Agenda and minutes
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No apologies for absence were received.
The minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday, 10 June 2020 were signed by the Chair.
Declarations of Interests
No declarations of interest were made
The Head of Revenues and Benefits present Members of the Performance & Administration Committee with an update against the Performance Management Framework, as introduced within the council’s Corporate Plan, for Quarter One 2020-21 (April to June 2020).
The Chair clarified that there had been some format issues with Appendix Two to the report but these had now been resolved.
The Head of Revenues and Benefits highlighted the following:
· PI 23 Average processing time taken for Housing Benefit claims (days)
- 15.9 days (Last year: 12.8 days) the increase in days is due to pressures placed on service. Last year 21,000 items of work; this year 38,000
- August 2020: new housing benefit claims are being processed in 10.9 days which is a great improvement despite the increase in workload.
· PI 24 Average processing time for changes of circumstance in Housing Benefit claims (days)
- The average number of days to assess change of circumstances in respect of existing benefit claims is now an exceptional 3.6 days and continues to show a downward (improving) trend with June 2020 in month average now 3.1 days.
- August: 2.2 day average which is very good (last year was 4 days)
- At the end of March, nationally; new claims were calculated in 17days (GBC are currently on 14 days)
- Change of circumstances, nationally: 5 days (GBC are 3.4 days)
- The Assistant Manager Revenues & Benefits and her team have done an excellent job.
· PI 26 Total number of reported corporate complaints
- During Q1 there were 41 Stage 1 complaints which were dealt with by the relevant service. No complaints were escalated to Stage 2 or Stage 3 during this quarter. The complaints covered a number of services but the highest number of complaints for any one department was for Waste and Horticultural Services.
· PI 50 Total number of people signed up to citizens access
- At the end of June 5429 people had signed up; this has now increased further to 6128. Customer Services are receiving fewer enquiries as a result. This service is now being extended to businesses, a small number (22) have already signed up and it hasn’t been publicised yet.
· PI 49 % of posts involved in shared service arrangements
- A fundamental review of the council’s Planning service is underway. The results of this review have been delayed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as officers have been working away from the office which has meant progressing change has been difficult. However, a report is in the process of being finalised which will include a service improvement plan and will be shared with the Lead Member in due course.
· PI 55 % of internal audit recommendations implemented
- This will be covered in the next agenda item: Annual Review of the Audit & Counter Fraud Shared Service
· PI 56 % of information requests completed within statutory deadline
- Dropped down to 83% - bearing in mind the extra pressure the Council was under this is quite good. ... view the full minutes text for item 79.
The Director (Corporate Services) provided the Committee with an apology from The Head of Internal Audit & Counter Fraud Shared Service who was unable to join the meeting due to another engagement.
The Director (Corporate Services) provided Members of the Performance & Administration Committee with a copy of the annual review that has been conducted in respect of the Audit & Counter Fraud shared service with Medway Council.
The Director (Corporate Services) provided a summary of the review recommendations:
· Officers to return to designated roles as part of a multi-disciplinary service rather than multi-disciplinary officers
· Invest in additional resource in the form of a second intelligence Analyst (fixed term contract) to deal with the increased data matching.
Following questions from the Committee, The Director (Corporate Services) clarified the following points:
· Deliver the statutory internal audit function
The team did have some disruption, primarily because the Council redirected resources due to the pandemic so at the end of March planned work against the audit plan was down but did rise back up to 92%
· Deliver an effective counter fraud and investigation service
£82,800 is the figure that is applied nationally to right to buy; it’s a nominal amount, not the true value of a property. It is based on the market value of a property and the discount value on right to buy.
Right to buy fraud can be attempted through a non-council tenant involvement in right to buy or coercing or money laundering.
· Provide a Single Point of Contact (SPOC) for the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) for their investigation of Housing Benefit Fraud
We are required to do this and an excellent service has been maintained
· Deliver a reduction in the cost of service delivery to mitigate the reduction in funding from the DWP as a result of the introduction of the Single Fraud Investigation service (SFIS)
This has been delivered, the Finance Team have confirmed the service is still value for money; it is still delivering savings of about £80,000 a year were the council to have continued to deliver the service in-house.
· Provide increased resilience and flexibility to meet the needs of both councils
Officers havebeen redeployed around council; this shows resilience and flexibility.
· Investigate potential apprenticeship opportunities for staff development
Two members of staff have been identified and will be provided with the opportunity to upskill and gain a qualification. This has been delayed due to the pandemic but are due to commence in the next couple of months.
The Committee thanked the Director (Corporate Services) for the update on the Annual
Review of the Audit & Counter Fraud Shared Service.
Resolved that he Committee noted the Annual Review of the Audit & Counter Fraud Shared Service.