To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources informing Members of the Council’s performance against key measures across 2021-22.
Report to follow.
8.1 The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources introduced the report and explained that the report set out the Council’s performance against a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in 2021/22. She explained that some measures were unavailable at that time due to the ongoing impact of the cyber incident, but expressed hope that this data would be available once the Pentana system was updated.
8.2 The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources confirmed that Appendix 1 of the report set out the performance data for the whole year, including comparative information from 2020/21 where available. She went on to explain that areas seeing an improving trend were the number of Environment Health service requests, the number of anti-social behaviour interventions by Solace and footfall at the Museum of Gloucester.
8.3 The Chair referred to the transfer of waste service provision to Ubico which had taken place earlier in the year. He asked for an update as to whether the Council was seeing an improvement in customer waiting times. He also requested clarification on the figures at KPI CS-6, concerning the number of telephone calls received by the Council. The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources explained that through 2022, the Customer Services team had seen a reduction in calls to the Council, which was in part due to a channel shift from telephone services to the online ‘My Gloucester’ facility. She confirmed that levels of contact from residents varied throughout the year, and that some periods were busier than others, for example, increased garden waste collection requests during the summertime. The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources further noted that the Council had seen an improvement in customer wait times during the second half of the year, and that the average waiting time had improved, with the latest figures showing calls averaging 5 seconds shorter.
8.4 Councillor Wilson queried why the annual target was still set at 2 minutes when response times back in 2020 sat around the 1-minute mark. He expressed the view that the Council should be more ambitious in setting waiting time targets. The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources explained that although in her view the waiting time figures were healthy, sometimes cases were complex, and a Customer Services officer might be on a call for 15-20 minutes dealing with a complex query which could sometimes create a bottleneck. She noted that with the advancement of the online ‘My Gloucester’ reporting facility and the ability to signpost residents to the appropriate service, the customer telephone contact centre should in time be a last resort for residents. She noted that she was happy to challenge the team, but there were other factors to consider such as sickness or holiday leave which might make a 1-minute target unrealistic.
8.5 The Chair requested an update on how the Council Tax rebate was progressing. The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources confirmed that the latest figure she was aware of showed that 32,000 households in Gloucester had received their rebate, which was the highest in the County. The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources expressed her view that this should be applauded, particularly in light of the IT disruption the Council was facing from the December 2021 cyber incident. In relation to non-direct debit holders, she confirmed that the Council would be working with all advice agencies to raise awareness that residents without a Council Tax direct debit were entitled to a rebate and needed to apply. The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources encouraged Members to raise awareness within their communities.
8.6 In response to a query from the Chair as to whether the rebate would be issued to recipients of Universal Credit, the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources stated that it was her understanding that the payment would be issued by energy companies directly.
8.7 Councillor Wilson queried whether those residents who paid their Council Tax annually had received their rebate, and it was agreed that follow-up enquiries would be made with the Revenues and Benefits team to obtain this information. The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources noted that there may be some anomalies, but the team were progressing with the rebate distribution well. The Director of Policy and Resources further noted that 90% of residents paid their Council Tax via direct debit, however those residents who had very recently moved home or changed their name might wait a little longer.
8.8 Councillor Hilton referred to the CWB-13 indicator and requested clarification on the Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 figures, which he noted were below the threshold target. He asked how the cyber incident has affected the reporting of incidents. The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources envisioned that inspections were still taking place, but understood there were issues with the system taking in data. She noted that there were some lockdown restrictions in place through Quarter 1 and 2 of 2021 and staff vacancies in the service, however the team were now working at capacity and there would be an updated assessment in due course once the remaining data was accessible.
8.9 In response to a further question from Councillor Hilton as to whether she was confident that the Quarter 3 and 4 figures would be above target, the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources referred to the statement in the narrative that the team expected the final figure to be above target, however she suggested that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee could invite officers to explain the position to the Committee should the final figure be under target.
8.10 Councillor Durdey referred to CWB-1 and the statement in the narrative that the way Environmental Health service requests were recorded had ‘changed and become more efficient’. He requested further information as to what these improvements were, and whether there were any plans to roll out the new approach to other service areas to improve efficiency. The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources noted her understanding that the improvements might be similar to the shift from paper driven processes to automated processes in the Licensing service, and agreed to clarify with the Community Wellbeing team.
8.11 Councillor Sawyer referred to the KPIs concerning Customer Services at CS-6 and CS-8. She asked whether the Council measured customer satisfaction levels in any way and if so, whether the Overview and Scrutiny Committee could be provided with some up-to-date figures. The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources agreed to make follow-up enquiries with the Customer Services team to check. It was her understanding that there was no survey as such in place, however team leaders listened in on calls on a monthly basis with a view of providing coaching and mentoring to team members. She also confirmed that there was an option for customers to provide feedback.
8.12 Councillor Sawyer queried whether the Council measured the Here to Help email response times and if so, whether some up-to-date figures could be provided to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. It was agreed that follow-up enquiries would be made with the Customer Services team to obtain this information.
8.13 In response to a further query from Councillor Sawyer as to whether the Council benchmarked their figures against other local authorities, the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources confirmed that there was no formal comparison process in place, however the Customer Services Manager had previously worked at other Councils and was still in touch with colleagues. The Director of Policy and Resources also confirmed that there was no formal comparison process.
8.14 In relation to the KPIs relating to housing at H-10, Councillor Durdey commented that the figures concerning the number of people living in temporary accommodation seemed to be improving. He asked how many temporary accommodation units were in Council ownership. The Director of Policy and Resources confirmed that the Council had recently acquired ownership of Potters Place, which had around 48 units of varying sizes and would be managed by the YMCA. He also confirmed that other accommodation owned by the Council included Caridas House, Jubilee House and Priory Place.
8.15 In response to a further observation from Councillor Durdey regarding Council investments, the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources noted that decisions such as the acquisition of Potters Place enabled the Council to support residents and provide them with the right accommodation. She expressed the view that it was better for the Council to utilise its own resources rather than outsourcing where possible.
8.16 Councillor Organ commented that having strong preventative measures in place was key to reducing the number of people needing temporary accommodation.
8.17 Councillor Sawyer requested a list of all Council owned temporary accommodation, including the number of units if possible, and a list of temporary accommodation not under Council ownership but still used to accommodate households in need of temporary housing. It was agreed that follow-up enquiries would be made with the Housing team to obtain this information.
8.18 Councillor Sawyer requested further clarification as to why the KPI at H-10 set out the average number of new households placed in temporary accommodation rather than the actual number. She asked whether consideration could be given to adding the actual number to future Performance Monitoring Reports. The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources agreed to follow-up these queries with the Communities team.
RESOLVED – that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee NOTE the report.