Agenda Item No 7


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Audit Committee: 7th July, 2014


Report of the Director of Visible Services and Housing


Building Services – A Plan for Change


Purpose of the Report

1.         To provide Audit Committee with an update on the progress with the Building Services Change Plan prepared by the Head of Housing and Building Services and agreed by the Cabinet Working Group on the 30th September 2013.


That Audit Committee note the progress with the change plan

Reason for the Recommendation

That Audit Committee are kept informed of and are assured by the work undertaken by the Head of Housing and Building Services and the team in responding to the issues highlighted within the Audit reports published as a consequence of internal audits held in 2013/14.



2.         On the 15th March 2013, it was brought to the attention of the Head of Accountancy & Resource Management, that a budget monitoring process had uncovered potentially serious issues within Building Services.

3.         A robust audit investigation was carried out, the results of which were presented to Audit Committee on the 8th of July 2013. 

4.         A 'change plan' was presented to the Cabinet Working Group (the agreed monitoring vehicle) on the 30th of September 2013 which was endorsed by Cabinet and presented  to Audit, Corporate Resources and Housing and Public Protection committees subsequently.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.         The following details the progress that has been made in key areas. An update of the Change Plan is attached as Appendix A.

6.         The main areas of concern on which the original audit was based and evidence found, as a consequence of the audit work were:

  • Idle time being charged to responsive repairs jobs
  • Operatives not being where they should be or claiming to be
  • Large gaps in the Opti time calendar
  • Extended lunch breaks were not recorded honestly on time sheets
  • Operatives visiting the depot without need
  • Operatives using vans for non-work related activities

7.         The following has been introduced to address the issues raised:

Staffing and Training

8.         A partial restructure has been undertaken to clearly define management roles within the responsive repairs service. A Senior Maintenance Officer for responsive repairs is in place and two customer care Planners have been recruited and commenced their role in May 2014.

9.         All senior and middle managers within the responsive repairs team have received leadership and management training.

10.      All senior and middle managers within the team have received Standing Orders and Financial Regulations training.

11.      Regular team meetings are held with all operatives.

12.      The Head of Housing and Building Services meets with all frontline staff on a quarterly basis to discuss departmental performance management and financial viability issues, all operatives are aware of how each service area is doing in terms of this.

13.      In May 2014 a new Operational Manager for Building Services took up the role.

Timesheet Management

14.      On analysis of the Opti system, ticketed work and timesheets it was recognised that hours of work were being lost in the system due to inaccurate or missing information on timesheets.  Those unallocated hours were therefore charged to the DLO's trading account resulting in increased on costs. In April 2014 electronic timesheets were introduced linked to the DLO's contracting system. This has been rolled out to all responsive repairs staff. The service can now accurately allocate operatives time on a job by job basis. All lunch breaks are accurately recorded through this method

Vehicle Telemetry

15.      Throughout May and June all council vehicles have been fitted with vehicle telemetry. As of the 1st of July senior managers will be able to monitor the use of vehicles for staff management and fuel usage purposes

Review of the Opti Time System by Xmbrace

16.      The initial internal audit investigation commenced as a consequence of an external health check report from the company that has developed the mobile working solution used by the Vale, Xmbrace. The report, produced in February 2013 was scathing and listed a range of failures in terms of management and control of the system. In May 2014 a follow up report was commissioned by the Head of Housing and Building Services. The report is based on a traffic light assessment. In the previous report the majority of areas tested failed and were recorded as a 'red' result.  In the majority areas tested in May 2014, with the exception of a number of minor issues a green result was recorded by Xmbrace. The report has been shared with the Audit team and the 'amber' areas will form part of a service action plan

Financial Management and Budgetary Control

17.      A fresh emphasis has been placed on Senior Managers being responsible for managing budgets. Regular budget monitoring meetings are held. A financial procedural note has been developed to support managers in budgetary management and control. In terms of positive outcomes, as a consequence of the processes adopted the responsive repairs budget has been managed effectively and has not negatively impacted on the housing revenue account.  In terms of the DLO's trading account a surplus has been created (resulting predominantly from the WHQS and empty property works). The rates applied by the DLO have been market tested through the framework contract for the WHQS programme.


18.      Procurement in terms of subcontractors is currently a key focus, the outcome of which is to ensure transparency and compliance with both OJEU regulations and internal standing orders and financial regulations

Value for money

19.      An exercise has been undertaken to benchmark the rates applied by the DLO in terms of both responsive repairs and WHQS and Voids work. Although there are fluctuations in whether rates applied are above or below the benchmark for different categories of work the overall basket of work is broadly comparable to other DLO's. The WHQS team is currently reviewing its rates to establish if it can meet the lower rates on the WHQS framework contract. A review of the Stores function and more specifically the services and supply costs associated with the DLO is currently underway. 

Next Steps

20.      The Head of Housing and Building Services and the Operational Manager for Building Services will continue to work with the building services team and officers from the Audit section to ensure that improvements made are sustained and areas still outstanding are addressed. Further Audit work will be undertaken throughout this year by the Audit team to give comfort to the Committee and Cabinet in terms of the validity of the improvements detailed.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

21.      In positively impacting on the business processes and financial management of the Direct Labour Organisation it is anticipated there will be positive financial consequences for the Housing Revenue Account and other client budgets within the Council.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

22.      Developing a robust approach to the asset management of both our houses and our wider property portfolio will have sustainability implications.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

23.      There are no Legal Implications at this time.

Crime and Disorder Implications

24.      There are no Crime and Disorder Implications

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

25.      There are no Equal Opportunity Implications.

Corporate/Service Objectives

26.      To manage the Council's workforce, money, information and assets efficiently, effectively and securely.

Policy Framework and Budget

27.      This report is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

28.      The report presents Vale wide information so no Ward Member consultation is required.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

29.      Housing and Public Protection.

Background Papers


Contact Officer

Hayley Selway - Head of Housing and Building Services - 02920 673117.


Officers Consulted

Operational Manager - Audit


Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing.