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 Mr R J Morris and Mr A Stafford.


Declarations of Interest and of any Party Whip




Public Participation

Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Assistant Director for Legal and Governance 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 23 January 2020).  Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/e-mail address below.




Confirmation of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting


The Minutes of the Meetings held on 5 November and 10 December 2019 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Budget Scrutiny In-Year Performance and Draft 2020/21 Budget and Medium Term Financial Plan Update 2020-22 for Corporate and Communities pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Additional documents:


In attendance for this item were:


Lucy Hodgson, Cabinet Member with Responsibility (CMR) for Communities

Karen May, CMR for Transformation and Commissioning

Andrew Spice, Strategic Director for Commercial & Change

Michael Hudson, Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Hannah Needham, Assistant Director for Communities


As part of the Council's development of the 2020/21 budget, the Overview and Scrutiny Panels and the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee were asked to consider the draft budget proposals within their remit.


Since early 2019, the Panel has received regular budget and performance monitoring information. The latest financial information relating to Period 8 had been included as an appendix to the Budget report. The latest performance information relating to Quarter 2 had been considered by the Panel in December 2019.


The Panel's views would contribute to the Overview and Scrutiny's overall response to the budget which was being discussed by the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board on 29 January 2020.


The CFO led the Panel through the Budget report highlighting key areas of interest including, the:


  • Movement in Expenditure Budget graph which reflected the movement between 2019/20 and 2020/21. Some of the areas of significant change, included an increased demand on the adult services budget and reduction in specific grants, with the Revenue Support Grant having now ended. The overall impact was an increase in the Base Budget for 2020/21 of £4.5m compared to 2019/21.  Whilst lower than previous years, there was still a £9.6m funding gap to be addressed through efficiency savings. Proposals to meet this target were set out, including an anticipated saving of £6m through the Council’s redesign process. 
  • Draft Budget had been prepared on the basis that the Council Tax would increase by 3.99% for the coming year. The Panel was advised that this would mean that Worcestershire’s Council Tax level remained in the lower quartile of comparable Councils.
  • General Reserves were £12.2m (one of the lower levels of reserves amongst County Councils) with no current plans to add to or reduce this level. The earmarked Reserves (funds allocated for specific purposes), were currently at £61.8m.
  • In terms of the Funding Gap Forecast for 2020-23, if all current grant income was retained, it was anticipated that there would be a funding gap of £29m over the next three years. The Chancellors statement on 11 March would give a clearer picture as to how funding was going to be allocated. The CFO assured the Panel that his team were continually reviewing the budget and processes to seek ways to help reduce this gap.
  • Budget timeline for 2020/21 was explained and the Panel was advised that Scrutiny Panels had been arranged at this stage to enable comments to be fed into the OSPB on 29 January, following which Cabinet would consider the draft Budget on 30 January. It was noted that the latest January budget papers had included some changes to reflect Directorate restructuring and changes to grants from Central Government, members asked that in future, the reporting be made clearer and easier to understand.
  • The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 263.


Statutory and Corporate Complaints and Compliments System pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Additional documents:


Following consideration of the Statutory and Corporate Complaints and Compliments system report at the Panel meeting in December, Members had requested further detailed information, which has been included in this update report.


The Consumer Relations Officer (CRO) reminded the Panel that there were three separate complaints systems, one each for Adult Social Care, Children’s Social Care and Corporate complaints. He had provided schematic flow diagrams which demonstrated the process involved with each. Members asked a number of questions to which they were provided with the following clarification:


·         There were no prescribed time limits for dealing with Adult Social Care complaints, although the Council aimed to have these completed in 35 days. It was noted that this could be extended depending on the complexity of the case.

·         All complaints were acknowledged within 3 days, although if the complaint was made online, an automated response was issued. All complaints were then tracked through the database.

·         It was highlighted that most complaints were generated as a result of a Council service that was received by the complainant.

·         If a complaint involved a safeguarding issue, it would be escalated immediately.

·         The Complaints Team had five members of staff which included a Manager, three Consumer Relations Officers and an Administrative Officer.

·         A complaint received directly by the Chief Executive would be forwarded directly to the Complaints Team to process.

·         When a compliment was received, there was a clear procedure for ensuring that the individual employee received notification of this.

·         The Panel was informed that the number of compliments was incorporated in the relevant service area Annual Report. Whilst it was most important that the individual Officer received the compliment, the Panel felt there may be some scope for positive publicity to be gained in certain circumstances.


During the course of the discussion about the flow diagrams, it was suggested that more detail should be included at each of the stages to actually reflect the process in more detail and that a flow diagram be produced to represent the Compliments process.


It was agreed that a report be produced for the Panel’s July meeting which outlines the stages in each of the complaints handling processes in detail.


Work Programme 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Additional documents:


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


Council’s Energy providers and costs.


The Chairman updated the Panel on the preliminary work carried out so far on this matter. It was noted that as part of this work, the Members working on this would wish to speak to the Strategic Director for Commercial and Change, the Assistant Director Legal and Governance, the Chief Accountant, the relevant Procurement Officer and the Councils CMR’s on the Board of West Mercia Energy and meetings would be arranged accordingly.


Organisational Review


The Chairman requested that information showing Directorate changes applicable to this Panel, be circulated.