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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Shared Regulatory Services Joint Committee: 28th June 2016

 

Report of the Director of Environment and Housing Services

 

Shared Regulatory Services Annual Report

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To provide a report on the performance and financial position of the Shared Regulatory Service for 2015/16.

Recommendation

  1. That the Joint Committee receives the report and forwards a copy of the report to the Head of Paid Service for each partner Council.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.       To meet the requirements set out in Clause 5.1 of the Joint Working Agreement.

Background

  1. Under the Joint Working Agreement, the Shared Regulatory Service (SRS) is required to produce an annual report that covers the operational and financial performance of the service for the preceding year. Clause 5 of the Joint Working Agreement states:

"The Joint Committee shall receive in each year at its annual meeting which shall be held no later than 30th June the report of the Head of Regulatory Services and the Lead Financial Officer in respect of the functions delegated to the Joint Committee relating to the twelve months ending 31st March of that year and a copy thereof shall be forwarded to the Chief Executive of each Participant.

The report shall include:

           (i)      a statement showing the performance of the Regulatory Service Functions and progress in achieving the Objectives and delivering the Business Plan

           (ii)     a summary revenue account and statement of capital spending including the distribution or use of any revenue surpluses and the financing of any capital expenditure"

  1. This is the first report produced under this requirement and covers the period 1st May 2015 to 31st March 2016. The report provides a review of operations across the service, a summary of the financial position, and outlines performance against the 2015/16 service objectives. If the content of this report is agreed, a copy of the report must be sent to the Head of Paid Service of each of the three Councils along with the Shared Regulatory service Business Plan for 2016/17. .
  2. A major theme of this first annual report is the approach undertaken to transform the traditional business model to build a new organisational structure and a new organisational culture with harmonised processes. The work to distil three services into one is well under way and continues into 2016/17.

Relevant Issues and Options

Setting up the Shared Regulatory Service

  1. This first year of the Shared Service has been dominated by the move toward, and development of, the new Operating Model agreed by the three Councils in Autumn 2014. Creating a Shared Regulatory Service (SRS) to operate across the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Bridgend County Borough Council and Cardiff City Council has been an exciting journey of reinvention. The commitment to undertake a fundamental reorganisation, and repositioning, of a range of statutory services, critical to maintaining the health, safety and economic wellbeing of local communities, and incorporating them into a collaborative model epitomises transformation. The new operating model delivers an integrated service operating under a single management structure for Trading Standards, Environmental Health and Licensing functions. Organised into three service delivery sectors, Shared Regulatory Services provides:
  • Neighbourhood Services: activities relating to residential premises or having an impact on the local community
  • Commercial Services: activities relating to business premises (generally where national standards apply)
  • Enterprise and Specialist Services: specialist areas of work and income generating services
  1. The new service has broken the mould in stepping away from the traditional model for delivering regulatory services. The new model combines local delivery and responsiveness to local needs with greater resilience and the economies of scale that working across a larger geographical area provides.
  2. As a regional organisation, providing regulatory services across three local authority areas, the SRS places the corporate priorities and stated outcomes of the three councils at the heart of all its activities. The strategic priorities for the Shared Regulatory Service:
  • Safeguarding the Vulnerable
  • Improving Health and wellbeing
  • Protecting the Environment
  • Supporting the local economy
  • Maximising the use of resources
  1. Acknowledges the positive contribution that regulatory services, together with local and national partners, can make in delivering better outcomes. Consequently, the five strategic priorities, along with the work toward a developing new set of performance measures and indicators to track progress, provide a robust base for achieving the outcomes identified in the 2016/17 business plan.
  2. The Joint Working Agreement, executed in April 2015, underpins the entire service provision. The JWA contains a number of milestones and requirements. In accordance with those requirements:
  • The service set its budget in December 2015 for the 2016/17 period
  • The Business Plan for 2016/17 was approved following consultation
  • The Annual report is presented here for consideration by the Joint Committee
  • Arrangements have been made for the Joint Committee to receive an audited statement of accounts in September 2016.
  1. 2015/16 has seen significant change and progress for the SRS. Members will recall that in December 2015, an audit of the shared service to determine the efficacy of the implementation and governance arrangements in place was carried out. The audit report concluded that that the effectiveness of the internal control environment was sound and substantial assurance can be placed upon the management of risks.

Human Resources

  1. One of the main priorities in the move to the new Operating Model was a restructuring exercise. The new SRS structure became operational on 1st December 2015/16. The organisational structure was populated on time after a three month staff consultation; almost 200 people were placed in the new structure within 10 weeks through a process of matching and competitive interview. The remaining vacancies were filled through external recruitment.
  2. The implementation of the new structure has resulted in officers assuming new roles that require a broadening of professional skills and the taking on of new responsibilities to deliver the service. The retention of key skills, experience and talent; a commitment to, and the resourcing of training to develop people within the organisation to ensure competency within their roles has been, and remains, of paramount importance. All officers are undertaking a Personal Development Review (PDR) process last year and this will be fed into a personal training plan for each officer and form part of the wider workforce development plan for the service.
  3. Sickness absence levels for 2015/16 were 5.6 days per FTE person. This compares favourably with the average sickness rates for the partner councils despite the service going through a time of rapid change, where there is likely to be some impact on staff sickness, even where managers are providing all of the relevant support to staff.

Agile Working

  1. The joining together of 3 local authorities operating different working practices, policies, procedures and using different systems and forms requires standardisation across the Service in order to provide consistency and efficiency across the organisation. Such standardisation provides an opportunity to apply best practice, the application of 'lean techniques" and the review of enforcement strategies to share good practice and improve. The service operates a huge number of different activities and work is ongoing to prioritise those services at the highest demand or cost.
  2. Agile working, which underpins the new operating model, has been developing with laptops and other mobile devices. A decision to use a new database employing "cloud" technology is moving forward and should be in place by March 2017, which will further enhance capacity for mobile working. Introducing a new ICT platform, transferring data from four legacy systems into a single database facilitates agile working that in turn provides a faster service for customers.
  3. Currently, officers continue to use existing office facilities although at a reduced level. The "footprint" occupied by SRS officers will reduce further as the corporate accommodation policies of each partner council are implemented and the agile working model adopted fully.

Operational Performance

  1. Operational performance throughout 2015/16 has been reported both to the Joint Committee and to each partner Council through the legacy systems and performance gauged against the 2015/16 Business Plan. Despite significant change and an overall reduction in the resource available, performance has, for the most part, been maintained at 2014/15 levels and suggests that the new Operating Model, when fully resourced, is capable of delivering the required performance while delivering the savings sought by the Council.
  2. The targets and actions identified in the 2015/16 plan were achieved with all statutory plans being published on time, enforcement initiatives were completed and the change programmes identified for the period commenced on time.

Significant Service Achievements

  1. Perhaps our greatest achievement in 2015/16 has been to deliver business as usual through the change process. The SRS continued to inspect, sample, advise, intervene, and bring the rogues to book. Many of the achievements for the service in the last 12 months are set out in the 2016/17 Business Plan, but a few are highlighted here to demonstrate the diversity and depth of the work of the Shared Service and are a testament to the incredibly talented officers employed within the SRS.
  2. The Service has consolidated a number of areas in which it is now charging for its business advice and training services. Chief amongst these is the use of the Primary Authority mechanism established by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Primary Authority allows a local authority regulatory service to enter into formal partnerships (signed off by the Secretary of State for Trade), with individual businesses through which assured advice, training and other services can be provided on a cost recovery basis. As well as increased resilience, the creation of the shared service has vastly increased the specialist pool of knowledge of staff and as a result, SRS is able to capitalise on drawing in Primary Authority businesses. There are currently seven agreements in place with a range of businesses from those that are locally based to those that are national concerns. Negotiations are underway with a number of other business entities. In 2015/16, the early development of the Primary Authority work of the Service has secured an income of almost £8000; this suggests that the identified income target can be achieved in 2016/17. The work of the service has also been acknowledged nationally, having been highly commended for its efforts in supporting the business community. Further training for businesses the Service is expanding its portfolio of courses across food hygiene, health and safety, responsible retailing and contract terms. It is also looking to develop a one-stop shop approach of offering training to individuals where this is a condition of their obtaining a licence, for example personal licences for the sale of alcohol.
  3. The owners of a care home where an elderly pensioner suffered fatal injuries after plunging down a lift shaft were fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £25,000 costs for health and safety breaches following an investigation by Officers. The owners allowed staff to use an emergency access key to override the safety mechanism of a faulty lift after being told not to use it by a lift engineer who locked the door to prevent use. The emergency key enabled the door to be opened manually which subsequently caused a resident and her carer to fall 20 feet down the lift shaft. The elderly resident died at the scene and the carer suffered life threatening injuries.
  4. In November 2015, the SRS provided Cardiff Council with a new Statement of Licensing policy covering Alcohol and other activities licensable under the Licensing At 2003. (The Council is under a legal duty to prepare, publish and use such a policy when determining applications relating to Licensed premises). While much of the day to day work of the Licensing service consists of processing and determining applications for licenses, the Licensing policy can be a strategic tool and its use provides an opportunity to manage health, crime and social problems in the City where alcohol is a contributing factor. Consequently, the SRS, working with the Cardiff Licensing committee and partners reviewed and changed the policy to move the licensing function away from being a reactive, application-driven process, to one that is forward-looking, policy-led and able to reflect aspirations for the City. Developing a new statement of Licensing Policy was a substantial task and gained full Council approval in November 2015.
  5. Over 200 service requests were received last year 2015 resulting in visits to 65 doorstep crime victims with Community Safety Police Team and Social Services to safeguard the victims. The amount that was saved through intervention was in excess of £30,000. Rapid Responses were attended by officers and a prolific rogue trader was arrested. An investigation is ongoing. The extension of the scheme to cover the region is a high priority for 2016/17.
  6. Illegal tattooists also known as 'Scratchers' present a significantly increased risk of their clients developing serious, and potentially life threatening infections such as Hepatitis and HIV, as well as serious skin infections which require medical intervention. They are also damaging the trade and reputation of legitimate tattooists. Two 'Scratchers' were prosecuted this year by Officers for a number of offences, resulting in fines of £1200 and £440 and costs of £580 in court costs and victim surcharge. A Part 2A Order was also successfully executed on a further illegal tattooist operating from his home. All equipment was seized for destruction.

Financial Performance

  1. With regard to the financial position, the Shared Service has had a positive year. Attached at Appendix 1 is a draft Statement of Accounts for the service for 2015/16, which includes an Explanatory Foreword. There was no capital expenditure incurred during the year.
  2. The 2015/16 gross budget for the service, excluding the implementation budgets, was £8.719m. The draft outturn against the 2015/16 gross budget was reported to Committee on 18th May 2016 and was an overall underspend within the Service of £835k. There has since been a minor amendment and the underspend is now £851k. As described within this report, it is acknowledged that the Service has been in a state of transition during 2015/16, with the staffing structure being in place for only the later part of the year.
  3. The 2015/16 gross Core budget was £6.395m and at year end showed an underspent of £869k. One of the main factors contributing to this core underspend was the reduced staffing costs due to posts remaining vacant longer than had initially been assumed in the budget. This particularly affected the Food and Communicable Disease Teams. Vacant posts also resulted in reduced transport costs. During this transition period, expenditure on supplies and services was lower and there were also underspends on management, administration and hosting costs, again due to vacant posts.
  4. The costs relating to Authority Specific services were charged to individual authorities. The 2015/16 Authority Specific gross budget was £2.324m and out turned at £18k over the anticipated level. This was mainly in the area of Licensing at Cardiff Council, where additional staffing were required, however, this position has been more than offset by the income received directly by Cardiff Council for this service.
  5. There was also an implementation budget approved for the service in 2015/16 of £1.080m, which covered redundancy costs, IT set up costs and project management. The year end position for this budget was an underspend of £487k. This was in the main because of the new software solution for the Shared Service, which will cost £400k, now being planned to be implemented during 2016/17. In addition, anticipated alterations to accommodation which had originally been planned to be spent during 2015/16 will now take place in 2016/17. These implementation costs are now budgeted for 2016/17 and 2017/18.
  6. The Joint Working Agreement states that the treatment of any surplus or deficit balance held by the Joint Service requires agreement by the Joint Committee following completion of the audit of the annual accounts. Discussions are currently ongoing with authorities as to the proposed use and/or distribution of the surplus and final proposals will be brought to this Committee for approval during September 2016.
  7. The SRS continues to develop its understanding of operational costs and in 2016/17 the service will develop a matrix to show partners, in detail, where their money is spent.

THE NEXT STEPS

  1. In summary, the SRS has made a successful start. Services were delivered with no discernible difference in quality, new ways of working have been developed and embedded into the day to day routine and the requisite financial savings have been delivered in Year 1.
  2. In 2016/17, the service's principal challenge is to implement fully the target-operating model to deliver high quality services and meet all our partners differing financial pressures. The Key Milestones for 2016/17 include:
  • Delivery of the SRS Business Plan 2016-2017
  • Implementation of the SRS Workforce Plan
  • A review of the partnership, governance and scrutiny arrangements and organisational structure for the SRS
  • Delivery of the identified budget contribution reductions for partners
  • Refinement of the fee-earning activities approach to understanding SRS cost base
  • Exploration of new ways of generating income for the service and future savings
  • Continue the process of channel shift by increasing the customer's ability to use self-help and undertake transactions on-line.
  • Continue to harmonise working practices across the region, ensuring an effective, improved delivery and achievement of key performance indicators.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. The implications are contained in the body of the report

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. Sustainability and climate change implications have been taken into consideration when drafting the SRS Business plans referenced in this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The Council has a duty to improve under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009. The report outlines achievements in 2015/16.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. Crime and disorder implications have been taken into consideration when drafting the Business plans referenced in this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. Equalities issues have been taken into consideration when drafting the Business plans referenced in this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The Annual report demonstrates the partner Councils commitment to improving social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being and promoting sustainable development in line with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. Improving how the Council evidences and reports achievement of its Well-being Outcomes contributes towards promoting well-being.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This report is a matter for the Joint Committee

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. There are no implications for Ward Members resulting from this report.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Scrutiny is undertaken at each partner council

Background Papers

The Shared Regulatory Services Business Plans 2015/16 and 2016/17

The Joint Working Agreement executed on 10th April 2015

Contact Officer

Head of Shared Regulatory Services

Head of Financial Services

Officers Consulted

Head of Services, Bridgend Council

Assistant Director, Cardiff Council

Legal Services, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Financial services, Vale of Glamorgan

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing Services

 

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