Agenda and minutes

Resources and Performance Select Committee - Thursday, 8 October 2020 10.00 am

Venue: REMOTE

Contact: Kunwar Khan, Scrutiny Officer 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

    • Share this item

    To receive any apologies for absence and substitutions.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Apologies were received from Graham Knight and Graham Ellwood.

2.

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING: 1 JULY 2020 pdf icon PDF 252 KB

3.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

    All Members present are required to declare, at this point in the meeting or as soon as possible thereafter:

     

          I.        Any disclosable pecuniary interests and/or

     

        II.        Other interests arising under the Code of Conduct in respect of any item(s) of business being considered at this meeting.

     

    NOTES:

     

    ·         Members are reminded that they must not participate in any item where they have a disclosable pecuniary interest.

     

    ·         As well as an interest of the Member, this includes any interest, of which the Member is aware, that relates to the Member’s spouse or civil partner (or any person with whom the Member is living as a spouse or civil partner).

     

    ·         Members with a significant personal interest may participate in the discussion and vote on that matter unless that interest could be reasonably regarded as prejudicial.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Rachael Lake declared a personal interest as a family member is an employee of Surrey County Council.

4.

QUESTIONS AND PETITIONS

    • Share this item

    To receive any questions or petitions.

     

    NOTES:

     

    1.    Due to the Covid-19 pandemic all questions and petitions received will be responded to in writing and will be contained within the minutes of the meeting.

     

    2.    The deadline for Members’ questions is 12:00pm four working days before the meeting (2 October 2020).

     

    3.    The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting (1 October 2020).

     

    4.    The deadline for petitions was 14 days before the meeting, and no petitions have been received.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    None received.

5.

PROPERTY PROGRAMME UPDATE pdf icon PDF 280 KB

    • Share this item

    Purpose of the report: To receive an update about the Council’s property.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Patricia Barry, Director of Strategic Land and Property Assets

    Mel Few, Cabinet Member for Resources

    Paul Forrester, Strategic Finance Business Partner

    Edward Hawkins, Deputy Cabinet Member for Property

    Leigh Whitehouse, Executive Director of Resources

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Chairman mentioned that it had been some time since the Select Committee had reviewed the Council’s property function, and he highlighted that this report dealt solely with the investment portfolio.

    2.    The discussion was opened up to Members’ questions. A Member praised the report as comprehensive and asked what key performance indicators (KPIs) there were underpinning the next step. How would these be monitored and reported back? The Director of Strategic Land and Property Assets said that the property team met every week to go through all the elements of the investment programme relating to applications for rent production and rental holidays. The situation surrounding Covid-19 and the changes to the market were also being monitored at the moment. The monitoring then went back through Cabinet Member involvement and reporting. KPIs included rent collection and service charge collection.

    3.    A Member noted that even though the report stated that less than 50% of tenants paid their rent on time, it stated later than rent collection remained high. He requested more information on the Council’s rent collection, specifically in the retail sector, which made up the largest proportion of the Halsey Garton Investment (HGI) portfolio and had been hit particularly hard by Covid-19. The Director of Strategic Land and Property Assets replied that the figures referenced were national averages in terms of rent collection; this was poor nationally at the moment. Surrey County Council had an improved position on the national average, as it was working closely with tenants. Also, some of the Council’s retail tenants, such as supermarkets, had not been affected negatively by the pandemic. However, to address properties where tenants had been struggling or might struggle, the Council was looking at option appraisals for alternative use for that investment. The Director acknowledged that the Council needed to be proactively looking at where it might be approaching lease breaks or where a particular market was struggling. The Strategic Finance Business Partner added that the Surrey County Council portfolio stood at 92% rent collection; the Halsey Garton portfolio stood at 72%. Those numbers included some tenants who were on monthly (as opposed to quarterly) payments, so the figure would increase over the coming quarter.

    4.    The Strategic Finance Business Partner confirmed that the £11.6m referred to on page 43 of the report was a net figure.

    5.    A Member referred to the values over time chart on page 44 of the report and requested that officers share information of those values relative to purchase price of assets when the Council purchased them. The Director of Strategic Land and Property Assets responded that she would provide those figures outside of the meeting.

    6.    On page 56, a Member noted, there was mention of the purchase of 23 houses  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

PERFORMANCE REPORT pdf icon PDF 570 KB

    • Share this item

    Purpose of the report: To provide an overview of progress against a set of key performance indicators that fall within the remit of the Resources and Performance Select Committee.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Sarah Bogunovic, Customer Relations and Service Improvement Manager

    Rachel Crossley, Executive Director of Strategy and Commissioning

    Zully Grant-Duff, Cabinet Member for Corporate Support

    Tanya Herrera, Insight and Intelligence Lead

    Nicola Kilvington, Director of Insight, Analytics and Intelligence

    Bella Smith, Insight, Intelligence and Governance Manager

    Adrian Stockbridge, Head of Portfolios

    Gary Strudwick, Head of Business Intelligence

    Rachel Wigley, Director of Financial Insight

     

    The September 2020 Cabinet Budget Monitoring report, mentioned on page 69 of the agenda for this meeting, and a revised, simplified version of the efficiencies slide (page 71 of the agenda) had been circulated to the Select Committee prior to the meeting. They are annexed to these minutes.

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Head of Business Intelligence introduced the report, saying that the information included in it had been brought up to date as much as possible and was no longer necessarily quarterly. The formatting of the report had been revised.

    2.    A number of errors in the report had been spotted post-production and rectified as follows:

    a.    HROD 02: Voluntary turnover (%) (Good to be LOW): Correct to 10.2% (instead of 7.52%)

    b.    HROD 05: Off payroll workers as % of workforce (Good to be HIGH): Should read ‘Good to be LOW’. The arrow for 05 would become green once this is corrected.

    c.    RES 01: Satisfaction with the way the Council runs things (Residents Survey) (Good to be HIGH) and RES 02: Satisfaction that the Council offers good value for money (Residents Survey) (Good to be HIGH): Targets had been added to both Residents indicators.

    3.    A Member remarked that the report indicated that there had been a decline in the number of Adult Social Care referrals to community prevention services. What had caused this and what steps were being taken to improve this area? The Customer Relations and Service Improvement Manager replied that since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, a Covid-19 community helpline had been introduced with the purpose of signposting residents to support available in their local community. Since then, a lot of traffic that would have come through the Adult Social Care line and potentially resulted in a referral to community preventative services was now coming through the community helpline.

    4.    A Member noted that the residents indicators (RES 01 and RES 02) had both improved significantly compared to the previous result. What was the reason for this change? The Director of Insight, Analytics and Intelligence responded that other public sectors nationally and locally had also seen similar increases during this period. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the presence of public services at the forefront of people’s minds, there had been a more positive sentiment towards public services, including Surrey County Council. It was anticipated that for the next quarter the figures would be slightly lower, and, in the longer-term, would return to the usual figures, which were quite consistent.

    5.    A Member asked what was being done to improve performance on the apprenticeships levy (HROD 08). The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

FINANCE IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 1 MB

    • Share this item

    Purpose of the report: To receive the Council’s Finance Improvement Programme (FIP) as considered by the Cabinet.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Andrew Burns, Associate Director of CIPFA and member of the External Assurance Panel

    Anna D’Alessandro, Director of Corporate Finance

    Mel Few, Cabinet Member for Resources

    Nikki O’Connor, Strategic Finance Business Partner

    Leigh Whitehouse, Executive Director of Resources

    Rachel Wigley, Director of Financial Insight

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Director of Financial Insight introduced the report. In May 2018, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) had been commissioned to undertake a review of Surrey County Council’s finances and finance function. The Finance Improvement Programme (FIP) was then developed and approved at Cabinet in September 2018 as the Council’s finances were precarious at the time and the underlying causes had not been addressed. An action plan was developed to build financial discipline and address the financial challenged, taking a financial management approach. The programme included a board chaired by the Cabinet Member for Resources, an officer board chaired by the Executive Director of Resources, and the External Assurance Panel. The FIP had achieved significant improvements such as: delivering significant efficiencies in 2018/19, setting a realistic budget for 2019/20 focused on systems providing timely data to service colleagues, restructuring the finance service to take a business partner approach, building knowledge, skills and behaviours and launching the Finance Academy. Moreover, the finance service was not being complacent and had now launched phase two of the FIP, which included making the most of the Digital Business and Insights (DB&I) programme. The key aims were to embed a partnership approach and accountability, and to offer insightful advice and information.

    2.    The Associate Director of CIPFA explained that he had not been part of the original CIPFA review undertaken in September 2018, as he had not been working for CIPFA at that time. His involvement with Surrey County Council had been separate from his CIPFA role.

    3.    The Associate Director of CIPFA stated that the transformation to Surrey County Council’s finances was a significant achievement, but it was important that efforts were made to sustain this transformation, which could be more difficult than the initial achievement and would require a continued focus on good financial management and buy-in from Members and the whole organisation. External involvement and examination, effective scrutiny and DB&I were also key.

    4.    A Member enquired what the cost of the FIP was. The Director of Financial Insight replied that it cost £700,000, which had been charged to the transformation programme over 2018/19 and 2019/20. These costs included the CIPFA review, project resources, process mapping and interim support to ensure business continuity over the transition to the finance leadership restructure.

    5.    A Member asked whether CIPFA had signed off on the process and when there would be another financial review of the Council. The Director of Corporate Finance said that the Council was using a CIPFA financial management model, which would be run every two years and was due to be run within the next six months. This model would produce a RAG (red, amber,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

DIGITAL BUSINESS AND INSIGHTS pdf icon PDF 767 KB

    • Share this item

    Purpose of the report: To receive an update on the Council’s Digital Business and Insights (DB&I) programme.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Anna D’Alessandro, Director of Corporate Finance

    Zully Grant-Duff, Cabinet Member for Corporate Support

    Andrew Richards, DB&I Programme Director

    Leigh Whitehouse, Executive Director of Resources

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Director of Corporate Finance introduced the report, noting that the Digital Business and Insights (DB&I) programme linked in with the Finance Improvement Programme (FIP). The SAP system the Council had been using was slow and outdated. It was anticipated that the new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which was called Unit 4, would improve the speed of reporting and make a significant transformational change. Its scope comprised finance, HR and payroll. Implementation would continue from the present until December 2021.

    2.    The Director of Corporate Finance continued to say that the programme entailed a revenue cost of £600,000. A reserve had been set aside to manage the funding of the programme, and there had been extensive risk and mitigation reporting.

     

    Chris Townsend left the meeting at 12:05pm.

     

    3.    The DB&I Programme Director explained that since the contract had been signed, the first step had been mobilised and completed on-plan last week and approval had been gained from the Strategic Programme Board. The initial design stage would run from now until the end of December 2020. There were two main phases to the project implementation stage. Phase one would focus on strategic procurement requirements delivered by Proactis, and would go live on 1 June 2021. It was an out-of-the-box product that the Council could configure to meet its needs. Phase two would cover the rest of the scope across finance, HR and payroll, as well as more transactional procurement.

    4.    The Programme Director continued to state that the focus of the DB&I programme was on adopting change, improving processes and thereby helping to deliver the objectives of the FIP. In terms of the approach to the design of the programme, all experts involved would attend workshops and identify any exceptional areas where the Council could not fully align. Deep dives into specific configuration requirements would then be conducted based on this. Moreover, change management was being conducted, such as familiarisation training sessions for all those involved, which were going well and producing positive feedback.

    5.    The Programme Director added that officers involved in the programme were in the process of procuring an archiving solution for SAP material that would not be migrated to the new ERP system, so it was anticipated that the Council would be able to decommission SAP in early 2022.

    6.    A Member remarked that a past concern about SAP was that since the Council had installed it, it had been customised too much, making it difficult to maintain and improve. He requested assurance this would not happen again with the new ERP software. The Programme Director responded that the new ERP software would be regularly updated, so that it always offered the most suitable system, and was efficient and cost-effective. It was important that the Council monitored those updates  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

RECOMMENDATIONS TRACKER AND FORWARD WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 204 KB

10.

DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING

    • Share this item

    The next meeting of the Resources and Performance Select Committee will be held on 18 December 2020.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The next meeting of the Select Committee would be held on 18 December 2020.

11.

PRIVATE WORKSHOP

    • Share this item

    Budget Scrutiny: review of the Council’s current financial position and core planning assumptions.

    Additional documents: