Agenda and minutes

Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday 8th November 2016 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber , Campus East, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE. View directions

Contact: Suzanne Hulks 

No. Item



To note any substitution of Members made in accordance with Council Procedure Rules 19-22.



The following substitution of a Committee Member had been made in

accordance with Council Procedure Rules 19-22:



Councillor M Cowan for Councillor T Bailey and Councillor B Fitzsimon for Councillor J Boulton.





Apologies were received from Councillors T Bailey and J Boulton.



To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 13 September 2016 (previously circulated).



The Minutes from the meeting held on 13 September 2016 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.



Report of the Director on the status of actions agreed at the last meeting of this Committee.



Members received updates on the following:


·         Details of the number of companies invited to tender for the Bereavement Services would be circulated.

·         The request for information on Severity Level 1 incidents being completed on target had been incorporated into the report.

·         The level of uncollected debts had been incorporated into the finance reports.


The HR Manager provided information on the likely timescale for changes in reporting of exit interview analysis data.



Report of the Head of Resources which provides Members with analysis of the service performance for Sopra Steria against contractual key performance indicators.

Additional documents:


Members received a report which provided information on service performance for Sopra Steria against performance indicators and service level targets.


It was noted that the IT incidents completed within Service Level Targets were below target.  This was due to an issue during August when the Council had been subject to a number of ransomware attacks.  The attacks had been contained, but the rebuild of several computers had meant that resources had to be taken from other calls.


There was a small slip on the collection of NNDR.  This was due to additional companies electing to pay over twelve instalments rather than ten and this now equated to approximately £300,000 per month.  This was also due to two large companies being in arrears with their rates payment.  The target would be adjusted next year to take into account the change to 12 month instalments.


There had been a staff shortage in Sopra Steria which had resulted in the target of attending to visitors in reception within three minutes not being met.  This had been addressed and Sopra Steria had paid a financial penalty for missing target. 


Members asked whether the issue during October with the loss of emails for some Members was reflected in the figures.  They were informed that these figures did not include October data.


Clarification was given that loss of emails for small number of people would not be classed as severity 1 although it was recognised that for the people affected the problem would be severe.


Members asked whether the improvement in figures for benefits claims was due to efficiency or a reduction in the number of claimants.  Officers replied that it was probably a mixture of both.  However, whilst there were fewer claimants, the amount of work involved in each claim was higher.


Members asked whether the Council had paid in respect of the ransomware.  They were advised that the situation had been contained and therefore no ransom was paid.  Further information was provided which clarified that ransomware works by a virus attacking the network and, when the network is under the control of the attacker a ransom is demanded in bitcoins.  Once paid, the network is released.


Members were advised that software had been procured which would, over time, build up a “white list” of applications which the system recognised as being safe.  This would help to make sure that unsafe applications did not have access to the network.  However, attacks on systems would remain an ongoing problem as more sophisticated malevolent software was produced.


Members asked when the Sopra Steria contract was scheduled to run until.  They were informed that it was due to finish on 31 December 2022.


Members NOTED the report and the performance of Sopra Steria during the period July to September 2016.




Report of the Executive Director which provides the Committee with the performance indicator data for the services within its remit.

Additional documents:


Members received a report which provided them with details of the performance indicator data collected for the services within the remit of this Committee.


It was noted that satisfaction survey data supplied by Serco had not been included in the report as the data had not been made available on time.  Members commented that they were not happy with this, there was always a concern when data was not presented that there were problems, and they asked for officers to inform Serco of their dis-satisfaction.  Officers agreed to do so.


Members commented on the long-term absence data and asked whether it was as it appeared in that three employees had been absent for 210 days between them.  There had, in fact, been more employees on long term sickness absence during the period, but only three were still off.  Efforts were ongoing with any long-term absence to encourage the earliest return to work possible.


Members NOTED the Performance Indicator report and the performance indicator data for the services within its remit. 





Report of the Head of Resources which presents the revenue and capital budget monitoring position as at the end of September 2016 (Period 6).

Additional documents:


Members received a report which provided details of the revenue and capital monitoring position at 30 September 2016 (Period 6).


Members asked for future reports to include a table showing the variances in section 3 of the report.


The following questions were raised and answered:


            Q         How did the items in paragraph 6.3 equate to Appendix B15?


A          Appendix B15 showed the Corporate Project Budget which was now being used for various projects and therefore was showing as growth items and transfers.


Q         Why does the debtor system not include housing rents, council tax and business rates?


A          These other areas have their own debt collection procedures.


Q         When was the issue of the Gosling pension liability highlighted?


A          Officers agreed to report back with details of the reporting process for third party liabilities such as this.


Q         Was the amount shown for Weltach rents and service charges outstanding?


A          The figure shown was the total for the year for all tenants.


Q         How much of the Provision for Bad Debt becomes bad debt?


A          This information will be provided for 1415 and 15/16..

            It should be noted that the level of debt has reduced and therefore the provision has also been reduced.  The provision was set in anticipation of Universal Credit having a greater impact.


Q         Would the Housing Trust accounts be reported to this Committee in the future?


A          Should there be a decision that the Housing Trust will be taken in-house, then the accounts would be reported to this Committee.


Q         Could a list be provided of all instances for which the Council is guarantor for any other pension funds?  If the liability is not known then the amount will not show in the accounts.


A          This will be looked into and reported back to Committee.


Q         Could a thank you be passed on to the relevant officers for the work undertaken which has resulted in a reduction in utilities costs.  The gas in particular is especially pleasing.


A          The Procurement Manager will be advised of the comments of the Committee.


Q         What is meant by debt management expenses?


A          This is the cost of brokers for treasury management and the costs of investment.


Q         Where is the information regarding the costs for collecting bad debts?  Would it be possible to provide information regarding debt collection by the Housing Trust as the current scrutiny review of debt collection/enforcement tied in with this.


A          This information would be emailed to Members.


Q         Why was such a large amount rolled forward in the accounts?


A          This was mainly due to an underspend on the Affordable Housing Project.  Spend had now been re-profied.


Q         What “other income” is included in the Campus West categories?


A          The answer to this would be circulated.


Q         Was there still budget available for any work on the Council Chamber – particularly in respect of any issues with the Audio Visual system?


A          Snagging is taking place at the moment and there was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.



The pro-forma which sets out the Committee’s overview work programme has been updated since the last meeting to enable forward planning of items to be considered to take place.  Items which the Committee agrees it would like to consider will be scheduled into the work programme.


Members received a pro-forma of the work programme for the Committee for 2016-2017. 


NOTED the work programme and that the next meeting would be the budget setting meeting.  Also noted that the Housing Revenue budget would be the responsibility of Tim Neill.