Agenda item - Strategic Risk Focus: SR15, SR24, SR29, SR21 and SR26

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Agenda item

Strategic Risk Focus: SR15, SR24, SR29, SR21 and SR26

Report of the Executive Lead Officer, Strategy, Governance & Law

Decision:

That the Audit & Standards Committee:

 

1)           Note the changes to the council’s SRR agreed by ELT on 12 February 2020 as outlined in section 3.3.

 

2)           Note Appendix 1 for details as at 19 February 2020 of SR15, SR24, SR29, SR21 and SR26.

 

3)           Note Appendix 2 Information on the council’s risk management process relative to Strategic Risks (SRs); and Suggested questions for Members to ask Risk Owners and officers on Strategic Risks.

Minutes:

52.1      The Committee considered a report of the Executive Lead Officer, Strategy, Governance & Law that provided detail on the actions taken and future actions to manage each strategic risk.

 

52.2      Councillor Nemeth noted that he had raised a question at the previous meeting regarding SR36 and how the risk focussed on international efforts to address climate change and asked if there could be distinguishment on actions that could be taken on a local level.

 

52.3      The Risk Management Lead answered that the risk register and actions were regularly reviewed by ELT and there was a workshop planned in the next month to consider this issue.

 

52.4      Councillor Peltzer Dunn noted that the council contributed to just 2.5% of all emissions in the city and asked how it planned to leverage action on the other 97.5%.

 

52.5      The Interim Executive Director, Finance & Resources clarified that the Economy, Environment & Culture Directorate were working with stakeholders across the city and it may be useful to bring a report to a future meeting with an update on the issue.

 

SR15: Not keeping children safe

 

52.6      Councillor Hugh-Jones asked what assistance was provided to those not eligible for the Troubled Families programme.

 

52.7      The Acting Executive Director, Families, Children & Learning explained that people would be directed to community resources and the help offer from the community and voluntary sector was very good.

 

52.8      Dr Horne noted the recent LGA Peer Review and asked if there was anything the committee should be made aware of.

 

52.9      The Acting Executive Director, Families, Children & Learning stated that the report would not be made public until the following week however, officers were pleased about how the visit went. The Acting Executive Director, Families, Children & Learning added that some of the recommendations focussed on the offer of early help in the city and how that could be made more joined up going forward.

 

SR24: The impact of welfare reform increases demand and need for services

 

52.10   Councillor Henry asked if more information could be provided on casework provided to applicants and whether it included charities and other organisations.

 

52.11   The Revenues & Benefits Manager clarified that the Welfare Rights team supported clients and assisted with formal appeals to benefit decisions to the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP). Support was also provided to people making Personal Independence Payment (PIP) applications and this had become a more prominent feature of the work of the Benefit Cap team. Casework was also required for work on homelessness prevention.

 

52.12   Councillor Hugh-Jones asked if a resident was automatically provided support if they fell into rent arrears.

 

52.13   The Revenues & Benefits Manager stated that such monitoring would be undertaken by Housing services however, there were various indicators that could suggest someone was in financial difficulties. Work was ongoing as to how to bring this broader data together for early intervention.

 

52.14   Dr Horne stated that the Welfare Board could be a great strategic vehicle to deal with such a complex matter that involved multiple agencies and asked where it was intended that the Welfare Board would report to once it was established.

 

52.15   The Risk Management Lead clarified that this issue would be taken up with the relevant service and relevant programme board.

 

52.16   Councillor Appich asked for the percentage figure of Universal Credit claimants that were in Council Tax arrears.

 

52.17   The Revenues & Benefits Manager replied that figure was not to hand however, it was known that 64% of Universal Credit claimants were in rent arrears.

 

SR29- Ineffective contract management leads to sub-optimal service outcomes, financial losses, and reputational damage

 

52.18   Councillor Hugh-Jones noted that progress on a Contract Management Centre of Excellence was at 65% with a due date of the end of March 2020 and asked the likelihood that the action would be completed to that deadline. Furthermore, Councillor Hugh-Jones asked his reducing the Impact Level risk rating detailed on page 39 of the agenda was justifiable given the concerns detailed on page 40.

 

52.19   The Head of Procurement explained that progress had slowed on the Contract Management Centre of Excellence and as such, would be a priority in the next quarter with an expected completion of 6-9 months. With regard to the Impact Level rating, the Head of Procurement noted the increased awareness of contract management and its rise in prominence within the operation of the council was the basis for reducing the Impact Level risk rating.

 

52.20   Councillor Hugh-Jones replied that it was not entirely clear what specific steps were being put into place to improve contract management going forward.

 

52.21   The Head of Procurement clarified that the Corporate Procurement team were working with Directorate’s to put forward invest to save programmes to offset and minimise risk.

 

52.22   Dr Horne noted that some of the actions identified had been in progress for some time and asked if the inability to complete these actions was due to capacity issues.

 

52.23   The Head of Procurement confirmed that investment in back office had been an issue in the overall landscape of the decreasing funding for local authorities.

 

52.24   Councillor Appich stated that there was no modelling available to compare private sector providers against in-house provision of services as part of the procurement process and asked if any work was being undertaken in this area.

 

52.25   The Head of Procurement confirmed that a great deal of work was being undertaken with the Procurement Advisory Board on this issue.

 

SR26: Not strengthening the council’s relationship with citizens

 

52.26   Councillor Hugh-Jones asked why the City Volunteering Partnership had met only once in 2019, a reduction on its three meetings held in 2018.

 

52.27   The Interim Executive Director, Housing, Neighbourhoods & Communities replied that he was unsure and would provide an answer subsequent to the meeting.

 

52.28   Councillor Appich stated that the report highlighted an issue with handling complaints properly.

 

52.29   The Customer Experience Lead stated that there were issues differentiating between service queries and service complaints. The complaints process was seen as onerous and residents often redirected complaints directly to councillors. The Customer Experience team were able to help councillors with the issues raised and there would be benefit for future service delivery is complaints were centrally logged as this could identify themes and trends.

 

52.30   Councillor Appich asked if the Customer Experience team had access to issues raised through the iCasework software used by Members.

 

52.31   The Customer Experience Lead confirmed that they did have access although as the Member Enquires function was relatively new, there was many more robust procedures in relation to complaints using the software.

 

52.32   Helen Aston suggested the committee see detail on increasing risks at each meeting and any new top risks arising as a result of the Council agreeing its new Corporate Plan. This suggestion was agreed by the committee.

 

52.33   RESOLVED- That the Audit & Standards Committee:

 

1)             Note the changes to the council’s SRR agreed by ELT on 12 February 2020 as outlined in section 3.3.

 

2)             Note Appendix 1 for details as at 19 February 2020 of SR15, SR24, SR29, SR21 and SR26.

 

3)             Note Appendix 2 Information on the council’s risk management process relative to Strategic Risks (SRs); and Suggested questions for Members to ask Risk Owners and officers on Strategic Risks.

Supporting documents:

 


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