Agenda and minutes

Finance and Resources Overview and Scrutiny - Tuesday, 7th November, 2023 7.30 pm

Venue: Conference Room 2 - The Forum. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 134 KB

To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting


The minutes of the previous meeting were approved as an accurate record and signed by the Chair.



Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Adeleke, and Councillor Cox who later joined online.



Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest


A member with a disclosable pecuniary interest or a personal interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered -


(i)            must disclose the interest at the start of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent


and, if the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest, or a personal interest which is also prejudicial


(ii)           may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter (and must withdraw to the public seating area) unless they have been granted a dispensation.


A member who discloses at a meeting a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not registered in the Members’ Register of Interests, or is not the subject of a pending notification, must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest within 28 days of the disclosure.


Disclosable pecuniary interests, personal and prejudicial interests are defined in Part 2 of the Code of Conduct For Members


[If a member is in any doubt as to whether they have an interest which should be declared they should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer before the start of the meeting]



There were no declarations of interest. 



Public Participation

An opportunity for members of the public to make statements or ask questions in accordance with the rules as to public participation


There was no public participation.



Consideration of any matter referred to the committee in relation to call-in




Action points from the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 7 KB


There were no outstanding actions from the previous meeting.



Quarter 2 Performance Report - People and Transformation pdf icon PDF 890 KB

Additional documents:


A Wilkie took the report as read, highlighting steady and gradual improvement around sickness figures which was expected to continue, ongoing work on the people strategy with some products due to start coming through the committee in the coming months, and successful recruitment campaigns for Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and at the Corporate Leadership Team (CLT) level. Digital and ICT were confirmed to have high availability, with only one incident of note in the past three months that was relatively quickly resolved, and a vacancy in the team was stated to be in the process of being filled. Communication was noted to have had a busy quarter, covering a lot of events over the summer, with internal communication and staff engagement of particular focus, and steadily growing social media and digital channels comparing favourably with other local authorities. The volume of digital traffic was identified as being significant, with the channel representing an opportunity to provide good service to residents.


S Choudhury explained that a number of projects were starting to deliver on the customer strategy across the organisation, ramping up over the next few months, including a review of the PMO function to improve the delivery and appropriate oversight of all projects, and work on improving the way performance is managed. It was noted that annual leave had an impact over the summer, with average wait times confirmed to still be higher than target but improving; a trend expected to continue into next month. Splitting job roles between individuals was highlighted as one strategy to better manage the peaks and troughs of demand, as was offering call-back opportunities at times of high demand. A dedicated training officer role was confirmed as having been implemented to bring new customer service agents up to speed faster in a wider range of areas, and improved coordination across the rest of the organisation to try and avoid surges in call numbers. The new KPI (key performance indicator) measuring performance against complaints was identified as being below target, with S Choudhury explaining that the current focus was on a high quality of response, although it was acknowledged that there had been a bit of a trade-off whilst bedding the new processes in, and it was hoped timescales would now start to shorten.


Cllr Hannell referred to paragraph 3.1 and the average call wait time target of five minutes, with the actual average time of 6 minutes and 11 seconds. He wondered at what point waiting callers were asked whether they wanted a call-back. S Choudhury explained that it used to be after a few minutes, but should now be sooner, with the message kicking in once the system recognises the average call wait time for the subject area has reached a certain length, adding that offering call-backs up to 3:00pm was also being tested for effectiveness. It was clarified that the figures were slightly skewed, as the system was recording people waiting for a call-back in a virtual queue that was contributing to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Quarter 2 Performance Report - Corporate and Commercial pdf icon PDF 498 KB

Additional documents:


The report was taken as read, with B Hosier highlighting commercial development KPIs (key performance indicators) of the income targets for garages and parking, which were almost on track for Q2. For procurement, as required from an audit perspective, he identified four contracts awarded during quarter two, each justified without going out to tender as being for the provision or continued provision of agency staff. It was noted that there had been a separate Part Two report presented to Cabinet in October on some housing-related non-compliant spend, but there had been no other non-compliant spend during Q2. From a commercial strategy programme prospective, B Hosier identified a brief update on progress of FBCs moving forward.


M Brookes explained that there were various reviews going on, highlighting a KPI relating to freedom of information (FOI) requests, where there had been a significant improvement in performance over the last quarter following some procedural reviews.


N Howcutt stated that there were two red KPI’s, (1) time taken for debtors to pay, with the KPIs and targets being reassessed to improve the information presented to committee going forward by removing aged debt on payment plan, and (2) variance in terms of performance around capital, with a projected £70,000 overspend on a £10m budget that was relatively minor. He confirmed that he had no major concern in terms of overspend with a significant impact on the organisation.


In terms of the operational risk register for finance and resources, N Howcutt noted the collection rates were ongoing as an amber indicator, and that the average budgeted collection rate across Hertfordshire was 98.6, with Dacorum targeting 99.4 and 0.8% behind, which was only 0.02% off the Hertfordshire average, so performance could be considered strong despite not achieving expectations. It was acknowledged that there were delays to the capital programme, but these were having a beneficial impact due to treasury returns, particularly when the projects delayed were not expected to bring in large amounts of income.


The Chair asked for clarification regarding which debtors were being referred to by the KPI measuring time taken for debtors to pay. N Howcutt explained that there were three sections for debt, council tax and business rates, and HRA which was residents, all of which were reported separately due to different legislation and policies, confirming that the KPI in question was mainly businesses in terms of commercial income and income from other business areas or parking, etc.


Cllr Hannell referred to the fact that the non-procurement compliance process hadn't been needed due to the continued provision of agency staff. B Hosier explained that there was a framework agreement open to all staff or agency staff, however the four contracts in question had been in place before that framework agreement was set up, so the circumstances had justified an extension of the existing agreement. The Chair suggested that it was right to still report the matter in the same way.


Cllr Hannell suggested that with the capital projects, there was a danger  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Quarter 2 Financial Performance Report pdf icon PDF 716 KB

Additional documents:


N Howcutt took the report as read, highlighting his hope from a financial perspective that there would be very little significant change before the year end, barring policy change or significant environmental or economic impacts on the authority. The general fund was noted to be projecting a surplus of £0.5 million, with some pressures around staffing at Cupid Green, and some of the work on optimisation and place-shaping, including temporary staff. Increased treasury returns and a bumper windfall from green waste income were noted as offsetting factors. HRA (Housing Revenue Account) was identified as the headline of the report, with a pressure of £0.4 million but a huge amount of work done in the first six months of the year. Pressures started to be coming from the supervision and management of the service through the transformation programme, general service delivery and improvements, and around £5 million from repairs and maintenance due to post-Covid catch-ups and increasing costs, which N Howcutt identified would be examined in great detail at the next month's scrutiny as part of the HRA business plan. It was confirmed that the contribution to capital had been removed, so future capital programmes would rely more on borrowing than reserve contributions, and emphasised that the current treasury windfall of £1.8 million was only short-term, with cash balances for the HRA expected to reach a point next year where they were borrowing. Income increases were identified as a result of faster property turnaround times, leading to more rental income and leaseholder charges.


Cllr Capozzi referred to section 7, asking where the relief was coming from for the pressures in point 4. N Howcutt suggested looking at Appendix B, and a table of all subsets without narratives. The Chair asked for a summation of the categories in the table in 7.4. N Howcutt explained that, (1) compliance planned maintenance was around gas, electric safety, fire safety, legionella, and asbestos, that (2) the responsive repairs was for repairs that needed to be responded to within a day or two days and was predominantly delivered through Osborne, that (3) empty homes had an average cost of £8,000 in repairs with around 330 re-lets per month, that (4) main contact overheads were those involved in the management of all other work.


Cllr Williams questioned the number of re-lets, and N Howcutt agreed to check and clarify with all committee members.


Cllr Guest referred to paragraph 1.1 in the executive summary, wondering how the figure of £0.5 million had been reached. N Howcutt stated that it was based on the final offer put forward of £1,925 per employee for the year, except those above spinal point 45, which was at 3.88% and came out a little under £500,000 that was now planned to be paid through the December payroll following confirmation.


Cllr Pound referred to capital programme at Appendix C, item 83, Rossgate Shops structural works, £315,000 and asked when work was scheduled to start, as recently some concrete had fallen onto workers heads. N  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 149 KB


There were no changes or additions to the work programme.