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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Audit Committee: 16 November 2015

 

Report of the Managing Director

 

Auditor General for Wales: Annual Improvement Report 2015

Purpose of the Report

  1. To advise Members of the results of the assessment by the Auditor General for Wales of the Council's arrangements to secure continuous improvement.

Recommendations

  1. That Audit Committee note the contents of the report.
  2. That the report be referred to Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet.

Reason for the Recommendations

1&2 To provide for scrutiny and review of the Auditor General's Annual Improvement Report.

Background

  1. The Auditor General for Wales has a duty under the Local Government (Wales) Measure (2009) to make assessments of all improvement authorities in Wales in the form of :
  • A Corporate Assessment - an assessment of an authority's arrangements to secure continuous improvement; and
  • Performance Assessment - an assessment of whether an authority has achieved its planned improvements. The performance assessment aspect of the work involves the production of an Annual Improvement Report (AIR) that summarises the audit work that has been undertaken at the Council since its last report (last report published September 2014). The AIR provides a summary of the key findings from reports produced by the 'relevant regulators' including the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW); Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales (Estyn); and the Welsh Language Commissioner.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The Wales Audit Office's (WAO) Annual Improvement Report of the Council is contained within the report attached at Appendix 1. This report presents a picture of improvement over the last year. For 2014-15, the WAO's improvement assessment was based around three themes: performance; use of resources; and governance.
  2. Overall, the Auditor General has concluded that 'the Council continues to perform well in the context of national indicators and continues to manage its finances effectively: its forward planning arrangements and track record suggest it is well placed to secure improvement in 2015-16'. A total of 13 proposals for improvement have been made.
  3. In terms of the Council's performance, the AIR concluded that:
  • The Council's overall performance as measured by national indicators is comparatively strong. During 2014-15, results for 20 of the national statutory indicators place the Council's performance in the top quartile compared to the rest of Wales.
  • Reporting does not provide a clear and balanced picture of performance and of the outcomes being achieved in respect of the Council's priorities. It is proposed that these necessary changes will be integrated within the development of a Corporate Plan during 2016. Linked to this, the AIR found that 'the Council has improved the speed of delivery of Disabled Facilities Grants, but its evaluation focuses on a narrow range of information and service planning is not sufficiently strategic.
  • The Council is delivering environmental health services at above minimum standards despite a cut in budgets and a significant fall in staff numbers.
  • The Council is making progress in addressing some of its Estyn inspection recommendations. Follow up monitoring in December 2014 against two recommendations found that the authority was making good progress. The final monitoring visit will take place in November 2015.
  • The Council is improving in some aspects of social care and has appropriate strategies for dealing with future demand, as highlighted by the CSSIW Annual Review and Evaluation of Performance 2013-14 published in October 2014. CSSIW outlined that the Council could demonstrate committed leadership with detailed plans in place to deal with areas where further change was necessary.
  • The Council monitors the level of and reason for Discretionary Housing Payments, but its monitoring arrangements do not enable it to establish the impact being achieved.
  • The Council continues to improve its Welsh speaking provision including staff training and working closely with Urdd Gobaith Cymru.
  1. In terms of the Council's use of resources, the AIR concluded that:
  • The Council has complied with its responsibilities relating to financial reporting and use of resources and the Council has a good track record of delivering a balanced budget within year and monitoring of service specific savings is undertaken by Scrutiny Committees. The Council has an effective process for developing its future financial plans and is maintaining a robust approach to its Medium Term Financial Plan and is preparing for significant financial challenges in the future.
  1. In terms of the Council's governance, the AIR concluded that:
  • The Council's Reshaping Services Strategy conforms to good practice and demonstrates that it is following the right processes to achieve transformation.
  • The governance, accountability and management arrangements for overseeing whether the Council is meeting its safeguarding responsibilities to children are mostly adequate, but some improvements could be made.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Audit and inspection fees for the Council are met from existing budgets.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. None directly from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The Auditor General for Wales has a duty under sections 17, 18 and 19 of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 to report the outputs from corporate and improvement Assessments of all improvement authorities in Wales.
  2. The Council has a duty to improve under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. None directly.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. None directly.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The Corporate Plan 2013/2017 outlines community leadership as a priority for the Council.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. Not applicable

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Corporate Resources

Background Papers

Appendix 1: Auditor General for Wales, Annual Improvement Report 2015

Contact Officer

Huw Isaac

Officers Consulted

All relevant Officers have been consulted on the contents of this report:

Corporate Management Team

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas, Managing Director

 

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