Agenda and minutes

One Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday 8 December 2010 7.30 pm

Venue: Committee Room 3, Brent Town Hall, Forty Lane, Wembley, HA9 9HD. View directions

Contact: Toby Howes, Senior Democratic Services Officer  020 8937 1307, Email: toby.howes@brent.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 102 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:-

 

that the minutes of the previous meeting held on 13 October 2010 be approved as an accurate record of the meeting.

2.

Matters arising

Minutes:

None.

3.

Direct Services Transformation Project pdf icon PDF 145 KB

At the last meeting the committee asked to see the proposals that were being put forward to the Executive prior to the Executive meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee had before them the report from the Director of Housing and Community Care which set out the results of the consultation on the draft Day Opportunities Strategy which was a precursor to the transformation of buildings-based, directly provided adult social care with options and a recommended course of action. Alison Elliott (Assistant Director, Community Care) introduced the report and outlined the consultation process that had commenced following the decision of the Executive in July 2010. The aim was to provide services appropriate to the personalisation and choice agenda. Buildings could be closed in some areas with services re-provided in others.

 

Alison Elliott summarised views expressed by service users and carers who, while in favour of a more personalised service had concerns about the possibility of closure of any existing premises. They wanted to stay with their friends and there were feelings of vulnerability. The Assistant Director advised that option 4 was being recommended to the Executive, which involved and the increase of levels of independence by 30% and the sale of the day centres at Stonebridge and Strathcona with the new John Billam Resource centre providing for users from Albert Road Day Centre and ASPPECT, a provider of day services for adults with autistic spectrum disabilities, currently located on the Strathcona site. The new John Billam would be the buildings base for those assessed as in need. There would be significant savings given the need for less building space, staff and care staff.

 

The Assistant Director outlined the terms and implications of the other options that would be put to the Executive. Option one, involving no change from the present, requiring £150,000 investment to carry out repair works to the Stonebridge Day Centre which was currently underutilised. While this option was preferred by users and carers, it did not meet the personalisation agenda nor the draft day care strategy. Option two, to invest a further £850,000 approximately in Stonebridge to ensure it was fit for purpose, with the current service model in the same buildings. Current Stonebridge users would have to be relocated but there would be no increase in capacity. This option was supported by service users and carers. Option three was to retain the Strathcona Centre and to close Stonebridge. The Assistant Director advised that options one, two and three were supported by users and carers. Options one and two were not considered by officers to be aligned to the draft Day Opportunities Strategy and would have little or no impact on the levels of independence. A further option had been put forward by users and carers namely to use Millennium Day Centre for people with learning disabilities.

 

The Assistant Director emphasised that option four was dependent on thorough, independent and transparent assessments during which users could have present supporters of their choice. She acknowledged the lack of trust felt by carers and service users. In any event, there would be a regular review of service to give people the best level  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

One Council Programme Update pdf icon PDF 89 KB

The One Council Programme has been designed to target reductions in the operating costs of the council so that we can deliver efficiency savings while minimising the impact on front line services to the public.

 

               This report introduces two draft documents on the One Council Programme:

·                One Council Portfolio Structure

·                One Council Programme – Projects Register including current project stage

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee received a report on the One Council Programme designed to target reductions in the operating costs of the council to help deliver efficiency savings while minimising the impact on front line services to the public. Members heard that there were currently 24 projects at different stages of development, some of which would have major impacts on the council’s infrastructure or be transformational. Others reflected changes currently taking place such as carbon management and the development of the civic centre.  The Director of Strategy, Partnerships and Improvement advised that approximately £22m was due to be saved in the coming year and benefits would be tracked to ensure delivery. He drew members’ attention to the summary of progress to date.

 

Members enquired whether the programme was on track and heard that it was currently, for this year and next. The Director set out the supporting roles of the Programme Board and Project Management Office and advised that the majority of programme support came from within the council. On the staffing and structure review project, he advised that this had emerged from an external review which had identified that the council had a high ratio of staff in supporting roles in comparison to those with operational/front line responsibilities. It was intended that the number of managerial posts would be reduced providing a more rational structure. Agency staff were being considered first however many were working in social care which was a difficult area. To date, 350 posts had been deleted and it was recognised that the next wave of the review would be more challenging as now there were less opportunities for voluntary redundancy or early retirement. On the question of consultants, the Director advised that these would be engaged competitively for a fixed price, to quickly deliver on specific tasks.

 

The committee noted the report.

5.

Complaints Annual Report pdf icon PDF 107 KB

               This report provides members of the One Council Overview & Scrutiny Committee with an executive summary of the key issues contained in the complaints annual report 2009/10 also attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report from the Director of Strategy, Partnerships and Improvement introduced by the Corporate Complaints Manager, provided members with an executive summary of the key issues contained in the complaints annual report 2009/10. Members heard that the number of complaints had increased by 5% in comparison to the previous year. In the case of revenues and benefits, the increase was in part due to the significant increase in the number of new or change in circumstance claims dealt with, however, the service has witnessed major improvements over the past year which has contributed to a projected 70% decrease in complaint numbers in 2010/11. The Corporate Complaints Manager advised that the council had not met the target of responding to 85% of all complaints within the relevant timescale however he was pleased to report that the Ombudsman had only investigated 77 complaints (2%) of the total received and there had been no findings of maladministration, the best result for a London borough. The committee heard that new regulations which introduced a simplified one stage process for all social care complaints and been a major change for staff who had performed well and risen to the challenge. The committee were advised that as part of the wider council reorganisation, departmental complaints teams reported Corporate Complaints Manager within the Strategy, Partnerships and Improvement Department with effect from October 2010 and systems would be in place to promote consistent joined up complaints management across the council. It was noted that with effect from October 2010, the areas that the Ombudsman could investigate were extended to include complaints about self-funded care provision in respect of adult social care complaints. For the future, the focus would be on reducing the levels of investigation and a robust approach to follow up and resolving issues.

 

Members questioned the amount spent on compensation payments and heard that this had increased as the council was following best practice, avoiding escalation and saving money in the longer term. The Corporate Complaints Manager agreed to provide information on the number of cases involved. Staff would continue to be encouraged to deal with complaints at the first point of contact. The committee noted that reductions in service resulting from savings from the council’s savings and efficiency programme could lead to an increase in complaints and staff would be encouraged to provide customers with detailed explanations for any changes to service provision. Members discussed possible reasons why it was difficult provide information for equalities monitoring and heard that complainants were often reluctant to complete the required forms (which were readily available) in case it impacted on how their case was dealt with. Notwithstanding this, members still felt that a breakdown of the available data would be useful.

 

The committee noted the report.

6.

Carbon Management Programme pdf icon PDF 81 KB

The Carbon Management Programme (Tranche 3) will reduce the Council’s CO2 emissions across all Council operations; reduce costs associated with carbon; take advantage of opportunities for generating income from the ‘Feed in Tariff’; and contribute to mitigating the effects of climate change.  This report outlines the project to achieve this.

Minutes:

The committee received a report on the Carbon Management Programme which aimed to reduce the council’s CO2 emissions across all council operations; reduce costs and take advantage of opportunities of generating income from the ‘Feed in Tariff’ a central government initiative to promote the take up of small scale renewable and low carbon electricity generation technologies. Carbon management was in the One Council efficiency programme and a business case was being prepared on how to implement individual projects to reduce CO2 emissions and to identify the additional resources that would be required in order to minimise the Council’s obligations under the CRC levy, to reach the 25% CO2 reduction target by 2014 and to maximise the income from the Feed in Tariff.

 

In discussion, members noted that the Transportation Unit would be considering transportation and travel, focussing on business travel.

 

The committee noted the report.

7.

Any Other Urgent Business

Notice of items to be raised under this heading must be given in writing to the Democratic Services Manager or his representative before the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 64.

Minutes:

Work Programme

 

It was noted that the following projects were due for discussion at the next meeting:

 

- Customer Contact project

- Customer Journey project

- car repair and spray painting garages task group

- Civic Centre

- review of Employee Benefits Project