Agenda and draft minutes

Public Services Reform Policy and Accountability Committee - Wednesday, 2nd September, 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Online - Virtual Meeting. View directions

Contact: David Abbott  Email:

Link: View live stream on YouTube

No. Item


Apologies for absence


There were no apologies for absence.


Roll call and declarations of interest

A roll call will be carried out to confirm attendance and members will have the opportunity to declare any interests.


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 Standards Committee.


The Chair carried out a roll call to confirm attendance. Attendance is listed above. There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 262 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting.


The minutes of the meeting held on the 28th of July 2020 were agreed as an accurate record.


Public participation

This meeting is being held remotely via Microsoft Teams. If you would like to make a comment or ask a question about any of the items on the agenda, either via Teams or in writing, please contact:


No public questions were received.


Council of the Future - techUK pdf icon PDF 440 KB

Georgina Maratheftis, techUK’s Head of Local Public Services, will join the committee to discuss techUK’s Council of the Future guide. The guide includes practical examples of how digital can improve outcomes for residents and a series of questions for officers and other elected members to engender change and build capacity across the local area.

Additional documents:


The Chair welcomed Georgina Maratheftis, Head of Local Public Services at TechUK, to the meeting. She gave a presentation to the committee on TechUK’s Council of the Future guide.


Georgina Maratheftis informed the committee that TechUK were the trade body for the technology industry across the public, private and consumer sectors. In her role, Georgina took a lead on the local government sector, working with suppliers that were trying to break into the market. She said she also worked with councils to support them on their digital transformation journey.


Georgina Maratheftis noted that the pandemic had been multiplier for technology adoption and innovation. The sector had shifted very quickly to mass remote working and had seen improvements in collaboration through the use of platforms like Teams, Zoom, and Skype. Councils had also used digital infrastructure to coordinate volunteers to support vulnerable residents who were shielding.


Georgina also spoke about the Local Digital Declaration, a joint endeavour initiated by the UK Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the Government Digital Service (GDS), and a collection of local authorities and sector bodies from across the UK. The declaration expressed an ambition for local public services in the internet age to:

·       design services that best meet the needs of citizens

·       challenge the technology market to offer the flexible tools and services we need

·       protect citizens’ privacy and security

·       deliver better value for money


She then highlighted some ways in which Councils could help move this forward:

·       Be a digital champion and empower digital leadership at the executive level

·       Use data to make informed decisions

·       Sign up to the local digital declaration

·       Spearhead a culture of innovation


The Chair asked how GDRP had affected data sharing. Georgina Maratheftis said any data sharing would have to take place within data protection rules and officers should work with their data protection officer. She added that data could be anonymised to ensure that nothing sensitive was shared. Veronica Barella (Chief Digital Officer) added that the Council had data sharing agreements in place around how data was handled and stored.


The Chair asked what a ‘smart city’ was, and if there was a danger of it being used as a smokescreen for outsourcing services to large companies. Georgina Maratheftis said she preferred the term ‘smart place’ and that the idea was about considering what technology could do to help enable the vision for a place. For example, in Camden there were booths where visitors can get free Wi-Fi and make calls.


Councillor Zarar Qayyum asked about the implications of smart cities and increased automation on employment and job security. He also asked whether a smart city would provide services on top of the traditional local authority provided services.


Georgina Maratheftis said a smart city should start with the local authority and their vision for a digital council across the place. In terms of the impact of technology on jobs – she said it was important to upskill the organisation and better equip workers  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Technology in Local Government pdf icon PDF 392 KB

This report looks at how the council can better use technology and data to provide services to residents. TechUK, the trade body for the UK tech industry, has produced a paper “Council of the future” recommending key areas that should be addressed by local authorities. These are discussed and areas of improvement identified.

Additional documents:


NOTE: This item was taken after Item 7.


Veronica Barella (Chief Digital Officer) presented the report and the Council’s digital and information strategy and the following points were noted:

·       The Council’s goal was to enable the delivery of the council's priorities for residents, local businesses and staff through the innovative provision of digital and information services

·       The Resident Experience Access Programme will modernise the Council’s public-facing services – from the more transactional ones which will be redesigned and automated end-to-end, to building a single front door for Social Care, Children’s Services and Housing.

·       The Council has a Digital Board in place to provide strategic leadership, engage with council members, internal services and other relevant stakeholders to deliver transformation and key priorities

·       The Council was committed to open up data and make decision based on data.


The Chair asked if the Council had an ethical framework in place for use of technology and data. He noted that the company he worked for kept a register of the algorithms they used and who was responsible for them. The algorithms were regularly reviewed and assumptions tested. Veronica Barella said Digital Services did intend to set up a register of algorithms.


The Chair, noting that the Council held a great deal of data about residents and services, asked how robust its security procedures were. Veronica Barella said the Council regularly reviewed and tested its cyber-security procedures. Systems were in place to protect users and their data. It was a major risk area for the organisation and was taken very seriously.


The Chair asked if there had been an increase in attacks this year. Veronica Barella said there had, and it had been a problem for all major organisations.


The Chair asked if there were disaster recovery procedures in place – could the Council retrieve critical data if there was a major incident? Veronica Barella said the Council and third-party contractors had processes in place and regular exercises were carried out to test preparedness.


Councillor Dominic Stanton asked how much of the Council’s data was still stored in local file systems and servers, rather than in cloud-based servers. Veronica Barella said most of the Council’s major systems were now hosted externally with third party providers but there was still some data on local servers. All new procurements were hosted externally to reduce risk in case of an attack.


Overview of the Resident Experience and Access Programme pdf icon PDF 493 KB

This report gives an overview of the Council’s Resident Experience and Access Programme (REAP) – a flagship initiative for driving transformation, improved access, reliability and quality across all front-line services.

Additional documents:


NOTE: This item was taken after Item 5.


Martin Calleja (AD Efficiency and Zero-Based Budgeting) presented the report on the Council’s Resident Experience and Access Programme (REAP) – a flagship initiative for driving transformation, improved access, reliability and quality across all front-line services. He noted that the programme was moving from the design stage to the delivery stage. Phase one of the programme was focused on universal services like council tax, parking, and benefits. Phase two of the programme was focused on targeted support services like adult social care and children’s services.


Martin Calleja explained that the Council was currently delivering around 30 percent of services digitally and the aim was to deliver over 60 percent of services digitally. The programme would be delivered over five years with the majority of investment in the first three. Officers estimated savings of £9.28m.


The Chair welcomed the programme. He noted that while calling the Council’s noise and nuisance number he learned that the call centre wasn’t based in the borough. He asked where the Council got those services from and how many third-party providers the Council used. Martin Calleja said he understood that the service was in the process of being desegregated from RBKC and the current team worked remotely.


The Chair asked if the programme had been co-produced with residents. Martin Calleja said officers had reached out to residents through various channels and five residents with specific skills had been involved to give feedback. The team would also be working with residents through existing routes on a service by service basis. The Chair said it was important to testing the programme with residents to ensure the Council was getting it right.


Councillor Christabel Cooper asked how officers could ensure they got feedback from residents who were less tech savvy. Martin Calleja said they had reached out and would continue to try to get a stronger resident voice into the programme.


Councillor Guy Vincent said he agreed with the goals of the programme but asked officers what this investment would do to improve common service problems like housing repairs or tackling anti-social behaviour. Martin Calleja said the services mentioned were in phase two and hadn’t been modelled yet, though broad design principles were in place. Phase two design work was due to be completed this year and delivery was due to start in 2021. Veronica Barella added that the Council was already working on a long-term repairs model – the service had been brought back in house and software had been procured to help triage requests and provide a portal for residents to see information about their repairs and upcoming appointments. This work would join up with the work happening in the REAP in phase two.


Councillor Vincent expressed concern that phase two of the programme had not yet been fully thought through. He noted that the projected £3.4m of savings per year would mean a workforce reduction of around 50 people and asked what services that those people were providing would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


H&F Way Progress Report pdf icon PDF 282 KB

The H&F Way is the Council’s internal culture change campaign where staff work together to shape how we do things to be at our best, by creating a movement for change by our staff and for our staff. This report updates the committee on the progress made to date and plans for taking the H&F Way programme forward.

Additional documents:


This item was deferred to a later meeting due to time constraints.