Venue: Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN
Contact: Neil Carr Principal Democratic Services Officer
To receive any apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were submitted by Councillors Kate Haines, Pauline Helliar-Symons and John Jarvis.
To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 11 January 2016.
The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 11 January 2016 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
The Chairman highlighted the following matters arising from the Minutes:
Minute 45 – Minutes of Previous Meeting – Committee Work Programmes – Neil Carr, Principal Democratic Services Officer confirmed that the first meeting of the Shared Services Task and Finish Group would be held on 14 March 2016.
Minute 51 – Council Plan Performance Monitoring – 2015/16 – the Chairman commented that two performance indicators had been misreported due to administrative errors and sought assurance that robust checking was in place. Andrew Moulton, Head of Governance and Improvement reported that the Council’s performance management system was currently the subject of an internal audit which would quality assure the way reports were constructed and checked.
Declaration of Interest
To receive any declarations of interest
There were no declarations of interest.
Public Question Time
To answer any public questions
A period of 30 minutes will be allowed for members of the public to ask questions submitted under notice.
The Council welcomes questions from members of the public about the work of this committee.
Subject to meeting certain timescales, questions can relate to general issues concerned with the work of the Committee or an item which is on the Agenda for this meeting. For full details of the procedure for submitting questions please contact the Democratic Services Section on the numbers given below or go to www.wokingham.gov.uk/publicquestions
There were no public questions.
Member Question Time
To answer any member questions
There were no Member questions.
Public Budget Consultation
To question Councillor Anthony Pollock, Executive Member for Economic Development and Finance, about the feedback received from the 2015 Public Budget Consultation exercise and plans for the 2016 Budget Consultation exercise. (15 minutes).
The Chairman confirmed that this item would be deferred to the next meeting of the Committee on 31 May 2016. The item would be supported by a written report.
RESOLVED: That the item on Public Budget Consultation be added to the Committee’s Work Programme for consideration at the meeting on 31 May 2016.
To consider proposals for the next review of Council Tax Single Person Discount (SPD) claims, the feasibility of introducing an annual signed declaration and the implications of SPD for student households. (10 minutes).
The Committee considered a report, set out on Agenda pages 17 to 20, which provided an update on the costs and financial benefits arising out of a series of reviews of the Council Tax Single Person Discount (SPD) system. The report stated that details of the savings generated by earlier reviews had been circulated to the Committee previously. A further review was to be carried out shortly and would take the form of data matching against credit reference data.
At its meeting on 2 November 2015, the Committee requested more information on the potential for introducing a signed declaration form for SPD claimants. The report stated that the costs of introducing a signed declaration form would be prohibitive compared to the costs of carrying out a full external review of the system.
At its November 2015 meeting, the Committee also requested further information on the impact of Council Tax SPD on student households. The report stated that, in these cases, the Council required a student certificate from the relevant educational establishment with the start and end dates of the course. In households where all the occupiers were students there was an exemption from Council Tax.
The report also provided comparative data on the way neighbouring Councils carried out reviews of Council Tax SPD.
Rob Stubbs, Head of Finance, also gave details of plans to introduce an SPD late notification penalty scheme with a deadline of 21 days from a change of circumstances.
Members raised the following points:
· Plans to introduce a late notification scheme were supported, but Members felt that a 28 day timeframe would be more suitable than the proposed 21 days.
· The costs associated with a signed declaration form, as set out in the report, were noted, but Members asked whether a more cost effective system could be developed.
1) the proposals for the next review of Council Tax Single Person Discounts be supported;
2) further information be circulated to the Committee on the feasibility of introducing a signed declaration form for SPD claimants;
3) benchmarking data from Slough Borough Council be circulated to the Committee in due course.
To consider a presentation on the work of the Asset Review Programme Board and the development of the Asset Management Plan. (20 minutes).
The Committee received a presentation, set out on Agenda pages 21 to 28, on the Assets Review Programme and the Asset Management Plan. The presentation was submitted by Councillor Mark Ashwell, Deputy Executive Member for Regeneration and Communities and Chris Gillett, Service Manager, Strategic Assets.
The presentation gave details of the ongoing Assets Review Programme which aimed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the Council’s properties which had an estimated asset value of over £700m. The outcome of the review could be a change in asset ownership, changes in the services provided from the asset locations and/or different service providers. Another key outcome would be an improved partnership working arrangement with Town and Parish Councils around a joint asset base. As part of the review a new Property Management System, Technology Forge, was also being implemented.
In addition to the Assets Review Programme the presentation described the process for developing a revised Asset Management Plan. The revised plan would provide a vision and framework for asset purchase and disposal together with a framework for Community Asset Transfers and Council office accommodation standards.
Members raised the following points:
· What was the timeframe for completing the Area Wide Reviews and what were the outcomes from the reviews? It was confirmed that the review of Woodley had been completed and that the remaining reviews would be finished in the next few months. The outcomes included an understanding of the Council assets in the area and an options appraisal. The options appraisal analysed the potential for retention, disposal, further investment and handover to the relevant Town or Parish Council.
· How were ward Members involved in the Area Wide Reviews? It was confirmed that Ward Members were involved at an early stage to make use of their local knowledge and connections.
· What was the benefit of moving to longer leases on Council properties? It was confirmed that longer leases provided more security for local groups, enabling them to bid for grant funding with more certainty about their future.
· Within the overall asset value of £700m what was the breakdown for specific areas such as commercial property and operational service property? It was confirmed that this information would be circulated to the Committee.
· Has there been an assessment of the achievements of the Asset Programme Review to date? It was confirmed that an assessment of lessons learned to date had been compiled. This document would be circulated to the Committee.
1) Mark Ashwell and Chris Gillett be thanked for the presentation to the Committee;
2) the additional information relating to the breakdown of property values and the assessment of lessons learned be circulated to the Committee;
3) a further progress report on the Assets Review Programme be submitted in due course.
To question Councillor Pauline Jorgensen, Executive Member for Resident Services, on the operation of services within her portfolio and any upcoming issues.(20 minutes).
A list of the Executive Member for Resident Services’ specific portfolio responsibilities is attached.
The Chairman stated that, as part of its role of holding the Executive to account for the delivery of Council services, the Committee had invited Councillor Pauline Jorgensen, Executive Member for Resident Services, to discuss current issues relating to her portfolio and to take questions.
The Committee was referred to the list of Councillor Jorgensen’s responsibilities, as set out on Agenda pages 29 to 30 and the relevant Council Plan performance indicators.
Councillor Jorgensen highlighted the following issues:
· A recent major piece of work had been bringing the Council’s IT service back in-house. After some initial teething problems it was felt that the service had settled down. The aim of the insourcing was to improve service quality and deliver a £500k saving.
· Another major initiative was the development of the Library Offer and the move to a new service delivery model for libraries. This was the subject of a separate report on the Agenda.
· A third priority was working with the Council’s HR service to modernise terms and conditions and generate additional savings for the Council.
Members then raised the following points:
· In relation to the in-house IT service, which areas of data were stored in the Cloud? It was confirmed that details of Cloud storage would be circulated to the Committee.
· In relation to the Council’s email system, what metrics were used to measure the associated costs? It was confirmed that this information would be circulated to the Committee.
· What were the key issues in seeking to develop shared services? It was confirmed that finding suitable partners was very important. The aim of sharing was to reduce overheads, increase resilience and access specialist skills. Increasing revenue was challenging but achievable as evidenced by the Building Control and Legal shared services.
· In relation to Environmental Health, Licensing and Trading Standards, what control did the Council have over fees and charges? It was confirmed that there was no differential pricing between the Council and West Berkshire. The Joint Service Review Board received detailed information on service delivery, performance and customer satisfaction.
1) Councillor Jorgensen be thanked for attending the meeting and answering Members’ questions;
2) Councillor Jorgensen provide additional information in response to Members’ questions;
3) Councillor Jorgensen be invited to attend a meeting of the Shared Services Task and Finish Group.
To consider the latest developments relating to the Council’s updated library offer for residents. (15 minutes).
The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 31 to 47, on the development of the new Library Offer. The Library Offer set out a direction of travel for the library service within the financial constraints facing the Council in the short to medium term. The Library Offer was underpinned by a new delivery model based on a hub and spoke concept.
The report highlighted the current range of services which could be accessed through the Borough’s libraries and the fact that the service had bucked the national trend by increasing the number of visits by local residents. In order to take the service forward it was proposed to introduce a new delivery model based on a hub and spoke system. The hub libraries (Lower Earley, Wokingham and Woodley) would operate using a combination of traditional staffed opening hours with self-service available during unstaffed opening. The spoke libraries would operate using opening hours which focussed on times of highest demand within the local community rather than the existing historic opening times.
The report stated that the hub and spoke model was becoming more popular in the UK with Councils such as Brighton and Hove, Peterborough and the London Borough of Barnet adopting the approach. Public consultation on the proposed Library Offer and Delivery Model was due to end on 1 April 2016. The consultation included an online questionnaire and consultation events held across the Borough.
Members raised the following issues:
· How would unstaffed libraries work in relation to issues such as health and safety and anti-social behaviour? Mark Redfearn, Service Manager for Libraries and Community Development, advised that libraries operating without staff would be monitored using CCTV cameras. Entry to these libraries would also be restricted to residents with library cards. Similar systems were already operating successfully in other parts of the country.
· In relation to CCTV footage and other security data, how long could the records be kept before disposal? It was confirmed that, under the Data Protection legislation, the security data could be retained as long as there was a demonstrable operational need.
· Once approved by the Executive, what was the projected timeframe for introducing the new library delivery model? It was confirmed that, if the Executive approved the plans in June 2016, it would be possible to have a pilot library up and running by the summer of 2017.
RESOLVED: That the proposed Library Offer and Delivery Model, as set out in the report, be supported.
To consider the latest report on the performance of key services and corporate projects.(15 minutes).
The Committee considered a report and supporting Appendix, set out at Agenda pages 49 to 81, which provided performance management information in relation to the Council’s activities.
Andrew Moulton, Head of Governance and Improvement Services, introduced the report and stated that the majority of performance indicators were currently on track and were rated Green. A number of indicators were currently rated Amber or Red as follows:
· % children who are currently subject to a Child Protection Plan (CPP) who are subject to a CPP for a second or subsequent time within 24 months (Red);
· % of Looked after Children living within 20 miles of their home (Amber);
· Cumulative % of the eligible population aged 40 to 70 who received an NHS health check (Amber);
· HIV diagnosed prevalence per 1,000 people aged 15 to 59 (Amber);
· Integration with Health (Better Care Fund) (Amber);
· Reduce the education gap at KS2 Level 4 between disadvantaged and other pupils for Reading, Writing and Maths (Red);
· % of Secondary Schools with a current Ofsted rating of “good” or better (Amber);
· Number of affordable dwellings completed (annual) (Red);
· Kgs of residual household waste per household per annum (Amber);
· % of household waste re-used, recycled or composted (Amber);
· Debtors collection (Amber);
· Assets programme (Amber);
· ICT 2016 (Amber);
· Number of work experience opportunities for NEETs between 16 and 24 years (Amber).
The Committee considered each section of the report in turn. Councillor Pauline Jorgensen answered Members’ questions relating to the performance indicators covering her portfolio.
Members raised the following comments and questions in respect of specific indicators.
Agenda page 56 – HIV diagnosed prevalence per 1,000 people aged 15-59 – Members requested benchmarking data to enable comparison with similar Councils.
Agenda page 59 – Number of cycle trips on the A329 corridor (LSTF project investment area) – in light of the data for 2013, 2014 and 2015, previously circulated to the Committee, Members queried the target, the lack of a traffic light description and commentary.
Agenda page 60 – Reduce the education gap at KS2 Level 4 between disadvantaged and other pupils for Reading, Writing and Maths – Members sought clarification on the reasons for the widening gap and queried the use of jargon in the commentary.
Agenda page 66 – two household waste indicators – Members asked for clarification on the measures being taken to bring performance back to Green status for both indicators.
Agenda page 69 – Journey times on key routes across the Borough - in light of the data for 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2014/15, previously circulated to the Committee, Members queried the lack of a traffic light description, direction of travel and accurate commentary.
Agenda page 71 – Revenue Budget Monitoring Forecast Position – Members asked for clarification on the setting of the Target of +/- 1% of the Revenue Budget.
Agenda page 71 – Capital Budget Monitoring Forecast Position – Members queried the traffic light status in light of performance against the target, following the termination of two major schemes. ... view the full minutes text for item 67.
To consider a report which maps the findings of the recent Ofsted inspection of Children’s Services to the key performance indicators reported to Members. (15 minutes).
The Committee considered a report, set out on Agenda pages 83 to 95, which gave details of the Ofsted inspection of Children’s Services carried out in October/November 2015. At its meeting on 11 January 2016 the Management Committee had requested information as to how the Ofsted findings correlated with the performance management information regularly reported to Members. The request had been considered by the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 23 February 2016.
The Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee resolved “That the Committee supports the refreshed approach to performance management, informed by Ofsted inspections, and the proposed performance indicators for 2016/17 and requests that this report be sent in full to the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee”.
Appended to the report was a spreadsheet which set out the key Ofsted findings and described how they mapped against the key performance indicators reported to Members. The report gave details of new and revised performance indicators which reflected the Ofsted findings and strengthened the performance management regime.
Members welcomed the report and felt that the mapping exercise had been very useful in identifying new performance indicators which would help to strengthen the management of the service. It was confirmed that a wider range of indicators were monitored for service improvement purposes with the smaller group of key indicators being reported to Members.
RESOLVED: The report be noted and the performance indicator mapping exercise be welcomed as an example of good practice for future service reviews.
To consider the Annual Report for the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee and the 3 Overview and Scrutiny Committees. (10 minutes).
The Committee considered the Overview and Scrutiny Committees’ Annual Reports, set out at Agenda pages 97 to 122. The annual reports gave details of the Overview and Scrutiny process and the issues considered by the Committees during 2015/16, including the work of the Task and Finish Groups established during the year. The reports also gave details of the emerging work programmes for 2016/17. The annual reports would be submitted to the Council at its meeting on 24 March 2016.
RESOLVED That the Overview and Scrutiny Committees’ Annual Reports be approved and be submitted to the Council meeting on 24 March 2016.
To consider the current published version of the Executive Forward Programme. (5 minutes).
The Committee considered a copy of the Executive Forward Programme as set out at Agenda pages 123 to 129. An updated version of the Executive Forward Programme was circulated to the Committee.
Councillor Prue Bray suggested that the Committee also consider the Forward Programme for Individual Executive Member Decisions.
1) the Executive Forward Programme be noted;
2) the Committee consider the Forward Programme for Individual Executive Member Decisions at future meetings.
To discuss the Work Programme of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee and Overview and Scrutiny Committees. (5 minutes).
The Committee considered its forward work programme and that of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees as set out on Agenda pages 131 to 139. During the discussion the following points were made:
· The item on Public Budget Consultation would be added to the 31 May 2016 Management Committee Agenda, with a written report and Councillor Pollock to attend to answer Member questions.
· The 31 May 2016 Management Committee Agenda should also include an item reviewing the issues considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committees during the past year, mapping these items against the Council’s Vision, Priorities and Principles.
· The final meeting of the Better Care Fund Task and Finish Group had been put back to April 2016.
RESOLVED: That the revised Work Programmes of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee and the three Overview and Scrutiny Committees be noted.
To consider a Scrutiny Suggestion, submitted by Councillor Shahid Younis, for a review of the end to end reporting of corporate data and the analytics capability of the Council. (10 minutes).
The Committee considered an Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme suggestion from Councillor Shahid Younis, set out on Agenda pages 141 to 142. The suggestion related to the collection and dissemination of corporate information and was couched in the following terms:
“Corporate information is a key strategic asset in any organisation. It needs to be properly collated, stored, monitored and disseminated to people with the authorised access in a timely fashion. After all, this data forms the basis on which the operational and strategic management makes decisions on a daily basis. The suggestion is for the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee to review end to end reporting and the analytics capability of the Council.
The desired outcome of the review would be to ensure that the Council has the operational and strategic reporting and analytics capability to provide real time information to its stakeholders. The capability must include having the right access, in the right format and at the right time. Capability must include self-service components so that there is less reliance on the Officers and IT. In addition, predictive analytics capability would help the Council’s forecasting”.
In the ensuing discussion Members made the following points:
· It was felt that the work programme request had merit and would be a suitable subject for a Task and Finish Group.
· Councillor Pauline Jorgensen, Executive Member for Resident Services, suggested that it would be useful to look at operational performance data and to identify 10/12 key indicators/measures from a customer viewpoint. Assessment of the end to end data collection, analysis and reporting relating to these measures would underpin service improvement and identify potential savings opportunities.
· It was noted that the Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service had developed a performance management system which allowed speedy access to accurate and up-to-date operational and financial data.
· It was suggested that further consideration be given to proposed Terms of Reference for the review, with a report to the Management Committee on 31 May 2016.
1) the proposal to establish a Task and Finish Group to examine end-to-end collection and reporting of data be supported in principle;
2) Councillors Norman Jorgensen and Shahid Younis consider draft terms of reference for the proposed review;
3) the Committee give further consideration to the proposed review at its meeting on 31 May 2016.
For the Chairman, or nominated Member of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees, to report back on their activities including any requests to undertake reviews. (5 minutes).
The Committee received an update report from the Chairman of the Community and Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee relating to the meeting in February 2016 as set out at Agenda page 143. An update report from the Chairman of the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee relating to the meeting in February 2016 had also been circulated to Members. The Chairman of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee gave an oral update following the meeting in January 2016.
RESOLVED: That the update reports from the Chairmen of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees be noted.