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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Town Hall, Sheffield, S1 2HH. View directions

Contact: Jay Bell, Democratic Services  Email: jay.bell@sheffield.gov.uk

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Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.1

An apology for absence were received from Councillor David Barker.

 

 

2.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

To identify items where resolutions may be moved to exclude the press and public.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

2.1

No items were identified where resolutions may be moved to exclude the press and public.

 

 

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 129 KB

Members to declare any interests they have in the business to be considered at the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

3.1

There were no declarations of interest made at the meeting.

 

 

4.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 132 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 24 February 2022

Additional documents:

Minutes:

4.1

The minutes of the meetings held on 24 February 2022 were agreed as an accurate record.

 

4.2

The Chair read a statement to the Committee, which was produced by Democratic Services Team Manager, Sarah Hyde. This explained there was an error in the Annual Standards Report which was presented to the Committee on the 24 February 2022. The report stated there was {0} open cases although there was still 1 case going through the information gathering stage. The Acting CEO and Assistant Director Legal and Governance had both been in touch with the complainant to explain the situation.

 

4.3

The Assistant Director Legal and Governance agreed to follow up on circulation of the Procedure for dealing with standards complaints.

 

 

5.

Annual Audit Report 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Report of the External Auditors, Ernst & Young

Additional documents:

Minutes:

5.1

The Committee received a report of the External Auditors, Ernst and Young (EY).

 

5.2

The Head of Strategic Finance explained the report concluded the audit for the year 2020/21.  The report summarised the position on the audit opinion which was that there was a clear opinion.

 

5.3

Janet Dawson, EY, referred to the value for money commentary section of the report. It was mentioned that there were 3 main areas in which EY had explored throughout the year.

  • Financial Sustainability
  • Governance
  • Improving economy, efficiency and effectiveness

 

5.4

EY were satisfied the Council had sufficient arrangements in place to manage how decisions were made around these developments.

 

5.5

Members of the Committee asked questions and the key points to note were: -

 

5.6

The Acting Chief Executive, Eugene Walker, explained the Councils finances had become more pressured over the years. The Councils budgetary position was announced early last year in which the Council had accepted their position and worked alongside external auditors so the situation could be monitored appropriately. It was added that reports around the Council’s budgetary position would be brought to future the Audit and Standards Committees.

 

5.7

A Member of the Committee welcomed regeneration in the city, although added concerns that since the Council had agreed to sign a lease for properties in the West Bar development, there could potentially be liable to pay rent for those properties.

 

5.8

A Member of the Committee was happy to see an error of £2.4m was picked up by the external auditors.

 

5.9

 EY were asked what they thought were the Council’s main risks were for the next 12 months. EY believed the main financial challenges would be around social care expenditure. EY added that they will continue to monitor how the Council intended to save money.

 

5.10

EY confirmed there was transactions with two previously undisclosed parties. These related partied were not disclosed by Members on their annual declarations.

 

5.11

The Head of Strategic Finance explained the importance of acting on errors found by EY, which were highlighted in their report. He added the Council were already working with EY to improve on these aspects for the following years. There was also a formal response to recommendations report on the work programme for June 2022.

 

5.12

RESOLVED: that (1) the Committee noted the report (2) the Group Whips ensure their party Members had their declaration of interest forms up to date and correct (3) the importance of filling in declaration forms correctly should be expressed in new Member training with examples provided; and (4) the Monitoring Officer was asked to send out a further reminder to members to review declarations, 6 months after the elections. 

 

 

6.

Compliance with International Auditing Standards pdf icon PDF 197 KB

Report of the Head of Strategic Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1

The Committee received a report of the Head of Strategic Finance which drew together much of the work that had been undertaken by the Audit and Standards Committee. It demonstrated that the Audit and Standards Committee had complied to meet the international standards on auditing.

 

6.2

The Head of Strategic Finance explained the report was brought to the Committee on an annual basis.

 

6.3

The Chair added that a private meeting with Members of the Committee and External Auditors should take place next year.

 

6.4

RESOLVED: that (1) members of the Committee confirmed that the report gave an accurate reflection of the reports they had received and considered throughput the year (2) Members also confirmed they now had an overview of the Council’s systems of internal control so that they were assured that they were fulfilling the requirement of ‘those charged with governance’ under the International Auditing Standards; and (3) that a private meeting be scheduled for Members of the Committee and External Auditors.

 

 

7.

Education Healthcare Plan Update pdf icon PDF 250 KB

Report of the Director of Education and Skills

Additional documents:

Minutes:

7.1

The Committee received a report of the Director of Education and Skills.

 

7.2

The Director Education and Skills, Andrew Jones, agreed to circulate a glossary for the acronyms referred to in the report.

 

7.3

The Committee were informed that the Council’s special educational needs (SEN) service was last inspected in 2018, in which 7 areas of significant weakness were identified. The service should then have been re-inspected 2 years after, although the pandemic delayed that from happening.

 

7.4

The SEN service had now recently been re-inspected, in February 2022 although the inspectors had not yet published their findings. Therefore, information presented to the Committee was following the 2018 inspection, and the service’s self-evaluations carried out prior to the 2022 inspection.

 

7.5

The SEN service’s self-evaluation believed that progress had been made across all the services. Although, it was added that more work is yet to be done.

 

7.6

It was mentioned that progress had been made to 6 of the 7 significant areas of weakness. Although the 7th area, which was multi-agency transitions, was still a weakness for the service and will be a main area to target and improve. The service will still continuously improve the remaining 6 areas.

 

7.7

The Interim Head of SEN, Rosemary Ward, highlighted there was approximately 4041 children and young people that had Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) within the City. That constituted to approximately 5% of the child population in Sheffield.

 

7.8

In May to July 2021, the compliance within the 20 weeks Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) process dipped from 32 to 18%, with 102 plans exceeding the statutory 20 weeks’ timescale. (National average compliance for plan completion is between 55-65%). It was mentioned that had now risen to 61.8%.

 

7.9

The Committee were informed the SEN service had increased their staffing from 16 to 22 full time equivalent Inclusion Officers. There had also recruited to the 3 vacant manager posts therefore there was now 5 locality managers in post. They had recruited 2 new leaders, 1 for the Autism Team and 1 for HI/VI services. A new Principal Educational Psychologist were also now in post. They had also recruited a Post 16 Manager.

 

7.10

The SEN service had reviewed how they audited EHC plans. Following the Audit, they had decided to trial a buddy system where 3 members of staff would audit EHC plans on a triangulation system. 

 

7.11

The SEN service did not have sufficient specialist places for children who need them, despite ongoing work with commissioners. It was added that commissioners had increased the amount of specialist places given to children over the previous year.

 

7.12

The Interim Head of SEN highlighted the new performance management structures put in place to ensure performance did not dip in the service again.

 

7.13

Members of the Committee asked questions and the key points to note were: -

 

7.14

A Member of the Committee raised the importance of understanding the acronyms and localities mentioned in the report.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Customer Services Contact Centre Performance pdf icon PDF 532 KB

Report of the Director of HR and Customer Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

8.1

The Committee received a report of the Director of HR and Customer Services. The report provided an overview of 2021-22 year to date performance for Customer Services Contact Centre. The report identified issues that affected performance and identified future developments and areas for improvement.

 

8.2

The Head of Customer Services, Paul Taylor, explained that a similar report was presented to the Committee in October 2021. It was mentioned that this report looked at quarter 3 for the financial year 2021/22 and quarter 4 up to the 28 February 2022.

 

8.3

The Head of Customer Services stated that performance in the Contact Centre had improved during March although agreed that there was a lot of work that still needed to be done to achieve a higher standard.

 

8.4

The Committee were informed that the contact centre was impacted following the pandemic which did influence performance. Most of the staff did begin to work from home and that was still the case for some members of the team. There was also several members of staff assisting with the Council’s Test, Track and Isolate team although it was anticipated that they would return to the team at the end of March.

 

8.5

 The Head of Customer Services believed the staff were working efficiently and was proud of how they dealt with high volumes of calls daily. It was added that the performance figures highlighted in the report was due to various factors such as delays with cross service enquires and losing 4 front line advisors.

 

8.6

The Committee were informed that improvement measures and future developments were highlighted under 5.1 of the report.

 

8.7

It was explained that there were new technological innovations taking place which would improve the customers experience, these were set to be trialled over the upcoming weeks.

 

8.8

Customer Services were also looking to cross skills two if the teams so that they were able to deal with enquiries relating to the others team. This would reduce delays in responding and relieve some pressure off the teams.

 

8.9

The Head of Customer Services referred to the Local Government Association’s (LGA) peer review of the contact centre, mentioned in the report. Following the review, the LGA also stated that some grant funding may become available.

 

8.10

There was an ambition to deliver a customer portal, that informed customers on the position of their enquiry. This aimed to reduce the number of follow up calls. The LGA funding would partly fund that project.

 

8.11

Members of the Committee would be welcome to observe members of staff in customer services and also to test new innovations if they wished.

 

8.12

Members of the Committee asked questions and the key points to note were: -

 

8.13

A Member of the Committee raised concerns around the pace at which the contact centre was improving. It was mentioned that it was continuously being stated that new developments would be put in place which would improve the performance, although nothing seemed to really change or  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Annual Housing Ombudsman Complaints Report 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 261 KB

Report of the Director of HR and Customer Services / Director of Legal and Governance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

9.1

The Committee received a report of the Director of HR and Customer Services and the Director of Legal and Governance.

 

9.2

The Housing Ombudsman had now issued annual Landlord performance reports for 2020-21 but had only done so for those landlords that had 5 or more cases determined during 2020-21. For all Landlords with less than 5 determinations they had issued basic decision data in a table. This was highlighted in the report.

 

9.3

RESOLVED: The Audit & Standards Committee noted the limited information published by the Housing Ombudsman in respect of Sheffield City Council for the 2020-21 period.

 

 

10.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Report of the Director of Legal and Governance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

10.1

The Committee considered a report of the Director of Legal and Governance that outlined the work programme for the remainder of the municipal year. Members were asked to identify any further items for inclusion.

 

10.2

The Committee agreed to include an update on SEND report to the work programme which would be brough to the Committee around September/October 2022. As mentioned above at 7.22 of these minutes

 

10.3

The Committee agreed to include a report of the Acting Chief Executive to the work programme as agreed above at 9.3 of these minutes.

 

10.4

RESOLVED: - that (1) the work programme be noted; and (2) that the reports mentioned above at 10.2 to 10.3 be included on the work programme.

 

10.5

Following the conclusion of items on the agenda, the Committee received a report of the Head of Strategic Finance. The purpose of this report was to provide Members of the Audit and Standards Committee with information on the reallocation of tasks following the retirement of the current Head of Strategic Finance in March 2022.

 

10.6

The Chair thanked the Committee for their work throughout the year and wished them well for the following year.

 

 

11.

Dates of Future Meetings

To note that meetings of the Committee will be held at 5.00 p.m. on:-

 

16 June 2022

21 July 2022

Additional documents:

Minutes:

11.1

It was noted that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on 16 June 2022.