A look back at what the Service Improvement & Finance Scrutiny Panel has been up to:

The Covid-19 pandemic has had its effects on all of the Council’s services including scrutiny.

Let us take a look back at what the Service Improvement & Finance Scrutiny Panel has been up to:

March 2020:

In response to the national lockdown, all scrutiny meetings were temporarily suspended and therefore meetings booked for March and May were cancelled.

September 2020:

In September, the Panel met for the first time virtually with the Corporate Performance Manager and the Director of Resources to discuss the Performance Monitoring Annual Report 2019/20.

The Panel discussed issues around; Safeguarding, Education and Skills, Tackling Poverty, Transformation and Future Council, Nature and Biodiversity and Public Accountability Measures.

This meeting and all virtual scrutiny meetings are recorded and uploaded on to the council website. To view this meeting and all reports presented please click here.

November 2020:

The Panel met to discuss the Quarter 1 Budget Monitoring Report 2020/21, review of Revenue Reserves, receive a verbal Mid Term Budget Statement, discuss the Recycling and Landfill Annual Performance Monitoring Report 2019/20 and to plan the panel’s work programme for the municipal year 2020/21.

The Panel paid tribute to the staff and the management of the Waste and Recycling Services, for their hard work and dedication throughout the pandemic. The Panel heard that there has been significant public praise for the continuation of these services throughout.  The Panel also heard that at the end of March 64% of the recycling target was reached; an increase of 2.1% from the previous year, helped by the ‘Keep it Out’ campaign.

Officers informed the Panel that the recycling target of 64% may not be met for 2020/2021, shortfalls can be attributed to the impact of Covid-19, forcing recycling centres to close for two months and suspending bulky waste collections. Officers explained that under the normal circumstances the service would have been more confident of reaching the 64% target and are therefore not expecting any fines or penalties and understand that the Welsh Government are sympathetic to this situation.

Click here to view all that was discussed at this meeting in detail.

December 2020:

In December the Panel met to discuss the annual Equality Review Report 2019/20.

The Review held particular significance this year in light of the pandemic, which seemed to expose far-reaching inequalities across the country.

Officers reported to the Panel that there is a new Strategic Equalities Board being established to drive forward objectives. The Panel was pleased to hear the new system, ‘Oracle Cloud’ will build on the current Human Resources (HR) and finance system, making it more resilient and easier to access and record information.

The Panel acknowledged that steps are being taken to improve data collection, but has requested to know more about what these steps involve exactly and also requested more information about how assurances can be given to people that their information will be used efficiently and appropriately.

The Panel agreed that accurate and relevant data will help the Council respond and react more quickly to situations such as the effect of the pandemic on the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic community. The Panel heard that the Council is working closely with HR and Unions to understand how better to ask questions, phrase questions and generally reassure data subjects that any information collected has no negative purpose, but rather to be able to respond and react, supporting the workforce.

The Panel was interested to hear about the School Swap case study, a community cohesion initiative for young people aged 11-18 across Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend and requested for more information on the case histories section of the Review and in particular the names of the schools that took part in the swap.

The Panel also discussed issues around ‘Equitable Provision of Services For All’, the legal requirements of the Review, Equality Impact Assessments and views in relation to Community Cohesion.

 Click here to view this Review and to read more about what was discussed at this meeting.

January 2021 – March 2021

The Panel continued to meet on a monthly basis. The Panel met in February to scrutinise the Annual Budget proposals and have raised points to cabinet from each of the scrutiny performance panels.

The Panel noted that the Budget this year is unique and unprecedented. They thanked officers and staff for their hard work and acknowledged the quick turnaround of funding distribution.

The Panel has requested the cabinet to answer specific queries, including:

  • Thoughts regarding a joint venture with the Health Board in terms of support for staff
  • Clarification on the level of borrowing, in relation to the City Deal, and how this will affect revenue streams in the future
  • Further information about the financial impact on Council finances of the future multiple joint committees that may be introduced and be levied against the Council budget

To view all that was discussed at this meeting and to read all letters and reports sent and received from Cabinet please click here.

The Panel is due to meet on 12 April 2021 and will discuss the authority’s Corporate Complaints Annual Report. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, to be updated on the outcomes of this meeting and to be notified of upcoming meetings of this panel.

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