Agenda and draft minutes

Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 20th January, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Bridges Room - Civic Centre

Contact: Sonia Stewart - Tel: 0191433 3045 - Email: 

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 308 KB

The Committee is asked to approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 2 December 2019.


RESOLVED -              that the minutes of the meeting held on 2 December 2019 be approved as a correct record.


Annual Health and Safety Performance Report pdf icon PDF 502 KB

Report of the Strategic Director, Corporate Services and Governance


The Committee received a report which provided an overview of health and safety performance for 2018/19 of Gateshead Council and identifies key priorities for 2020.


The Council continues to use the principles of the HES guidance, and key priorities are Plan, Do, Check, Act.  These principles underpin the Council’s safety management system and operational processes and procedures as per the Council’s Corporate Health and Safety Policy and arrangements.


The Committee were advised that all managers are supported by the Health and Safety team and as part of an ongoing cycle everything is regularly reviewed.  If any issues are identified they are addressed promptly.


The Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service have visited a number of premises and have not issued any notification letters to the Council.


The Occupational Health unit continues to run at full capacity which includes support to NEPO and CAB.  The use of the counselling service continues to grow and the Council is being reactive if necessary.  It has been found that this is helping employees to stay at work or if they are off sick helping them to get back to work quicker.


Options are being explored to run various support groups which are something which employees have asked for.


It was noted that councillors had asked for an idea of the costs of non-attendance at appointments.  This had been calculated at approximately £19,500 with officers looking at the worst-case scenario basis for the calculation.  There is a whole range of reasons why employees are not attending appointments, sometimes it is employee error, sometimes it is manager error, sometimes an employee has been on holiday.


The Committee had previously been advised of a new scheme for employees where they can quickly be referred to GO Gateshead.  Of 40 employees who were referred 32 took up the and to date 12 have completed the programme.


Checks made to ensure that things are happening via, reporting to the quarterly Corporate Health and Safety Committee, Senior Management Group and Health and Safety officers utilise a spreadsheet for the recording of hazards identified by employees.  If necessary, incidents are investigated with findings and recommendations reported back to responsible managers.


In terms of internal assurance the Asbestos Management Team is responsible to the Strategic Director, Communities and Environment, within Council Housing, Design and Technical Services, the team works closely with the Health and Safety Team and during the course of the reporting period have continued to carry out the asbestos re-inpsections, update and deliver registers and provide technical advice to schools which have bought into the asbesos management package.  Officers have also review the corporate asbestos management plan and made any required changes.


During the reporting period Health and Safety officers visited all schools and other sites when they were notified that contractors would be working.  104 sites have been visited and activities were monitored, risk assessment, method statements and training records were checked.  No major issues were identified.


The health and safety team will continue to work with group  ...  view the full minutes text for item CR27


The Work of the Tackling Poverty in Gateshead Board pdf icon PDF 169 KB

Report of the Strategic Director, Housing, Environment and Health Communities


The Committee received an update on the work of the Tackling Poverty in Gateshead Board.  The work identified and influenced by the Board seeks to mitigate the impact of poverty across Gateshead by encouraging place based and partnership approaches to delivering interventions across Gateshead and its communities.


Following the first Gateshead Poverty Conference in February 2018 steps were taken to create a strategic board made up of senior figures from within the Council and its partners from the private and third sectors.  The board is chaired by Deputy Leader Councillor Catherine Donovan with Alison Dunn, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Gateshead in the role of Vice Chair.


To date in February 2018 and July 2019 two very well support poverty conferences have taken place with over 300 delegates in attendance and 15 speakers who are leaders in their field.  These conferences led to the creation of the board and the identification of 7 key themes of work:


·         Food Poverty

·         Fuel Poverty

·         Child Poverty

·         Housing

·         Financial Inclusion

·         Financial Education

·         Employment Skills and Wages


Since the initial conference in February 2018 a great deal of intervention has taken place to tackle many of the injustices associated with poverty and in particular the key themes identified, including:


·         A successful bid for £204K from the DfE to deliver a Holiday Activities and Food Programme in Gateshead, enabling Gateshead to offer over 12,000 free places on holiday and food clubs across Gateshead

·         A second poverty conference planned and hosted by Gateshead with 10 respected speakers and 150 delegates in attendance was held in 2019

·         The creation of the Gateshead Community Food Network

·         The Red Box Project, now Project Tom via the Gateshead Youth Council

·         The introduction of LEAP and ECHO supporting fuel poor households (the only LA in the North East at the time of the launch)

·         Delivery of Fuel Poverty Awareness Training to several frontline Council employees and external partners plus further delivery of accredited City & Guilds qualifications “Fuel Debt Advice in the Community” for the Council’s THRIVE team and further courses planned for 2020

·         Financial Education in Primary Schools via Newcastle Building Society and their annual charity boardroom challenge

·         Two planned talks on finance and poverty to be delivered to students in year 11 and above at Heworth Grange and St Thomas More secondary schools and a further talk for teaching staff within Heworth Grange

·         Retirement talks for Council employees via Newcastle Building Society

·         Fraud and scams awareness sessions in partnership with Barclays and Northumbria Police

·         Ongoing work with Gateshead Schools and EducationGateshead to offer poverty proofing the schools day resources free of charge to all schools in the borough

·         Created a Gateshead Poverty Truth Commission in partnership with the Methodist Church in Blaydon to ensure that the voices of those residents with lived poverty experiences are both heard and considered when creating future policy.  An official launch event is to be held on 5 March 2020

·         Worked closely with NEFirst Credit Union to facilitate a move to a prominent new shop front  ...  view the full minutes text for item CR28


Corporate Complaints Procedure - Annual Report - 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 169 KB

Report of the Strategic Director, Corporate Services and Governance

Additional documents:


The Committee received a report referred by Cabinet as part of the performance management process, in order to ensure that the Corporate Complaints Process is operating satisfactorily.


The corporate complaints procedure has three steps, the first of which ‘problem solving’, relies on the quick resolution of complaints by employees and their managers and does not require the complaint to be recorded.  The second stage the complaint is recorded, there is a formal investigation into the complaint and a written response is sent to the complainant usually within twenty working days.  The final step enables those complainants who remain dissatisfied to request the Chief Executive (or Managing Director of the Gateshead Housing Company) to carry out an independent review of the matter.


In the year 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019:


·         191 complaints were recorded

·         593 compliments were recorded

·         31 complaints were the subject of an independent review by the Chief Executive of the Council and the Managing Director of the Gateshead Housing Company undertook 17 reviews


The following points for note have arisen from the statistics for 2018/19:


·                    191 complaints were recorded in 2018/19 compared with 258 in 2017/18 a decrease of 67.

·          593 compliments were recorded for the year 2018/19 compared to 466 in 2017/18 – an increase of 127.

·                     The number of complainants requesting a review of their complaint by the

Chief Executive increased by 4 to 31 in 2018/19. The Managing Director of  the Gateshead Housing Company carried out 17 reviews in 2018/19 compared to 14 in 2017/18.

·          There were 129 complaints regarding quality of service. This is the largest of the six categories although a complaint can fall into more than one category.

·          The proportion of complaints found to be fully justified decreased from 36.6% in 2017/18 to 24.2% in 2018/19.

·          In addition, the proportion of complaints found to be partially justified decreased from 24.7% in 2017/18 to 17.6% in 2018/19.

·          Most importantly, the Council’s managers used the information gained through the monitoring of complaints to improve the provision of services.

·          The computerised recording system made it easier to track and respond to complaints. However, this system now requires an upgrade that reflects the new structure of the Council and provides improved statistical interrogation and analysis. A new corporate complaints system is currently being developed using the case management features of the Council’s Digital Platform to handle corporate complaints.

·          There has been a decrease in the number of complaints recorded by the Council during 2018/19. Additionally, there has been a decrease in performance of the percentage of complaints resolved within target timescales for the both the Council and the Gateshead Housing Company from 75.2% in 2017/18 to 64.9% in 2018/19.


During the course of 2018/19, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigated 28 complaints.  Of these 16 were closed after initial enquiries, 6 were not upheld and 6 were upheld partially or fully.  Each case has provided learning opportunities in terms of review policy, maintenance of records, the operation of systems and the provision  ...  view the full minutes text for item CR29


Progress on Implementation of the Council's Workforce Plan pdf icon PDF 462 KB

Report of the Strategic Director Corporate Services and Governance


The Committee received an update report on the progress of the Council’s Workforce Plan.  The purpose of the Council’s Workforce Strategy and Plan is to ensure the Council has a workforce that can support delivery of services our residents want and need, services that provide value for money, are fit for purpose, flexible and customer focussed.  The strategy outline how the Council aims to ensure it has the right people, with the right skills and behaviours, working in the right jobs, at the right time.


The workforce strategy is based on five themes, skills and behaviours; recruitment and retention; pay, reward and recognition; wellbeing and engagement; and performance and change.


A workforce plan provides a detailed delivery plan for each of the five themes.  The plan is a dynamic document which is continually developed to respond to the Council’s current workforce requirements, and to prepare for future changes.


The following update is on the progress made since the last report to Committee in October 2018.


Gateshead Leadership Development Programme (GLDP)


The Council seeks to maintain and develop strong, diverse and competent leaders who can deliver its corporate and public service ambitions.  Therefore, a key priority is to invest in the development of our employees as leaders of the organisation, so they are equipped to deliver services to support the Thrive agenda.


The content of a new leadership development programme is currently being drafted, once finalised, it will be rolled out to the leadership team, service managers and all other managers within the Council.  Ultimately if resources allow, the ambition is to provide leadership development to those employees who are not yet in management positions but are ‘ready’ to move up, therefore developing leadership potential.


Coaching Culture


The modern employer is expected to support and engage its staff in the work they do, to help unlock their potential and maximise the overall performance of the organisation.  One drive for this is to adopt a coaching style in the conversations we have with each other and in the way we work.


Learning and Development Framework


A learning and development framework is available on the intranet as a one-stop shop for managers and employees to access information on courses and other resources and guidance to support their development.  The framework has been in place for some time and the Workforce Development Team is currently evaluating its content, with a view to streaming the available modules and move to a greater emphasis on e-learning as a flexible, cost effective way of providing training.


Mentoring and Coaching


One of the initiatives identified in the Council’s Workforce Plan which will build leadership capacity is to provide opportunities for employees to access mentoring to support their development.  Mentoring is a development technique based on the use of one-to-one discussions to enhance an individual’s work skills, behaviour, performance and/or knowledge and involves a more experienced employee using their greater knowledge, experience and understanding of the work or the workplace to support the development of a more junior or  ...  view the full minutes text for item CR30


Annual Work Programme Report pdf icon PDF 133 KB

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

Additional documents:


The Committee received it’s Annual Work Programme Report. The report highlights any changes to the work programme for the municipal year.


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.