Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Warspite Room, Council House

Contact: Helen Rickman, Democratic Advisor 

Media

Items
No. Item

32.

Declarations of Interest

Councillors will be asked to make any declarations of interest in respect of items on the agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made by Members in accordance with the code of conduct.

33.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 162 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 10 October 2022.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee agreed the minutes of the meetings held on 5 September 2022, and 29 September 2022 as an accurate record.

34.

Chair's Urgent Business

To receive reports on business which in the opinion of the Chair, should be brought forward for urgent consideration.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no items of Chair’s urgent business.

35.

Policy Brief pdf icon PDF 149 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Policy Brief was not introduced by an officer and instead moved straight to questions from Members.

 

In response to questions raised it was reported that -

 

(a)

it was anticipated that voter ID would be required for next year’s elections however this would be clarified later in the agenda when the Elections Bill Implications item was to be discussed;

 

(b)

future policy brief reports would include any impacts or benefits to Plymouth as well as how the Council would take action to respond if required;

 

(c)

the Policy Brief referred to the call for evidence on the Home Office Afghan Resettlement Scheme – this was scheduled on the committee’s work programme for 14 December 2022 meeting.

 

The Committee agreed:

 

1.

that future policy brief reports would include any impacts or benefits to Plymouth as well as how the Council would take action to respond if required;

 

2.

to note the Policy Brief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Order of Business

The Chair agreed to change the order of business to facilitate good meeting management.

Additional documents:

36.

Corporate Plan Performance and Risk Report - To Follow pdf icon PDF 174 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Corporate Plan Performance and Risk Report was not introduced by a Cabinet Member and instead moved straight to questions by Members. Councillor Shayer (Cabinet Member for Finance & Economy), Ross Jago (Head of Governance, Performance and Risk) and Andrew Loton (Senior Performance Advisor) were in attendance.

 

In response to questions raised it was reported that:

 

(a)

risk 12 in the report regarding the Council not meeting its obligation to keep data secure by failing to adhere to data protection act regulations was an identified risk and not something that had happened; a description of the risk was contained within the report as well as the mitigation response and actions undertaken to ensure that to the Council’s best ability it didn’t happen; cyber security was also to be discussed at the panel’s scrutiny meeting in February 2023;

 

(b)

risk 14 in the report regarding the Council not meeting its legal obligations regarding the health and safety of the workforce was an identified risk of the situation and the mitigation was included in the report; the Big Listen was to be discussed later in the meeting and this formed part of the mitigation of this risk;

 

(c)

the red risk in relation to staff sickness levels was acknowledged however measures were in place to address what had been identified as an issue affecting the workforce; the Council had a well-developed policy for absence and sickness and it was highlighted that the welfare of staff was important;

 

(d)

a written response would be provided to Members upon the financial implications of the Council’s decision to end the garden waste service early therefore affecting the overall recycling rate in quarter two due to a lower volume of composted waste than in previous years, specifically when it was considered that recycling was sold on for other use.

 

The Committee agreed:

 

1.

that a written response would be provided to Members upon the financial implications of the Council’s decision to end the garden waste service early therefore affecting the overall recycling rate in quarter two due to a lower volume of composted waste than in previous years, specifically when it was considered that recycling was sold on for other use;

 

2.

to note the Corporate Plan Quarter Two Performance and Risk Update.

 

37.

Return to Work Safely - The Big Listen Update - To Follow pdf icon PDF 224 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Shayer (Cabinet Member for Finance & Economy), Giles Perritt (Assistant Chief Executive) and Alison Mills (Head of HR Consultancy) presented the Return to Work Safely (The Big Listen Update) to Members. The three Union representatives, Kevin Treweeks (Unison Lead Representative), Sharon Battishill (Unite Lead Representative) and Trish Small (GMB Lead Representative) were also in attendance in order to provide a staff side perspective.

 

The following key points were highlighted to Members:

 

(a)

the report shared the main findings of the Big Listen staff survey and the information provided was taken across all council employees; there was currently no benchmarking data undertaken by other councils to measure the information however it presented a clean cut representation of a post covid council;

 

(b)

the Council conducted the Big Listen survey in June/ July 2022 and the report shared the headline findings and provided information as to how the Council would respond to the findings from the survey;

 

(c)

the survey linked to the Council’s People Strategy and had a 71% engagement level, two thirds of staff were proud to work for the Council, seven in ten people considered the Council was a good employer, the largest improvement was made in the satisfaction levels to staff working environment, 87% of staff were aware of their responsibilities and duties, 65% responded that they got development or training needed to do their job safely and 82% of staff felt that they were treated fairly, respectfully and without discrimination;

 

(d)

the report also highlighted how change was managed across the Council, career progression within the Council and the confidence in how the survey results would be responded to; plans were detailed in the covering report on focus groups being arranged to take forward actions.

 

In response to questions raised it was reported that –

 

(e)

it was difficult to encourage staff to speak and engage with surveys however those that did were thanked; it was highlighted that the response rate of 51% was a top quartile rate and was considered very high as the average rate was 25%;

 

(f)

in terms of the 51% response rate, Sharon Battishill (Unite Lead Representative) considered that front line workers were not heard and generally did not participate in surveys as they did not work on computers so didn’t receive an electronic version of the survey however also didn’t receive paper copies; they also had to complete surveys in their own personal time other than during working hours. There was a high density of front line workers in Street Scene and Waste with reading and writing therefore the feedback would be low from those areas;

 

(g)

in terms of the 51% response rate Kevin Treweeks (Unison Lead Representative) advised that he considered some people may not have participated because they believe that if they didn’t have anything nice to say they shouldn’t say anything at all;

 

(h)

an external company was used to conduct the survey in order to ensure anonymity if people considered they could be identified by their  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

38.

Finance and Capital Monitoring Report - Month 6 (to include a focus on the Children's budget) pdf icon PDF 980 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Carlyle (Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Children and Young People), David Northey (Interim Section 151 Officer) and Jane Anstis (Service Director for Children, Young People and Families) were in attendance at the meeting – it was highlighted that the information had been published alongside the agenda therefore the item moved straight to questions.

 

In response to questions raised it was reported that –

 

(a)

in the Finance and Capital Monitoring Report month 6, it set out the gross budget, the forecast and the net variance for month 6 to the end of the year which was £2.217m; the slide in the pack detailed what the pressures in month 6 were, the areas of concern and the drivers including SEND, transport, placements. There were already plans in place for mitigation, therefore it was now to consider how those plans were progressing;

 

(b)

the sum of £500k identified in the report as ‘partner income’ was put down as a mitigation and conversations had started with partners. Officers were talking to the ICB regarding their overall agreement with the Council and had discussed that rather than the current process which included a child hitting a trigger point and the ICB agreeing to support a specific percentage of the cost, it was hoped that changes were made to the overall agreement in that an average was taken over a set period of time and the sum of money provided to the Council allowing officers to work within a set budget target and agreed envelope of funding. Officers had written to the ICB and they had released £829k;

 

(c)

negotiations with the ICB had started and help was welcomed from any forum in order to expedite conversations and change the way in the process was currently working;

 

(d)

the Council had 12 social workers due to start in February 2023 – it was considered that agency cost and bespoke placements made up a significant amount of the cost in the department and caused the most budgetary pressures. The introduction of the 12 social workers would encourage a greater saving;

 

(e)

the numbers for looked after children were starting to fall overall – there had been a recent slight increase however the numbers were starting to decrease. Bespoke placements had also started to reduce and were currently at one down from three. These placements held the greatest costs for the Council;

 

(f)

the SEND budget was set at £3.1m with a deficit of £0.284; it was considered that the pressure on this part of the budget was due to short breaks. It was highlighted that the Council aimed to continue to offer these services and wanted to prioritise looked after children;

 

(g)

the number of children with SEND had not increased; Councillor Carlyle had been provided with updated figures and agreed to provide a written response to Members outlining the updated information on the figures and budget;

 

(h)

the Council had recently created a new interim post to specifically focus upon:

the cohort of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.

39.

Elections Bill Implications

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair advised Members that the Government had confirmed that the Elections Act was to be introduced in time for the May 2023 elections; the Head of Electoral Services would be present at the 14 December 2022 Performance, Finance and Customer Focus Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting in order to provide an update. It was acknowledged that the elections team would be busy planning and working to elections deadlines however it was considered that the Elections Act update could not feasibly be moved to the panel’s next scheduled meeting in February as it would be too late to scrutinise this issue prior to the May 2023 elections.

 

A request was made for the link to the statutory instruments to be provided to Members.

 

 

40.

Bereavement Services Update - To Follow pdf icon PDF 150 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair introduced the Bereavement Services Update item and advised that a brief paper had been provided. It was highlighted that this item had been initially scheduled as a standing item on the panel’s agendas due to concerns with the new provision, however the executive board had since been set up and the report detailed that things were running to time. It was proposed that the Bereavement Services Update was no longer a standing item on the scrutiny agenda and that instead an update would be provided in six months’ time with a detailed report upon the transition to opening and the future of the Western Mill and Efford sites.

 

In response to a question raised it was reported by the Chair that the panel had scrutinised costs, timings, the contract, the accountability of Cabinet Members, the cross party approach, and were therefore satisfied that the crematorium project was no longer escalating – this was further satisfied by the contact for the project having been finalised.

 

The Committee agreed that the Bereavement Services Update would no longer be a standing item on the panel’s work programme, and that a detailed report would be provided to scrutiny in six months’ time upon the transition to opening and the future of the Western Mill and Efford sites.

41.

Leisure Services Update - To Follow

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This item was not discussed in part 1.

42.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 157 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair introduced the work programme item and highlighted the following:

 

·        

that the digital transformation and inclusion item should be included with the Customer Services Strategy update;

 

·        

that the recommendations from the Armed Forces Covenant would be presented to a future scrutiny panel for sign off;

 

·        

that Equality and Diversity would be scheduled for the February meeting and would focus upon hate crime;

 

·        

the aim was to efficiently timetable remaining items on the work programme where possible in order to prevent too many items being scheduled for the new municipal year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

43.

Tracking Decisions pdf icon PDF 325 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair highlighted to Members that all recommendations and actions from previous meetings (except for one) had now been provided and greyed out as complete on the document. The Democratic Advisor was thanked for her work in sourcing and communicating responses to Members.

 

Under this item the amount and frequency of ‘to follow’ papers was raised by Members as well as the challenges experienced in accessing the information, especially when reports were restricted.

 

The committee agreed that the Chair would write to the Chief Executive expressing the concerns of the Performance, Finance and Customer Focus Overview and Scrutiny Panel regarding the amount and frequency of ‘to follow’ papers.

44.

Exempt Business

To consider passing a resolution under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 to exclude the press and public from the meeting for the following item(s) of business on the grounds that it (they) involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph(s) 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, as amended by the Freedom of Information Act 2000

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Agreed that under Section 100(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, to exclude the press and public from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A of the Act, as amended by the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

45.

Bereavement Services Update - To Follow

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Bereavement Services Update was not discussed by Members.

46.

Leisure Services Update - To Follow

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leisure Services Update was discussed by Members.