Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: County Hall Worcester

Contact: Alison Spall/Samantha Morris  Overview and Scrutiny Officers

No. Item


Apologies and Welcome


Apologies were received from Councillor R M Udall.


Declarations of Interest and of any Party Whip




Public Participation

Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Head of Legal and Democratic Services  in writing or by e-mail indicating the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case 4 November 2019).  Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/e-mail address below.




Confirmation of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting


The Minutes of the Meeting held on 3 September 2019 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


In-Year Budget Monitoring - Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Additional documents:


The Panel received a finance update relating to Commercial and Commissioning and Community Services for Quarter 2 2019/20 (July -September 2019).


The Director of Commercial and Commissioning (COaCH) advised that it was anticipated that there would be an underspend for COaCH of £556k at year end, which was a £417k improvement since Quarter 1. This positive performance was largely as a result of a clear focus on contract spend and management of vacancies, along with some elements of additional income being obtained. In terms of the Communities budget, the Panel was informed that it was well managed and forecasted to meet budget, as predicted, with no significant issues.


Members raised a number of issues as follows:


·       Concern was expressed in respect of the reduction in funding for the Talent Programme, which was an area that some Members felt was of great value in providing skills training for young people. The Director explained that as part of the need to find budget savings last year, a decision was made to scale back this Programme, and that a scaled back position was being continued in the current year. The Head of Finance highlighted, that the level of savings had been halved for this current year. She also advised that the budget for the Talent Programme (£400K) was not held solely within the COaCH Directorate and that it topped up a range of other activities in other Directorates, for instance relating to apprenticeships and graduate training.

·       In terms of the future position of the Talent Programme the Panel was informed that there were no plans to reduce the budget for next year, although this would depend on the Council’s performance at that stage. In response to a question about succession planning, the Director advised that there wasn’t a specific programme being actively promoted at the moment, but a key aspect of the Organisational Redesign Programme, would be to ensure that the right people were in place according to required skill sets for each post. 

·       A Member queried what the additional £60k registration fees income related to and was advised that the income had largely arisen as a result of an increase in the fees for statutory certificates from £4 to £11. Whilst the overall numbers of certificates requested had declined, the increase in fee levels had resulted in an overall net gain in income. The Panel were further advised that the ‘Tell us Once’ initiative, which residents can choose to make use of and enabled the Council to inform a number of other statutory agencies of a death on behalf of relatives, also had an impact on reducing the number of copies of a death certificate required by relatives.

·       It was clarified that the Corporate Information Management Unit (CIMU) dealt with issues such as data protection, record storage and the governance aspects of data sharing. The budget for this Unit was currently showing at a £30k underspend.

·       Further details about the £250k reduction in Property Services contract costs were requested. The Director advised  ...  view the full minutes text for item 247.


Working with District Councils and other Partners to share information pdf icon PDF 133 KB


The Panel received a report which provided an overview of how the Council currently shared information with District Councils and others to meet residents’ needs. The Director explained that all Partners across Worcestershire had signed a Worcestershire Office of Data Analytics (WODA) Data Sharing Charter which set out principles for person related data sharing. The other Partners included all District Councils, Worcestershire Children First, the Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust, Worcestershire CCG’s, West Mercia Police and the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Fire Service. It was highlighted that Worcestershire was one of the first local authorities to put such a system in place. It was noted that the list of partners was not static and could be added to as needs changed. The Panel was informed that protocols and arrangements had been put in place and the WODA Information Governance Group had met regularly over the past two years to improve information sharing via the ‘Information Sharing Gateway’ and to ensure compliance with the law.


The Director highlighted the scope and benefits of the use of shared datasets, to aid collaborative working and provided some examples of this. For instance, it was helpful for predictive purposes when planning for services post-hospital care, as this then enabled better personalised care for residents.  In terms of emergency situations, front line teams were able to share data at an incident, such as the identification of vulnerable residents, and hence be able to respond more effectively. The Geographical Information System (GIS) was currently being used to co-ordinate maintenance programmes on public rights of way and highways.


The potential of the Worcestershire 5G Testbed was highlighted as a key asset and one which provided significant opportunities for the future. Members discussed the potential for the 5G technology to assist the County with transport assessments and traffic management, for instance via 5G enabled lampposts. The potential for 5G to be brought into procurement solutions when purchasing highways equipment in the future was also highlighted. The Director commented that the key factor was going to be how such technical initiatives were able to be developed and executed. He advised that there was currently not the capability in-house, but there was expertise within the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).


The Director reported that the Council had signed up to the Government Digital Service standards and was able to tap into training opportunities and bid for funding.  The Council had been successful in securing funding through a Discovery Project for Registration Services data and had recently been successful in obtaining a further £73k for a project linking Registration Services and housing.


The Panel considered areas in which the Council could work with the District Councils. Members suggestions included:


·         Council tax collection system

·         Information Technology systems e.g. Office 365

·         Customer Relationship Management systems for Councillors

·         Opportunities for business development

·         A system of sharing Best Practice

·         Income generation initiatives.


The Panel were supportive of the desire to work more effectively together with District Councils and other partners  ...  view the full minutes text for item 248.


Registration Service Overview pdf icon PDF 106 KB

Additional documents:


At the last meeting, the Panel had requested a ‘deep dive’ into the performance of death and still birth registration appointments, following the decline in performance identified in the Quarter 1 performance indicators. The Director presented a report detailing the findings of the ‘deep dive’, along with an overview of the Registration service, including performance, recent changes and future developments.


The Registration and Coroner’s Services Manager (RCSM) provided an overview of the report including details of:


·         The current staffing arrangements, including reliance on peripatetic staff to cover for leave and peak times of demand.

·         The locations of Registration Offices in the County and that some were co-located with other services for the convenience of users and to ensure cost-effectiveness.

·         The data on availability of appointments was provided to the Council and also the General Register Office, the latter which oversees performance in terms of agreed Performance Indicators. This information was then analysed in different ways. Referring to Appendix 1, it was highlighted that whilst there was always an available appointment in the County, such appointments were not always taken up due to, for instance, an inability to travel to a particular office.

·         Stillbirths – the Panel was advised that most stillbirths occurred at one of the main hospitals. Due to this being such a distressing time for families, the Service took its lead from the bereavement midwife as to where and when a family was able to deal with the registration process. In light of this, the statutory timescales were not always met as the needs of the family took priority.

·         Death Registration – whilst the Council’s performance was still above national and regional levels, it was still below the target of 90% within 5 calendar days. The RCSM referred to various actions being implemented to address this issue, including the introduction of a Performance Champion who was reviewing best practice and working with GP’s and hospitals to seek to improve reporting times.


Members raised a number of questions and related issues as follows:


·         The Chairman asked why registration needed to be completed in person at an office rather than on line. The RCSM advised that the law stated that it needed to be carried out in this way. She highlighted that there were some changes happening with regard to some aspects of the Registration Service, for instance, the electronic record system was soon to become the legal record of marriages, following which marriage registers would no longer be required. Following discussion on the detailed monitoring sheet in Appendix 2, the RCSM confirmed that relatives who lived outside of Worcestershire could attend a register office local to them and that office would then transfer the details to the Worcestershire service. The CMR for Communities highlighted that many residents valued the personal reassurance and guidance that was provided when registering a death in person.

·         A Member asked for the procedure for registering a death to be explained and the RCSM gave a brief overview of the key stages.

·         The issue  ...  view the full minutes text for item 249.


Work Programme 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Additional documents:


The Panel received details of their current work programme for review.


The Chairman highlighted the issues that were due to be presented at the December and January meetings.