Agenda Item No. 4
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
AUDIT COMMITTEE: 21 NOVEMBER 2016
REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 5 SEPTEMBER 2016
C3282 OUTCOME OF THE WALES AUDIT OFFICE CORPORATE ASSESSMENT REPORT 2016 INCORPORATING THE ANNUAL IMPROVEMENT REPORT 2015 – 2016 (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – CORPORATE PERFORMANCE AND RESOURCES) -
Cabinet was informed of the extremely positive outcome of the Wales Audit Office (WAO) Corporate Assessment 2016 which incorporated the Annual Improvement Report 2015-16.
In 2013-14, the WAO commenced a four year cycle of Corporate Assessments of authorities in Wales, this being in addition to an annual programme of improvement studies and audits of Council activity. The Corporate Assessment of the Council was carried out during the early part of 2016 and the report was published on 25 August, 2016. The purpose of the Corporate Assessment, as described by the WAO, was to provide a position statement of an authority's capacity and capability to deliver continuous improvement. The assessment process considered an authority's track record of performance and the key arrangements in place to deliver continuous improvement.
During March 2016, Auditors from the WAO carried out a range of one to one interviews with staff and Members, focus groups with Members and officers and gathered evidence to inform the outcome of the assessment process. The fieldwork was preceded by considerable research. Prior to the publication of the final report on 25 August, the Managing Director of the Council had been afforded an opportunity to comment on the findings of the WAO and, where appropriate and accepted, his comments had been taken into account and reflected in the final report.
A copy of the full report was attached at Appendix A to the report and could also be viewed via the following link: https://gallery.mailchimp.com/99566004543c1bbaf2572c5fa/files/453A2016_VoG_AIR_english.pdf
A copy of the WAO press release issued on 25 August was attached at Appendix B to the report. The press release made it clear that the Council had a clear vision of what it wanted to achieve and that current work was helping ensure that the Council was well placed to continue securing improvement. The Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas was quoted as saying: 'It is very positive to see a local authority receive such a good report and see that they had committed to looking at developing key services, such as ICT to deliver more efficient services. I encourage the authority to continue the high standard as they deliver their proposed changes to key services'.
A press release issued by Mark Drakeford, Local Government Secretary was also attached at Appendix C to the report. Mr Drakeford A.M. was quoted as saying; 'I’d like to congratulate the Council on this excellent report. As the Auditor General points out, there is a clear line of sight in what the local authority wants to achieve and how it intends to improve the lives of the people it serves'. He goes on to say: 'the Cabinet is working very effectively with senior managers to drive change and meet local needs….I’m confident that through the effective leadership already demonstrated, the Council will be able to make key changes to public services'.
The report was extremely welcome and provided firm and robust evidence that, despite increasing pressures on Council budgets and demands on services, the Council was performing efficiently.
The main report included a rationale for making the Proposals for Improvement and it was noteworthy that, in many instances, the proposals reflected work that was already underway or planned.
At the meeting, the Leader highlighted the very positive statement from the Local Government Secretary attached at Appendix C to the report along with the comments of the Auditor General for Wales at Appendix B to the report and noted that post publication, Steve Barry of the Wales Audit Office had requested to make a presentation to Full Council and the Audit Committee on the Corporate Assessment. The Leader also made reference to Appendix 2 attached to the report in relation to scrutiny, which read that:
“The Council set out its intention to make changes to its scrutiny arrangements in 2016-17, including restructuring the committees as part of a wider review of its performance management framework. This has since been implemented, and the remits of the five scrutiny committees have been re-designated to reflect the Council’s four wellbeing outcomes (set out in the Corporate Plan)”.
The Leader was pleased to note that this was in line with the aims of the administration. He finished by giving his thanks to the Managing Director for his hard work and leadership in achieving this excellent outcome.
In agreement with the Leader, the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Education highlighted paragraph 43 of the Corporate Assessment Report 2016 attached at Appendix A to the report which read that:
“A significant majority of members and officers we spoke to during this assessment referred to a rapidly developing culture of openness and transparency in their working relationships. They felt this was fostering engagement in change and improvement activities, as well as more confidence in discussing and resolving issues. This is providing a sound foundation for the future as the Council moves into the implementation of proposals emerging from the RSP.”
She also highlighted paragraph 7 of the report, explaining that the report “provided firm and robust evidence that, despite increasing pressures on our budgets and demands on out services, we are performing efficiently.” She noted that this again was one of the key aims of the administration.
The Cabinet Member for Visible, Leisure and Regulatory Services commented that he wished to congratulate Officers on their hard work and first class preparation for the audit. He believed that this result reinforced the position of the Vale of Glamorgan Council as the top performing Council in Wales.
In agreement with her colleagues, the Cabinet Member for Housing and Social Care & Health gave her thanks to staff for their hard work resulting in this exceptional outcome.
In conclusion of this item, the Managing Director stated that he was very pleased to note that all of the proposals for improvement outlined by the Wales Audit Office were already being progressed. Finally, he thanked Members for their support during the Corporate Assessment, particularly in relation to the development of the new Performance Management framework and Scrutiny arrangements.
This was a matter for Executive decision
Having considered the report and all the issues and implications contained therein, the Leader recommended an alternative set of recommendations to that in the report in light of the Auditor Steve Barry from the Wales Audit Office wishing to attend Council and present his report personally, Cabinet therefore
(1) T H A T Cabinet welcome and note the very positive outcome of the Wales Audit Office Corporate Assessment Report 2016, and the Annual Improvement Report 2015-16.
(2) T H A T a report be submitted to the next Cabinet meeting on 26 September, 2016 on the progress being made towards the Proposals for Improvement, as outlined in the Wales Audit Office Corporate Assessment Report 2016 attached at Appendix A to the report, and how they will be implemented.
(3) T H A T a copy of the report be referred to Full Council, and Auditor Steve Barry from the Wales Audit Office be invited to present the report to all Members.
(4) T H A T after the meeting of Council on 28 September, 2016 the report be referred to the Audit Committee for consideration.
(5) T H A T the thanks of Cabinet be extended to all those concerned who contributed to the assessment, and all staff be congratulated for their hard work in achieving such a positive outcome for the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
Reasons for decisions
(1) To note the outcome of the Corporate Assessment process.
(2) To ensure that progress against the Proposals for Improvement was undertaken efficiently and in a timely manner.
(3) To inform Members of the outcome of the Wales Audit Office Corporate Assessment Report 2016.
(4) To ensure that Audit Committee considered the report.
(5) To thank staff for their hard work in achieving such a positive outcome.
Attached as Appendix – Report to Cabinet: 5th September, 2016