Venue: Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham.
Contact: Debbie Pons, Principal Democratic Services Officer.
Declarations of Interest
There were no Declarations of Interest made at the meeting.
Questions from Members of the Public and the Press
A member of the public asked whether the publication of the Jay report would see greater scrutiny of Cabinet Members’ decision making as part of Rotherham’s Executive.
Councillor S. Currie, Chair of the Self-Regulation Select Commission confirmed that the implications of the Jay report would be scrutinised through Overview and Scrutiny Management Board, as they had done with a previous Serious Case Review report.
The consideration of the Jay report through Scrutiny would allow the public and the press to ask questions and receive further information.
When the full programme was known about how the Jay report and its implications and recommendations would be considered by Scrutiny, a written response would be provided in full to the member of the public.
Councillor S. Currie informed the Self-Regulation Select Commission that, following a question received at the Council meeting in September regarding the Council’s Standing Orders relating to full council meetings, a cross-party review group of members of the Self-Regulation Select Commission and the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board to look at the issues raised. A terms of reference for the review group would be produced.
Resolved: - That Councillors Cutts, Watson, Sansome, Ellis and Currie be members of the cross-party review group.
Resolved:- That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 31st July, 2014, be approved as a correct record for signature by the Chairman.
Further to Minute No. 24 of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 6th August, 2014, consideration was given to a report presented by Stuart Booth, Director of Financial Services, which provided details of progress on the delivery of the Revenue Budget for 2014/15 based on performance for the first three months of the financial year. It was currently forecast that the Council would overspend against its Budget by £6.752M (+3.2%).
When the 2014/15 Budget was set, there had been recognition that there was the potential for this to be a challenging year with the need to manage service demands very closely and that the level of balances reflected this potential increase in financial risk in the system.
The main reasons for the forecast overspend were:-
· The continuing service demand and cost pressures for safeguarding vulnerable children across the Borough.
· Cost pressures arising from some schools converting to academies.
· Income pressures within Environment and Development Services and ICT.
· Demand pressures for Direct Payments within Older People and Physical and Sensory Disability clients.
· Additional, property costs from the continued rationalisation of the Council’s buildings as part of the efficiency drive to reduce operational costs.
· Some savings targets were currently pending delivery in full in 2014/15.
Cabinet had agreed the implementation of the opportunity for staff to apply for Voluntary Severance/Voluntary Early Retirement and where this could be supported these savings would help to reduce the in-year financial pressure and also contribute to closing the budget funding gap for 2015/16 and beyond.
As the current forecast outturn was significantly different to budget, Cabinet was asked to support the implementation of the same successful three stage strategy (Section 7.4 of this report) used in 2013/14 to bring spend in line with budget by the end of 2014/15.
The above actions would mitigate the current level of forecast overspend and assist the Council to deliver a balanced outturn and preserve its successful track record in managing both its in year financial performance and its overall financial resilience.
The Select Commission was advised of the forecasted over and underspends for each which were set out in detail as part of the report.
A discussion and answer session ensued and the following issues were raised and subsequently clarified:-
· What, if any, financial measures had the Council put in place following publication of the Jay report? Provision needed to be made in relation to implementing the recommendations, providing support for victims and potential claims: -
o The Local Authority was preparing a response to the potential challenges and the Audit Committee would also have a role in this to ensure good financial management;
o The Leader had identified £120,000 to provide therapeutic services to victims of child sexual exploitation. This had been funded within existing resources and did not represent a budget pressure;
o The Jay report emphasised the multi-agency nature of the workforce. It followed that there would be a multi-agency financial response;
o The Self-Regulation Select Committee welcomed the Chief Executive providing further information ... view the full minutes text for item 25.
In accordance with Minute No. 6 of 27th June, 2014, the Performance and Quality Manager presented the current position statement by exception based on the available performance measures for all of the 11 key delivered outcomes contained within the Council’s Corporate Plan.
Each of the 11 outcomes had been allocated either 3 or 5 measures in agreement with Service Directors. The measures allocated would be RAG rated dependent upon its individual performance.
The report set out each of the Priority Measures together with their RAG rating.
No outcomes during quarter 1 had been rated red. Any rated amber or green could be found on Appendix B of the report submitted.
The Performance Quality Team was currently working alongside colleagues within CYPS to develop a proxy Child Poverty Indicator.
Discussion followed and the issues raised were: -
· The need to accept or reject reports on risk, and a move away from ‘noting’ these reports;
· The importance of looking at direction of travel and the potential to utilise performance clinics and scrutiny to challenge poor performance.
A demonstration was provided that showed the new tool available to members to look at Council performance entitled the ‘Corporate Plan SharePoint Page’.
Members’ Development presentation or a Seminar on the use of the portal would take place.
The portal would contain information about the Corporate Plan’s performance measures and performance clinics.
Discussion ensued and members of the Self-Regulation Select Commission focused on the information relating to housing, housing VOIDS and repairs.
Resolved:- (1) That the current position against each of the Corporate Plan outcomes, including the proposed interventions and corrective actions, be noted.
Consideration was given to a report presented by the Performance Officer, with regard to complaints made between 1st April, 2013 and 31st March, 2014, under the Corporate Complaints Procedure, the Adult Social Services and Children’s Social Services complaint regulations.
In total, over the last twelve months, there had been 672 complaints received by the Council, a 0.05% decrease (668 received 2012/13) of which 98% had been responded to within the timescales promised, the same as in 2012/13, and 94% in 2011/12.
There had been continued improvement in the way that complaints were dealt with across the Council. The management of complaints and the quality assurance processes in place had contributed to the reduction in complains escalating through the complaint procedure ensuring that things were swiftly put right when things went wrong and work with the customer to resolve their dissatisfaction.
It was also noted that the Directorate Complaints Team had continued to maintain recent significant improvements in the following areas:-
· Learning from all Complaints to identify service improvements
· Less Ombudsman complaints upheld
· Improved performance on enquiries responded to in time
· Reduced the number of informal complaints received
· Maintained the number of complaints escalating through the complaint procedure
· Less complaints upheld
· All responses were quality assured
· Had assisted with more Councillor Surgery enquiries
· Had reduced compensation costs
· Had reduced CYPS investigation costs
· Increased the number of compliments recorded
Discussion ensued and the following issues were raised and subsequently clarified:-
· How different Directorates prioritised eCasework reports differed and this could lead to inconsistencies;
· The approach of the Directorates differed, some responded directly to surgery requests/members of the public, whereas others responded to the Councillor only: -
o The Self-Regulation Select Commission supported the approach of Directorates responding directly to the member of the public and providing a copy of the response to the Councillor.
· Were the targets achievable with the available resources? : -
o The target was to achieve 100% resolution with less escalation to further stages and less complaints upheld by the Ombudsman.
· It would be reasonable to expect that complaints about cuts to services would increase;
· The emphasis on learning from complaints was very positive and should be commended.
Resolved:- (1) That the report be received and the contents noted.
(2) That the Self-Regulation Select Commission’s preference for responding to e.Casework requests be passed on to the Council’s Directorates.
Date and Time of Next Meeting
Resolved:- That the next meeting of the Self-Regulation Select Commission be held at the Town Hall, Rotherham, on Thursday, 23rd October, 2014, commencing at 3.30 p.m.