Agenda item

CIPFA Review Update

To note the contents of the report.


Lynne Lidster introduced the item and explained it would update Members on the recommendations made following the CIPFA review of the Royal Borough’s arrangements with Optalis and Achieving for Children. The report showed progress against the action plan. Lynne Lidster stated that all the actions had either been completed or were on track to be delivered by the target date at the end of September. A review of the capacity and skills in the Borough’s finance and strategic commissioning teams had been conducted and new structures were to be put in place soon. Additional budget had come forward for the strategic commissioning service. Lynne Lidster said one of the key action points to be completed was ensuring there was a shared understanding between Achieving for Children and the Royal Borough regarding the cost of children’s services. The business plan and medium term financial plan had both been approved by Cabinet, with the sufficiency strategy due to be considered by Cabinet later in the month. A detailed data pack had been developed, which included management and financial information. The first of these was due to be delivered at the end of the month and would give the Royal Borough a greater overview of information. With regards to Optalis, Lynne Lidster said a business plan through to 2023 had been agreed with the company’s co-owners, Wokingham Borough Council, and a revised shareholder agreement plan was progressing well. She said Optalis was a key player in adult social care and were key to the transformation programme, including the reconfiguration of front door services and enhanced reablement.


The Panel was told that the Royal Borough was represented on the Achieving for Children Board of Directors by Kevin McDaniel and Nikki Craig, Head of HR, Corporate Projects and IT. Two independent non-executive directors had recently been appointed to the Board and the Royal Borough had been involved in the recruitment process for this. Lucy Kourpas, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Finance for Achieving for Children, said one of the new recruits had a strong background in finance and risk management and would be the new chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee. The other new recruit had a background in education and youth services and would be the vice chairman of the Board. Responding to a question from Cllr Hunt, Lucy Kourpas said the Board’s constitution did not allow elected Councillors to be on the Board, but there was an Ownership Board that met twice a year that had three RBWM Councillors as members. Hilary Hall said the Royal Borough held 45 per cent of the shares in Optalis and Wokingham the remaining 55 per cent. It had been intended to move to an even split after two years, but Covid had delayed the implementation of this.


Cllr Tisi asked if the target to deliver the entirety of the action plan by the end of September was the original target. Lynne Lidster said the original target had been to complete the action plan by the end of March 2021. There was ongoing work taking place to complete the service level agreement and revised shareholder agreement between all parties. However Lynne Lidster said this was on track to meet the revised target of September.


RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the Panel noted the report and noted the progress made to implement the recommendations made by CIPFA following the reviews undertaken of Achieving for Children and Optalis in 2020.

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