Agenda Item No 5
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Shared Regulatory Services Joint Committee: 20 September, 2016
Report of the Director of Environment and Housing
Overview and Update on the Shared Regulatory Services
Purpose of the Report
This report provides an update for Elected Members on the development of the Shared Regulatory Service (SRS) between Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Councils.
The Committee is asked to consider and note the information within the attached report.
The Committee is asked to determine the financial underspend for 2015/16 as detailed in the report.
Reasons for the Recommendations
The report apprises the Committee of the work of the service and the progress toward completing the implementation programme.
The Committee is asked to approve the use of the 2015-16 underspend as detailed in the report, which considers setting up a reserve to
(i) fund the acquisition of one off items to support the service activities
(ii) to fund the feasibility study into stream lining income into the SRS accounts
(iii) reimburse the Partner Authorities with the residual underspend.
On 18th May 2016, this Committee received a report on the implementation of the Shared Regulatory Service. This report provides a further update on matters pertaining to the creation, development and operation of the new service.
Relevant Issues and Options
ICT and mobile working update
Following the Project Board's approval of the Business Case for the replacement of the four instances of Civica APP, the Tascomi single database solution has been purchased. Work is underway across the teams to establish what data needs to be archived, deleted or migrated to the new system. A task and finish group is working closely with the Information Governance Managers for the three Authorities to ensure that this process is carried out in accordance with data protection legislation and the three respective document retention policies. Officers are completing a Privacy Impact Assessment that considers a change in working practices to ensure continued data compliance within the consolidated database and archiving solutions.
Officers have identified the ICT requirements for the major hubs, establishing the need for fixed desks, hot desks or agile working points. The location of officers in Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan are contingent on the corporate schemes currently underway. The relocation of officers at Cardiff is scheduled to take place in November. Overall there will be an approximate 50% reduction in the space occupied by SRS officers.
Work has progressed in developing a single telephone contact number for the service; 0300 123 6696. Officers have agreed the call messaging and routing protocols for the new number, taking into account Welsh language requirements. Issues around out of hours provision have been resolved meaning that the Service is now in the final stages of implementing the new number.
Work continues towards the use of a single domain for all SRS staff, with the new format email addresses in place and ready for use. The style will be a variation on the standard Vale of Glamorgan email address using 'SRS Wales' alongside the user's log in name in the following format:-
Prior to the new email addresses going live, Outlook content for those staff previously employed by Bridgend and Cardiff Councils will be transferred to the Vale of Glamorgan system. Appropriate signposting will be set up to deal with mail arriving at the closed accounts in the future, replacing the auto-forwarding facilities currently in place.
For staff, the great advantage of the single email addresses is that multiple Outlook accounts will no longer need to be maintained. For customers of the Service the single domain will provide greater clarity and improved identity.
Financial monitoring quarter 1
A financial monitoring report for the period 1st April 2016 to 30th June 2016 is attached at Appendix 1 and has been prepared from the consolidated figures gathered from each Authority for this period. The service is currently projected to achieve an overspend of £220k against the gross revenue budget. However, it is considered that this position can be mitigated by the level of income received directly by the Authorities. Whilst all staffing costs for the SRS are held within Vale's Oracle system, non-staffing costs are currently held remotely by each Authority and details are provided on a monthly basis from finance colleagues at Cardiff and Bridgend. It should be noted that progress is being made on increasing the use of the Vale's system gross revenue budgets.
To summarise the apportionment of costs of the new service, all core costs of the service, which are shared by each Authority, are allocated based on population whilst several services are provided uniquely within each Authority and these 'Authority-specific' services are charged back to the relevant Authority at cost plus an element of management and administration.
Financial outturn 2015/16
Members have received the annual statement of audited accounts. That report identifies an under spend on the 2015/16 budget of £850,000, attributable mainly to vacant posts and support costs. Schedule 5 of the Joint Working agreement states:
3.7 Treatment of Surpluses and Deficits
The Joint Committee shall decide upon the treatment of any surplus or deficit balance held by the Joint Committee
excluding any Authority Specific balances following the completion of the audit of the annual accounts. The accounts
shall be presented to the Joint Committee within the relevant statutory deadlines.
3.9 Where a surplus has been generated, options include but are not restricted to: -
reductions in agreed budget allocation for current or future years, repayment of surplus (or element of surplus) to
partner authorities using the original contribution mechanism used to calculate the relevant payment or, carried
forward reserve to offset future shortfalls. The Host Section 151 officer will present a number of options to the Joint
Committee for decision on how to proceed.
The Committee is asked to consider the proposal set out at Appendix 2 for dealing with the budget surplus. Appendix 2 proposes that
(i) An earmarked reserve be set up
(ii) The reserve be used to fund the acquisition of one off items as detailed within Appendix 2
(iii) That the reserve also gives consideration to specific projects such as investigating stream income collection into
the SRS account
(iv) An agreed methodology for the repayment of the 2015-16 surplus to the partner Authorities in excess of the
agreed earmarked reserve.
The Committee is asked to approve the proposal set out in Appendix 2 and authorise the Section 151 officer to make arrangements for repayment and to create a reserve for the expenditure identified for use by the Shared Service.
Joint Committee Members have asked the service to provide data on activity levels to help reassure local Members that SRS activity continues to tackle issues across the region. Performance data for quarter 1 of 2016/17 is set out at Appendix 3 and is being reported to each Council in line with the legacy performance management regimes and existing service plans.
A presentation on the current performance will be provided at the Joint Committee meeting.
The Shared Service now has some nine Primary Authority partnerships. Four of these arrangements were entered into during 2015/16 as follows:-
Dunraven Manufacturing Limited
Nathaniel Car Sales
Ashfords Law Firm.
During the current financial year 2016/17, a further three partnerships have been entered into with the following
Cardiff Sports Nutrition
RVS (The Royal Voluntary Service charity).
These were in addition to the two already existing arrangements with Just Perfect Catering and the Association of Convenience Stores.
Shared Regulatory Services has been highly commended for its Primary Authority work at a national awards ceremony in London. Hosted by Regulatory Delivery, the Primary Authority Awards 2016 was an opportunity to showcase the most innovative and successful business - regulator partnerships in the UK over the past 12 months.
The Service was nominated in the 'Officer / Team Award' category, with the nominees being whittled down to two from a total of eight. Despite missing out on the Team Award to Hertfordshire County Council, the Service was highly commended by the judges, who said: "SRS has made a big impact in a short period of time. Its drive and enthusiasm to offer high quality Primary Authority services is commendable."
The metrology laboratory based at Cardiff County Hall was subject to a two day audit in August. The purpose of the audit was to ensure continuation of the laboratory's compliance with ISO/IEC 17025 and its accreditation by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service. Since the creation of the Shared Service work has been ongoing to update and maintain the laboratory's quality manual and procedures in line with the changes that have taken place. The audit report highlights a small number of minor points needing to be addressed; these relate mainly to constructive procedural and process augmentation and are easily rectified.
The Auditors commented on their finding of 'a mature and very competent accredited laboratory for the scheduled calibrations, with no significant areas of weakness identified. The quality of calibration has been sustained for a considerable length of time and this is attributable to the professional diligent approach taken by the staff'.
Continuation of the UKAS accreditation along with the purchase of higher accuracy equipment is central to the success of the metrology laboratory in attracting new business for its calibration services.
In July, the National Audit Office (NAO) visited the Shared Service as part of their study into value for money of the system for protecting consumers from scams, unsafe goods, illegal trading and other forms of consumer detriment. The NAO were keen to understand the threats facing consumers today, the Intelligence networks, funding, and capacity of Trading Standards to deal with those threats. NAO examined the extent of partnership working and sought to understand whether there was a clear understanding of the outcomes of Trading Standards interventions. The NAO are undertaking fieldwork between May and August, with the intention of producing a final report in late Autumn.
Residential Care Homes
This project was identified as a priority health and safety intervention for the 2016-2017 work plan following the occurrence of several significant incidents in care home settings in the last 5 years. These included a resident fatality and life threatening injuries to an employee after falling down a lift shaft, and a fall from a height after a resident climbed out of an unrestricted window. The project has focussed on the following topic areas:
Lifting equipment safety.
Managing the risk of Legionella.
Managing the risk of scalding.
The prevention of falls from a height.
Management of bed rails.
This project is a national Health and Safety intervention and SRS were elected to pilot the project between April and July 2016, other S.E. Wales Local Authorities will undertake the work soon after and the remaining Welsh Local Authorities would schedule this project for late in 2016/17 or towards the beginning of 2017/18. Colleagues in the Social Care teams in each partner Authority have been apprised of this work.
Of the 43 care homes visited 14 Improvement Notices were served, of which 10 (71%) related to inadequate Legionella management controls. All remaining homes were informed of contraventions and recommendations by formal letter, with compliance monitored by duty holders producing action plans and Officer revisits.
The project included care homes operated by national companies, small companies and sole proprietors. The key points raised in this report were evident throughout all care homes visited, irrespective of the size of the organisation operating the care home or Local Authority.
The project identified that the control of Legionella and thorough examination of lifting equipment were the 2 topic areas with the greatest level of non-compliance.
Details of recent cases investigated by the Shared Regulatory Service that have resulted in prosecution are set out in Appendix 4 to this report.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
The Participants' contribution towards the Shared Regulatory Service is recharged on a quarterly basis, based upon the approved budgets for 2016/17. Accounting for the full year will reported to the Committee in 2017 at the Annual General Meeting.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
There are no immediate sustainability or climate change implications associated with this report.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
The legal implications were contained in the relevant Cabinet and Council reports.
Crime and Disorder Implications
The crime and disorder implications were contained in the relevant Cabinet and Council reports.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
The Equality implications were contained in the relevant Cabinet and Council reports.
The key service and improvement objectives contained in the SRS Business Plan identify and link to the Corporate Plans of each Council.
Policy Framework and Budget
The adopted Scrutiny regime will engage in the review and developments of plans, policies and strategies that support the corporate objectives of each Council.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
No specific consultation has been undertaken in relation to this report, although Members will appreciate that considerable consultation and engagement has been and continued to be undertaken with the Trade Unions and staff.
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
The SRS is currently scrutinised through the arrangements in place at each partner Council.
Head of Shared Regulatory Services
Assistant Chief Executive, Bridgend County Borough Council
Director of Environment, City of Cardiff Council
Legal Services, Vale of Glamorgan Council
Accountant, Vale of Glamorgan Council
Director of Environment and Housing, Vale of Glamorgan Council