Agenda and minutes

Corporate Committee - Wednesday 25 November 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Microsoft Teams - please copy and paste the following link into your browser: https://bit.ly/2V41BYK

Contact: David Rose, Democratic Services,  020 7926 1037, Email: drose@lambeth.gov.uk

Note: Due to technical issues the Corporate Committee meeting (held on 25 November 2020) can now be viewed by copying and pasting the following link into your browser: https://bit.ly/2V41BYK 

Items
No. Item

Start Time

The meeting started at 7.15pm, 15 minutes late, due to technical difficulties.

1.

Declaration of Pecuniary Interests

Under Standing Order 4.4, where any councillor has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (as defined in the Members’ Code of Conduct (para. 4)) in any matter to be considered at a meeting of the Council, a committee, sub-committee or joint committee, they must withdraw from the meeting room during the whole of the consideration of that matter and must not participate in any vote on that matter unless a dispensation has been obtained from the Monitoring Officer.

 

 

Minutes:

There were none.

 

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 344 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the previous meetings held on the 22 July 2020, 17 September 2020 and 30 September 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes for the meeting of 22 July 2020 were agreed as an accurate record of discussion.

 

The minutes of the meetings of 17 September 2020 were approved by 4 votes for to 1 against, subject to the following changes:

·           To remove “…but had been well received” (agenda pack, page 10).

·           To add that some wards had been renamed “… and [to] remove those names involved with, or supporters of, slavery.” (agenda pack, page 9).

 

The Chair asked that Members contact Democratic Services if they had objections to the Boundary Commission report considered by Committee on 17 September.

 

The minutes for the meeting of 30 September 2020 were agreed as an accurate record of discussion.

 

3.

Work Programme and Action Monitoring pdf icon PDF 138 KB

    • View the background to item 3.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Fiona McDermott: Strategic Director for Finance &

    Investment

     

    Contact for enquiries: David Rose, Democratic Services, 0207 926 1037,

    drose@lambeth.gov.uk

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    This item was deferred to the next meeting of the Committee.  Members noted that they were awaiting responses from the cancelled March meeting agenda and that an independent Committee member should be appointed as soon as practical, with further discussion to occur outside the meeting.

     

     

4.

Safeguarding Annual Report pdf icon PDF 151 KB

    • View the background to item 4.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Executive Director of Adult Social Care: Fiona Connolly

     

    Contact for enquiries: Janna Kay, Quality and Safeguarding Adults Manager, 020 7926 7707 Jkay@lambeth.gov.uk


    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Sian Walker, Independent Chair of the Lambeth Safeguarding Adults Board; and Fiona Connolly, Executive Director of Adult Social Care, presented the report and in response to questions noted:

    ·           The service had commissioned and published two adult reviews (SAR Martin and SAR Yi) as detailed in the agenda pack, pages 58-60.

    ·           The Board was representative of community it served and people who used services could actively participate, whilst Lambeth’s Community Reference Subgroup were representative of the commissioned voluntary sector and also of its citizens.

    ·           The Safeguarding Board Chair consistently aimed to improve communication and messaging around safeguarding, noting the importance of listening to feedback; and was available to answer questions and explain important safeguarding issues with a regular ‘Meet the Chair’ meetings.

    ·           Awareness had been raised on financial abuse and fraud with potential observers or targets.  It was noted that all persons needed to take responsibility and promote awareness, and further information was available on the Lambeth Safeguarding Board website.

     

    The Committee congratulated Sian Walker, Independent Chair of the Lambeth Safeguarding Adults Board; and Fiona Connolly, Executive Director of Adult Social Care, for their excellent report and the safeguarding undertaken.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To note the contents of the Annual Report of Lambeth Safeguarding Adults Board for 2019-20.

     

5.

Statement of Accounts 2019/20 and Annual External Audit pdf icon PDF 365 KB

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    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Fiona McDermott: Strategic Director for Finance &

    Investment

     

    Contact for enquiries: Nisar Visram, Assistant Director for Corporate Finance, 020 7926 9386, nvisram@lambeth.gov.uk

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Christina Thompson, Director of Finance and Property; Nisar Visram, Assistant Director for Corporate Finance; Karen Murray, Mazars; and Stuart Frith, Mazars, presented the report and noted: 

    ·           Mazars concluded that the Council’s accounting policies and disclosures complied with the CIPFA Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting requirements (second despatch, page 14).

    ·           The capitalisation extension of the Redress Scheme had been delayed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) but the Council expected final approval by Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT) shortly.  Further minor amendments were anticipated, with sign-off required by 30 November 2020, which meant completion deadlines were tight and an update would be provided to the Committee outside the meeting.

    ·           There were no significant findings arising from Mazars’ reviews of potential management override of controls nor on the Group Accounts.

    ·           Revenue recognition was a presumed risk that Mazars were required to consider and although not relevant for the majority of the Council’s revenue income it was relevant for material income streams such as adult social care costs and council facility charges; however these had been reviewed with no issues found.

    ·           Considerable work on a range of property, plants and equipment valuations with external valuer had led to two matters being adjusted:

    o    An audit adjustment had been made to the Fixed Asset Register; and,

    o    A £2.3m variation in an assessment valuation between the 31 December and 31 March pertaining to Council Dwellings had been amended and was no longer of concern.

    ·           This was the first year the Council had produced group accounts which were required to have greater detail than in previous years, which had proved challenging.

    ·           An unqualified Value for Money conclusion was provided for 2019/20.

    ·           Lambeth accepted Mazars’ three recommendations and actions, which required minor changes in processes and would be incorporated in next year’s accounts preparation procedures.

    ·           Both Lambeth’s Pension Fund and the London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) had material value uncertainties arising from Covid-19, which caused difficulties ascertaining true property values and, also as a result, Grant Thornton had delayed sign-off on the LPFA’s accounts. 

    ·           As of 31 March 2020, the Pension Fund held £67.5m (4.8%) of investments which were not quoted on an active market and might be subject to pricing variances.

    ·           The Pension Fund held £172.4m in property fund investments, and it was noted that one property fund had ceased separated trading due to material uncertainty.

    ·           During the close-down process, Mazars identified a Pension Fund accounts misstatement which would be detailed in its letter to the Committee but was not included in report and arose from including a dollar value instead of pound sterling.  Although above the trivial threshold, it was under the £600,000 concern limit and was not significant enough to warrant further investigation. 

    ·           Mazars’ draft letter had an empty paragraph on emphasis of matters (agenda pack, page 136) due to material valuation uncertainty, but this would not affect Mazars’ opinion.

     

    The Chair asked that any further questions on the report and draft Management Representation Letter to be sent  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Treasury Management performance report mid-year pdf icon PDF 384 KB

    • View the background to item 6.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Fiona McDermott: Strategic Director for Finance &

    Investment

     

    Contact for enquiries: Andrien Meyers, Head of Treasury and Pensions, 0207 926 7089, ameyers@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Minutes:

    Christina Thompson, Director of Finance and Property; and, Hamant Bharadia, Assistant Director for Strategic Finance, presented the report and noted:

    ·           The development of the Capital Investment Programme and Capital Financing Requirement (CFR) set out the Council’s overall funding requirement, to which the Council then borrowed as needed. 

    ·           Financing Council activities entailed borrowing to ensure a reasonable cashflow position as and when required.  As such, this meant that it is not possible to break the borrowing down against details of assets, capital schemes or programmes.

    ·           Cash balances were different in this financial year due to Covid-19, as the Council had incurred greater expenditure, with Covid-19 impacts totalling £43m to April 2021.  The Council expected £32m of emergency funding from central Government and further compensation against loss of income, totalling an estimated deficit of under £10m.  Unfortunately, claims for loss of income compensation were ongoing, and officers could not currently provide more specific figures.

    ·           There had been no borrowing in this financial year, although it was closely monitored.

    ·           Officers would respond outside the meeting on the Council’s average cost of capital in terms of internal borrowing or the Public Works Loan Board sourcing.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To note the Treasury Management Performance Report for the six months to 30 September 2020.

     

7.

Adult Social Care - Annual Complaints pdf icon PDF 143 KB

    • View the background to item 7.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Fiona Connolly: Executive Director for Adults and Health  

     

    Contact for enquiries: Richard Outram, Deputy  Director, Adult Social Care,  Adults and Health, 020 7926 7750, routram@lambeth.gov.uk  

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Fiona Connolly, Executive Director of Adult Social Care; Richard Outram, Deputy Director of Adult Social Care; and David Jennings, Head of Service for Older People, presented the report:

    ·           Figure 2 on the number of complaints received (agenda pack, page 77) omitted the 2017/18 bar which showed a 17% increase in complaints from 2016/17 and a 9% decrease to 2018/19.

    ·           Average response times increased to 57 days from 42.3 days in 2018/19; due to 17 complex complaints increasing the average from 39 days.  Furthermore, there had been significant but now resolved staffing pressures, and response times were again reducing.

    ·           Six complaints had been escalated to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO), however four were not upheld. In the two upheld complaints, appropriate actions and safeguards were in place throughout, but were upheld as practitioners did not follow processes.

    ·           The introduction of the Stage 2 complaints process brought a level of rigour in Adult Social Care (ASC) complaints.

    ·           Clients’ documentation was improving, such as billing, with purchase orders under improvement.

    ·           Complaint demographics were broadly similar to the borough’s demographics and represented ASC’s client base.

    ·           Officers were working with the Commissioner to improve the robustness of provider complaints.

     

    Councillor Jackie Meldrum gave the following representation:

    ·           It was pleasing that many recommendations from last year had been adopted, especially regarding provider complaints and lessons learnt.  However, communications remained a main cause of difficulties and 15% of customers complaining appeared quite high.

     

    In response to questions, officers replied:

    ·           There were relatively low numbers of complaints when considering the number of hours delivered (28,000 hours).

    ·           It was noted that many provider complaints were on maintenance delivery, with many beyond Lambeth’s control to resolve, and were not necessarily complaints on service delivery.

    ·           Persons with complex care needs also had complex needs across other service packages, and as ASC were the primary directorate, its officers had to take the lead in responding to complaints cutting across multiple service areas and providers.  Whilst aiming to resolve complaints as quickly as possible, it was important to respond effectively.

    ·           The two long-standing complex complaints touched multiple areas, including brokerage and finance, but had led to processing improvements for future complaints.

    ·           The Executive Director of Adult Social Care had oversight of all ASC complaints, whilst the respective lead officers of partner agencies provided oversight for their complaints.

    ·           The Complaints Policy and Procedure contained clear explanations and escalation grids for responding, and listed lead persons from partner agencies.

    ·           Provider complaints and failures were historically held by Commissioners and Lambeth ensured these were being reported.  A framework was being developed to improve these processes.

    ·           The LGO recommended that complaints were reported to ASC, but providers also notified Commissioners of their complaints with escalation to ASC as necessary.

    ·           Government Regulations provided no response timeframes, however the LGO suggested 12 weeks which 70% of Lambeth’s complaints met; with 41% meeting Lambeth’s 30 days target. 

    ·           Lambeth felt that a 12-week response time was too long and was trying to improve relationships with people who complain.  However, responses needed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Adult Social Care - Covid-19 Response Plan pdf icon PDF 271 KB

    • View the background to item 8.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Fiona Connolly: Executive Director for Adults and Health

     

    Contact for enquiries: Richard Outram, Deputy  Director, Adult Social Care,  Adults and Health, 020 7926 7750, routram@lambeth.gov.uk

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Fiona Connolly, Executive Director of Adult Social Care; and Richard Outram, Deputy Director of Adult Social Care, presented the report and noted:

    ·           There was an overarching Recovery Plan, which officers would send to Members.  The corporate template covering all business areas demonstrated other directorates were equally rigorous.

    ·           The ASC and Public Health business impact assessment demonstrated the work since February 2020 to improve Lambeth’s response from a one-off event to meet the demands of Covid-19.

    ·           The agenda pack identified key service areas (pages 94-5), stakeholder and dependencies (pages 96-7), mitigations and resource requirements (page 98-9), and critical teams and skills (page 100).

    ·           Identified supplies, such as standby laptops, had been gathered prior to the Covid-19 lockdown.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To note the contents of the ASCBIA.

     

9.

Audit and Investigations Update pdf icon PDF 288 KB

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    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Fiona McDermott: Strategic Director for Finance &

    Investment

     

    Contact for enquiries: Justin Martin, Chief Audit Executive, 07881 802

    336

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    During the discussion of this item, the guillotine fell at 9.00pm.

     

    It was MOVED by the Chair, and,

     

    RESOLVED by 3 votes to 2: That in accordance with Standing Order 9.5-9.7, the meeting continue for a further period of up to 30 minutes.

     

    It was recognised that due to technical difficulties the meeting had started 15 minutes late and it was noted that it was both this, and the time taken to discuss the minutes, that had caused the delay. Subsequent to this vote Councillor Maria Kay and Councillor Ian Simpson left the meeting.

     

    Justin Martin, Chief Audit Executive; Charlotte Bilsland, Deputy Chief Audit Executive; Yousra Abdelmoneim, Audit Manager, and, Michael O’Reilly, Counter Fraud Manager, presented the report as follows:

    ·           Lambeth was the furthest ahead of all PwC’s London clients against its programme of work, with praise offered to management in aiding delivery and officer for their engagement.

    ·           Auditing had changed due to remote working, but 26% of reports were issued in draft or final with a further 43% well underway, and it was expected to meet delivery objectives by 31 March 2021.

    ·           Implementation rates (64%) were slightly below the 70-80% desired, but significant progress was being made on outstanding actions and this was expected to improve further.

    ·           It was usual to have the completion rates increase in the latter segment of financial years.

    ·           The changes to the internal audit plan were due to changing the key risks identified, as detailed in the agenda pack, page 108.

    ·           A staff-mandatory Counter Fraud e-learning exercise had been released and would be sent to Committee Members.

     

    Councillor Tim Briggs gave the following representation:

    ·           He enquired as to the classification given for the Resident Management Organisations and primary schools on the Internal Audit Plan progress (agenda pack, page 110).

    ·           It was also noted that there were still a number of reviews awaiting fieldwork starting.

    ·           He recorded an allegation with a Clapham Common ward Tenant and Resident Association (TRA) having funds withdrawn from its accounts, but which had not been formally recorded.

     

    In response to questions, officers replied:

    ·           Substantial assurance was the strongest report rating and a ‘no assurance’ report was the weakest report rating.

    ·           Lambeth had adopted zero tolerance to fraud and strived to review all matters.

    ·           The Schools Audit Programme was defined to review the same areas for all schools, with this being reported annually in April. 

    ·           The TRA-finance allegations referred to would be referred to and reviewed by the Counter Fraud Manager.

    ·           Finance and Investment’s Financial Assessment (agenda pack, page 116) was due to introduce monthly checks and had not been marked as resolved.  Although actions had been responded to, audit officers wanted to see further improvement.

    ·           The Head of Service (ICT) would be invited to future meetings and comments provided to Members outside the meeting on the IT Performance Management and Disaster Recover management actions (agenda pack, page 114).

    ·           The Chair requested that a graph was included for counter-fraud targets.

    ·           Cifas was a fraud prevention agency used by private industry and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Corporate Complaints - six-monthly update pdf icon PDF 342 KB

    • View the background to item 10.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Bayo Dosunmu: Strategic Director for Resident Services

     

    Contact for enquiries: Karen Sullivan, Head of Customer Resolution & Improvement, ksullivan@lambeth.gov.uk

    Minutes:

    Karen Sullivan, Head of Customer Resolution and Improvement, presented the report and replied to questions as follows:

    ·           Figures on complaints, FoIs, SARs and Member’s Enquiries were detailed in the agenda pack, pages 264-8.

    ·           The Corporate Complaints Unit had an Improvement Plan in place and would report back on performance and progress.

    ·           Trends were displayed in this report for comparison; however, benchmarking against other local authorities was delayed due to Covid-19 but would be included in future reports.

    ·           iCasework improvements and dashboard reporting were completed in September 2020 and now enabled real-time reporting. 

    ·           The target operating model was under review to realise improved customer experience aspirations.

    ·           An improvement plan across case management was in train and there was a new set of Housing Ombudsman Regulations from 31 December 2020.

     

    Councillor Jackie Meldrum gave the following representations:

    ·           iCasework related to the officers’ portal; however, the Member’s Portal was being reviewed separately and still required upgrading. 

    ·           ASC had improved monitoring of protected characteristics and it was hoped the same could be done for general complaints, as it was important to see which sections of communities had issues.

    ·           Actions form Lessons learnt were needed to help reduce complaints.

     

    The Chair thanked officers for the report and requested a comprehensive study of Member’s Enquiries in future reports and for Members to feedback on what further information they requested in future.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To note the contents of the report.