Agenda and minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Friday 25 February 2022 10.00 am

Venue: Committee Room - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Cllr John Bloxsom joined the meeting remotely.

 

No apologies for absence were presented.

 

 

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made at the meeting.

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 77 KB

To agree the draft minutes from the meeting on 1 December 2021 as a correct record.

 

TO FOLLOW

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meetings held on 1 December 2021 and 6 January 2022 were confirmed and signed as a correct record.

4.

Work Plan pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Members to discuss any items for the work plan

 

Forthcoming Executive Decision List

https://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CId=771&Year=0

 

Council Strategy

 

https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/corporate-plans-and-strategies/looking-to-the-future-new-council-strategy/

 

Minutes:

Members requested that the Council’s arrangements for Cyber Security be the subject of a presentation at a future meeting.

 

A member believed that in line with the guidance from the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny the scrutiny committees should have sight of the service plans related to the Council Strategy.  He was also concerned that the list of forthcoming executive decisions gave little idea of what was coming up beyond the statutory period of 28 days.  Good practice among other councils was to publish information on what was coming up over six months.

 

It was explained that service plans were developed by officers and key performance indicators and risks were reported to scrutiny.  Commissioning intentions were published as part of the Medium Term Financial Strategy. 

 

5.

Indices of Multiple Deprivation pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Minutes:

Katherine Martin made a PowerPoint presentation (copy circulated with the agenda).  She explained that the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) was a set of relative measures of deprivation for small areas across England, based on seven weighted domains of deprivation: income, employment, education, health, crime, barriers to housing and services and living environment.  She set out the limitations of using the data but said that it was possible to explore changes in relative deprivation, or changes in the pattern of deprivation, between years. She provided information on Gloucestershire and the six Districts including Lower Supper Output Areas.  Lower Super Output Areas were small areas with a similar population size (averaging 1,500 people).  There were 373 Lower Supper Output Areas in Gloucestershire which were given names based on the wards they mainly fell within. Information was provided on changes between 2015 and 2019 and those parts of the county that had seen the most significant change of rank since 2015.  Comparisons between Gloucestershire and other parts of the country were also provided.

 

Answering members’ questions, officers recognised that the index of multiple deprivation had significant limitations but the same information was gathered across the country and it was probably the best national measure of deprivation. It was best used in a rounded way along with local knowledge and other sources of information.  For funding bids it was an evidence source but by no means viewed as a definitive source of information.

 

A number of members asked for detailed information relating to their wards.  These were: John Bloxsom (Rodborough), Andrew Gravells (Abbey), Andrew Miller (Tuffley) and Lisa Spivey (South Cerney).

 

Referring to the Levelling-up Conference due to be held later in the year, a member noted the importance of measuring the results of public sector investment in particular areas.  Were the funds spent resulting in improvements in the standard of living in those areas?

 

In terms of the collection of data, officers explained that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) was looking to improve data collection so that information was more up-to-date and could be used in a more agile way.  The Local Government Accountability Framework which was mentioned in the recent Levelling-up White Paper acknowledged the importance of having good sources of local data.

 

Members were mindful that pockets of ‘deprivation’ in particular areas could be hidden in the statistics.  They were also concerned around the language used as the experiences of people living in some of the areas could be very different to the way a place was portrayed by the data.

Environmental measures were covered in the living environment domain but nothing was included on access to the internet or electric car charging points.

 

It was noted that Sarah Scott, Executive Director of Adult Social Care and Public Health, was undertaking work relating to health inequalities.  To undertake this work effectively with partners including the NHS, GFirst LEP and the six District Councils, she could not rely solely on information from the Index of Multiple Deprivation.

 

6.

Strategic Performance Management Report - 3rd Quarter 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 539 KB

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Darren Skinner, Head of Planning, Performance and Improvement, presented the report which provided an overview of performance at the end of Quarter 3 2021-22.  He outlined achievements, areas of focus and potential concerns, impact of Covid and longer term issues.  He highlighted particular performance indicators relating to Adult Services, Children’s Services, staff appraisals and staff turnover.  He also provided a risk overview including high risks and changes to risk scores. 

 

The higher rate of staff turnover was the result of public sector pay falling behind the private sector, an ageing workforce, a general trend of moving jobs more often and people looking for more agile working arrangements.  The biggest rate of staff turnover was in Children’s Services. Frustration with Council ICT was a factor although the ICT transformation programme was addressing this issue. The lower rate of formal appraisals was linked to staff being drawn towards other duties during the pandemic.  It was evident though that most managers were in regular touch with their staff on a more informal basis.

 

Members highlighted the following areas:

a)    Adults successfully leaving alcohol dependency – request for information on the waiting list and the number of repeat appointments to allow understanding of the effectiveness of the service.

b)    Fluctuations in renewable energy generation on the Council estate – more information to be provided after the meeting.

c)    Local Government Ombudsman reports on Adult Social Care assessments – more background information required.

d)    Protection from cyber attack – should the level of risk be higher than that shown, particularly in light of recent World events?  To be reviewed by officers.

e)    Succession planning in Children’s Services

f)     Economic Growth and Planning – request for information on how the indicators had changed over recent years.

 

7.

Corporate Resources Performance Report pdf icon PDF 167 KB

Including update on ICT Strategy

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Steve Mawson, Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director of Corporate Resources, presented the report.  In overall terms, he believed that the sickness was not bad in comparison with other public sector organisations.  He recognised that the ICT transformation programme was challenging with issues arising as the Council established a new ICT infrastructure.  The risk identified for funding reflected the one year settlement so there remained uncertainties around the long-term picture.

 

Officers provided some background on the ICT Service. A number of the functions had been brought back in-house and there had been a fresh start in terms of service understanding.  The staffing base was inconsistent in terms of the skills required but this was being addressed.  A number of big projects were underway including a new network for Council buildings, upgrading the virtual private network (VPN) for logging onto Council systems and ensuring security systems were robust and able to withstand malicious attacks.  The Blackberry email and the related software that members used on their iPads would shortly be replaced by Microsoft 365 and that would result in a much better user experience.

 

Answering questions, officers advised that the Council had been weak in terms of in-house ICT expertise in areas such as programme management but it’s partnership with Cantium, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kent County Council, was helping to address this issue.  He recognised that for specific systems more specialist programme management capacity was needed.

 

A member asked about the quality of Council contracts and its ability to effectively monitor them, noting in particular ICT and Highways where there had been failings.  Mr Mawson believed that in overall terms the Council was good on contract management but he recognised that there were challenges in monitoring services.  Some of the issues had been addressed with a dedicated Procurement Team but there remained a need to improve the contract management skills of service-based staff.

 

8.

Finance Update pdf icon PDF 150 KB

Minutes:

In presenting the report, Steve Mawson, the Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director of Resources, noted that the Budget overspend was reducing.  He recognised that the number of placements in Children’s Services remained high and year on year increases had made it challenging to set budgets.  The position appeared to be stabilising and the Council was now in a better place to predict future demand so could set a budget with more confidence.