THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
CABINET: 14TH DECEMBER, 2015
REFERENCE FROM AUDIT COMMITTEE: 16TH NOVEMBER, 2015
" AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WALES: ANNUAL IMPROVEMENT REPORT 2015 (MD) -
Members were advised of the results of the assessment by the Auditor General for Wales of the Council's arrangements to secure continuous improvement.
The Wales Audit Office's (WAO) Annual Improvement Report of the Council was contained within the report attached at Appendix 1 to the report. The report presented a picture of improvement over the past year. For 2014-15, the WAO's improvement assessment was based around three themes: performance, use of resources and governance.
Overall, the Auditor General had 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 had been made.
In terms of the Council's performance, the Annual Improvement Report concluded that:
The Council's overall performance as measured by national indicators was comparatively strong. During 2014-15, results for 20 of the national statutory indicators placed the Council's performance in the top quartile compared to the rest of Wales.
Reporting did not provide a clear and balanced picture of performance and of the outcomes being achieved in respect of the Council's priorities. It was proposed that where necessary changes would be integrated with the development of a Corporate Plan during 2016. Linked to this, the Annual Improvement Report 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 was delivering environmental health services at above minimum standards despite a cut in budgets and a significant fall in staff numbers.
The Council was 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 was improving in some aspects of social care and had 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 did not enable it to establish the impact being achieved.
The Council continued to improve its Welsh speaking provision including staff training and working closely with Urdd Gobaith Cymru.
In terms of the Council's use of resources, the Annual Improvement Report concluded that:
The Council had complied with its responsibilities relating to financial reporting and use of resources and the Council had a good track record of delivering a balanced budget within year and monitoring 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.
In terms of the Council's governance, the Annual Improvement Report 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.
Having considered the report, it was
(1) T H A T the contents of the report be noted.
(2) T H A T the report be referred to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) and Cabinet.
Reason for decisions
(1&2) To provide for scrutiny and review of the Auditor General's Annual Improvement Report."
Attached as Appendix - Report to Audit Committee: 16th November, 2015