Meeting documents

Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 19th September, 2018 12.30 pm

Date: Wednesday 19th September 2018 Time: 12.30 p.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

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

PresentAndWithReport toReport of
M J Cook, M Cross, G L Davies, M Day, S Healy, R J Hill, G Paulsen, K C Pritchard, B Summers, D Wilkshire, J Collins (Chair), J Wilkins (Vice-Chair), N. Daniels
Item
No
Item/Resolution Status Action
PUBLIC
1. TUDALEN GLAWR AGENDA GYMRAEG/WELSH VERSION OF AGENDA COVERSHEET
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Agenda Coversheet (231K/bytes)
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Agenda Coversheet (112K/bytes)
Noted
2. SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATION

It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.

Noted
3. APOLOGIES

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors L. Elias and S. Thomas.

Agreed
4. DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS AND DISPENSATIONS

Councillor Greg Paulsen
Item No. 7
Shared Resource Service Partnership Working -
Monitoring Report

Agreed
5. CORPORATE OVERVIEW SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Minutes (175K/bytes)
Cofnodion (115K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the minutes of the meeting held on 23rd July, 2018.

The Committee AGREED that the Minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

Agreed
6. ACTION SHEET
Action Sheet (42K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the Action Sheet of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee held on 23rd July, 2018, whereupon:-


Request for Member Briefing Session on the Engagement Strategy

The Chair confirmed that a Member Briefing Session has been arranged for 11.30 am on Wednesday, 31st October, 2018.

Review of CCTV Against the Business Case

In response to a question raised in relation to when the Scrutiny Committee could be expected to receive this report as it was noted September/October. The Chair advised that a decision had been made that all Service Reviews would be presented to full Council.

The Committee AGREED, subject to the foregoing, that the Action Sheet be noted.

Agreed
7. REVIEW OF STAFF ATTENDANCE MANAGEMENT
Report (287K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Organisational Development.

The Head of Organisational Development advised that the report had been presented in order for the Scrutiny Committee to consider, challenge and make suggestions on the outcomes of the Attendance Management Task and Finish Group, sickness absence performance data for 2017/18 and the proposed actions and measures to deliver improvements in staff attendance. The Officer noted that the current outturn figure of 11.23 days per full time equivalent member of staff was a reduction of 1 day compared to last year's figures, however the Officer advised that the current figure was slightly above the Welsh average and comparable to the Councils on the Gwent region.

The Head of Organisational Development further outlined the data contained in the report and provided Members with an overview of the work of the Task and Finish Group. The Officer outlined the outcomes of the Task and Finish Group in four core themes as well as the visit to Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council. The visit to Merthyr Tydfil CBC had been agreed as it was the best performing Council in terms of Absence Management.

At this juncture the Head of Organisational Development outlined the options for recommendation and invited questions/observations from Members.

A Member asked if the Task and Finish Group had concluded as the planned visits to a private organisation and another local authority had not been undertaken.

The Head of Organisational Development advised that Merthyr Tydfil CBC was the best performing Council in terms of sickness levels. The Officer reported that during investigations it was apparent that other authorities did not have such rigorous attendance management policies as Blaenau Gwent and the Task and Finish Group felt that there would be no benefit in visiting other organisations.

A Member noted his concern at option 3 which proposed the employment of a temporary Scale 8, which in his opinion was to teach managers how to manage. He felt that this was the role of the HR Team. The Head of Organisational Development advised that following a recent audit report, recommendation had been made for compliance with the policy by managers and how managers administer that policy, therefore it was felt that this role would support that work - the role of the HR team being to advise managers on the application of the policy.

Another Member concurred with the concerns raised and the Head of Organisational Development reiterated the at the visit to MTCBC the Head of HR and the Executive Member had spoken about similar roles supporting managers and driving improvements in staff attendance. During discussions it was apparent that this had a major impact on staff absenteeism levels and therefore this option for consideration had been proposed by the Task and Finish Group.

A Member referred to the implementation of the iTrent IT system and asked for an update in relation to the training provided for managers on the system. The Head of Organisational Development advised that training had been rolled out to all managers and where managers had not completed training additional sessions were arranged in April. There had been a delay in roll out to schools due to technical IT issues, however a meeting was scheduled in September with the SRS to push for solution. The Officer advised that prior to any feedback the system would need to be quality assured to ensure all managers are using iTrent.

The Member further asked for comparative data in order to make comparisons against previous year's figures. The Head of Organisational Development advised that as iTrent had only recently been rolled out any figures produced would overlap and data presented could have gaps. Following further discussion it was agreed that this information be provided at the appropriate time.

The Member further asked if numbers could be presented alongside percentages.

The Committee AGREED this course of action.

In response to concerns raised on the indirect cost on the budget, it was reported that teachers have insurance therefore the costs for supply teachers was covered. The direct cost to impact on budgets would be to cover frontline staff sickness which was sought via agency workers.

A Member noted that the Task and Finish Group had suggested that managers undertake unannounced home visits on staff on sickness leave and a staff bonus scheme for 100% attendance. However the Member noted that neither of these suggestions had been contained in the report. The Task and Group and Finish Group had ruled this out further to legal advice.

The Head of Organisational Development advised that the topic of a bonus scheme had been widely discussed and Members felt that staff was being paid to attend work. Further concerns were raised in relation to the pressure on staff due to colleague's sickness. It was reported that although stress was the highest of staff sickness departments are working at capacity and any pressure points are reported.

At this juncture, the Chair advised that Trade Unions had been represented in the Task and Finish Group and invited the Chair of Unison to address the Scrutiny Committee.

The Chair of Unison welcomed the opportunity to participate in the Task and Finish Group and stated that it was not in staff's best interest to have such high sickness levels. He advised that 95% of the workforce showed no signs of staff sickness and the 5% of employees who are genuine should be supported by managers. He felt that staff who exploited the Attendance Policy should be identified, as high levels of staff sickness contributed to the stress and anxiety of other staff. The Chair of Unison stated that the retirement age was continually increasing which as a result saw an aging workforce. As an Authority this was recognised by the Head of Organisational Development who works with Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly Councils to ensure the workforce was supported.

The Chair of Unison also referred to the various changes in the Senior Management Team over previous years which also caused stress and anxiety for the workforce. He continued that the majority of staff was unsure of the future of Local Government and the stability of their employment all these factors affects staff on a daily basis. Therefore, it was important that Unions, the Corporate Leadership Team and Members work together to address staff sickness. As an employer and an elected Member of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council we and managers have a corporate parenting responsibility to staff to consistently apply and monitor the Attendance Management Policy. A consistent approach was paramount and the Chair of Unison concluded that HR was attempting to ensure this was the case.

At the invitation of the Chair, the Executive Member - Corporate Services welcomed the opportunity to attend the meeting to hear the views of the Scrutiny Committee, although he noted his disappointment in the delay in the report being presented to the Executive. However, the invitation to the Scrutiny Committee had provided him with an opportunity to participate in the debate and questions on the Review of the Staff Attendance Management would be raised at the appropriate meeting of the Executive.

The Executive Member commended the work undertaken by the Task and Finish Group which demonstrated how task and finish groups contribute to the key areas of concern. The Task and Finish Group had been thorough in their work and had considered a great deal of information. He noted the overwhelming opinions not to appoint a coach for six months at a cost of approximately 43,000 and concurred that managers should be managing. He advised that this option for recommendation would be raised with the Managing Director along with the importance of managers utilising iTrent.

The Executive Member further referred to the development of the temporary role which had been presented to a previous Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee and at that time had been rejected by Members. He was disappointed that the report had been approved by the Corporate Leadership Team with this post as an option for recommendation. In response, the Head of Organisational Development advised that the Corporate Leadership Team had approved the report to be presented to Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee for consideration. The suggestions from the Scrutiny Committee would be taken on board by the Corporate Leadership Team. A further report will go to Scrutiny with the opportunity to scrutinise the reviewed Managing Attendance Policy. The Executive Member stated that the option for recommendation of a temporary post had been provided with no financial support and he advised that this would be raised with the Managing Director.

The Chair referred Members to the options for recommendation and noted the concerns raised that not all managers were using the iTrent IT System. The Head of Organisational Development advised that iTrent was a tool for managers and although they are asked to use the system she assured Members that managers were implementing the Attendance Policy, and data on their employees was available to them.

Following discussions it was agreed that information be presented to Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee to provide information on managers complying with the Policy and utilising iTrent.

The Committee AGREED this course of action and requested that managers be reminded to implement iTrent immediately.

The Committee FURTHER AGREED to recommend subject to the foregoing that the report be accepted and Option 2; namely the Management Attendance Policy be reviewed and improvements made in line with the findings of the Corporate Overview Member Task and Finish Group to develop a revised Draft Policy to be reported back to Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee in November 2018 with a view to implementation of improvements by at least January 2018.

Agreed
8. SHARED RESOURCE SERVICE PARTNERSHIP WORKING - MONITORING REPORT
Report (120K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (32K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (34K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (33K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

The Chief Officer Resources spoke to the report which had been presented for Members to scrutinise the performance of IT services provided by the Shared Resource Service (SRS) and noted that the performance information data was outlined in the appendices. The Chief Officer advised that the SRS was currently subject of a Service Review the outcome of which would be reported in due course. As part of the review a satisfaction survey had been circulated to staff and elected Members to provide their views and experiences on SRS performance.

A Member asked if he would be given the opportunity to consider the outcome of the review. The Chief Officer Resources advised that the report presented gave Members the opportunity to monitor the current performance information. The outcome of the service review would be presented to Council as part of another report once the review had concluded.

The Chair noted that this report was for information and proposed that future reports be contained in the Information Pack.

This course of action was AGREED.

A Member asked how the targets were determined for the performance information detailed in the report. The Chief Officer Resources agreed to take the question to the SRS and inform Members accordingly.

The Committee FURTHER AGREED to recommend, subject to the foregoing that the report be accepted and Option 1 was endorsed.

Agreed
9. FORWARD WORK PROGRAMME - 31ST OCTOBER 2018
Report (89K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (66K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Chair of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee.

The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and the Forward Work Programme for the meeting to be held on 31st October, 2018 as presented was agreed.

Agreed
10. COUNCIL TAX - DISCRETIONARY RELIEF - CARE LEAVERS
Report (94K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (80K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

The Chief Officer Resources advised that the report had been presented for Members to consider the introduction of Council Tax Discretionary Relief for Care Leavers who live in Blaenau Gwent. She further spoke to the report and outlined the financial implications against each option. The Chief Officer noted that from information provided by Social Services the potential costs to award the discretionary relief would be approximately 5,500 for 2018/19. This cost would be incurred by the Council as no support would be provided.

A Member referred to the remaining 8 care leavers and asked if these had been means tested and the reason they were not entitled to the relief as were the other 12 care leavers. The Chief Officer Resources agreed to seek clarification on eligibility and report back to Members.

The Committee AGREED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 2; namely that the Council Tax Discretionary Relief Policy detailed in Appendix 1 which allows ongoing support to care leavers of up to 100% discretionary Council Tax with effect from the 1st April 2018 be agreed.

Agreed