiny Committees in time and the decision had been made to refer the report to Corporate Resources as the lead Scrutiny Committee, to Cabinet and subsequently to Full Council.  The Improvement Plan had to be published by 30th October 2014. 

 

In considering the report the Chairman and Members referred to the following concerns: 

  • pages 35 to 37 – performance in respect of Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs).  Members, aware that a further report was to be presented to the Scrutiny Committee over the forthcoming months in relation to DFGs, requested that the data information contained within the Improvement Plan be also detailed in that report for Members’ further consideration.  A further request was that the report also include detailed information in relation to the process / timescale for the receipt of applications, referral to OT and work undertaken. The Head of Service for Performance and Development also advised that the Wales Audit Office was currently undertaking a review of DFGs which would include consideration of the PIs for the service area.
  • With regard to the PIs in respect of NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training), the Chairman referred to the Welsh average of 3.7% and the direction of travel for the Vale worsening.  He suggested that further detail in relation to this PI be presented to the Scrutiny Committees (Lifelong Learning) and (Corporate Resources).
  • For Adult Social Services, again the direction of travel was deteriorating for the Vale when compared to the Wales average and Members requested that the Director of Social Services or his substitute attend a future of the Committee regarding this issue.
  • Similar concerns were raised in relation to Children’s Services regarding resources and future implications and again Members requested officer attendance a future meeting of the Committee in relation to this matter.
  • In referring to Leisure Services and the number of visits to the local authority leisure centres, it was suggested that the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) consider the implications of the direction of travel in relation to this PI.  The Democratic and Scrutiny Committee Services Officer advised that the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) was due to receive a report in respect of such matters in the next few months. 

In view of the fact the timetable had not allowed all Scrutiny Committees to consider the report, Members suggested that the relevant Scrutiny Committees where issues had been raised as outlined above, be given the opportunity to consider this Committee’s concerns.  

 

Having considered the report, Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) 

 

Recommended –

 

(1)       That the Improvement Plan for 2013/14 be endorsed, and referred to Cabinet and Council for consideration and approval.

 

(2)       That having regard to the comments referred to above, the relevant officers with responsibility for Disabled Facilities Grants, NEETs, Children’s and Adult Services be requested to attend a future meeting of the Scrutiny Committee, to advise on the issues affecting the performance in these areas in relation to the direction of travel as contained within the report.

 

(3)       That the report and the comments of this Scrutiny Committee be referred to the relevant Scrutiny Committees responsible for the service areas for Disabled Facilities Grants, NEETs, Children’s and Adult Services for their further consideration.

 

(4)       That the comments of the Scrutiny Committee as above be referred to Cabinet for their consideration.

 

Having considered the comments of Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources), Committee

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the decisions of Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having regard to the decisions of Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources).

 

 

507     DISABLED FACILITIES GRANTS ANNUAL REPORT 2013-14 (REF) –

           

Cabinet on 22nd September 2014 was informed of the Council's performance delivering Disabled Facilities Grants during 2013-14 and the challenges for 2014 -15. 

 

Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) funded the adaptation of privately owned homes to help the resident remain living at their home as independently as possible for as long as possible.

 

Cabinet and Scrutiny Committees had continually monitored the performance of the DFG Service.  Performance of the DFG service continued to improve during 2013-14. During 2013-14 the average time to deliver a DFG was 284 days. This was 62 days less than 2012-13, constituting an improvement of 18% on that year's performance.

 

The overall target performance for the year 2013-14 was achieved and exceeded.  The local performance targets for stages within the DFG process were achieved for the enquiry to approval stage and the stage relating to approval to completion of the works.  However, the target for the time taken from first enquiry to an Occupational Therapist (OT) recommendation being received was not met.  While additional OT resources were put in place by the DFG service, the OT service had a number of staff on maternity leave.  Therefore, the additional staffing resources funded by the DFG service merely served to support existing resources in the OT service. Furthermore, due to the demands on the OT service from priority cases, the OT service was unable to progress the necessary work on the DFG lists, in the way that was anticipated.

 

A detailed breakdown of the DFG service's performance at 2013/14 year-end was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

The key challenges for the service during 2014-15 remained unchanged i.e. reduce the delivery time for DFGs and maintain the improvement.  Key to achieving further improvement would be the introduction of the contractors Framework and further reduction in the time clients needed to wait for an OT assessment. 

 

As of April 2014, the time a client had to wait for an OT assessment for a DFG was 12 weeks.  If the Council was to further improve performance in the delivery of DFGs, this waiting time needed to be reduced to at least five weeks.  Based on existing resources, a target of 75 days had been set for 2014-15, which equated to a 10-12 week wait for assessment.  This target had been set with regard being given to existing resources. 

 

The OT within the DFG service could not assess all the DFG cases; input into the service was required from the OT service.  The OT service prioritised by urgency and allocated in date order.  As a result, the OT service was currently dealing with requests for assessments that were older than the requests currently being assessed for a DFG.  Until this backlog is cleared the OT service would not be able to allocate cases from the DFG waiting list. The Occupational Therapy Team had secured additional funding from other government sources and despite continued difficulties appointing to short term vacancies, and the covering of maternity leave it was nevertheless anticipated that the team would be back to full establishment by the end of the calendar year.

 

In addition, the Welsh Data Unit was working with local authorities to develop benchmarking data for private sector housing.  The collection of this benchmarking data was being piloted for DFG grants completed during 2013/14.  When this data become available to review, it would help the Council to understand in more detail its DFG performance compared to other local authorities and help identify further areas of improvement.  This data would also assist in ensuring an even playing field when the average delivery times for DFGs were compared nationally, and how the authority was ranked.  There was a concern some local authorities were not measuring like for like performance as a result of a different interpretation of the National Performance Indicator's guidance.  When the benchmarking data was available, a further report would be presented to Cabinet to detail comparisons and differences and any further actions required to improve the service.

 

Cabinet had

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the report on performance for delivering Disabled Facilities Grant during 2013-14 attached at Appendix 1 to the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the challenges facing the delivery of Disabled Facilities Grants during 2014-15 be noted and a further update report be presented to Cabinet by the end of the year and thereafter quarterly.

 

(3)       T H A T the report be forwarded to the Scrutiny Committees (Housing and Public Protection, Social Care and Health and Corporate Resources) for information.

 

In noting within the Annual Report that opportunities to develop loans that would help DFG clients to afford their DFG means test contributions would be investigated, a Member enquired if this would involve Council or private funding and was informed of the possibility of the Council working in partnership with Cardiff Council.  Should this prove unfeasible, different options would be considered.

 

Committee was also advised that a further investigation of the processes would be undertaken which would hopefully reveal ways that further progress could be made in the timescale for delivery DFGs, although it would be this time next year before the figures would be published. 

 

It was reported that the average time to deliver a DFG was currently 215 days, which was just 9 days off the top quartile figures for the all-Wales average as published for last year.

 

The Chairman welcomed the progress but noted that the Council was still ranked 18th in Wales.  The Chairman enquired if it was realistic to expect the Council to reach the top quartile figure next year. 

 

Committee was advised that by this time next year the worst case scenario was that the Council would be within the top half of the ranking. 

 

A Member referred to a recent undertaking by Mr. S. Barry of the Wales Audit Office that the Wales Audit Office would conduct an investigation into the ways that other Local Authorities calculated their benchmarking data for private sector housing DFGs. 

 

Ms. Keatley advised the Committee that the Wales Audit Office was looking at the top two performers and was undertaking a fundamental investigation into the way the data was calculated. 

 

The review had only just commenced and would be the subject of a report at a future date. 

 

Officers were asked if the Council made use of Agency staff and were advised that there were currently three grants in the system not managed by the Council or Care and Repair. 

 

In referring to the number of OT service staff on maternity leave, Committee was advised that the Directorate’s ability to backfill these posts was impaired at present in that efforts had been made to employ Agency staff, but difficulties had been experienced in recruiting such people.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the decision of Cabinet be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having regard to the decision of Cabinet.

 

 

508     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 31ST AUGUST 2014 (DDS AND DVSH) –

 

Committee were advised of the position in respect of revenue and capital expenditure for the period 1st April to 31st August 2014 regarding those revenue and capital budgets which formed the Committee’s remit. 

 

The current forecast for the Revenue Budget was for a balanced budget.

 

Public Sector Housing (HRA) – the proposed restructure for Housing Services had yet to be implemented and as a result, there was an underspend on profiled budget.  In addition, there were underspends on premises costs at Ty-Iolo Hostel and community facilities at the sheltered complexes.  However, at this stage it was still anticipated that the HRA would outturn on target, as a rationalisation of budgets was due to take place in the coming months to identify any surplus resources and target them where expenditure was needed.

 

General Fund Housing – there was a variance due to savings being made on the use of Temporary Accommodation for the homeless.  If the current trend continued, it was anticipated that the General Fund Housing budget could outturn at around £250,000 underspend at year end.

 

Private Sector Housing / Community Safety – there was currently an adverse variance to profiled budget.  This was due mainly to the additional Occupational Therapist temporarily employed to assist with the throughput of Renovation Grant applications.  It was projected that there would be sufficient underspend within the Division at year end to cover this cost.

 

Public Protection – there was currently an adverse variance of £23,000 to the profiled budget due in part to lower than anticipated income within the pest control team to date.  The situation was being monitored and it was anticipated that income levels would recover by year end.

 

Other services were anticipated to outturn on target by year end.

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st August 2014. 

 

For all schemes where it was evident that the full year’s budget would not be spent during the year, the relevant officers were required to provide an explanation for the shortfall and this would be taken to the earliest available meeting of the Cabinet. 

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the 2014/15 Revenue and Capital Budgets be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

That Scrutiny Committee note the position with regard to the 2014/15 revenue and capital monitoring.

 

 

509     QUARTER 1 DEVELOPMENT SERVICES PERFORMANCE REPORT 2014-15 (DDS) –

 

The performance results for Quarter 1, 1st April – 30th June 2014-15, were presented to the Scrutiny Committee. 

 

Overall the Service was well on track to achieve the objectives contributing to its service outcomes, with 96% of actions currently on track.  The Service’s progress against Corporate Plan actions was also on course with 97% of actions on track for completion.  Of the 40 Corporate Plan actions within the Service Plan, 39 were on track and only 1 had slipped.  The Service also had 100% (15) of its Improvement Objectives actions on track for completion.  All actions and performance indicators relating to Public Protection could be found on pages 7-11 of Appendix 1 to the report. 

 

One indicator had no target set due to a definition change (Public Protection PSF006 – the average number of calendar days taken to deliver low cost adaptation works in private dwellings where the Disabled Facilities Grant process was not used).  

 

Data was not collected for four indicators (no data was reported for one Public Protection Indicator DS/M012 – the percentage of all domestic abuse incidents which were repeat offences. 

 

No slippage against actions was reported for Public Protection.  

 

Individual Members questioned the value of some of the Performance Indicators and expressed the view that some of the figures provided information but were not an indication of performance. 

 

Members were aware that the Council would be considering regionalising regulatory services and enquired as to how the relevant Performance Indicators would be reported in such an event and were informed that, whilst it was important that a breakdown of the figures was provided, it was not clear at this time how the scrutiny arrangements would apply. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

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

 

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

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

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

 

(2)       To consider the Quarter 1 Development Services performance results as at 30th June 2014 in order to identify service areas for improvement.

 

 

510     QUARTER 1 HOUSING AND BUILDING SERVICES PERFORMANCE REPORT 2014-15 (DVSH) –

 

The performance results for Quarter 1, 1st April – 30th June 2014-15, were presented to the Scrutiny Committee. 

 

Overall the Service was on track to achieve the objectives to its service outcomes.  As at Quarter 1, 56% of actions were either completed or on track to be completed with the remaining 44% scheduled for start and completion later on in the year.  No actions were reported as slipped. 

 

Overall progress against Corporate Plan actions had been positive with 77% of Corporate Plan actions either completed or on track.  Of the 13 Corporate Plan actions within the Service Plan, one action had been completed, nine actions were on track for completion and three actions were not due to have started.  There were eight actions that related to Improvement Objectives, two of these actions had been completed, three were on track and the remaining three were not due to have started.  The department had just one action relating to an Outcome Agreement and this was on track. 

 

Of the 12 Performance Indicators, 10 had met or exceeded the target, one was within 10% of the target and one Indicator missed the target by more than 10%. 

 

No exceptional examples of performance had been reported for this Quarter.

 

Action HS/A077 regarding the benchmarking of services using APSE and Housemark was not started when it was due to have.  A meeting had been arranged with Housemark in September 2014 in order to start implementation and reporting. 

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services advised that: 

  • The 'actual' figure (24.0) for Performance Indicator reference HHA/016 and HHA/017a had been transposed incorrectly and that reference HHA/016 should not therefore be flagged as 'red'. 

-               Performance Indicator reference HS/M001 – the actual figure for 2013/14 should have read '0'. 

-               Performance Indicator reference HS/M007 – the actual figure should read 99.46% and not 44.0%. 

-               Action reference HS/A077 had not been achieved, and a meeting was to be held next week with Housemark in order to start implementation and reporting. 

 

In referring to Action Reference HS/A092, 'develop a wide range of options for older people requiring support and prepare a feasibility study for the provision of an older people’s village', the Chairman expressed a wish that the Committee receive a further report on the range of options available for older people. 

 

In referring to the references to undertaken tenant satisfaction telephone surveys, a Member suggested that a more comprehensive survey be undertaken and was advised that questionnaires had been completed during the holding of various consultation exercises and it was suggested that Committee receive a report / presentation on the responses received. 

 

A Member also referred to the discharge of individuals to private sector housing and enquired as to how the Council was assured that the accommodation was fit for purpose.  It was requested that a report / presentation be brought on this subject to a future meeting of the Committee. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

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

 

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

 

(3)       T H A T a further report be brought before a future meeting of the Committee advising of the range of options available to older people, as referred to in Action Reference HS/A092.

 

(4)       T H A T Committee receive a report / presentation on the responses received as a result of the different consultation methods employed.

 

(5)       T H A T a report / presentation be brought before a future meeting of the Committee regarding the way in which the Council assures that private sector housing was fit for purpose.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       That Committee note service performance results and remedial actions to be taken to address service underperformance.

 

(2)       That Committee note progress to date in achieving key outcomes as outlined in the Corporate Plan 2013-17, the Outcome Agreement 2013-16 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2014-15.

 

(3-5)    For the information of the Committee.

 

 

511     SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND WORK PROGRAMME SCHEDULE 2014/15 (DR) –

 

Committee was advised of the progress in relation to recommendations that had been made by the Scrutiny Committee for the following periods:

  • April 2011 – March 2012
  • April 2012 – March 2013
  • April 2013 – March 2014
  • July – September 2014.

 

With regard to the work programme schedule, which was attached at Appendix E to the report, the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer informed Members that the schedule was a proposed list of items for consideration and that the list may be subject to change depending upon the prevailing circumstances. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the progress in relation to the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations be noted and that the following recommendations be agreed as completed:

 

16 July 2014

Min. No. 242 – Scrutiny Decision Tracking of Recommendations and Work Programme Schedule 2014/15 (DR) – Recommended

(2)   That the work programme schedule attached at Appendix B to the report be approved and uploaded to the Council’s website.

 

 

 

 

Uploaded to the Council’s website September 2014.

Completed

22 July 2014

Min. No. 280 – Regionalising Regulatory Services Project (DDS) – Recommended that Cabinet be advised that it was the view of the Committee:

(1)   That the proposal to create a Shared Regulatory Service between Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Councils based on the ‘Collaborative and Change’ Model be endorsed.

(2)   That Council be requested to consider the establishment of a Joint Scrutiny Committee (i.e. of the constituent Authorities) to be responsible for scrutiny of the Shared Service and that, should the Shared Service be approved by all three constituent Authorities, Joint Scrutiny arrangements  be commenced as soon as possible.

(3)   That further work be undertaken on the Flexible and Mobile Working Arrangements that could apply to staff of the Joint Service and to drawing up appropriate protocols and procedures governing such (page 89 of the Atkins Report refers).

(4)   That clarity be provided regarding the ways in which members of the public who do not have access to digitalised means of communication can interact with the Shared Service.

(5)   That the role of the Director to whom the Chief Officer of the Shared Service would report be set out within the governance arrangements.

(6)   That, in addition to the risks of the Joint Service identified at page 55 and 56 of the Atkins Report, the following be also added:

Failure to achieve culture change and the need for a plan to mitigate against such a risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Referred to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) meeting on 23rd July 2014.

Completed

10 September 2014

Min. No. 370 – Scrutiny Committees’ Draft Annual Report – May 2013 to April 2014 (DR) – Recommended that the contents of the draft Annual Report for the period May 2013 to April 2014 be approved, subject to any further amendments being agreed in consultation with the Chairman and that the Annual Report be submitted to Full Council in September 2014. 

 

 

Submitted to Full Council meeting on 29th September 2014.

Completed

Min. No. 371 – Outcome Agreement 2013 – 2016: End of Year Report for 2013/14 (DVSH) – Recommended

(2)   That Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) be advised of this Committee’s concern that Performance Indicators across Wales may not be universally comparable in view of differences between Local Authorities in interpretation of guidance issued by WAG.

 

 

 

Referred to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) meeting on 15th October, 2014.

Completed

Min. No. 373 – The Youth Justice Plan 2014/15 (DSS) – Recommended

(2)   That Committee recognise the potential risks should the contributions to the Youth Offending Service from key agencies continue to reduce and that Cabinet be informed of these concerns.

 

 

Referred to Cabinet meeting on 6th October 2014.

Completed

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to provide feedback on Minute No. 280(4) of the meeting of the Scrutiny Committee held on 22nd July 2014 relating to the Regionalising Regulatory Services Project, namely

 

'(4)   That clarity be provided regarding the ways in which members of the public who do not have access to digitalised means of communication can interact with the Shared Service.'

 

(3)       T H A T the updated work programme schedule be uploaded to the Council’s website.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To maintain effective tracking of the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations.

 

(2)       For the information of the Scrutiny Committee.

 

(3)       For information.