Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Board (Strategy and Resources) - Monday, 18th September, 2023 10.00 am

Venue: Civic Hall, Leeds, LS1 1UR. View directions

Contact: Robert Clayton 0113 378 8790  Email:

Link: to View Meeting Recording

No. Item


Appeals Against Refusal of Inspection of Documents

To consider any appeals in accordance with Procedure Rule 25* of the Access to Information Procedure Rules (in the event of an Appeal the press and public will be excluded).


(* In accordance with Procedure Rule 25, notice of an appeal must be received in writing by the Head of Governance Services at least 24 hours before the meeting).


There were no appeals.


Exempt Information - Possible Exclusion of the Press and Public

1  To highlight reports or appendices which officers have identified as containing exempt information, and where officers consider that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information, for the reasons outlined in the report.


2  To consider whether or not to accept the officers recommendation in respect of the above information.


3  If so, to formally pass the following resolution:-


RESOLVED – That the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following parts of the agenda designated as containing exempt information on the grounds that it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information, as follows:


  No exempt items have been identified.


There was no exempt information on the agenda.


Late Items

To identify items which have been admitted to the agenda by the Chair for consideration.


(The special circumstances shall be specified in the minutes.)


There were no late items.


Declaration of Interests

To disclose or draw attention to any interests in accordance with Leeds City Council’s ‘Councillor Code of Conduct’.


There were no declarations.


Apologies for Absence and Notification of Substitutes

To receive any apologies for absence and notification of substitutes.


Apologies were received from Cllr W Kidger.


Minutes - 17 July 2023 pdf icon PDF 241 KB

To confirm as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting held on 17 July 2023


RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on 17 July 2023 be confirmed as a correct record.


Matter Arising


Minute 22 – Leeds 2023 Update


Additional details have been provided to the Board on Leeds 2023 including the ING report on visible cities, Leeds Creative Skills Festival and some specific requests related to Rothwell Ward and school involvement in Leeds 2023. There remains an issue around data that the Leeds 2023 team do not have the capacity to capture ‘in year’ as they are busy delivering the programme of events – over 60 participation data and a ward breakdown of participation to date. These two items are being pursued by the scrutiny advisor.


Minute 24 2022/23 Financial and Treasury Management Outturn Reports


Information has been provided to Board Members on the children and families budget requests in terms of overall C&F budget comparisons and Children Looked After budget comparisons with core cities.


Staff Survey Analysis pdf icon PDF 720 KB

To receive a report from the Director of Strategy and Resources providing analysis of the recently completed staff survey following a request from board members to receive this analysis.


The report of the Director of Strategy and Resources provided an update on the latest Staff Survey carried out in Spring 2023. In total, 14729 staff were sent the survey and 7647 completed it – an overall response rate of 52%. Figures for response rates for offline staff were also provided. The report outlined the survey approach and response rates, the results and analysis, and how the Council is responding to the feedback.


The following were in attendance for this item:


-  Cllr Debra Coupar, Executive Member for Resources

-  Mariana Pexton, Director of Strategy and Resources

-  Graham Sephton, Head of Human Resources

-  Frank Perrins, Senior Intelligence and Policy Officer


Supported by presentation slides the Board were given an overview of key findings, results and planned actions resulting from the staff survey. One key piece of data highlighted by those attending was that colleagues gave an overall satisfaction score for their jobs at Leeds City Council as 7.4 out of 10.


The links between the staff survey and the ‘Be Your Best’ Organisation Plan and manager development programme that have featured at the Board in recent months were highlighted. Having an effective, productive and happy workforce gives the Council the best chance of delivering against the Best City Ambition and delivering stronger services to Leeds residents and within localities. Ensuring that staff have a voice and are listened to is a key element of this.


The following areas featured in the presentation:


  • Why the survey matters - understanding how the majority of staff feel about their job, their team, their workplace and employer, identifying what is working well and what is not and why, capturing honest feedback and fresh ideas, delivering better services and supporting managers to get the best from everyone and to help direct the Council’s employment/people agenda and identifying improvement actions for the future.
  • What has been done so far on the 2023 survey and what future actions are planned.
  • Analysis of the results has revealed that on the positive side response rates are up, staff know what is expected of them at work, receive support from management and colleagues, and feel that their team supports equality and preventing discrimination. Where there is more work to do focussed on career progression, better tools and equipment, workloads and the need for more support through periods of change.
  • The need for key issues to be addressed from the survey findings in the coming weeks and months.


The Executive Member for Resources, Cllr Coupar, emphasised the strong positives that have emerged from the staff survey and in particular highlighted the increased response rate (especially for offline staff) but also noted the need for staff concerns to be addressed and the importance of staff are voicing concerns and having them responded to.


In response to comments and questions from the Board, discussion included the following:



Electoral Services Update – 2023 Election Review/Postal Voter Validation pdf icon PDF 229 KB

To consider a report from Electoral Services containing a review of the 2023 election and also additional information on plans for voter validation in the future.

Additional documents:


The report of the Director of Communities, Housing and Environment provided an update on Voter participation May 2023, Voter ID, Changes to the postal and proxy voting application process and the outcome of the Parliamentary boundary review following a request for an Electoral Services Update from the Board.


The following were in attendance for this item:


  • John Mulcahy, Chief Officer Elections and Regulatory
  • Sue Wolfe, Deputy Head of Electoral Services
  • Cllr Coupar, Executive Member for Resources


The Board was given a presentation which focussed on the following main areas:


  • The impact of the pandemic on postal voter numbers in Leeds and subsequent impact on footfall in polling stations, Leeds has the largest number of postal voters of any local authority in England.
  • Further information showing that Leeds has always had a large number of postal voters and how the peak of postal voting following and during the pandemic is beginning to ease with more people attending a polling station compared to 2021 and 2022.
  • Comparative data showing the percentage of voters unable to vote, with Leeds performing well in comparison to other core cities, with just 0.29% of voters attending a polling station unable to vote due to the new voter ID requirements.
  • Plans to focus resource in wards where voter ID issues were most prevalent in future years to increase awareness.


In response to questions and comments from the Board, discussion included the following:


  • The Board were keen to thank Electoral Services for the communications campaign that led into the 2023 election in Leeds ensuring that residents were aware of the new voter ID regulations.
  • Reference was made to accessibility of voting following the voter ID changes particularly for ethnically diverse communities and those with disabilities. The Board were informed that whilst polling stations are as accessible as possible no record of those that have voted in terms of demographic details is kept, due to it being a secret ballot.
  • In response to queries about ‘greeters’ at polling stations and the potential for these to skew the number of people who are recorded as not being able to vote, Members were informed that ‘greeters’ were not used in Leeds so there would be no impact on the figures for the city.
  • Members were concerned that the wards with the highest number of voter refusals because of ID were focussed in areas with diverse communities and where relative deprivation levels are highest both in terms of those being initially refused and then not returning to vote. Overall Leeds had a very low refusal rate, 225 in total across Leeds. However, an action plan will be drawn up based on the data from the elections and resources and communications will be targeted at those areas where there were the highest number of refusals.
  • A small correction was advised at paragraph 4.3 linked to different figures in the report. It was agreed that the figures will be checked, and correct ones circulated as appropriate.
  • Members asked about postal votes where the voter  ...  view the full minutes text for item 35.


Office For Local Government (OFLOG) pdf icon PDF 150 KB

To consider a report from the Director of Strategy and Resources on the newly established Office for Local Government (OFLOG), established by the Government to provide authoritative and accessible data and analysis about the performance of local government and to support its improvement.


Additional documents:


The report of the Director of Strategy and Resources provided the Board with information in relation to the newly launched Office for Local Government. The launch outlined the Government’s vision for Oflog, to provide authoritative and accessible data and analysis about the performance of local government and to support its improvement. In addition, a summary of the performance indicators (metrics) Leeds City Council will be required to report against and the current set of results for the council’s performance against relevant comparators, were provided.


The following were in attendance for this item:


-  Councillor Debra Coupar, Executive Member for Resources

-  Mariana Pexton, Director of Strategy and Resources

-  Mike Eakins, Head of Policy

-  Richard Ellis, Deputy Chief Finance Officer


It was noted that Oflog is in its early phases and this report is very much an early look at the implications of it for the Council. The expectation is that the role of Oflog will become clearer in the coming months as will how the data provided in the report will be used by Government.


From a finance perspective, which is data that will fall in the Strategy and Resources Board’s remit in the future, these indicators have been available for a number of years and previously were in CIPFA’s resilience index. It was noted that Leeds is aware of the indicators and is taking steps to address the reserve position and improve performance in some of the areas identified.


In response to comments and questions from the Board, discussion included the following:


  • Board members requested a training session on Oflog and the data that is used to better understand the metrics used given that it is new and could be a factor for a number of years. It was agreed that this would be taken forward through member development.
  • Members were interested in the role of WYCA in Oflog and the development of a digital dashboard. In terms of WYCA they are involved in employment and skills and will be an important partner in that work and that metric. On the digital dashboard it was hoped that the Oflog dashboard is developed and improves to become more accessible in addition to potential local approaches to deliver a dashboard containing the data across West Yorkshire.
  • Members noted debt levels and the performance of Leeds on that and asked about the implications of that on the revenue budget. It was estimated that debt repayments and interest on debt is in the region of £120m annually though it was important to note that the debt figures for Leeds include the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and not all local authorities have HRAs, with housing companies and arm’s length arrangements being used in other authorities, so the data perhaps needs to be treated with caution.
  • Members raised some queries regarding the data for adult social care contained in the report, it was agreed that this will be provided to members following consultation with the relevant services, and for members to note  ...  view the full minutes text for item 36.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 144 KB

To consider the Scrutiny Board’s work schedule for the 2023/24 municipal year.

Additional documents:


The report of the Head of Democratic Services set out the 2023/24 Work Programme for the Board. The report reflected Elected Member comments made at previous meetings on the work programme item.


Members received a report on the LGA Peer Challenge return visit that had taken place earlier recently from the Director of Strategy and Resources.


Overall feedback from the visit was positive with strong comments on progress since the initial visit in relation to EDI, the use of data, the change and transformation agenda, ownership of the budget challenge and Leeds having a positive impact on national issues such as funding for Children Services. The visit also noted the ‘Be Your Best’ approach and the wellbeing offer to staff.


In terms of areas to continue to focus on the budget challenge, workforce resilience and work on locality arrangements, which was a recommendation in the original LGA report, were particularly mentioned.


It was also noted that a full update on the Peer Challenge will be provided to the Board at the December meeting.


Members attention was drawn to recommendation b) and paragraph 7 of the Work Programme report which refer to a request for two nominees from the Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Board for a Cross Scrutiny Working Group on the forthcoming Community Committee Review.


Following discussion four duly nominated and seconded members were put forward to participate in the Cross Scrutiny Working Group from the Board. These were Cllr S Firth, Cllr D Chapman, Cllr H Bithell and Cllr S Burke.


Following a vote Cllrs H Bithell and S Burke were nominated to the working group.




a)  That the report and work programme be noted.

b)  That Cllr H Bithell and Cllr S Burke are nominated to the Cross Scrutiny Working Group on the Community Committee Review.





Date and Time of Next Meeting

The next public meeting of the Board will take place on 16 October 2023 at 10.00am. There will be a pre-meeting for all board members at 9.30am.


Monday, 16 October 2023 at 10.00 a.m. Pre-meeting for all Board Members at 9.30 a.m.