CORPORATE PERFORMANCE AND RESOURCES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 20th September, 2018.

 

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

 

 

321            APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillor R. Crowley.

 

 

322            MINUTES –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 19th July, 2018 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

323            DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

324            CORPORATE SAFEGUARDING ANNUAL REPORT 2017/18 (REF) –

 

Cabinet had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committees Social Care and Health and Corporate Performance and Resources for consideration having been updated on the work that had been undertaken to improve corporate arrangements for safeguarding and protecting adults who required specific Council services and to ensure that the arrangements were effective.

 

The report highlighted that the Corporate Safeguarding Working Group had been established in the Authority to learn lessons from the 2011 Care Inspectorate for Wales (CIW) and Estyn joint report following their investigation into the way Pembrokeshire County Council had managed allegations of professional abuse and its arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children in education.   In light of this the Group had been working through an action plan to improve safeguarding across the Council.

 

The report further advised that previously, safeguarding activity by different parts of the Council had been reported separately to Cabinet, the relevant Scrutiny Committees and Corporate Management Team.  The Annual Report attached at Appendix 1 to the report brought together safeguarding activity undertaken by the Resources and Safeguarding, Learning and Skills and Social Services Directorates, and provided a more holistic representation of safeguarding activities across the Council.

 

The new “Working Together to Safeguard People Guidance” under Part 7 of the new Act was not published.  Guidance on handling individual cases (volumes 5 and 6) to protect children and adults at risk was launched for public consultation by Welsh Government on 31st January, 2017.  The Guidance provided advice on what should happen if an individual had concerns about the wellbeing or welfare of a child or an adult at risk.  The Guidance was published in 2018. 

 

In presenting the report, the Operational Manager for Employee Services advised that with specific regard to the HR sections of the report, a considerable amount of work had been undertaken regarding Safer Recruitment, with an overall performance for schools and corporately being 90% compliant.  For schools this was 100%.  There were processes in place regarding employment issues, safeguarding, DBS checks, references, etc., and he referred to this being a robust system.  Regular communication was also undertaken with schools to ensure that the necessary checks were in place.  This approach had also been undertaken with the Shared Regulatory Services (SRS) and the Adoption Service.   A Member referred to the length of time taken to undertake DBS checks, stating that in their view the process was too long. 

 

In referring to page 7 of the report and the number of referrals made Members queried the increase between January and February in the year and with regard to the sickness issues queried the difference in the numbers and percentages for males and females.  The officer advised they would look into the queries and respond to Members with further details by email. 

 

A Member sought clarity in relation to the terminology used regarding two matters being described as confidential in nature as, in their view, the majority of such matters was confidential in nature and thus queried why the specific two had been referred to in that way.  Members agreed to receive clarification on the bullet point 4 via e-mail.

 

Having regard to a recent issue in the media within the Social Services Directorate, a Member requested that further information on the matter be presented to Members of the Corporate Performance and Resources and the Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committees.  As the matter related to the remit of the Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee, the Monitoring Officer suggested that the information be e‑mailed to all Members of the Council for their information.

 

In conclusion, Members agreed that the report was indeed a comprehensive account of the current situation and subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T notwithstanding the information requested above, the Corporate Safeguarding Annual Report 2017/18 be noted and further clarity in relation to the confidential items be provided to Members.

 

(2)       T H A T the Committee continue to receive six monthly reports on work carried out to improve Corporate Safeguarding arrangements and the effectiveness of relevant policies.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that the Committee is aware of recent developments in corporate arrangements for safeguarding and for clarification purposes.

 

(2)       To allow the Scrutiny Committee to exercise effective oversight of key areas of corporate working.

 

 

325            NEW PAY STRUCTURE 2019/20 (REF) –

 

Cabinet had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee on 17th September, 2018 for consideration as part of the formal consultation with Trade Unions.  The reference from Cabinet was tabled at the meeting for the Committees’ consideration. 

 

The report provided an update on the upcoming 2019/20 pay award implementation plan and sought approval for a preferred option for that implementation. 

 

A two year pay deal had been agreed for staff on NJC Terms and Conditions for 2018/19 and 2019/20.  This would affect approximately 4,000 staff across the Council and Schools.

 

There were a number of elements that the pay award was trying to address nationally: 

  1. The pay award had two parts to the deal, a straightforward percentage increase for 2018/19 and more complex grade changes for 2019/20.
  2. Responding to pressures of the National Living Wage (NLW).
  3. Need for longer term sustainability.
  4. Pairing up of spinal column points and adding new ones.
  5. Putting upward pressure / reducing differentials at the lower end.
  6. Challenging the workability of the current local structure.
  7. Appendix Ato the reportprovided details of the proposed Pay Award (December 2017).

The Council could treat this as a straightforward pay deal and implement from 1st April, 2019.  £2.207m had already been allocated for the 2019/20 pay award. However, moving from the current pay structure to the new structure would cost a minimum of £380k extra, thereby making the total cost around £2.587m.  As some grades gained additional headroom, there were likely to be further cost implications from April 2020, however, this was currently difficult to quantify as it depended on staff turnover.

 

According to the NJC the total increase to the pay bill for 2018/19 and 2019/20 would be 5.6%.

 

If the Council were to assimilate to the new pay points without making any changes this would result in Grade F becoming a 9 point range and Grade G a 7 point range.

 

From an Equal Pay perspective this would cause significant risk to the Council, and therefore the pay structure needed to be reviewed.  This was also highlighted in Appendix D (point 11) to the report which stated that it was good practice to limit grades to a six point range.

 

Over the last few months a project team had been looking at preliminary options which were detailed as part of this report.  Once an outcome had been identified the project team would be responsible for consultation and reporting to the various Council meetings, and gaining views from the Directorates.

 

The Project Team included:

 

Laithe Bonni (OM Employee Services) – Project Lead

Carolyn Michael (OM Finance)

Adrian Unsworth (OM Human Resources)

Sarah Jeanes (Payroll Manager)

Andrew Davies (Oracle Systems Admin)

Gareth Pritchard (Business Development Officer)

Mat James (Lifecycle Manager).

 

The options were summarised as follows.  Further detail including the advantages and disadvantages of each option were set out in Appendix B together with Appendix B1which detailed the assimilation spreadsheet for each option.

 

Option

Summary

2019/20 Current Allocation

Additional

Costs

1

Straight Assimilation from current grading structure to new structure. Creates long spinal point ranges

£2.207m

£380k

2

Devise new 12 grade pay structure. Need to re-evaluate jobs with the potential for some staff to be   negatively impacted in terms of salary

Not costed due to   complexities and risks

-

3

Mixture of spot salaries, non-overlapping grades and overlapping grades (not using sp13) – 3 spinal points in Grade D

£2.207m

£388k

4

Mixture of spot salaries, 2 point Grade D and non-overlapping grades for the higher grades

£2.207m

£401k

5

Mixture of spot salaries, 3 point Grade D and non-overlapping grades for the higher grades

£2.207m

£388k

 

Based on the above scenarios the incremental progression process used was to increment first under the current pay structure and then assimilate to the new pay points.  This enabled a clearer understanding from staff as it was using the current incremental process that staff would be familiar with.  Guidance would be provided as part of the consultation process on how staff would move from their existing grade to the new pay and grading structure.

 

In presenting the report, the Operational Manager for Employee Services commenced by advising that Option 2 was looking at a 12 point grade structure but this would have serious issues with the Council’s Job Evaluation Scheme.  The Group considered what pay structure could actually work and agreed Option 5 to be the preferred option.  In terms of costing this would be an additional cost of £388k for 2019/20 for 4,000 staff. 

 

Members again considered the report to be a very comprehensive document.  Aware that the Trade Unions had met with HR officers, Members asked for feedback in relation to that meeting.  The Operational Manager advised that initial discussions with the Trade Unions showed Option 5 to be the preferred option, although Options 3 and 5 were similar from a Trade Union perspective, the overlapping of the higher levels resulted in Option 5.  The Unions preferred a linear approach and gave the HR Department no opposition.  Members concurred with the recommendation that Option 5 appeared to be the preferred option, with a Member seeking further clarity on the actual process for consultation as outlined below: 

  • Trade Unions Terms and Conditions Committee – 17th September
  • Cabinet report – 19th September
  • Schools’ Budget Forum – 19th September
  • E-mails to every employee – 20th September
  • Scrutiny Committee – 20th September.

The report was currently at the formal consultation stage with a view to being presented to the Change Forum and finally back to Cabinet in November and Full Council in December 2018.

 

The Operational Manager further advised that the Vale of Glamorgan was the first Council in Wales to commence with such a process.

 

The Chairman advised that this was an extremely positive process and in his view it was moving in the right direction. 

 

Following unanimous agreement, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T Option 5 be progressed as the preferred option for consultation and, dependant on the outcomes of that consultation, subsequent implementation.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To allow progress in relation to the implementation plan and the implementation of Option 5.

 

 

326            MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL PLAN 2018/19 TO 2021/22 (REF) –

 

The draft Medium Term Financial Plan 2018/19 to 2021/22 had been submitted to Cabinet for consideration and approval at its meeting on 17th September.  Cabinet had subsequently referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for its consideration with any comments to be referred back to Cabinet prior to the final budget proposals for 2019/20. The reference from that meeting was tabled for the Committee’s consideration.

 

By way of background, the Section 151 Officer advised that the Budget Strategy for 2019/20 had been approved by Cabinet on 16th July, 2018 and this had established a baseline for services to prepare initial revenue budgets for 2019/20 based on the costs of providing the current level of service and approved policy decisions including any net savings targets set. 

 

The draft Medium Term Financial Plan 2018/19 to 2021/22 was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.  The purpose of the Medium Term Financial Plan was to link the Council’s strategic planning process with the budget process and to ensure consistency between them.  It was a mechanism that attempted to match future predicted resources and expenditure, identify potential shortfalls and provide the financial framework for the next three years.  Its purpose was to inform Members and to suggest a way of dealing with the future financial pressures facing the Council.

 

The draft Medium Term Financial Plan attached covered the period 2018/19 to 2021/22.  As part of the final revenue settlement for 2018/19, Welsh Government provided an indicative figure of a 1% reduction for the potential change in funding for 2019/20.  No further indications were provided for future years.  Due to the considerable uncertainty and the continuation of austerity measures, it was considered prudent that a reduction of 1% be applied year on year for the period of the Plan.

 

It should be noted that the use of the above information did not provide the level of certainty required for forward planning.  The basis of these latest assumptions, therefore, could in no way be guaranteed and any changes to the figures used could have a significant financial impact.  However, every indication was that restrictions in public sector funding would continue for the foreseeable future and the failure to prepare for further reductions now could have far greater consequences for service delivery in the future.

 

Initial estimates presented the following picture showing a projected savings target between 2019/20 and 2021/22 of £15.714m excluding schools, comprising of £3.627m of savings already identified and £12.087m yet to be allocated.

 

Projected Savings Required

   2019/20

£000

   2020/21

£000

   2021/22

£000

Predicted Shortfall

6,800

4,567

4,347

Identified Savings

(2,920)

(707)

0

Additional Shortfall

3,880

3,860

4,347

 

The achievement of the identified savings would be extremely challenging in the context of historical savings already delivered, but failure to deliver this level of savings would significantly impact on the Council achieving its required financial strategy which would now be based on an estimated reduction of £15.714m by 2021/22 excluding Schools.

 

As a result of the high level of savings required, there would be difficulties in maintaining the quality and quantity of services without exploring opportunities for collaboration and alternative forms of service delivery.  The only realistic option facing the Council in future years was the successful delivery of its Reshaping Services programme.

 

To ensure that the budget set for 2019/20 continued to address the priorities of the Vale of Glamorgan residents and the Council’s service users, the budget setting process would incorporate engagement with a range of key stakeholders.

 

Options which were recommended within the Plan for exploration as part of the 2019/20 budget process to close the funding gap in future years were: 

  • Considering the results of the budget engagement process in determining priorities for future savings and service delivery;
  • Reviewing the appropriateness of financial strategies for services;
  • Reviewing the feasibility of any change in the use of the Council Fund Reserve and other reserves as part of the financial strategy;
  • A further review of the level of cost pressures with a view to services managing and reducing demand and mitigating pressures;
  • Services funding their own residual cost pressures through reviewing their existing budgets and revised / alternative means of service provision;
  • Services meeting their own pay inflation through reviewing their staffing structure in line with changes to service delivery and workforce planning requirements;
  • Further consideration of the level of price inflation provided;
  • Reviewing the priorities for funding statutory and non-statutory services, including establishing minimum levels of service provision;
  • Considering the latest position regarding the Council’s Reshaping Services programme and identifying further area for savings;
  • Collaborative working in line with the Welsh Government reform agenda;
  • Reviewing the strategic approach to income generation;
  • Consider the increase in Council Tax;
  • Reviewing the achievement of the 2018/19 savings targets; and
  • Considering the possibility of a reduction in the level of service and determining what services the Council needed to deliver in the future.

The Section 151 Officer informed Members that assumptions had been made around the pay awards, an increase of 2% had been included, with a higher percentage being assumed for staff on scale point 19 and below.  The Council would also be reviewing all assumptions as the budget setting process was undertaken.  Committee was advised to consider the report and provide any comments as part of the budget setting process.

 

A Member queried the fact that Children’s Services had not been highlighted as a risk and that, in his view, the 1% reduction assumption with regard to Welsh Government funding was inappropriate with the suggestion that at least 2% if not 3% be included.  The Head of Service stated that the indicative figures from Welsh Government were currently set at a reduction of 1% and confirmed that a 1% increase in Council Tax equated to £690k.  It was recognised that making savings was becoming increasingly difficult for departments, with another Member further advising that in his view, the assumptions were correct and that the Council Tax was a balance of the corporate need and public perception and the need to fund public services.  He stated that as far as he was concerned, the NHS managed to, in his words “get away with far more than Local Authorities could” but although accepting that a Council Tax increase may be required, Welsh Government should be letting Local Authorities know much earlier in the process about their budget proposals in order that full budgets could be considered and agreed earlier on in the process. 

 

Following a further query regarding rate relief for smaller businesses and whether it would have a big impact on the Council, the Head of Service stated that it would have an impact on businesses locally as the re-evaluations came into effect 18 months ago, and had increased the rateable value in the Vale for some premises.  The Council had also always adopted the Welsh Government Small Business Relief Scheme.

 

In referring to planned savings, a Member took the opportunity to urge the Senior Management Team to advise Members as early on in the process as they could of any savings that were unlikely to be made.  In his view the Senior Management Team needed to be far more frank and honest in what they could deliver. 

 

Following consideration of the report and a vote, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T reference to the Children’s Services as a risk area be highlighted in the report.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider the potential impacts of the Welsh Government decrease in funding of a sum greater than 1%.

 

(3)       T H A T Council continue to make the case to Welsh Government for a fairer funding settlement.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       Having regard to the fact that Children’s Services appeared to be omitted from the report as a risk.

 

(2&3)  Having regard to the impact if the decrease in funding was greater than 1%.

 

 

327            CHARGING FOR INFORMATION (MO/HLDS) -

 

The Monitoring Officer / Head of Legal and Democratic Services presented the report advising that the Council could charge for making environmental information available to requesters and also referred to a proposed charging policy attached at Appendix A to the report.  Members were informed that the policy would also update the Freedom of Information Act charging process with the Monitoring Officer clarifying that the Council would not process requests that took more than 18 hours of staff time to complete.  The policy also updated the charging position on requests for personal information under the General Data Protection Regulations.

 

By way of background the report noted that information requests received by the Council were administered either under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.  Individuals requesting their own personal information were administered under the General Data Protection Regulations as supplemented by the Data Protection Act 2018. 

 

The Environmental Information Regulations defined environmental information extremely widely including air, atmosphere, water, soil, land, landscape, natural sites.  It also included factors such as noise, energy, waste, administrative measures and policies affecting same and the state of human health and safety.

 

The Regulations also provided that an Authority may charge a reasonable amount for making environmental information available.   As a result of a European Ruling public authorities could make a reasonable charge to include the costs of staff time taken to locate information and to put it in an appropriate format for disclosure, together with disbursement costs in transferring information to the applicant.

 

The majority of costs in processing Environmental Information Requests were for staff time and therefore the policy accordingly included this. It was proposed that the Council would charge for the time spent by staff in answering an individual request which would include time spent on searching for the information and putting it in the form required by the requestor.

 

There were some items under the Regulations that could not be charged for, namely access to public registers or lists of environmental information held or examination of the information in situ however in respect of the latter Authorities could still charge for locating the information to be examined in situ.

 

The costs associated with maintaining a database of information were deemed to not be related to an individual request and therefore could not be recovered.  Only a reasonable charge could be levied by the Authority and that charge must not have a deterrent effect or otherwise to prevent access to environmental information.

 

The Information Commissioner's Office had previously intimated that an administrative charge of £25 per hour for staff time in locating information was reasonable the provision for which had to be built in to any charging scheme.  Such charging arrangements required consideration of their potential detrimental effect given the economic situation of the person requesting the information and the public protection of the environment; this had been addressed in the draft policy whereby the Information Manager would be authorised to undertake the appropriate assessments.  It had also always been the case under the Freedom of Information Act that Authorities were not obliged to deal with requests that exceeded 18 hours in locating information.  However the Council could charge for information in excess of this. The policy clarified and proposed that the Council would not provide the information if it took more than 18 hours to process given the impact this would have on service delivery.

 

Members considered the report and the policy for charging for information to be a sensible approach.  Following a comment regarding paragraph 2 of the policy, the Monitoring Officer advised that the estimated time taken as calculated if it exceeded the statutory time limit of 18 hours the Council would not provide the information as it would consider that the resources involved in doing so would lead to such a diversion from its normal business activities that it could not be justified.  Staff would also be required to aggregate (total) time taken in respect of all related requests received within 60 working days from the same person or from people who seemed to be working together.  It was also important to note that no information would be provided until the costs had been paid.

 

In referring to requests for information under the Environmental Information Regulations, the Council would charge a standard cost of £25 per hour for dealing with all requests for environmental information.  Members suggested that this be amended to read ‘£25 per hour or part thereof’. 

 

Having fully considered the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the report and the policy at Appendix A to the report subject to the amendment that the standard cost of “£25 per hour or part thereof “ be included in the policy be endorsed  and referred to Cabinet  for final determination

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having fully considered the report and the policy for charging for information and to seek Cabinet approval.

 

 

328            WELFARE REFORM – PROGRESS REPORT (MD) –

 

The Head of Finance presented the update on the work undertaken by the Council in the implementation of the UK Government’s Welfare Reform agenda. 

 

Work undertaken by a Scrutiny Task and Finish Group had considered the impact of the current Welfare Reform and their final report had been presented to Committee on 23rd April, 2013.  The report and recommendations had been endorsed by Cabinet on 8th May, 2013.  Subsequent reports had been made to update the Committee on the significant Welfare Reform changes and how these have affected the residents of the Vale of Glamorgan and the Council. To allow scrutiny of the introduction of Welfare Reforms and their effect on the Council and its population, the data previously supplied had been updated at Appendix A to the report for information.

 

Universal Credit (UC) had been implemented in the Vale on 22nd February, 2016.  The roll out however had been paused at the end of December 2017 and the Full Service Roll Out that was due to begin in June 2018 had been postponed to October 2018.  The roll out that was carried out during these dates had had limited impact on Housing Benefit claimants in the Vale of Glamorgan.  Customers remained entitled to Council Tax reduction whilst on UC even if their Housing Benefit award had been stopped. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions had stated that the managed migration of existing Housing Benefit claimants to UC was intended to commence in July 2019 and be completed by March 2023.

 

At the end of June 2018 the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) advised that there were 535 UC claimants in the Vale of Glamorgan. UC claims were administered by the local Job Centre Plus and there had been claims from new single claimants who would otherwise be eligible for Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) including those with existing Housing Benefit and Tax Credit claims. Representatives from the DWP had engaged with officers of the Council on the implementation and liaison for delivery of UC in the Vale based on a proven track record of close liaison for the benefit of the local community.  The DWP roll out of UC was to be supplemented by the locally delivered “Universal Support” to provide advice and support to UC claimants.

 

The slow pace of Universal Credit had meant that the Council needed to continue to support those on Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) until they were eventually transferred to UC.  After that time the Council would still be responsible for Housing Benefits administration for those persons who were clients of the Pension Service and customers in supported accommodation who were presently outside the scope of UC.

 

Having regard to the number of Housing Benefit claimants it was noted that up to the end of the previous week there had been 7,995 received with 5,694 of those being of working age which would ultimately transfer into working credits.

 

In highlighting the report, the Head of Service also referred to the change to the benefit cap threshold which was introduced in the Vale of Glamorgan in November 2016.  The DWP advised that the overall household benefit cap applying to Tax Credits, Universal Credit and Housing Benefit would be reduced from £26,000 to £20,000 in Wales.  It was however, noted that the impact to date had not been as significant as first thought, but this would be monitored on a regular basis.

 

A Member was keen to ensure that the most needy received the support where appropriate, with the Head of Service advising that with regard to DHP, the Council always supported people and had fully spent the Welsh Government allocation in 2017/18.

 

In referring specifically to the implications of the Bedroom Tax for the Council and residents, the Head of Service advised that as she did not have the information to hand but that she would provide the information in e-mail form to Members. 

 

Having regard to the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the report be noted and a further update be provided on an annual basis and added to the work programme.

 

(2)       T H A T should further information in relation to the commencement for Universal Credit be received, an interim report before the 12 months is presented to the Scrutiny Committee to apprise the Committee.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To ensure that Members are kept updated.

 

 

329            VALE OF GLAMORGAN ANNUAL REPORT (IMPROVEMENT PLAN PART 2) 2017/18 (MD) –

 

The Corporate Plan was the key means of complying with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 (WBFG) and the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 (LGM) which required the Council to set Well-being (Improvement) Objectives annually and to demonstrate continuous improvement. 

 

In April 2017, Cabinet endorsed the Corporate Plan Well-being Objectives and associated priority actions for 2017/18 as the Council's Improvement Objectives for 2017/18.  This ensured that the Council continued to discharge its duties to publish its Well-being (Improvement) Objectives under the WBFG (Wales) Act and the LGM.

 

Since May 2016, work had continued with officers and Members through the Member Working Group to further develop and enhance the Council’s Performance Management Framework arrangements and performance reporting in line with its duties as outlined in the WBFG Act and the LGM with reference to the wider local government agenda.

 

Following a review of the annual improvement planning and monitoring timetable and the supporting plans in May 2018, the Council had taken the opportunity to further streamline the content and format of some of its plans / reports which had enabled it to rationalise the number produced and reduce the level of duplication.  Going forward, a more simplified approach would also enable the Council to utilise the streamlined information for multiple purposes whilst continuing to meet its statutory requirements for improvement planning and reporting.  Doing so was consistent with the latest guidance produced by the Wales Audit Office and the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner to ensure these reports were understandable and accessible.

 

In June 2018, consideration was given by the Member Working Group to proposed changes to the annual improvement planning and monitoring timetable and Members were supportive of the proposed simplified approach which would reduce the number of performance related reports that Scrutiny Committees considered as well as the level of duplication due to timing of reports.  Group Members were also supportive of the proposed report structures aimed at providing a more accessible view of performance.  Cabinet subsequently endorsed the changes to the Council's annual improvement planning and monitoring timetable on 30th July, 2018 and the report was referenced in the background papers to the report.

 

In line with the changes to the annual improvement planning and monitoring timetable, the Annual Report for 2017/18 now combined the current end of year (quarter 4) performance reports and the Improvement Plan Part 2 into one document, to produce a Vale of Glamorgan Annual Report 2017/18.  This eliminated the need for separate end of year reports to Scrutiny Committees in July and the Part 2 in September.  The new style report provided a comprehensive annual review of the previous year's performance by Well-being Outcome and Objective and also incorporated the Council’s statutory reporting requirements including: outlining overall Council contribution to the national well-being goals; a comparison of the Council’s performance using national benchmarking data where available; progress against the Council’s strategic collaborations; what the Council’s auditors said about the Council; how the Council had used its resources and how it had engaged with its residents.  A copy of the Council’s Annual Improvement Report for 2017/18 was attached at Appendix 1 to the report and could also be viewed on the Council’s website (www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk).

 

The Annual Report also provided an opportunity to start the process of reviewing the Council’s Well-being (Improvement) Objectives in order to ensure they remained relevant in line with legislative requirements.  Confirmation of the Council’s Well-being Objectives would be outlined in the Council's forward-looking Corporate Plan Annual Delivery Plan (and Improvement Plan Part 1) in April 2019.

 

Based on the Council’s evaluation of progress at end of year, it was concluded that overall, the Council had made strong progress in achieving the majority of the outcomes intended in its Well-being (Improvement) Objectives for 2017/18, despite challenging financial times and increasing demand for its services, giving an overall performance (or RAG) status of Amber for the Corporate Plan.  On balance the Council had delivered on the majority of its planned activities for the year which was contributing to achieving its Corporate Well-being priorities and the well-being of Vale of Glamorgan citizens.  However, these remained long term strategic priorities for the Council and the success achieved in 2017/18 represented the start of what would be a long programme of initiatives aimed at working towards building 'strong communities with a bright future', the long term vision of the Council.

 

Pages 122 to 127 in the Annual Report gave an overview of performance at end of Year 2, April 2017 - March 2018, in achieving the Council’s Corporate Health priorities.

 

Each year, the Local Government Data Unit (Data Cymru) published Local Authority performance information on a range of services, highlighting areas where there had been notable changes in the overall level of performance.  This made it possible to compare the performance of the 22 Welsh Local Authorities across those services.

 

Overall the Council was performing well in performance indicators across all service areas and once again, for the fourth consecutive year, had been the top performing Council in Wales in relation to the national indicator set and the following table demonstrated the Council’s performance in comparison with the remaining 21 Local Authorities.

 

 

Upper Quarter

(1)

Upper Middle

Quarter (2)

Lower Middle

Quarter (3)

Lower Quarter

(4)

    N/A

  Points

  Rank

 

#

%

#

%

#

%

#

%

#

%

Vale of Glamorgan

9

50

7

39

1

6

1

6

0

0

60

1

Denbighshire

6

33

6

33

4

22

2

11

0

0

52

2

Gwynedd

8

44

3

17

3

17

4

22

0

0

51

3

Monmouthshire

8

44

1

6

6

33

3

17

0

0

50

4

Cardiff

7

39

4

22

2

11

5

28

0

0

49

5

Carmarthenshire

6

33

4

22

4

22

4

22

0

0

48

6

Flintshire

6

33

3

17

6

33

3

17

0

0

48

6

Isle of Anglesey

5

28

5

28

5

28

3

17

0

0

48

6

Conwy

4

22

6

33

5

28

3

17

0

0

47

9

Powys

6

33

4

22

3

17

4

22

1

6

46

10

Swansea

2

11

8

44

6

33

2

11

0

0

46

10

Ceredigion

7

39

0

0

4

22

7

39

0

0

43

12

Merthyr Tydfil

5

28

4

22

2

11

7

39

0

0

43

12

Newport

3

17

5

28

5

28

5

28

0

0

42

14

Caerphilly

4

22

4

22

3

17

7

39

0

0

41

15

Pembrokeshire

2

11

7

39

4

22

4

22

1

6

41

15

Bridgend

2

11

5

28

7

39

4

22

0

0

41

15

Torfaen

3

17

5

28

3

17

7

39

0

0

40

18

Neath Port Talbot

5

28

1

6

4

22

8

44

0

0

39

19

Blaenau Gwent

5

28

0

0

4

22

9

50

0

0

37

20

Wrexham

3

17

3

17

4

22

8

44

0

0

37

20

Rhondda Cynon Taff

2

11

5

28

3

17

7

39

1

6

36

22

 

The above table contained data for 18 performance indicators published by Data Cymru in August 2018.  This excluded two waste management PIs for which data had recently become available but was yet to be formally published.  The data for these two additional measures was included in the summary analysis below.

 

There were four quartiles of performance which related to “Upper Quarter (1st), Upper Middle Quarter (2nd), Lower Middle Quarter (3rd) and Lower Quarter (4th)”.  For example, the upper quartile was the highest 25% of performance (also known as the 75th percentile) whereas the lower quartile represented the lowest 25% of performance (or the 25th percentile).  In relation to the 2017/18 national measures, there were 20 measures where a quartile could be applied.  The data showed that: 

  • 50% (10) indicators were in the upper quartile of performance for 2017/18, compared to 36% reported in the upper quartile for their performance in 2016/17;
  • 35% (7) indicators were in the upper middle quartile (2nd) during 2017/18 compared with 29% of indicators in 2016/17.

The Vale of Glamorgan had also performed solidly when compared to the South East Wales averages with 67% (12) of its measures performing better than the SE Wales average.

 

In line with the requirements of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009, the Auditor General Wales was required to produce an annual report on Welsh Councils and other public bodies entitled, the “Annual Improvement Report (AIR)” which summarised the audit work undertaken during the period 2017 to 2018.  The report brought together the key findings from all audit work undertaken in the Council during 2017-18 including those of other inspection and regulatory bodies such as Estyn (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Schools in Wales) and Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW).

 

The Wales Audit Office (WAO) report findings were generally positive and concluded that overall the Council was meeting its statutory requirements in relation to continuous improvement.  A number of proposals for improvement were made specifically focusing on strengthening scrutiny arrangements within the Council to enable it to respond to future challenges and have greater impact.

 

Further strengthening of the Council’s arrangements for Scrutiny remained a priority for the Council as identified in the Council’s Annual Self-Assessment and work was already underway with the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group to develop an action plan to address these proposals.  The action plan would be reported to the Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee in due course and incorporated within the Insight Board’s Tracker system.  These proposals would be monitored by the Insight Board and reported to Scrutiny Committees and the Audit Committee as work to address them progressed.

 

Following the presentation of the report, the Head of Performance and Development concluded by advising that although Welsh Government had not produced a league table of Local Authorities for the current year, he could advise that for the fourth year running, the Vale of Glamorgan was the top performing Authority. 

 

The Chairman took the opportunity to thank all the officers for their hard work and the good performance identified within the report.  In referring to the public library statistics, the Head of Service stated that he would arrange for the information to be forwarded to Members of the Committee.  Following consideration of the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T officers be thanked for their hard work to date and that the Vale of Glamorgan Annual Report (Improvement Plan Part 2) 2017/18 be endorsed.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

It being noted that the report was also to be presented to Full Council on 26th September, 2018 for its consideration.

 

 

330            SCRUTINY COMMITTEES’ DRAFT ANNUAL REPORT MAY 2017 TO APRIL 2018 (MD) –

 

The Principal Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer, in presenting the report to the Committee attached at Appendix A, advised that the report had been circulated to Members of the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group and the relevant Scrutiny Committees with all comments being incorporated in the document attached to the report.  The Annual Report would subsequently be submitted to Full Council in September 2018 and would then be made available on the Council’s website. 

 

The report detailed the role of scrutiny, how scrutiny was undertaken in the Vale of Glamorgan and highlighted key achievements from the work of each Scrutiny Committee, significant events during the year and future working, the specifics in relation to the Council agreement that the work of scrutiny should be closely aligned to four well-being objective outcomes that formed the main basis of the Council’s new Corporate Plan which had been published in April 2016. 

 

With specific regard to page 14 of the report, the Principal Officer advised that at the time of writing, the Wales Audit Office (WAO) had completed a follow-up review of how scrutiny in the Vale operated and seven proposals for improvement had been highlighted as below:

 

1.         The Council should further consider the skills and training that Scrutiny Members may need to better prepare them for current and future challenges and develop and deliver an appropriate training programme to enhance the significant programme undertaken following the elections in May 2017.

 

2.         The Scrutiny Committees should ensure that where appropriate Cabinet Members rather than Council officers are held to account for the efficient exercise of Executive functions in accordance with statutory guidance.

 

3.         The Council should review the type of scrutiny support required to enable the scrutiny function to respond to current and future challenges.

 

4.         The Council should explore different and more innovative methods for undertaking scrutiny activity.

 

5.         The Council should consider how its scrutiny activity can focus on those areas where it would have most value.

 

6.         The Council should be more innovative in how it engages the public in its scrutiny activity.

 

7.         The Council should strengthen its evaluation of the impact and outcomes of its scrutiny activity and to learn from this in order to shape the future work of its scrutiny function.

 

The Officer also further advised that at the previous night’s meeting of the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group, an action plan had been presented and approved, which would subsequently be referred to the Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee for its consideration.

 

Following full consideration of the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the contents of the draft Annual Report for the period May 2017 to April 2018 be approved subject to any further minor amendments being agreed in consultation with the Chairman and that the report be submitted to Full Council in September 2018.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To allow the report to be submitted to Full Council in September 2018 in compliance with the Council’s Constitution (Section 7.4.4).

 

 

331         ANNOUNCEMENTS –

 

(i)         The Chairman took the opportunity to inform the Committee of a Joint Car Parking Strategy Scrutiny Workshop to be scheduled with Members of the Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee for 18th October, 2018 from 4.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.  The Workshop would take place on the same evening as the scheduled meeting of the Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee on 18th October which had therefore been cancelled.

 

The Chairman also took the opportunity to encourage all Members of the Committee to attend the Workshop with both Committees to be provided with an overview of the proposals contained within the draft Parking Strategy, an update on the work undertaken by officers since its publication and a presentation of the initial findings from the consultation undertaken.  The views of Members from the Workshop would then be used to inform proposals to Cabinet, which would be considered in November with both Committees having further opportunities to consider the Cabinet’s proposals at formal meetings of the Scrutiny Committees later in November before final decisions were taken.

 

 

(ii)        Members were reminded that the Scrutiny Committee meeting scheduled for 15th November, 2018 on the Council’s calendar had been rescheduled to the day before, i.e. Wednesday, 14th November, 2018 at 6.00 p.m.