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End of Year Summary 2017/18

Over the previous year, the Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee has looked at a range of issues within its remit, ranging from the progress that was being made across Greater Manchester following the devolution arrangements and the appointment of the Greater Manchester Mayor, the progress with the refurbishment of Manchester Town Hall and other key projects, the Council's budget position following June 2017's General Election and the Chancellors Autumn Statement to proposed changes to the Council's Council Tax Support Scheme for Care Leavers, activity relating to Section 106 (S106) agreements during the last financial year, the Council's operational property strategy, the rise in homelessness and outcomes to date of the 100% Business Rates retention pilot.

A particular area of the Committee's interest this year was ensuring Social Value was being delivered from key Council projects, with the Committee taking a specific focus on the Town Hall transformation project and how Social Value was to be delivered through this project.  The Committee received bi-monthly updates on the progress of the project and in doing so challenged Officers and Executive Members to ensure that the Key Performance Indicators were ambitious enough for a project of such size and scale and requested that the Council stretched its ambitions to ensure that all apprenticeship positions that would arise from the project would be filled by Manchester residents, both young and old.

In September the Committee looked at the progress that the Council was making on delivering its IT transformation agenda. Whilst the Committee was pleased to note that an agreement with the City Treasurer had been reached to make funding available to provide 1450 employees who currently did not have access to ICT services with the correct tools and access, Scrutiny Members raised concerns  in relation to the Department's HR plans around agency spend and staffing and requested that greater emphasis was placed on Social Value and apprenticeships.

A first for the Committee occurred in October, when the Committee considered a Councillor Call for Action, which had centred around concerns over the demolition of a portacabin in Brookdale Park.  The Committee heard the concerns from the Councillor who had raised the CCfA as well as the views of the local Ward Councillors and Council Officers as to why the decision had been taken.  Having listened to all the evidence and views, the Committee noted the poor condition of the property and the cost associated with securing it; the level of vandalism and anti-social behaviour within the park and around the property and the potential health and safety risks that could present themselves, and agreed that the decision to demolish the portacabin represented best value for the Council.

November saw the Committee focus on the roll out of the Universal Credit (UC) regime, including the financial impact on both Manchester residents and the Council, including other areas of financial support offered by the Council.  The Committee raised concerns relating to the potential increase in the number of residents forced into homelessness as well as the increase in the need and use of foodbanks and pay day loans for families affected by UC. The Committee also highlighted the potential financial impact to the Council, if UC claimants stopped paying money they owed to the Council due to the cut in the benefits they received.  

At the start of the new year, the Committee scrutinised the progress that had been made in the establishment of a revised process for the approval of capital schemes, and how the governance arrangements had been implemented as part of the Council's new Capital Strategy Governance and Approval Process.  The Committee highlighted concerns that there had been a missed opportunity to include the Scrutiny function within the new process.  The Committee recommended that that officers and Executive Members provided regular briefings to Members in relation to proposed Capital programme business cases which related to their respective wards and also agreed to receive the quarterly monitoring reports prior to their consideration by the Executive so that Scrutiny could provide comment.  At the same meeting, the Committee also looked at the Council’s Operational Estate Strategy in relation to its future workforce and the proposals to deliver Health and Social Care Integration with the NHS and the implications for the City Council’s Operational Estate Strategy. The Committee highlighted the lack of progress that had been made with the integration of Health and Social Care services and the identified location for some of the Place Based Hubs and requested that Officers provided Ward Members with a briefing of the services to be delivered from the 12 multi-disciplinary Place Based Hubs which their residents would access.  The Committee also agreed to invite the Local Care Organisation to a future meeting to discuss estates integration with the Council.

February 2018 saw the Committee scrutinise the Council's draft Budget proposals and Directorate Budget and Business Plan reports and accompanying Delivery Plans for 2018/19.  Whilst raising some concerns, the Committee, noted that the budget proposals were part of an overall three year budget plan and endorsed the recommendation that the Executive approves the budget proposals for inclusion to Full Council for final consideration.

At its last meeting of the Municipal Year, the Committee considered a report on Housing Affordability in Manchester. The Committee sought reassurance that the Council was in a financial position to deliver a range of good quality affordable housing.  In considering the report, the Committee welcomed the positive steps that the Council was taking to address the gap in affordable housing in light of no serious housing strategy from the current Government.

As in 2016/17, the Committee re-established the Human Resources Sub Group to continue to look at how the Council’s Human Resources were supporting the Council  it to achieve its aims and objectives within the Our Manchester Strategy and met several times throughout the year, and looked at the progress that was being made with the the programme of HR and OD improvements, which had begun in 2016.  It also reviewed key workforce intelligence metrics such as levels of sickness absence, agency staff spend and the number of staff in positions outside of the funded structure.  The Sub Group also took an interest on the work being done to support employee communications and engagement, which included the continuation of Listening in Action sessions, the launch of the Our Manchester Experience and the roll out of a new approach to staff appraisals entitled About You.

On the success of the Ethical Procurement Task and Finish Group, at the start of the 2017/18 Municipal Year, the Committee decided to establish an Ethical Procurement Sub Group.  One of the Sub Groups objectives was to monitor contracts that the Council has entered, or was about to enter into, to ensure Social Value was contained within these.  The Group identified four significant projects to monitor how social value was being added (the Town Hall project, Local Care Organisation, Security and Highways Framework) due to their size, significance to the Council and value.  The Sub Group also reviewed the proposed governance arrangements relating to the Social Value Fund as well as the criteria and process for how the fund would operate.  Another area of interest that the Group looked at was how the Greater Manchester Combined Authority was implementing the requirements of Social Value within its contracts and what emphasis other GM Authorities were placing on Social Value in their contracts. One area that the Sub Group raised concerns with was the approach to embed Social Value within Manchester Health Care Commissioning (MHCC) within the context of health and social care reforms.  The Sub Group, whilst noting the steps that MHCC were to take in order to  develop a more strategic approach to social value still agreed that it would continue to scrutinise the progress that was being made by MHCC in delivering Social Value.

 

Get Involved

To find out more information have a look at our full work programme.  This includes what topics we will be looking at, what specific issues we will be considering and who we will be hearing evidence from. Please bear in mind that the programme is continually updated, and so dates and agenda items may change from those listed in the programme.

If there's an issue you want to contribute to, let us know.  You can either send a written contribution to scrutiny@manchester.gov.uk or you can attend a meeting and ask the Chair if you can speak. You can also suggest a topic for us to look into by filling in our 'suggestions form.' 

If you want to speak to somebody about contributing to the committee, please call our scrutiny support officer on 0161 234 3071 or email scrutiny@manchester.gov.uk

The Role of the Committee

Cllr Sarah Russell

As Councillors on the Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee we have two broad roles. One is to keep a close eye on the Council's finances and the other is to make sure that the Councillors you have elected can voice your concerns in an effective way to different public services, such as the Council, NHS, Police and Fire. We have discussions with these organisations and use our local knowledge of Manchester to recommend to them how they can ensure their services meet your needs.

Our areas of interest include finances, Council buildings, staffing, corporate and partnership governance as well as Council tax and benefits administration. 

Through this page you'll be be able to keep in touch with what we've been doing and find out what we'll be investigating over the next few months and how you can get involved.

Councillor Sarah Russell, Chair of the Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee


Find out more

 

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