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.
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 Insight and Intelligence Lead explained that there had been a slow start with regards to apprenticeships in 2020, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had paused apprentices’ learning or prevented them from enrolling in their apprenticeship. Due to easing of lockdown measures, the Council’s apprenticeship figures for September 2020 were looking much healthier – in July 2020 there had been about 16 apprentices who had started in April; in September 2020, there were now 41 apprentices who had started in the previous few months. It was anticipated that apprenticeship levy spending would now be returning to pre-Covid-19 levels.
6. A Member questioned the use of arrows in the report, suggesting that there should be green arrows pointing downwards if the indicator was ‘good to be low’. The Cabinet Member for Corporate Support emphasised that this was a completely new design and was intended to be as intuitive and pictorial as possible. It would be optimised as it evolved, and feedback from the committee was welcome. Members agreed that the new design was more user friendly.
7. A Member expressed concern about indicator RES 02, which showed that only 53% of residents were satisfied that the Council offered good value for money. Although this was an improvement on the previous result of 35.2%, the current result was still unacceptably low and indicated that the Council might not be conveying effectively to residents the value for money it offered. Residents were the most important part of the Council and it was essential that they felt satisfied.
8. A Member contended that, having gone through a number of changes to the organisation in the last few years, some staff had made important career decisions; for example, to change job or take early retirement. With all these changes, did the Council have the right staff with the right skills in the right roles? She emphasised the importance of covering all the skills the Council truly needed, not just being left with the staff who did not want to move on. The Insight, Intelligence and Governance Manager stated that the Council had plenty of staff with the right skills in the right place, and voluntary turnover was currently low. The Agile Organisation Programme team were conducting engagement with staff, such as a staff survey, feedback of which would be shared in due course. The Cabinet Member for Corporate Support acknowledged Members’ concerns and added that conversations were being had with staff at all levels, taking on their feedback and looking at adapting working practices to be more agile. Also, the HR team was constantly monitoring how staff were being kept informed. The Executive Director of Strategy and Commissioning stated that the Council was keen to retain staff and had been conducting business planning to identify gaps in skills. For example, the People, Performance and Development Committee had been examining retention issues in children’s services and tracking performance data on this.
9. A Member asked for the latest result for the transformation indicators. The Head of Portfolios responded that according to the most recent result, £8.1m of efficiencies had been achieved and £7m were rated green, meaning there was a high level of confidence that they would be achieved. Just over £4.5m of efficiencies were deemed to be undeliverable this year, and another £5m were rated amber or red. The transformation team was working through the detail to understand risks and achievability, which were subject to the ongoing Covid-19 situation. There had been a significant delay in transformation investment, but the figures had improved significantly since the national lockdown had ended. The Head of Portfolios confirmed that the £22.7m costs figure was separate transformation funding through the flexible use of capital receipts allowable under guidance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
10. A Member noted that the latest result for the overall planned financial costs (TRN 02) was only £2m against a £22.7m target. The Council had spent £2m between March and July 2020; was it planning to spend another £20m between July 2020 and March 2021, and therefore, were the costs going to be backloaded? The Head of Portfolios confirmed that this was the case, due to significant delays caused by Covid-19. Currently, it was anticipated that the Transformation Programme costs would come to a total of about £20m, meaning there would be a £2.7m underspend.
11. Members praised the annex section of the report, which showed the Covid-19 impact and ‘look ahead’ for all transformation programmes of the Council. A Member remarked that it could be useful for relevant figures or targets to be listed alongside each programme on this table.
Actions/further information to be provided:
1. The Head of Business Intelligence to look at the possibility of having green arrows pointing down for ‘good to be low’ indicators whose performance had improved;
2. The Insight, Intelligence and Governance Manager to share results of the Agile Organisation Programme staff survey;
3. The Head of Portfolios to look into including relevant figures alongside transformation programmes in the annex table.