Agenda and minutes

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Online access

Contact: Mark Beeley  01628 796345 / Email:

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No. Item


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.


There were no apologies for absence.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 219 KB

To receive any declarations of interest.


There were no declarations of interest received.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 87 KB

To consider the Part I minutes from the meeting held on 27th July 2020.


RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY; That the Part I minutes of the meeting held on 27th July 2020 were approved a true and accurate record.


Annual Complaints Report pdf icon PDF 3 MB

To receive the report.


Nikki Craig, Head of HR, Corporate Projects and IT, gave the Panel a brief summary of the report. The report looked at the period March 2019 – April 2020. Over 2,100 contacts had been made with 400 of those being progressed as formal complaints. The main reason for a complaint was a lack of action, with 51% of complaints regarding this as the overriding reason for the complaint being made. Around 64% of complaints had been processed within timescales, which was an increase from the previous year. When a complaint was received, the complaint could either be upheld, partially upheld or not upheld. 61% of all complaints were either upheld or partially upheld, with learnings taken by the team on each complaint.

If a resident remained unsatisfied with RBWMs complaints process, they could take the case to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. In 19/20, there were 49 decision made by the ombudsman.

Looking at compliments, RBWM received 555 compliments in 18/19 which was reduced to 440 in 19/20.


The Chairman commented on the lack of action being the main reason for complaints and asked what officers were doing to try and resolve this. He also asked how the learning process took place and whether the person who made the mistake was informed.


Nikki Craig explained that the report came to Heads of Service on a quarterly basis, with each area being looked at carefully. Team meetings and training were important to ensuring that lessons were learnt for the future.


Councillor Werner said that it was good to see the ‘lessons learned’ section on the report. He asked what made a complaint a complaint and how they were therefore counted and recorded.


Nikki Craig said that there were a number of different tools that could be used to submit a complaint and that it did not need to come in a form, complaints could also be received by email or by written submission. Complaints made through all methods were logged.


Councillor Werner further asked if there was a figure for the total number of complaints and also if there was any encouragement to residents who had complained to go through the process and submit a formal complaint.


Nikki Craig responded by explaining that the total number of complaints made was the total number of contacts that had been stated in the report. It usually depended on what the complaint was about, but a resident wanting to make a complaint was usually a conscious decision to do so.


Councillor Walters noted that non-statutory complaints were also included as part of the annual report and wondered if other local authorities also did this. He also asked if it was worth the time compiling this report each year.


He was informed that the information in the report let officers know what the issues were and what lessons could be learnt. The data was held centrally so the report was easy to put together. Referring to other authorities, this did vary as there  ...  view the full minutes text for item 96.


Q1 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To consider the report.


Adele Taylor, Director of Resources, explained that the report reflected RBWMs performance during the period April – June 2020. The impact of the pandemic on business rate collection was not seen in Q1 and was slightly above target. Percentage of calls abandoned after 5 seconds was performing well which was pleasing especially as the number of calls during the period had increased. Improvements were needed in improving the processing of housing benefits, this was due to an increase in demand and adapting to remote working arrangements. However, performance up until August in this area had improved significantly. It was important to note that Covid would have a significant impact on the performance report going forward.


The Chairman asked if RBWM had anticipated the impact that the furlough scheme ending would have on the revenues and benefits performance and resources.


Adele Taylor said that they were aware of that but it was difficult to anticipate how much of an impact there would be but RBWM was able to be flexible with its use of resources. Louise Freeth, Head of Revenues, Benefits, Libraries and Resident Services, said that at the beginning of the pandemic there had been a significant increase in the number of claims but a number of these were not followed through. She was confident that RBWM would be able to handle any significant increase over the next few months.


Councillor Clark joined the meeting.


Councillor Werner said that RBWM needed to be agile in its response and that staff needed to be freed up to deal with demand if necessary. He asked if agile ways of thinking were in place.


Adele Taylor said that teams had been hugely flexible throughout lockdown and mentioned that library staff had been calling those on the shielding list. She passed on her thanks to the library staff for all their work. Louise Freeth said that many staff had been cross trained so that they would be able to take on new roles if needed. Staff had been fully utilised during the pandemic and more libraries were starting to reopen, with some offering click and collect as well as delivery.


Councillor L Jones commented on the calls answered within 60 seconds and how the volume of calls went down but so did the number of calls answered, which surprised her. Louise Freeth was not able to give an answer at the meeting but said that she would take it away and have a look at the reason for this.


Councillor Hilton, Lead Member for Finance and Ascot, said that a lot of learning had taken place and Louise Freeth and her team were to be congratulated on their work. He believed that by the next performance report, the revenues and benefits area would have recovered.


Councillor Sharpe also passed on his congratulations and gratitude to the team. He asked if there was anything in the report that was a cause for concern.


Adele Taylor said that performance was always monitored and that there were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 97.


Budget Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To receive the report. – Link to Cabinet report.


Adele Taylor explained that the report had been considered by Cabinet the week and it had also been requested to be considered by the Panel. The report included financial information up until the end of July, but it was important to note that did not include information on sales, fees and charges. There was an overspend of £11.2 million but that did include Covid costs. Once the grant that had been received from the government had been included the reserves would be at £2 million. When the fees and charges scheme started, Adele Taylor predicted RBWM would be able to claim back anywhere between £2-4 million from the government. The report also included information on the capital budgets and the collection fund. RBWM was maing returns to government so that they could understand the financial impact that Covid had on the local authority.


Councillor Werner mentioned that the report claimed that car parking across the borough would be back to its original level over the next few months. However, he believed that they were not close to the capacity of pre-Covid. Regarding the free car parking that RBWM offered in the summer, would this amount claimed from the government be reduced or would it be covered by the Covid grant. Councillor Werner noted that RBWM could have had a £2.5 million surplus budget, and asked if this was realistic.


Adele Taylor said that the car parking levels were based on activity in July and lots of assumptions had been made about how much capacity levels would be at. These assumptions were not based on 100% occupancy of the car parks and were based on previous years, as well as the predictions at that point in time which is when the economy was starting to be opened up again. Other areas were looked at to find the saving needed to finance the free parking, as it could not be claimed back from the government. The £2.5 million surplus was not something that Adele Taylor had said so she could not comment on it, but said that there was underspend despite Covid rather than because of Covid.


Andrew Vallance, Head of Finance, said that the car parking was based on the daily usage bit they did not expect season ticket sales on parking to increase to the levels they were pre-Covid.


Councillor Baldwin left the meeting.


Councillor Werner said that the next budget monitoring report should be brought to scrutiny. Adele Taylor said that the number of budget monitoring reports would be increased.


Councillor L Jones said that RBWM had received £13 million in funding due to Covid and asked if it was favourable on the cash flow and borrowing costs, as she was seeing 100% of the adverse costs associated with Covid but not 100% of the favourable. Regarding Achieving for Children, she asked if there was an estimation of any uplift in activity after lockdown, and also what losses would be evident in future years.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 98.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 82 KB

To consider the Panel’s work programme for the remainder of the Municipal year.


To include consideration of items scheduled on the Cabinet Forward Plan.


The Chairman asked if the Annual Governance Statement Progress Reports were ready to be added to the Work Programme. Mark Beeley, Democratic Services Officer, confirmed that these had now been confirmed and would be added into the Work Programme before the next meeting.


Local Government Act 1972 - Exclusion of the Public

To consider passing the following resolution:-


“That under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the remainder of the meeting whilst discussion takes place on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1-7 of part I of Schedule 12A of the Act."


RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY; That under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the remainder of the meeting whilst discussion takes place on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1-7 of part I of Schedule 12A of the Act.



To consider the Part II minutes from the meeting held on 27th July 2020.