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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 2nd September, 2015.

 

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

 

Also present:  Councillors K.P. Mahoney, R.A. Penrose and Mr. S. Doyle and Mrs. Doyle (Tenant Working Group).

 

 

330     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors J.C. Bird and Mrs. V.M. Hartrey

 

 

331     MINUTES – 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 15th July, 2015 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

332     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – 

 

Councillors J. Drysdale and Ms. R.F. Probert declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 4 in that they were Trustees of Gypsies and Travellers Wales which was in discussion with the Vale of Glamorgan Council about carrying out the Needs Assessment.

 

Both Councillors vacated the room whilst this matter was under consideration.

 

 

333     CALL-IN: GYPSY TRAVELLER ACCOMMODATION ASSESSMENTS –

 

The report to Cabinet on 27th July, 2015 had informed of the duty on Local Authorities to undertake a new Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment by 26th February, 2016.  Cabinet had also received an update on the work of the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment Steering Group.

 

Cabinet had

 

Resolved

 

(1)       That the duty to produce an up to date Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment be noted.

 

(2)       That a further report be submitted to Cabinet outlining the outcome of the Assessment prior to its submission to Welsh Government.

 

(3)       That delegated authority be granted to the Managing Director and / or, in the absence of the Managing Director, the Director of Visible Services and Housing, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety, to invite and accept tenders, and to enter into contracts to be executed by the Head of Legal Services and / or the Operational Manager Legal Services.

 

The call-in referred to resolutions (2) and (3) and the reason for the call-in, submitted by Councillor K.P. Mahoney, being as follows:

 

“Given the Council’s past record of ignoring reports by outside organisations e.g. Fordham Report, why outsource?  Also, given the previous record of changing assessments of sites by the Housing Department without providing reasoned explanation for this, delegating to officers would be wrong.”

 

Cabinet had been informed of the duty on the Council to undertake a new Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) by 26th February, 2016 and was updated on the work of the GTAA Steering Group.

 

The Steering Group had been convened, made up of Members from the Council and partner organisations including the NHS, Police and education.

 

The Council’s Housing Strategy Team had prepared the tender documents which would allow a consultant to be employed by 1st September, 2015, giving three months to produce the GTAA by 1st December, 2015.  Once completed, the GTAA would be submitted to Cabinet for adoption before the Welsh Government deadline.

 

It was Councillor Mahoney’s assertion:

 

  • that the Steering Group should include Members of the Council and members of the public
  • that the Vale of Glamorgan Council. had no idea of how many gypsies lived in bricks and mortar and should have carried out a survey to establish the number
  • why was the Council issuing a tender to carry out work that it was capable of doing itself.

 

Councillor Mahoney asked Committee to recommend the following to Cabinet:

 

  • That the Steering Group include Members of the Council and the public
  • That the GTAA be not put out to tender on the basis that only the Vale of Glamorgan Council can provide the required figures.

 

In response, Members were advised:

 

  • it was a duty on the Council to undertake the GTAA
  • information for the Assessment is not freely available
  • the Gypsy and Traveller groups were difficult to engage with
  • the Welsh Assembly guidance was very much about qualitative and quantitive data; whilst the Council had expertise that could provide the quantitive data, it had no expertise to provide the qualitative data
  • the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety had offered to be part of the Steering Group
  • the tender documents had been received but not opened
  • the tender would be quantitive and qualitative based
  • there would be an issue with pressure on staff time if the Assessments were prepared by the Council
  • that reports on this matter would be brought before Scrutiny Committee in the future.

 

Councillor Mahoney repeated, that in his view, the Steering Group should include Members of the Council and members of the public whereupon a Member suggested that Cabinet be requested to consider the inclusion of Councillor Mahoney together with one Member of the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) on the Group.

 

In conclusion, the Chairman suggested that future reports on the matter be brought to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration which was acknowledged by the Head of Service.

 

Following which it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the decisions of Cabinet on 27th July, 2015 be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider the inclusion of Councillor K.P. Mahoney plus one Member of the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) on the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment Steering Group.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure the Council complies with its statutory requirements under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

 

(2)       To enhance the Scrutiny process.

 

 

334     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 31ST JULY 2015 (DEHS) –

 

Committee was advised of the position in respect of revenue and capital expenditure for the period 1st April to 31st July 2015 regarding those revenue and capital budgets which formed this Committee’s remit. 

 

The current forecast was for a balanced budget. 

 

Public Sector Housing (HRA) – whilst vacancies in the new structure still existed, there were some savings on salary costs and there were also underspends in the Premises budget, particularly at Ty Iolo Hostel.  Any underspend this year would be offset by additional contributions to Capital expenditure in order to reduce the reliance on Unsupported Borrowing.  The HRA was therefore expected to outturn on target.

 

Council Fund Housing – there were some savings against profile on Supplies and Services and the Temporary Accommodation budget.  However, the introduction of Universal Credit during this financial year was anticipated to increase the level of expenditure on Temporary Accommodation and it was therefore anticipated that the Council Fund Housing budget would outturn on target.

 

Private Housing – there was currently a favourable variance of £8k to profiled budget.  The fee income from the Renewal Areas continued to be below budget due to the transition from the Castleland facelifing scheme to the Upper Holton Road scheme which had less scope for management fees.  However, this was more than offset by a higher than anticipated level of fees from the Disabled Facilities Grants.  At this stage, it was therefore anticipated that the service would outturn on target.

 

Public Protection – the management positions within the Shared Regulatory Service had now been appointed and work was underway to populate the lower tiers of staff.  Work was also ongoing to apportion the costs of the service amongst the partner Authorities, Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale.  At this stage it was anticipated that the Shared Regulatory Service would outturn on target.

 

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

 

Attached at Appendix 2 to the report was a statement showing the progress made to date against the 2015/16 savings targets.  It was considered that one saving of £10k was not achievable, and the Director would identify an alternative saving. 

 

Appendix 3 to the report detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st July 2015. 

 

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 was to be taken to the earliest available Cabinet.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

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

 

Reason for recommendation

 

That Scrutiny Committee note the position with regard to the 2015/16 revenue and capital monitoring.

 

 

 

335     YOUTH OFFENDING SERVICE: END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE REPORT FOR THE PERIOD APRIL 2014 – MARCH 2015 (DSS) –

 

Committee was informed of the performance of the Youth Offending Service (YOS) during the period April 2014 to March 2015.

 

As part of its grant funding terms and conditions, the YOS was required by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) to undertake performance reporting in relation to a number of key performance indicators.

 

The performance report for April 2014 to March  2015 was attached to the report.  At the request of the Committee, local performance measures had been included within the report.  The measures had been developed to provide the YOS Management Board with a greater depth of understanding of performance in specific areas. 

 

Performance data for First Time Entrants to the Youth Justice was for nine months from January 2014 to December 2014.  This showed an 11.5% increase in numbers entering the system, which equated to 40 entrants over the nine month period compared to 36 for the whole of 2013/14.  Over the past two years, the rolling cohort had fluctuated between 36 and 42 entrants per year, which may demonstrate that the Vale of Glamorgan had reached a plateau in its ability to continue reducing the number of First Time Entrants. 

 

Detailed analysis of First Time Entrants had been completed and consultation had taken place with partners to develop a refreshed Prevention Strategy which would be launched in October 2015. 

 

Reduction in re-offending continued to be a key priority for the YOS.  The information presented in the Appendix showed an increase in re-offending for the period 1st July 2012 to 30th June 2013 from 37.2% to 44.2%.  It had been recognised nationally that young people now entering the Youth Justice system had more complex needs.  The YJB had completed an analysis of historic re-offending information for the YOS and this had been used to inform a re-offending action plan.  Implementation of this plan had been delayed due to staff shortages and a requirement to focus on implementation of the new assessment framework.

 

Local performance information now included within the report provided insight into the complex needs of young people within the Youth Justice System and the range of interventions provided by the YOS and its partners. 

 

The YOS had seen a reduction in the custodial rate during 2014/15, from nine young people sentenced to custody during 2013/14 to seven during this year.  This was an overall reduction of 22%. 

 

Engagement in education, training and employment had been identified as a priority area for the YOS Management Board.  Performance for the year showed that the Vale of Glamorgan was performing slightly better than the all-Wales average (19 hours per week) and the South Wales average (16 hours) in providing 20.6 hours.  However, this represented a fall from the previous year’s figure and still remained short of the expected 25 hours.  This performance measure looked at both youth people of school age and those above school age.  The average number of hours received by post school age young people was 14.6 hours and this showed an increase from an average of 12.2 hours during 2013/14.  Full time was defined as 16.

 

The young people over 16 years of age with which the YOS worked can experience additional obstacles when looking for training or employment.  Their complex needs and challenging behaviour could prove a challenge in relation to the management and sustainability of placements.  Previously, there were only two training providers within the Vale of Glamorgan and once young people had exhausted these options, prospects of placements were reduced.  Young people regarded attending providers in Cardiff as problematic.  It was positive to note therefore that ATC Training provider had recognised these issues and had made provision within the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

Regarding access to suitable accommodation, performance for the year reflected a decrease of 4.2% in respect of young people placed in the community.  Performance decreased because two young people were placed in emergency accommodation prior to accessing more supported accommodation.  No concerns had been identified in relation to access to accommodation for young people leaving custody. 

 

Performance was positive in respect of access to appropriate support for substance misuse difficulties, with 92.3% engagement in assessment and 92.3% engagement in treatment within 10 days.

 

Victim Participation was a local measure.  The YOS had a duty to comply with the Victim’s Code of Practice and to promote community confidence in the Criminal Justice System.  In order to demonstrate the work undertaken by the YOS in relation to restorative justice, a local performance measure had been introduced based on the former YJB measure, i.e. engaging 25% of victims in direct restorative practices.  The Vale of Glamorgan YOS operated a restorative ethos and actively promoted restorative practices, as demonstrated by the positive performance of 60% victim participation.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the content of the performance report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure that Elected Members are able to exercise effective oversight of the Youth Offending Service performance against designated indicators (National, devolved and local).

 

 

336     THE YOUTH JUSTICE PLAN 2015/16 (DSS) –

 

Committee was informed of the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Justice Plan 2015/16. 

 

Section 40 of the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act 1998 placed a duty on Local Authorities to produce an annual Youth Justice Plan, in consultation with statutory partners.  The Plan confirmed how youth justice services were to be provided and funded, how the teams were established, composed and funded, what functions they are to carry out and how they will operate.  The Plan was submitted to the Youth Justice Board (YJB) and published in accordance with the directions of the Secretary of State.  This duty is one of the requirements of the terms and conditions of the Youth Justice Grant. 

 

A copy of the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Justice Plan 2015/16 was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. 

 

Delays by the YJB in implementing its new “Assetplus” assessment framework meant that many of the actions contained within the Youth Justice Plan 2014/15 had been carried forward as they remained current.  Implementation was now scheduled to take place by April 2016.

 

Additionally, the Youth Justice Plan had been updated to provide an overview of changes to governance or service delivery and the Youth Offending Service (YOS) response to thematic inspection reports published by HM Probation Inspectorate during 2014/15. 

 

There had been no significant changes to the structure or operational functions of the YOS, or to the corporate environment within which it operated. 

 

Currently, the major risk was the fact that the YJB notified the YOS on 29th July that the Board was required by the Ministry of Justice to make in year savings of £12m during 2015/16.  The YJB had indicated that it would be consulting formally with YOTs and other partners to gain an understanding of the potential impact of any further reductions in grant funding during 2015/16. 

 

The YOS Management Board had submitted a robust response to the YJB outlining its concerns regarding delivery of services if the YJB grant was further reduced.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the contents of the Youth Justice Plan 2015/16 be noted and that Committee continue to be made aware of the risks posed by reductions in core contributions and grants to the Youth Offending Service from key agencies.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To meet the statutory requirements regarding the terms and conditions of grants provided by the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, to achieve continuing improvements in the performance of the Youth Offending Service and to ensure that Members can exercise oversight of this key area of work for the Council.

 

 

337     1ST QUARTER SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND WORK PROGRAMME SCHEDULE 2015/16 (MD) –

 

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 2014 – March 2015
  • April – June 2015.

 

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 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:

 

04 February 2015

Min. No. 846 –   Youth Offending Service – Six Months Performance Report for the Period April   2014 – September 2014 (DSS) – Recommended

(2)   That when the next six monthly Performance   report be brought before the Committee, it also include the local performance   data.

 

 

 

 

 

Actioned   – Committee 2nd September 2015.

Completed

20 May 2015

Min. No. 46 –   Disabled Facilities Grants Performance Report for End of Year 2014-15 (REF) – Recommended

(2)   That the staff involved in the delivery of   Disabled Facility Grants be congratulated for their efforts.

 

 

 

Actioned.

Completed

Min. No. 50 –   Scrutiny Decision Tracking of Recommendations and Work Programme Schedule   2015/16 (MD) –   Recommended

(2)   That the updated work programme schedule   be uploaded to the Council’s website.

 

 

 

 

Updated   work programme schedule uploaded to the Council’s website.

Completed

17 June 2015

Min. No. 112 –   Development Services (Public Protection) End of Year Performance Report   2014/15 (DDS) –   Recommended

(2)   That Cabinet be recommended to change the   format of such future reports as referred above.

 

 

 

 

Cabinet,   on 27th July 2015, noted the contents of the report and resolved

[2]   That the concerns regarding the combining   of the two reports presented to the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public   Protection) be noted, and that officers be requested to present a combined   report in the future as suggested by the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and   Public Protection).

(Min.   No. C2860 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 113 – Target   Setting 2015-16 (DDS) – Recommended

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

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

(3)   That 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.

 

 

(1-3)   Cabinet, on 27th July 2015,   noted the contents of the report and resolved

[2]   That the recommended targets and reporting   procedures suggested by the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public   Protection) be endorsed.

(Min.   No. C2861 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 115 –   Target Setting 2015-16 (DVSH) – Recommended

(1)   That Cabinet be requested to retain the   information on “voids and letting times” within future reports.

 

 

Cabinet,   on 27th July 2015, noted the contents of the report and resolved

[2]   That the request of the Scrutiny Committee   (Housing and Public Protection), regarding the target and reporting of “voids   and letting times” be retained in future reports, be endorsed.

(Min.   No. C2862 refers)

Completed

 

(2)       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 information.

 

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