Agenda and minutes

Finance, Commercial Revenue and Contracts Policy & Accountability Committee
Wednesday, 13th December, 2017 7.30 pm

Venue: COMMITTEE ROOM 1 - HAMMERSMITH TOWN HALL. View directions

Contact: Charles Francis, Committee Coordinator  020 8753 2062

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 249 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 8 November 2017.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 8 November 2017 were agreed as an accuate record.

2.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

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.

H&F Council's Emergency Response to Major Incidents in June and September 2017 pdf icon PDF 227 KB

In 2017 there have been two major incidents in and around Hammersmith & Fulham that required the authority to implement its emergency planning procedures - the fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington in June and an explosion on a tube train in Parsons Green tube station in September.

 

This draft report reviews the H&F response at both strategic and operational levels, identifies action taken to date to improve the Council’s readiness, and makes recommendations for further improvements.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

At the start of the meeting, the Chair explained that four of the five members of the Committee had already considered the report in depth at the Audit, Pensions and Standards Committee held on 6 December 2017. The minutes of this meeting can be found at the following link: http://democracy.lbhf.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=338&MId=5624&Ver=4

 

Peter Smith (Head of Policy and Strategy) introduced the draft report and highlighted that there were two major incidents in and around Hammersmith & Fulham in 2017 that required the Council to implement its emergency planning procedures – the fire at Grenfell Tower in June and an explosion on a tube train in Parsons Green in September. The report reviewed the Authorities’ response to those incidents at both strategic and operational levels and considered the views of local businesses and community organisations that participated in a ‘hackathon’ event convened by the Council to examine the views of partners.

 

The report identified action taken to improve the Council’s readiness and response to major incidents and made recommendations for additional action for further improvements.  The Committee was invited to discuss the report’s findings and consider the draft recommendations. Following the meeting, the Council’s other Policy and Accountability Committees would also be consulted before the report was finalised for Cabinet agreement in February 2018.

 

Councillor Lucy Ivimy commended the report and highlighted that by their very nature, emergency events were unpredictable. Noting the important role played by voluntary groups in the immediate aftermath of Grenfell, she commented that it was not the job of the Council to control these groups but to harness their local knowledge to enhance the Council’s response.

 

The Chair asked what the top three or four lessons were which had been learnt from both incidents. Kim Dero (Chief Executive) explained that it was difficult to comment on a specific top three at this stage but a number of learning streams had emerged. It was noted that the Hackathon event had highlighted there was scope to improve communications. This included the information on emergencies provided on the Council’s website and the speed and effectiveness of emails emanating from the Council.

 

Kim Dero (Chief Executive) added that the importance of donations management had been quickly recognised given the scale and scope of the public response in the immediate aftermath of the fire.

 

The Chair felt that it would be beneficial if all the PACs commented on the lessons learnt section of the report, so a final agreed list could be presented to Cabinet.

 

The Chair asked about the timeline of when the Council offered help to RBKC following the Grenfell Tower fire and when that support was formally accepted. Kim Dero explained that due to the ongoing public inquiry into the fire, officers had worked with legal services to ensure the report did not prejudice that process. With that in mind, there were certain details that could not be released until the inquiry concluded. It was noted that there were complications because of shared services. Staff were initially deployed to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Complaints Assurance Report pdf icon PDF 81 KB

This report details how many complaints the Council has handled over the previous year, which department dealt with them, and what the organisation can learn from them.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

James Filus (Head of Contacts) introduced the report which set out how many complaints had been handled by the Authority at each stage, where within the complaints process they were handled, as well as the lessons which could be learnt.

 

The report summarised how the complaints process worked as well as providing statistics on the numbers of complaints received. It was noted that in 2016/17, 1,574 complaints were handled at Stage 1 of the complaints process and that based on part-year data; modelling suggested there would be fewer complaints in 2017/18. Information was provided on the number of complaints that escalated to the Local Government Ombudsman and it was noted that the trend for these was that they had reduced in number over time.

 

The report provided a breakdown of the complaints received by Departmental area, as well as details of the types of specific complaint.  It was noted that the chart within the report did not include those complaints handled by Adult Social Care or Children’s Services, as complaints in these areas were predominantly handled under a separate, statutory process and were co-ordinated by shared service teams, AND on separate case management systems. Details were also provided on the degree of satisfaction with the complaints procedure and the learning arising from complaints.

 

The Chair highlighted the report mostly contained figures and not a narrative, as per paragraph 8, and asked why there had been a significant spike in Stage 2 complaints? Councillor Vivienne Lukey asked for further explanation to be provided on instances where there was ambiguity as to whether a complaint had been made, the difference between a complaint and a service request and what parameters were needed to feed it into the corporate complaints system? Members also asked to be reassured that complaints were fed into the system. In response, James Filus explained that officers encouraged all concerns to be raised with the Service Department in the first instance and if an issue could not be resolved, then information and guidance was provided to residents to ensure they were aware of the complaints process and how this operated.

 

Councillor Vivienne Lukey asked about staff training and whether there was scope for this to be improved to ensure that all complaints were processed and not overlooked. James Filus explained that the H&F INTOUCH Team had been in place since 2010 and he was confident that complaints were processed in accordance with the Council’s protocols.

 

The Chair asked about informal complaints handling, what happened and what the mechanisms were for capturing this data so these could be resolved, as well as generate useful data so that the Council could learn as an organisation? Councillor Guy Vincent stated that anecdotal evidence suggested there were a number of complaints that had been received about Mitie repair work and that having registered a complaint, remedial work (on a resident’s property) sometimes ceased. Councillor Vincent suggested it was important that the complaints policy clearly stated that if a complaint was made, it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Corporate Revenue Monitor (Month 5) - For Information pdf icon PDF 648 KB

This report details the revenue expenditure position for the Council and its departments.

Minutes:

Hitesh Jolapara (Strategic Finance Director) introduced the report which provided details of the revenue expenditure position for the Council and its departments. It was noted that The General Fund 2017/18 forecast outturn variance for month 5 was a gross overspend of £4.887m an improvement of £0.275m since month 4.

The Committee learnt that the budget area forecasting the largest overspend was General Fund Housing. Factors included, rent inflation, an increase in the number of clients housed in both temporary accommodation and Bed and Breakfast, and competition with other local authorities bidding for properties were pushing up costs. He explained that the Council was also having to fund incentive payments to landlords to secure accommodation. £0.956m of planned savings had also not been realised.

 

Details were provided on the forecast overspend outturn variances reported by other departments and in overspend value order, these were:

 

1)               Children’s Services, primarily due to Commissioning, Education, and Family Services

2)               Environmental Services, due to underachievement of income within building and property management and commercial operations

3)               Adult Social Care, experiencing pressures within the Home Care and Direct Payments budgets

4)               Centrally Managed Budgets, due to low interest rates on cash balances

5)               Libraries and Archives, due to non-delivery of planned savings.

 

Councillor Guy Vincent asked about the net forecast overspend, after mitigating actions of £3.032m, the actions being taken to close the gap and whether any grant funding was available. In response, Hitesh Jolapara explained that action plans to mitigate the forecast overspends were summarised in table 2 of the report and confirmed that all overspending departments would need to respond with further actions to reduce the net forecast overspend to nil by year-end. It was noted that any overspends at year end would require the use of Council reserves.

Councillor Max Schmid commented on the budgetary pressures facing Children’s Services. He also highlighted some recent successes which included improved Commercial Revenue Streams and an available Corporate Contingency of £1.5 million.

 

Hitesh Jolapara explained that it was likely that grant funding would be reduced by up to £20 million by 2021. It was also noted that  work was being undertaken on a pilot London Business rates pool and other opportunities for how additional income streams might be generated.

 

The Chair asked whether, retrospectively, any of the overspends could have been anticipated? In response, Hitesh Jolapara explained that officers had regard to the 16/17 forecast out turn in considering savings and growth items and the budget paper included known risks. As was usually the case, officers had anticipated some overspends but there were always items which were unforeseen.

Councillor Michael Adam commented that if officers could not recoup the overspend and had used the Corporate contingency then it was matter of using reserves which was only sustainable in the short term. In response, Hitesh Jolapara explained that contingencies would need to be used before any reserves could be called upon. If this was the case, then Members would be faced with making choices in relation to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Dates of Future Meetings

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 16 January 2018.

Minutes:

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 16 January 2018.

8.

Exclusion of Press and Public

The Committee is invited to resolve, under Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, that the public and press be excluded from the meeting during the consideration of the following items of business, on the grounds that they contain the likely disclosure of exempt information, as defined in paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A of the said Act, and that the public interest in maintaining the exemption currently outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

 

 

Minutes:

The Committee is invited to resolve, under Section 100A (4) of the Local

Government Act 1972, that the public and press be excluded from the

meeting during the consideration of the following items of business, on

the grounds that they contain the likely disclosure of exempt information,

as defined in paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A of the said Act, and that the

public interest in maintaining the exemption currently outweighs the

public interest in disclosing the information.

 

 

9.

Managed Services Programme Report - Performance Update (Exempt)

This report provides an update on performance of Managed Services, including finance, HR, payroll, and pensions.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the progress report on managed services.