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 SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 17th June, 2015.

 

Present:  Councillor C.J. Williams (Chairman); Councillor J. Drysdale (Vice-Chairman); Councillors A.G. Bennett, Ms. R.F. Probert, R.P. Thomas, Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson and E. Williams.

 

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

 

 

108     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors J.C. Bird, Mrs. C.L. Curtis and Mrs. V.M. Hartrey and Mr. G. Amos (Tenant Working Group).

 

 

109     MINUTES –  

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 20th May, 2015 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

110     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –  

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

111     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL, 2015 TO 30TH APRIL, 2015 (DVSH) –  

 

Committee were advised of the position in respect of Revenue and Capital expenditure for the period 1st April to 30th April, 2015 regarding those revenue and capital budgets which formed this Committee’s remit. 

 

The current forecast was for a balanced budget.

 

Public Sector Housing - at this early stage of the year, it was anticipated that the HRA would outturn on target.

 

General Fund Housing - at this early stage of the year, it was anticipated that this budget would outturn on target.

 

Private Housing - an internal restructure had been undertaken within the Development Services Directorate and the Disabled Facility Grants and Renewal Area Teams were being transferred from Private Housing to the Regeneration Section.  Cabinet approval would be sought to transfer the corresponding budget for these two teams, totalling £385,000 to the Regeneration Section which formed part of the Economic Development budget within Development Services.  This change had not yet been reflected in the table shown in the report, but once approved, the amended budget for Private Housing would be £10.662m.  At this early stage in the year, it was anticipated that the budget would outturn within target.

 

Public Protection – from 1st May, 2015 the Regulatory Services element of this budget now formed part of the Shared Regulatory Service with Cardiff and Bridgend Councils.  The budget indicated for Public Protection in the report currently encompassed this authority’s Regulatory Services, a net budget of £210,000 for the Coroner’s Service (currently a shared service between Cardiff and the Vale) and the sum of £22,000 for Port Health.  In order to clarify the monitoring position, Cabinet would be asked to approve the Port Health budget being vired to General Policy (as it reflects a levy recharge from Swansea and Cardiff Councils) and the Regulatory Services budget and the Coroner’s budget being identified separately going forward.  These changes were not reflected in the table included within the report.  At this early stage in the year, it was anticipated that the budget would outturn within target.

 

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

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 30th April, 2015. 

 

Housing Revenue Account Subsidy Buyout - Emergency Powers had been used to approve the inclusion of £63.156m in the Capital Programme for the Housing Revenue Account Subsidy Buyout.

 

Castleland Renewal Area – the approved budget for this heading was £996,000 although £100,000 would be required to enable outstanding works to be completed in the Penarth Renewal Area.  Cabinet would be requested to approve this virement. 

 

Appendix 2 to the report did not include requests for unspent committed expenditure to be slipped from 2014/15 into 2015/16.  A request for this slippage would be included in the Closing Down report presented to a future Cabinet meeting.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the 2015/16 Revenue and Capital Budgets be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

That Scrutiny Committee note the position with regard to the 2015/16 Revenue and Capital Monitoring.

 

 

112     DEVELOPMENT SERVICES (PUBLIC PROTECTION) END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE REPORT 2014/15 (DDS) –  

 

The Committee received the End of Year Performance results for the period 1st April, 2014 to 31st March, 2015 as outlined in Appendix 1 to the report.

 

The Service Plans for 2014/15 focused on the achievement of key objectives within each Directorate which in turn contributed towards the achievement of identified outcomes in the Corporate Plan 2013-17, the Outcome Agreement 2013-16 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2014-15. 

 

Quarterly performance reports had been developed to reflect these Service Plans and had been designed to ensure that the Council reported performance in the context of progress against its objectives.

 

Overall, the Directorate had completed 86% of Service Plan actions at end of year, with a further 6% on track for a later completion date.  There were a total of 76 action sin the 2014/15 Service Plan, 65 were completed, 5 were on track, and 6 had slipped.  The actions that were on track were due for completion in 2016/17.  All 6 outstanding actions (slipped) would be carried to the 2015/16 Service Plan. 

 

Actions and performance indicators relating to Public Protection were shown on pages 14-20 of Appendix 1 to the report.  In terms of this Committee’s remit in relation to Public Protection, 17 (100%) actions had been completed during the year.  Of the 26 performance indicators for Public Protection, 22 (84.6%) had met or exceeded the target at year end, 1 (3.8%) had missed the target by more than 10% and for 3 (11.5%) measures, no performance status was applicable.  For 2 of these measures, no target had been set as they were used for monitoring purposes only and for 1 measure, no target had been set as a new indicator definition had been introduced.

 

In terms of notable service achievements in relation to Public Protection, significant improvements continued to be made in the delivery of Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) and waiting times for delivery had reduced to 198.66 days which exceeded the improvement objective target of 250 days, and based on 2013/14 all Wales benchmarking data placed us within the top quartile performance.  This performance equated to a 30% improvement on delivery times from the previous year.  Overall, positive outcomes were achieved with over 98% of customers using the service stating that they were satisfied with the DFG service.  Furthermore, over 96% of people who received DFGs during 2014/15 reported that they felt that the assistance had made them feel safer and more independent in their own homes.  The focus now was to continually improve and keep pace with the improvements made by other Authorities.

 

Through a comprehensive inspection process and provision of ongoing advice and training to businesses in the Vale, the number achieving a food hygiene score of 3 or more had increased.  Currently, 90.73% of food hygiene establishments were broadly compliant with food hygiene standards, up from 85% last year.

 

Success had been achieved in stopping door step crime through good cross boundary working.  Two rogue traders had been sentenced to 18 months prison terms following a successful prosecution led by the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Trading Standards team.  A third man received a 12 month suspended sentence and 120 hours of community service for his role in a tarmacking scam that had at least 16 victims across South Wales. 

 

Through the Castleland Renewal Area scheme, the standard of housing and the local environment had been improved for residents.  Works completed during 2014/15 included a face-lifting programme for 316 homes to improve external appearance, upgrade / new central heating systems, installation of voltage optimisers, solar thermal hot water systems.  In addition, an HMO licensing scheme had been implemented in the area.  Improvements made to community facilities and the environment included the external refurbishment of the Sea Scout Hall, Holton Road.  Green Deal assessments had been undertaken for homes suitable for ECO funding and the Renewal Heat Premium Payment Scheme bids.  If successful, this would help improve the energy efficiency of the housing stock and reduce fuel poverty.

 

Following consideration of the report, Members were given an opportunity to comment or ask questions on the contents of the report.

 

Members highlighted examples of particularly good work by the Directorate, including:

 

-               Improvements in the Indicator relating to the Hygiene rating

-               Improvements in the Service provided in respect of Domestic Abuse.

 

Members expressed the view that the data included in the report should be streamlined in that:

 

-               There was often a lack of evidence to support the extent of completion of actions in the 'Comment' column that accompanies the chart of Completed Actions in the End of Year Performance Review.  However, this evidence could be found usually in the 'Comment' column of the following chart in the Review about Annual Performance Indicators.  It was suggested that the information contained in the two separate charts be combined in order to simplify the presentation of annual performance, and that the extent of completion could be included in the “Status†column of the existing chart of Annual Performance Indicators.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

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 Cabinet be recommended to change the format of such future reports as referred above.

 

(3)       T H A T progress to date in achieving key outcomes as outlined in the Corporate Plan 2013-17, the Outcome Agreement with Welsh Government 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 (Wales) Measure 2009.

 

(2)       To make the data contained within the report more meaningful.

 

(3)       To consider the Visible Services end of year performance results as at 31st March 2015 in order to highlight areas for service improvement.

 

 

113     TARGET SETTING 2015-16 (DDS) –

 

Committee received a report which:

 

-               Presented the proposed targets for improvement for 2015-16 for all performance indicators reported by Development Services in relation to Public Protection;

-               Highlighted the proposed deletions and additions to the Public Protection performance indicator data set for 2015-16 reported by Development Services.

 

The Wales Audit Office’s Annual Improvement Report of the Council 2013-14 identified the need to make greater use of external benchmarking in relation to target setting and in the reporting of performance as a means of driving improvement to ensure achievement of the level of service expected by Members.

 

All measures were reviewed annually to ensure they reflected changes in national policy and remained responsive to local priorities.  It also ensured that residents, Elected Members and senior officers could scrutinise key areas of Council performance throughout the year. 

 

At CMT on 25th March 2015, a new approach to target setting was endorsed.  This approach focused on adopting a more challenging approach to how the Council set targets by ensuring that there was an assessment of how the Council had performance.  This involved evaluating how the Council had performed against target and making best use of external benchmarking data where available, whilst balancing this against how much of a priority the indicator was to the Council and whether there was capacity to improve performance.

 

Following the end of year reporting period, all Directorates were asked to undertake a review of performance against all indicators in order to complete a target setting template.  All Directorates were asked to set appropriately challenging targets that both supported the principle of continuous improvement but also realistically reflected the current financial climate and the service’s capacity to improve performance.

 

Outlined at Appendix 2 to the report was a full suite of performance indicators that would continue to be collected and reported on during 2015-16.  Against each indicator, a target had been set and a rationale had been provided to explain why the target had been set at that level.

 

For 2015-16, five Improvement Objectives had been identified by the Council and of these, four had performance indicators attached to them.  This target setting exercise had enabled Directors to review their Improvement Objective targets and revise them where appropriate to reflect end of year performance.

 

In relation to the Outcome Agreement indicators, these targets had already been pre-agreed with the Welsh Government until 2016.  Although in principle these targets had been pre-set, in instances where the Council’s end of year performance exceeded the target for 2014/15, Directorates had the opportunity to set more internally challenging targets in order to drive the upward trend in performance.

 

For the remaining local level indicators, targets should have been set based on the Council’s over-riding principle to secure continuous improvement.  However, where it had been identified that budgetary pressures and / or service delivery pressures were likely to impact on the Council’s ability to continue to improve performance, this was clearly stated in the rationale section of Appendix 2.

 

During 2014-15, the Council reported on a total of 413 indicators.  Following a review of performance for 2014-15, 357 indicators were being proposed to be collected and reported on during 2015-16, 342 of these being existing measures that would be carried forward from last year.

 

The proposed deletion of indicators for 2015-16 was detailed in Appendix 3 to the report.

 

In terms of this Committee’s remit in relation to Public Protection, target setting was summarised as follows:

 

·                There were 22 indicators that were relevant to the remit of this Committee and for all of them, it was possible to set a target and direction of travel.

·                54.5% (12) of these targets had been set to exceed performance compared with the previous year, 36.4% (8) targets had remained relatively static and just 9.1% (2) targets had been set lower than last year.

·                A total of 6 indicators had been set to achieve best possible performance, and 5 of these looking to continue to maintain best possible performance on the previous year.

·                Of the 11 national Public Protection indicators where data could be benchmarked against the previous year, 2 targets had been set to achieve top quartile performance compared with 2013-14.  A further 4 targets had been set in line with or to improve on the Welsh average for 2013-14.

·                No Public Protection indicators that were also Improvement Objectives and / or Outcome Agreement indicators had revised their targets so that they were more internally challenging.

·                There were 2 proposed deletion of indicators for 2015-16 relevant to Public Protection.  These were for:  DS/M004 percentage of people who had received assistance in the renewal area who felt the assistance had improved their living conditions and DS/M010 average Disabled Facilities Grant amount.  The rationale for deleting these two indicators was outlined in Appendix 3 to the report.  There were no new indicator additions for 2015-16.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the target of 90% for Indicator M003 (the percentage of customers satisfied with the Disabled Facilities Grant service) be increased to 95%.

 

(2)       T H A T, in future such reports to this Committee include only Indicators relevant to this Committee.

 

(3)       T H A T the Performance Indicators be grouped by means of the nature of the Indicator in order to make the report easier to follow i.e. group all Disabled Facilities Grant related matters together.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To set a challenging yet realistic performance improvement target in line with the requirements under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.

 

(2&3)  To make the report more meaningful for the Members of the Committee.

 

 

114     HOUSING AND BUILDING SERVICES END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE REPORT 2014-15 (DVSH) – 

 

Committee received the end of year performance results for the period 1st April 2014 to 31st March 2015 as outlined in Appendix 1 to the report. 

 

The Service Plans for 2014/15 focused on the achievements of key objectives within each Directorate which in turn contributed towards the achievement of identified outcomes within the Corporate Plan 2013-17, the Outcome Agreement 2013-16 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2014-15.

 

Housing and Building Services completed 72% of Service Plan actions at end of year, with a further 5% on track for a later completion date.  There were a total of 43 actions in the Plan;  31 were completed, 1 was on track, 11 had slipped and 3 had not been started. 

 

The Department had completed 84% of the actions against the Corporate Plan that were included in the 2014/15 Service Plan.  Of the 13 actions within the Plan, 11 had been completed, 1 was on track and 1 had slipped.

 

All 8 actions relating to the Improvement Objective had been completed.  Of the 2 Improvement Objective related measures, both had exceeded target.

 

There were no actions related to the Outcome Agreement.  Of the 3 measures, 2 had met target and 1 was within 10% of target.

 

Of the 41 performance indicators in the Plan, performance status was not applicable for 27 (66%), 9 (22%) met or exceeded target, 3 (7%) were within 10% of target and 2 (5%) missed target by more than 10%.

 

In terms of notable service achievements, the percentage of gas services carried out within 365 days (HSM/007) had increased to 99.97% which equated to only 1 property overdue out of 3,746.  This was a significant improvement in the percentage of compliance given that the Council was now achieving access to properties that had been historically difficult to gain admission to. 

 

The Homelessness team continued to work innovatively to find 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.

 

The time taken to let empty properties had significantly reduced to achieve a spot outturn at the end of 2014/15 of 33 days. 

 

Rent arrears remained very low due to effective income management and recovery action and support.  The impact of the bedroom tax / spare room subsidy had been largely mitigated due to the prioritisation of downsizing within the Homes4U procedures, the effective use of discretionary housing payments and the addition of budgeting and income and expenditure advice and support given by the Money Advice Team.

 

The Welsh Housing Quality Statement (WHQS) programme was being delivered to time and to budget.  To date, 95% of the internal work had been completed in tenants’ homes. 

 

A series of mechanisms had been introduced to improve the responsive repairs and housing maintenance service and to increase tenant satisfaction.  A performance management framework had been put in place for the accurate monitoring of responsive repairs / housing maintenance and their costs. 

 

A state of the art older persons’ accommodation solution in Redlands, Penarth had been opened during the year. 

 

With respect to slippage, a Tenant and Leaseholder Engagement Strategy was currently out to consultation with the Tenancy Working Group, the findings of which would inform a Cabinet report seeking approval of the Strategy.  A draft Asset Management Strategy was also in place, although this needed to be reviewed following the HRA subsidy buy-out. 

 

In relation to the development of an Environmental and Neighbourhood Enhancement Strategy, some work had been progressed. 

 

Significant work had been undertaken in relation to the Customer Care Strategy including; completion of the Senior Management Leadership course; a team of 20 Customer Care Champions had been established to drive Customer Excellence throughout the department; a small sub group of the Customer Care Champions were currently developing proposals around a Staff Code of Conduct, Staff Surveys and Team Building Activities; customer satisfactions surveys were in place for Responsive Repairs and WHQS works; customer satisfaction performance indicators were now collected and analysed on a monthly basis through the department KPI meetings. 

 

In relation to the introduction of the Section 20 processes, a loans and repayment policy was due for adoption by Cabinet in June 2015.  The service charge review had been delayed due to priority year end and functions. 

 

Work to develop a Community Investment Strategy and a Digital Inclusion Strategy had been delayed pending the appointment of a dedicated Community Investment resource through the Housing and Building Services restructure. 

 

Staff were still awaiting guidance from Welsh Government in relation to the governance arrangements of the SP Regional Collaborative Committee in order to make the necessary progress.

 

The review of internal stores had been completed and options had been identified.  The service was working with the National Procurement Services to take these forward.

 

In terms of developing a facilities management approach to public buildings, following the implementation of the restructure, the service was now looking at a Business Development Officer to develop a facilities management approach to public buildings. 

 

Having considered the contents of the report, it was

 

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 with Welsh Government 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 Visible Services end of year performance results as at 31st March 2015 in order to highlight areas for service improvement.

 

 

115     TARGET SETTING 2015-16 (DVSH) –

 

Committee received a report which:

 

-               Presented the proposed targets for improvement for 2015-16 for all performance indicators reported by Housing and Building Services

-               Highlighted the proposed deletions and additions to the Housing and Building Services performance indicator dataset for 2015-6.

 

The Wales Audit Office’s Annual Improvement Report of the Council 2013-14 identified the need to make greater use of external benchmarking in relation to target setting and in the reporting of performance as a means of driving improvement to ensure achievement of the level of service expected by Members.

 

All measures were reviewed annually to ensure they reflected changes in national policy and remained responsive to local priorities.  It also ensured that residents, Elected Members and senior officers could scrutinise key areas of Council performance throughout the year. 

 

At CMT on 25th March 2015, a new approach to target setting was endorsed.  This approach focused on adopting a more challenging approach to how the Council set targets by ensuring that there was an assessment of how the Council had performance.  This involved evaluating how the Council had performed against target and making best use of external benchmarking data where available, whilst balancing this against how much of a priority the indicator was to the Council and whether there was capacity to improve performance.

  

Following the end of year reporting period, all Directorates were asked to undertake a review of performance against all indicators in order to complete a target setting template.  All Directorates were asked to set appropriately challenging targets that both supported the principle of continuous improvement but also realistically reflected the current financial climate and the service’s capacity to improve performance.

 

Outlined at Appendix 2 to the report was a full suite of performance indicators that would continue to be collected and reported on during 2015-16.  Against each indicator, a target had been set and a rationale had been provided to explain why the target had been set at that level.

 

For 2015-16, five Improvement Objectives had been identified by the Council and of these, four had performance indicators attached to them.  This target setting exercise had enabled Directors to review their Improvement Objective targets and revise them where appropriate to reflect end of year performance.

 

In relation to the Outcome Agreement indicators, these targets had already been pre-agreed with the Welsh Government until 2016.  Although in principle these targets had been pre-set, in instances where the Council’s end of year performance exceeded the target for 2014/15, Directorates had the opportunity to set more internally challenging targets in order to drive the upward trend in performance.

 

For the remaining local level indicators, targets should have been set based on the Council’s over-riding principle to secure continuous improvement.  However, where it had been identified that budgetary pressures and / or service delivery pressures were likely to impact on the Council’s ability to continue to improve performance, this was clearly stated in the rationale section of Appendix 2.

 

During 2014-15, the Council reported on a total of 413 indicators.  Following a review of performance for 2014-15, 357 indicators were being proposed to be collected and reported on during 2015-16, 342 of these being existing measures that would be carried forward from last year.

 

The proposed deletion of indicators for 2015-16 was detailed in Appendix 3 to the report.

 

For Housing and Building Services, this could be further broken down as follows:

 

·                There were 60 indicators and for 28 of these it was possible to set a target and direction of travel.

·                50% (14) of targets had been set to improve on the previous year’s performance result (2014-15), 39.3% (11) of targets had been set static and 10.7% (3) of targets had been set lower than 2014-15 performance.

·                Of these indicators, 4 targets had been set to achieve best possible performance during 2015-16.

·                In relation to national benchmarking data, 2 indicators had targets set that were either in line with or an improvement on top quartile performance for 2013-14 and 1 indicator had a target set to improve on the Welsh average for 2013-14.

·                For 1 Outcome Agreement indicator (percentage of housing stock where work that meets the WHQS had been completed), the performance during 2014-15 exceed the target for 2015-16.  Although this target had been pre-agreed with the Welsh Government, the service intended to work toward a more internally challenging target to reflect this improved performance.

·                For 2015-16, 18 indicators had been proposed for deletion and 8 had been identified as new indicators.

·                Part way through 2014-15, the remit of Community Safety was transferred over to Housing and Building Services.  Therefore, during 2015-16, all data reporting in relation to Community Safety would now be undertaken by Housing and Building Services via this Committee. 

 

Committee noted that “voids and letting times†was proposed to be deleted.  Members felt that this was key information which they should receive and requested that this information continue to be provided. 

 

Having considered the contents of the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to retain the information on “voids and letting times†within future reports.

 

(2)       T H A T with the exception of that indicator identified above, the proposed list of deletions and additions to the Housing and Building Services performance indicator dataset for 2015-16 be endorsed.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure the Council consistently sets challenging yet realistic performance improvement targets for its priorities in line with the requirements under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.

 

(2)       That the Council reports a relevant set of performance indicators against which it can demonstrate achievement of its priorities.

 

 

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