Agenda and minutes

Venue: Bromley Civic Centre

Contact: Keith Pringle  020 8313 4508

Items
No. Item

388.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND NOTIFICATION OF SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllr Nicholas Bennett J.P., Cllr Judi Ellis, Cllr Ellie Harmer and Cllr Alexa Michael.

 

389.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

Declarations of interest were made as follows:

 

Cllr Simon Fawthrop (as an employee of B.T with whom the Council was contracted for IT support);

 

Cllr William Huntington-Thresher (in relation to the Orpington 1st Business Improvement District referred to in the list of waivers appended to the report at item 17); and

 

Cllr Keith Onslow (employed on insurance related work by the Royal Borough of Greenwich).

 

390.

QUESTIONS FROM COUNCILLORS AND MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ATTENDING THE MEETING

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, questions to the Chairman of this Committee must be received in writing 4 working days before the date of the meeting.  Therefore please ensure questions are received by the Democratic Services Team by 5pm on Friday 23rd December 2016.

 

Minutes:

There were no questions to the Committee.

 

391.

MINUTES OF THE EXECUTIVE AND RESOURCES PDS COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 23RD NOVEMBER 2016 (EXCLUDING EXEMPT ITEMS) pdf icon PDF 252 KB

Minutes:

The minutes were agreed.

 

392.

MATTERS ARISING FROM PREVIOUS MEETINGS pdf icon PDF 165 KB

Minutes:

Members noted matters arising.

 

393.

FORWARD PLAN OF KEY DECISIONS pdf icon PDF 155 KB

Minutes:

Members noted the Forward Plan.

 

394.

QUESTIONS TO THE PORTFOLIO HOLDER FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC AND COUNCILLORS ATTENDING THE MEETING

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, questions to the Resources Portfolio Holder must be received in writing 4 working days before the date of the meeting.  Therefore please ensure questions are received by the Democratic Services Team by 5pm on 5pm on Friday 23rd December 2016.

 

Minutes:

There were no questions (with prior notice) to the Portfolio Holder.

 

395.

SCRUTINY OF THE RESOURCES PORTFOLIO HOLDER

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Resources, Cllr Graham Arthur, addressed the Committee highlighting progress against a number of Portfolio areas. 

 

On property, the Portfolio Holder referred to the proposed disposal of Banbury House, Chislehurst and the Small Halls Site, Orpington (to be considered at the Executive meeting, 11th January 2016). Other properties would be taken forward by Cushman and Wakefield. The Portfolio Holder also referred to Chislehurst Library and West Wickham Leisure Centre. Melvin Hall (and a short term lease) was further highlighted. A slim client model now supported property matters at officer level.

 

There was now a comprehensive property register which included small land parcels; should a small piece of land not be needed it would be made available for sale - the cost of the process now being more affordable with Cushman and Wakefield. The proposed Banbury House and Small Halls disposals would set a pattern for the future. 

 

Concerning Human Resources, the Council’s staff complement currently stood at some 1,360 fte, about 50% of the Council’s complement five years previously. Should there be a number of older staff on complement, a Member suggested this would affect the Pension Fund and a number of experienced staff could be lost (through retirement). The Portfolio Holder confirmed that early retirement packages are offered. The Council also recruited and 23 interns had been recruited - interns having the potential to attain to second and third tier positions in their 20s and 30s. The Portfolio Holder also referred to the Departmental Representatives Forum which inter-alia had been influential in highlighting a need for IT improvements for social workers.

 

Demand for legal support was increasing as was the number of homeless in the borough. In this context the Mears scheme was moving ahead at pace; properties had been purchased with further purchases also proposed. 

 

For the L B Bromley Pension Fund the Portfolio Holder had met the actuary who would be reporting soon on the fund’s triennial valuation. The fund remained one of the best performing in the country. Treasury management returns were also one of the best performing.

 

A balanced budget had been agreed at the start of the year and a projected overspend was concerning. Soaring costs of social services was a national issue and there was no desire to impose an extra percentage rise on Council Tax; however, it was necessary to consider such an option. Further income generation and tight spending controls would help fill the budget gap and the Portfolio Holder suggested a Member Working Group to consider options. The Group could perhaps evolve into a Sub-Committee but initially enable some “blue sky thinking” to look at income/ revenue generation. A Member suggested looking at successful approaches by other local authorities and the Portfolio Holder highlighted a need to be business minded. The Chairman suggested it was too late in the current year to establish a working group but it might be possible for 2017/18. The Leader also referred to Cabinet and Chief Officers meeting to consider  ...  view the full minutes text for item 395.

396.

RESOURCES PORTFOLIO - PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY

The Resources Portfolio Holder to present scheduled reports for pre-decision scrutiny on matters where he is minded to make decisions.

396a

Capital Programme Monitoring - 2nd Quarter 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 172 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD17007

 

Report FSD17007highlighted changes to the Capital Programme 2016/17 to 2019/20 (agreed by Executive 30th November 2016) affecting the Resources Portfolio. The report included comments on scheme progress at the end of the 2nd quarter of 2016/17.

 

RESOLVED that the Portfolio Holder be recommended tonote and confirm the changes agreed by Executive on 30th November 2016.

 

396b

Document Management - Request for the Release of Funding pdf icon PDF 338 KB

Minutes:

Report DRR17/002

 

As part of the Civic Centre Development Strategy, a sum of £200k had been carried forward to meet the cost of document management and to reduce storage space for paper files. Electronic storage was instead encouraged, interfacing with work being undertaken by I S Services.

 

To lead departments on reducing paper files and to develop/introduce document management guidance and protocols, Amey Community Ltd (in delivering the Civic Centre Programme) recommended the appointment at approximately £105k (including agency fees) of a dedicated and experienced Project Manager in the field for a period of one year. This was necessary as the Civic Centre Programme is not within the scope of the Council’s contract with Amey.

 

Employment of temporary staff was also anticipated for a short period to assist in boxing and indexing documents for disposal, off-site transportation to a storage supplier, and essential scanning work - the Portfolio Holder being asked to delegate authority to the Executive Director of Environment and Community Services for the work costing approximately £95k. 

 

In discussion, Members were concerned at the level of expenditure being requested. The process had been undertaken previously by other organisations and it was suggested that L B Bexley be consulted on the process; protocols developed by another organisation could be helpful.  

 

However, timing for the process was linked to the Civic Centre Programme and without available skills it was necessary to commission expertise. Amey intended to appoint a Project Manager who had successfully undertaken such a process previously.  A Project Manager would drive the process forward; without an appointment difficulties might be caused for the Civic Centre Programme.

 

A central in-house team had been employed by the Council to work on document management but the role had been taken some years previously as a saving. Nevertheless, retention schedules continued to be available for Council Departments and an initiative was currently progressing to clarify document assets held; with less space in new accommodation it would be more expensive to store papers.

 

Safeguards were suggested to ensure that papers exist for local history purposes. However, it was necessary to be clear on papers to be retained and each Department would need a retention schedule, disposing of documents not necessary to retain. Data protection interests would also need to be considered. A Project Manager would co-ordinate all relevant considerations in readiness for moving to the new accommodation.

 

Concluding debate the Chairman highlighted that it would be helpful to see:

 

·  a scoping plan for the project and what is expected from a Project Manager, including a defined timescale for the Manager’s work;

·  whether a Project Manager could be appointed on secondment terms from elsewhere; and

·  employment from within the borough (e.g. students) for additional work on tasks such as boxing and indexing documents, preparing for transportation to a storage supplier and scanning etc.

 

It was agreed to note the recommendations to the Portfolio Holder. The Portfolio Holder was also asked to note the Committee’s comments when taking decisions on Report DRR17/002.

 

RESOLVED that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 396b

397.

PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY OF EXECUTIVE REPORTS pdf icon PDF 119 KB

Minutes:

The Committee looked at the following reports on the Part 1 agenda for the Executive’s meeting on 11th January 2017.

 

(5) Draft 2017/18 Budget and Update on the Council’s Financial Strategy 2018/19 to 2020/21

Report FSD17005

 

Members considered the initial draft Budget for 2017/18 with Report FSD17005 also including details of the second year of the four year local government financial settlement (2016/17 to 2019/20), an update on the new social care precept, other changes reflected in the Autumn Statement 2016, and the Provisional Local Government Financial Settlement 2017/18.

 

There continued to be outstanding issues and areas of uncertainty and any further updates would be included in the 2017/18 Council Tax report to the Executive meeting on 8th February 2017. The report would also include comments on the draft budget from PDS Committees.

 

In considering risks it was noted that in addition to using savings and investment, New Homes Bonus funds and the Council’s Contingency had been used for the first time to support revenue. Containing costs also meant that the Council started from a low cost base. Increased inflation would present a significant risk in future as would any new Government burdens. However, there continued to be a significant level of contingency (albeit reduced) to deal with risks.

 

Reference was made to the Adult Social Care precept when setting the level of Council tax 2017/18 and savings of £1.5m per annum which can be expected from the forthcoming triennial valuation of the Council’s Pension Fund. The actuary had also confirmed the benefits of gifting the Mears scheme to the Pension Fund. On behalf of Members, the Chairman thanked the Director of Finance for hard work behind the scenes.

 

Concerning inflation and contract price increases, it was suggested that a number of contracts included inflation at unrealistic levels. Concern was also expressed that the Council’s Pension Fund was not fully funded and as such remained an outstanding debt for the Council.

 

RESOLVED that the report and recommendations to the Executive be noted.

 

(6)  Children's Services Improvement Plan Update and Phase Three Spending Plan

Report CS17089

 

An update was provided on progress with the Children’s Services Improvement Areas. This included advice that the new Deputy Chief Executive had reviewed the initial Phase 3 spending Plan and had re-profiled the resource requirements to be funded from the Phase 3 allocation. Accordingly, Report CS17089 sought Executive approval for £141k (part year 2016/17) and £795k (full year 2017/18) to be released based on the re-profiled requirements.

 

Providing laptops for children’s social care staff would also enable staff to remain in the field and reduce downtime returning to the office to access I.T. It was proposed to use one-off funding of £150k from the Council’s Technology Fund to purchase the laptops and other associated hardware.

 

After discussion, it was reported that the proposals in the report excludes the additional funding of £300k per annum requested as part of the original Phase 3 proposal. The original funding identified has  ...  view the full minutes text for item 397.

398.

PRESENTATION: LIBERATA - FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS 2017

Minutes:

The Managing Director, Service Delivery Director, Senior Operations Manager and L B Bromley Contract Director were in attendance.

 

In their presentation Liberata listed new initiatives in Corporate Services – Self Service for Revenues and Benefits, Corporate Visiting Team, Direct Scanning of Benefits Documents and a Single Financial Assessment Unit. A handout of the presentation was passed to Members. A separate handout covered positive outcomes from Liberata’s work and performance.

 

Points covered in questions and replies during the presentation included the following:

 

·  Liberata would offer straightforward guidance for self-service customers –particularly vulnerable customers could be expected to have a representative to act on their behalf with Liberata and representatives from Liberata’s Corporate Vising team could be available to visit customers as necessary;

·  Liberata will be utilising existing software technology for self-service as used by a small number of other local authorities  - Liberata was confident in its performance;

·  The technology would work on mobile phones;

·  For the Single Financial Assessment Unit, information would be stored centrally and systems would be checked first before writing out for information – information would only need to be obtained once and transaction times would reduce accordingly.

 

399.

BENEFITS SERVICE MONITORING REPORT pdf icon PDF 201 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD1702

 

Members considered the performance of the benefit services provided by Liberata from 1st April 2016 to 30th September 2016.

 

For future presentation and to help correlate information against presented graphs, a Member asked that the table on Claim Processing, indicating Liberata’s performance against a target of 13 days, be split to show performance against the time taken to assess new claims and the time taken to assess a change of circumstances.

 

Although the monthly error rate appeared to increase in the year to 30th September 2016, the level had reduced in October and November and the Chairman suggested it was necessary to see more recent figures.

 

Although the level of caseload had declined since October 2014, it was noted that total outstanding work sat at 5,575 items including 2,582 pending items awaiting information from the claimant and/or third party. It was indicated that Liberata’s “post bag” was now different with reference made to RTI files. Within a file it was now possible to receive 150 separate files which was not the case some two years previously. More documents were now being received in each file and it had been necessary to revise figures on outstanding work. Given the increased documentation, a review of outstanding work and pending figures had been completed and revised service standards were now in place.

 

The level of new Housing Benefit claims appearing to be processed outside of the 13 day target was also highlighted. However, it was explained that the target covered both new claims and change of circumstances. Nevertheless, it was felt necessary to know whether the delays were on the part of the service provider or on the part of the claimant.  

 

RESOLVED that the information contained within Report FSD1702 be noted along with the Liberata letter at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

400.

REVENUES SERVICE MONITORING REPORT pdf icon PDF 121 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD1701

 

Members considered Liberata’s performance for Revenues Services in the six months to 30th September 2016.

 

Although the in-year Council Tax collection rate at 30th September 2016 was 58.0%, 0.3% less than the same time last year, there had been a 1.67% increase in Council Tax and an increase in the minimum contribution by working-age Council Tax Support claimants to 25% of household liability. The number of households registered for Council Tax also increased by 527 in the first six months of the financial year. The collection rate on current year and arrears was 58.2%, 0.1% down on the previous year.

 

For Business Rates, in-year collection at 30th September 2016 was 56.3%, 1.4% lower than the same time last year. Removal of Retail Relief from April 2016 and an increase in businesses opting to pay by 12 monthly instalments rather than 10 were highlighted as mitigating factors. The collection rate for the current year and arrears was 55.3% at 30th September 2016, 1.2% down on the same time last year.

 

Use of the Civic Centre’s payment kiosk had reduced in terms of transactions and value collected; in the first six months of the current financial year payments to the value of £1,109,243 (9761 transactions) were taken compared to £1,141,676 (10,308 transactions) in the same period last year.

 

The average number of payroll payments made each month (including pension payments) was also highlighted along with Pension Fund Membership numbers.

 

In her six month performance letter, Liberata’s Contract Director highlighted that collection of out of year debt had been affected by an increase in the amount of static debt now held, relating to the level of debt below which a summons is issued. There were nearly 600 cases where Liberata was unable to take further recovery action even though a liability order was in place. This was due to the account holder lacking any realisable assets or the value of the debt being below the necessary threshold to apply for Bankruptcy or a Charging Order. In looking to obtain payment (and distinguish between those unwilling rather than unable to pay) Liberata would try to engage and work with the account holder to meet a recovery plan. Advice would also be provided on agencies such as Citizens Advice. Writing off the debt was an option but each individual case would be looked at should it be possible to eventually clear the debt.   

 

The Contract Director’s letter also highlighted that the collection rate from Orpington Business Improvement District (BID) at 30th September 2016 was 73.62%, a decrease of 3.38% against the previous year. It was explained that two payment dates are provided for the Orpington BID with the reduced collection rate applying to the earlier payment date. Liberata were confident that a satisfactory collection level could be achieved from Orpington BID at year end.

 

RESOLVED that information within Report FSD1701 be noted along with the Liberata letter detailed at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

401.

EXCHEQUER SERVICE MONITORING REPORT pdf icon PDF 434 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD17003

 

Members considered Liberata’s performance for Exchequer Services from

1st April 2016 to 30th September 2016.

 

For sundry debts there were 3,835 invoices outstanding at 30th September 2016 totalling £7.55m. Of the total amount outstanding, 801 invoices valued at £3.5m(46.35%) had been outstanding for less than 60 days including £3.27m (43.31%) less than 30 days old.

 

Against a full year target collection rate of 91%, the collection rate for in-year debt at 30th September 2016 was 81.09% with income of £20.78m collected. Based upon current performance Liberata was expected to meet the 91% target. Taking account of debts on hold, the adjusted collection rate was 84.27%.

 

For Aged Debt, the combined out-of-year collection was 55.48% at 30th September 2016, 0.5% lower than at 30th September 2015, with recovery impacted by a number of factors e.g. £447k remaining in dispute at 30th September 2016, £340k secured by way of Charging Orders, and £493k recommended for write off. Taking account of debts with recovery action on hold, the collection rate increases to 79.59%, 13.36% higher than at

30th September 2015.

 

For utilities, the total debt was £327k at 30th September 2016 with the largest debt held by British Telecom (98% of the debt being disputed).

 

For sundry invoices, 6,780 sundry invoices to a value of £27m were raised from 1st April 2016 to 30th September 2016 and 794 invoices valued at £1.7m were subsequently cancelled during the same period. Compared to 2015, invoices raised decreased by 18% due to a change in billing for Carelink clients, moving from quarterly invoicing to annual billing each April.  

 

On Trade Waste, the outstanding debt at 30th September 2016 stood at £674k, £80k (10.6%) less than for the previous year. 

 

For Nightly Paid Accommodation charges, the outstanding debt at

30th September 2016 stood at £3.13m for current and former occupiers.

 

A sum of £3.19m was collected from Housing Benefit awards from 1st April 2016 to 30th September 2016, an increase of £245k (8.3%) on the previous year. Between 1st April 2016 and 30th September 2016, £514k was collected in payments from debtors, an increase of £266k (93%) on the previous year.

 

On accounts payable the percentage of undisputed invoices paid within 30 days between 1st April 2016 and 30th September 2016 remained at 99% and the percentage of invoices paid within 20 days increased from 97% in September 2015 to 98% in September 2016.

 

For Financial Assessments and Charging, 89% of Financial Assessments were completed within 10 working days to 30thSeptember 2016 with a 100% target being met for producing a charging file from CareFirst weekly.

 

On Appointee and Deputyship work, a 100% target was metto

30th September 2016 for the referral of applications to a Panel within 14 working days as was a 100% target for raising invoices for charges within two months of the anniversary of a court order.

 

Details were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 401.

402.

CUSTOMER SERVICES - CONTRACT PERFORMANCE REPORT pdf icon PDF 316 KB

Minutes:

Report CDS16164

 

Members considered Liberata’s performance between 1st June and

30th November 2016 for the Customer Services contract. 

 

The Contact Centre performed well from July after peak volumes in June due to the referendum, the contractor delivering a service level of just over 63% for the period against a target of 50%. Although the Out of Hours Contact Centre performed adequately overall, call volumes reduced in October and November and service level also fell. Concerning e-mails, performance was generally within target but was again affected by increased volumes during the referendum. For the Civic Centre Reception, at least 80% of visitors were seen within five minutes, achieving the necessary target, with nearly 100% of visitors seen within 15 minutes, almost achieving the further target. For the Council’s Website/ Bromley Knowledge, all key targets were met - the web continuing to be the Council’s primary channel for customer interactions with an increasing number of customers completing web transactions via a MyBromley account (the number of active account holders currently stood at more than 28,000). MyBromley also had a key role in channel shift savings for Revenues and Benefits; on upgrading to a new web platform, officers were also working to maximise customer functionality through MyBromley.  

 

Overall, the Customer Services contract had performed well for the period. Minor deviations were being addressed with the out of hours call centre provider and the triage reception desk continued to enhance face to face performance, with the acceptance of small batches of evidence having been developed to further reduce reception wait times.

 

Following a new customer satisfaction survey from September 2016, 84 surveys were submitted to 30th November, of which 91% expressed satisfaction with Liberata’s service. The full survey of questions was appended to the report. Five complaints and three compliments were also received during the period by customer facing staff.

 

In discussion, it was suggested that the number of MyBromley Account holders was low; it was further suggested that an incentive is necessary for Council Tax Payers to set up a MyBromley Account. Nevertheless, it was expected to have 80,000 to 90,000 MyBromley Account holders by the end of 2017/18 and more time saving provided an incentive to set up an account.  

 

A Member enquired how residents had responded to the survey questions. Many comments were thought to be service specific and accordingly fed back to the services. Liberata offered to circulate details of the responses.  

 

RESOLVED that the information in Report CDS16164 be noted including the Liberata letter appended to the report.

 

403.

SECTION 106 AGREEMENTS: UPDATE pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD16074

 

Members noted an update on Section 106 Agreements.

 

Appendices to Report FSD16074 recorded details of changes (since July 2016) to S106 agreements requiring:

 

·  a restrictive or ‘negative’ obligation;

·  a ‘positive’ non-financial obligation; and

·  a ‘positive’ financial obligation.

 

Further appended information provided details of revenue items i.e. details compiled from, and updated, using information from the Oracle accounting system and the Council’s Public Register and Contribution record (the latter being held with the Public Register and copies of all S106 legal agreements dating back to 1998).

 

A further appendix, presented under Part 2 proceedings, provided an update on the progress of financial contributions received to date.

 

RESOLVED that Report FSD16074 and the contents of Appendices 1-4 of the report be noted.

 

404.

UPDATE ON WAIVERS pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CSD17010

 

The Chairman had requested that the Committee receives a list of Waivers (dispensation from complying with a requirement of the Contract Procedure Rules) over the last four years so that trends can be examined for the period.

 

The information is presented twice each year to the Audit Sub-Committee and the most recent schedules since 2013 were appended to Report CSD17010.

 

RESOLVED thatthe schedules of waivers be noted.

 

405.

WORK PROGRAMME 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 133 KB

Minutes:

Report CSD17001

 

Members noted the Committee’s 2016/17 work programme including scheduled meetings and PDS working groups.

 

In addition, the Committee is requested to consider and approve amended terms of reference for the Contracts Sub-Committee.

 

RESOLVED that the Committee’s work programme be noted.

 

406.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 AS AMENDED BY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT (ACCESS TO INFORMATION) (VARIATION) ORDER 2006, AND THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000

The Chairman to move that the Press and public be excluded during consideration of the items of business listed below as it is likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings that if members of the Press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.

407.

EXEMPT MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 23RD NOVEMBER 2016

Minutes:

The exempt minutes were agreed.

 

408.

PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY OF EXEMPT EXECUTIVE REPORTS

Minutes:

There were no exempt reports for the Executive’s meeting on 11th January 2017.

 

409.

SECTION 106 AGREEMENTS: UPDATE - APPENDIX 5

Minutes:

Report FSD16074

 

Concerning the update on Section 106 Agreements (minute 403 refers), Members noted  an additional appendix, presented under Part 2 proceedings, providing an update on progress with financial contributions received to date.

 

RESOLVED that Appendix 5 to Report FSD16074 be noted.

 

 

Original Text: