Agenda and minutes

Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 14th October, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Bridges Room - Civic Centre

Contact: Sonia Stewart - Tel: 0191433 3045 - Email:  soniastewart@gateshead.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

CR14

Minutes pdf icon PDF 345 KB

The Committee is asked to approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 9 September 2019

Minutes:

RESOLVED -              That the minutes of the meeting held on 9 September 2019 be approved as a correct record.

 

CR15

Gateshead Council Apprenticeships pdf icon PDF 259 KB

Report of the Strategic Director, Corporate Services and Governance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report on the Council’s strategy for the delivery of apprenticeships within the Council.

 

In 2017 the Government introduced a number of changes to the apprenticeship system as part of their strategy to delivery three million apprenticeships by 2020.

 

The three key changes introduced by the Government were:

 

·         The introduction of the apprenticeship levy;

·         The proposed introductions of a public sector apprenticeship target; and

·         The transfer from Apprenticeship Framework to new Apprenticeship Standards

 

The introduction of the levy means that organisations with a payroll bill of over £250,000 per month, (£3m per year) are subject to a levy of 0.5% of their gross monthly pay bill.  The Council’s levy is estimated at around £668,000 per year, including that due for maintained schools.  A payment is made each month into the Council’s levy account.  The Council can draw down from that fund to pay for apprenticeship training.  There are strict criteria around the use of the fund, for example it cannot be used to pay wages or non-apprenticeship training costs.  There is a maximum of 24 months in which to use each annual levy payment, which operates on a rolling basis, thereafter unspent funds are inaccessible and returned to the Treasury.

 

The public sector apprenticeship target applies to all public bodies that have 250 or more employees.  The annual target requires 2.3% of the workforce to be started on an apprenticeship, Gateshead Council employs approximately 7000 staff including those in maintained schools, therefore this would require approximately 160 apprentices to be enrolled annually to meet the target.  The Government have acknowledged that they have set a stretched target and also stated that they expect that all organisations will strive to meet the target and will take steps to improve apprenticeship take up year on year. 

 

Apprenticeship Frameworks are being phased out, with new Apprenticeship Standards introduced which have been developed in collaboration with employers in order to be more specific to individual business need rather than applying broadly to business sectors.

 

There are over 250 Apprenticeship Standards being phased in over time, covering a wide range of occupations and providing the opportunity to achieve qualifications up to level 7 (Post Graduate level).

 

Following the introduction of the changes in 2017 two scoping exercises have been undertaken with services to identify demand for apprenticeships across the Council.  Discussions took place with Service Directors, and in some cases the management teams, to explore where apprenticeships could be utilised to support transformational change and deliver corporate objectives and service delivery.  The scoping activity included looking at areas where the Council provides funding for staff to study for professional qualifications, which could, in future, potentially be covered by an apprenticeship.  This would result in a direct saving to the Council as funds would be accessed from the levy rather than from the Council’s revenue budget.

 

Briefing sessions were also held with senior managers and numerous communications have been sent to employees to promote awareness.

The Council’s Learning Skills service delivers apprenticeship training  ...  view the full minutes text for item CR15

CR16

New Guidance on Overview and Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 246 KB

Report of the Strategic Director, Corporate Services and Governance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report setting out proposed areas for improvement from the new guidance on Overview and Scrutiny.

 

New statutory guidance on overview and scrutiny in local government and combined authorities has been published by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government.  The guidance has been produced following a commitment made by the Government in early 2018 following on from the Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s inquiry into overview and scrutiny.

 

The revised guidance is light touch and aims to raise the profile of scrutiny committees and increase the effectiveness and relevance of their work. 

 

A central theme of the statutory guidance is the importance of a strong organisational culture which supports scrutiny to provide effective challenge and a commitment to scrutiny across an authority, not just amongst those members and officers with a scrutiny role.  

 

Compared to previous guidance, which concentrated on explaining the legislation, the new guidance is practically focused and grounded in the experience of scrutiny in local authorities since the 2000 Act.  It leaves scope for local practice and does not intend to be prescriptive.

 

Following review of the areas highlighted in the new guidance it is considered that Gateshead already has in place much of what is set out in the guidance, however, it is proposed that the following represent potential areas for improvement.

 

·         Executive – Scrutiny Protocol

o   The guidance suggests the development of an Executive – Scrutiny Protocol as a positive means of defining the relationship between Cabinet and Scrutiny and providing a framework for managing /mitigating any differences of opinion.

In Gateshead we already have a protocol in place relating to Cabinet attendance at OSC meeting and it is considered that this could be widened further to cover several matters raised by the guidance eg managing disagreements between scrutiny and the executive, reflect the good practice already in place around early engagement with the executive regarding scrutiny’s future work programmes and set out the position in relation to scrutiny’s powers to access information.

·         Whistleblowing

o   As part of establishing a strong organisational challenge culture the guidance, for the first time, references whistleblowing.  It suggests that whilst scrutiny has no role in the investigation or oversight of whistleblowing arrangements the findings of indepenent whilstleblowing investigations might be of interest to scrutiny committees as they consider their wider implications.

At this point in time, the Council’s Monitoring Officer has advised that there have been insufficient whistleblowing cases in Gateshead to identify any emerging themes / issues to enable scrutiny to have a worthwhile role.  Therefore, at this stage, councillors are asked to note their potential future scrutiny role in this area.

 

·         Communicating Work of Scrutiny to Wider Council

o   The guidance also indicates that Councils should take steps to ensure that all members and officers are made aware of the role scrutiny committees play in the organisation.  The guidance indicates that a means of achieve this could be by some reports and recommendations being submitted from scrutiny to full Council rather  ...  view the full minutes text for item CR16

CR17

The Impact of the Gateshead Thrive Fund 2018-2019 pdf icon PDF 170 KB

Report of the Interim Strategic Director, Communities and Environment

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report and presentation from The Community Foundation on the Gateshead Thrive Fund and to seek the Committee’s view on the impact of the Gateshead Thrive Fund during 2018/19, looking at how it has helped to support, develop and build capacity in the voluntary and community sector.

 

The Gateshead Fund was established in 2011 to support, develop and build capacity in the Borough’s voluntary and community sector and to help strengthen communities.  The outcomes of the Gateshead Fund are:

 

·         Increased capacity building and sustainability within the voluntary and community sector

·         Increased provision of services by the voluntary and community sector

·         Improved clarity and equity in commissioning processes

·         Simplified and proportionate application and assessment processes

·         Developing and mobilising volunteers

·         Supporting and building relationships within communities

·         Supporting residents to build their communities and improve what is already there

·         Retention and expansion of councillor community champion role

 

Council agreed a £300,000 budget allocation for the Fund for 2018/19 which, together with the agreed carryover of underspend and returned funds, equated to an overall available fund of £443,460 which was assigned as per the following:

 

            Thrive Fund Main Grant                                             £255,360

            Thrive Community Grant                                            £60,000

            Tyneside Crowd                                                          £30,000

            Local Community Fund                                              £66,000

            Talented Athlete / Sporting Individuals grants           £10,000

            Gateshead Volunteers Month Grant              £20,000

 

The Community Foundation for Tyne & Wear and Northumberland continued to administer the fund in accordance with its agreement with the Council, which runs until July 2020.

 

A copy of the annual impact review of the fund has been circulated.  This includes a breakdown of how the fund has been allocated and examples of some of the applications, and a breakdown of the Volunteers Month small grants and Sporting Grants to individuals.

 

Newcastle City Futures, the multi-sector partnership of which Gateshead Council is a member, contracted with SpaceHive to set up a new crowdfunding platform which has been called Tyneside Crowd.  It provides an opportunity for people and organisations in the Tyneside area to collaborate on creative and innovative projects to improve and celebrate the places where they live, work and study.  Tyneside Crowd also provides an opportunity for grant makers to place funding programmes on the platform; The Thrive Fund ring fenced up to £30,000 to support eligible projects from Gateshead with up to £2000 of project matched funding.  No projects were supported during the financial year.

 

The Local Community Fund allocation of £3000 per ward was agreed as aprt of the Gateshead Fund budget proposal.  The £66,000 budget is part of the overall Thrive Fund but is administered by the Council’s Neighbourhood Management and Volunteering Team separate to the main fund arrangements.  The amount available was augmented with £40,600 underspend carried forward from 2017/18.  As in previous years, the majority of activities supported were varied, small in scale and impactful, delivered by local groups within communities.  Over the year £98,500 helped support 164 projects and activities, ranging from events across the Christmas festive season, school holiday activities for children and families and equipment for community lounges and  ...  view the full minutes text for item CR17

CR18

Helping Out - Volunteer Plan - Annual Update pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Report of the Interim Strategic Director, Communities and Environment

Minutes:

The Committee received an Annual Update report on the implementation of Gateshead’s Volunteer Plan, now known as Helping Out.

 

Gateshead Council has adopted the Making Gateshead a Place Where Everyone Thrives and this will now supersede the current Council Plan.  The pledge “Support our communities to support themselves and each other” is at the heart of the Council’s approach to volunteering.

 

The Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy 2019/2020 to 2023/24 states that the Council will continue to seek to mitigate demand pressures within services by capacity building within communities, including where appropriate work with partners and volunteers.

 

In April 2018 Overview and Scrutiny Committee agreed the content of the Volunteers Plan Refresh.  The plan offered a new set of commitments to support residents and community organisations in Gateshead to help each other out.

 

There are now 2825 volunteers registered in Gateshead Council (originally 50 in 2013 and 1978 in 2018).  As a very conservative estimate there could be as many as 8,000 – 10,000 volunteers actively helping across our communities.

 

Volunteers in Gateshead provide help to a range of council services and voluntary groups, most notably in the environmental area, social care, health and sport and community centres.

 

Corporate volunteer days continue to grow in demand, with a total of over 125 individual organisations requesting tailored bespoke volunteer days supporting an estimated 2,500 individual employee volunteers (as at 2019).  The economic value to the Gateshead community is estimated at £219,995.

 

Gateshead’s seventh Volunteers Month took place in June 2019.  Throughout June 128,199 hours were recorded on the volunteer totaliser which equates to £1,666,587 economic value for 2019.  That’s an increase of 15,048 hours over the month and in increase of economic value of £195,624 from the figures in 2018.

 

In 2019 the funding available for Volunteers Month was incorporated into the main Thrive Fund.  Grants of between £250-£3000 are available to support groups in different areas including volunteering.  Projects can be delivered at any time and unlike previous years are not confined to June.  This provides groups with more flexibility for their projects and activities. 

 

For the first time The Gateshead Awards were held in June this year to link into Volunteers Month and increase the recognition of volunteers.  The awards were held on the evening of Wednesday 12 June.  The Gateshead Awards highlight the huge investment into the community from volunteers and voluntary groups.  There are several categories including, volunteer and voluntary organisation of the year.  A winner in each category was announced on the night.

 

One of the key areas this year has been Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) highlighting how private sector organisations assign their employees to volunteer projects in Gateshead through Helping Out Volunteer Days.

 

The Helping Out Volunteer Days involve any activities that a voluntary group would benefit from including gardening, painting and even website development.

 

From October 2018 (following the previous OSC report) until the end of April 2019, Neighbourhood Management and Volunteering coordinated the recruitment of 600+ volunteers to support the World Transplant Games  ...  view the full minutes text for item CR18

CR19

Annual Work Programme pdf icon PDF 135 KB

Report of the Chief Executive and the Strategic Director, Corporate Services and Governance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received it’s Annual Work Programme Report.  It was noted that there had been a couple of changes made to the programme the Health and Wellbeing Board Strategy Refresh has been added to the December meeting and the Implementation of the Workforce Strategy has moved to the January 2020 meeting.

 

RESOLVED -              (i)         that the provisional programme be noted.

                                    (ii)         that further reports on the work programme may be brought to the Committee to identify any issues which the Committee may be asked to consider.