Agenda and minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday 27 February 2024 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Contact: Sophie Benfield  Email: sophie.benfield@gloucestershire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

2.

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING pdf icon PDF 127 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meetings held on 6 December 2023 and 10 January 2024.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes from the meetings held on 6 December 2023 and 10 January 2024 were agreed as a correct record.

 

The outstanding action from 6 December meeting would be shared with members as soon as the information is available.

3.

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.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were received.

4.

Corporate Performance, Risk and Financial Monitoring - Quarter 3 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 206 KB

To consider the attached reports:

 

1.    Corporate Performance, Risk and Financial Monitoring - Quarter 3  2023/24

2.    Appendix 1:  Council Strategy Progress Update

3.    Appendix 2 (a & b):  Overview of Performance (including Scorecards)

4.    Appendix 3:  Strategic Risk Monitoring Report

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

4.1      The Chair invited Paul Blacker to give a brief introduction to the first report under this agenda item (Corporate Performance, Risk and Financial Monitoring – Quarter 3 2023/24). The following points were noted:

 

·       This update reflected the Council’s Quarter 3 2023/24 position.

·       The reported revenue overspend was currently £757,000 which was an improvement on Quarter 2 and forecasted further improvement through the last quarter. This meant officers were reasonably confident the Council would finish within budget at the end of the 2023/24 financial year.

·       Within the overspend, there were some significant variances. Children Services were overspent by £8.6m which members were aware was mainly due to the cost of external placements. There was a current underspend in Economy, Environment, and Infrastructure of £6.2m which was largely due to the increased income from the Energy from Waste facility. Within Tech and Corporate there was also a £2.7m underspend due to additional income from investment interest rates as a result of higher than anticipated rate of return.

·       The Council’s capital budget was forecasting a minor in-year overspend due to a timing issue from advanced delivery of highway projects and this would be managed through cash flow. The Council was not spending more on the project than anticipated, but due to advanced delivery, some of the costs had moved forward into this financial year rather than next.

4.2      Rob Ayliffe next gave overview of Appendix 1, 2 and 3 within this item. Members noted the following:

 

Appendix 1 – Council Strategy Progress Update

 

·       Tackling Climate Change remained flagged at risk. Despite the range and pace of activity picking up, and whilst the Council was doing a lot of good work in this area, the 2030 longer term target and aspirations required action beyond the council’s direct control and therefore carried a degree of risk.

·       Transforming Children’s Services – whilst there was an improving picture of increased stability, this remained in the context of continuing pressures particularly in overall demand for its services. There continued to be an upward trend of the number of children subject to child protection plans, plus wider demand on placements which remained an extremely challenging market. There were still also some areas of fluctuation in performance, but this was being increasingly well overseen by the new management structure, which provided sufficient oversight and could therefore act quickly when issues did arise.

·       The results of the SEND inspection were due back on 5 March and would be shared with Children and Families Scrutiny for their consideration.

·       Transforming Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service – a response to the recent inspection was due in Spring this year.

·       Delivering Our Ambitions ICT Transformation – whilst the delivery programme remained on track and the infrastructure was increasingly stable with more core systems being migrated to the cloud, this was flagged at risk in relation to developing digital skills and capabilities across the workforce in gaining confidence to use new tools and in turn develop efficiencies.

·       Last month the Council underwent a Cyber 360  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Equality Diversity and Inclusion update pdf icon PDF 175 KB

To consider the attached report.

 

The following link provides advice to councils on ensuring their compliance with the Public Sector Equality Duty and includes examples of some key questions elected members could ask officers during scrutiny: https://www.lgo.org.uk/assets/attach/6252/Focus-Report-Reasonable-Adjustments-F.pdf

 

Minutes:

5.1      Mandy Quayle presented the attached report and summarised the following introduction points:

 

·       The Council undertook a self-assessment against the Equality Framework for Local Government which looked at four assessment areas: understanding and working with communities, leadership and organisational commitment, responsive services, and customer care and diverse and engaged workforce.

·       The assessment was a helpful insight, it did highlight the Council had a lot to do and there were areas where work was needed to reach the basic ‘developing’ stage.

·       In response to this, officers had put an action plan in place with associated timescales and today’s report gave an update against that progress.

·       An Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Board had been set up to provide oversight and ownership of this action plan which was set out in Appendix 1 of the report.

·       The type of area that needed improvement included understanding who was accessing services to help underpin decision making and understanding the EDI impact of those decisions, how the Council focused on community engagement and enabling people to shape the services they were receiving.

·       The additional investment through the 2024/25 MTFS would enable the team to progress more on the wider engagement and outward facing improvement areas.

·       Appendix 2 set out details of the workforce improvements.

5.2      It was confirmed that it was always the intention to repeat this assessment to see if/where progress had been made and improvement need remained. A member suggested looking at Cornwall County Council’s webpage as they had a very informative, interactive way of using a Power BI dashboard to update on their EDI progress.

 

5.3      A member questioned what else was being done, in addition to the action noted in this report by the Chief Executive to place EDI as a reoccurring theme in Leadership Conference, to embed these principles within senior leadership. It was advised that Leadership Conference was a really important place to demonstrate this issue was being taken seriously and was a big statement in itself. In addition, there was a senior representative from each directorate on the EDI Board to ensure engagement across the service areas, a range of Corporate Leadership were senior sponsors for employee networks, there was also an ongoing development piece on EDI for senior management as well.

6.

Social Value update pdf icon PDF 204 KB

To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1      Colin Chick as lead Director for Social Value and Grace Eccleston, newly appointed Social Value officer, were invited to introduce this item. Members noted the following:

 

·       A responsibility to consider social value within public service contracts first came into force with the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 which required people who commissioned public services to think about how they could also secure wider social/economic/environmental benefits.

·       The setting up of the Economic Recovery Board during Covid helped GCC to start driving progress forward in this area and a Social Value Policy was approved by Cabinet in March 2022. The delivery of this however remained slow due to the lack of wider capacity until the employment of Grace as Social Value Officer from October last year.

·       This additional officer resource would provide an opportunity to raise awareness, embed and monitor use of the Council’s Policy, and most importantly ensure where social value was secured within a contract, that the council was actually seeing a return on this. 

·       A lot of the initial social value offers had been for employment and skills through apprenticeships for example, and therefore would be filtered through the Employment and Skills Hubs to ensure opportunities were reaching residents most in need.

·       It was highlighted that to date, £67.5m of Social Value had been committed by contractors and £5.7m had been reported as delivered. The National Themes, Outcomes and Measures (TOMS) measurement tool was being used to evaluate social value impact for the county.

·       The Council was using the Social Value Portal Platform to provide extra capacity and external expert resource to help monitor and report social value delivery. The platform allowed the contractor to have an account and report quarterly on what they have delivered.

·       It was highlighted that the report outlined the next steps in terms of development of the Policy and the current data available on existing contract delivery.

 

6.2      A member asked for a breakdown of amounts being delivered within each of the 5 TOMS themes. Noting the comment around most of the early commitments being within the jobs/growth theme, a member questioned whether the Council were doing enough to encourage commitments within the other areas. It was explained that it tended to be easier for contractors to deliver value within those two areas, but it was appreciated that more would need to be done to incentivise commitments within the other themes going forward. The Council were currently working on a toolkit for contractors to better explain what the local needs were, highlight local initiatives that could be supported etc. and make the process more straightforward and clearer for contractors and in turn, gain the most benefit for the county.

 

6.3      Noting that the requirement for social value did not come into effect until a contract was over £214,000, a member asked if there were any plans to reduce this amount and therefore generate more benefit. It was advised that the Policy was in its infancy due to only recently securing permanent officer  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Corporate Peer Challenge - Feedback Report pdf icon PDF 143 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

7.1      Rob Ayliffe introduced this report and advised members that an action plan was being developed to implement the recommendation highlight by the peer challenge exercise, and this was due to be considered at Corporate Leadership Team that week, and then by Cabinet in March. There was an opportunity today for members to put forward any suggestions to help shape that action plan, particularly in relation to section 2.4 of the report which focused on member development.

7.2      In relation to Recommendation 2 around ICT, it was reiterated that the Council had made significant moves in stabilising the infrastructure, but officers recognised that the amount of change in such a short space of time had put a lot of pressure on staff in learning new working practices and being able to utilise the longer-term benefits of that change.

 

7.3      It was accepted that what needed to be improved, and that linked with Recommendation 5 as well, was hearing and understanding from staff the impact of change on day to day working, and ensuring capacity was created to allow sufficient training and embedding. It was added that in the recent staff survey results, ICT ranked in the top 3 answers in response to both questions around what staff saw as most improved and what they saw still needed improvement, so it was a very complex picture with staff being at very different levels of development and confidence with the new systems. Members requested that both recommendation 2 and 5 were considered sufficiently when creating the action plan.

 

7.4      A member also raised an issue of how the Council could measure value for money and achievement as the commissioning intentions often lacked detail around targets and desired outcomes. It needed to be clearer when budget allocations were being made, what that money was seeking to achieve and how the Council would know when that had happened.

 

7.5      One member said there was confusion over the reference to ‘Vision 2050’ as the driver behind the Council’s key strategic aims. Members were reminded that the ‘Vision 2050’ document was put together by consultants to help articulate where Gloucestershire wanted to be by 2050. The eight ambitions outlined within that document had been adopted by the council as its direction of travel and were the ‘yard stick’ in which strategic decisions were now measured, for example, when deciding whether to invest in projects such as Junction 10. There were also a number of potential projects in the document which might have been used to realise these ambitions, these included things such as a new airport and a ‘Super City’, some of which had been taken on board and some had not.

 

7.6      Officers acknowledged that whilst these ambitions were now reflected in the Council’s commissioning intentions, what was potentially missing was the link back to the Vision 2050 work. Members requested an up-to-date briefing explaining what had been taken forward and what had not from the original ‘Vision 2050’ document to make those links with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Update to Scrutiny Committee Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 147 KB

To consider the attached report reflecting suggested updates to the Scrutiny Committee Terms of Reference.

Minutes:

8.1      Rob Ayliffe introduced the report by explaining that it was part of a wider, ongoing piece of improvement work for scrutiny and reflected the natural evolution of committee terms of reference overtime. This was therefore an opportunity to members to feedback on the proposed changes, confirm whether it reflected their current understanding of how it worked in practice and if so, the final version would be considered at the next Constitution Committee for formal adoption into the Constitution.

 

8.2      The following amendments were requested:

 

·       Separate headings for ‘climate change mitigation’ and ‘climate change adaption’ for Environment Scrutiny to be clear they involved very different actions and workstreams.

·       Add reference to ‘unaccompanied refugee and asylum-seeking children’ as a Children and Families Scrutiny responsibility.

9.

WORK PLAN pdf icon PDF 73 KB

To review the committee work plan and suggest items for consideration at future meetings.

 

Forthcoming Executive Decision List

https://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/mgDelegatedDecisions.aspx?&RP=0K=0&DM=0&HD=0&DS=1&Next=true&H=1&META=mgforthcomingdecisions&V=1

 

Council Strategy

https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/building-back-better-in-gloucestershire/

 

When making suggestions, members should consider the reasons for and expected benefit of, scrutiny’s involvement. When making suggestions, members should consider the reasons for and expected benefit of, scrutiny’s involvement. Members should also consider which area the item comes under:

·         Overview – an item which involves members learning about a subject, asking questions of clarifications but does not necessarily lead to any action/recommendations.

·         Scrutiny – an item which requires members to examine the content and provide an outcome.

·         Information – reports that are for members information, these reports can be presented and/or questioned in the meeting, but this should be kept to a minimum.

Minutes:

9.1      Members made the following amendments/additions to the ongoing work plan:

 

·       Invite the Cabinet Member for Finance and Change, Cllr Lynden Stowe to the next available meeting to give an update on the delivery of the 2023/24 budget amendments and an introduction to the delivery of the next set of amendments to the 2024/25 MTFS.

·       An item to consider the Peer Review Action Plan following its consideration at Cabinet in April.

·       For the meeting in May, members would welcome a report setting out associated performance targets for delivery of the 2024/25 commissioning intentions.

·       The item in April on staff survey results to also include issues raised in appraisals and exit interviews.

·       Motion 926 due for discussion in April would need to be delayed as members were still looking into the detail of a potential task group.