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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources): 13th November 2012

 

Report of the Managing Director

 

The Impact of the Economic Downturn on the Council and its Services - Update on Progress of the Recommendations of the Task & Finish Group 

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To provide Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) with an update on progress against the recommendations of the Committee's Task & Finish Group set up to review the impact of the economic downturn on the Council and its services.

Recommendations

1.             THAT the report be noted.

2.             THAT Members identify those recommendations considered to be “uncompleted” and request the relevant Director/Heads of Service to report the necessary information direct to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) for future consideration.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1-2    To assist the Committee in monitoring the implementation of the approved recommendations of the Task & Finish Group.

Background

2.             The meeting of the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) of 3rd June 2010 approved the setting up of a Task & Finish Group to review the impact of the economic downturn on the Council and its services (Minute no. 89 refers).

3.             The desired outcomes resulting from the review were seen as:

·         Identifying and mitigating where possible the impact the economic downturn will have on Council services.

·         Preparation of a detailed program on the proposed impact on Council services. Maintenance of up to date information on the Council’s position.

·         Ensuring relevant information / guidance is available for all.

·         Maintenance of appropriate services for the Council tax payer and service recipients.

4.             The Recommendations of the Group were submitted for consideration to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) on 24th January 2011 (Minute no. 834 refers). The Committee endorsed the report of the Task & Finish Group and recommended to Cabinet that they have regard to its contents and the specific recommendations of the Group when making their final proposals for the 2011/12 budget and when setting the financial strategy for future years.

5.             One of the recommendations of the Committee was that ‘The Director of Finance, ICT & Property brings a regular report, commencing in June 2011, to Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee on progress against the recommendations in the report'.

6.             Cabinet's Final Proposals to Council on the 2011/12 Revenue Budget, which took account of the views of the Committee, was approved at the Cabinet meeting of 21st February 2011 (Minute no. C1221) and Council meeting of 28th February 2011 (Minute no. 957).

Relevant Issues and Options

7.             This report constitutes the fifth monitoring report to Committee. Certain recommendations previously reported were deemed by Committee as having been completed. Progress against the remaining recommendations to date is as follows:

Recommendation 7 - On the strict proviso that mitigating actions identified in the Service Implications are implemented, the areas for savings as detailed at Appendix F to this report (of the Task & Finish Group) be progressed by the relevant Directors and that the year indicated be regarded as the latest in which the saving could be realised.

 

As reported to this Committee on 24th April 2012 (minute no. 1137); three directorates had not achieved all of their target savings during 2011/12 and an update on the position is provided below.

 

Learning & Development - Lifelong Learning - The service provided by the Council within the Community Enterprise Centre ceased on the 29th July 2012 enabling the £14k savings to be achieved in full during 2013/14.

 

Social Services - Adult Services - The unachieved savings target of £461k as reported to Corporate Resources on 24th April 2012 (minute number 1137) has now been factored in to the approved Social Services Budget Plan covering the period 2012/13 to 2015/16 (Cabinet Minute No. C1790 30th July 2012 refers).

 

Environmental & Economic Regeneration (E&ER)

 

Leisure Centres -The contract for management of the Council’s leisure centres took effect on the 1st August 2012. Prior to this, any shortfall in achieving the annualised savings under this arrangement because of the delay in implementation of the contract has been met from the General Policy budget.   

 

Visible Services - Reduction of Street Lighting - the financial saving of £200k was met from reserves in 2011/12.

 

It is understood that the Director of Visible Services and Housing will be preparing a report setting out on this and other (2012/13) savings in the near future.

 

Recommendation 11 - The Director of Social Services incorporate within his Change Plan a review of the service areas under Business Management and Innovation and a review of the possibility of shared training on a regional basis.

 

The Head of Business Management and Innovation has reported that the work with Bridgend regarding a joint training function has not progressed in this period.  70% of the funding for social care training is received via a Welsh government Grant.  In the circular for the grant for 2012/13, it was stated that partnership working with LHB boundaries could be funded from this grant.  The UHB partner for the Vale is Cardiff and not Bridgend.  Due to the risk of losing the grant funding, no further progress has been made in relation to a joint structure.

Joint working with regards to the provision of training opportunities for staff has continued with Bridgend and other Partners.

 

Recommendation 12 - The Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration carry out the following and report back to Cabinet:

·         Investigate the rationalisation of the service areas of Planning Policy & Transportation, Policy & Conservation, Road Safety and Public Transport to achieve savings.

·         Investigate the rationalisation of the service areas for Urban Regeneration, Business Development and Town Management to achieve savings.

 

The Director of Development Services has reported that the options for rationalisation have been very much affected by the Senior Management reduction exercise which has resulted in a wider Directorate of Development Services and the loss of the post of the Head of Planning and Transportation.  As a consequence, a full review of how the service areas can be rationalised has not been possible.  In addition, the bringing of Communities First into the Directorate as well as more recently Employment Training has meant that significant rationalisation has not been feasible.  Notwithstanding this fact, there have been minor changes within teams with posts vacated as a result of retirements and other departures.  In addition, some minor changes have been progressed within teams.

 

Recommendation 13 - The following areas be pursued by the Corporate Management Team:

·         Eliminating non-essential expenditure (e.g. printing, publications, furniture, conferences, use of non-Council buildings for training purposes etc.).

 

Following a report to Cabinet in January this year; (minute no. C1587), a contract was awarded to Xerox, as a result of a competitive tender process, which came into effect on the 1st April 2012.  The print strategy now covers all five main office accommodation buildings and has been expanded to cover nine other locations such as Ty Jenner, Court Road Depot and Hen Goleg.  The strategy has had the effect of greatly reducing the numbers of printers in use across the Council thereby saving on energy costs, office accommodation space and also providing greater control over what documents are printed and whether or not they can be produced in colour or black and white.

 

Regular updates are issued reinforcing the ongoing moratorium on non-essential expenditure and this area forms part of the Internal Audit operational plan. In addition protocols have been issued as Financial Procedure Notes covering issues such as employment of agency staff, use of external premises for training etc.

 

·         Seeking further ways to reduce the pay bill (e.g. voluntary reduction in working hour, use of the voluntary/third sector).

 

This is to be considered by individual services as part of the identification of future target savings and a key factor within the progress of workforce planning within the Council and the Social Services Change Plan. 

There has also been a continued reduction in the number of staff receiving essential user allowance and mileage claimed estimated at £112k per annum.

 

·         Building upon the current work to develop a robust program for workforce planning.

 

The workforce plan will be finalised by the Head of Human Resources before the end of 2012 and in accordance with service planning commitments.

 

Recommendation 15 - The Director of Social Services engage with the Vale Council for Voluntary Services and Citizens Advice Bureau on their ideas for more efficient and effective involvement of the voluntary sector, eliminating any areas of duplication and identifying savings, as part of the new Social Services Change Plan and report back on progress in this regard to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources).

 

The Head of Business Management & Innovation has reported that this work has been progressed through individual discussions with all the third sector organisations that currently provide services on behalf of Social Services.  This has enabled any service duplication to be addressed and has facilitated discussions regarding how services can be provided to ensure the needs of vulnerable individuals are met.

 

Lead Officers for each service area have been identified to progress this work.

 

A progress report was presented to the Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee on 16th July 2012 outlining progress on this matter (Minute No. 146 refers).

 

Recommendation 16 - Equality Impact Assessments for each proposed area of saving be undertaken by the relevant chief officer.

 

Equality Impact Assessments now form an integral part of the budget process.

 

Recommendation 17 - Consultation is undertaken with the recognised trades unions.

 

A change forum has been set up with the trades unions to help co-ordinate the consultation process and deal with cross-directorate issues associated with the areas for savings.

 

Recommendation 18 - The Director of Finance, ICT & Property bring a regular quarterly monitoring report, commencing in June 2011, to Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee on progress against the recommendations in the report.

 

This agenda item constitutes the fifth of such reports.  It is recommended that further reports be provided by the relevant Director/Head of Service in relation to any recommendations deemed to remain outstanding.

Recommendation 19 - The progress on the actions identified within section 3.6 of the (Task & Finish Group) report be reported to Scrutiny Committee as part of the usual recommendation tracking process:

·         An assessment of the continued need to obtain external legal advice in order to realise possible savings.

The Head of Legal Services is currently in receipt of a draft internal audit report on this matter.

·         Consideration to the sharing of services with other local authorities’ e.g. occupational health, training & development, health & safety.

The Head of Human Resources has stated that the review did not present a compelling case for sharing services within the current financial year.  This possibility will be kept under review as part of the review of individual service areas.

·         Revisiting the service area of Building and Cleaning Services following the conclusion of the Housing Stock Transfer ballot.

 

The decision by the Council to retain their housing stock has resulted in a re-evaluation of this action. An options appraisal has been carried out by the Head of Building Services where it appears there are no identifiable financial or operational drivers for any major changes to the services currently being delivered.  However, the service will continue to be monitored via the budgetary and service plan process and ‘recommendation 19’ could be revisited should the situation change.  

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

8.             The 2011/12 revenue budget was approved by Council on 28th February 2011. This set savings targets of £12.617 million to be achieved by 2013/14 (plus £5.151 million for schools). The 2011/12 target for savings was £8.14 million.

9.             There are a number of potential redundancies over the next few years that will require the roll-out of a number of measures including the strengthening of the Council’s redeployment processes, outplacement support available to “at risk”  staff, the tightening of the Council’s vacancy control processes and, where appropriate the targeted search for voluntary redundancies/reduced hours. 

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

10.        A number of the areas where savings have been made make a positive contribution to sustainability and climate change e.g. print strategy, reduction in car mileage.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

11.        In light of the staffing implications of the savings proposals it is essential to ensure that consultation with the trade unions is carried out in accordance with the Council’s Avoiding Redundancy Policy and related legal requirements.

Crime and Disorder Implications

12.        None as a direct consequence of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

13.        Equality Impact Assessments will be required to be completed for each proposed area for saving where relevant.

Corporate/Service Objectives

14.        The work of the Task & Finish Group had regard to all of the Council’s objectives as set out in the Corporate Plan.

Policy Framework and Budget

15.        This report is in accordance with the Policy Framework and Budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

16.        The report of the Task & Finish Group was drawn up following extensive consultation with internal and external stakeholders.

Background Papers

Medium Term Financial Plan 2010/11 – 2013/14

Report of the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) Task & Finish Group 24th January 2011

Final Proposals for the Revenue Budget 2011/12 (Cabinet 21st February 2011) 

Contact Officer

Alan Jenkins, Tel: 01446 709254

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

Heads of Service

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies, Managing Director

 

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