To receive and consider the report of the Deputy Chief Executive.
Councillor Peter Wilson, Executive Member for Resources, and Councillor Alistair Bradley, Executive Member for Economic Development and Public Service Reform presented the Policy and Governance Performance Focus.
The directorate covered five services,
- Communications and Visitor Economy,
- Transformation and Partnerships,
- Business Support.
Financially, the directorate had a variance in the budget of 0.6% equaling £33,000. The overspend was due to the increase in the cost of utilities, the increase in audit fees and the pay award against the budgeted 2%.
The performance of the indicators within the corporate strategy was strong. Two of the four indicators were at or above target and better than Quarter 2 2021/22. A highlighted indicator was ‘the % of 16 – 17 year old’s who are not in education, employment or training (NEET)’. Performance was above target at 1.5% but performance was down against Quarter 2 2021/22. Work was ongoing with the Youth Zone and the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure training, information and assistance could be provided. Members raised that there was to be an analysis identifying the barriers in place in wards with the highest percentage of NEET such as Adlington and Anderton. Action was ongoing, but further information could be provided following the Committee.
All four of the Communications and Visitor Economy indicators were at or above target, with two new baseline targets in place which focused on the performance of Astley Hall. It was not certain if the ticket sales of 4694 included the annual or family ticket, and if it included return figures with those tickets.
Social media engagement was considered to be the culmination of views, comments, clicks, and followers. The Council had access to a compiled dashboard, and more information could be returned to Members. The most popular post in November 2022 featured the Santa Express returning with 29,000 engagements.
Two thirds of the finance performance indicators were at or better than target. The underperforming indicator was ‘supplier payment within 30 days’. It was the view of the council that anything below the target of 99% was unacceptable. Covid, changes to the workforce and the change in payment processing software impacted this result.
80% of Governance indicators were on or above target. The two indicators that were below were ‘% complaints to the Chief Executive responded to within 10 working days’, and the ‘Number of external Lancastrian bookings’. It was highlighted that there was not a similar target for Councillors due to the difficulty to analyse and assess, and Covid impacted the bookings to the Lancastrian.
It was added that the Lancastrian was not actively promoted, and garnered custom through repeat bookings and word of mouth. The Council did not wish to have the Lancastrian fully booked, as the venue was used as a community space for many groups that were impacted by Covid. The council often provided the hall at discount rates for some charitable groups and events. The number of external bookings was below target, but was better than Quarter 2 2021/22, however the revenue generated was above target, and also better than Quarter 2 2021/22.
There were 12 indicators for Transformation and Partnership. eight were on or above target, one was within the 5% threshold and three were below target. The worse than target indicators included the Corporate Strategy Projects and were discussed and explained at Executive Cabinet and Council. The Council maintained confidence that when both were completed, they will deliver excellent services for the Council.
The ‘% of shared services staff satisfied’ was below target and worse than Quarter 2 2021/22. This was highlighted at the Shared Services Joint Committee and it was understood that organisational change of any kind created uncertainty, roles were changed, and workplace culture adjusted. The process was ongoing and a learning experience for both councils. It was understood that some Covid relief measures created additional work for some shared departments, such as customer services. The Council frequently held opportunities for feedback, discussion and offered support to staff.
Customer Services was highlighted as an area that frequently witnessed staff move to other departments due to the skills developed working within the role. A positive for staff development, but caused a need for further recruitment.
Members praised the decrease in the number of ‘FTE (full time equivalent) days lost through long term sickness or absence’. A previous Overview and Scrutiny Task Group was undertaken when the average was 8 days.
Vacancies remained throughout the council, however, the vacancy rate had decreased from the previous 9 months but there were ongoing recruitment difficulties. Interim appointments had been made temporarily to fill the required roles. The Council used the opportunity to train apprentices and graduates in addition to utilising freelance, consultants and short-term temporary contracts.
The average council employee worked on a hybrid basis with an average of two to three days a week in the office, however, this was dependent on the type of role, levels of productivity, and management discretion. The council understood that office working had advantages, particularly for younger and more inexperienced staff as training and mentoring was more successful in the office. The Council appreciated the appeal of flexibility and were competing in a more flexible labour market. The Council took the health and wellbeing of its employees seriously and placed a high value on employees maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Resolved: That the update be noted