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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 3rd December, 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, Ms. R.F. Probert, Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson and E. Williams.

 

Also present: Mr. B. Fisher (Tenant Working Group).

 

In attendance: Mr. R. Price, Wales Audit Office.

 

 

654            APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – 

 

These were received from Councillors J.C. Bird and R.P. Thomas and Mr. G. Amos (Tenant Working Group).

 

 

655            MINUTES – 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 8th October, 2014 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

656            DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

657            PRESENTATION: SATISFACTION SURVEY –

 

Committee received a presentation which outlined the actions being taken to improve the performance of responsive repairs.

 

Audit reports had revealed a lack of communication between the Department and its clients and it was feared that no enough focus was being placed on the clients. 

 

The presentation outlined the efforts being undertaken to improve the standards of service, namely:

  • designated planners had been nominated
  • residents board meetings were attended in order to engage more and to gather information from tenants
  • whilst the properties may be owned by the Council, it was the tenants home
  • out of hours working had been introduced to reflect modern working patterns
  • a walk-in service had been introduced every Wednesday morning, which had been advertised by posters and which was proving particularly successful
  • cross-departmental meetings had been introduced
  • team meetings are regularly held which ensure co-ordination of inspections and the carrying out of work
  • post work inspections were carried out to ensure that the work was up to standard
  • future plans included a requirement to prove to the tenants that the Council was listening to them
  • new technology would be introduced to communicate with the tenants, involving e-mail, text and Twitter
  • more flexible working hours would be introduced.

Members of the Committee were given an opportunity to ask questions whereupon it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the contents of the presentation be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having regard to the contents of the presentation.

 

 

658            PRESENTATION: ENSURING THE PRIVATE RENTED SECTOR IN THE VALE PROVIDES THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR SUSTAINABLE HOUSING OPTIONS FOR THE COUNCIL AND ITS RESIDENTS –

 

It was reported that Housing Services had been tasked with a number of objectives:

  • to ensure that clients were at the centre of the service
  • to reduce reliance on bed and breakfast
  • to encourage relationships with other agencies
  • to build on the success of Ty Iolo Hostel, which, it was reported, was second to none
  • the service had been nominated for a Municipal Journal Award and had been runner up
  • the Housing (Wales) Act was about the come into force which would offer new opportunities for the service  
  • the service had worked with the private sector since 2011 and had developed relationships
  • the Vale of Glamorgan Council had 3,000 people on their Homes4U list, but only 300 properties became available per year
  • private rented housing offered an opportunity to balance the communities we live in and make them sustainable
  • many clients were 'vulnerable’, and private landlords often ask for guarantors
  • the Council offers rent-deposit agreements.

Following the presentation, Members were offered an opportunity to ask questions whereupon it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the contents of the presentation be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having regard to the contents of the presentation.

 

 

659            INITIAL REVENUE BUDGET PROPOSALS 2015/16 (DDS AND DVSH) –

 

Scrutiny Committee was consulted on the initial Revenue Budget proposals for 2015/16 and were advised of the amended original budget for 2014/15 for services which formed part of the Committee’s remit. 

 

The Council was required under statute to fix the level of Council Tax for 2015/16 by 11th March 2015 and, in order to do so, would have to agree a balanced Revenue Budget by that date. 

 

Appendix 1 to the report set out the Committee’s Amended Budget for 2014/15, together with the necessary adjustments to be made to the original budget.

 

These adjustments had no overall effect on the net budget of the Council and were as follows:

 

Asset Rents, International Account Standard 19, Transfers and Recharges – these were accounting adjustments largely outside the control of services.  They reflected charges for the use of capital assets, changes to inter-service recharges and transfers and pensions adjustments to comply with accounting standards.

 

Also included were transfers from functions and responsibilities between Directorates as detailed below:

 

-         £52k from Public Protection to Environmental and Visible Services, in respect of Emergency Planning

-         £341k from Corporate and Customer Services to General Fund Housing, in respect of Community Safety.

 

The projected outturn for the Committee was a balanced budget when compared to the amended original budget.

 

General Fund Housing – the General Fund Housing budget was likely to outturn at £390k underspend based on current trends.  The variance was due to savings being made on the use of temporary accommodation for the homeless.  Due to the uncertain pressures for the remaining part of the financial year on the homeless budget, it was felt appropriate at this time to show a balanced budget.

 

Public Protection – the proposed outturn showed a nil variance against the revised budget.

 

Private Housing – the year end projected outturn was a favourable variance of £400k and was attributable to an underspend on Council Tax payments.  The take up for the rest of the year could not be predicted with certainty and it was considered appropriate at this time to show a balanced budget.

 

The Budget Strategy had been approved by Cabinet on 30th June 2014. 

 

The Budget Strategy for 2015/16 outlined that in order to establish a baseline, services should prepare initial Revenue Budgets based on the cost of providing the current level of service and approved policy decisions and including the existing savings target.

 

Increases to budgets approved during the course of a financial year could restrict the freedom the Council had to allocate its resources to priorities during the following budget cycle when it was aware of all the competing demands.  Consequently:

 

-         Supplementary estimates would only increase the base budget if Council had given specific approval to this effect.  Increases met by virement within a year would not be treated as committed growth.

-         Directors should find the cost of increments and staff changes from their base budget unless the relevant specific approval had been given for additional funding.

-         The effect of replacing grant from outside bodies that had discontinued would not be treated as committed growth.  In addition, before any project or initiative that was to be met either wholly or partly by way of grant may proceed, the exit strategy must be approved.

-         Certain items of unavoidable committed growth will continue and these included the effect of interest charges and the financing cost of the Capital Programme, increases in taxes, increases in levies and precepts charged by outside bodies and changes to housing benefits net expenditure.

-         Services would be expected to achieve savings already approved by Cabinet as part of the 2014/15 final budget proposals and Directors were asked to consider bringing forward the implementation of these savings ahead of the scheduled date and also to consider areas for further savings.

-         It was envisaged that the costs of service development would need to be met from within the respective Directorates.

 

Having regard to the above, it was therefore proposed in respect of the 2015/16 Budget Strategy, that Directors be instructed to prepare initial Revenue Budgets for 2015/16 in accordance with a timetable agreed by the Managing Director.  Preparation should be on the following basis:

 

-         Capital charges, central accommodation costs and central support costs to be estimated centrally.

-         Services to prepare baseline budgets on current service levels as set out in the 2014/15 Final Revenue Budget report including detailed Cost Centre Analyses.

-         Budgets to be broken down subjectively and objectively in as much detail as deemed appropriate by the Managing Director.

-         Budget reports to include revised estimates for 2014/15.

-         Full account to be taken of the revenue costs, other than debt charges, of new capital schemes coming into use.

-         Minimum savings targets to be met initially as detailed in the 2014/15 Final Revenue Budget report.  Any savings made directly by services over and above individual service targets to count towards future saving targets.

-         Directors would continue to draw up Service Plans that set out the aims and objectives for the service and any possible future developments and efficiencies.

-         As stated previously, it was expected that the revenue costs of service development would need to be met from within the respective services (in particular, from the savings made).  As such, no revenue bids were initially to be made.  However, services may still be asked to identify and prioritise any burgeoning revenue cost pressures for consideration.

 

The Medium Term Financial Plan 2014/15 to 2017/18 had been approved by Cabinet on 11th August 2014.

 

The 2014/15 Final Revenue Budget Proposals set savings targets between 2015/16 and 2016/17 of £13.5m (excluding schools).   This was based on the anticipated reduction in funding from Welsh Government (WG) of 1.64% in 2015/16 and a further 1% in 2016/17.  The indication from the WG Minister for Local Government and Government Business, at the time the Medium Term Financial Plan was produced, was for substantial reductions in funding of up to 4.5%.  The Medium Term Financial Plan was therefore produced using the assumption of a reduction in funding of 4.5% in 2015/16, a further 4% reduction in 2016/17 and a 2% reduction in 2017/18.  Savings totalling £18.2m were identified for the period 2015/16 to 2017/18, with a shortfall in funding across these three years of £14.2m.  

 

As a result of the anticipated reduction in future years’ settlements, the Medium Term Financial Plan identified additional savings to those originally approved for 2015/16 as part of the 2014/15 budget setting process.  It had also been necessary to revisit the cost pressures facing services in order to build up a complete and up to date picture of the financial position of the Council.  The Medium Term Financial Plan included a list of cost pressures, which had expectations of services managing down part or all of the pressures, and an updated list of cost pressures for this Committee was shown at Appendix 2 to the report. 

 

When approving the Budget Strategy for 2015/16, Directors were asked to review savings already approved, with a view to implementing them ahead of the target date and to consider areas for further savings.  This message was reinforced by Cabinet when approving the Medium Term Financial Plan.  Details of the proposed areas for savings for 2015/16 to 2017/18 relating to the Committee were attached at Appendix 3 to the report.  The savings did not include the cost of any potential redundancies. 

 

A summary of the overall base budget for 2015/16 for the Committee was attached at Appendix 4 to the report.  Adjustments shown included the following:

 

-         Asset Rents, International Accounting Standard (IAS) 19 – relate to accounting items outside the control of services.  They reflected charges to services for the use of capital assets and adjustments in respect of pensions to comply with accounting standards.

-         Recharges / Transfers – relates to changes in inter-service and inter-Directorate recharges.  Included were transfers of functions and responsibilities between Directorates as detailed below:

          ·         £124k from Public Protection to Environmental and Visible Services, in respect of Emergency Planning

          ·         £341k from Corporate and Customer Services to General Fund Housing, in respect of Community Safety.

-         Inflation – the total figure for inflation related to general price increases and a 1% allowance for pay awards.

 

Once the base budget for 2015/16 had been established, it would be compared to the funding available to identify the extent of any shortfall.  With a provisional Aggregate External Finance of £152.507m and Council Tax at a current level of £56.690m, total available funding would be £209.197m.  When compared to a base budget of £216.958m, this would result in a funding deficit for 2015/16 of £7.761m.  This deficit was mainly attributable to a reduction in funding from the WG, an increase in pay and price inflation and the requirement to fund committed growth.

 

If all identified cost pressures were funded, this would increase the shortfall to £13.438m.  If all proposed savings were achieved, the shortfall would be reduced to £4.581m as shown in the table below:

 

Projected Budget Shortfall 2015/16

 

 

£000

Funding Available

 

Provisional AEF

152,507

Council Tax

56,690

Provisional Funding Available

209,197

 

 

Base Budget

216,958

 

 

Provisional Shortfall Against Base Budget

7,761

 

 

Assume all Cost Pressures Funded

5,677

 

 

Provisional Shortfall with Cost Pressures funded

13,438

 

 

Assume all Savings Achieved

(8,857)

 

 

Provisional Projected Shortfall for 2015/16

(4,581)

 

This shortfall was already based on the requirement to achieve a high level of savings in 2015/16. 

 

The above projections included an assumed pay award of 1% for 2015/16.  The implications of the proposed pay award had not yet been assessed and would be included in the Final Budget Proposals report.

 

Further work would be undertaken by the Budget Working Group (BWG) in order to achieve a balanced budget for the final budget proposals for 2015/16. This would include a review of the use of reserves, a possible increase in Council Tax, a review of all cost pressures, possible savings and the current financial strategies.  The BWG would also consider the results of the budget engagement process in determining priorities for future savings and service deliveries. 

 

There would be difficulties in maintain the quality and quantity of services in the future without exploring opportunities for collaboration and alternative forms of service delivery.  The Council had already commenced a programme of reshaping and transforming services, as approved by Cabinet on 11th August 2014. 

 

Committee was requested to review the level of cost pressures with a view to suggesting ways in which these could be managed downwards and / or mitigated.  Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) was the lead Scrutiny Committee and would consider both the Initial Revenue Budget Proposals and any recommendations that other Scrutiny Committees had made.  The responses of Scrutiny Committee had to be made no later than 16th December 2014 and Cabinet’s final budget proposals would be considered by Council at a meeting to be held on 4th March 2015. 

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the amended budget for 2014/15 as set out in Appendix 1 to the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the initial revenue proposals for 2015/16 be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To advise Committee of amendments to the 2014/15 budget.

 

(2)       In order that Cabinet be informed of the recommendations of Scrutiny Committees before making a final proposal on the budget.

 

 

660            INITIAL CAPITAL PROGRAMME PROPOSALS 2015/16 (DDS AND DVSH) –

 

Committee was advised of the revised Capital Programme for 2014/15 and were given an opportunity to comment on the Initial Capital Programme Proposals for 2015/16.

 

Appendix A to the report detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 30th September 2014.

 

Renewal Area (Director of Development Services) – a carry forward of £496k from the 2014/15 Capital Programme to 2015/16 was requested for the following schemes: £70k Holton Road Phase 1, Holton Road Phase 3 £155k, Holton road Phase 3 £105k and Holton Road Phase 4 £125k.  The following amounts would be carried forward to 2015/16 to allow 12 month retentions to be paid against the schemes: Castleland Renewal £8k Area Phase 3E, Castleland Renewal Area Phase 4A £20k and Castleland Renewal Area Phase 4B £12k. 

 

Cabinet had previously agreed that further information would be provided where schemes had a value of over £500k and show a variance of 20% or more between actual spend and the profile.  The following schemes met this criteria:

  • WHQS Works – there was likely to be a variance in the WHQS expenditure as the extent of the works required in a property was not known until the works commenced.  Less had been spent than was projected for Rewire Schemes, Kitchen Replacements, Bathroom works and schemes in Non Traditional Properties.  More had been spent that was projected for Central Heating works and General Improvement schemes, the total budget being unaffected.
  • Disabled Facilities Grants – there was a variance between profiled budget and actual because the profiled budget had been based on historical patterns of spend.  Changes made to processes within the service for 2014/15 had led to a more consistent pattern of approvals and spend throughout the financial year.  This budget would be monitored closely to ensure that overall expenditure remained within the available funding.

The Welsh Government (WG) announced the provisional 2015/16 General Capital Funding on 8th October 2014.  The 2015/16 capital settlement represented a £62k decrease on the 2014/15 Final Settlement which equated to a 1% cut.  There was no indication of the level of funding likely beyond 2015/16 and therefore, in line with the approach adopted in the Medium Term Financial Plan, the proposals assumed a reduction of 10% for each year of the programme from 2016/17.  This had been reflected in the proposed Capital Programme 2015/16 to 2019/20.  Proposed schemes for the Committee were outlined in Appendix B to the report.

 

In line with the financial strategy, the Council would mitigate the deteriorating situation by looking to progress only those schemes which were deemed to be a key corporate priority, whilst also seeking to gain assurance that such schemes were delivered on time and within budget.

 

The Major Repairs Allowance (MRA), which is the grant that provided capital funding to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA), for 2015/16 had not yet been announced by the WG.  Cabinet would be advised once the announcement was made.  An assumption had been made in Appendix B to the report that the grant would continue at the allocation reflected in the current business plan of £2.8m in 2015/16 and throughout the period of the Capital Programme.  The actual MRA in 2014/15 was £2.76m and this figure would be reflected in the Housing Business Plan when brought to Cabinet in December 2014. 

 

In addition to external funding, the Council would finance part of the Capital Programme from its own resources, e.g. capital receipts and reserves. 

 

The indicative 2015/16 Capital Programme shown at Appendix B to the report included allocations already approved by Council and reflected the amendments requested within the report. 

 

New capital bids were invited for return by 30th September 2014 and the number of bids received was low (one from Social Services, 11 from Visible Services and six from Development). 

 

The new Housing Improvement Plan was due to be submitted to Cabinet for approval in December 2014.  The recommendations of the amended Plan would be reflected in the Final Capital Proposals when brought to Cabinet in February 2015. 

 

The capital funded from revenue for the current Housing Improvement Plan was £4.141m, an increase of £933k on the £3.208m currently reflected in the Capital Programme.  The 2015/16 Capital Programme had been amended to reflect an increased revenue contribution of £4.141m in 2015/16 and reduced Prudential Borrowing of £11.293m, pending the amended Programme in December 2014. 

 

The next stage would be for the estimates to be submitted to Scrutiny Committees for consultation.  Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) was the lead Scrutiny Committee and would consider both the Initial Budget Proposals and the comments that other Scrutiny Committees had made.  The response of Scrutiny Committee must be made no later than 16th December 2014. 

 

Cabinet’s Final Capital Programme proposals would be considered by Council on 4th March 2015.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the 2015/16 Initial Capital budget proposals be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the following changes to the 2014/15 and 2015/16 Capital Programme, requiring the approval of Council, be noted:

  • Renewal Area - Carry forward £496k from 2014/15 Capital Programme to 2015/16 as follows; £70k Holton Road Phase 1, Holton Road Phase 2 £155k, Holton Road Phase 3 £105k and Holton Road Phase 4 £125k, Castleland Renewal Area Phase 3E £9k, Castleland Renewal Area 4A £20k, and Castleland Renewal Area Phase 4B £12k

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       Following full consultation on the future Capital Programme.

 

(2)       To ensure that Members are aware of the position with regard to the 2014/15 and 2015/16 Capital Programme relevant to this Scrutiny Committee.

 

 

661            INITIAL HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT BUDGET PROPOSALS 2015/16  (DVSH) –

 

Committee was consulted upon the initial Housing Revenue Account budget proposals for 2015/16 and were informed of the amended original budget for 2014/15.

 

Each local housing authority was required under Section 74 of the 1989 Local Government and Housing Act to keep a Housing Revenue Account.  Section 76 of the Act required local authorities to set a budget for their Housing Revenue Account (HRA) on an annual basis.  The budget must be such that the HRA was not in deficit at year end.  In addition, during the course of the year, local authorities must review their HRA expenditure and income and if, on the basis of the information available the account was heading for a deficit, they must take steps as are reasonably practical to prevent this deficit.  A local authority was not prohibited from being in deficit but would need to demonstrate that the deficit had arisen through exceptional circumstances and that it had revised its original proposals so far as was reasonably practicable to avoid  the deficit.  Such a deficit should be carried forward and must be made good the following year. 

 

Each local authority should endeavour to have a working balance on the HRA, for any exceptional circumstances that may arise.

 

The level of rent increase was based on determination by the Welsh Government (WG).  This was not due for release until December 2014 and an average rent increase of 3.5% had provisionally been included in the 2015/16 initial budget proposals.

 

Set out below is a table comparing the original budget with the proposed amended budget:

 

 

2014/15

Original Budget

2014/15 Proposed Amended

Budget

Variance Favourable (-) Adverse (+)

 

£'000

£'000

£'000

Housing Revenue Account

3,514

3,514

    0

 

The net anticipated deficit would remain the same.  A review of the current budget had found a potential saving this year of £680,000 the main reasons for this being that £200,000 allocated to the restructure which was not likely to be fully staffed until the next financial year and other staff vacancies within the existing structure of £160,000.  In addition, the current Ty Iolo budget was higher than required and consistently underspent, particularly in terms of premises and supplies and service costs.  This had been reduced by £135,000.  The level of interest repayments expected this year on existing any new borrowing was lower than originally budgeted by £86,000 and other running costs relating to estate management and sheltered properties of £99,000.  These savings had been offset by an increase in planned fire risk assessments within the Council’s blocks of flats of £300,000 and resurfacing of highways on Housing land £251,000.  There had also been an increase in Central Recharges of £129,000.

 

The Budget Strategy for 2015/16 outlined that, in order to establish a baseline, services should prepare Revenue Budgets for next year based on the cost of providing the current level of service on approved policy decisions.  This meant that the cost of price increases and pay awards should be included.

 

Due to the nature of the HRA, in that it was ring fenced and any growth had to be funded from the balance, no cost pressures had been formally identified.

 

The Housing (Wales) Act 2014, which was passed in September 2014, would replace the existing housing subsidy system with self-financing. Stock retaining Authorities in Wales would be able to buy themselves out of the current subsidy system.  The planned settlement was set for April 2015.  An initial report had been brought to Cabinet on 16th June 2014 and a further report on the implications of the exit on the Housing Business Plan would be brought when formal notification of the Authority’s share of the settlement figure was received.  Therefore, for the purpose of the report before Committee, it had been assumed that the subsidy would remain in place and the initial budget proposal for 2015/16 reflected the latest approved Housing Business Plan.

 

The charges for rent and other services provided by the Housing Services were reviewed annually.  These would be subject to a future report once the information had been received from WG.  Set out below is a table summarising the original budget for 2014/15 with the proposed budget for 2015/16:

 

 

2014/15

Original

Budget

Inflation /

 Pay Award

Committed

Growth /

(Savings)

Estimated Rent

Increase

2015/16

Proposed

Budget

£000

£000

£000

£000

£000

3,514

112

(2,724)

(583)

319

 

A provision for general inflation included an allowance of 1% for pay awards in 2015/16.  A 1% increase in pay amounted to approximately £15,000. 

 

The net saving of £2,724,000 was due to a number of factors:

  • A decrease in Capital Expenditure from Revenue Account to finance the Housing Improvement Programme of £3,846,000.  The amount of revenue contribution required was dictated by available revenue balances and the value of the Housing Improvement Programme.
  • A decrease in insurance charges of £4,000.
  • A decrease in interest earned on revenue Balances of £14,000.
  • A decrease in costs at Ty Iolo Hostel of £113,000 due to the factors outlined above.
  • Other savings of £21,000.
  • These savings had been offset by:

-         An increase in the Housing Repairs budget to include voids repairs of £633,000

-         An increase in the provision of HRA Subsidy payable to WG based on the current Housing Business Plan of £197,000

-         An increase in Capital Financing charges of £332,000 in relation to unsupported borrowing being taken out in 2015/16 to fund the Housing Improvement Programme

-         Future planned highway repairs on Council Estates of £112,000.

 

The next stage was for the estimates to be submitted to Scrutiny Committees for consultation.  Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) was the lead Scrutiny Committee and would consider both the Initial HRA Budget Proposals and any recommendations that other Scrutiny Committees had made.  The response of Scrutiny Committee must be made by no later than 16th December 2014.

 

Cabinet’s final budget proposals would be considered by the Council at a meeting to be held on 4th March 2014.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the revised budget estimate for 2014/15 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the initial Housing Revenue Account budget proposals for 2015/16 be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To facilitate monitoring of the revised budget.

 

(2)       Having regard to the initial Housing Revenue Account budget proposals for 2015/16.

 

 

662            QUARTER 2 DEVELOPMENT SERVICES PERFORMANCE REPORT 2014/15 (DDS) –

 

The performance results for Quarter 2, 1st July – 30th September 2014-15 were presented to the Committee. 

 

Development Services was well on track to achieve the objectives contributing to its service outcomes, with 95% of actions currently either completed or on track.  Of the 40 Corporate Plan actions within the Service Plan, two (5%) had been completed, 36 (92%) were on track and one had slipped.

 

There were 15 actions relating to the Improvement Objectives and 93% (14) were either completed or on track to be completed with one action reported as slipped. 

 

There were currently no Outcome Agreement actions in place for the service.  Of the 11 measures relating to the Outcome Agreement, one was reported quarterly and this had met its target.

 

Of the 38 Performance Indicators, 26 had met or exceeded target, eight were within 10% of target and one had missed target by more than 10%.

 

Actions and measures relating to Public Protection could be found under Objective 2 (pages 7-11 of Appendix 1 to the report).  Of the 20 actions reported, two had been completed and the remaining 18 were on track for completion.  Of 17 measures reported, 16 had met or exceeded target.

 

For Public Protection, no exceptional performance was reported this quarter.

 

No slippage was reported in relation to actions and measures within the Committee’s remit.

 

In referring to Action Ref DS A022 "increase the awareness of the Council’s emergency planning arrangements to ensure that staff are prepared and contingency arrangements are in place in the event of an emergency incident", Members enquired as to the arrangements in place in the event of an incident at Hinckley Point, and requested an update report on this matter.

 

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 Play 2013-17, the Outcome Agreement 2013-16 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2014-15 be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T a future meeting of the Committee receive a report outlining the arrangements in place in the event of an incident at Hinckley Point.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

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

 

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

 

(3)       For the information of the Committee.

 

 

663            QUARTER 2 HOUSING AND BUILDING SERVICES PERFORMANCE REPORT 2014/15 (DVSH) –

 

The performance results for Quarter 2, 1st July – 30th September 2014-15 were presented to the Scrutiny Committee. 

 

Overall, the Service was generally on track to achieve the objectives contributing to its service outcomes.  As at Quarter 2, 79% of all Service Plan actions were either completed or on track to be completed. One action had slipped and eight (18%) were scheduled for start and completion later on in the year. 

 

Of the 13 Corporate Plan actions in the Service Plan, 85% (11) were either completed or on track for completion and two were not due to have started this Quarter.

 

There were eight actions relating to the Improvement Objectives, 85% (7) were either completed or on track to be completed.  One action was not due to have started this Quarter.

 

The one action relating to the Outcome Agreement was on track to be completed.  There were six measures relating to the Outcome Agreement of which three were reported quarterly.  Of these, two had met or exceeded target and one was within 10% of target. 

 

Of 12 Performance Indicators in the Service Plan, six had met or exceeded target, three were within 10% of target and three missed target by more than 10%. 

 

The three Indicators that missed target related to:

  • HHA002 – the average number of working days between homeless presentation and discharge of duty for households found to be statutorily homeless.  This figure had increased due to the length of time mainly single households were taking to be accommodated within social housing due to resource implications.  Work was being carried out with housing partners to increase the amount of affordable one bed housing options available.
  • HHA017a – the average number of days that all homeless households spent in Bed and Breakfast accommodation.  This was due to the way the information was requested by Welsh Government in that only those who the Council had discharged duty to were recorded.  In addition to last month, the Council had discharged its duty to one further single household this Quarter that spent time in B&B in 2012.
  • HS/M005 – average number of days to let an empty property (standard condition).  The targets were recalculated in August and reduced to 10 days for re-voids.  This resulted in some issues reconfiguring the workforce.  As a result, fewer properties had been returned and let during August and September.  This had now been resolved and the figures would improve in Quarter 3.

The Homeless team continued to work innovatively in finding temporary accommodation solutions so that families and individuals would not be placed in bed and breakfast accommodation.  Significant financial savings continued to be made for the Authority as a result.

 

Officers from the Housing and Building Services team with Public Protection, Property and Social Care colleagues were currently developing a state of the art older persons’ accommodation solution in Redlands, Penarth.  Using intermediate care fund monies from Welsh Government, it had converted 14 units in Redlands to modern apartments with specialised facilities.  An Accommodations Solution Officer and additional Occupational Therapist had been employed to work in Llandough Hospital to aid delayed transfers in care.  As of 30th October 2014, six clients had been supported through fast track disabled adaptation work in their homes. 

 

Slippage had been reported in a number of actions:

  • The work to review the Stores function had been suspended whilst the implications of National Procurement Service’s proposed All Wales Framework for Supply of Building Materials was considered, as this would have a significant impact.
  • In relation to the review of service charges and approach to leaseholder management, an interim Leasehold Officer had been appointed, urgent external schemes identified and a list of priorities agreed with the forum.

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 the 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.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

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

 

(2)       To consider the Quarter 2 Housing and Building Services performance results as at 30th September 2014 in order to identify service areas for improvement.

 

 

664            UPDATE ON HOUSING IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMME (DVSH) –

 

Committee was provided with performance information relating to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) improvement works in Council housing in the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

From the table attached at Appendix A to the report, it was evident that operational performance continued to improve in the main, in both terms of delivery times and customer satisfaction.  Officers from Property Services continued to have regular meetings with all contractors at both an operational and senior management level.  Complaints monitoring was being undertaken on a regular basis and the Tenant Liaison Team continued to support tenants through the upheaval of works, and ensured that they were informed at an early stage of the complex nature of the work being undertaken. 

 

There were two areas where contractor performance had "dipped" i.e. Building Services voids (59%) and Lovell’s WHQS works completed on time (59.2%). 

 

Lovell’s performance for the percentage of WHQS properties completed on time had reduced to 59.2% for Quarter 2, the main reason being the amount of additional works to some of the properties in their area e.g.

 

(a)       damp found in properties after commencement of works

(b)       rooms being hacked off back to brickwork due to lack of structural maintenance works.

  • There were also concerns regarding additional labour brought onto site not up to an acceptable standard; staffing issues also resulting from leave during the summer period and the fat that a new site manager had been brought in to deal with performance failings.
  • To improve on time, Lovell’s had changed their programme to allow properties to be rescheduled to suit the extension of time.
  • No official complaints had been received by Lovell’s or the Council during this time.

Building Services’ performance for the percentage of void properties completed to time equated to 59% for the last Quarter.

 

This had occurred due to the following:

  • Poor communication on the changes in "second let" timescales had resulted in a lower than required level of performance.
  • There were also seasonal factors with a high number of staff taking annual leave during the summer months.  The transition to a shorter 15 day timescale for a "Second Lets" was now complete and, as of October 2014, the "return time" Key Performance Indicator stood at 100% and the quality score equated to 9.6.

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the current performance and the improving delivery times and customers satisfaction be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure Members are furnished with necessary performance information pertaining to WHQS.          

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