CORPORATE PERFORMANCE AND RESOURCES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of an Extraordinary Meeting held on 30th April, 2018.

 

Present:  Councillor G.D.D. Carroll (Chairman);Councillor  V.P. Driscoll (Vice-Chairman); Councillors: R. Crowley, O. Griffiths, S.J. Griffiths, Dr. I.J. Johnson, P.G. King, N. Moore, L.O. Rowlands and E. Williams.

 

Also present:  Councillor V.J. Bailey.

 

 

917            DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

918            STAFF CHARTER - UPDATE FROM EMPLOYEE SURVEY (REF) -

 

The Cabinet, at its meeting held on 19th March, 2018, had considered the above report and subsequently referred the same to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration. 

 

The Head of Human Resources presented the report, which provided an update on the results of the recent 2017 Employee Survey and related activities as part of the Council’s Staff Charter. 

 

The Council’s first Staff Charter had been launched on 19th September, 2016 with the aim to provide clarity about the expectations of the Council’s employees in a reshaped world (in terms of flexibility, performance and contribution) and also to be clear about those things that employees could (and should) expect from their managers in terms of trust, support, clarity of expectation and respect.

 

The first employee survey was carried out in the Autumn of 2016 in order to set a benchmark for levels of staff engagement and as a basis against which future progress could be measured.  The 2017 Employee Survey had been the second such survey and the first real opportunity to measure progress against the 20 employee expectations in the first full year since the launch of the Staff Charter in 2016.

 

The Employee Survey ran for a six week period between 16th October and 24th November, 2017 and was sent to some 2461 employees across the Council’s four Directorates.  As part of the survey employees were again asked to score each of the 20 expectations within the Charter using the following scale: 1 (Strongly Agree), 2 (Agree), 3 (Neither Agree nor Disagree), 4 (Disagree) and 5 (Strongly Disagree).

 

A detailed analysis of the results from the Employee Survey was set out in a document attached at Appendix 1 to the report.  The Head of Human Resources commented that there had been 1,415 responses to the survey this year, equating to an overall return rate of 57%.  This was an encouraging rate of return and represented an improvement on the return rate in 2016 of 48%.

 

The Head of Human Resources then detailed a few key outcomes from the Employee Survey to the Committee, noting that the average positive response rate to the 20 expectations within the Staff Charter was 72% which was an encouragingly high score and an improvement on previous year’s positive rating of 71%.  The Committee noted that there was a range of positive responses across all Departments and service areas and that in 2017 there had been more positive response ratings for 15 out of the 20 Staff Charter expectations than there had been in 2016.  The Head of Human Resources considered this response rate to be encouraging due to the volume of change and challenge across the Council during 2016/17 and the ongoing responses to budgetary and service demands.  The Committee were then apprised of the three highest survey responses to the Staff Charter expectations, the three expectation results which had shown the overall biggest improvement from the preceding 12 month period, and the three lowest level of positive Staff Charter expectations responses. 

 

The Head of Human Resources informed the Committee that staff engagement work over the last year had built from the outcomes of the initial Employee Survey results of 2016 and to a large extent had contributed to the improvements in engagement levels and positive outcomes in 2017.  9 out of the 15 Staff Charter related actions had been progressed over the last year and the officer presented an overview of each to the Committee, including: 

  • the new appraisal programme, #ItsAboutMe
  • the Council’s new Management Delivery Framework
  • the Leadership Café
  • staff communication, particularly through the bi-monthly NewsNet bulletin
  • the new CMT/Staff Engagement Group
  • a bi-monthly employee recognition scheme
  • the first annual Employee Awards evening
  • an overhauled Employee Induction Programme
  • the new Employee Assistance Programme. 

A more detailed progress update in relation to delivering the 15 Staff Charter commitments was set out in Appendix 2 attached to the report.

 

Finally, the Head of Human Resources set out the Staff Charter priorities for 2018: 

  • The delivery of the Annual Employee Awards event in 2018 and its establishment as a sustainable feature of a wider approach to employee recognition.
  • The refinement of the employee communications strategy with a particular focus on digital communications and engagement with non-office based staff.
  • The implementation of the new Learning and Development strategy to improve the accessibility, reach and effectiveness of learning opportunities for all employees and with a greater emphasis on informal (as well as formal) learning opportunities.
  • The continuation of the management development 'community of learning' events to ensure the focus on the Staff Charter and to support and promote the related elements of the new Management Competency Framework.
  • The development of an organisational approach to creativity and innovation and in order to encourage the generation of ideas from all employees.
  • The continued review and streamlining of HR policies to reflect the principles of the Staff Charter and reinforce the necessary discretion and responsibility of managers. 

A Member commended the Head of Human Resources on the work undertaken to receive such a good set of survey results.  He noted that there were changes up and down, however the consistency of the overall results was key and he anticipated that the increase in participation rates had led to some variations.  The Member did however comment that a 1 – 5 scale could only provide limited feedback from employees and he wished there was more consideration given to how the results from the Staff Survey were analysed as more could be done than just establishing the mean average of the responses.  Finally, the Member queried if the 2,461 figure for the number of staff that the Staff Survey was sent to, consisted solely of full time employees, with a further query on page 3 of Appendix 2, Staff Charter Commitment 9, “Standards for team meetings / contact will be developed for use across all areas”, being a Red status with the Member seeking an explanation on this point.  In response, the Head of Human Resources confirmed that the 2,461 figure for staff was a head count of employees and was not based on full time equivalent figures, adding that the staff were directly employed by the Council and as such this did not include figures for staff who were employed by schools.  The officer however stated that school employed staff would be looked at in future surveys.  With regard to the Staff Charter commitment to standardise team meetings for use across all areas, the officer stated that this issue had not been progressed so far but that he would look at this as a commitment to urgently address. 

 

All responses to the Staff Survey had been anonymous with care taken not to add any questions that could compromise staff anonymity, this had included both on-line and paper based responses.  A Member was concerned that the lowest level of response was in relation to the assertion “I am helped to understand my contribution to the wider Council” with a response rate of 50.5% and he was concerned that nearly half of staff felt that this was not the case.  The officer advised that this response level related only to those who ‘strongly agreed’ or agreed with the statement, therefore the overall positive response rate would be higher.  That said, the officer felt that there was more the Council could do to help staff understand their contribution to the wider organisation, for example, a new Induction course for staff was being established that would involve managers from across Directorates to ensure staff were familiar with more than just their own Departments and policies.  The Committee also sought more information on another area that a Member felt required improvement, noting that the lowest level of positive responses from service areas was in the Additional Learning Needs division of Learning and Skills with a response rate of 59%. The Member queried what insight could be learnt from this figure.  The Head of Human Resources commented that he only had a breakdown of responses from the main Directorates which was then disseminated to individual departments for specific analysis and indicated he would send via e-mail more detailed analyses on this service area for the Member.

 

A Member raised concerns regarding the timescales for presenting the results of the Staff Survey to Committees, stating that the work had been undertaken at the end of the previous year, with the member querying how much time staff had committed to this piece of work.  The Head of Human Resources stated that the survey closed on 24th November, 2017 and that there had been a delay after this date due to the receipt of hard copy responses.  The officer confirmed that analysis of the results took place quickly and was first presented to Cabinet on 19th March, 2018 however, he accepted that the delay to present the report had still been too long.  The officer assured the Committee that lessons learnt from the outcome analysis had already taken place with positive changes already being implemented to staff working. 

 

In relation to the Member’s second query regarding financial resources attributed to the work, the Head of Human Resources confirmed that the time of individual managers had not been specifically costed in terms of the work on staff engagement but the results were clearly evident in terms of the employee survey outcomes.  The officer felt it had been a valuable exercise which was part of a tranche of work that had led to more positive staff engagement, improved relations with trade unions, and lower rates of compulsory redundancies.

 

The Committee then discussed potential trends in the responses to the Staff Survey, including how to improve the effectiveness of staff communication with office and non-office based employees and variances in the positive response rates amongst the length of service and pay grade. Consideration could also be given to more analysis of the data to establish statistically significant trends, although concerns were raised that this might unduly increase workloads and costs and further affect reporting timescales.  The Chairman sought further information regarding the work being undertaken to improve the lowest three results from the staff survey and in response the Head of Human Resources commented that additional work was being done to improve the effectiveness of staff communication, including the first annual Employees Awards evening to help provide recognition to the hard work undertaken by staff. An Innovation and Ideas Group Project was also being developed by a Director with the aim to encourage the generation of ideas from all employees, with this work commencing in the next three months. 

 

The Committee discussed the frequency of undertaking a Staff Survey, and queried whether it could be carried out every two years instead of annually to help alleviate cost and time pressures.  In response, the Head of Human Resources stated that it was considered best practice to carry out surveys on a more frequent, rather than infrequent, basis.  Finally, a Member concluded by stating that he felt the results from the survey were extremely encouraging as was general work on staff engagement. He indicated that there was a danger in pursuing lines of enquiry that may not in themselves be fruitful. As such, he stated that the Committee should be focusing on the overall positive improvements and support the ongoing work following which it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the results from the 2017 Employee Survey as set out in Appendix 1 attached to the report, and the updated Action Plan attached as Appendix 2 to the report, alongside related activity as part of the Council’s Staff Charter be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be informed of the concerns of the Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee with regard to the time and cost of the work undertaken as outlined above.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       To note the current levels of employee engagement.

 

(2)       To apprise Cabinet was aware of the concerns of the Scrutiny Committee.

 

 

919           VALE OF GLAMORGAN WELLBEING AND IMPROVEMENT OBJECTIVES (IMPROVEMENT PLAN PART 1) 2018-19 (MD) –

 

The Operational Manager (Performance and Policy) presented the report, which sought Member endorsement of the Improvement Plan Part 1 outlining the Council’s Wellbeing and Improvement Objectives and associated actions for 2018/19.

 

The Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 and the Wellbeing and Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 both placed specific duties on the Council in relation to objective setting and reporting duties.  The Corporate Plan was the Council’s key means of complying with the Local Government Measure 2009 which required that Improvement Objectives be annually set and continuous improvement demonstrated against them.  The Plan set out the Council’s Wellbeing Outcomes and Objectives for 2016-2020 as well as its vision and values with reference to the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.  Appendix 1 attached to the report contained the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Improvement Objectives (Improvement Plan Part 1) for the period 2018/19 which mirrored the Council’s Wellbeing objectives for consistency.  Pages 8 – 35 of the Plan provided further details on each objective including: an Identified Sponsoring Director with responsibility for ensuring progress was made in achieving the Council’s intended outcomes; a brief rationale for selection of the Objective, specific actions the Council would take during 2018/19 in order to progress the identified priorities; and performance indicators and targets to measure the progress made. 

 

In line with the Council's Performance Management Framework, the Council’s Improvement Plan priorities for 2018/19 were reflected in Service Plans for 2018-22 which Members had recently endorsed (March 2018).  Progress against these priorities would be monitored via quarterly performance reports to the relevant Scrutiny Committees as aligned with the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcomes, supplemented with an overall summary report to Cabinet.  The Operational Manager (Performance and Policy) informed the Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee that the other Scrutiny Committees had already considered this report and all had endorsed the Vale of Glamorgan Wellbeing and Improvement Objectives (Improvement Plan Part 1) for 2018/19 for their respective Committees.

 

In concluding his presentation, the Operational Manager for Performance and Policy requested the Committee to consider whether the report detailed that the Council was achieving its duty under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 by adopting this approach to the setting of Improvement Objectives for the authority.  The officer drew specific attention to Improvement Objective 9, “Deliver the Council’s transformational programme, Reshaping Services to meet the future need of citizens of the Vale of Glamorgan within the context of unprecedented financial challenges” located on page 33 of the Improvement Plan Part 1 as the objective requiring the specific consideration by the Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee as the content of this objective related specifically to the remit of the Committee. In addition to the indicators in the table on page 35, since the Improvement Plan Part 1 had been published, additional information could be provided to the Committee.  The end of year 2017/18 performance for indicator CPM/211 “Percentage of staff appraisals completed” was 97.38; the end of year 2017/18 performance for indicator CPM/019 “The number of working days / shifts per full-time equivalent (FTE) Local Authority employees lost due to sickness absence” was 10.14; and the end of year 2017/18 performance for indicator CPM/210 “Employee turnover (voluntary)” was 6.68%. The officer also noted that the right-hand column heading contained a typographical error and should read “2018/19 target”.

 

A Member queried whether there was a typographical error on page 28 of Appendix 1 in regard to the targets set for Green Flag Awards at key urban parks throughout the Vale of Glamorgan. Following a discussion, the officer confirmed that the Appendix was correct and the target related to maintaining the Council’s existing seven Green Flags with nine awards as a future target.  The officer stated that he would however confirm this for all Members via e-mail. 

 

Another Member advised the Committee that he had received a number of queries from residents regarding their concerns about street lighting, dog fouling, recycling and pot holes, and suggested whether the Council’s work to tackle these issues should be highlighted in greater detail in the document.  In response, the Operational Manager for Performance and Policy noted that these Corporate Plan priorities were detailed on page 19 of Appendix 1, however, they were presented in the order set out in Service Plans and were therefore not necessarily presented in order of possible ‘public’ priority.  The officer commented that the public summary of the Improvement Objectives 2018/19 attached at Appendix 2 to the report was more resident focused and provided an overview to members of the public of the work undertaken to address the issues identified by the Councillor. 

 

Following a request for more information on the work undertaken to prevent and tackle instances of anti-social behaviour and including implementing restorative justice approaches for young people, as detailed on page 11 of Appendix 1, which the Operational Manager (Performance and Policy) stated he would request the details from the relevant department and forward them via email to all Members of the Committee.  In conclusion, another Member sought clarification on the performance figures for the percentage of staff appraisals completed and the timescales for reporting this indicator, with it being noted that the percentage for appraisals undertaken for the year had been 97.4% and the target was 95%. 

 

It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Corporate Plan Well-being and Improvement Objectives and associated priority actions for 2018/19 as outlined in Appendix 1 attached to the report be endorsed and the views of the Scrutiny Committee be included in the summary report sent to Cabinet.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure the Council fully discharged its statutory duties to set and publish its Improvement Plan Part 1 outlining how it proposed to meet its Wellbeing and Improvement Objectives for 2018/19.

 

 

920            4TH QUARTER SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS (MD) –

 

Members were advised of the progress made in relation to the Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee recommendations for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Quarter of the municipal year, covering the dates July 2017 to March 2018.

 

Appendices A to C attached to the report set out the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee with Members being requested to review progress against each recommendation, assess whether further action was required, ensure the required action was undertaken and confirm which recommendations were to be agreed as completed. Where appropriate, progress on actions related to a service area covered by a previous Scrutiny Committee was included in the Appendices for the appropriate Committee's consideration.

 

The Democratic Services Officer confirmed that all recommendations of the Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee for the three quarters had been completed.

 

It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the status of the actions listed in Appendices A to C of the report be noted and the recommendations highlighted as completed below be approved:

 

decision tracking

25 January, 2018

Min. No. 644 –   Corporate Safeguarding Mid Term Report – April – September (2017/18) (REF) – Recommended

(2)   That the Head of Human Resources be   requested to send an e-mail to Members clarifying the position relating to   any specific concerns in regard to safeguarding as a whole and separately   providing further information or MARAC and the role of the Domestic and   Sexual Violence Co-ordinator.

The   information had been emailed to all Members of the Committee

Completed

Min. No. 645 –   Reshaping Services Programme – Update on Implementation (REF) (Min. No. 303   Also Refers) – Recommended

(2)   That the Head of Finance be requested to   send an e-mail to Members of the Committee clarifying the position with   regard to explanation for increased transport costs in Waste Management.

The   information had been emailed to all Members of the Committee

Completed

Min. No. 646 –   Revenue Monitoring for the Period 1st April to 30th November 2017 (MD) – Recommended

(2)   That the Head of Finance be requested to   provide further clarification in regard to the overspend in relation to   Education Transport and in particular to special needs pupils’ transport to   schools.

The   information had been emailed to all Members of the Committee

Completed

Min. No. 649 – 3rd   Quarter Scrutiny Decision Tracking of Recommendations and Updated Work   Programme Schedule 2017/18 (MD) – Recommended

(2)   That the Forward Work Programme attached   at Appendix C be endorsed and approved for uploading to the Council’s   website.

Forward   work programme uploaded to the Council’s website.

Completed

15 February, 2018

Min. No. 716 – Vale   of Glamorgan Council Annual Self-Assessment (MD) – Recommended

(4)   That future Council Annual Self-Assessment   Reports be the subject of Member briefings.

Added   to work programme schedule.

Completed

14 December, 2017

Min. No. 558 –   Initial Revenue Budget Proposals 2018/19 (MD) – Recommended

(1)   That the comments of the Environment and   Regeneration Scrutiny Committee noted and referred to the Cabinet for further   consideration.

Cabinet, on 22nd   January, 2018, resolved that the contents of the report be noted and passed   to the Budget Working Group for consideration in concluding the budget   proposals for 2018/19.

(Min. No. C189   refers)

Completed

(2)   That the comments of the Healthy Living   and Social Care Scrutiny Committee be noted and referred to the Cabinet for   further consideration.

(3)     That the recommendations of the   Learning and Culture Scrutiny Committee relating to the funding of all the   service’s cost pressures be noted and referred to the Cabinet for further   consideration.

(4)   That the Cabinet be made aware of this   Scrutiny Committee’s concerns relating to the proposed national pay award and   its implications for the Council’s pay structure, CPI inflation and its   implications for cost pressures on the Council’s various services and whether   the savings identified within the report were deliverable within the stated   timelines.

(5)   That taking account of the Committee’s   concerns raised regarding the proposed national pay award, the Cabinet be   requested to write to the National Employers Pay Body raising concerns   relating to the proposed national pay settlement on the Council’s budget and   pay structure.

Min. No. 559 –   Initial Capital Programme Proposals 2017/18 (MD) – Recommended

(1)   That the recommendations of the   Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee be noted and referred to the   Cabinet for further consideration.

Cabinet, on 22nd   January, 2018, resolved that the contents of the report be noted and passed   to the Budget Working Group for consideration in concluding the budget   proposals for 2018/19.

(Min.   No. C188 refers)

Completed

(2)   That the recommendations of the Healthy   Living and Social Care Scrutiny Committee be noted and referred to the   Cabinet for further consideration.

(3)   That the Cabinet be requested to   re-examine the below unsuccessful schemes with a view to their inclusion in   the Capital Programme for 2018/19:

  •   EH2 – new household waste recycling centre;
  •   EH8 – footway renewal;
  •   EH6 – replacement playgrounds.

(4)   That the Cabinet be requested to emphasise   to officers the need to complete the Vehicle Replacement Programme   procurement exercise given the budgetary pressures experienced by Waste   Management as set out in the Initial Revenue and Capital Proposals under   consideration.

Min. No. 560 –   Initial Housing Revenue Account Budget Proposals 2018/19 (MD) – Recommended

(1)   That the Cabinet be made aware of the   Scrutiny Committee’s concern regarding Welsh Government’s proposed rent   increase and its potential implications, coupled with the ongoing roll out of   Universal Credit to potentially increase bad debt.

Cabinet, on 22nd   January, 2018, resolved that the contents of the report be noted and passed   to the Budget Working Group for consideration in concluding the budget   proposals for 2018/19.

(Min.   No. C190 refers)

Completed

21 September 2017

Min. No. 303 –   Reshaping Services Programme – Update on Implementation (REF) – Recommended

(2)   That an   appropriate officer from the Directorate of Social Services be invited to a   future meeting to advise on how the service proposed to manage its Reshaping   Services projects relating to the budget.

The   Director of Social Services attended the meeting of the Committee on 16th November,   2017.

Completed

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To maintain effective tracking of the Committee’s recommendations.