Agenda and minutes
Venue: Virtually - Microsoft Teams. View directions
Contact: Committee Section Email: email@example.com
An apology for absence was received from Cllr Brian Francis. Cllr Christina Rolles attended as his substitute.
The minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday, 23 November 2020 were signed by the Chair.
To declare any interest Members may have in the items contained on this agenda. When declaring an interest Members should state what their interest is.
No declarations of interest were made.
The Director (Corporate Services) introduced the report which was for information only. Since October 2019, the Council has had in place a shared service arrangement with Medway Council for the provision of management services for the Revenues & Benefits Service. This involved the Head of Revenues & Benefits and the Revenues Manager employed by Medway Council taking managerial responsibility for service provided by Gravesham Borough Council and Medway Council.
As per the Council’s Working in Partnership Framework (which was adopted by Council on 16 April 2019), a formal review of the shared management arrangement had to be undertaken on an annual basis. This year’s Review had been very positive and recommended the continuation of the shared arrangement. The Head of Revenues & Benefits and the Revenues Manager had proved very beneficial to Gravesham especially during the pandemic which had proven the benefits of the Council being able to access skill sets available across the two authorities. Members were advised that the service would continue to focus on the deployment of skills and looking at how this could be improved.
The following points were raised during discussion on the report:
· Following a question on the monthly dashboard reports to the shadow Portfolio Holder, the Director (Corporate Services) confirmed that she would ensure these would take place.
· In relation to the procurement of the IT and software for Revenues & Benefits, Members were informed that both authorities had separately procured the Northgate system before the shared arrangement had come into being. No IT or software had been procured since that time. Both councils had two Northgate systems, the first for the calculation of revenues and benefits and the second being a document imaging system and each authority had a different version of the system. This would need to be bought into alignment which would reduce the staff training required and increase resilience.
· The words “external resilience” referred to a service resource provided by Northgate which local authorities could buy in. It was noted that the Council had taken advantage of this service due to the Test and Trace work required to be administered by the team.
· The importance of Test and Trace payments for residents who had to self-isolate was highlighted and Members were advised that these payments had been prioritised as required by Central Government. The Committee was advised that the team had been able to process the applications for payment using the criteria laid down by the Government using existing resources and the Northgate resilience service. The Head of Revenues & Benefits confirmed that the Council had received 903 applications so far and, once the correct details had been received from the claimant, payment could be processed within 2 to 3 days. It was also noted that an average of 27 claims a week had been received in November, 59 in December and 160 in January. The highest number received per week had been 152 and the team had managed to keep up with processing the claims. A report on this subject would be submitted ... view the full minutes text for item 90.
Members were presented with an update against the Performance Management Framework as introduced within the Council’s Corporate Plan, for quarter 3 2020/21 (October to December 2020)
The Head of Revenues & Benefits noted that information on performance over the period was presented in tabular and graphical form for all indicators. Where any data was not presented, this related either to those indicators reported on an annual basis or, alternatively, where data had not yet been submitted in time for the presentation of the report due to the very short run in time to publication of the reports after the quarter-end.
The following key points with regard the figures were highlighted as follows:
· PI 23 – The officer was pleased to report that performance had improved. There was an error in the narrative in that 12.2 days should read 12.8 days, however, the graphical information was correct. Members noted that the national average was 17 days and the Kent average was 16 days.
· PI 24 – Performance remained strong although it was less than quarter 2 as the service had been impacted by the introduction of Test & Trace. Automation had been introduced which kept the number of days down. Members noted that both the national average and the Kent average was 6 days and the Council’s performance had improved on quarter 3 last year.
· PI 28 – This remained the same as quarter 2. 49 complaints of the 52 in the quarter had been resolved at Stage 1 and the remainder had gone on to Stages 2 and 3. It was noted that the number of complaints being received had been reducing in the 3 months of quarter 3.
· PI 50 – at the end of the quarter there were 7,211 users of Citizens’ Access, which was significant increase since the end of quarter 4 2019/20. It was acknowledged that there was a long way to go but activity had increased with barely any promotion.
· PI 49 – This was an annual indicator and it was noted that the review of the Planning & Development service was currently being considered by the Chief Executive.
· PI 55 – The Audit and Counter Fraud Shared Services Manager advised that this indicator was related to the percentage of audit recommendations and 18 of the 48 remained outstanding. Ten of the 18 had a completion deadline of 31 December 2020 and there had been a very tight turnaround to meet reporting deadlines, further impacted by the Christmas break and staff leave. In addition, planned delivery was based on the 9 months to 31 March 2021 and today’s figure was 63% so matters were broadly on track and the first quarter of 2020/21 had been lost to the pandemic. Some investigation activity had been undertaken this year but the financial value had been lower than in previous years because of the lockdown and the inability to undertake face to face interviews.
· PI 56 – the officer was able to provide a verbal update to the committee, reporting that ... view the full minutes text for item 91.