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Agenda Item No.

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION): 18TH JULY, 2012

 

REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 18TH APRIL, 2012

 

 

C1697                       REVIEW OF DISABLED FACILITIES GRANT SERVICE IMPROVEMENTS (HCS) (SCRUTINY - HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION) -

 

Cabinet considered the findings of the Internal DFG Audit Report and the Welsh Audit Office Report on DFGs and were requested to agree an action plan in response to the audit reports.

 

As part of the Internal Audit Plan 2011/12, a review was undertaken of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Grant Agency Service procedures in relation to the awarding and delivery of Disabled Facility Grants. 

 

The Audit Opinion concluded “the effectiveness of the internal control environment was unsatisfactory and therefore only limited assurance could be placed upon the systems of internal control.  This overall opinion was supported by the identification of a combination of fundamental and / or substantial weaknesses were action was considered imperative to ensure that the Council was not exposed to high risks”.

 

However, the Audit Implementation Plan only contained one priority 1 recommendation which did not relate to the service provided but related only to the date used to calculate the national performance indicator.  The team had been using DFG Completion Date and not the Certified Date.  This recommendation was implemented before the Audit Report was received, and all performance data reported during 2011-12 had been calculated using the certified date.  On review of the impact of this finding on the 2010-11 performance, it had been calculated that the average number of days to complete a DFG would have been reduced by 15 days. 

 

The Internal Audit Report also identified a number of areas that required improvement. 

 

Recommendations from the Internal Audit had been included in the Action Plan attached to the report at Appendix 1. 

 

During August 2011, the Wales Audit Office conducted a review of the DFG service and concluded that “the Council was not yet delivering Disabled Facilities Grants effectively, but significant changes were underway that should improve performance”. 

 

However, in its conclusion the Wales Audit Office “recognised that the Council in the last four years has questioned the reasons for poor performance and operational procedures, and continues to do so.  We are also confident that the manager appointed in December 2010 to head the section responsible for processing DFG applications had the capacity and means to analyse and improve the service”.

 

In relation to proposals for improvement, the Wales Audit Office had recommended:

 

·         improved performance through implementing the Internal Audit’s recommendations

·         more modern methods of procurement to be considered

·         customer feedback obtained, reviewed and processes amended when necessary

·         improvement to the scrutiny, oversight and strategic management of the service by the wider development of qualities and quantity measures to enable Members to evaluate the service and outcomes.

 

The proposals for improvement had been included in the Action Plan. 

 

Over the past six months, changes had been implemented within the DFG service, and further actions were being progressed.

 

At the end of the 3rd Quarter of 2011/12, data indicated that the average number of days to complete a DFG from its first point of contact was 396 days.  Forecasts indicated that the service’s performance at the end of the reporting year would be better than predicted and would be around 400 days.  For 2010/11, the Welsh average for the delivery of DFGs was 387 days.  The Vale’s current average performance was within 9 days of this average and would also surpass the Council’s target time for 2011/12 of 500 days. 

 

The improvement to the service’s performance during 2011/12 had been achieved through tighter management of cases.  This improvement would continue into 2012/13 as changes to work procedures and procurement methods were implemented.

 

To introduce modern procurement methods into the service, the DFG team had been working with the Council’s Property Section to develop framework contracts.  The first of these contracts concerned the design and installation of stairlifts. 

 

In addition to the stairlift framework, a framework contract was being developed to complete bathroom and kitchen adaptations and to alter access into and around the client’s home. 

 

The introduction of both framework contracts would improve the quality of service to clients who chose to use the Council’s Grant Agency service to delivery adaptations.  Through these contracts, the time delay between the schedule of works being completed to works starting on site would be reduced and again would have a positive impact for both service users and the Council’s performance indicator. 

 

To enable Members to scrutinise the DFG process in more detail, from April 2012 additional local performance measures would be reported to Committee that broke the DFG process down into three stages.  These would be:

 

·         time between OT first contact and OT request for joint visit for DFG

·         time between OT and DFG joint visit and approval of DFG

·         time between approval of DFG and completion of works.

 

In addition, these performance measures would be broken down further to report against children and adult DFGs.

 

From April 2012, customer satisfaction and outcome measures from a client perspective would also be collated on completion of each DFG.  This data would also be available to Scrutiny Committee and would be detailed in the Service Plan. 

 

This was a matter for Executive decision.

 

RESOLVED -

 

(1)       T H A T the findings of the Internal DFG Audit Report and Welsh Audit Office Report on DFGs be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the proposed DFG Action Plan be agreed.

 

(3)       T H A T the report be forwarded to the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) for consideration.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       To apprise Members of the findings of the Internal DFG Audit Report and Welsh Audit Office Report on DFGs.

 

(2)       To agree the proposed DFG Action Plan.

 

(3)       To enable the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) the opportunity to consider the report.”

 

 

Attached as Appendix - Report to Cabinet: 18th April, 2012

 

 

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