Medway’s Council Plan 2021/22 sets out the Council’s three priorities. This report and appendices summarise how we performed in Q3 2021/22 on the delivery of the programmes and measures which fall under the remit of this Committee which are:
· Priority: Growth (Appendix 1)
· Values: 1: financial resilience, 2: digital enablement, 3: working together to empower communities, 4: creativity and innovation, 5: tackle climate change, and 6: child friendly (Appendix 2).
Given the overarching responsibilities of this Committee to provide guidance and leadership on the development and coordination of the scrutiny function for all overview and scrutiny committees, this report also contains:
· a performance summary of all services (Appendix 3)
· a summary of discussions at the Children and Young People, Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committees (Appendix 5) with the summary from the Regeneration, Culture and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee to follow.
This report also presents the Q3 2021/22 review of strategic risks (Appendix 4).
The Council Plan 2021/22 set out the Council’s three priorities. Members considered a report summarising performance in Quarter 3 2021/22 on the delivery of the programmes and measures which fell under the remit of this Committee and also the Quarter 3 review of strategic risks.
The following issues were raised:
· SR 35 Homelessness – Members were advised that this risk had been added to the strategic risk register at a time when there had not been funding for rough sleeping. The current funding situation meant that the Council was in a much better position, and whilst it was still challenging, it was the right time to remove the risk from the register for monitoring by the directorate.
· Increase in the number of families living in temporary accommodation – Members were advised that this number was increasing nationally and, although it remained low compared to previous years, there had been an increase in the number of families approaching Kingsley House for homelessness support. In addition, it had been decided to keep people in temporary accommodation, and therefore within the Housing Service, for longer than previously, rather than transferring them to Children or Adult Services.
· Monitoring of HMOs – In response to Members’ questions, officers advised that enforcement action would be considered on receipt of complaints from residents. Such action would not preclude a landlord from holding a HMO licence although banning orders could be issued in specific circumstances.
· Affordable homes – A written answer would be provided breaking down the 166 affordable homes between rented and shared ownership accommodation. As a standard, 60% rented and 40% shared ownership was usually requested of developers though Section 106 agreements.
· Higher than anticipated level of rent arrears – Officers advised that this had risen over the Christmas period but had since reduced to a more usual level. It was recognised that the cost of living challenges would lead to residents requiring a higher level of support and an additional Welfare Reform Officer was being recruited.
· High cost of materials for house building - Asked if this had led to a reduction in build quality, officers would consult with Registered Providers and provide a written reply.
· SR37 Cyber Security - Noting recent cyber security attacks, officers were asked what was being done to prevent these. Members were advised that the risk had been escalated on the risk register and that the ICT Team were constantly guarding against cyber-attacks. Members were reminded to use their Medway email address rather than their personal email address for increased protection. Officers would consider whether Member training on this issue could be provided.
· LGSCO upheld complaint – A written response would be provided.
· Pilot for new kitchens – Asked whether a better product would be provided for residents, officers confirmed that delays had been experienced with the current supplier so the contactor had been encouraged to find a new supplier and, if this represented an improvement in quality, there would be a move to the new supplier.
· Building Design Services – Questioned about the decision of Building Design Services to hand back maintenance work, officers advised that it was an internal decision to bring this work back into the HRA so that the service could be delivered in a different way.
· Suspension of the domestic rewire programme – Clarification was sought on why a property needed to be isolated for this work to be carried out. Officers explained that Mears’ corporate health and safety team had decided that pulling through the main fuse should be done via the utility companies.
· Additional Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) – Asked about the cost of achieving EPC C or above by 2030, officers advised that £860,000 had been built into the budget for this purpose. The challenge after that was to achieve zero carbon and the costs associated with that was significantly greater.
· Presentation of the information within the report – With reference to the discussion at the Regeneration, Culture and Environment O&S Committee on 22 March, as set out in Supplementary Agenda no.1, concern was expressed that performance and risk reports did not always adequately reflect the reality of the situation. Referring to the delays in the Local Plan process and recent planning appeal decisions that had gone against the Council, Members considered that the consequences of these should be clearly referenced the report. It was noted that the new academy in Strood was not included on the strategic risk register, and this was questioned. It was suggested that there needed to be more focus on the performance targets that were not being met and the red risks. The Chief Operating Officer acknowledged these concerns and said that he was considering the performance framework.
The Committee considered the Quarter 3 2021/22 performance against the measures used to monitor progress against the Council’s priorities and noted the amended Strategic Risk Register as set out in Appendix 4.