Agenda item

Improvement Plan Monitoring Report



That the reports be received. 



The Chief Executive introduced a report for the Committee to consider elements of the 2014/15 Improvement Plan Monitoring report relevant to the Committee for the period April to July 2014. 


Representatives from each of the service areas gave a short presentation on the Improvement Plan progress, outlining the progress status, how the achievements would be measured and the actions/arrangements in place to control the risk.  They also answered questions, as shown below, on each of the service areas which were:-


·         Welfare Reform

·         Organisational Change

·         Financial Strategy

·         Procurement Strategy

·         Asset Strategy

·         Access to Council Services

·         People Change & Development


Welfare Reform


Councillor Ian Dunbar welcomed the work of the Welfare Reform Team and, in referring to householders with disabilities, commented on there not being any smaller adapted properties available for them to move into.  He queried whether it would be more cost effective to allow them to stay in their current property rather than them having to move.  The Team Manager Advice & Homeless Service spoke of a common sense approach but referred to the spare room subsidy which would result in tenants losing benefits if they had too many bedrooms in their property.  The Welfare Team would ensure that the tenants were receiving all the benefits they were entitled to including access to Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP), which could be paid for as long as it was deemed necessary.  He also referred to a recent Private Members Bill that the spare room subsidy should only apply if alternative properties were available, which had been discussed in Parliament.


In praising the work of the Welfare Reform Team, Councillor Paul Shotton asked whether Flintshire County Council had received any of the funding from the extra DHP monies made available specifically for Wales.  The Team Manager advised that Flintshire had not received any of the funding specifically for rural locations but had been successful in its application for £50,000 from the Welsh Government’s ‘Additional DHP Fund’ which would contribute to the Welfare Reform Team and the development of Advice Gateway Service. 

Organisational Change


Councillor Robin Guest queried the quarter 1 outturn which was reported as being ‘under review’.  The Chief Executive responded that as there were many ongoing service reviews, it was impossible to set a meaningful target at this point.   


Financial Strategy


Councillor Mike Peers queried whether it would be possible to produce a four year sustainable plan, as reported, due the current financial climate.  The Chief Executive responded that in the absence of indicative figures it was difficult to plan with any certainty.  He added that requests had been put forward for three to four year budget proposals from Welsh Government (WG) rather than the current annualised information. 


Councillor Richard Jones sought clarification on the entry for the 2014/15 target on page 40 and in response, the Corporate Finance Manager explained that it had been confirmed for 2014/15 that 100% of resources were in place.  Following a further query from Councillor Jones, the Chief Officer (People and Resources) explained that the ‘Red/Amber/Green’ (RAG) status for this year was green but that the Outcome Performance Predictive RAG should not be reported as such.  Councillor Jones felt that the risks to be managed were not well written in the document and that they should be reviewed. 


Procurement Strategy


In providing an overview, the Chief Officer (Governance) paid tribute to the work carried out by the Head of ICT and Customer Services and his procurement team. 


Councillor Richard Jones referred to the Welsh Procurement Consortium and raised concern for local businesses which he felt would be overlooked when choosing suppliers for goods or services.  He felt that Flintshire County Council should be mindful of the weighting that local companies had to make them more competitive against other larger companies.  The Chief Executive explained that this was a concern on the issue of scale across procuring councils and offered to follow up with more information on how contracts were being segmented to allow smaller contractors to benefit.


Councillor Mike Peers referred to the merger of Flintshire and Denbighshire Council’s procurement teams and queried whether this would have to be disbanded if a voluntary reorganisation between Flintshire and Wrexham Councils took place.  The Chief Executive responded that there was no intention to change existing service mergers, and the Leader of the Council said that there was no need or requirement to disband pre-existing mergers if reorganisation occurred. 


Asset Strategy


Councillor Ian Dunbar asked whether phases three and four of County Hall would be sold if the programme to close them was completed.  The Chief Officer (Organisational Change) that it was intended that the phases would be ‘mothballed’ but that selling of the building could be challenging due to the high running costs.  He added that there currently no plans to vacate phases one and two.   


In referring to Connah’s Quay offices and the opening of the Connects Centre, Councillor Paul Shotton asked whether the old offices would be demolished.  The Chief Officer (Organisational Change) said that the quality of the asset was poor which could result in the building being demolished but the wider regeneration approach would be considered.   


Access to Council Services


Councillor Paul Cunningham queried whether the staff in the Connects Office in Flint were trained to deal with police issues and asked for details of the number of customers who had attended the office.  The Customer Services Team Leader responded that the staff received basic training on police issues but also advised the customers that police surgeries were held on a Friday at the offices.   Councillor Mike Peers queried whether Flintshire County Council were reimbursed for police queries dealt with by staff when the police were not in attendance.  The Customer Services Team Leader did not have details of the customer numbers for individual offices or on possible reimbursements but would be able to provide the information following the meeting. 


Councillor Robin Guest raised concern at the target of 84% which had been reported for complaints responded to within 10 working days as the current outturn was 75.31%.  He felt that it implied that officers were sure that there would be an increase in performance for the remainder of the year and that if this was not the case, then the predictive outturn should be reported as amber not green.  The Customer Services Team Leader referred to a number of initiatives which were in place and the mandatory training undertaken by employees and she added that officers were hopeful that the target could be achieved.  Councillor Guest felt that the target was speculative and that the outcome should be reconsidered. 


In response to a query from Councillor Richard Jones about computer training for vulnerable adults, the Customer Services Team Leader spoke of an initiative called ‘Get Online’ which could be accessed through the Flintshire County Council website.  The training which was carried out in conjunction with Flintshire Local Voluntary Council was being rolled out and promoted across the county.  She indicated that she could provide information on the initiative to Members. 


In welcoming the opening of the Flintshire Connects Offices, Councillor Paul Shotton asked whether customers completed a satisfaction form based on their experience of the service.  The Customer Services Team Leader said that there were plans to put a form in place. 


Councillor Clive Carver said that it was pleasing to see that the current outturn exceeded the target for the take up of the Flintshire app but queried why figures relating to the Council’s website were not available.  The Customer Services Team Leader explained that this was as a result of the forthcoming move to a new website.      


People Change & Development


In response to a request from the Chair on Single Status appeals, the Chief Officer (People and Resources) said that appeals and maintenance claims had been reviewed and letters would be sent out to the employees from the following Monday, 15th September 2014.  Further work was still required on some of the appeals. 


Councillor Mike Peers asked about the drop in sessions and queried whether they had proved to be cost effective against potential equal pay claims.  The Chief Officer (People and Resources) explained that the process was continuing and to date, 3,800 employees had signed the form.  This figure would include a number who had potential equal pay claims and a clearer view of the figures would be known within the next few weeks. 


On the issue of appraisals, Councillor Richard Jones felt that the Committee should consider the issue at a future meeting, particularly on core or transferable competencies.  He suggested that there was a need to concentrate on measure REM3 and that the completion of employees appraisals should be included in the appraisal for all managers to ensure 100% completion.  The Chief Officer (People and Resources) commented on the use of leadership competencies and explained that the new Chief Officer team would undertake their appraisals first followed by a programme of  appraisals for employees across the Council. 


Councillor Paul Shotton welcomed the introduction of the physiotherapy scheme to all employees.  He queried the current outturn of 22 for employees undertaking supervisory and management training programmes developed with Coleg Cambria compared to the 2014/15 target of 115 to 120 employees.  The Chief Officer (People and Resources) said that there were a number of programmes across the academic year and the target was expected to be met. 


The Chair raised concern about areas within the Council which were not appropriately covered particularly between 12 and 2pm or on Friday afternoons and asked the Chief Officer (People and Resources) to raise the issue.      




That the reports be received. 


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