To provide an update on Council performance for the period 1 July 2016 to 30 September 2016 (report of the Executive Director Strategy and Governance enclosed).
With the permission of the Chairman, this item was considered as the first item of business at the meeting.
Consideration was given to the report of the Executive Director Strategy and Governance which provided an update on Council performance for the period 1 July 2016 to 30 September 2016. Areas where performance had improved since the previous period (Q1 2016/2017) were brought to Members’ attention, as were areas of concern where performance was below expected levels or was considered to be worsening.
Quarter 2 saw increased levels of performance against the majority of indicators compared to the performance seen in quarter 1. Performance was rated as good with 62.5% of indicators being green which indicated good performance. There were 3 amber indicators and 3 red indicators which in total made up the remaining 37.5% of indicators.
Areas of success highlighted within the report included: Housing Re-Let Times; Commercial Property; Staffing; Planning; Revenues; and Working Days Lost to Sickness per FTE.
Areas of concern highlighted within the report included the following:
Missed Waste Collection Rate
The average incidence of missed waste collection was still above the monthly target however Quarter 2 showed a significant improvement against the previous quarter. Performance was improving and it was hoped that the results for Quarter 3 would be within target.
Housing Benefit LA Error Rate
The Housing Benefit error rate currently stood at 0.54% against a target of 0.48%. In September, work commenced to implement a clearance strategy to deal with the backlog of outstanding work relating to the processing of claims, with a third party (Civica) being commissioned to help with this process. Performance figures had shown a decline, which was to be expected. This area was now subject to a weekly senior management scrutiny between Compass Point Business Services and South Holland District Council, to ensure that the position was improved.
The Panel considered this information and the following answers were provided in response to members’ questions:
· Penalties incurred for missed targets - There were two thresholds above the target amount. If the upper threshold was exceeded, administration monies received for processing would be lost, if the lower threshold was exceeded, part of these monies would be lost. The aim was to hit the 0.48% target by the end of the financial year
· Could the risk be quantified? - Officers did not have this information available. Panel members would be provided with exact figures in due course.
· Clearing easier cases first to reduce backlog could be at the detriment of claimants whose cases were more complex - Officers stated that this was an issue to be clarified with officers at CPBS tasked with resolving the backlog issue. Officers would liaise with them to obtain guidance.
· There could potentially be a number of reasons why the current position had been arrived at e.g. resourcing/training/processes etc. Managers at CPBS had been tasked with understanding the reasons for the situation. In any event, the backlog clearance had to take no longer than three months.
· With regard to the monitoring of errors, Civica would be identifying errors that were found. The situation was being monitored daily by managers at CPBS. Senior officers at SHDC, East Lindsey District Council and CPBS were monitoring Civica’s work on a weekly basis. In addition, the current workload of existing staff was also being monitored for any mistakes. A review of the service would be undertaken in January.2017.
· What was the cost to the Authority of Civica undertaking this work? - Officers did not have details of these costs, but Panel members would be provided with figures in due course.
· The Housing Benefit error rate of 0.54% was a percentage based on the value of all claims. The total number of claims was not known – Panel members would be advised of the figure in due course.
· Consideration should be given to the cost involved to bring the error rate below 0.48%, weighed against the amount of the penalty.
· Members’ main concern was that the issues around the Housing Benefit error rate was a recurring problem with similar problems over the last couple of years. A real solution needed to be found.
In addition to concerns raised, members also requested that the following changes be made to performance reports in the future to enable better understanding of the information and trends:
· Figures rather than percentages would give a clearer picture. Members were advised that in some cases, if numbers were low, it could be easy to identify individuals. Also figures were reported by percentage nationally, and these were used for comparison purposes. However, it was agreed that numerated and denominated figures could be provided in future reports.
· In some instances, it would be useful to provide information on issues in order to see previous trends.
a) That the report of the Executive Director Strategy and Governance be noted;
b) That the Chief Executive and the Executive Director Strategy and Governance be made aware of the Panel’s concerns in relation to the Housing Benefit LA Error Rate issues identified within the report;
c) That officers ascertain the following information and feed back to Panel members:
i. Quantification of risk of missing targets;
ii. The cost to the Authority of Civica undertaking its work to process outstanding claims;
iii. The total number of claims upon which the Housing Benefit error rate was calculated.
d) That the following information be provided in future performance monitoring reports:
i. Numerated and denominated figures;
ii. Where necessary, information showing previous trends
(Councillor Newton left the meeting during discussion of this item as she was a Board Member at Compass Point Business Services (East Coast) Ltd).
(The Corporate Improvement and Performance Manager and the Portfolio Holder Governance and Customer left the meeting following discussion of the above item.)