Agenda Item No. 8

 

Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Audit Committee: 1st May 2018

 

Report of the Managing Director

 

Vale of Glamorgan Annual Self-Assessment: Annual Review of External Regulatory Recommendations and Improvement Proposals

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To present the progress made by the Council in addressing existing recommendations and improvement proposals from our external regulators from 2011 to date as outlined Appendix A.

Recommendations

  1. That Members review and endorse the progress made to date in addressing the recommendations and improvement proposals made by our external regulators from the period 2011 to date, as well as the corporate improvement priorities identified by the Council in previous self-assessments (2017).
  2. That Members note Cabinet's endorsement on 5th March 2018, of the removal of the completed actions against previous regulatory recommendations and improvement proposals arising from local and national Local Government Studies for the period 2011 to 2015, following the consideration of respective Scrutiny Committee views, with remaining actions to be incorporated within and monitored via the Council's Insight Action Tracker for 2018/19.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To ensure Members have an up to date overview of progress made by the Council in implementing its regulatory recommendations and improvement proposals in response to external regulatory opinions.
  2. To ensure the Council implements its regulatory recommendations and improvement proposals and responds appropriately to the recommendations and proposals for improvement identified through the Wales Audit Office's programme of local and national Local Government Studies for the period 2011 to 2015 and to date.

Background

  1. As part of the on-going audit work by the Council's regulators, a series of proposals for improvement and recommendations are made as a result of audit studies (locally or nationally). The Council is required to ensure that these proposals/ recommendations are appropriately progressed and the results reported.
  2. The Council's Annual Self-Assessment forms a core part of the statutory local government inspection processes in Wales. Under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009, the Council is required to undertake a self-evaluation of all its services and use this information to inform planning for improvement.  A review of our regulatory recommendations and improvement proposals is a key part of this annual self-assessment process enabling us to demonstrate progress on implementation of these in line with our duties under the Measure.
  3. The Council's Insight Board was created in 2016 to enhance and streamline the corporate governance arrangements relating to integrated planning activities and reports to Corporate Management Team.  Since its establishment, our Corporate Improvement Action Plan has been reviewed and monitored on a monthly basis via the Insight Tracker which also incorporates all our regulatory recommendations and improvement proposals as well as our corporate improvement priorities (identified through our Annual Self-Assessment process) to ensure actions are completed, reported and closed down in a timely manner.
  4. Prior to the establishment of the Insight Board in 2016, all regulatory reports were considered by Audit Committee, relevant Scrutiny Committees and Cabinet. Actions arising out of regulatory reports were also included in Service Plans with progress reported quarterly to respective Scrutiny Committees. This was supplemented with a Regulatory Tracking report which was considered by Audit Committee then Cabinet twice a year. The Regulatory Tracking report brought together in one report progress made by the Council to date in addressing all current regulatory recommendations and improvement proposals.
  5. On establishment of the Insight Board, it was agreed that a review would be undertaken of all previous regulatory recommendations and proposals for improvement with any outstanding actions being incorporated within the new Insight Action Tracker to ensure ongoing review and monitoring. This review was undertaken in December 2017 as part of the Council's Annual Assessment process and reported to all Scrutiny Committees in February 2018 and Cabinet on 5th March 2018.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. Appendix A, titled ' What our External Auditors said about us' is an excerpt from the Annual Council Self-Assessment and outlines our progress against current and previous regulatory recommendations and improvement proposals covering the period 2011 to date.  This includes a Regulatory Tracker outlining progress covering the period 2011-2015 and the more recent Insight Action Tracker (our Corporate Improvement Action Plan) covering the period 2016 to date.  An overview is also provided of the feedback received from the Wales Audit Office on audit work undertaken during 2016/17 in our Annual Improvement Report.

Regulatory Tracker (2011 to 2015)

  1. A review of the outstanding recommendations and improvement proposals identified that good progress has made overall in implementing the actions in response to local and national Local Government Studies and audit work between 2011 and 2015 with the majority being completed. 
  2. In a number of cases, proposed actions have been superseded by new improvement proposals in more recent audit work and these have already been incorporated within the Council's Insight Action Tracker with the exception of the work relating to the Joint Education Central South Consortium, which is being monitored via the Joint Committee and Working Group on a termly basis. 
  3. In February 2018, all Scrutiny Committee Members were asked to review the progress reported against the previous regulatory recommendations and improvement proposals relevant to their respective Scrutiny Committees in order to enable completed actions to be closed down and the remaining actions incorporated within and monitored via the Council's Insight Action Tracker for 2018/19.  Following their consideration, all Scrutiny Committees endorsed the report's recommendations. Cabinet, upon review of the reported progress and the views of Scrutiny Committees on 5th March 2018, therein endorsed the report recommendations (Cabinet minute: C249).

Corporate Improvement Action Plan: Insight Action Tracker (2016 to date)

  1. As part of the Annual Council Self-Assessment, we identify a series of actions to drive improvement in the following year and these improvement priorities are also incorporated within our Insight Action Tracker. These are reviewed and monitored on a monthly basis alongside our regulatory recommendations and improvement proposals.  Appendix A provides a summary of our progress overall as at January 2018.
  2. As at January 2018, of the 56 actions contained within the Insight Action tracker, 26 have been completed and 30 remain ongoing.  Of the 30, 8 have been attributed a Green performance status, 22 an Amber status and 1 a Red status.
  3. Members of Audit Committee are being asked to formally review and endorse the progress made by the Council to date (as outlined in Appendix A) in addressing our regulatory recommendations and improvement proposals from the period 2011 to date as well as the corporate improvement priorities identified by the Council in previous self-assessments (2017).  Members are also being asked to note Cabinet's endorsement of the removal of completed actions informed by their review of reported progress and the views of all Scrutiny Committees. 

Review and Reporting Timetable: Regulatory Recommendations/Improvement Proposals

  1. A key role of the Audit Committee is to have oversight of the Council's response to issues raised by our external auditors through the Annual Regulatory Plan and performance audit work. Currently, the Insight Tracker has the most up to date record of our regulatory recommendations and improvement proposals as this is updated all year round to reflect the audit work programme work including all local and national Local Government Studies and this is reviewed monthly. Service Plans are updated once a year and will only include audit recommendations and improvement proposals that align with the timing of writing the plans. This means that our quarterly performance monitoring reports to Scrutiny Committees will not necessarily reflect an up to date position on progress in relation to all our regulatory recommendations and proposals.
  2. In line with the more focussed and integrated approach taken by the Insight Board, it is proposed that going forward, Members of this Committee will continue to be informed of progress against all regulatory recommendations and improvement proposals via a 6 monthly (half-year) update report and this will be supplemented with the annual review of progress via the Council's Annual Self-Assessment.  The same report will be considered by the relevant Scrutiny Committees and Cabinet prior to reporting to the Audit Committee for final oversight. This approach will ensure review and scrutiny of progress is undertaken by relevant Committees with appropriate recommendations made to Cabinet to enable completed actions to be closed down in a timely manner and any issues to be regularly reported.
  3. The Insight Board will continue to meet on a monthly basis to ensure ongoing review, monitoring and reporting of progress against all our regulatory proposals and report directly to Corporate Management Team. 
  4. The above approach will ensure progress remains under review enabling us to provide our regulators with an up to date position on all our regulatory recommendations and improvement proposals in line with our duties under the Measure.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. None specifically arising from this report, however, implementation of regulatory recommendations and improvement proposals usually carry their own resource implications, which can be either a saving or further expenditure.
  2. Our corporate improvement priorities have resources committed to their achievement via the Medium Term Financial Plan and annual budget review.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. Many of the recommendations and improvement proposals including our corporate improvement priorities aim to ensure that services are more sustainable in the longer term in line with the requirements of WBFG Act, thereby maximising our contribution to achieving the Well-being goals for Wales.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. Self-assessment is a statutory duty under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009, along with a duty to continually improve. 
  2. The Measure requires the Council to respond to all regulatory recommendations and improvement proposals arising from the Auditor General Wales' audit and assessment work in the Council.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no crime and disorder implications arising directly from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. Regulators must have due regard to equalities implications and many of the recommendations and improvement proposals will improve access to services.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The Annual Self-Assessment informs the Council's priorities and plans for improvement. Addressing and monitoring of our improvement priorities contributes towards effective community leadership and also underpins the improvement work and outcomes of all eight Corporate Plan Well-being Objectives. 

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. Council priorities arising from the Annual Self-Assessment and regulatory audit work inform the Corporate Improvement Action Plan which form part of the Policy Framework and therefore require Executive agreement from Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. The Annual Self- Assessment Report applies to the whole authority and as such no individual ward Member consultation has been undertaken. All Members via Scrutiny Committees and Cabinet have received quarterly performance monitoring reports which also incorporate progress against key regulatory actions. The Insight Board provides Cabinet with regular updates on progress with the Corporate Improvement Action Plan.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. All Scrutiny Committees.

Background Papers

Annual Council Self-Assessment 2018

Contact Officer

Julia Archampong, Corporate Performance Manager

Officers Consulted

Tom Bowring, Operational Manager Policy & Performance

Huw Isaac, Head of Performance & Development

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas, Managing Director