Agenda Item No
Vale of Glamorgan Council
Cabinet Meeting: 27 April, 2015
Report of the Leader
Improvement Plan Part 1 (Improvement Objectives 2015/16)
Purpose of the Report
1. The report seeks Cabinet endorsement of the Improvement Plan Part 1 outlining the Council's proposed Improvement Objectives for 2015/16.
1. Note the recommendations from Scrutiny Committees following consultation on the proposed Improvement Objectives for 2015/16.
2. Note comments from key strategic partners in response to consultation on the proposed Improvement Objectives for 2015/16.
3. Endorse the Improvement Plan Part 1 including proposed Improvement Objectives for 2015/16.
4. Authorise the use of article 13.09 of the Council's Constitution (urgent decision procedure) to enable the report to be presented to Council on 29th April, 2015, for approval in order to meet the statutory timescales.
Reasons for the Recommendations
1. To ensure that Improvement Objectives focus specifically on those areas where there is a need for improvement, reflecting the work being undertaken across the Council to improve the quality of life for Vale residents.
2. To ensure the Council fulfils its duty to consult on its annual Improvement Objectives.
3. To ensure the Council identifies key annual improvement priorities for 2015/16 in line with requirements of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.
4. To ensure the Council meets its statutory obligation to publish its forward looking Improvement Plan at the start of the financial year outlining how it proposes to meet its Improvement Objectives for 2015-16.
2. The Corporate Plan is a key means of the Council complying with the Local Government Measure 2009, which requires the Council to set 'Improvement Objectives' annually and demonstrate continuous improvement.
3. The Corporate Plan 2013-2017 was approved by Cabinet on 25th February 2013 following extensive consultation with key stakeholders and partners. The Plan sets out a four year vision for the Council, structured around eight priority outcomes which reflect the priority outcomes in the Community Strategy 2011-2021. These outcomes are also reflected in Service Plans for 2015/16 and have informed the development of service outcomes and objectives.
4. The proposed Improvement Objectives and associated actions for 2015/16 reflect the eight priority outcomes in the Corporate Plan, ensuring that the Council is focusing on the areas in need of the most improvement.
5. Service Plans for 2015/16 have incorporated a comprehensive self assessment and these have also informed proposed Improvement Objectives for the same period, along with the Council's risk register, current consultations and external regulatory assessments.
6. All Scrutiny Committees considered the proposed Improvement Objectives during March 2015. The views of key stakeholders including the Local Service Board, Town and Community Councils, local businesses and voluntary sector organisations were also sought over a period of 6 weeks (23rd February to 7th April 2015). In addition, public views have been sought via an online survey, local media advertisements and social media in line with the requirement to consult on our Improvement Objectives.
Relevant Issues and Options
7. Five Improvement Objectives are proposed for 2015/16. These are:
- To deliver sustainable services including alternative methods of delivery as part the Council’s Reshaping Services Change Programme. (Objective 1)
- To support more people towards independence. (Objective 2)
- To support and enhance the town centres of the Vale of Glamorgan for the benefit of residents, visitors and businesses. (Objective 3)
- To reduce the number of young people who are not in employment education or training (NEET). (Objective 4)
- To reduce the achievement gap between pupils in receipt of free school meals and those who are not. (Objective 5)
8. Three objectives (2, 3 and 4 above) have been carried forward from last year, with objective 5 amended to reflect an area of focus for further work in 2015/16.
9. Appendix 1 contains the original Improvement Plan Part 1 which outlines the proposed objectives for 2015/16 and provides a rationale for each objective (pages 9-28). The measures to be undertaken to make a difference are identified including a lead at chief officer level with responsibility for ensuring the achievement of key outcomes.
10. Challenging targets have been set against all measures for improvement, reflecting the Council's commitment to continuously improve the services it provides to citizens of the Vale. At the same time, the Council is also mindful of significant financial and service demand pressures over the coming year and key targets and milestones for proposed Improvement Objectives have been set within this context. This means that in some areas for example it will be an achievement to maintain existing levels of service performance whilst absorbing reductions in funding, managing increasing service demand or both. Such issues will need to be taken into account during internal challenge of proposed Improvement Objectives and targets.
11. Despite efforts made on behalf of the Council to consult with key strategic partners and other identified key stakeholders including the public, only three organisations responded. These were Cardiff & Vale University Health Board, Penarth Town Council and Diverse Cymru.
12. All three organisations supported the proposed Improvement Objectives for 2015/16. Appendix 2 highlights in full comments and suggestions made in relation to all objectives. Outlined below is a summary of the comments and suggestions from respondents:
- Diverse Cymru agreed that it is vital to look at reshaping services to continue to meet expectations whilst meeting financial austerity measures. However they were concerned that the rationale for the objective does not reference the need to work with other public and third sector organisations to identify opportunities to work collaboratively to maximise outcomes within budgets. In addition they noted that the need to include people from across protected (equality) groups in this work had been overlooked. They feel that, in order to meet increasing demand, it is vital to look at more flexible systems or resource allocation and service planning.
- Cardiff & Vale said, 'We are reassured that the rationale for this objective highlights the need for careful consideration to be given to potential equalities implications, ensuring that any potential inequalities are mitigated as far as possible.'
- Cardiff & Vale University Health Board indicated their support for this objective (supporting more people towards independence) and added that, 'it would be helpful to ensure a correlation with the 6 themes identified within the final Framework for Older People, which was approved by the Council earlier this financial year.'
- Penarth Town Council requested that it be fully involved in the process of improving Penarth town centre.
- Penarth Town Council suggested that with regard to reducing NEET levels interventions should take place sooner than Year 11 and 12, as stated in the rationale for the objective.
- Diverse Cymru felt that the focus on pupils in receipt of free schools meals overlooks the attainment gap for many young people from protected characteristic groups. Adding that, 'there is evidence that young people from some BME groups and disabled young people in particular have a lower achievement in school than non-disabled, white pupils.' It is recommended that this objective is expanded to additionally address lower educational attainment amongst young people from protected characteristic groups with the following actions suggested:
- Proactively address and prevent prejudice-based bullying in schools on all protected characteristics.
- Improve the support provided by school-based counselling services to support young people experiencing prejudice-based bullying; and
- Address the lack of diversity in the curriculum in relation to providing examples and stories relevant to protected characteristic groups across the curriculum, for example, LGBT, disabled and BME people in history, amongst other actions.
- The University Health Board stated that, 'it might be helpful to acknowledge the contribution of the LSB poverty work-streams to this objective as prioritised in the Community Strategy Delivery Plan 2014-18. These work-streams aim to align Families First, Communities First and Flying Start programmes to help children, families and communities to escape poverty and will therefore also support achievement of objective 5'.
13. In response to findings from the consultation undertaken with the public, local businesses and key strategic partners no amendments to the Improvement Plan are proposed:
- The Voluntary Sector Joint Liaison Committee and the Community Liaison Committee were used as initial 'sounding boards' for the Council's Reshaping Services Strategy and have informed the development of both the strategy and the implementation approach from the start. As key stakeholders the voluntary/third sector will be involved in identifying alternative service delivery opportunities as part of the change programme which will be ongoing over the medium term. The Reshaping Services Strategy also outlines the potentially major implications as a result of significant service changes for those groups with the ‘protected characteristics’ as defined in the Equality Act. An Equalities Impact Assessment has been developed for the Reshaping Services Strategy. Furthermore as intentions about individual services are clarified, individual impact assessments will be drawn up for each case.
- The Council is committed to major programmes of collaborative working across health and social care services with our key partners, in pursuit of our agreed common agenda. This involves implementing all our joint plans for integrated support to older people whose capacity for independent living is in jeopardy, including the actions required under the six themes in the Framework for Older People.
- A new Town Centre Manager has been appointed who will continue to work with key stakeholders within the Vale's town centres to implement the Town Centres Framework.
- Interventions regarding young people identified as at risk of becoming NEET are conducted by the Council from as early as year 7. The Council has an Early Identification tool which highlights those young people in school who may at some point be at risk of becoming NEET. The tool uses data on attendance, attainment and free schools meals, plus a myriad of other data currently collected by schools. Once analysed schools then work with the Local Education Authority (LEA) services to broker provision and provide appropriate interventions to ensure the student reaches their potential post 16. Often this is provided by the youth service, voluntary sector or training providers. The post 16 year 11 and 12 figures are those targets set by Welsh Government through the Youth Engagement and Progression Framework and the Local Authority is responsible for ensuring that we collaborate with other partners and Careers Wales to ensure the levels of NEET are below national averages per annum. Again the LEA provides a co-ordinated approach to intervention and tracks the progress of young people using the WG 5 Tier model to ensure young people are engaged in education, employment or training.
- The Improvement Plan focuses specifically on our key improvement areas for the year however we are continually seeking to bring about improvement in other areas. The work of Families First, Communities First and Flying Start are included in the School Improvement and Inclusion Team Plan. The contribution of the Local Service Board is also referenced here.
- The actions suggested to address lower educational attainment amongst young people from protected characteristic groups are already being addressed within the School Improvement and Inclusion Team Plan, under the safeguarding strand.
14. In addition to the public consultation the proposed Improvement Objectives were discussed at meetings of all five of the Vale of Glamorgan Council Scrutiny Committees. Appendix 2 outlines in full recommendations and comments from all Scrutiny Committees following these discussions. All Scrutiny Committees endorsed the proposed Improvement Objectives for 2015/16 with no additional amendments recommended to Cabinet.
15. The Improvement Plan Part 1 will be revised to reflect relevant Cabinet and Council amendments and published following Council approval on 29th April 2015.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
16. In determining its priorities the Council has been mindful of the economic situation locally and nationally and taken into account legislation changes and government policy. Key objectives set out in the Corporate Plan and Service Plans either have resources committed to their achievement (Medium Term Financial Plan and annual budget review) or the likely prospect of such resources being made available in the period of the Plan.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
17. The proposed Improvement Objectives have given due consideration to sustainability and climate change implications on planned activities where appropriate.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
18. The Council has a duty to identify and publish its annual Improvement Objectives and report progress against them. An annual report detailing how well we achieved our intended outcomes in relation to our 2015/16 Improvement Objectives will be reported in October 2016.
Crime and Disorder Implications
19. The proposed Improvement Objectives have given due consideration to crime and disorder implications on planned activities where appropriate.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
20. The proposed Improvement Objectives have given due consideration to equal opportunities implications on planned activities where appropriate. A scoping for Equality Impact has been completed on the proposed Improvement Objectives and is attached at Appendix 3.
21. Improvement Objectives are a priority for the Council. Improving how the Council evidences and reports achievement of its priority outcomes contributes towards effective community leadership.
Policy Framework and Budget
22. The Corporate Plan, Improvement Objectives and Service Plans form part of the Council’s approved policy framework.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
23. All Elected Members have been consulted.
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
Improvement Plan Part 1: Improvement Objectives 2015/16 - (Appendix 1)
Consultation Report: Improvement Objectives 2015/16 - (Appendix 2)
Scoping for Equality Impact: Improvement Objectives 2015/16 - (Appendix 3)
Julia Archampong, Performance Manager
All relevant officers have been consulted on the contents of this report including:
Corporate Management Team
Heads of Service
Head of Performance and Development
Sian Davies, Managing Director