Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes.

Venue: Committee Room 4 - Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18 6PW. View directions

Contact: Daniel Wilkinson  Email: daniel.wilkinson@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 5102

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Panel.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Mehboob Khan.

2.

Urgent Business

The Chair to announce any items of urgent business circulated separately from the main agenda.

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Members to declare any personal and financial interests in items on the agenda.  Attention is drawn to the Council’s Constitution; the Council’s Code of Conduct and associated advice.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That the list of Councillors’ memberships as Council appointed representatives on outside bodies, joint committees and school governing bodies be noted.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 15 November and 13 December 2018.

 

No motion or discussion may take place upon the Minutes except as to their accuracy, and any question on this point will be determined by a majority of the Members of the body attending who were present when the matter in question was decided.  Once confirmed, with or without amendment, the person presiding will sign the Minutes.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved -

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Corporate Finance and Performance Scrutiny Panel held on 15 November 2018 and 13 December 2018 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

5.

Revenue and Corporate Debt Management Performance update pdf icon PDF 344 KB

To receive an update on the current year collection performance for the Service, on the arrears collection performance for the Service, and on the plans for the future developments for these Services

 

 

 

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Director of Finance and the Head of Debt & Financial Support Services (DFSS).

 

In response to questions from the Panel, the Head of DFSS confirmed that Council Tax collection rates are reported quarterly and that the figures for 2018/19 were comparable to neighbouring Local Authorities however, they had yet to submit their figures.

 

The Panel requested comparative data on Council Tax collection rates of neighbouring and other London Boroughs

Action: Head of Debt & Financial Support Services

 

The Head of Debt & Financial Support Services explained that the number of residents paying their Council Tax by Direct Debit had increased since the introduction in April 2018 of ‘Any Day’ Direct Debit. Collection of Council Tax via Direct Debit was a continuing area of focus and would continue to be promoted to residents, as it was the most cost efficient way of paying Council Tax and for its administration.

 

In relation to the support offered to businesses in paying Business Rates, the Head of DFSS advised that the service had implemented longer payment terms, which meant businesses were now able to spread their payments over 12 months. She stated that all qualifying businesses were encouraged to apply for applicable reliefs such as the Local Discount Scheme, Business Rate Relief and the Retail Relief Scheme, which will come into effect in April 2019.

 

The Panel expressed concern about the proportion of residents in debt and subject to court action.

The Director of Finance illustrated the percentage breakdown of Council Tax accounts subject to court and further recovery action as indicated in Paragraph 7.10 of the report. He stated that 74% of all summoned accounts were paid after court action. The Head added that when a summons to court is issued the service sign posted Tax Payers to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Step Change and the debt advice service agencies.

 

The Panel requested to be provided with the Vulnerability Guidance policy, information of the Local Discount Scheme and Business Rates/Retail relief policies

Action: Head of Debt & Financial Support Services

 

The Panel thanked officers for the report and requested examples of upheld complaints.

Action: Head of Debt & Financial Support Services

 

Resolved –

 

That the update on the following be noted:

·        The current year collection performance for the Revenues and Debt Service.

·        The arrears collection performance for the Revenues and Debt Service.

·        The plans for the future developments for these services, in line with the Lead Member’s priorites for 2018-22.

6.

Performance monitoring for Financial Operations pdf icon PDF 355 KB

To receive information on in-year performance for Financial Operations, including payroll, pensions, purchasing, creditors and systems and the plans for the future developments for these Services

 

 

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Assistant Director of Finance.

 

In response to questions from the Panel, the Assistant Director of Finance stated that invoices should be paid within the standard 30 days and the creditors team were reviewing every invoice paid in excess of 90 days to ascertain the reasons for the delay and improve the education of teams within the Council to flag invoices that were in dispute.  

 

The Panel requested information on the percentage of small business affected by payments of invoices outside the 30 days national target.

Action: Assistant Director of Finance

 

The Assistant Director advised that there were robust measures, which included authentication checks and segregation of duties, in place to tackle fraudulent invoices. She added that the processing of duplicate invoices proved to be more of an issue but that these were now flagged by the system.

 

In response to questions from the Panel, the Assistant Director stated that in relation to the payment of arrears of pay and pension compensation plus on costs for Academies the Council were responsible up until the point of transfer. She also advised that a dedicated member of staff that sat between the Council and GS Plus worked with both parties to facilitate collaborative working between the two. 

 

Resolved -

 

That the information on in-year performance for Financial Operations, including payroll, pensions, purchasing, creditors and systems and the plans for the future developments for these Services be noted.

7.

Information Governance (Cyber Security update) pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To receive an update on the development and performance around Cyber Security.

 

 

 

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Director of Finance and the Enterprise Architect.

 

In response to questions from the Panel, the Director explained that Cyber Security attacks had become more sophisticated in their nature and that this was a global issue however, the Council continued to take necessary measures to protect itself from malicious attacks. The Enterprise Architect added that the safeguards implemented in Royal Borough of Greenwich were comparable to those used by other Local Authorities.

 

In respect of the O2 and O365 outage in December 2018, the Director advised that lessons are learned from any outage and that the Council reviews m such as designs, routes and the core issue. He stated that every department had a continuity plan in the event of such situations arising.

 

The Enterprise Architect explained that it was not feasible and would prove expensive to protect against every eventuality that for this purpose, business continuity and risk management came in to play to determine which critical assets should be protected.

 

Resolved -  

 

That the update on the development and performance around Cyber security be noted.

8.

Paperless Council Strategy - Update Report pdf icon PDF 122 KB

To receive update the panel on the implementation of the Council’s paperless council strategy

 

 

 

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Director of Finance and the ICT Business Partner.

 

In response to questions from the Panel, the Director explained that ICT acted as a technology shop providing the tools to the departments but that each department needed to decide on how best to utilise them for their purposes. He stated that old devices are returned to the relevant vendor who provided the Council confirmation of destruction and there was also an in-house wiping process for the removal of sensitive data and where possible devices are recycled within the Council. 

 

The Director stated that as a technology vending team the role of ICT was to champion the possibilities of the technologies available and engage with managers and users to meet their business needs.

 

The Director detailed the structure of ICT within Royal Borough of Greenwich that each department had their own strand of the strategy which was contained within the overall ICT Strategy.

 

The Panel requested that the ICT Strategy be included in the next ICT report presented.

Action: Director of Finance

 

The Panel noted that this would be the last meeting of the Director of Finance they extended their appreciation for his work and time. Further they wished him well with his future endeavours.

 

Resolved -

 

That the update on the implementation of the Council’s paperless council strategy; in line with the objectives set in the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s 2018-22 ICT Strategy, “Smart Enabled Customers” be noted.

9.

Procurement Review - Interim Report pdf icon PDF 98 KB

To consider the draft report for the procurement review

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Senior Assistant Director of Finance.

 

The Senior Assistant Director sought to clarify if the Panel wanted the inclusion of the London Living Wage as part of the social value scoring or as a requirement of contracts. 

 

The Panel had a discussion on social value, the weight assigned to it as compared to the reduction of procurement costs. Concerns were raised of the impact on best value as a result of a heavy focus on social value and local procurement.    

 

In response to questions from the Panel, the Senior Assistant Director stated that social value was a key part of the review, however procurement efficiencies spanning over more than one department was much wider than a social value outcome but about a better coordinated approach to how it is planned and delivered. He stated there needed to be a balance when considering the service requirement, value for money and social value highlighting that any procurement decision must be affordable and sustainable over the life of the contract

 

Councillor Parker, Chair of Regeneration, Transport & Culture Scrutiny Panel addressed the Panel on the Preston Model of procurement.

 

The Panel made the following comments in relation to the recommendations in the report:

-      To merge recommendation 7.1.1 with 7.1.2 that as a minimum the London Living Wage was recorded and scored as part of social value.

-      To incorporate 7.1.3 into the framework.

-      That 7.1.4 be agreed.

-      The removal of recommendation 7.1.5

Action: The Senior AD of Finance

 

Resolved –

 

That the report be noted and comments on the conclusions to date, at section 6 and to recommend the report be submitted to Overview and Scrutiny in April 2019.