To consider the new format Balanced Scorecard for the 1st quarter of the 2015/2016 financial year.
The Committee considered a report and supporting appendix setting out performance management information in relation to the Council’s activities. The report had been published as part of a supplementary Agenda circulated after the publication of the main Agenda.
Julie Holland, Service Manager Business Improvement introduced the report to the Committee. It was noted that the name of the report had now changed from the Balanced Scorecard to the Council Plan Performance Monitoring report and covered Quarter 1 of the 2015/2016 financial year. The Committee was reminded that the report had been substantially redesigned to be more dynamic, easier to monitor and to be more closely linked to the Council’s key objectives. It was stressed that although the design of the report was finalised, the list of indicators shown was not set in stone and could be changed if required.
In summary, the report showed a strong performance in Quarter 1 of 2015/2016 as 95% of indicators had been reported as achieving their targets. Three indicators had failed to meet their targets:
· The project to establish a Berkshire West Joint Commissioning Function
· The project for alternative provision for the physical disability day services currently at Westmead Wokingham;
· The assets programme examining options around the Council’s land and property holdings.
The Committee was informed that the indicators measured within the report had been set as result of discussion between the relevant Executive Member and Director. The indicators reported within the report were considered to be of a high level strategic nature, but at service level there were more detailed indicators and targets for use within the services at operational level.
The reporting cycle of the report was that once compiled it was considered at Departmental Leadership Team meetings, the Corporate Leadership Team, Executive Members and finally the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee.
Prior to considering the report in detail, the Chairman invited general comments on the overall look and feel of the new report. A summary of these key points is presented below:
· Members reiterated that they wished to gain a greater general understanding of the rationale of how individual targets had been determined between Executive Members and their Directors in order that the Committee could form a view as to whether the targets were appropriate or sufficiently challenging. It was suggested that the most appropriate way for the Committee to seek assurance on the setting of the indicators was to invite individual Executive Members and Directors to meetings of the Committee to comment;
· Members of the Committee queried whether any feedback had been given on the new report by the Executive. Julie Holland commented that she had received feedback that the members of the Executive had found the report to much clearer to understand than the previous version;
· A number of Members commented that a number of indicators showed as having met their targets with a ‘Green’ RAG rating, despite the actual quarter 1 data showing that performance was significantly below target. The reason for this was questioned. It was felt that an ‘Amber’ or even ‘Red’ setting would be more accurate. Julie Holland responded that a possible reason for this was that various targets were annual ones where although current performance was not meeting target, the relevant service had a high degree of confidence that performance would improve and meet target over the year. The RAG rating may have been set to green on this basis. She commented that she would feedback to the service department the parameters that should be used for RAG ratings and the service areas should use the comments section of the report to explain any that were unclear. Members of the Committee whilst acknowledging that some indicators might be measured annually felt that it was inaccurate to report a ‘Green’ RAG when the data at the time did not support that rating. It was felt that the purpose of the quarterly reports was to show actual performance against target at that time, not what it was expected to be. Julie Holland agreed to feed the Committee’s reservations back through the appropriate channels;
· Members of the Committee felt that it would be helpful to have an explanation within the report of the target ranges for each indicator. This would set out the range for an indicator to be considered to be on target, and therefore have a Green RAG rating or below target and have an Amber or Red RAG rating. The Committee was informed that that this could be looked at where an indicator was not obvious, but care had to be taken not to include so much information that the report grew in size to the extent that it was no longer concise, which had been a criticism of the old Balanced Scorecard report.
The Committee then considered each section of the report in turn and the following comments and questions were made in respect of specific indicators. Page numbers refer to the supplementary Agenda:
· Agenda page 8 – Number of WBC Councillors and Social Care Staff who are known to be ‘dementia friendly’. Members sought clarification as to the criteria required to regarded as dementia friendly;
· Agenda page 14 – Number of cycle trips on the A329 corridor. Members sought clarification as to how this indicator was measured.
· Agenda page 20 – Kgs of residual household waste per household per annum and Percentage of household waste reuse, recycling and composting. Members noted that the report indicated that the figures quoted were estimated and queried how the estimate was calculated;
· Agenda page 22 – Percentage of Community Infrastructure Levy, (CIL) and S106 funding allocated against schemes. Members queried why the report indicated a target of 90%, but did not have data for quarter 1.
· Agenda page 28 – Returns on external investment of cash. Members queried. Members queried why the quarter 1 performance was at 0.06% when the target was 0.50%. It was clarified that the target was annual and the performance figure shown was a cumulative percentage;
· Agenda page 27 – Council Tax Collection. Members queried the Council’s success rate in recovering Council Tax single person discount where that discount had been incorrectly claimed and suggested that a possible additional target could be the number of people identified as incorrectly claiming the discount. Kevin Jacob reminded the Committee that it had looked at the Council’s performance in this area in November 2014 and had requested a further update in November 2015. He suggested that the relevant Officers should be asked to consider the Committee’s latest comments as part of their preparations for the next meeting;
· Agenda page 30 – Percentage of services users satisfied with environmental regulatory services. Members queried the number of respondents on which the percentage data of satisfied respondents had been calculated.
· Agenda page 34 – Number of apprenticeships for NEETs, (Not in Education, Employment or Training). Members comments that this an example of an indicator that was shown with a Green RAG rating when the quarter 1results showed the target had not yet been achieved.
· Agenda page 36 – Average days lost to sickness absence per employee headcount. Councillor Helliar-Symons commented that she felt that the Council’s performance of 5.34 days lost to sickness was too high and represented a significant cost to council tax payers. Members of the Committee acknowledged that the Council’s rate of sickness absence compared favourably with other local government employers and the NHS, but queried the procedure followed by line managers to reduce sickness absence proactively. It was suggested that one example of such a proactive measure might be through the use of return to work interviews. In addition Members sought clarification as to the impact of long term sickness on the percentages quoted.
After consideration of the report, it was decided to invite individual Executive Members and the relevant Directors to attend each of the remaining Committee meetings in the municipal year as part of the Committee’s holding to account function. It was felt that as had taken place earlier in the meeting with the Committee’s questioning of Councillor Angus Ross, Executive Member for Environment, this would provide an opportunity for the Committee to investigate and ask questions regarding the performance of the Council within the portfolio of the particular Executive Member including indicators captured in the Council Plan Performance Monitoring Report.
Members of the Committee acknowledged that as the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Children’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee had their own areas of oversight it would be a matter for those Committees to consider inviting the attendance of the Executive Member with responsibilities relevant to those Committee’s remits. Kevin Jacob was asked to develop a schedule of Executive Member attendance for the remainder of the municipal year.
1) the Council Plan Performance Monitoring Report Quarter 1 2015/2016 be noted;
2) further information in respect of the questions and issues raised by the Committee be circulated outside of the meeting;
3) a schedule of Executive Member and Director attendance be developed for the remainder of the municipal year in order for the Committee to be able to discuss the Council’s performance in relation to areas within the Executive Members’ individual portfolios including consideration of relevant indicators set out in the Council Plan Monitoring Report.