Venue: Council Chamber - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions
Cllr Terry Hale
Cllr John Bloxsom
To agree the minutes of the meetings held in March, June and July 2021.
The Committee agreed the minutes of the meetings on 19 March, 24 June and 22 July as a correct record.
Declarations of Interest
No additional declarations were made.
Members to discuss any items for the work plan
Forthcoming Executive Decision List
4.1 Members noted the work plan that had been circulated with the papers.
4.2 As part of the discussion members suggested the following items for consideration by Lead Members to add to the work plan:
A detailed breakdown and discussion around the Indices of Multiple
Deprivation 2019. To include information on how the data was
compiled and what factors were taken into consideration. –
For the 6 January budget scrutiny session to include review of the
Council Strategy and for the day to be titled as such.
Review of upgrades and accommodation changes based on agile working
requirements – potential April 2022
Milestones and timeframe around IT infrastructure changes and roll out of Office 365, including discussion on IT performance and the effect on services.- for later in the year
To include update on Single Use Plastics
5.1 Steve Mawson and Ian Mawdsley introduced the report which was an update on the procurement toolkit which as being developed and would be a resource for GCC staff reflecting a largely decentralised procurement function.
5.2 The use of single use plastics was discussed with officers providing examples of the activities to reduce and remove this in Shire Hall and within services that had been contracted out.
5.3 The toolkit would cover high value and complex procurements undertaken by the Strategic Procurement Service to low value and simple procurements undertaken by non procurement specialists.
5.4 Members noted the vehicles for measuring social value within the toolkit which allowed individual procurements to select themes, outcomes and measures relevant to their area, for example single use plastics and than allocated a weighting to this.
5.5 Members understood there would be pilots around the application of social value. A strategy would address the key elements of this. The Council would publish what measures were being taken so the public could go on and see how the Council was performing.
5.6 The Committee recognised that the Single Use Plastic Scrutiny Task Group had met in the autumn of 2019 before the work was suspended due to the pandemic. An outline of the toolkit had been provided to that group.
5.7 It was clarified that the Council would make sure that every tool was available to enable the fulfilment of the Council motion.
5.8 One member asked for details on whether the actions from the single use plastics take group had been picked up. It was explained that there had been a previous update on the actions that had been taken forward and that could be sent to Committee members.
ACTION Steve Mawson
5.9 In response to a question it was explained that one the procurement toolkit was finished then members would have a training session on it. This would likely to be in 6 months time.
5.10 There was a discussion around how social value in a contract was decided. It was explained that themes outcomes and measures were set out and by law social value had to be considered. There was a portal which provided an advisor to help those procuring get the best social value from a contract. One member stated that it should be about driving forward social value and not just a box ticking exercise to signpost what was already there. Another member highlighted that programme management principles and processes needed to be front and centre of decision making and that there needed to be balance between value for money and social value. There was a concern that decision makers could be overwhelmed with too many factors to consider.
5.11 In response to question on considering single use plastic issues when purchasing, it was stated that there were industry standards that were followed. There was a personal responsibility around disposing of waste materials from packaging. There were also national frameworks in place. One member stated that the Council should be ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
6.1 Rob Ayliffe provided an overview of demand and performance key issues and trends.
6.2 Members noted the increase in the number of children in care in Gloucestershire and that 45% of care leavers aged 19-21 ended up as not in employment, education or training in 2020. The increase in children in care created a significant pressure on council resources. The Council also benchmarked high compared to peers for the rate of children in need and children on a child protection plan.
6.3 The Committee were shown the numbers packages of ongoing care for older people and those with a physical disability (including Covid-19 funded individuals), alongside the 2021/22 budget. Long term successes in preventing increased demand in this area could be affected by the challenges going forward such as Covid-19.
6.4 Members recognised that between 2018 and 2043 the projections showed a 16.6% growth in population as a whole with a 52.5% growth in over 65s. In line with this there were projected to be a significant increase in those over 65 with dementia by 2043. One member queried the impact in medical advances that could affect the number of people with dementia.
6.5 There was discussion around the Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service improvement journey since 2009.One member noted the introduction of additional fire safety inspections and then the recent drops in this due to the pandemic.
6.6 Members were informed of the transformational future infrastructure projects in Gloucestershire including the M5 Junction 10 improvements, M5 Junction 9 and A46 Improvement Scheme, the A417 Missing Link, Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production Fusion Project, the Mass Rapid Transit Scheme and B4063 Cheltenham – Gloucester Cycle Scheme. One member raised cyber central as an important scheme.
6.7 In relation to Housing growth, it was estimated there would be 32,000 new homes by 2031 and 97,000 by 2051. Members noted that housing needs could be different with household size projected to decrease and there being an older demographic.
6.8 Although the long term trend for new school places was relatively flat there were peaks and troughs over the short term with school capacity not necessarily in the right places.
6.9 Members were provided with the projected trajectory for carbon emissions showing continuing reductions, both in the County Council’s own emissions and for the County. The latter would require a step change and acceleration in improvement to achieve target for 2045.
6.10 The Committee were shown details of the number of safety defects repaired on Gloucestershire highways since April 2019.One member raised concern about the highways indicators stating that they were not fit for purpose. One member noted the increase in 28 days defects on the graph in 2021. Officers outlined that the pattern of weather was a factor. Some members criticised the number of potholes on Gloucestershire’s roads. Members were reminded that there had been a detailed discussion at Environment Scrutiny Committee on this. One member commented on the financial position of backlog of repairs as a good indicator.
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 provided members with an overview of performance at the end of quarter 1 for 2021/22. This included areas of achievements and successes, areas of focus and concern and long term issues. In addition there were specific indicators which demonstrated the impact of Covid.
7.2 For Children’s Services and initial response to risk, there had been a drop off in quarter 3 and 4 but was showing improvement in the 1st quarter in 2021/22. In terms of repeat work such as re-referrals and repeat children plans and readmissions into care there was signs of sustained improvement.
7.3 For Adult Services review and reassessments performance had dropped off in the first quarter and this was something they would be looking at in detail ahead of reporting to committee again.
7.4 Members noted the risk register attached to the report. The risk around adult social care independence sector had risen in light of instability in the market. In addition, the cumulative impact of service pressures due to the impact of Covid had also seen an increased risk.
7.5 One member felt there was a downward trend of the areas that were on target. In response it was stated that this was a similar position to the previous year and that for some indicators there was additional projections that suggested that they would move back on track over the course of the year.
7.6 One member expressed concern that highways measures were outlined as an achievement. In response it was explained that the measures suggested that for repairing those safety defects performance was good. It was acknowledged that this was not the only factor to consider in relation to highways and that the response from residents suggested performance was not at the level the indicators were showing. Members discussed the issues in highways, noting communication challenges and the need to manage expectations. It was suggested by one member that the focus of the team was on technical measures rather than customer service. One member raised concerns about the time taken for residents to have responses to the tickets raised. It was confirmed there was a satisfaction measure in the data set but the target needed reviewing.
7.7 In relation to renewable energy, one member asked that the targets be provided on the slides. In addition it was confirmed that the fluctuation of targets was due to seasonality.
8.1 Steve Mawson introduced the Corporate Resources Performance Report.
8.2 Members noted the details in the report around the activities being taken in ICT to modernise and stabilise critical infrastructure. Continual monitoring was showing that there had been fewer incidents.
8.3 There had been a number of projects related to agile working, such as the agile toolkit for managers to handle the key areas and questions for their teams. A pulse survey had been undertaken, specifically around returning to work, and the data was showing an overall position of staff wanting to return two to three days a week. One member highlighted the importance of measuring performance as agile working was being introduced. There was a discussion around children’s social care workers and the requirements they had.
8.4 There was no statutory requirement for social distancing, but some measures have been kept in place because that is what staff had said they wanted. In addition consideration was being given to meeting rooms and what requirements were needed for hybrid meetings. Details were provided on the software that could be used in meeting rooms and keeping this as flexible as possible.
8.5 One member was concerned about the performance and financial costs of dispersed working and wanted to ensure that the right measures were in place to understand this. Officers explained that it was important to understand service needs when considering more agile working. It was also important to look after staff and have a discussion with them on what worked for the individual along with the requirements of the service.
8.6 One member suggested that when officers were employed who did not live in the County there were difficulties in not being able to meet face to face or show them issues on the ground. It was important to find the right balance between this and remote working and to capture the benefits of more flexible working.
8.7 One member noted that schools were not included in the carbon emission figures, regardless of whether they were community schools under the responsibility of the Council, or Academy schools that were not. In response it was stated that all emissions data was based on a historic baseline, every time a school moved to become an academy it would be removed from the emissions data and that would show a reduction in overall emissions that would not have been under the Council’s control. For that reason all were excluded so that changes in emissions were the result of action taken by the Council.
9.1 Paul Blacker introduced the financial monitoring report outlining that the current forecast of the year end revenue position against the revenue budget of £483.008 million based on forecasts in July 2021 was an overspend of £6.743 million.
9.2 The largest overspend was in Childrens and Families as detailed within the report. Regular meetings were held with the finance team to get this under control.
9.3 In relation to Covid-19 grants, they would be spent according to the terms of the grant.
9.4 The Council was on track to achieve over 80% of savings targets for 2021/22 with some slippage but they would still be achieved.
9.5 One member questioned the transfer of developer contribution to the cycle track to A435 project. It was explained that this was a reattribution of funding between two existing schemes. The schemes were interdependent – the cycleway would not be fully useable until the capacity project was completed. This was a matter of programme management and sequencing, rather than assigning priority to one scheme over the other.
9.6 One member queried the increase in the waste capital budget detailed in the report. A response would be provided.
ACTION Steve Mawson
9.7 One member noted the performance drop in supporting those people with alcohol or opium abuse and queried the underspend in the budget area. It was noted that the pandemic had caused challenges but that was more reason to provide them with as much support as possible. In response it was explained that the indicator was related to those who had received treatment but then had not completed and this was likely in relation to the challenges in the pandemic. It was suggested that this was not a resource related drop off in performance. In relation to the underspend, there would be some deliberate carry forward to future years.
9.8 There was a detailed discussion on the challenges in the Children and Families budget with it understood that demand was continuing to grow. Members noted the success of Trevone House but some expressed frustration over the same financial challenges. It was explained that there were plans to build more in house provision, but it was also important to put in place case and demand management. The point was raised about not having Covid funding in future years and the additional challenges that would pose. There was a discussion on all the factors that needed to be considered in relation to improving outcomes for children and moving the Council to a good Ofsted rating.
9.9 It was recognised that additional investment could pay for social workers and might reduce cases per social worker, but this alone would not solve issues around quality and consistency of practice. It was stated that a ‘good’ authority would see costs taken out of the system by reductions in demand through complex and high cost placements.
9.10 One member queried the £2.064 million loss of income from parking and asked whether projections were based on recovery in this area? In ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
Members, co-opted members, partner organisations and senior officers were asked for their views on the scrutiny structure and work practices at the end of the last Council term. A summary of the comments presented to full Council on 17 March 2021 is attached. Now that we are close to six months into the new Council members of the committee are asked for their views on how scrutiny is currently operating.
10.1 Simon Harper explained to members that the feedback from the last Council’s discussion around scrutiny and the structure of committee’s was included for their information within the agenda pack.
10.2 It was noted that there had now been the introduction of the Fire Scrutiny Committee.
10.3 Members noted the extensive scrutiny work that was being carried out including a task group on restoring our rivers. It was acknowledged that there were links between the Health Scrutiny and Adult Social Care Committees and a significant volume of activity across those committees