Agenda Item No


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Cabinet Meeting: 29 July, 2013


Report of the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety


Building Services - A Plan for Change


Purpose of the Report

1.         To provide Cabinet with details of the Head of Housing and Building Services’ operational response to the Building Services Audit Report presented to Audit Committee on the 8th of July 2013.


1.         That the details of the actions to be included within a time-bound Change Plan (the list is not exhaustive at this stage) be noted.

2.         That a Cabinet Working Group be established and that the proposed governance structure attached at Appendix B be agreed.

3.         That a time-bound Change Plan incorporating all the actions detailed within this report be presented to the first meeting of the Cabinet Working Group in September 2013.

4.         That Cabinet receive quarterly update reports on progress with the Change Plan, with the first report scheduled for December 2013.

5.         That this report and all future reports on the Change Plan be referred to the Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To advise Cabinet of the initial actions aimed at addressing all the recommendations of the recent audit report.

2.         To seek Cabinet agreement to the governance arrangements for the Change Plan.

3.         To agree the presentation of more detailed action plan to the first meeting of the Cabinet Working Group and for this first meeting to be in September 2013.

4.         To ensure the continued input of Cabinet in respect to the Change Plan progress.

5.         To ensure that the lead Scrutiny Committee is kept sufficiently informed on this matter.


2.         On the 15th March 2013, it was brought to the attention of the Head of Accountancy & Resource Management, that a budget monitoring process had uncovered potentially serious issues within Building Services.

3.         Areas of concern identified were:

·           Idle time being charged to jobs

·           Operatives not being where they should be or claiming to be therefore clients being over charged on jobs

·           Large gaps on the Opti time calendar which are unaccounted for resulting in staff not knowing where staff are

·           Extended lunch breaks which are not honestly recorded on timesheets

·           Operatives visiting the Alps depot without need

·           Operatives using vans for non-work related activities

·           Building Services staff operate private businesses possibly within Council time

4.         Following the allegations a robust audit investigation was carried out, the results of which were detailed within a report presented to Audit Committee on the 8th of July 2013 (attached as Appendix A). Examples were found of the first six areas of concern identified above (auditors did not find evidence that officers were running private businesses within Council time).

5.         On the 18th of March the Head of Housing and Building Services started her new role and immediately recognised that there were serious management, operational and cultural issues associated with how Building Services delivered its responsive repairs service and one of the outcomes of this was the creation of a Mobile Working Steering Group.

Relevant Issues and Options

6.         In a response to the findings of the investigation and in accord with the range of business improvement streams already in place, such as the Mobile Working Steering Group, the Head of Housing and Building Services proposes the following:

A Plan for Change Governance Structure

7.         To provide Members, Corporate Management Team and Internal Audit comfort that the Head of Housing and Building Services has a vision and a plan for change it is proposed that a fit for purpose governance structure be developed. Attached at Appendix B is a proposed structure. It is proposed that the change process is overseen by a Cabinet Working Group supported by the Managing Director, the Director of Visible Services and Housing and the Head of Housing and Building Services along with other relevant officers.

A Plan for Change

8.         The Audit report recommends a number of actions to be undertaken by the Head of Housing and Building Services namely;

·           The Director of Visible Services & Housing and the Head of Housing & Building Services consider the findings of the audit report together with the issues raised in the second Business Improvement Initiative Report so that appropriate systems, working practices and controls are put in place. This should be with a view to continue to roll out the electronic mobile working system, as appropriate, to the entire Building Services workforce including WHQS and public buildings work.

·           The Head of Housing & Building Services should review both the financial and operational elements of the service and must ensure that there are adequate resources and appropriate skills devoted to the project as outlined above. Consideration should be given to using the Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) Team or other suitable resource to assist in this work. 

·           The Director of Visible Services & Housing should have regard to the implications for staff resulting from the content of this and subsequent reports.  This should include, but not be restricted to, a review of all roles and responsibilities and a restructure to ensure that there are clear management lines and accountability and the correct duties are being undertaken at the correct level.

·           The Head of Housing & Building Services formulate a project plan to set out how the issues identified above are going to be addressed. This must be approved by the Managing Director, the Director of Visible Services and Housing, the Leader and the relevant Cabinet Member.

The Head of Housing & Building Services should ensure that all relevant staff should undertake refresher training as soon as possible on the correct use of the PDAs and the whole Opti-Time / e-ConSol system.

9.         In a response to the above and as a result of the work that had been carried out by the Head of Housing and Building Services and the team the following actions are  proposed to be included within a time bound change plan. NB this list is not exhaustive and will develop further as a result of the on-going audit and investigatory work being undertaken by the Internal Audit Team and the management team of Housing and Building Services. 

·           Ensure managers understand their current role and responsibilities

·           Carry out a wholesale restructure of the Building Services team to firmly establish management responsibilities removing any ambiguity in respect to job roles

·           Review the approach to asset management and the role of the technical client

·           Undertake an initial value for money exercise to ensure that idle time is kept to a minimum and is correctly accounted for

·           Review the current schedule of rates and establish new rates if necessary

·           Evaluate the feasibility of splitting the responsive repairs service into 'Housing Services’ and 'Public Buildings’

·           Evaluate the accuracy of estimation on a trade by trade basis

·           Review pre inspection accuracy and frequency

·           Review current pre inspection/post inspection levels with the industry standard

·           Review financial management processes throughout the division.

·           Undertake a wholesale review of the implementation of Opti Time. Carry out best practice visits

·           Evaluate the current staffing levels for each trade and the appropriateness for current working patterns.

·           Review the use of sub contractors and associated tendering/procurement arrangements

·           Team meetings have been introduced for all. Review the effectiveness of these

·           Ensure a robust approach is taken to flexi time management/ sickness absence

·           Establish a robust set of KPI’s that focuses on cost, tenant satisfaction and productivity

·           Establish fortnightly responsive repairs meetings with Maintenance Officers  to consider operational performance

·           Formulate a mobile working task and finish team and appoint a project manager (with an existing planner and Business Support Officer ) to report directly to the Head of Housing and Building Services for a six month period on this particular work element

·           Introduce a fit for purpose training regime for all involved in utilising the Opti Time System

·           Roll out the appropriate parts of the mobile working solution to other areas of the Building Services business

·           Introduce electronic timesheets

·           Undertake a weekly 5% audit of all jobs / alerts

·           Ensure disciplinary procedures are appropriately used when breaches in the system occur

·           Review the role of the stores in supporting business improvement activities

·           Introduce an effective way to capture tenant satisfaction with responsive repairs

·           Review the repairs finder diagnostic tool with C1V

·           Invest in a cultural change / leadership programme for Building Services Managers focusing on capability, competence, leadership, excellent customer service, business processes and innovation.

·           Keep a full list of Building Services vehicles and introduce measures to ensure that they are used in the most efficient way

·           Work with the BPR team on activity audits for key roles

·           Review the current methods of performance management and the robustness of supporting data

·           Review the declarations of interest file with HR

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

10.      Additional resources required will be detailed within the time bound change plan. It is envisaged however that the predominance of costs will be associated with creating a project team and commissioning support to review current trade levels, developing systems to capture accurately cost and productivity information for the client and feasibility work associated with splitting the responsive repairs operatives into two distinct responsive repairs teams for housing and public buildings.  Building Services currently has a financial reserve which stands at £220k.  This could potentially be utilised to fund some of these one off costs.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

11.      Increases in operational efficiency ensures the improved use of resources and will assist in providing continuing employment opportunities for local building trade staff.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

12.      There are no Legal Implications at this time.

Crime and Disorder Implications

13.      There are no crime and disorder implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

14.      There are no equal opportunity implications.

Corporate/Service Objectives

15.      H13 - Review the responsive repairs and housing maintenance service to identify service improvements and increase tenant satisfaction (2013 / 2014)

Policy Framework and Budget

16.      This report is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

17.      This report concerns a Vale wide service so no specific Ward Member consultation is required.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

18.      Corporate Resources.

Background Papers



Contact Officer

Hayley Selway - Head of Housing and Building Services

Tel:  02920 673 117


Officers Consulted

Accountant - Building Services

Legal - Committee Reports


Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing