Agenda and draft minutes

Resources Scrutiny Commission - Thursday, 24th November, 2016 9.30 am

Venue: City Hall

Contact: Louise deCordova 

No. Item


Welcome, Introductions and Safety Information pdf icon PDF 91 KB


The Chair led welcome and introductions.


Apologies for Absence


Apologies were received from Cllr Shah.


Declarations of Interest

To note any declarations of interest from the Councillors. They are asked to

indicate the relevant agenda item, the nature of the interest and in particular

whether it is a disclosable pecuniary interest.


Any declarations of interest made at the meeting which is not on the register of

interests should be notified to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion.


There were none declared.


Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 205 KB

To agree the minutes of the last meeting as a correct record.


The Commission resolved:


To agree the minutes of the last meeting as a correct record.


Action Sheet pdf icon PDF 123 KB

To note the progress of actions from the previous meeting.


The Commission noted the progress of actions from the previous meeting.


The following points were noted in the discussion that followed:


Agency Spend


a.        Agency Spend is currently under consideration by the Human Resources Committee. Outcomes to be shared at a future meeting of Resources Scrutiny.


Financial Reporting


b.        It was agreed that from the start of the next municipal year, Resources Scrutiny Commission meetings would be programmed to track Cabinet meetings to allow for the most current financial information to be available to Members.


Web Browser


c.         Officers confirmed that work was ongoing to explore the most suitable option available for councillors to access the internet via iPads. Action: Richard Billingham


Income Generation


d.        After discussion, it was suggested that Scrutiny officers provide a summary of the income generation items that had been considered by Scrutiny Commissions to date. A cross council working group had been convened to explore income generation corporately and the Finance Director could provide an update at a future meeting. It was noted that Cllr Pearce had been asked to carry out some income generation investigation in some selected areas. Action: Johanna Holmes/Anabel Scholes


Resources Scrutiny Commission


e.        It was clarified that the closure of the Council’s change programme, had signalled the closure of business change as a directorate.  The Resources title reflected more fully the work of the teams which provided support and enabled other directorates to carry out their roles. Where projects had been progressed to business as usual activity, the responsibility and accountability framework would be transferred to the relevant directorate.  The senior leadership team would follow up with communications to the rest of organisation and Legal and Democratic Services were amending the constitution to reflect the change.


Chair's Business

To note any announcements from the Chair


There was none.


Public Forum

Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item.


Any member of the public or Councillor may participate in Public Forum.  The detailed arrangements for so doing are set out in the Public Information Sheet at the back of this agenda.  Public Forum items should be emailed to and please note that the following deadlines will apply in relation to this meeting:-


Questions - Written questions must be received 3 clear working days prior to the meeting.  For this meeting, this means that your question(s) must be received in this office at the latest by 5 pm on Friday 18th November.


Petitions and Statements - Petitions and statements must be received on the working day prior to the meeting.  For this meeting this means that your submission must be received in this office at the latest by 12.00 noon on Wednesday 23rd November.


There was none received.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 137 KB

To note the work programme.

Additional documents:


The Commission noted the updates to the work programme.


Business Change Period 5 Finance (report) pdf icon PDF 41 KB

The report presents the Business Change Period 5 (P5) finance information extracted from the P5 (end of August) Cabinet report presented to Cabinet on 1st November 2016.


The Commission to consider and comment on the report.

Additional documents:


The Commission considered a report from the Interim Service Director, Finance. The report set out the relevant Business Change/Resources extracts taken from the Period 5 Finance Report that went to Cabinet on 1st November 2016. Service Directors presented additional commentary on their respective service areas in the slide deck appended to the report.


HR Savings 16/17 to 17/18


In discussion and in response to Members questions the following points were raised:


a.        Members recognised that service levels had been maintained for a significant period in the face of budget reductions.


b.        Members registered their concerns that Bristol’s benchmarking performance highlighted that the organisation was in a phase of crisis management. the Annual HR activities budget per employee, identified a lack of investment in staff, mostly related to learning and development, which could cause problems for the organisation in the future. Preventative action needed to be taken to mitigate against the cycle of staff not being developed to meet the future challenges ahead.


c.         Officers confirmed that statutory and mandatory training was being maintained with a third of the budget allocated for this.  Officers confirmed that the organisations future learning and development need was part of a wider conversation about the organisation’s culture and the results of the staff survey would feed into these discussions.


d.        It had not yet been resolved whether Learning and Development spend would sit corporately or in individual departments. Specific areas such as the Benefits Service had its own training budget to enable teams to stay abreast of ongoing legislative changes.  A member expressed concern that a devolved budget could mean that the opportunity to scrutinise these issues could be lost.


e.        A member suggested that the organisation required a Learning and Development Strategy and that this should be a matter for the Human Resources Committee.


f.          The Interim Strategic Director, Resources would share the Commissions concerns with the senior leadership team but stated that any increased investment for learning and development would need to be found from other budgets.  Action: Anna Klonowski


ICT Savings 16/17 to 17/18


In discussion and in response to Members questions, officers confirmed that


g.        A reduction in staff would not result in an increase in consultant fees. Transition arrangements were progressing, to move from a reliance on agency staff to permanent core staff.


h.        Advances in technology had resulted in more efficient processes and a reduction in back office staff.  Teams to relocate from Romney House to City Hall.  There were plans to trial a drop in ‘Geek Bar’ to provide a more efficient response to requests for service or repairs.


i.          A single ICT strategy was in development and had commenced with a review of the organisations current applications. There would be increased governance around ownership of technology at service level to enable ICT enable to deliver more effectively.


Finance Savings 16/17 to 17/18


In discussion and in response to Members questions, the following points were raised:


j.          There was a need to achieve a balance between back room  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.


In-depth Review: Bristol Workplace Programme (presentation) pdf icon PDF 672 KB

Presentation to follow.


The Commission considered a Bristol Workplace Programme project review, led by the Service Director Human Resources.  The presentation detailed Bristol Workplace Programme (BWP) as a series of projects that set out to change ‘how we work’, whilst also delivering significant savings. There were three themes of work, Assets, Technology and People. The presentation slides reviewed the scope, delivery headlines, delivery challenges and programme transition.


Officers responded to the following questions and comments raised in the discussion that followed:


Business Case and Scope


a.        A Member raised a question regarding the ‘continued use of Parkview’.  As a member of Cabinet under the previous administration, it was not clear that this had been a decision reached by Cabinet and suggested that this change in direction may have amounted to a key decision.  The Service Director, Property advised that the Council were tied in to the Parkview lease until 2020. The Strategic Director, Resources advised that a revised business case needed to be brought to cabinet to reflect the changes. Action: Robert Orrett


Scope: significant changes to scope WITHIN the overall funding envelope


b.        Officers confirmed that despite increases in programme scope, these had always been contained within the overall budget envelope.  The Interim Strategic Director, Resources advised that some changes in scope would be expected in a capital programme of £72m.


Asset rationalisation assets in scope and annual savings


c.         The thinking around neighbourhood touchdown locality offices were not specified in the business case, it had been expected the thinking would grow as the programme progressed.


d.        Avonvale Road was an example of a Council Service demonstrating alternative use for a site earmarked for disposal. The Education Capital Programme had transferred a capital receipt to BWP and had found the budget to take on operating costs. 


e.        It was confirmed that the ‘annual savings’ referred to in the slide captured the total annual cost including rent.


f.          Officers confirmed that the anticipated Romney House savings under Bristol Workplace programme had seen a shortfall due to contributing revenue savings having already been ringfenced to other services.



Delivery Review


g.        A Member questioned whether there had been enough engagement with the workforce, to understand the specific needs or concerns of some teams in moving to a new location. Officers confirmed that the programme had engaged with teams through a discovery process and assumptions had been challenged to identify what needs were generic and where BWP needed to work with services to provide exceptions.


h.        A Member asked whether there was sufficient support of staff disability needs, for example where individuals required voice activated software.  Officers confirmed that identification of support need started with the discovery exercise and an occupational health assessment.  Managers to provide ongoing monitoring and support to individuals based on occupational health reports and individual feedback.  Officers confirmed that where individuals found the workspace challenging, BWP worked with individuals and their managers to find spaces that could work. Officers confirmed that the Disability equality group had identified some unforeseen consequences to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.


Procurement Update (report) pdf icon PDF 394 KB

The report updates the Commission on the changes being made to the way procurement and commissioning takes place across the Council, including the creation of a Commissioning & Procurement Group and an update on Social Value and how this is being implemented across the Council.


The Commission to note the report.


The Commission considered a procurement update report from Netta Meadows, Service Director, Strategic Commissioning & Commercial Relations.  The report outlined the changes being made as to how procurement and commissioning takes place across the Council, including the creation of a Commissioning & Procurement Group and included an update on Social Value and how this was being implemented across the Council.


In response to Members questions the following points were raised:


a.        A member asked why suppliers would agree to renegotiate contracts down. Officers confirmed that some suppliers had proven to be receptive to a flexible approach when appraised of the Council’s financial position.


b.        A member asked whether First Bus had been subject to state aid waivers.  Officers confirmed that transport was a complicated area and would confirm the current state with regard to First Bus. Action: Shahzia Daya


c.         A member asked for additional detail to be provided.  Officers to include the number of contracts, how many involved key decisions and an indication of how much time, the new step extends the process by. The member suggested that it would be useful for all councillors to have access to a list of contracts up for renewal each quarter. Officers to share with Councillors. Action : Netta Meadows


d.        Officers confirmed that the insurance contract was currently out to tender and would be in place on time.


e.        A member asked for more detail regarding the liability for out of hours staffing on the Council’s home care contract.  Officers confirmed that under the current contract the Council was not liable for any additional costs if the supplier had to sub contract at a higher cost.  Officers to contact Member to provide more detail. Action: Netta Meadows


Social value – policy and toolkit


f.          Officers confirmed that all tenders must include a question regarding social value.  Officers to provide a further update, scheduled in the work programme for February.


g.        A member asked how SME direct spend of 36.95% compared with other councils.  Officers to carry out a benchmarking exercise against other Councils/Core Cities. Action: Alison Slade


h.        The Member requested a breakdown on a top level basis within a month. How many SME’S are based locally.  ‘Locally’ to be defined (requested that officers to use discretion for purposes of this action ) Action:  Alison Slade


i.          Officers confirmed that for every procurement exercise since March, bar one or two small contracts, consideration of social value had been an absolute requirement. Officers confirmed that a good feedback had been received from a survey conducted in July.


j.          A member asked whether the living wage was being built into contracts. Officers confirmed that the Council was unable to legally bind organisations to pay the living wage.  However, this was being encouraged, for example in the joint care partnership arrangement all four suppliers had agreed to sign up to the living wage.