Agenda Item No


Vale of Glamorgan Council


Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources): 16th September 2014


Report of the Managing Director


Improvement Plan Part 2: Annual Review of Performance 2013/14


Purpose of the Report

1.         To present the draft Improvement Plan Part 2: Annual Review of Performance 2013/14, which contains performance and improvement information for Improvement Objectives agreed in June 2013.


1.         That Members endorse the Improvement Plan for 2013/14.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.         To ensure that actions are taken to improve the performance of the Council.


2.         The Council's Part 1 Improvement Plan for 2013/14 was agreed by Cabinet on 17 June 2013; this is required by the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009. This Plan is forward looking, and set Improvement Objectives for 2013/14.

Relevant Issues and Options

3.         The Part 2 Improvement Plan (attached at Appendix 1) is a document primarily looking back over 2013/14. It contains key performance measures, targets and actions which help demonstrate progress towards achievement of our Improvement Objectives. The Plan reports our performance against a range of services as measured by national performance indicators collected and published annually by Welsh Government and the Local Government Data Unit. It also highlights our progress on collaborative activities undertaken during the year.

4.         The above information will be used by the Wales Audit Office to assess the Council’s capacity to improve, and therefore is of critical importance to the reputation of the Council.

5.         The Plan is substantially complete, although further minor amendments will be required following changes to performance information provided by the Local Government Data Unit and from proofreading.

6.         Based on our self-assessment, we have concluded that overall, the Council has been successful in achieving majority of the positive outcomes intended in our Improvement Objectives for 2013/14, despite challenging financial times. Overall, 7 out of the 8 Improvement Objectives set for the year were judged to have been successfully achieved with 1 partially achieved. However, the majority remain long term strategic priorities for the Council and the success achieved in 2013/14 represents the start of what will be a long programme of initiatives to improve services for citizens of the Vale.

7.         Below is a summary of our conclusions on the eight Improvement Objectives for the Vale.

8.         Objective 1: To promote sustainable practices in our business with a particular focus on promoting waste reduction, reducing landfill and increasing recycling. Whilst our outcomes have been achieved for 2013/14, work will continue in the long term with key stakeholders and partners in order to deliver our responsibilities as set out in the Welsh Government’s Towards Zero Waste Strategy. The Council achieved the WG's statutory recycling target of 54% a year in advance of the deadline of 2014/15.Our performance of 54.77% places us 10th and amongst mid quartile performers in Wales. Significant improvement is required in order for us to compare favourably with top quartile performers who achieved diversion rates of between 56.44% and 63.21%.

9.         Whilst we achieved a 2.05% reduction in the amount of local authority collected municipal waste sent to landfill [45.23% (2012/13) to 43.18% (2013/14)] this performance just places us in the middle quartile (ranked 15th) in Wales and there is a need for significant improvement if we are to compare favourably with the best performers (Wale Average: 37.72%, Upper Quartile: 10.59% - 30.06%). By providing residents with more options to recycle biodegradable waste, we saw an increase in organic waste collected for recycling. However our performance suffered due to the way the PI is calculated. Our performance of 22.32% still represents an improvement over the previous two years. Data from the most recent WLGA benchmarking (2012/13) shows that our food waste service was the 2nd best performing in Wales in terms of food waste capture per household and 8th best for green waste capture (WLGA benchmarking 2012/13) supporting our conclusion that progress is being made overall.

10.      Objective 2: To reduce the time taken to deliver disabled facilities grants to children and young people and to adults to achieve the Welsh average performance of 2011/12 as a minimum. Whilst we exceeded our improvement objective target (326 days) based on the Welsh average for 2011/12 for delivering Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) by 42 days, and assisted 41 more adults than in the previous year, this performance still places us in the bottom quartile of performers in Wales. Over the past 5 years we have achieved a 75% improvement in our waiting times for delivery of DFGs from 1,046 days in 2008/9 to 284 days in 2013/14. Irrespective of this improvement, this performance has failed to improve our ranking when compared to the best performers in Wales due to other authorities across Wales improving year on year. In 2013/14 top quartile performance ranged from 156 days to 206 days on average.

11.      Year on year the delivery of DFGs across Wales has continued to improve. The Council’s performance has also improved and has been greater than the general improvement across Wales. During 2013/14 the Welsh average performance improved by 12%, while the Vale of Glamorgan Council improved by 18%.  However, this sustained improvement year on year has not resulted in the Council improving its performance enough to step out of the bottom quartile of performers in Wales. Our target for 2014/15 is to achieve the 2013/14 top quartile performance of 206 days. Early indications from the first quarter of 2014/15 show that performance continues to improve with performance standing at 239 days. Data up to end of August indicates that the average time taken to deliver a DFG stands at 216 days. There is evidence as a result that measures put in place are having an effect, and the focus will be to ensure that improvements are sustainable and long-term.

12.      In terms of qualitative assessment, positive outcomes were achieved for service users resulting in over 97% stating that the assistance provided had made them safer and more independent in their own homes, an improvement from the 90% achieved last year. Additionally, 100% of customers were satisfied with the DFG process, a further improvement on last year's performance of 94%. 127 adults were helped to remain more independent living in their own homes compared to 86 in the previous year. Continued improvement in delivery times during 2014/15 will be achieved through employment of additional Occupational Therapists and through the use of the adaptation contractor framework which will remove the need an individual tendering process. We will also use all Wales benchmarking to compare our delivery times for all stages within the DFG framework in order to identify opportunities to improve our processes and ensure we are using the most appropriate interpretation of the definition of the performance indicator.

13.      Objective 3: To increase the number of council foster carers. We have met our improvement objective target to increase the number of in-house foster carers in the Vale with an additional 8 foster carers being recruited.  We also achieved a reduction in the number of externally provided foster carer placements consequently, expenditure per looked after child in fostering placement reduced.  The increase in in- house carers has enhanced our ability to appropriately match children in local placements. More choice in local placements has also resulted in better matching and stability of placements. Overall, carers were satisfied with services and young people with the information they had been given throughout the process. Work will continue to increase sustainability and stability of vulnerable children and young people's placements, which remain a long term priority for the Council.

14.      Objective 4: To support and challenge schools in order to improve pupil attainment levels at Key Stage 3. Performance data for the academic year 2012/13 (2013/14) demonstrates that intended outcomes for this objective have been achieved, however work will continue in the long term to secure greater improvement in pupil attainment levels at all Key Stages.  Overall, performance in writing, reading and number skills increased on the previous year. Additionally, performance in English Maths and Science increased on the previous year plus the Core Subject Indicator which is now greater that the all Wales mean and ranked 4th from 13th in the previous year. Our local authority benchmarking rank for the proportion of schools in the highest quarter for English, Maths and Science is now greater than 50%. Girls' and boys' performance proportionately increased in all core subjects, except in Welsh where boys performance flat-lined. Secondary school pupil attendance achieved top quartile performance, a previous Improvement Objective of the Council.

15.      As a key priority for the Council, the work to raise standards and levels of attainment will continue in the long term to secure the best possible education for pupils and levels of attainment for all key stages. We are currently in the top 4 performing authorities in Wales at Key Stage 3 which provides a good basis for further improvement.

16.      Objective 5: To implement effective and sustainable workforce planning for the Council. Our key outcomes for 2013/14 have been achieved, however this is a long term goal of the Council which will require work to continue in order to ensure the Vale is best placed to tackle the particular challenges facing local government and the public sector in the foreseeable future. The Council has aligned its financial, service and human resource planning processes enabling services to better determine the level of people resources and skills and experience required to deliver services for the future. The shaping of human resource and training interventions is taking place to enable services to meet future workforce needs, underpinned by human resources and training strategies covering the next four years. National comparisons on managing staff attendance and turnover continue to remain favourable when compared with previous year’s performance. Our staff turnover performance for 2013/14 is 8.65%, up on last year’s figure of from 10.28%.   94% of staff have had a performance and development review (PDR) enabling services to address skills gaps, mirroring our performance last year. Absence levels across the Council continued to be lower than public sector national comparators with performance at 8.75 days per employee for 2013/14.

17.      Objective 6: To improve citizen engagement by ensuring residents’ views are used to inform service development and improvement and further developing opportunities/ mechanisms for residents to influence decision making.  This is a long term strategic objective for the Council. We have concluded that the intended outcomes for the year have been achieved because we have increased opportunities for residents to engage meaningfully in decision making by undertaking a wide range of public engagement projects, including two very high profile consultations on the merger of two comprehensive schools and on the future of the library service in the Vale. To ensure a more coordinated and strategic approach to consultation and engagement activity across the Council, we have produced a Public Engagement Framework which sets out a clear case for enhanced citizen engagement and provide staff at all levels with a shared understanding of how this can be achieved.  Internal capacity for citizen engagement is being developed through a programme of training, a key step in furthering the Council's public engagement aims.  Effective promotion of public high profile projects have been effective in making residents aware of how they can interact with the Council, resulting in increased responses to consultations and in the quality of these responses.

18.      Objective 7: To tackle the effects of climate change with a particular focus on local flood and coastal risk management. Intended outcomes for 2013/14 have been achieved, although further work will continue in the long term to manage the risks associated with local sources of flooding. We have come to this conclusion because there is a range of measures in place to address flood risk arising from increasing precipitation, flash flooding, coastal and river flooding thereby reducing the Vale’s vulnerability to flooding. The Council has established a council-wide co-ordinated approach to flooding and drainage matters, and a consistent approach is taken to investigating flooding incidents. New software implemented has enabled more efficient use of historic datasets when commenting on new development and regulating watercourses. We have adopted good practice for liaising with other Risk Management Authorities via the South East Wales Flood Risk Management Group which will ensure a consistent regional approach.

19.      Objective 8: To reduce the number of young people aged 14-19 who are not in employment, education or training (NEET). Our intended outcomes for the year have been partially achieved, and work will continue in the long term to improve via the Welsh Government Youth Engagement and Progression Framework. We have come to this conclusion because significant work has been undertaken to improve identification, monitoring and engagement of those young people most at risk of, and those who are NEET. However, despite making progress against the challenging targets we have set ourselves to reduce number of leavers in years 11, 12 and 13, not all targeted performance was achieved in relation to reducing known NEET levels. The recently agreed WASPI will improve sharing of information about young people who are NEET which will enable better tracking and improved understanding of performance in this area. In addition, mobile youth support services have been developed which are targeting areas most heavily populated by NEET young people and we have worked closely with Job Centre Plus to develop job surgeries. We have increased use of social media and 1 to 1 support in schools in order to better engage hard to reach young people.  We have also increased the number of alternative education programmes in secondary and special schools and have directed early intervention workers at the primary and secondary transitional period with a view to intervention to combat risk of NEET at the earliest possible point. The annual NEETs statistical release shows that Vale of Glamorgan has consistently sustained a reduction in its NEET percentage rate over the last 5 years.

20.      Pages 65-86 in Appendix 1detail how we performed against the 2013/14 national performance dataset in comparison with the previous year and with other local authorities in Wales. We collected and reported data on 44 national performance indicators in 2013/14. Of these, 43 have data that can be compared with the previous year. Key highlights include:

  • In total 9 indicators achieved the best possible performance in 2013/14. Of these 9 best performing indicators, 6 of these indicators continued to maintain their best possible performance (either 100% or 0%) when compared to last year. There was only one indicator in 2013/14 that did not continue to maintain the best possible performance when compared to 2012/13.
  • 23 indicators showed an improvement (based on their PI value). This is up on last year where 21 indicators had shown an improvement (based on their PI value).
  • 14 indicators showed a decline (based on their PI value) during 2013/14 compared with 10 indicators that showed a decline during 2012/13.
  • 8 indicators that had previously shown improvement in 2012/13 (based on their PI value) now show a decline in their performance for 2013/14.
  • 6 Indicators during 2013/14 have shown no change in their performance when compared to 2012/13.
  • Percentage wise: 52% of comparable indicators improved, 14% maintained the best possible performance and 32% declined.  In comparison 70% of comparable indicators in Wales improved as did 74.4% within the South East Wales Region. The Vale's performance was better than Wales in 25 (58%) of comparable indicators and similarly in 24 (56%) when compared against the South East Wales Region.

21.      A breakdown of how we performed in each of the quartiles against other Welsh local authorities in 2013/14 is as follows:                                               

  • 43% (19) indicators were in the upper quartile of performance.
  • 36% (16) indicators were in the middle quartile of performance.
  • 20% (9) indicators were in the lower quartile of performance.
  • This performance shows an improvement from the previous year in which the Vale achieved 17 top quartile, 11middle quartile and 15 bottom quartile performing indicators.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

22.      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. Our Improvement Objectives are informed by key objectives set out in the Corporate Plan which 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.

23.      The production of the Improvement Plan involves a considerable amount of time from officers. The cost of producing the plan and publishing a bilingual summary is met through existing budgets.  

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

24.      Sustainability issues have been taken into account as part of the process for selecting the Improvement Objectives.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

25.      The Improvement Plan is a statutory duty under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009, along with a duty to continually improve.

Crime and Disorder Implications

26.      None directly as a result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

27.      An Equalities Impact Assessment was undertaken as part of the process for selecting the Improvement Objectives. A summary document provides members of the public with an opportunity to become aware of the Council’s performance and will be produced bilingually.

Corporate/Service Objectives

28.      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

29.      The Improvement Plan forms a part of the Policy Framework and is required to be agreed by Council.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

30.      Elected Members and Corporate Management Team were involved in the selection of Improvement Objectives for 2013/14.

31.      All Elected Members are being consulted (in September 2014) on the content of the Part 2 Improvement Plan.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

32.      ALL with Corporate Resources being the lead scrutiny committee on Council matters that impact on more than one service area.

Background Papers

Improvement Plan Part 2: Annual Review of Performance 2013/14 - Appendix 1

Contact Officer

Julia Archampong, Corporate Performance Manager

Officers Consulted

All relevant officers have been consulted on the contents of this report:

Corporate Management Team

Head of Performance & Development

Heads of Service

Operational Managers

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies, Managing Director