Meeting documents

Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 11th July, 2016 10.00 am

Date: Monday 11th July 2016 Time: 10.00 a.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

PresentAndWithReport toReport of
Councillors:
Item
No
Item/Resolution Status Action
PUBLIC
1. APOLOGIES

Apologies for absence were received from:-

Councillors M. Cross (Chair)

N.J. Daniels

K. Chaplin
D. Wilkshire

Noted
2. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS

There were no declarations of interest or dispensations reported.

Noted
3. WAO FINANCIAL RESILIENCE ASSESSMENT - BLAENAU GWENT COUNTY BOROUGH COUNCIL
Report (100K/bytes)
Appendix (282K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Finance Officer, which was presented to provide a response to the proposals for improvement contained within the WAO Financial Resilience Assessment - Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council report.

The Wales Audit Office spoke to the report and concluded that the Council's financial resilience arrangements continued to improve in the face of some significant financial challenges, but its financial planning arrangements could be further improved in some key areas.

The WAO report contained three proposals for improvements:-

P1 - The Council should develop fully costed savings plans which underpinned its medium term financial plan.

P2 - Having developed fully costed savings plans for the medium term, the Council's medium term financial plan should outline the level at which it intends to maintain its General Reserve.

P3 - The Council should ensure that savings plans were sufficiently detailed to ensure that Members were clear as to what the plans were intended to deliver and that the delivery of those plans could be scrutinised appropriately throughout the year.

A Member highlighted the difficulty in developing a longer term strategy with unknown budgetary constraints. The WAO representative commented that the Council use best estimates with a view to planning budgets further ahead.

Another Member commented that it was a positive report and that some significant improvements had been made.

The Chief Finance Officer commented on the WAO risk ratings for the Council's delivery of its financial plan. Both financial planning and financial control had been risk rated as "medium" risk for the Council and financial governance had been risk rated as "low". These risk scores were broadly in line with other Local Authorities in the Greater Gwent area.

In response to a question from a Member regarding general reserves, the Chief Finance Officer commented that in March 2016, Council agreed to amend its earmarked reserves policy to include a 4% target level for general reserves which equated to 5.3m baseline going forward.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and the content of the WAO report be noted.

Agreed
4. WAO HUMAN RESOURCES 2012 REVIEW - PROGRESS FOLLOW-UP REVIEW
Report (97K/bytes)
Appendix (252K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Organisational Development, which was presented to provide Members with the opportunity to consider the outcome of the Wales Audit Office Human Resources 2012 Review - Progress Follow Up report, issued May 2016.

The WAO representative gave an overview of the significant progress made against the 2012 recommendations although he pointed out that there were opportunities to further improve in some key areas.

Workforce planning had been established and had been incorporated into business planning and service redesign exercises. Information Technology had provided better support in the delivery of HR services. However, not all key HR risks had been adequately recorded and managed, action to reduce the continued high sickness absence rate was not effective. Collation of the completion rate of Return to Work Interviews (RTW's) needed to be improved and included in the HR performance indicators data set. The Equalities and Whistleblowing policies needed to be added to the induction process to raise awareness for new employees.

The Head of Organisational Development thanked the WAO for the recognition on the improvements made and commented that a Corporate Task Group led by the Corporate Director of Social Services had been established to focus efforts on improving attendance management and reducing sickness absence rates and a report would be presented to the Committee in the Autumn. iTrent, the Council's electronic HR system, was due to go live in June but there had been a delay with implementation of the IT. Staff capacity in OD would continue to be assessed in line with priorities.

In response to a question raised by a Member, the Head of Policy & Performance said that the WAO report presented significant progress against the areas for improvement identified in the National Study in 2012 and the Progress Follow Up Review was to ensure appropriate actions were in place to meet the identified needs.

Members congratulated OD staff on the significant improvements made since 2012 and the challenges faced with continuously changing policies.

The Head of Policy & Performance left the meeting at this juncture.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and progress made in relation to the Wales Audit Office proposals for improvement be noted.

Not Agreed
5. TREASURY MANAGEMENT ANNUAL REVIEW - 1ST APRIL 2015 TO 31ST MARCH 2016
Report (122K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (176K/bytes)
Appendix A (28K/bytes)
Appendix B (23K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Assistant Divisional Manager - Financial Policy, which was presented to give Members the opportunity to scrutinise the Treasury Management activities carried out by the Authority during 2015/16 financial year.

The Chief Finance Officer spoke to the report and highlighted points contained therein.

Members complimented the Chief Finance Officer on a comprehensive report prepared during this continuing difficult financial climate.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and the Treasury Management Annual Review be approved.

Agreed