Venue: Webcasting - Virtual. View directions
Note: Adjourned from Scrutiny Committee held on 03.03.2021) Adjourned Scrutiny Committee meeting from 3rd March 2021 restarted at 6.15 pm
Webcast: View the webcast
Adjourned from Scrutiny Committee held on 03.03.2021) Adjourned Scrutiny Committee meeting from 3rd March 2021 restarted at 6.15pm
This matter is the responsibility of the Portfolio Holder for Corporate Resources Cllr Ross Henley.
This paper provides an update on the council’s performance for the first 9 months (April – December) of the 2020/21 financial year. The report includes information for a range of key performance indicators.
The report provided an update on the council’s performance for the first 9 months (April – December) of the 2020/21 financial year. The report includes information for a range of key performance indicators.
As part of the Councils commitment to transparency and accountability this report provides an update on performance for a number of key indicators across a range of council services.
Impact of Covid-19. There had been a continued impact on the work of the Council as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Q1 corporate performance report provided a more detailed update on the specific additional work undertaken by the council between April and July. Many of these tasks have continued and the pandemic has still had a significant impact on the council’s activity and workload. In recent months the rapid moves from the second national lockdown in November 2020 through Tiers 2, 3 and 4 and into the current third national lockdown have presented significant challenges in administering things such as the business grant schemes. Further funding has also been provided by Government to support the discretionary element of the Test and Trace payments scheme. Good progress is however being made in quickly distributing grants to eligible businesses. In addition we are diverting resource to provide critical assistance to the NHS in making appointments for the Covid vaccination programme.
Key Performance Indicators The table in Appendix 1 includes the councils Key Performance Indicators and shows how the council has performed for the first 9 months of the 2020/21 financial year. The table also includes a “direction of travel” arrow to show whether performance has improved, worsened or stayed the same, since the last corporate performance report which was for the end of September. For the majority of indicators the target has either been met or, in many cases, has been exceeded. The direction of travel shows that performance has reduced slightly for 9 of the indicators, but the majority of them are still within target. Overall there are 3 ‘Red’ and 2 ‘Amber’ indicators, which are being monitored closely. More information is provided below regarding the red and amber indicators. For the indicators that were marked as red as the end of Q2 (Complaint and FOI response timescales), monthly figures have been included to show how performance has improved significantly over the last 3 months.
Number of complaints responded to in 10 working days The performance indicator remains red and below target. Realistically, as the indicator is cumulative, we are likely to remain below target for the remainder of this financial year. In view of the poor performance identified earlier in the year a significant amount of work has been put into both improving response times and identifying changes and improvements to the process. This work is beginning to pay dividends and the monthly trend over the past 3 months shows clear and sustained improvement. A more detailed update is provided in Appendix 2.
Number of FOI requests responded to in 20 working days Again this ... view the full minutes text for item 152.
This matter is the responsibility of the Portfolio Holder for Corporate Resources, Cllr Ross Henley.
This report provides an update on the projected outturn financial position of the Council for the financial year 2020/21 (as at 31 December 2020).
This report provided an update on the projected outturn financial position of the Council for the financial year 2020/21 (as at 31 December 2020).
The position this year is significantly affected by COVID – both in terms of large additional sums spent on issuing financial assistance to local businesses and council tax payers, and direct impact on the Council’s service costs and income. Additional COVID related financial pressures, through additional costs and income losses, are forecast to be £7.3m for the year. This is partly offset by projected £5.4m emergency grant funding from Government, but has also required the Council to reprioritise funds and support the annual budget from reserves. The net impact of COVID on the Council’s own resources is therefore projected to be £1.9m for the year. Despite this, the Council remains financially resilient and continues to forecast adequate reserve balances.
The current Revenue Budget forecast was summarised:-
General Fund Revenue:- Projected £1.466m underspend (£245k overspend relating to COVID and a net underspend of £1.711m for non-COVID)
Housing Fund Revenue:- Projected £274k underspend
Although services were projecting fairly large underspends with the General Fund, this is largely due to timing of spend. Based on the Q3 projected year end position, budget holders have indicated proposals to carry forward £1.277m of expenditure into next year’s budget, which if approved would effectively reduce the underspend to £189k. These proposals will be finalised at the year end.
During the discussion the following comments and questions were raised:-
· External Operations and Climate change set out in table 1 was considered, a comparison with the budget considered in February and a possible disparity was raised.
· The increase in the budget could have been in relation to capital charges and depreciation, this would be taken away for a response to be provided following the meeting.
· Page 143 detailing the senior management budget was questioned with the reasoning for difference in costs compared to the budget report.
· Page 145 – more information was requested relating to the contribution towards capital cost to investment properties. This was as a result of overachieving on net budget in this financial year.
· Page 146 – a significant backlog of arears was questioned, with more information requested.
· Capital budget and HRA budget changes and adjustments as reported at the end of December compared with the new financial year were questioned.
· A senior management underspend was reported in the budget due to the senior management restructure the budget was not being needed to support staffing costs.
· Work to carry over budgets was being undertaken, there remained a budget for IT member training which would be utilised for Councillors shortly.
· Review of IT heritage systems was questions along with the systems changes planned and required for the future.
· Major systems had been in place with future planning and timing priority of this being planned currently. This could be shared with the Committee if helpful.
· Having large underspends was a concern and was not considered good financial management in future years. ... view the full minutes text for item 153.
This matter is the responsibility of the Chair of the Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Gwil Wren.
To approve the Annual report on the Scrutiny Committee 2020/21 for consideration by Full Council. Article 6 of the SWT Constitution states that “The Scrutiny Committee(s) must report annually to Council on their work.”
It was a great honour to have been re-appointed as Chair of the Somerset West and Taunton Scrutiny Committee by my Councillor peers at the Annual General Meeting of Council in May last year.
I had hoped that the ‘transition’ we had embarked on in 2019/20 would continue but as we all know the Covid pandemic severely disrupted normal life including this Council. As a result we had to move to virtual meetings on Zoom and this took some adjusting to. However once we had established a remote working pattern things bedded down quickly and the Committee was able to get to grips with business without too much difficulty.
In 2019 the Government had published new Guidance for Scrutiny Committees which aimed to clarify and broaden their role and influence. Both I and the Vice-Chair have always been keen to ensure that Scrutiny Councillors gained a greater oversight of their work programme than was done previously. This was to give us a stronger voice over the Executive reports we wished to look at in detail and enable maximum influence to be exerted. We also wanted to be more proactive and investigate external matters which had a bearing on the residents of our area.
The Leader of the Council continued to encourage transparency and the involvement of members and the programme of Briefings to provide information and background on Council business was able to continue successfully online. This allowed these matters to be aired and questioned without impinging on the committee process where time is limited.
As a Scrutiny Committee formulating our programme of work and getting updates on our suggestions and recommendations is a key way that this Council can demonstrate the transparency and accountability that the residents of Somerset West and Taunton expect from their decision-makers. Scrutiny's role as critical friend of the Executive is vital in ensuring that the voice of the community is heard and should result in more inclusive decision making.
The Scrutiny Committee formally resolved that the report is considered at Full Council and thanked the Chair for his Annual Report.