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CORPORATE PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT END OF YEAR REPORT 2021/22.
Following an introduction from the Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance, Committee Members received a presentation from the Business Improvement Manager. Members were given an overview on the statutory requirement for the Council to carry out a process of self-assessment. This was undertaken via the Performance Management Framework and a key component was the Corporate Performance Assessment.
One Member requested a response to the increase in sickness days, breaches of data requests and asked if there were sufficient resources in areas receiving the most number of complaints such as refuse collection, recycling and highway maintenance. The Cabinet highlighted that the pandemic had an impact on staff absence due to sickness. The Corporate Director for Education and Corporate Services also advised that a report had come before the Policy and Resources Scrutiny Committee outlining a series of measures designed to improve the situation regarding sickness rates. The Head of People Services outlined the national nature of increased sickness levels and provided assurances that is was being reviewed alongside other Local Authorities and external partners. On the issue of sufficient resources, the Corporate Director for Economy and Environment observed that some areas had adequate funding but others did not. Members also heard about problems with recruitment to certain positions.
A Member asked for more information on the effects of the Well-being Initiative, requested figures based on gender for those appointed to high positions within the Council, questioned if outside appointments were made for such roles and queried whether the Council was actually responsible for some of the achievements in the report or was just claiming credit for the work of others. The Corporate Director for Education and Corporate Services advised that putting all the information contained within Directorate Performance Assessments into one report would produce too lengthy a document for one meeting. Members heard how information on issues such as gender balance did form part of the Directorate Performance Assessment. The Director suggested that a Member Seminar be organised so that the full range of information could be assessed. The Corporate Director for Social Services and Housing provided assurances that the achievement raised by the Member related to additional income brought about due to the intervention of Council staff. On the issue of recruitment the Head of People Services assured Members that appointments were made on both an internal and external basis and that the process was based on the Council’s Safer Recruitment procedure.
One Member welcomed the report but questioned the objectivity as it was a self-assessment. The Corporate Director for Education and Corporate Services reiterated that the report was a snapshot and that a future Seminar would allow Members to drill down more deeply into all corporate priorities. The Business Improvement Manager also highlighted that an independent panel review fed into the assessment process.
A Committee Member asked if there were any comparisons with other Local Authorities. The Business Improvement Manager observed that making comparisons was challenging as the Welsh Government had suspended data reporting to maximise resources during the pandemic.
One Member praised the work carried out as part of the Sure Start programme. The Early Years Manager agreed that the work done was phenomenal and gave Members an update on the work undertaken.
A Member criticised the underspend of £37.8 M and suggested that virement of this money would allow resurfacing of poor roads for example. The Head of Financial Services and S151 Officer reminded Members that an outturn report outlining how the underspend was ring-fenced for a number of purposes and that this report had been agreed by Cabinet and Full Council. The Member also enquired why the sickness/absence rates and the number of staff aged over 55 did not feature in the risk register. He also queried calculations of Welsh language statistics in the report and the percentage figures for Freedom of Information compliance. The Corporate Director for Education and Corporate Services outlined how sickness rates were for 2021/22 and the risk register relates to the previous financial year and therefore they would be reviewed under a future risk register. On the Welsh language statistics point the Corporate Policy Manager recognised that there was a discrepancy and highlighted that this was caused by staff having more than one role with the Authority and working across different Directorates. Regarding the FoI compliance figures query the Head of Customer and Digital Services observed that she would double-check the figures and contact the Member.
The Chief Executive thanked Members for the challenging comments made this evening. The Chief Executive praised the work of Council staff during very challenging times during the pandemic. Members heard how certain areas such as complaints and FoI compliance may have been negatively impacted during this time but it was because resources had been redirected to provide community support during the pandemic. The Chair also praised the role of staff delivering free school meals during the pandemic and concluded that the report had been discussed, challenged and scrutinised as per the recommendation.