Agenda and draft minutes

Resources and Performance Select Committee - Wednesday, 1 July 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN. View directions

Contact: Kunwar Khan, Scrutiny Officer 

Note: Please note that due to the Covid-19 situation this meeting will take place remotely. 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

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    To receive any apologies for absence and substitutions.

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    Minutes:

    The meeting was delayed and started at 10:19am. Apologies were received from Graham Ellwood.

2.

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETINGS: 24 JANUARY 2020 pdf icon PDF 103 KB

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    To agree the minutes of the Resources and Performance Select Committee held on 24 January 2020 as a true and accurate record of proceedings.

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    Minutes:

    The minutes were agreed as a true record of the meeting.

3.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

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    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

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    Minutes:

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

4.

QUESTIONS AND PETITIONS pdf icon PDF 59 KB

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    To receive any questions or petitions.

     

    NOTES:

     

    1.    The deadline for Members’ questions is 12:00pm four working days before the meeting (25 June 2020).

     

    2.    The deadline for public questions is 5:00pm seven days before the meeting (24 June 2020).

     

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

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Cllr Jonathan Essex submitted a question in advance of the meeting, which can be found in the meeting agenda, alongside officers’ response.

     

    As a supplementary question, Cllr Essex asked for details of what had been submitted to government and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) as alluded to in paragraph two of the prior response, and how the Council was integrating the actions of the approved climate strategy with the economic strategy, including building insulation and sustainable transport, the two areas with the highest employment potential according to the Local Government Association report mentioned.

     

    A written copy of the Executive Director’s response and the schemes submitted to the LEPs are annexed to these minutes.

5.

2019/20 OUTTURN, COVID-19 COSTS & FUNDING & BUDGET LESSONS LEARNED pdf icon PDF 144 KB

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    Purpose of the report: To present the 2019/20 outturn position, the latest forecast on COVID-19 costs and funding and the lessons learned from the 2020/21 budget process.

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    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Anna D’Alessandro, Director of Corporate Finance

    Mel Few, Cabinet Member for Resources

    Leigh Whitehouse, Executive Director of Resources

    Rachel Wigley, Director of Financial Insight

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1. The Director of Corporate Finance presented headlines of the report. At outturn of the financial year 2019/20, a small surplus of £200,000 had been delivered on revenue. All services had contributed to this surplus. £2.6m had been added to the contingency, as well as £2.8m that had been added to the general fund reserve. In 2019/20, £82m of efficiencies had to be delivered, and there was slippage of £9.5m, comparing favourably to slippage of £22m in 2018/19.
    2. The Director continued to explain that there had been two tranches of Covid-19 funding from government, totalling £47m. Of that, £900,000 had been spent on Covid-related costs and income loss in 2019/20, and the rest would be carried forward to 2020/21. A ‘Delta 2’ return had been submitted to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on 15 May. Work conducted with finance business partners had identified that £4.3m of efficiencies would be undeliverable because of Covid. The reporting to MHCLG was consistent with what other counties were reporting.

     

    Ayesha Azad joined the meeting at 10:33am.

     

    1. After the 2020/21 budget, the Finance team had conducted an extensive ‘wash-up’ exercise in partnership with Democratic Services around Select Committee involvement in the budget process. For the 2021/22 budget, Select Committees would be involved in the process more and earlier, conducting two rounds of scrutiny in September-October and December. The 2021/22 budget would be discussed at the first round of budget scrutiny in September/October 2020 and the second round in December 2020.
    2. A Member noted that there had been an improvement in the final month of the year, with £5.6m additional savings. He asked why this had come so late and whether services were holding back savings until the end of the year. The Director of Corporate Finance said that the latter was not the case and services worked hard to achieve efficiencies all year. Sometimes efficiency needs did not become clear until the end of the year, as well as certain events that could only be undertaken at year-end from a Corporate Finance perspective. She acknowledged that the Council still had some way to go to refine forecasting. The Cabinet Member for Resources added that paragraph six of the report showed explanations for the delivery of efficiencies in month 11.
    3. A Member remarked that in the years she had been a Surrey county councillor, she did not remember Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) ever coming within budget, despite promises that the numbers would be brought under control. Were there assurances that it would now be under control without this being detrimental to young people? The Director of Financial Insight responded that there was now a transformation programme board chaired by Julie Iles as well as other relevant scrutiny. In 2019/20, there had been a £29m overspend had been projected; in reality,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

MIDAS HOUSE CANCELLATION DECISION pdf icon PDF 67 KB

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    Purpose of the report: To provide details of the Council’s decision not to proceed with the acquisition of Midas House as the new County Hall.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Michael Coughlin, Executive Director of Transformation, Partnerships and Prosperity

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1. The Executive Director introduced the report. It focused on the decision to cancel the move of County Hall to Midas House in Woking, which was taken under the uncertainty of Covid. There were four key strands to the decision: the impact on staffing, digital capabilities, property implications, and communications and change management. The Moving Closer to Residents (MCTR) programme would continue to be progressed in autumn 2020.
    2. A Member remarked that the decision to cancel the move to Midas House appeared to have been made very quickly. The Select Committee wished for more detail on this decision – firstly, the revised timetable for the move of County Hall. Would the County Hall still be based in Kingston after the May 2021 election? The Executive Director responded that the Council would continue to market the current County Hall building in Kingston in the uncertain property market, working with the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. Surrey County Council was also reviewing its wider property portfolio in line with quantitative and qualitative research on how staff had been working during the pandemic. It was, however, impossible to put a strict timeframe on the programme at the moment.
    3. A Member referred to the £183,000 figure of costs associated with the cancelled move to Midas House. This was detailed in the answer to a Member’s question at the full Council meeting on 19 May 2020, which was annexed to the report on the agenda for this Select Committee meeting. Was this figure still up to date and comprehensive, and what was the current budget allocation? The Executive Director said that £183,000 was the final cost and fees; no further costs had been incurred since the cancellation decision.
    4. A Member asked what the primary reason for cancelling the decision was. Had the Council been unsure anyway and used Covid as an excuse? The Executive Director stated that Midas House had been a serious contender, and the Council would not have progressed as it did if it had not been serious. However, the pandemic hit as negotiations progressed beyond heads of terms into deeper legal considerations, and with the acceleration of the number of staff members working from home, it became clear that the Council was not going to need a building of the size or nature of Midas House. The decision was made quickly in order not to incur any more costs. There were no other, hidden reasons. The strategic intent remained to move staff out of the Kingston County Hall.
    5. A Member expressed concern about how the cancellation would affect the Council’s credibility among councillors and, principally, the general public. He asserted that the communications regarding what happened had been poor and Surrey’s credibility had been damaged. There would be credibility issues with any future move of County Hall. The Executive Director accepted the Member’s comments on communications – when the decision was taken on 23 April 2020,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

QUARTERLY PERFORMANCE REPORT (Q4 2019/20) pdf icon PDF 60 KB

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    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, including HR&OD, customers, finance, transformation and risk management.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Paul Booker, Corporate Health and Safety Lead Manager

    Anna D’Alessandro, Director of Corporate Finance

    Jackie Foglietta, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development (HR and OD)

    Susan Grizzelle, Head of Customer Services

    Marie Snelling, Director of Transformation

    Gary Strudwick, Head of Business Intelligence

    Rachel Wigley, Director of Financial Insight

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1. Discussion began on the HR section of the report. A Member noted that there were a number of unmet targets and asked what steps were being taken to address this. Were witnesses content with the range of targets and progress? The Director of HR and OD stated that the targets were set at the right level. Some were set by government – for example, the target on apprenticeships (HROD 06) – and were therefore out of the Council’s control, while others were set through the transformation programme, and some took into account national benchmarking. Apprenticeships as a percentage of the workforce had stood at less than one percent 18 months ago, so progress had been made. She acknowledged that the target for indicator HROD 03 (percentage of staff under 30) was a stretch target, and the Council had been underperforming on that indicator for a number of years, but was continuing to work on attracting young people. Also, the public sector as a whole should be aiming for lower sickness levels (HROD 04). HROD 05 (off payroll workers as % of workforce) had been set up by the corporate leadership team in response to Members’ concerns on interim and agency workers. The number of off payroll workers increased slightly as a result of transformation work in SEND and the Agile programme.
    2. The Director of HR and OD continued to explain that Councils had shown a one percent increase in their workforce from 1 March 2020 to 1 May 2020 due to the Covid pandemic. However, overall the Council had seen a steady decrease of employees in the last year (2019-2020). The Covid pandemic had also helped the Council to recruit to some areas where historically it had struggled, such as apprenticeships and healthcare assistant roles. On the other hand, colleges had been closed for some time due to Covid, so those undertaking apprenticeships had been unable to work on the qualification for some time.
    3. A Member asked the director what could be done to continue to improve the uptake of apprenticeships. The Director explained that apprenticeship levy funding could only be used on training, so the Council still had to fund apprenticeship salaries. The Local Government Association (LGA) was lobbying government for more funding. She was of the opinion that the government had asked a lot of LAs by setting a 2.5% target for apprenticeships as a percentage of the workforce.
    4. A Member stated that in 2018/19, there had been 407 employees earning over £50,000 per year; in 2019/20, this had risen to 558 employees. The Member proposed that the Council monitor the number of staff members on high salaries. The Director of HR  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

CABINET MEMBER PRIORITIES UPDATE pdf icon PDF 90 KB

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    Purpose of the report:To share details of the Cabinet Members’ priority areas of work including strategy and policy developments and provide an overview of the budget position and performance of services within their portfolios.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Mel Few, Cabinet Member for Resources

    Zully Grant-Duff, Cabinet Member for Corporate Support

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1. Starting with the Cabinet Member for Corporate Support’s portfolio, a Member asked whether the funding for the 700 laptops and deployment of Microsoft Teams (as mentioned in the report) was part of transformation expenditure or the Covid budget. The Cabinet Member explained that it was funded by transformation expenditure, as the rollouts were effectively a continuation of aspects of the transformation programme that had already been in the pipeline, just at an accelerated pace due to Covid. Some schemes, however, such as deploying technology to other organisations like Surrey Police, had been funded through the Covid budget.
    2. The Select Committee raised the topic of remote care at home. The Cabinet Member for Corporate Support detailed that remote care was embedded into the Digital Strategy ambition and the lockdown had accelerated it further, as many people were not able to leave their homes. The remote care at home project looked at how artificial intelligence could be used in preventative services, to reduce pressure on acute health services. From a digital perspective, it represented an example of partnership working; Surrey County Council had a new Joint Strategic Chief Digital Officer, Katherine Church, who simultaneously fulfilled the same role at Surrey Heartlands, allowing the Council to look across both health and digital services, while also integrating ASC. The next stage of work would involve 1,000 of the most vulnerable households in Surrey.
    3. Members expressed awareness of some failures in developing remote care at home. A Member asked whether the Cabinet Member for Corporate Support could assure the Select Committee that the Council would be using available technology and could overcome challenges; for instance, GDPR issues had to be considered. The Cabinet Member said that the implementation of remote care at home was being controlled by the Council and health partners and within that there would be contractual obligations for third parties, particularly relating to the databases. Funding came from Surrey County Council ASC and Public Health funding.
    4. A Member stated that it would be useful when adopting the remote care system to find out which other councils or providers already used such a system and build on a system that already worked, rather than reinventing the wheel. The Cabinet Member for Corporate Support replied that Surrey County Council had put together the technology they were using at the moment, such as devices to measure temperature and heartrate. In future, there may be algorithms, databases and specialised devices for other measures made by third parties. She did not have benchmarking with other LAs, but could refer the Select Committee to health partners who could give more information on this. The Council had not reinvented the wheel in the sense that the technology was already used by the NHS in Surrey, and had just been expanded and adapted by the Council in partnership with Surrey Heartlands. She acknowledged the Member’s point, and added that, fundamentally,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

TRANSFORMATION PROGRAMME UPDATE pdf icon PDF 130 KB

10.

TASK AND FINISH GROUP UPDATES pdf icon PDF 77 KB

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    To update on and review the minutes of the Customer Experience Task Group meeting of 3 April 2020 (attached to this item), and the Budget Sub-Group meeting of 28 May (attached to the item 5 2019/20 Outturn report).

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    Minutes:

    The Select Committee noted the minutes of the Customer Experience Task Group.

11.

RECOMMENDATIONS TRACKER AND FORWARD WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 107 KB

12.

DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING

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    The next meeting of the Resources and Performance Select Committee will be held on 8 October 2020 at 10:00am.

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    Minutes:

    The next meeting of the Resources and Performance Select Committee would be held on 8 October 2020 at 10:00am.