Agenda and minutes

Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Monday 18th November 2019 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE

Contact: Gurdip Paddan 

Items
No. Item

18.

SUBSTITUTION OF MEMBERS

To note any substitution of Committee Members made in accordance with Council Procedure Rules:-

Minutes:

The following substitution of a Committee Member were made in accordance with Council Procedure Rules:-

 

Councillor F.Marsh for Councillor J.P Skoczylas.

 

19.

APOLOGIES

To note any apologies.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor J.P Skoczylas and Councillor S.Thusu.

 

20.

MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 7 October 2019 (previously circulated).

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 7 October 2019 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman. 

 

21.

ACTIONS UPDATE pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Minutes:

The status of actions which were identified at the meeting of the Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 7 October 2019 in the report of the Corporate Director (Resources Environment and Cultural Services) were noted:

 

With regards to the KPI report BPI 59 and the request for comparison figures for occupancy levels of garages for similar sized Councils, it was noted that the average occupancy at other local authorities was 78%. This showed that the occupancy level for the Council was average.

 

Officers had also agreed to provide a note on the debt write off policy.  This was circulated following the last meeting on 18 November 2019.  Members noted that late payments at the end of the quarter would not have made a difference and there was not a system issue.

 

22.

SOPRA STERIA CONTRACT PERFORMANCE - 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 204 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) which provides Members with an analysis of the service performance for Sopra Steria against contractual key performance indicators and service level targets for benefits, council tax, business rates, Information Communication Technology (ICT), contact centre, reception and switchboard.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) provided the Committee with an analysis of the service performance for Sopra Steria against contractual key performance indicators and service level targets for benefits, council tax, business rates, Information Communication Technology (ICT), contact centre, reception and switchboard.

 

The overall performance had been good since the commencement of the partnership despite the period of economic uncertainty the Council had gone through and the welfare reform changes which had impacted on performance.

 

Performance for Quarter 2, July 2019 to September 2019 was shown in Appendix A.

 

Performance when measured against the key performance indicators for quarter 2 was very good, with 10 out of 12 Performance Indicators (PIs) ahead of target.

 

The Committee noted that:

 

·         The Council tax and business rates collection were both ahead of target. The processing of new benefit claims and changes in circumstances were also ahead of target. Sopra Steria had extra resources to deal with the correspondence.

 

·         The performance of the contact centre and switchboard were good with improvements made on the previous quarter. The team were looking at making changes to the Interactive Voice Response to enable more residents to be directed to the correct service area and therefore reducing the volume of calls being managed by the switchboard.

 

·         IT service performance was good, although a network problem meant that the critical system availability PI did not meet its target. It was down to a third party supplier and Sopra Steria addressed the problem as soon as it came to their attention. 

 

During discussion the following points were raised:

 

The Council tax target was 57% which was a cumulative target up to the end of September, whereas the end of year target was 97.70%.

 

Members thanks Officers for adding the volumes to the performance data as it helped add context to the data.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Committee note the contents of the Sopra Steria Contract

Performance 2019/20 report.

 

23.

PERFORMANCE INDICATOR REPORT pdf icon PDF 121 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) and the accompanying presentation provides the Committee with performance indicator data collected for those services that fall within its remit. It provides Quarter 2 along with comparative information.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) and the accompanying data provided the Committee with Performance Indicator (PI) data collected for those services that fell within it remit.  It provided Quarter 2 along with comparative information.

 

Performance indicators were used to help plan for future service improvements and ensure that services were consistent with the Councils published corporate priorities set out in the Council’s Business Plan 2018-21.

 

Members noted that:

 

·         There had been significant improvements in PI 4 “The time taken to process new housing benefit/council tax benefit claims in working days” and also an improvement in PI 59 “Occupancy levels of garage” and the downward trend had been reversed.

 

·         PI 62 “The level of sundry debt as an average number of days to collect (Debtor Days)” had also improved as well as PI 64 “Occupancy rate for the Weltech Business Centre” (the latter a new PI). 

 

·         The other new performance indicator, PI 68 “The number of unique page visits to the councils’ One Welwyn Hatfield website” had achieved a five-fold increase since the sites’ launch.

 

During discussion Members asked whether more than one year of data could be displayed on the chart in order to show the variance over a couple of years and ensure effective scrutiny, in particular for PIs on Building Services, Finance and Estates & Development.   Officers agreed that for the majority of PIs this would be simple to do, except for the new PIs, and would accommodate Members’ request.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

(1)  That the Committee note the Performance Indicator (PI) data collected and reported for Quarter 2.

 

(2)  That the Committee discuss and agree any feedback to be provided to our service teams on the trends shown in these performance indicators.

 

 

24.

REVENUE AND CAPITAL QUARTER 2 BUDGET MONITORING 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 103 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) to present the General Revenue Fund (GRF), Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and Capital Programme outturn positions as at the end of the quarter two 2019/20.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) presented the General Revenue Fund (GRF), Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and Capital Programme outturn positions as at the end of the Quarter 2 2019/20.

 

The two reports were presented and discussed at Cabinet on 5 November 2019 and were attached to the report.

 

Quarter 2 Revenue Budget Monitoring Report 2019-20

 

This presented the forecast revenue account position at Quarter 2 of 2019/20.  Within the General Fund the forecast net drawdown for reserves for 2019/20 remained at £145,000 as reported at the previous quarter.

 

Variances included a positive variance of £500,000 arising from the “budget reset” following the recent Peer Review.  Efficiency savings from this exercise had been built into both the current 2019/20 budget and the forthcoming 2020/21 budget.  The £500,000 2019/20 savings would be used at year end to fund a revenue contribution to capital which would allow much needed replenishment of General Fund capital reserves.

 

The other significant variance was an adverse cost impact of £240,000 relating to work on the Local Plan which had been funded by a transfer from earmarked reserves previously established for this purpose.

 

Within the Housing Revenue Account the forecast closing balance was now £2,621,000, an adverse movement of £169,000 compared to the previous quarter which was due to a higher than forecast revenue contribution to capital.  Such contributions minimised the Council’s future borrowing costs.

 

Quarter 2 Capital Budget Monitoring Report

 

This presented the capital expenditure and associated capital funding at Quarter 2 of 2019/20. The current approved capital budget was £66.624M and the current forecast outturn was £43.080M. 

 

During discussion the following points were raised:

 

·           Big debtors were chased proactively and if necessary the Councils’ legal team would get involved.

·           Monthly meetings took place with the Executive Member (Resources) and the Finance team.

·           At the end of September 2019, debts outstanding totalled £1.221m, a reduction of £228k on the June position of £1.449m. Performance was measured using a rolling debtor day ratio and this had increased since the June position.  Due to invoices raised to another Council in respect to one of the Council’s contracts, there were some delays and without this the rolling debtor days would have been lower than three.

·           The basement fire at Campus West in July 2019 led to a net £30k variance, as the remedial works were £50k and the excess for the building insurance was £20k. It was confirmed that no electoral material had been damaged.

·           The forecast outturn for Chequersfield had been reduced to reflect that it was likely that only 12 units (out of 30) would be acquired for the Council’s own use with the remaining 18 units being acquired for Now Housing, the Council owned housing company.  The rent for the units of Now Housing would likely be more.

·           The Executive Member (Resources) advised that receipts from Right to Buy had to be spent within a certain period of time.  Open Market Purchases (OMPs) were therefore last resort but better than money  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

COMMITTEE OVERVIEW WORK PROGRAMME 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 73 KB

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.

Minutes:

The Committees’ work programme for 2019 – 2020 was noted.

 

26.

CONSIDERATION OF ITEMS FOR SCRUTINY

To consider

 

1.    Whether any Cabinet decisions should be scrutinised post-implementation (Paragraph 14.1 of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules)

 

2.    Whether any items which relate to areas covered by the Committee which a member of the Committee may wish to raise with a view to deciding whether an issue should be scrutinised.

 

The Administration and Opposition Groups each have the right within the Municipal Year to have one scrutiny topic referred to a Sub-Committee.

 

Where the Committee decides an issue should be scrutinised, a scrutiny Sub-Committee should be appointed to carry out the specific piece of scrutiny work (Paragraph 6.3 of the Procedure for the Operation of the Overview and Scrutiny Function).

Minutes:

Members enquired as to whether more information could be provided on the Council owned housing company in terms of progress and how it was being managed.  The Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) advised that the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) was the director of the company and the Cabinet was the monitoring body.  It would be fully transparent, with all Members receiving a monthly Treasury Bulletin and the Articles of Association were presented in the October 2019 Cabinet report which all Members had access to.

 

27.

COUNCILLOR CALL FOR ACTION

To receive any request from a Councillor for a discussion on behalf of residents on an issue affecting a single council ward where local problems have arisen and other methods of resolution have been exhausted.

 

Minutes:

Members noted that they could bring any issues to the Corporate Directors or Heads of Service which was the preferred route, rather than raising issues under the Councillor Call for Action. 

 

Members raised the issue of inadequate street lighting and fly-tipping and the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) agreed to put the Members in touch with the Community Safety Officer and Head of Environment respectively.