Agenda and minutes

Public Services Reform Policy and Accountability Committee
Tuesday, 29th January, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Courtyard Room - Hammersmith Town Hall. View directions

Contact: David Abbott  Email: david.abbott@lbhf.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes of the meeting and matters arising pdf icon PDF 130 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 16 October 2018 – and note any matters arising.

Minutes:

Implementation of the new HR and Payroll System

Mark Grimley (Director for Corporate Services) gave an update on the new HR and Payroll system that replaced BT Agresso. There had been a successful launch in December. Change management and data cleansing had gone better than expected. The first pay run was fully compliant -  except for 5 staff (which was better than the previous supplier had ever achieved). Due to the successful implementation the intensive support period had been closed early and the project overall came in £500k under budget. There was a better adoption rate for the new channel and self-service. The system had a satisfaction rate of 97 percent 'good' or above.

 

There was still a lot to do in relation to remediation and there was a team dedicated to that. A programme board was in place to get to the end of the tax year.

 

Councillor Guy Vincent congratulated officers on the successful implementation. He then asked if the pensions arrangements had been as successful. Mark Grimley said IBC (the new supplier) were confident the correct pensions deductions were being made. Progress on transferring the pension scheme from Surrey County Council would be reported to the next Pensions Sub-Committee.

 

Councillor PJ Murphy asked if the correct payments had been made to pensioners. Mark Grimley said the pensioner payroll had completed with 100 percent accuracy. Councillor Murphy asked Mark to thank the team on behalf of the Committee.

 

The Staff Survey

The Chair asked for an update on the staff survey and any findings to date. Mark Grimley said the figures had recently gone to SLT and HR were now preparing a pack that would be reported back to members. He noted that the survey contained no surprises – it was clear that staff wanted to see more investment in development, staff care about the work they do and care about the borough. There were issues around leadership and management and there are programmes in place to deal with these points. Another area of focus was wellbeing and HR were thinking about how to support staff with new ways of working coming shortly. Mark Grimley said he could report back with an action plan and the results of the survey to a future meeting.

 

Councillor PJ Murphy asked if the leadership development programmes were being funded by the apprenticeship levy. Mark Grimley said they partly were – and also through internal promotions.

 

Family Support

Lisa Redfern (Strategic Director for Social Care and Public Services Reform) noted that, since the last meeting an improvement board had been put in place with CLCH and Family Support. There were significant improvements with CLCH and officers were now proposing to keep them as provider until 2021. There was no appetite to move that function to Family Support at this stage. Anita Parkin was working on a review of Family Support.

 

Councillor Guy Vincent said there was still a question over the original concept for Family Support, especially given the CLCH contract was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1.

2.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Max Schmid (Cabinet Member for Finance and Commercial Services).

3.

Declarations of Interest

If a Councillor has a disclosable pecuniary interest in a particular item, whether or not it is entered in the Authority’s register of interests, or any other significant interest which they consider should be declared in the public interest, they should declare the existence and, unless it is a sensitive interest as defined in the Member Code of Conduct, the nature of the interest at the commencement of the consideration of that item or as soon as it becomes apparent.

 

At meetings where members of the public are allowed to be in attendance and speak, any Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest or other significant interest may also make representations, give evidence or answer questions about the matter.  The Councillor must then withdraw immediately from the meeting before the matter is discussed and any vote taken.

 

Where Members of the public are not allowed to be in attendance and speak, then the Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest should withdraw from the meeting whilst the matter is under consideration. Councillors who have declared other significant interests should also withdraw from the meeting if they consider their continued participation in the matter would not be reasonable in the circumstances and may give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest.

 

Councillors are not obliged to withdraw from the meeting where a dispensation to that effect has been obtained from the Audit, Pensions and Standards Committee.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

4.

Specialist Housing pdf icon PDF 136 KB

This report provides an update on the Council’s new approach to specialist housing - re-focusing investment towards prevention and recovery.

Minutes:

Nick Kimber (Strategic Lead) and Julia Copeland (Head of Strategic Commissioning, Housing) presented the report which provided an update on the Council’s approach to specialist housing. The report set out the Council’s strategic ambition to reform the local authority’s investment, refocusing this towards prevention and recovery.

 

Nick Kimber gave an overview of the key points in the report, noting that:

·       The Council currently spent £11.5m from its revenue budget on commissioning community and voluntary sector care and support providers to provide housing management and care in 599 bed spaces across 69 buildings.

·       The provision supports six principal groups of residents: care leavers and young people, residents with mental health conditions, rough sleepers, older people in extra care provision, survivors of domestic abuse, and residents with learning disabilities

·       The key principle informing the new approach is the need to provide the right home with the right support at the right time as the basis to improve outcomes for residents. This recognises the central role that housing plays in supporting people to maintain their autonomy, enabling them to stay in a home of their own, or recover from a crisis before living fully independently again.

·       He gave the example of a 6-bed house in Fulham that was now being developed into provision for the care leaver pathway. Once developed, the house would be £110 cheaper per resident per week than existing alternatives.

·       Officers were currently reviewing existing provision and the recommissioning of provision would be going for Cabinet approval at the end of April (2019), with the new provision in place by April 2020.

 

Councillor Guy Vincent asked if the £11.5m revenue (3.2 of the report) would all be coming from the PSR budget – or elsewhere. Nick Kimber said the money would be coming from the Public Services Reform, Children's Services, and Adult Social Care departmental budgets.

 

Councillor Vincent asked if the purpose of this new approach was primarily to save money. Nick Kimber responded that it was primarily to improve outcomes. The new approach would enable the Council to respond to increasing demand, the need for a wider range of placements and the changed policy context including the aspiration for co-production that came out of the Disabled People's Commission. It would also help the Council meet the financial challenges of rising demand. Better provision would allow people to recover and move into independent tenancies more quickly.

 

Councillor Vincent said his worry was that this was being driven by budget pressures rather than good practice. Lisa Redfern said there were no plans to reduce the budget in this area. This approach was about improving the supply of appropriate housing - institutional settings should only be for the minority.

 

Councillor Christabel Cooper asked if moving away from block contracts to more flexible supply would be more costly. Julia Copeland responded by saying there would be a mix - for some areas like homelessness block contracts might be the best approach – but other situations require more personalised provision. Officers were looking at  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Customer Care and Complaints pdf icon PDF 97 KB

This report gives an overview of complaints, what the InTouch and Customer Relationship Teams do, recent performance, key findings and plans for improvement in the next couple of years.

Minutes:

Karen Sullivan (Assistant Director of Residents' Services) and Jane Sheehan (Resident Experience Manager) presented the report that gave an overview of the Council's approach to the way staff respond to and support residents with their contacts to the organisation. The report also provided an overview of complaints, what the InTouch and Customer Relationship Teams do, recent performance figures, key findings, and plans for future improvements.

 

Councillor PJ Murphy noted that the figures in the report didn't really give a sense of how the Council was performing. He asked officers to include comparative data in future.

 

Councillor Murphy said it was a red-flag that responses to Councillors and MP enquiries went into an unmonitored email inbox. There should be a response mechanism in place. Karen Sullivan noted that since that issue was recognised officers were manually picking up responses and the emails that went to residents do signpost to a monitored inbox. Councillor Murphy also noted that, in his experience, the timescales of 8 working days, were rarely met. He felt the data in the report didn't match the reality on the ground.

 

Councillor Christabel Cooper, noting the figure of 72 percent of members enquiries responded to within the timescales, asked if officers were counting holding emails as 'responses'. Karen Sullivan said holding emails weren't counted. She went on the say that the team was carrying out a system review and a new online system was being implemented with better self-serve and monitoring features.

 

Councillor Christabel Cooper asked what the target was for resident enquiries. Officers said the target was 15 working days, which was achieved 82 percent of the time.

 

Councillor Cooper asked if a resident wrote in to say they hadn’t got through to speak to someone after four rings – would that be treated as complaint. Karen Sullivan said it would, department should log that with the complaints team.

 

The Chair noted that her experience was fairly poor. She felt it would be useful for members to gather some evidence and put it to the complaints team to see if they could resolve some of the issues raised.

 

The Chair asked when the draft vision for improving the way residents access Council services would be finalised and shared. Officers said it was going to SLT for sign-off in February. The vision had been developed in consultation with a number of Cabinet Members, other members of the Administration group, and Opposition Councillors.

 

The Chair asked for the vision to be shared with the Committee when it was finalised.

ACTION: Karen Sullivan

 

RESOLVED

1.    That the Committee reviewed and commented on the contents of the report.

2.    That officers would circulate the vision for improving the way residents access Council services with the Committee.

6.

2019 Medium Term Financial Strategy pdf icon PDF 149 KB

This report sets out the budget proposals for the services covered by this Committee – and an update is provided on any proposed changes in fees and charges.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Hitesh Jolapara (Strategic Director of Finance and Governance) and Emily Hill (Assistant Director of Corporate Finance) presented the report that set out the budget proposals for the Public Services Reform and Corporate Services departments. The report also included an update on proposed changes in fees and charges.

 

Hitesh Jolapara gave a presentation on the financial context the Council was in and the financial challenges it faced going forward. He noted that the Council had taken a 42 percent real terms cut in its budget since 2010/11. In order to support services, the Council was proposing a 2.7 percent inflationary increase in council tax with a further freeze in future years.

 

Councillor Christabel Cooper asked what impact a hard Brexit would have on the Council's budget. Were contingencies in place for such an event? Hitesh Jolapara said in an event like a 'no deal' Brexit it was likely that sterling would fall and inflation would rise – so the cost of any contracts linked with inflation would go up. Labour markets would also likely be affected – the social care workforce for example was highly reliant on EU workers. Senior officers were regularly reviewing the risks of a wide range of Brexit scenarios and planning mitigations as best they could. The Council also had reserves to fund contingency measures if required.

 

Lisa Redfern and Emily Hill then gave a presentation on the Public Services Reform budget proposals. The department was proposing a net budget before capital and corporately managed budgets of £10.66m. The department was proposing savings of £0.75m in 2019/20 which would be achieved in the following ways:

·       A departmental restructure.

·       Adult Homelessness - Moving homeless residents from short-term hostel at Wood Lane into alternative provision.

·       Older People - End of contract at Bishops Creighton House, with provision provided instead in sheltered housing and other community provision.

 

Councillor Guy Vincent, referring to the figures in table 11, asked how the figures compared with last year. Officers noted that the Public Services Department was created as part of the Moving On process – with some funding from Social Care, Children's Services, and Public Health moving directly over to the department.

 

Members asked if the figures on income (£0.7m) were optimistic – was there risk there? Officers said the department had 'reset' its expectations on commercial income since the previous budget to be more realistic. Lisa Redfern noted that a lot of work had been done on advertising for example, and officers were confident that with the contracts they had in place they would achieve the stated income. Officers had been working to take the risk out of the budget process this year, it was a much more rigorous process.

 

Members asked what the £1.8m in growth for the Business Intelligence Unit was for. Hitesh Jolapara said the Council was writing off the previous income targets for the service. The £1.8m was potential income not realised.

 

The Chair asked how the Council was progressing zero-based budgeting. Hitesh Jolapara said there were some  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for the 3rd of April 2019.

Minutes:

The date of the next meeting was noted as 3 April 2019.