Agenda and minutes

Residents, Education and Environmental Services Policy Overview Committee
Tuesday, 22nd January, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 5 - Civic Centre, High Street, Uxbridge UB8 1UW. View directions

Contact: Neil Fraser  01895 250692

Items
No. Item

45.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Hurhangee.

46.

Declaration of Interest in matters coming before this meeting

Minutes:

None.

47.

To confirm that all items marked Part 1 will be considered in Public and that any items marked Part 2 will be considered in Private

Minutes:

It was confirmed that all items were marked as Part I, and would therefore be considered in public.

48.

To agree the Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Minutes:

Cllr Sweeting advised that the information on fly tipping, forwarded to the Committee following the previous meeting, had not included all instances of fly tipping within the Borough. It was requested that a full audit be brought as part of a future report to the Committee.

 

RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 5 November 2018 be approved as a correct record.

49.

Witness Session for Review into Payment Modernisation pdf icon PDF 91 KB

Minutes:

Jim Marsh – Transformation Manager, Rachel Mason – Capita Account Manager, and Andy Davies – Capita Product Director, provided the Committee with information to support the review into Payment Modernisation across Key Resident Services. Key points highlighted included:

 

The Council’s website was due for a refresh, to better enable residents to easily make payments in confidence. The refreshed website would be designed to reduce the number of ‘clicks’ required to make a payment, and would include payment guidance and confirmation of a successful transaction. The new website’s payment options would be designed to mitigate residents’ current issues with online payments, which included a lack of signposting towards payments upon logging onto the site, uncertainty over whether their payment had been successful, as well as a lack of confidence in using microsites or third party sites which did not display Hillingdon branding.

 

Currently, contact from Hillingdon residents to the Council was approximately 70% via the telephone. Email, website and face-to-face contact accounted for the remaining 30%. The aim was to have these figures reversed, with 70% of contact via the website moving forward. It was understood that a subset of Hillingdon residents were either unwilling or unable to use online tools, and so telephone contact options would remain for those residents, alongside the ability to talk to an officer should an issues be complicated and unable to be addressed online.

 

Only 47% of the current webforms on the website had payment functionality. 15% of webforms provided an online payment option. 6.4% of current transactions resulted in a payment.

 

Market challenges to the adoption of technology for payments with local authorities included GDPR, PSD2, and Brexit. Whilst there were strong commercial benefits to increasing online payments, it was accepted that a cash option should remain. It was highlighted that the preference of residents would ultimately inform the payment solutions made available.

 

It had been noted that there was an increase in the use of tablets for the age 60+ demographic, often to the exclusion of desktop computer use. In comparison, ages 15-17 more often used their mobile telephone handsets to conduct online transactions. Direct Debits were the most cost-effective method of payment for Councils to process, though many residents were choosing to use credit cards, which provided rewards such as cashback, air miles etc.

 

Mature payment methods included card payments via the web, as well as direct debits. Open Banking was in its formative stages, whilst crypto currency was being discussed but was not likely to be a preference for residents.

 

In the public sector, telephone calls remained the preference of residents overall, However, automated solutions would provide efficiency and cost benefits, and alternatives included web chats, automatic payments, and continuous payments. Online payments reduced risk and overhead, such as postage and paper costs. Web chats had been seen to provide significant efficiencies, allowing a customer service representative to manage up top 7 customers at once through multiple chats, versus a single customer via phone or face to face.

 

For card payments,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.

50.

Information Report for Review Into Payment Modernisation: The Future Of Payments - Usage Trends And Emerging Technologies pdf icon PDF 94 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the report be noted.

51.

2019/20 Budget Proposals For Services Within The Remit Of Residents, Education And Environmental Services Policy Overview Committee pdf icon PDF 98 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Andy Evans – Deputy Director of Corporate Finance, and Peter Malewicz – Finance Manager, introduced the 2019/20 Budget Proposals for services within the Committee’s remit. The Committee was advised that:

 

The Council continued to operate within the constraints of reduced funding from Government. In addition, continuing demographic and demand pressures necessitated a requirement for further savings, totalling £48,155k over the four years to 2022/23.

 

For the financial year 2019/20, frontline services would be maintained through a £7,776k release from General Balances and a 2.4% increase in Council Tax. The increase in Council Tax was limited to 90% of the average 2018/19 increases for households in the neighbouring boroughs of Ealing, Harrow and Hounslow, and equated to £26.71 per annum for a Band D household.

Proposed savings figures included an assumed increase in Government funding of £10,000k over the four year period, but there remained uncertainty due to Brexit and the in-progress Fair Funding Review. The funding strategy was offset by the aforementioned increase in Council Tax at 2.4% in 2019/20, and indicative inflationary uplifts of 2.99% on Council Tax from 2020/21 securing £13,766k additional income. In addition to this, identified savings would deliver a further £6,366k and planned use of General Balances left £27,973k of savings to be identified over the next three budget cycles.

Recurrent funding available to support the budget requirement was projected to total £213,671k in 2019/20, inclusive of £2,684k additional income linked to the proposed 2.4% increase in Council Tax. This recurrent funding was supplemented by £15,466k of one-off funding, including £6,600k additional income from the London Business Rates Pilot Pool and a £7,776k release from General Balances, to support the £229,137k projected cost of delivering services in 2019/20.

The draft budget included £862k new funding for Priority Growth items which, together with £20k of brought forward resources, would support £632k of specific initiatives and £250k of unallocated growth was available to meet emerging requirements.  The Council's capital programme included £448,812k of planned investment in local infrastructure over the period 2018/19 to 2023/24. This included a new swimming pool in the Yiewsley / West Drayton area, a major programme of investment in the Borough’s highways, and re-provision of the Hillingdon Outdoor Activity Centre in response to High Speed 2.

 

Overall, the Council’s financial position remained strong.

 

Members asked a number of questions, including:

 

The report listed savings proposals of £511k for Residents Services and £491k for Social Care, for 2019/20. Could officers provide a breakdown of what areas these savings figures would cover? Did one of these items include the proposed savings of £100k relating to security reductions, and could this be covered by ASBIT officers?

 

The report included information specific to the services within the remit of REESPOC, with the overall figures including items that had been reported to the Corporate Services, Commerce and Communities and Social Care, Housing and Public Health Policy Overview Committees. Within the remit of REESPOC, the £491k for Social Care included proposed savings that had been identified within the provision  ...  view the full minutes text for item 51.

52.

Standards and Quality in Education 2017-18 pdf icon PDF 499 KB

Minutes:

Laurie Baker – Manager: Education Strategy and Quality, and Dan Kennedy - Deputy Director, Housing, Environment, Education, Health & Wellbeing

Residents Services, introduced a report on Standards and Quality in Education 2017-18.

 

The key points of the report were summarised, and it was confirmed that overall academic performance within Hillingdon was improving. Attainment within Early Years had risen, alongside improved outcomes at both Key Stages within primary phases. Within the secondary phase, Key Stage 4 outcomes continued to improve and were outperforming national averages.

 

However, challenges remained. At post-16 level (academic A level), Hillingdon schools continued to underperform, with academic outcomes lower than national averages. Hillingdon was working to address these challenges, and improving outcomes for vulnerable groups remained a priority for 2018/19.

 

Members asked a number of questions:

 

While overall improvement was recognised, a report to Cabinet setting out Hillingdon’s performance versus other London boroughs had stated that, for one measure, Hillingdon’s performance was rated as 29th out of the 33 boroughs. How was Hillingdon addressing this?

 

Hillingdon had seen marked improvement in overall performance in recent years, and now ranked mid-table against statistical neighbours – the key comparator for Ofsted and DfE comparison -  for most phase-specific key measures. However, it was understood that challenges remained in some areas and regular dialogue with head teachers and other stakeholders responsible for the direct delivery of education was taking place to highlight these challenges and to better determine the reasons for issues with performance, so that they could be addressed. Further information could be provided to the Committee, if Members wished to forward specific questions to the clerk.

 

Attainment of white/English pupils, at both primary and secondary levels, was a concern. Why was this, and how could it be overcome?

 

This issue reflected a London-wide and national performance trend that had been evident in Hillingdon for the last three years.  The issue has a high profile at a local level and was being looked into in conjunction with head teachers and schools. Possible reasons included wider community issues for sub-groups within this cohort in Hillingdon and the comparison with high-performing pupils with English as a second language in the borough. In previous years, the school sector has led a cross-phase project to explore this challenge.  In order to accelerate improvement a new project incorporating school improvement resources and wider Council teams was now being commissioned to look at improving literacy and numeracy outcomes for these pupils.

 

Previous reports issued by the Department of Education and the House of Commons Education Committee had highlighted the performance of white/British pupils as a concern some time ago. Would it be sensible to focus on earlier years, such as Key Stage 1, to address the issues before they become more serious?

 

Officers agreed that this would be sensible. Key Stage 1 and Early Years cohorts could be focussed on to instil higher aspirations which, it was hoped, would lead to better literacy and numeracy performance over time. It was likely that this would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.

53.

Cabinet Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the Cabinet Forward Plan be noted.

 

54.

Multi-Year Work Programme pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the Work Programme be noted.