To consider the report of the Directors of Resources and City Development, which presents a summary of 2021/22 performance data relating to Council and city priorities that fall within the remit of the Scrutiny Board (Strategy & Resources).
Members considered the report of the Directors of Resources and City Development, which set out key performance data for 2021/22 as it relates to the remit of the Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Board.
The following were present for this discussion:
Cllr Debra Coupar – Executive Member
Tim Rollett – Intelligence and Policy Manager
Andy Dodman – Chief Officer, Human Resources
Kieron Dennett – Head of Procurement and Commercial Services
Members were asked to note that this would be the last report that presents performance relating to the Best Council Plan priorities. Future reports will be based on the Three Pillars contained in the Best City Ambition.
A review of performance reporting is currently taking place in light of the recent adoption of the Best City Ambition. Tim Rollett advised the Board that he is intending to discuss the initial outcomes of the performance review (revised KPIs and proposed changes to the report format) with Scrutiny Board Chairs.
It was noted that performance data highlights concern about the time taken to respond to statutory information requests including subject access, FOI and EIR requests. Tim Rollett reported that significant work is ongoing to address these concerns. A phased approach is being taken to improving systems and processes in conjunction with IDS.
Board members were informed that Aaron Linden (Information Governance Manager) will be meeting with the Chair to discuss how statutory information requests are processed and the Council’s approach to FOI requests has been scheduled to come back to the Board at a later date.
The Board welcomed further reductions in the gender pay gap but asked for a more detailed breakdown of gender balance in different service areas when performance is next reporting (in January 2023). Members supported ongoing work to improve the diversity of the workforce.
Concern was raised about the reduction in employment in the creative industries in 2019 and 2020. Members sought further advice about why Birmingham was the only Core City not to see a drop in the number of employees in creative industries. A query was raised as to whether there is any evidence to suggest that a recovery in these figures is anticipated.
The Scrutiny Board noted that the Council is intending to appoint a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian and sought more information about how this will work in practice. It was also noted that a Head of HR Projects (Diversity) will be appointed to further increase the pace of change in this area.
Andy Dodman identified five priority areas for HR and agreed to provide the Board with the action plan that sits beneath the five ‘pillars.’
Members explored the reduction in apprenticeships reflected in the performance data and requested further information about how much of the Apprenticeship Levy would be returned to government as a result in a shortfall in anticipated starts.
Concern was raised about the proportion of sickness absence attributable to mental health conditions during the reporting period. The Board requested further detail about how this is reflected across services with a view to determining whether the Board should consider more detailed work in this area.
Members queried whether a comparison can be made between the workforce profile included at appendix 2 and the profile of other city-wide employers. In response the Chief Officer for Human Resources updated the board on work with anchor institutions which may enable such comparisons in future. It was noted that it remains harder to make direct comparisons with employers in some other sectors.
Members welcomed the increase in the percentage of orders places with SMEs. However, the Board noted a slight reduction in the percentage of orders placed with local suppliers and sought reassurance about what action is being taken to maximise the impact of the ‘Leeds pound.’
In response, officers advised the Board that efforts to address longstanding challenges with extracting accurate information from procurement systems is thought to be part of the reason for the change in reported performance. The Board was reassured that the Council does look for opportunities to support local businesses through its procurement processes. However, it was noted that while the proportion of spend with Leeds suppliers has decreased, the actual value of spend with Leeds suppliers has increased. It was also noted that some of the additional spend with non-Leeds supplies relates to large capital projects and increasing costs associated with Looked After Children noted earlier.
In considering the performance data relating the ICT Service Desk, it was noted that the IDS strategy is scheduled for detailed consideration by the Board in July.
Similarly, the Board noted that performance relating to customer contact remains a priority for the Board and is due for more detailed consideration later in the municipal year.
Members welcomed a reduction in complaints, and the ongoing work to improve performance in the contact centre. However, in the context of the review of performance reporting, call waiting times were identified as a potential new KPI.
The Board emphasised the need to identify how to measure the customer experience of contact with the council so that can be more accurately reflected that within performance reporting.
- That the report and the appended performance data be noted.
- That more detailed information about gender balance in different service areas be brought to the January 2023 Scrutiny Board meeting.
- That additional information be circulated to the Board to update members on the most current trends in employment in creative industries.
- That the Chief Officer (Human Resources) provides the Board with:
a) The action plan that sits beneath the five priority areas identified in Appendix 1 section 6.
b) Further information about the proportion of the apprenticeship levy that will have to be returned to government due to a shortfall in starts.
c) Detail of sickness absence attributable to mental health conditions broken down by service area.
Cllr Coupar left the meeting at the end of this item.