Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions
To confirm and sign the minutes of the meetings held on 9 June 2023.
The minutes from the meeting held on 9 June 2023 were agreed as a correct
An update was given in relation to Action 1: A survey is currently in development to gather feedback from Cllrs on GCC’s current approach to consultation and engagement. It is planned for the survey to be circulated by the end of September.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Members of the Committee are invited to declare any pecuniary or personal interests relating to specific matters on the agenda.
Please see note (a) at the end of the agenda.
No declarations of interest were received.
To consider the attached presentation.
6.1 The order of agenda items was changed, and this item was taken first. George Grigg and Sean Bundy, Senior Project Managers in Digital & ICT, gave the presentation included in the report pack. The following information supplemented that included in the presentation slides:
· In relation to Slide 5 it was noted that the nature of a call can change the wait time quite dramatically, as well as the particular service arrangements for fielding and answering calls according to certain prioritisation. In this vein, the team were looking at different ways of targeting wait times, which were appropriate for individual services. This would also include looking at the quality of answer provided, using data such as resolving an issue on first contact, for example.
· The Council Strategy had identified the need to review available training for staff in relation to customer contact, Slide 8 showed a list of common themes where training needs had been identified. Training would mainly be online delivery where possible in order to reach as many staff as possible.
· To date 3 courses had been complete and were now available to GCC staff which included Introduction to Service at GCC, De-escalation and Assertiveness and Emotional Contacts, Resilience and Wellbeing, with another 3 soon to be made available.
· The Floods Communication Review was aimed at providing clarity for residents on which organisation was responsible for each area of flood response and where to get help during a flood scenario. This would also include improving communications with the public during a flood scenario, through the use of an extended Common Information Picture, as well as more timely updates on road closures for example. The team were also looking to improve proactive communications outside of a flood scenario for example, information being readily available at libraries located in flood risk areas.
· A new management system had been secured for the front facing Council website, with an aim to improving functionality, security, and accessibility. The team were currently migrating the existing website over to the new site and were on track for a ‘go live’ date of 4 September 2023.
· The 9 service areas selected for the project would be sent a summary of suggested updates to their web content, and a similar report would be put together for use by all other service areas to update their pages and bring consistency across the Council.
· It was added by the lead Executive Director that the team were doing a fantastic job on this project and were regularly feeding back to the four Lead Cabinet Members. The point was made that as a County Council, dissimilar to district councils, residents would very rarely contact GCC and want to access more than one service. It would therefore not be suitable to consider investing in one big Customer Relationship Management system that all contacts fed into. This project was more about seeking out best practice and implementing this across the board.
6.2 In response to questions concerning calls into Children’s Social Care (MASH) ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To consider the attached report.
4.1 Rob Ayliffe, Director for Policy, Performance & Governance, gave the presentation included in the report pack. The following points were noted:
· Members were reminded that this presentation was brought once a year to give a broad view of around 150 performance indicators and asks the question whether GCC was performing well compared with other local authorities.
· It was hoped that this data would give members reassurance around GCC’s performance, that services were setting the right targets and also gave early sight on areas where the council may need to consider making improvements ahead of the Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) setting process.
· Each of the 150 indicators had a family group which in some cases was set by CIPFA or in others by the regulator for that set of services e.g., Ofsted. The methodology used looked at each indicator within its Group and measured how GCC was performing compared to all other councils and rated this within quartiles.
· Due to the simplicity of the methodology, there were a few caveats that members needed to be aware of. As the data was presented within quartiles, this had the ability to exaggerate very slight differences in performance. For example, where a service was heavily regulated, benchmarking would expect to see most, if not all, local authorities clustered around high performance, a very slight reduction in performance could be exaggerated in the quartiles.
· It was advised that the group of ‘Good management and services’ related to performance such as staff PDRs etc.
· Members also noted that the nature of benchmarking data was that it took a while to filter through the system and therefore many of the indicators would be different now. This was particularly in relation to Children’s Services as the benchmarked data was for 2021/22 which was within the height of the pandemic and GCC was much further back in its improvement journey. In a years’ time officers would expect to see significant improvements in their measures.
· Slide 3 gave an overview of the movement of indicators within each service area since the previous year’s benchmarking.
· Slide 4 gave a summary of areas where GCC was performing significantly better than its peer group and Slide 5 where it appeared significantly worse.
· There was a caveat on the measure of whole-time firefighters. The makeup of the county’s fire services reflected the need of the service and the characterises of the area, which meant there was purposefully a higher percentage of retain as opposed to whole-time firefighters. There was no link between response times and the numbers of retain or whole-time firefighters. It was therefore felt inappropriate to see a higher proportion as signifying good performance.
· For children’s mental health admissions, further clarification was sought, and this difference in performance was as a result of the way the service was designed in Gloucestershire. For many other areas, hospital admission was done after a mental health assessment had been completed, whereas in Gloucestershire a young person would be admitted on arrival and assessed after. ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To consider the attached report.
5.1 Paul Blacker, Finance Director, gave a brief summary of the report included in the report pack. Members noted the following points:
· This report reflected the 2022/23 financial years outturn position.
· For revenue, there was an underspend of £910,000 which was a very good final position considering there had been a forecasted overspend of around £10m 6 months previous. The underspend was transferred into general reserves.
· There was a large overspend in Children’s Services of £12.6m which was offset by various savings, including a £1.4m underspend in Economy, Environment, and Infrastructure and £9.6m in Technical and Countywide - £3.9m of this was due to increased return on interest rates and £3.1m due to slippage in the capital programme.
· There was an underspend of £1.7m on the Covid grant which was carried forward into this financial year and ring-fenced for any cost resulting from the impact of the pandemic e.g., economic recovery.
· The savings programme for 2022/23 was £11m of which 85% was achieved and the rest would be achieved during this financial year.
· No Council was obligated to include the Dedicated Schools Grant (a ring-fenced grant allocated to local authorities by the Government to support a range of education related services) within their outturn position but for many, including GCC, this was an increasingly worrying position. Last year there was an overspend of £17m, mainly in the high needs block. Making a cumulative deficit of £28.6m at the end of 2022/23.
· The Capital Budget for 2022/23 was £149m, of which £123m was spent resulting in a slippage of £26m – the vast majority of this will be spent in this financial year.
5.2 In relation to the increasing deficit within the DSG, members noted that this was not something local authorities as a sector were losing sight of, it was regularly raised in discussions with Treasury and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities about how this will be addressed. It was not just an issue in terms of having a deficit but also the underfunding, particularly within high needs.
5.3 A member raised the overspend within home to school transport. Officers advised that this issue was actively being looked at by the project team. It was a complex situation in that the current solution was highly customer focused but there was need for a more efficient approach to tackle an increase in demand, and to ensure no family ended up with a worse solution. The 2023/24 budget had also allocated more funding for this area.
5.4 Officers advised that there were active discussions around how some of the ring-fenced Public Health grant could be spent to relieve up and coming pressures for the service. Members were reminded that some of the grant had been carried over through recent years due to Covid impacts on service delivery and because time limited Covid grants being used to cover Public Health activity instead. Members were concerned that the grant was not just repeatedly carried over.
5.5 Members heard that the ‘Invest ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To review the committee work plan and suggest items for consideration at future meetings.
Forthcoming Executive Decision List
7.1 Members were advised that the items showing in red on the work plan were items that had been on the Committees future item list, and had been scheduled for potential dates during the recent Lead Members meeting.
7.2 Noting there were a lot of potential items for both September and December, the following suggestions were made:
· A report on Councillor Communications confirmed for September.
· An update on recruitment and retention would be included in the September Corporate Resources report.
· The December meeting would be extended to allow the inclusion of a progress report on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, the Social Value Portal, IT Improvement and an exempt item on Cyber Security.
7.3 A member raised they had a potential Task Group suggestion to discuss with Democratic Services on nutrition and health.
ACTION: Democratic Services