Cllr Joe Harris
To note the minutes of the previous meetings ahead of agreement at a future formal meeting.
The Committee noted the minutes from the meetings on 19 March 2021 and 24 June 2021
Declarations of interest
No additional declarations were made.
Members to discuss any items for the work plan
Forthcoming Executive Decision List
Members noted that they could raise potential items for the Committee and these would be included in the work plan that would be attached to the same item at the September Committee meeting.
There was a discussion around the terms of reference for the Committee and how to identify those cross cutting issues, or issues that fell between the gaps of the other scrutiny committees.
The following items were put forward as potential future agenda items:
· Strategy around land holdings, the rural estate and retained assets. In addition the impact on the climate change strategy and carbon reduction (possible overlap with Environment Scrutiny).
· Update on the procurement toolkit – suggested for September 2021
· Impact of mineral mining in Gloucestershire – to discuss with planning officers
· Community Infrastructure Levy Risk – identified in March 2021
· Single Use Plastics – for Environment Scrutiny
· Budget Scrutiny – proposals at next meeting ready for January 2022
It would be helpful if members would email in detailed questions arising
from the performance reports in advance of the meeting. This will enable
officers to have prepared responses and also better support the
committee’s debate on these matters.
5.1 Rob Ayliffe, Director of Policy, Performance and Governance, introduced the performance report for the fourth quarter of 2020/21 detailing the indicators where the Council was on or ahead of target or behind target. Members understood the tolerance level of 5%. 69% of indicators were on or ahead of target.
5.2 Members noted the indicators that showed achievements and successes, the areas of focus and long term issues. In addition specific details were given on the impact of COVID, these were areas where the Council might otherwise have expected to have achieved targets.
5.3 The Committee were shown a graph demonstrating Children’s Services – Initial response to risk, which showed that initial decisions had been an area of concern in quarter 3. While still short of the target, there had been improvement in quarter 4. This was still an area that needed to be monitored closely.
5.4 Members received information on the impact of interventions and quality of provision for children and young people. Initial focus had been on speed of response but had now turned to quality and making a lasting difference in terms of outcomes for children. Members were shown a graph on placement stability for children in care, which was one measure of this. The Council was not hitting those targets which had been set high to reflect the Council’s ambition.
5.5 The Committee understood the concerning performance relating to repeat work in Children Services including re-referrals, repeat CP and re-admissions. This was a challenging area to turn performance around in, although at the end of the quarter there had been an improvement in the numbers of children coming into care for a second or subsequent time. In terms of time on protection plans, the numbers of children on longer plans had been relatively stable although there had been an increase in the third quarter. For the fourth quarter, the Council was performing better than statistical neighbours which suggested that quality of practice was improving.
5.6 The Committee noted the balance of care in Adult Services. It was suggested that there had been additional pressure on residential care from discharges from hospital. Despite pressures there had been an overall reduction in the number of people requiring long-term care and entering residential care. Members noted the improvement in reviews and reassessments in adult services with figures now including re-assessments carried out using the three-tier conversation.
5.7 For those individuals receiving treatment for alcohol, opiate or non-opiate use, performance had been impacted during the Covid-19 pandemic, having shown strong performance prior to that. Other authorities had seen similar levels of decline.
5.8 The Committee noted the positive long-term trend related to renewable energy generation.
5.9 The indicators around speed of response related to highways repairs showed strong performance over the last year.
5.10 The Committee understood the figures for those killed and seriously injured on roads was back below the target level having been subject to fluctuations.
5.11 The rate of Safe and Well Visits for Gloucestershire Fire ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
6.1 Steve Mawson introduced the performance report for the fourth quarter.
6.2 Members acknowledged the increased requirement of working form home since March 2020 due to the pandemic. The deployment of ICT equipment had to be fast and there had been a change to a new IT provider. There had also been a network change, and further changes would be taking place until the end of calendar year. The direction of travel was to move from Blackberry Work to Microsoft 365. Details were given on ensuring the right tools were provided to members and staff.
6.3 One member highlighted that in terms of governance, four cases had gone to the Ombudsman and asked was that normal? It was explained that the average was around two a quarter. Performance was better than average on that indicator.
6.4 One member referred to the Asset Management strategy its focus on economic opportunity and commercial returns and asked whether when revisited it could be viewed through the climate strategy perspective.
6.5 One member emphasised the importance of integration between council IT and other devices. Officers recognised this requirement from members and noted that bring your own device was an area for further exploration. Office 365 would help with that.
7.1 Paul Blacker introduced the report outlining that the current forecast of the year end revenue position against the revenue budget of £483.008 million, based on forecasts in May 2021 (Period 2) was an overspend of £4.570 million all of which related to non Covid-19 expenditure. There was an overspend in children and families that was offset by under spends elsewhere such as technical and countywide. The report outlined the full details of this as well as spending relating to the Covid-19 pandemic and funds received from central government. In addition it was outlined that there was no certainty around any additional funding for the coming financial year.
7.2 One member discussed concerns about the budget for children not being at a suitable amount and wanted to see a more realistic budget set in future with better planning. It was explained that the budget was set based on the best available statistics from children services on demand. It was a difficult area to predict with regional and national drivers. Officers had been surprised by the increase in spend late in the year due to a change in the market which had driven up costs. Increased effort was underway to secure local placements to manage that spend. Services were being asked to concentrate on a three-year period for projections. In Children’s there was concern of future spikes in demand following the Covid-19 pandemic.
7.3 There was a discussion on the balance of resources across the council and if the budget was increased in children’s then that reduced the budget and increased pressure in other services. Members recognised the use of resources if the service overspent and contingency was put in place in anticipation of that. Members urged for prudence in the forecasting process.
7.4 One member highlighted that for many client groups in children and adults there were a large number of out of county placements into private sector, which was focussed on profit. He stated the need for development of the market and providing more in house provision such as Trevone House. In response it was explained that it was important to support the market as well as provide appropriate in house provision. It was important to understand the level of demand. This was an area Children and Families Scrutiny Committee would be looking at, with a focus on medium to long term impact of early intervention.
7.5 In response to a question it was explained that Technical and Countywide budget was items that included repayment of capital loans and interest held centrally. It was explained to members that each year a savings target was set and they were often stretching so a contingency was put in place, 100% of savings had been achieved so that contingency was able to be released.
7.6 One member welcomed the table in the paper showing the highways capital schemes.