Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions
To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 27 September 2019.
The minutes of the meeting on 27 September 2019 were agreed as a correct record.
There was a request that the letter sent to Cllr Patrick Molyneux from the last meeting in relation to schools and renewable energy be circulated to members.
ACTION Simon Harper
Declaration of Interests
No additional declarations made.
The Committee to consider items for the work plan.
Members are asked to note the following:
Forthcoming Executive Decision List
Members noted the Budget Scrutiny meeting on 9 January 2020.
It was suggested that the requested item on the renewable energy activities on the County Estate be considered at a future meeting of the Committee with March 2020 as a possible date.
The link to the forthcoming decision list on the agenda needed to be updated.
A context setting presentation providing information from annual reports published by the Council on the population of the county and staff.
5.1 Mandy Quayle, Director of People, gave a presentation, outlining the public sector equality duty, including protected characteristics. Much of the work carried out every day involved understanding equalities and this was embedded throughout the work of the Council.
5.2 In relation to age, it was recognised that Gloucestershire was an older community. In relation to disability 16.7% of Gloucestershire population had a disability or limiting along term health problem and between 3000 and 5000 adults were experiencing some degree of gender variance. Members noted the ethnicity of the county, noting that 94% of the county was white British.
5.3 Members were provided with some key facts and figures relating to the workforce including the increase in the numbers of apprentices and a workforce which mirrored the wider Gloucestershire population. 70% of the workforce was women and 66.5% of senior officers were women.
5.4 Members received details of the Council’s Equality Objective:
· The economic and social benefits of growth to be felt by all communities, including rural, urban and our areas of highest deprivation.
· Opportunities to be available for all and good relations between those who have protected characteristics and those who do not.
· One of the 9 ambitions embedded in the Council Strategy is to be an Inclusive County
5.5 Plans for 2020 included an analysis of the latest indices of deprivation to identify any issues of concern and to review the approach to analysing service user data and ongoing improvement of the use of due regards statement.
5.6 With regards to the County Council workforce there had been significant promotion and support of employee led networks including PRISM – LGBT+. Disability Network, Carers’ Network, Young Employee Network, Black workers.
5.7 There was ongoing work to embed our values and behaviours and supporting employees via the ‘Speak Up’ campaign and the Dignity at Work network.
5.8 Members noted the examples included as part of the Looking to the Future Strategy.
5.9 Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Council, had been invited to the meeting to discuss equalities and diversity. He highlighted the good work that was being carried out but added that there was always more that could be done. He welcomed any suggestions from members on any areas where there was a need for greater focus.
5.10 One member asked for caution regarding the use of acronyms and some of the terminology in the presentation. She emphasised the important of communicating our commitment to communities better. She asked two questions, regarding what was being done around the gender pay gap, recognising the appointments that had recently been made at senior level and what measures were in place for an individual who was trans or non binary to change their designation and pronouns at the council?
In response it was explained that a re-assessment was being done following changes to the senior management team and new pay gradings to assess the gender pay gap. This would be published in March 2020. With regards to changing gender status on the system, ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
6.1 Paul Blacker, Director of Finance, introduced the report outlining that the current forecast of the year end revenue position against the revenue budget of £429.661 million, based on actual expenditure at the end of September 2019 and forecasts made in October 2019 was a £5.141 million overspend or 1.2% of the total budget. Members noted the overspends in Children and Families and Communities and Infrastructure.
6.2 The Committee discussed the overspends in Children and Families. Members were informed that for the next year a significant increase in the budget was being proposed. This was an area that needed close monitoring. Members raised concern that if the current level of overspending each month was maintained it would have a serious impact on the Council’s overall budget and its reserves. This was a concern shared by officers who informed members that there was hard work underway to stabilise the position.
6.3 In relation to vacancies, it was explained that for some areas of the Council’s work, such as Childrens, these were being filled by agency workers. For other areas, vacancies were not filled a permeant suitable candidate was appointed. Due to the number of agency workers, if all the vacancies were filled by permanent staff that would equate to savings on the current staff costs.
6.4 One member noted that savings in the Adults budget were adrift by £1.4 million. He asked what the impact would be if the overall budgeted savings were not achieved. In response it was stated that slippages in savings could be covered through slight underspends in other areas and with the use of reserves until they are achieved.
6.5 The Committee noted that Children and Families Scrutiny were closely monitoring the situation around the performance of Children’s Services and the budget position. There was progress being made in relation to reducing the number of temporary agency staff. With regard to expensive placements, it was emphasised that there were children with complex needs and sometimes this was the only option.
6.6 One member suggested the use of specialised foster carers being provided as an alternative model of care to sending young people to expensive placements out of county.
6.7 The Committee noted an overspend of £563k in Waste. Made up of
- 367k overspend on Recycling Credits
- 124k under recovery on recycled materials at HRC
- 72K overspend at HRCs
A brief explanation was provided about the volatile market for recycled materials and recycling credits but the Committee requested a more detailed response and asked for a briefing note.
This briefing note
would initially go to members of the Corporate Scrutiny Committee
(which includes the Chair of the Environment Scrutiny
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
7.1 Rob Ayliffe introduced the report outlining the Corporate Dashboard Indicators and highlighting Children’s Social Care as the main area of challenge.
7.2 The Committee noted the timeliness measures in Children’s, an area which had seen too much drift and delay in the past. There had been some slight slippage in quarter 2 after improved performance in quarter 1. This was an area to monitor closely to ensure that the progress that had been made is maintained. The targets were set at levels comparable to those authorities who had received a good or outstanding Ofsted rating. This was the aspiration that needed to be demonstrated.
7.3 Childrens services re-referrals within 12 months had been growing in 2019/20. Members were informed that there was a trend of increasing re-work which was having an impact on the numbers in this area..
7.4 Considering the performance in relation to delayed transfer of care (per 100,000 population), it was suggested that sometimes a quick transfer into care was not the best long term decision. Now that there was a lower rate of admission into long term care the rate of delayed transfer of care was creeping up. This figure was still well below the peer group level and it was noted that stricter parameters on this measure from the NHS could lead to improved performance against his measure as some delays previously deemed as attributable to social care could be taken out of this measure in future.
7.5 The Committee noted that the target around Safe and Well Visits carried out by the Fire and Rescue Service had missed the target. The upcoming new staffing structure would include some administrative support for this but it was unlikely that the end of year target would be met.
7.6 One member asked if the Council collected information from schools provided data around renewable energy, noting that he believed it was important that where improvements were carried out of schools that opportunities for additions such as solar panels were considered. A briefing note would be provided outlining what information from schools was received on renewable energy.
ACTION Rob Ayliffe
7.7 In relation to HIB diagnosis and the briefing note circulated at the last meeting, it was confirmed that this was something that would be discussed at work planning for health scrutiny later in the week.
ACTION Carole Allaway Martin
7.8 In response to a question it was explained that on the timeliness of initial visits to children, the point of assessment started at the first visit and where there was an immediate need or risk identified then support would be provided from that first visit.
7.9 In response to questions on waste, it was clarified that the climate change strategy would be received by Cabinet on 20 December and that energy from waste data from Javelin Park had a separate indicator.
8.1 Steve Mawson introduced the report which combined all areas of corporate resources.
8.2 Sickness absence – first two quarters of the year weren’t following trend analysis with Quarter 2 performance better than Quarter 1. This was an area that the team were monitoring closely with localised targets in areas where you would expect higher sickness absence such as frontline staff in Adults for example.
8.3 The roll out of new PCs and Windows 10 was ongoing with discussions with managers across the Council to understand requirements.
8.4 One member asked whether
there had been consideration given to being more proactive around
how the Council published information to help reduce the burden on
the information team in having to respond to high numbers of
information requests. In response it was explained that there was a
transparency page where frequently asked for information was
included. Generally the Information Team was quick in getting
requests out to service managers to respond, that was where the
burden sat. A commitment was made to report back to the Committee
at a future meeting with details on the number of FOIs, including
the number of requests granted and the approach being taken.