LEARNING AND CULTURE SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Minutes of a meeting held on 20th March, 2017.
Present: Councillor N.P. Hodges (Chairman); Councillor R.A. Penrose (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Ms. J. Aviet, Ms. R. Birch, Mrs. C.L. Curtis, C.P. Franks, T.H. Jarvie, F.T. Johnson and A. Parker.
Co-opted Members: Dr. C. Brown (Parent Governor – Secondary Sector) and Mrs. J. Lynch-Wilson (Parent Governor – Primary Sector).
Non-Voting Observers: Mr. N. Want (Vale Youth Forum) and Ms. T. Young (Secondary Sector).
Also present: Councillor L. Burnett.
943 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –
These were received from Councillor Mrs. A.J. Preston; Mr. P. Burke (Roman Catholic Church) and Mr. D. Treharne (Welsh Medium Education).
944 ANNOUNCEMENTS –
The Chairman took the opportunity to welcome Paula Ham to her first meeting as Director of Learning and Skills and congratulated her on her appointment.
945 MINUTES –
RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meetings held on 23rd January and 13th February, 2017 be approved as a correct record.
946 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –
Ms. T. Young (Secondary Sector) declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 7 in that she was a teacher at Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School and left the room whilst the item was being considered.
947 RESHAPING SERVICES – CATERING PROJECT (REF) –
At its meeting on 20th February, 2017, Cabinet was provided with an update regarding the Reshaping Services Catering Project with approval being sought to refer the proposals contained in the report to the Learning and Culture and Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committees for their consideration before reaching a final determination.
The Operational Manager for Strategy and Resources, in presenting the report, advised that the three key objectives for the strategy had been set as:
- to identify and implement the most suitable delivery model for the Catering Service
- to create an efficient service able to adapt to future financial challenges
- to maximise opportunities to increase uptake and promote healthy school meals.
The Catering Service had been identified as a Tranche 1 service review project under the Reshaping Services strategy, which was a framework the Council was working within for the next three to five years. The total required savings were £347k. A Project Team had been established to identify the most sustainable model for the future delivery of the Catering Service and the report set out the results of the business case development work that had followed the principles of the Cabinet Office’s Five Case Business Case Model which was recognised as good practice in this area and which provided a framework within which to fully evaluate proposals.
The scope of the project included the school meals service, including primary, secondary and special schools, the administration and monitoring of Free School Breakfast provision in primary schools, staff catering and vending provision and the administration of the School Milk grant.
Following the baseline assessment process in 2014, a wide variety of alternative delivery models had been identified which required the project to evaluate a range of options. The options were listed in the report as:
- Option 0: Do Nothing: This option was used to compare any potential changes against the existing service model.
- Option 1: Internal Service Transformation: This would be achieved through a reconfiguration of the current structure and processes to ensure the service was efficient to meet future financial demands.
- Option 2: Collaboration: Collaboration would involve working with a public sector partner to deliver a shared catering service. This would most likely be delivered with a neighbouring Authority such as Cardiff Council or Bridgend Country Borough Council.
- Option 3: Outsourcing: Outsourcing to the private sector would involve contracting an external provider for the required services.
- Option 4: Arms-length Company: This involved the creation of a separate legal entity that was either wholly or partly owned by the Local Authority. This model would be achieved through the creation of a co-operative / mutual or a Local Authority trading company. This option would be based on a Local Authority trading company with a co-operative (i.e. inclusive of stakeholder views) ethos.
An options appraisal had been carried out by the project team to identify the strategic fit, value for money and service impact of the various delivery models. The options appraisal had been informed by information gathered from training with Grant Thornton, (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and Association for Public Service Excellence), learning visits (to Plymouth’s Local Authority trading company (CATERed) and Sandwell’s mutual (SIPS Education), soft market testing (meetings with suppliers and formal discussions with other Authorities. The full options appraisal was included in Appendix A attached to the report.
Based on the High Level Options Appraisal, the Arm’s Length Company and the Internal Service Transformation were the highest scoring models. In line with best practice, full business plans had therefore been developed for both models to enable a detailed assessment to be made as to which model was the most appropriate model for the future sustainability of the service. The Business Plan for the Internal Service Transformation was attached at Appendix B to the report and the Business Plan for the Arm’s Length Company (Local Authority trading company) was attached at Appendix C to the report. Appendix D to the report provided a full analysis of the potential savings that could be achieved with the implementation of both models. The aim of both models was to operate the service and fully recover its costs. This would result in the removal of the Council subsidy of the service. The maximum potential saving associated with both models was £228,664. The Local Authority trading company model was able to achieve this by 2020/21 and the internal transformation would achieve the full savings one year later.
When considering the two models to determine which was most appropriate for the catering service, the impacts on key stakeholders had been explored and details were contained in the Business Plans. An equality impact assessment had been completed for the preferred option and was attached at Appendix E to the report.
Based on the evaluation above and the information contained in the Business Plans, the Local Authority trading company was considered to be the most appropriate model to meet the objectives of the project being:
- To identify and implement the most suitable service delivery model for the Catering Service;
- To create an efficient service that was able to adapt to future financial challenges;
- To capture opportunities to increase uptake and promote healthy school meals;
this selection being due to the following:
- The ability to achieve full cost recovery by 2020/21, generating a total cumulative revenue saving to the Council of £228,664;
- Offered the potential to achieve significant surpluses that could be invested into the service and school kitchen. This would ensure the future sustainability of the service;
- Offered the ability to trade with external organisations to generate additional surpluses to invest in the service and school kitchens. Based on anticipated turnover in 2017/18, the Teckal exemption would allow the company to generate an additional income up to a maximum of £860,365, which could be reinvested in the service;
- A strong impetus to drive cultural change throughout the service to provide a more commercial approach;
- A change in relationship between the service and the Headteachers, resulting in greater involvement in the day to day running of the service;
- Provided a separate identify from the Council which, based on other examples, was likely to result in increased uptake of school meals;
- Greater procurement flexibility would allow the service to adapt to the needs of customers. This could include providing locally sourced food for example;
- Provided an opportunity for the Council to develop knowledge, skills and experience of greater commerciality that could be applied to other services as appropriate in the future.
The Business Plan set out the activities that would be undertaken by the service/ company over a five year period. It was proposed that the Local Authority trading company would be created in year three of the business plan following two years of internalised service delivery.
The Financial principles were reported as:
• Drive to operate as full cost recovery
• Meal prices set to increase by 5p every two years
• Anticipated grown of 2% year on year
• Staff costs calculated in line with living wage estimates
• Central recharges to the corporate centre would continue at current rate
• Council continues to fund free school meal entitlement, free breakfast club
provision and the School Milk grant
• Full cost recovery achieved in 2021/22 with a surplus of £30,429
• Council would be required to operate a budget of £310k up to 2021/22
• The budget result to be a saving of £228,664 for the Council, as the current
service was subsidised, with the IST working towards full cost recovery.
Committee was further informed that as from 1st April, 2017 all primary schools would receive delegated budgets and, having had discussions with a number of schools throughout the Vale, they were fully supportive of the proposals. The Operational Manager referred to the positives of the proposal, advising that the Council would seek to increase more involvement from Headteachers, the service would be provided far more cheaply, there were limited risks, also limited disruption to staff and full control would remain with the Council. Recognising that it would be new territory for the Council, under the preferred model, schools would still have the ability to go elsewhere, but that via the establishment of a company the service could become competitive. All Trade Unions would also be recognised in the limited company and all staff would be TUPE transferred. A number of engagement sessions had already been held with staff and these had been positive. 40 members of staff had said that the engagement sessions were useful, 33 had answered all the questions with only one person saying no to the proposal. The Operational Manager also referred to the supplementary information that had been included within the agenda which detailed feedback received from the Catering staff engagement day that had been held on 23rd February, 2017.
Members were further advised that following consideration by the Committee and the proposal being approved by Cabinet, a marketing and branding plan for the new company would be put in place. The Scrutiny Committee was therefore being asked to consider the proposals and to report back its findings to Cabinet. Cabinet had also recommended that following consideration by the Scrutiny Committees, Cabinet receives a future report detailing the progress made after the first year of the business plan, including progress against the actions taken, any changes that were required to the underpinning assumptions, and setting out proposals relating to the governance of the company.
The Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Education, with permission to speak, stated that the review had been a significant piece of work. As Cabinet Member she had also a long telephone conversation discussing the issues with Mr. Mudd, the representative from the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), who was present at the Committee meeting and who had registered to speak on the matter. The Cabinet Member further informed Members that she had been encouraged by the commitment of staff to deliver a top quality service.
Prior to consideration by the Committee and as outlined in the Public Participation Guide, the Chairman subsequently afforded Mr. Mudd, the representative from APSE, the opportunity to speak to the Committee.
Mr. Mudd commenced by thanking the Committee for the opportunity, advising that the Unison Trade Union had requested that Mr. Mudd attend to speak on its behalf. Mr. Mudd stated that he was aware that the Vale of Glamorgan was a member of APSE and that he would speak in the capacity of having had experience of the types of activities being suggested, in order to assist the Council in their considerations. He stated that APSE was currently at the forefront of assisting Local Authorities to generate income, advising that a number of English Authorities had gone down a similar route. However, he stated that there was one issue underpinning the report, in his view, and that was a misunderstanding of the legal framework. The idea that Local Authorities were legally unable to trade outside of the public sector he stated was not correct and, in particular, in referring to catering activity, there were two powers; one, the power to do and the other the power to charge. The Education Act created the framework to provide school meals, but there was also the Civic Restaurants Act 1947 which provided Local Authorities with the opportunity to cater for weddings etc. and to establish cafés, in a commercial way, as defined under the 1947 Commercial Act. For the avoidance of any doubt Mr. Mudd also referred to an alternative authority within the Local Government Act 2000, Section 2, and the Local Government Act 2003. These regulations provided Local Authorities with the ability to use charges to offset the subsidy that was put into schools.
In referring to the Company being able to take advantage of the Teckal exemption if it limited external trading to 20% of its total turnover, Mr. Mudd advised that he was not aware that any company had achieved this. He further advised that there had been a number of companies that had come and gone in England and therefore suggested that the Vale look at other examples. Should the Council still consider that they needed a company to undertake the service, they should create a company to do external trading i.e. a Section 95 company. Many Councils in England had become more business-like and more commercially operational and had done this successfully, referring to Oxford Council as an example. However Mr. Mudd further stated that although such companies had been successful, they had not attained significant amounts of income. In his view, the Plymouth model was a good example, but it had been driven by the fact that the schools were outside the control of the Council.
In conclusion, Mr. Mudd stated that if an Authority was able to package a range of services, thereby creating an offer that the private sector could not match i.e. HR, payroll, cleaning, school meals all together, this in his view would be less problematic, but establishing the company with catering as a sole entity would mean that the Council would not be able to go outside or be forward thinking in other ways.
In recognition of the comments made, the Chairman then asked the Operational Manager to respond to some of the concerns for Members’ information.
The Operational Manager advised that the business model under the Civic Restaurants Act 1947 had been considered, however it had been discounted as the spirit of the Act was not considered to be consistent with what the Council was trying to achieve within the business case for the Local Authority trading company. There were a range of examples of commercial opportunities included in the business case which outlined what could be achieved to support the core business. The business case also sought to establish a range of commercial opportunities for example events and buffet catering, which would not be consistent with that legislation.
In referring to Section 93 and Section 95 of the Local Government Act 2003, Section 93 conferred a power to charge for discretionary services but Section 3 stated that income cannot exceed the cost of provision. It was not believed that this power would be sufficient to achieve what was outlined in the business case as the commercial opportunities had been designed specifically to be profit making. The Unison Branch Guide to Local Authority Trading Companies also stated “If trading is to be done in the wider commercial market with a view to generating a profit (rather than just on a broad cost recovery basis), in England and Wales the Council must establish a company”.
By forming a Local Authority trading company, this would also mitigate the risk of legal challenge against the Council acting above its power to charge and result in the creation of a separate legal entity that would be wholly owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council. The company would be able to trade with private sector organisations and the public to maximise income and achieve full cost recovery. The company would also be able to take advantage of the Teckal exemption if it limited external trading to 20% of its total turnover. The Teckal exemption also allowed a company to continue providing services to the Council without being subject to procurement regulations and based on the current turnover of the service the 20% Teckal allowance would allow an additional income of £860,865. This was considered to be significant in terms of the level of investment that could be made available to schools. It was also proposed that the service would receive a reduction in subsidy through its budget in the first two years which would however, be shown as an investment in the service by the Council. The two year period would enable the service to focus on increasing school meal uptake, developing commercial opportunities and completing all preparatory work for the company prior to its operation in year 3.
In conclusion, he stated that although it could be viewed as risky, the Council needed to offer what the schools wanted. It was certainly a motivator for the Department and the Council, with the key aim being to reinvest into schools.
In referring to Mr. Mudd’s comments that other companies had been and gone, the Catering Manager stated that the Company would be starting with a £2.5m turnover and it would be keeping its staff, the services it has, and engage further with schools and Headteachers.
Following a query from a Member as to what percentage of schools that had already opted out of the Council Catering Service, the Catering Manager advised that three of the eight Comprehensives were not with the service but all the Primary schools were. She stated that it was important to note that only St. Richard Gwyn and Cowbridge had opted out previously but that Stanwell Comprehensive School had never actually been part of the Catering Service in the first place.
A Member raised concern as to, in his view, the contrary guidance that was being provided and queried whether the officers could justify how the custom for school meals could be increased in the future. The Member considered that it was such an important matter and urged the Authority to be realistic in view of the enormity of the scale involved. In response, Committee was advised that schools were under a huge financial challenge and although acknowledging that the matter had been a complex issue, that there were further finer details to work through, hence the reason why the Council was giving itself two years leeway, Headteachers had commented that it was certainly the right way to go, and had informed the Council that they would be happy to be part of the Management Board. The Management Board would consist of Headteacher representatives, Council representatives, staff representatives and external experts, with every decision made having to be in the best interests of the company. The Cabinet Member, in response, advised that following the Council’s recent budget process the fact that non-statutory services were under threat, meant that services would need to get as close as possible to being cost neutral. The Cabinet Member further stated that the team had been careful in their figures and that the aim was to make a surplus in order to reinvest back into the service. The ability for the Council to support the local economy and buy provisions locally was also an essential consideration as there were a number of local food producers that could engage with the service. Discussions were currently taking place with such providers as a result. The aim was to create resilience of a top quality which she stated had also excited the staff.
In response to a question about procurement, the Director of Learning and Skills advised that from experience of the All Wales Procurement Service, the All Wales Milk Contract, which is the first catering contract to be procured through the framework, had not actually materialised in cost savings for the Vale, had resulted in a local firm losing business, and had resulted in a poor quality service. Therefore there were a number of question marks hanging over its effectiveness. The Catering Manager also advised that Headteachers had questioned whether they could use local food producers and not be tied down to a national framework. The proposal would therefore allow the Council to speak to local farmers, in particular for the rural Vale, and to engage with local people. Meetings had also been held with officers from the Creative Rural Communities section to ascertain how such arrangements could be developed.
The Operational Manager for Legal Services, for clarification and in response to the query of how the company would be constituted, advised the Committee that as was alluded to in the report, Section 95 of the Local Government Act 2003 gave the Local Authority a power to trade for commercial purposes through a company. Under Section 95 this power was only exercisable by the Local Authority through a company within the meaning of the relevant provision of the Local Government and Housing Act as outlined in the report. However, this provision did not permit a Local Authority to trade in statutory services where they were already obliged to provide these or to use the power where there were already in place existing trading powers. The Operational Manager, Legal Services, advised the Committee that in line with statutory provisions, in constituting the company the Local Authority would need to comply with the relevant provisions under the Companies Act, the trading company would be a separate legal entity, but wholly owned by the Local Authority, with one share allotted to it. The Operational Manager referred Committee to the legal implications as noted in the Cabinet report at paragraphs 84 to 91.
In conclusion, Members noted from the report that the proposal was considered to have a neutral impact on projected characteristics with any changes to be reported to Members in a timely manner.
Having fully considered the report, the representations made by the registered speaker and the responses received at the meeting, the Scrutiny Committee subsequently
(1) T H A T the resolutions of Cabinet be agreed as outlined within the report and Cabinet informed accordingly.
(2) T H A T following final determination by Cabinet the Committee receives a further report detailing the progress made after the first year of the business plan, including progress against the actions taken, any changes required to the underpinning assumptions and setting out proposals relating to the governance of the company.
(3) T H A T the above recommendations be referred to Cabinet.
Reasons for recommendations
(1) To advise Cabinet.
(2) In order that the Scrutiny Committee can monitor and evaluate the proposals.
(3) To inform Cabinet.
948 YOUNG CARERS: ANNUAL UPDATE REPORT (REF) –
The report had been referred to the Scrutiny Committee from the Healthy Living and Social Care Scrutiny Committee for consideration following a request from the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) to receive the report on an annual basis.
The Head of Business Management and Innovation provided the Committee with an update on the support services for young carers and introduced the Team Manager for Innovation and Information to the Committee.
The report outlined that young carers were defined as children and young people under the age of 18 who had caring responsibilities for someone who had a physical or mental illness, a physical or learning disability, or a drug or alcohol problem. Carers aged 18 to 25 were often referred to as young adult carers.
During 2015/16 reports showed that 50 young carers accessed the Project (although numbers fluctuated), 15 of these received one to one support in the home. 22 young carers gained skills and a certificate by attending a sailing residential course. Evaluations show that 87% of recipients gave positive feedback in relation to the informal respite.
In the quarter ending 31st December, 2016, 49 young carers attended the Project and 31 respite opportunities were accessed. 1 to 1 support was provided to two young carers, which in the main related to emotional wellbeing. The RBA report for the month end showed 36 individuals accessed at least one activity per month and the activities offered rated as 95% positively received.
Under the auspices of the former Carers (Wales) Strategy Measure, staff from Social Services and the Health Board had started work with youth engagement workers from both the Vale and Cardiff, along with Cardiff YMCA, to consult with young carers. The purpose was to identify the information and support needs of young carers. 12 young people had volunteered to be involved in the planning of a wider consultation, to include preparing and delivering a questionnaire, followed by an information event and workshop to identify outcomes for statutory services to consider. The survey of young carers known to the YMCA and Action for Children achieved 102 responses from a potential 210 respondents and 45 young carers attended the “Speak Out” event.
The “Speak Out” event consisted of a series of creative data-generation workshops that provided the opportunity for the young carers to give their opinions and relate their personal experiences. This was combined with an information market place where the young people found out about support available and sample activities such as healthy cooking and first aid. Entertainment was provided in the form of live music and a play area (for younger children) and a photobooth.
Analysis of the survey and workshops was undertaken by Cascade, the Children's social care research and development centre at Cardiff University. The report was made available at the end of April 2016 for consideration by the Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Councils and University Health Board (Appendix 1).
Subsequent meetings had been held to bring together interested parties for the purpose of considering what the Council could do to meet the recommendations arising from the report. A working group was convened including representatives from social services, health, safeguarding, youth work and Third Sector organisations working with young carers. This working group was currently finalising a work plan outlining how the recommendations would be achieved. These 16 proposals would be discussed with young carers, seeking their views as to whether the proposed actions would meet the outcomes they had identified through this work.
Possible actions included the development of a young carer’s card and the development of age appropriate information. A second meeting of the reconfigured Young Carers group had been held on 12th January, 2017, looking at the outcomes from the Carers Consultation. An action plan was being drafted and would be presented to the group for sign off by the end of January. With specific regard to the young carers card it had been agreed that a Task and Finish Group would meet before the end of February to put together a more detailed plan for implementation. This would oversee a phased introduction of a (voluntary) ID card. The working group would consist of safeguarding leads from Cardiff and the Vale, the Vale Youth Participation Officer, a member of the Patient Experience Team (Cardiff and Vale University Health Board) and a Cardiff YMCA representative. Some initial considerations of the Task and Finish Group would include agreed criteria, design and production and whether there needed to be different cards for different age groups – this would be a short term piece of work. Longer term goals for this initiative included identifying and negotiating “benefits” to link to the card, incentives for young carers to sign up to having such a card, awareness / recognition of card (who and why), ongoing maintenance of the systems and administration, renewal process (annually etc.).
The representative from the Vale Youth Forum advised the Committee that a member of the Forum had brought the issue to their attention, advising of the challenges that young carers faced. The Youth Forum had undertaken a consultation exercise which had included asking young carers how awareness raising should be established. Responses received included reference to the issuing of ID cards and professional training in schools and youth organisations.
The Chairman stated that raising awareness and quality of life for young carers was a perfect use of the Youth Forum’s work.
A Member acknowledging that this was an important issue and that support should be provided to young people referred to the role of School Governors advising that issues like these were not reported on a regular basis, matters affecting Looked After Children were, but not issues facing young carers. The Member queried what role as a Governor they should have in raising awareness and bringing it to the attention of other Governors.
The Head of Service advised that the significant challenge was whether young carers actually wished to be identified and also it was difficult for the Authority to identify them. It was important for all involved in the services with young people to take away the stigma of such matters and to advocate on their behalf. Formal training and awareness raising were certainly areas that needed to be looked at and the Department would be addressing those. The Team Manager for Innovation and Information referred to the current initiative that was underway for accreditation within schools and that the Department was actively working with five schools and this work was ongoing with the Parents’ Trust. It was hoped this would continue for a while longer.
The Head of Service for Achievement for All advised that there was a significant amount of work ongoing in schools on the Well-being Agenda, including the SELFIE tool for young people. This would encourage young people to come forward and compliment the work of colleagues in Children’s Services.
Following a query as to whether there were any outreach programmes to encourage young people, the Team Leader advised that the Department was currently looking to integrate young carers and the awareness of with other initiatives and that part of the overall objective was to ensure that there were areas of support for young people and that such issues were taken into account. Under the Social Services and Well-being Act there was a strong focus on citizen engagement and there was currently a pilot ongoing for adults with physical difficulties and how they could be engaged, particularly the ones who did not access the services.
In referring to the use of ID cards, the Chairman, acknowledging that it was early days, asked whether the Head of Service thought this was a valid way forward. The Head of Service stated that there was currently great debate ongoing at the Healthy Living and Social Care Scrutiny Committee and also discussions with Welsh Government, who had currently put it on hold. The will was there, but the how was still to be debated. There was no timeframe currently for implementation but there was a recognised need that a timeframe would be required.
In conclusion, the Chairman thanked the officers for attending the Committee and for presenting the report. He also thanked the representative from the Vale Youth Forum and requested that they congratulate the Youth Forum Members on bringing the issue for discussion to the meeting.
Having fully considered the report, it was subsequently
(1) T H A T the work undertaken to support young carers in the Vale of Glamorgan be noted.
(2) T H A T annual updates continue to be presented to the Learning and Culture Scrutiny Committee for consideration.
Reasons for recommendations
(1) To ensure that Members continue to exercise effective oversight of an important function undertaken by the Social Services Directorate.
(2) To monitor progress on an annual basis.
949 REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL 2016 TO 31ST JANUARY 2017 (DLS) –
A graph and table setting out the variance between profiled budget and actual expenditure to date was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. In presenting the report, the Principal Accountant advised
Schools – The delegated budget relating to schools was expected to balance as any under/over spend was carried forward by schools.
Strategy, Culture, Community Learning and Resources – This service was projected to outturn with a favourable variance of £286k after a transfer from reserves of £503k. The net underspend was as a result of early implementation of 2017/18 savings, a reduction in the number of supported non-maintained nursery settings, a number of vacancies throughout the department, an increase in ICT support packages purchased by schools, a projected underspend on the catering service of £61k and a recent rates rebate for school buildings of £135k. The transfer from reserves would be £93k from the Rationalisation reserve to contribute towards school amalgamation costs, £228k from the Libraries reserve to cover any legal costs and costs relating to the implementation of the service review, £30k from the Adult Community Learning reserve to assist with the new Welsh for Adults contract and a previous year’s funding reduction in Schedule 2 / Cardiff and Vale College Franchise and £152k from the Early Retirement and Voluntary Redundancy Reserve to fund redundancy and retirement costs in schools.
Strategy and Regulation – This service was currently projecting to outturn at a favourable variance of £42k due to salary underspends and reductions in office expenses for the Directorate.
Achievement for All – The service was projected to outturn with an adverse variance of £280k after a transfer from reserves of £672k. This was reported as a result of an adverse variance of £793k on the recoupment income budget and an adverse variance on pupil placements of £268k. The position could be partly offset by projected salary underspends of £162k which were due to vacant posts in the service as a result of early implementation of 2017/18 Reshaping Services savings. However £53k would need to be transferred into the Youth Reserve to fund the G2E project in 2017/18 whilst the service undertakes a restructure. The service had a £2.4m recoupment income budget in respect of out of county pupil placements purchased at Ysgol y Deri. Over the last few years a trend had occurred where more out of county pupils have left Ysgol y Deri than new pupils have enrolled. The main reason for this reduction in out of county pupils was due to other Local Authorities seeking to educate their children within county and to source cheaper alternatives due to budget reductions. However the school was still operating near to capacity due to an increase in demand from Vale pupils requiring placements.
School Improvement – The service was projected to overspend by £48k as a result of redundancy and pension strain costs as a result of restructuring. Provision has been made within the budget to make unsupported borrowing debt repayments in relation to the Schools Investment Strategy of £698k per annum and any favourable variance on debt repayments would be directed into the Schools Investment Strategy.
Appendix 2 to the report detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st January, 2017.
Appendix 3 to the report provided non-financial information on capital construction schemes with a budget of over £100k. Committee was advised that where a budget shown in Appendix 2 was more than £100k but was made up of several schemes that individually were less than £100k, the scheme was not included in Appendix 3.
For all schemes where it was evident that the full year's budget would not be spent during the year, the relevant officers were required to provide an explanation for the shortfall.
RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the 2016/17 revenue and capital monitoring be noted.
Reason for recommendation
In recognition of the current position.
950 INDIVIDUAL SCHOOLS PROGRESS PANEL MEETING (MD) –
The Chairman took the Committee through the report which provided an update on a School Progress Panel meeting that had been held at Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School by a Panel of three Members of the Scrutiny Committee. The Chairman also took the opportunity to thank those who had been involved in the panel, and outlined the relevant issues commencing by advising that following consideration of the GCSE results in August 2016, the Interim Director of Learning and Skills had written to the Chair of Governors on 28th October, 2016 detailing the school's performance in recent years, including data and benchmarking for 2016 and referring to minimum expectations which had been agreed with the Headteacher for 2017. That letter had also outlined that although the school had worked very hard to address performance in key areas, the Council remained concerned about the accuracy and reliability of teachers' assessments in relation to WJEC expectations for English. In light of the GCSE results in August 2016 and as a result of the Council's concerns a further Panel visit was requested to be undertaken, which took place on 9th December, 2016. The Panel meeting provided an opportunity for the school to demonstrate through the democratic process its ambition and commitment to rapid and sustained progress and to identify any barriers that the school may be facing which could be resolved by the actions of the Council.
The minimum expectations for the school for 2017 were also referred to in the letter of 28th October, 2016 and the Central South Consortium's (CSC) School Improvement Service had set aside a significant number of days to challenge and support the school to achieve these.
The table below detailed the minimum expectations required for the 2017 results:
Percentage of pupils achieving A* - C in English Language
Percentage of pupils achieving 5 A* - C grades in Mathematics
Percentage of pupils achieving 5 A* - C grades including English and Mathematics
Percentage of pupils entitled to free school meals securing 5 A* - C grades including English and Mathematics
At the meeting on 9th December, 2016, amongst the information presented, the Panel received a detailed account of the school's responses to the Estyn recommendations. It was also noted that following a monitoring visit in March 2016 Estyn had concluded that the school had made insufficient progress in relation to the recommendations of its core inspection which had taken place in May 2012. As a result, Estyn had judged the school as needing significant improvement and the following recommendations were made:
R(1) Re standards particularly in those areas where there is relative under-performance in English and Mathematics at Key Stage 3 - Judgement - limited progress.
R(2) Increase proportion of excellent and good teaching - Judgement - satisfactory progress.
R(3) Ensure that there was a consistent and systematic whole school approach to improving pupils literacy skills - Judgement - satisfactory progress.
R(4) Improve consistency in the quality of marking so that pupils receive clear advice that helps them improve - Judgement - limited progress.
R(5) Strengthen the quality of improvement planning to ensure plans link closely with the findings of self-evaluation and include clear targets for improvement - Judgement - satisfactory progress.
In outlining performance at the school, the Headteacher advised the Panel that comparisons with like schools had improved as the benchmark profiles had also improved since the last school inspection. Improvements had also been made at Level 6+ and Level 7+. The school compared its results against schools in the family of schools in the Local Authority and all-Wales results, with many being increasingly favourable. Of note, the Headteacher advised, was the fact that in 2016 the school had achieved its best ever Key Stage 3 results.
The report also outlined progress in relation to the school’s Post Inspection Action Plan, performance for pupils receiving free school meals, other school strategies for 2016/17 were
- improving the quality of teaching and learning in English and Mathematics faculties
- increasing the accountability of the English and Mathematics faculties
- improving the quality of leadership and management in English and Mathematics faculties
- actions for Year 11 in 2017 would include the resetting of Year 11 class, amending staffing for key groups of pupils, ensuing key pupil groups had a better teacher / pupil ratio and ensuring that the groups received appropriate additional support interventions.
Pupil progress in relation to English, pupil attendance, school successes, support of the Governing Body, the report and role of the school’s Challenge Advisor and in conclusion, the decision of the Panel on the day of the Panel meeting. The Chairman advised that the Panel had relayed their disappointment to the school with regard to the 2016 English results and, in referring to the Interim Director’s letter of 28th October, 2016, the Panel had advised that they expected the school to meet the minimum expectations contained within that letter that 60% of pupils achieve A* - C grade in English Language, 60% A* - C in Mathematics, 55% achieve 5 A* - C grades including English and Mathematics, and 40% of pupils entitled to free school meals secure 5 A* - C grades including English and Mathematics. The Panel however, had concern with regard to the school achieving its eFSM expectations.
Following the Panel meeting, it was subsequently recommended:
(1) That the minimum expectations as outlined in the Interim Director’s letter be met.
(2) That the Panel receives the details of the November and January exam results to its January 2017 Scrutiny Committee meeting.
(3) That a copy of the next Challenge Advisor’s report is also received by the Panel.
(4) That an accelerated Improvement Board be established for the school as soon as possible, the arrangements for which to be informed by the Interim Director
The Chairman had also at that time, asked the school’s Challenge Advisor to attend the Scrutiny Committee when the report was to be presented to provide the Committee with any up to date information. Mr. Stuart Sherman, the school’s Challenge Advisor, subsequently advised the Committee that although it was difficult to provide details, there were some indicators as to how well the school was performing but unfortunately no specifics at this stage. For Mathematics the school was slightly lower than the previous year, but this was also reflected in the majority of schools within the Consortium. However, the Mathematics department had recently advised that their targets were now in excess of the target. For English there was less external data but there were some modular results of aspects of the course. However, of note was the fact that the GCSE results coming up in August would now only be considering the subject of English Language within the figures. This was a shame for Bryn Hafren who had always done quite well in the past and to date in English Literature. The current modular result for Literature in March had been notably higher than anticipated and the school had been encouraged by this. They were however more cautious in relation to English Language, but they were optimistic at present. With regard to teaching and learning, a very strong appointment had been made for the Head of English who would start in September 2017. The Consortium had also found monies for further support which was needed for the Summer term.
In acknowledging the changes to GCSE’s in August 2016, the Director of Learning and Skills stated that it would be important to wait for the benchmarked results before considering whether any follow up action was required.
Following a request from the Chairman on the work of the Accelerated Improvement Board, the Challenge Advisor commented that they had met on 27th January, 2017 and the next meeting was due to take place on 30th March, 2017. He could also advise that, broadly speaking, the establishment of a Board had been welcomed by the school, which had meant that their work had been streamlined, there were less meetings taking place and they were more focused. In his view, the establishment of the Accelerated Improvement Board had been a positive development.
Following consideration of the report, it was subsequently
(1) T H A T the Scrutiny Progress Panel findings as detailed in paragraphs 40 to 43 of the report be accepted.
(2) T H A T the results of the recent examinations undertaken at the school together with a copy of the latest Challenge Advisor's report be presented to the Panel when available.
(3) T H A T the verbal update presented at the meeting on the work of the Accelerated Improvement Board be noted and that a further report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in due course.
(4) T H A T the Committee receives an update report as soon as possible following the GCSE results in August 2017.
(5) T H A T the report and its recommendations above be referred to Cabinet for consideration and / or approval.
Reasons for recommendations
(1) Having considered the contents of the report.
(2) To apprise Members.
(3) To monitor the work of the Accelerated Improvement Board.
(4) To apprise Members.
(5) For consideration.
951 VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL ANNUAL SELF-ASSESSMENT (MD) –
The Director of Learning and Skills presented the report to the Committee advising that self-assessments formed a core part of the statutory Local Government inspection processes in Wales and that under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009, the Council was required to undertake them. The Self-Assessment was also a position statement of the Council’s position and performance, which also informed the Council’s service plans. A copy of the Council’s Annual Self-Assessment had been sent under separate cover, with copies being made available at the meeting if required.
Committee was advised that historically the Council had undertaken a self-assessment of its services as part of the service planning process to inform its priorities and areas for improvements. This had been primarily performance focused and undertaken on a Directorate by Directorate basis. The current year’s Annual Self-Assessment presented a significant departure from the way in which the annual performance assessment had been conducted in the past. The development of a more outcome focused Corporate Plan in alignment with the Council’s duties under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act and the alignment of the Council’s Committee structures to the approach had necessitated the need to refine how the Council undertook its self-assessment process. In future, the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcomes would form the framework for evaluating Council performance and achievements, thus enabling the Council to demonstrate its ability to achieve positive outcomes for residents and to secure continuous improvement.
A summary of the progress to date in relation to priorities identified in the last year’s Annual Self-Assessment was provided in the Corporate Improvement Action Plan at Appendix A and of the 57 actions identified, 32 had been completed and 25 were ongoing.
The self-assessment process was also used to identify priorities for the coming year that were implemented via service plans for 2017/18. In addition, the Corporate Health priorities would feed into the work of the Insight Board to ensure an integrated approach to planning for improvement. Work had already commenced in implementing some of the priorities, which incorporated existing areas of improvement activity.
The Council's self-assessment process would continue to evolve in line with the wider Local Government agenda as proposed in the recent draft Local Government (Wales) Bill and the Well-being of Future Generation (Wales) Act. In this respect, the Annual Self-Assessment set out the Council’s key priorities for improvement and would be published and made available to the Council’s regulators to inform their work programme.
The Chairman and the Committee, acknowledging the detail contained within, considered that it was a good and useful document.
Having considered the report, it was subsequently
(1) T H A T the Council’s Annual Self-Assessment Report, including identified priorities for 2017/18 onwards, be endorsed.
(2) T H A T the use and contents of the Self-Assessment as the basis for service planning for 2017/18 be endorsed.
Reasons for recommendations
(1) To meet the requirements of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 to undertake a self-assessment of all Council services and to use the information as the basis to drive continuous improvement of Council services.
(2) To ensure the Scrutiny Committee confirms that the priorities identified within the Self-Assessment relating to its remit of 'Well-being Outcome 2 “An environmentally responsible and prosperous Vale” represent a fair reflection of the challenges facing both the Council as a whole and the services contributing to the corporate health priorities. In addition, that the Council identifies and takes the appropriate action to address its improvement priorities.
952 SERVICE PLANS 2017-21: PERFORMANCE AND DEVELOPMENT, REGENERATION AND PLANNING, STRATEGY, COMMUNITY LEARNING AND RESOURCES AND ACHIEVEMENT FOR ALL (DLS) –
The Performance and Development, Regeneration and Planning, Strategy, Community Learning and Resources and Achievement for All Service Plans for 2017-21 were presented for consideration by the Committee. The Director of Learning and Skills, in presenting the Service Plans, advised that the Service Plans were the primary planning document of the Council and a key building block in its performance management framework. The Service Plans specifically identified how each Head of Service would contribute towards achievement of Corporate Plan Well-being Outcomes by asking two questions:
- "Which well-being objectives does the service contribute to and what actions will we be taking this year to achieve these?”
- "How will we manage our resources to achieve these actions and support our service?”
Informed by the Annual Self-Assessment, the Service Plans also comprised a brief overview of the issues facing the service against each of the corporate health perspectives. The Plan included an action plan for how resources would be used to support the delivery of Well-being Outcome Actions as well as managing risks, collaboration and engagement activities.
The Committee was being asked to consider and review the Service Plans, with any views being referred to Cabinet for consideration.
Key areas of note within the Service Plans were:
- “Section 1 – Introduction: Sets the context for the Service Plan and provides an overview of the service area, the purpose of the Plan, and the key service considerations which have informed development of the Plan.
- Section 2 – Our Priorities for 2017-21: Outlines the specific actions that the service would be taking during 2017/18 to contribute towards the Corporate Plan Well-being Objectives and Outcomes. It also identifies the key enabling actions the service would be taking to support its achievement of the Well-being Outcomes, for example through reshaping of its services.
- Section 3 – Outlines what actions the Service would undertake during 2017/18 to contribute to Year 2 of the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcomes and Objectives. It also describes how the Service would manage its resources to deliver its priorities in the Service Plan and outlines key workforce development priorities, significant ICT projects, required budget savings and areas of focus in relation to assets, procurement and major capital projects. This section also identifies how the Service would engage with stakeholders and work in partnership / collaborate to achieve its priorities and incorporates a service risk evaluation.
- Appendices A and B (within the Service Plan) contain the Service Improvement Action Plan for 2017/18. This identifies planned service actions, intended outcomes and key milestones, relevant performance measures to demonstrate progress, responsible officer, timescales for completion and the anticipated resources requirements of planned actions.
- The Visible Services and Transport Service Plan incorporate their contribution to two other Well-being Outcomes, namely Outcomes 3 and 4. For ease of reference, Members noted that the proposed actions relating to these Well-being Outcome areas had been struck through within the Plan to indicate the areas that did not form part of the remit of the Committee.
- The Regeneration and Planning Service Plan also incorporated its contribution to one other Well-being Outcome, namely Outcome 3. For ease of reference, Members noted that the proposed actions relating to this Outcome area had been struck through to indicate the areas that did not form part of the remit of the Committee.“
All Service Departments would subsequently follow on by developing team plans to underpin and deliver their Service Plan actions.
Members were advised that the strike through areas within the Service Plans related to other Scrutiny Committees, with the Committee’s attention being drawn to the areas relevant to its remit.
RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Performance and Development, Regeneration and Planning, Strategy, Community Learning and Resources and Achievement for All Service Plans for 2017-21 be endorsed.
Reason for recommendation
In noting that the Service Plans would be the primary documents against which performance for the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcome 2 would be measured.
953 QUARTER 3 (2016-17) PERFORMANCE REPORT: AN ASPIRATIONAL AND CULTURALLY VIBRANT VALE (DLS) –
The performance results for Quarter 3 1st April to 30th December, 2016/17 for the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcome 3: An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale were presented to the Committee.
The Director of Learning and Skills commenced by advising that the performance report was structured as follows:
- Page 2: This provided an explanation of the performance terms used within the report and detailed the traffic light system, being used i.e. a Red, Amber or Green (RAG) status and a Direction of Travel (DOT) to aid performance analysis. Progress was therefore reported for all key performance indicators by allocating a RAG performance status, Green related to performance that had met or exceeded target, Amber related to performance within 10% of target and Red related to performance that had missed target by more than 10%. A DOT arrow was also attributed to each measure indicating whether current performance had improved, stayed static or declined on last year’s first quarter performance. An upward arrow (↑) indicated that performance had improved on the same quarter last year, a static arrow (↔) indicated performance had remained the same and a downward arrow (↓) showed performance had declined compared to the same quarter last year.
For the actions, a Green status related to a completed action or one that was on track to be completed in full by the due date. An Amber status related to an action where there had been a minor delay but action was being taken to bring this back on track by the next quarter. A Red status related to an action where limited progress had been made, and an explanation must be provided including any planned remedial action(s) and where appropriate a revised completion date.
- Section 1: Outcome Summary – Provided an overall summary of performance and highlighted the main developments, achievements and challenges for the quarter as a whole. It included an evaluation of the progress made against actions and performance indicators as well as corporate health (resource) impacts which supported the overall RAG status for the Well-being Outcome.
- Section 2: Performance Snapshot – Provided an overview for each Well-being Objective, describing the status of Corporate Plan actions and performance indicators. A RAG status was attributed to each Well-being Objective to reflect overall progress to date and contributed to the overall RAG status for the Well-being Outcome.
- Section 3: Key Achievements and Challenges – Highlighted the key achievements and challenges to date in achieving the intended outcomes for the Well-being Outcome.
- Section 4: Corporate Health: Use of Resources and Impact on Improvement –Provided a summary of the key issues relating to the use of resources and the impact on delivering improvement during the quarter. The focus was on key aspects relating to staffing, finance, assets, ICT, customer focus and risk management.
- Appendix 1: Provided, by Well-being Objective, detailed information relating to the Service Plan actions which had contributed to Corporate Plan actions.
- Appendix 2: Provided detailed performance indicator information linked to each Well-being Objective which showed for the Council’s planned activities, how much the Council had done, how well it had performed and what difference this had made.
An overall AMBER RAG status had been attributed to Well-being Outcome 3, 'An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale', to reflect the good progress made to date in achieving improved outcomes for residents and our customers during the Quarter.
At Quarter 3, 15 out of 16 Corporate Plan actions under this Outcome were on track to be delivered contributing to a Green performance status for actions. The remaining action had been attributed a Red performance status, this action concerned the implementation of the Youth Service National Outcomes Framework (AC6). The Council was awaiting formal guidance from Welsh Government following the consultation on the National Outcomes Framework for Youth Work and implementation would commence once this was published. Limited progress had also been made in relation to the internal restructure of the Youth Service, due to an ongoing HR issue. An overall Amber performance status was reported for the quarterly measures contributing to this Well-being Outcome. Of 20 quarterly measures reported, 8 were attributed a Green performance status meeting or exceeded set targets, 9 were within 10% of target. The three remaining measures missed target by more than 10%. The indicators showing a Red status related to visitor numbers to libraries (CPM/051), percentage of youth population making contact with the Youth Service (CPM/040) and the number of accredited outcomes achieved by learners through the Youth Service (CPM/052).
A detailed report outlining the progress at Quarter 3 towards achieving Well-being Outcome 3 was provided at Appendix 1.
Having considered the report, it was subsequently
(1) T H A T the progress to date in achieving key outcomes in line with the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcome 3 – “All Vale of Glamorgan citizens have opportunities to achieve their full potential” be noted.
(2) T H A T the performance results and remedial actions to be taken to address areas of underperformance and tackle identified key challenges going forward be noted.
Reason for recommendations
(1&2) As contained within the report.
954 TARGET SETTING FOR 2017-18 (DLS) –
The report outlined that one of the issues that had been raised with the Wales Audit Office via the Council’s Corporate Assessment was that the Council produced Service Plans for the year ahead but they did not contain targets. This was therefore the first year that the Service Plans would contain targets and the Committee was being asked to consider the relevant targets to meet the outcomes. Also previously targets had been challenged by the Council’s Performance Team, Corporate Management Team, Scrutiny Committees and Cabinet. However, this year, following sign off by the respective sponsoring Director for each Well-being Outcome, targets were being reported directly to Scrutiny Committees for challenge and thereafter to Cabinet for ratification.
The Council had a long standing commitment (as outlined in previous and the current Corporate Plan) to continuously improve the services it provided to citizens of the Vale of Glamorgan. However, the ongoing reductions in public sector funding will inevitably impact on the availability of resources, and in addition, external factors such as the wider economic environment, bring into question the realism of continual improvement in service performance. However, having taken account of these factors, the Council still seeks to establish challenging but realistic targets that were commensurate with the available level of resource.
The Council's challenging approach to target setting emphasised this by ensuring that there was an assessment of performance trend data, our performance against previous targets and making best use of external benchmarking data (where this was available). This was balanced against how much of a priority the indicator was to the Council and whether there was capacity to improve performance. All proposed targets must have an accompanying rationale that clearly explained the reasons for setting the targets at that level.
Following consideration of the report, it was subsequently
RECOMMENDED – T H A T the proposed targets for 2017/18 aligned to the Well-being Outcome 2 priorities and the PI descriptions proposed for deletion at page 10 of the report be endorsed.
Reason for recommendation
To ensure the Council reports a relevant set of performance indicators against which it can demonstrate achievement of its Well-being Outcomes and consistently sets challenging yet realistic performance improvement targets for the priorities in line with the requirements under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.
955 VALE OF GLAMORGAN WELL-BEING OBJECTIVES AND IMPROVEMENT PLAN PART 1 (IMPROVEMENT OBJECTIVES 2017/18) (DLS) –
The Director of Learning and Skills advised that the report was welcomed because it brought together the Corporate Plan objectives and the Improvement Objectives into one document. Committee was being requested to endorse the Plan, acknowledging that significant work had been undertaken to ensure that all the Well-being Objectives and priority actions reflected the key priorities for the Vale of Glamorgan, thus ensuring the Council was focusing on the areas in need of the most improvement and those of greatest impact to its residents’ wellbeing.
The report sought Member endorsement of the Council’s proposed approach to discharging its duties in relation to the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 to publish Well-being Objectives and annual Improvement Objectives.
The Corporate Plan was the Council’s key means of complying with the Local Government Measure 2009, which required the Council to set “Improvement Objectives” annually and demonstrate continuous improvement.
The Corporate Plan 2016-2020 was approved by Cabinet on 22nd February, 2016 and by Council on 2nd March, 2016 following extensive consultation with key stakeholders and partners. The Plan set out the Council's Well-being Outcomes and Objectives for the next four years as well as its vision, values with reference to the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. The Corporate Plan four Well-being Outcomes and associated eight Well-being Objectives are:
Well-being Outcome 1: An inclusive and Safe Vale
- Objective 1: Reducing poverty and social exclusion.
- Objective 2: Providing decent homes and safe communities.
Well-being Outcome 2: An Environmentally Responsible and Prosperous Vale
- Objective 3: Promoting regeneration, economic growth and employment.
- Objective 4: Promoting sustainable development and protecting our environment.
Well-being Outcome 3: An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale
- Objective 5: Raising overall standards of achievement.
- Objective 6: Valuing culture and diversity.
Well-being Outcome 4: An Active and Healthy Vale
- Objective 7: Encouraging and promoting active and healthy lifestyles.
- Objective 8: Safeguarding those who are vulnerable and promoting independent living.
Following consideration of the report it was subsequently
(1) T H A T Cabinet be informed that the Scrutiny Committee endorsed the proposed approach to discharging the Council’s duties to publish Well-being and Improvement Objectives under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
(2) T H A T Cabinet be informed that the Scrutiny Committee, endorsed the Corporate Plan Well-being Objectives as the Council’s Well-being Objectives for the purposes of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
(3) T H A T Cabinet be informed that the Scrutiny Committee endorsed the Corporate Plan Well-being Objectives and associated priority actions for 2017/18 as the Council’s Improvement Objectives for 2017/18.
Reasons for recommendations
(1) To ensure the Council fully discharges its statutory duties to set and report on Well-being and Improvement Objectives.
(2) To ensure the Council meets the requirements of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 to publish its Well-being Objectives by 31st March, 2017.
(3) To ensure the Council continues to meet the requirements of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 to set annual improvement priorities for 2017/18.
956 ANNOUNCEMENT –
In acknowledging that this was the last scheduled meeting of the Scrutiny Committee until the Local Government elections, the Chairman took the opportunity to thank all Members support to the Committee with particular thanks to the Members who had taken part in the Scrutiny Performance Panels. The Chairman also thanked the officers, including the Democratic Services Officer, for their openness, support, and availability to Members during and outside the Committee meetings.