Agenda Item No 7

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Audit Committee: 19th September 2018

Report of the Managing Director

 

Auditor General for Wales: Vale of Glamorgan Annual Improvement Report 2018

Purpose of the Report

  1. To advise Members of results of the assessment by the Auditor General for Wales of the Council's arrangements to secure continuous improvement.

Recommendations

  1. That Members note the content of the report.
  2. That the report be referred to Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet with any recommendations/comments of the Audit Committee.

Reason for the Recommendations

1&2  To provide for scrutiny and review of the Auditor General's Annual Improvement Report.

Background

  1. The Auditor General for Wales has a duty under the Local Government (Wales) Measure (2009) to undertake a forward-looking annual improvement assessment, and to publish an annual improvement report, for each improvement authority in Wales. Improvement authorities have a general duty to 'make arrangements to secure continuous improvement in the exercise of their functions'.
  2. The annual improvement assessment considers the likelihood that an authority will comply with its duty to make arrangements to secure continuous improvement. The assessment is also the main piece of work that enables the Auditor General to fulfil his duties. The report discharges the Auditor General's duties under section 24 of the Measure, by summarising his audit and assessment work in a published annual improvement report for each authority. The report also discharges his duties under section 19 to issue a report certifying that he has carried out an improvement assessment under section 18 and stating whether (as a result of his improvement plan audit under section 17) he believes that the authority has discharged its improvement planning duties under section 15.
  3. The 'Annual Improvement Report (AIR)' summaries the audit work undertaken during the period 2017 to 2018 and covers all work undertaken by other inspection and regulatory bodies such as Estyn (Her Majesty's inspectorate for schools in Wales) and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW).

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. Appendix 1 contains the Vale of Glamorgan Annual Improvement Report for the period 2017-18.
  2. The WAO report findings were generally positive and concluded that overall the Council is meeting its statutory requirements in relation to continuous improvement. Key highlights were:
  • The Council complied with its responsibilities relating to financial reporting and use of resources;
  • The WAO is satisfied that the Council has appropriate arrangements in place to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources.
  • The Council complied with its statutory improvement and reporting duties.
  1. Seven proposals for improvement were made specifically focusing on strengthening scrutiny arrangements within the Council to enable us to respond to future challenges and have greater impact. Further strengthening our arrangements for Scrutiny remains a priority for the Council as identified in the Council's Annual Self-Assessment and work is already underway with the Chairs and Vice Chairs of Scrutiny Group to develop an action plan to address these proposals. The action plan will be reported to the Corporate Performance Resources Scrutiny Committee in due course and incorporated within the Insight Board's Tracker, which monitors progress on a monthly basis.
  2. The AIR also outlines a number of proposals for improvement relevant to local government, included in national reports published by the Wales Audit Office, since publication of the last AIR. These have been reviewed and relevant actions incorporated within the Council's Insight Tracker for monitoring and will be reported to Scrutiny Committees and Audit Committee as work to address the proposals progresses.
  3. In line with the Council's performance monitoring arrangements, 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. Progress against these recommendations/ proposals for improvement will be monitored by the Council's Insight Board and reported to Scrutiny Committees prior to reporting to the Audit Committee for final oversight.
  4. It is recommended that the Audit Committee considers the content of the AIR and refers this report to the Corporate Performance & Resources Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet along with any comments of this committee.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Audit and inspection fees for the Council are met from existing budgets.
  2. There are no additional budgetary implications arising from this report, although underperformance in some areas may have a negative impact on external assessments of the Council and could put certain funding opportunities at risk.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. None directly from this report.
  2. The Corporate Plan 2016-20 emphasises the Council's commitment to promoting sustainable development and our understanding of our duties under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act. The many different aspects of sustainability (environment, economy, culture and social) are reflected within planned activities as outlined in the plan and demonstrate how the Council will maximise its contribution to the national Well-being Goals.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The Auditor General for Wales has a duty under sections 15, 17, 18, 19 and 24 of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 to assess and report the outputs from corporate and improvement Assessments of all improvement authorities in Wales.
  2. The Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 requires that the Council secure continuous improvement across the full range of local services for which it is responsible.
  3. The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 requires the Council to set Well-being Objectives by April each year that maximise its contribution to achieving the Well-being goals for Wales and report its progress annually.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. None directly from this report.
  2. Activities to improve community safety are included in the Corporate Plan and one of the Well-being Outcomes is 'An Inclusive and Safe Vale' with a supporting objective 'providing decent homes and safe communities'. The Council's Performance Management Framework supports the delivery of actions associated with these objectives.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. None directly from this report.
  2. 'An Inclusive and Safe Vale' is one of the Well-being Outcomes in the Corporate Plan with a supporting objective 'reducing poverty and social exclusion'. There is also a Well-being Outcome 'An Aspirational and culturally vibrant Vale' with a supporting action 'valuing culture and diversity'. The Council's Performance Management Framework supports the delivery of actions associated with these objectives.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The Corporate Plan 2016-20 reflects the requirements of the Well-being of Future Generations Act and identifies 4 Well-being Outcomes and 8 Objectives for the Council. These promote improvements in the economic, social and cultural well-being of residents in the Vale of Glamorgan which in turn will contribute to achieving the Well-being goals for Wales.
  2. The Council's Performance Management Framework supports the delivery of all of the Council's Corporate Plan Well-being Outcomes and Objectives.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. N/A

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee. The Vale of Glamorgan Annual Report for 2018-19 incorporates the findings of the Annual Improvement Report and this is being reported to all Scrutiny Committees in September (11-20th).

Background Papers

N/A

Contact Officer

Huw Isaac, Head of Performance & Development

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

Tom Bowring, Operational Manager Performance and Policy

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas, Managing Director