Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Management Board - Thursday, 9th September, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Cumbria House Carlisle

Contact: Lorraine Davis  Email:

No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence.



Apologies for absence were received from Mr N Hughes, Mr S Collins, Mr S Haraldsen, Mr W McEwan and Mr M Hawkins.




To report any changes to the membership of the Board.



There were no changes to membership of the Board.




Members are invited to disclose any disclosable pecuniary interest they have in any item on the agenda which comprises


1          Details of any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.


2          Details of any payment or provision of any other financial benefit (other than from the authority) made or provided within the relevant period in respect of any expenses incurred by you in carrying out duties as a member, or towards your election expenses.  (This includes any payment or financial benefit from a trade union within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.


3          Details of any contract which is made between you (or a body in which you have a beneficial interest) and the authority


(a)     Under which goods or services are to be provided or works are to be executed; and


(b)     Which has not been fully discharged.


4          Details of any beneficial interest in land which is within the area of the authority. 


5          Details of any licence (alone or jointly with others) to occupy land in the area of the authority for a month or longer. 


6          Details of any tenancy where (to your knowledge)


(a)     The landlord is the authority; and


(b)     The tenant is a body in which you have a beneficial interest.


7          Details of any beneficial interest in securities of a body where


(a)     That body (to your knowledge) has a place of business or land in the area of the authority; and


(b)     Either –


(i)        The total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body; or


(ii)          If that share capital of that body is of more than one class, the total nominal value of the shares of any one class in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest exceeds one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that class.


In addition, you must also disclose other non-pecuniary interests set out in the Code of Conduct where these have not already been registered.




A “disclosable pecuniary interest” is an interest of a councillor or their partner (which means spouse or civil partner, a person with whom they are living as husband or wife, or a person with whom they are living as if they are civil partners).



There were no declarations of interest for this meeting.




To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any item on the agenda.



RESOLVED,that the press and public be not excluded from the meeting during consideration of any item on the agenda.



MINUTES pdf icon PDF 310 KB

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Board held on 25 June 2021 (copy enclosed).



RESOLVED,that the minutes of the meeting held on 25 June 2021 be agreed as a true record.


The Chair welcomed the newly appointed Chief Executive to the meeting.


The Chief Executive gave a detailed explanation of her background, her role as Senior Responsible Officer for Local Government Reform (LGR) and the different stages of the process to be followed.  Members noted that collaborative working was already taking place with the seven Cumbrian Chief Executives and this would be formalised next week with the establishment of an Officer Programme Board.  The Board would collect all the information/data from the different organisations and develop options for a service delivery framework for submission to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) in March 2022.  Members were informed that Parliament would then put an Order in place establishing the Shadow Authorities and decision making could commence.  It was recognised that this was a huge task, working to tight timescales and involved all levels of governance. 


In answer to members’ questions, the Chief Executive acknowledged the difficulty in bringing the different values and principles of the seven authorities together, and assured members that they were approaching the task with an open mind, the end aim being the best transition possible for the people of Cumbria.  The Chief Executive acknowledged that it was a challenging process with people having strong views, the process would have a huge impact on staff and that the heritage of the existing structures should not be forgotten.  The Chief Executive informed members that the financial challenges would need to be addressed and would inform implementation.  The involvement of members and scrutiny in the process was discussed and the Chief Executive agreed to share the developed programme with members at a later date.


The Chief Executive was thanked for her attendance at the meeting.




For members to be informed of any call-in items received by the County Council and to consider whether any further action needs to be taken by the Board.



The Chair advised that there were no call-in items for the Board to consider.



ICT Service: Infrastructure, Performance and Future Plans pdf icon PDF 129 KB

To consider a report by the Executive Director – Corporate, Customer and Community Services (copy enclosed).


Additional documents:


The Assistant Director - Organisational Change and the Senior Manager - ICT Delivery (the officers) presented a report and gave a presentation on the ICT Service Infrastructure, current performance and future plans of the service to support delivery of services and wider transformation programmes.


The officers introduced the key themes of the presentation explaining what makes up an ICT Service, the introduction of an ICT plan, the installation of Microsoft 365 and outlined the Service’s metrics and performance measures.  Members heard that a four year ICT Plan had been published in 2018, the implementation of which had resulted in an improved infrastructure, improved performance and had improved customer satisfaction.  It was noted that in order to support innovation and new digital ways of working, the Service had seen a steady increase in the demand on their services within a 30 month period.  Members were informed that a BT Peer Review had been commissioned in July 2019 to check and assess stability of the infrastructure.


The impacts of Covid 19 on the service were explained, the way the service had adapted to safe working procedures, the increased demand for laptop and mobile phone provision, the increase in VPN memory to accommodate more users and traffic and the introduction of Microsoft Teams as the new teleconferencing service.


The officer outlined that Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) had been commissioned to review and benchmark technology, data and digital processes as part of the enabling services transformation programme.  Members noted the different phases of the Review.


Members noted the detailed monitoring and controls for the Council with the ever growing global cyber risk.  The Council’s security standard aligned to the national standards and independent penetration tests were carried out annually. 


The officers concluded the presentation by outlining new ways of working, the ICT programme with regards to Local Government Review (LGR) and the Service’s future plans.


Members praised the work of the ICT team, especially for the work undertaken to support members, customers and staff in the last eighteen months.  In answer to a member’s question whether the service should be supporting the Council Plan initiatives in light of LGR, the Assistant Director – Organisational Change replied that investment was still needed to support front line staff and customers, assets would be transferable and that the service would be in the best possible position for the transition.


A member raised the question of communicating issues to members and advised that a briefing note could be produced on common themes such as training and equipment requests.  The officer agreed to speak to the member outside the meeting and advised that issues could be raised in the Members ICT Working Group.


A member raised concerns about risk assessments and they fact they had not been carried out for home working.  The officer acknowledged this as a valid concern and also the possible associated health consequences arising from this.  It was recognised that a cultural change may be needed going forward and health and safety awareness and control  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.


Absence Management - Review of Progress pdf icon PDF 109 KB

To consider a report by the Executive Director – Corporate, Customer and Community Services (copy enclosed).


Additional documents:


Members received a report which gave an update on sickness management and performance.  A presentation was given that highlighted the progress on sickness absence, initial findings from research interventions and a performance update on the delivery of the Task and Finish Group’s recommendations for absence management.


The Assistant Director- Workforce and Organisational Development introduced the report and outlined that employee wellbeing and sickness absence remained a key priority for the council and members and there was an opportunity to integrate approaches to health and wellbeing.


The Organisational Development and Working Training Service Manager (the officer) updated the Board on organisational development interventions that were taking place.  Members were informed of four key interventions and noted the preliminary update on two academic research projects currently taking place.  The officer reported that the initial findings, based on the scope of research so far showed that there were some evidence of inconsistent engagement between employees and line management, the process and paperwork was a barrier to meaningful management conversations and upcoming changes as a consequence of LGR may further impact sickness absence. The Manager – Operational Delivery updated members on the HR interventions and outlined a sickness absence case review that had taken place and the initial findings from this.


The Manager – Operational Delivery then updated on Absence Management.  Members were informed of an increase in sickness absence (July 2021) with an average of 13.6 days lost to sickness per employee and that August’s figure was projected to be higher with 13.8 days lost.  It was reported that the increase contradicted the normal seasonal trend but correlated with public health insights around the health service experience for the Cumbria population and that Lancashire were reporting a similar increase.  A heat map showing all sickness absence was included in the presentation, together with a heat map for Covid sickness absence and a breakdown of the number of absences and duration for July 2021.  The Manager – Operational Delivery outlined other “live” interventions as part of the absence management approaches taken by the Council.


A member, in discussion, expressed concern around the initial findings from the case study review which were listed on page 55 of the papers.  The Assistant Director – Workforce and Organisational Development said there was a need to support managers and empower them with confidence to deal with sickness absence.  97% of managers had received training, which had been paused due to the pandemic and the challenge was to drill down to understand root causes, put meaningful interventions in place and connect all systems of sickness absence and welllbeing.  The Executive Director - Corporate, Customer and Communities acknowledged that the current policy framework was not straightforward and needed simplified, especially in the light of LGR, and managers’ focus should be on the individual and their particular circumstances.


Possible reasons for the rise in sickness absence figures were discussed, for example Covid fatigue and lower immunity following social constraints.  A member questioned why there was a focus on long term  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.


Local Government Reform Task and Finish Group - Draft Scope for Next Phase of Work pdf icon PDF 204 KB

To consider a report by the Executive Director – Corporate, Customer and Community Services (copy enclosed).


Additional documents:


The Board received a draft scope for the second phase of work for the Local Government Reform Scrutiny Task and Finish Group.  The draft scope was appended to the report.  Members were advised that the existing membership remained in place but a further invitation for representation would be circulated to other members and the district councils.


RESOLVED, that the draft scope be approved.



Scrutiny Performance Working Group Update pdf icon PDF 198 KB

To consider a report by the Executive Director – Corporate, Customer and Community Services (copy enclosed).


Additional documents:


The Chair presented the minutes of the last meeting of the Scrutiny Performance Working Group that had been held on 3 August 2021 and considered the 2020/21 Quarter 4 Corporate Performance Monitoring Report and focused on performance in respect of Children’s Services, education and Adult Social Care.  Members noted that the Group would meet in October to consider the Quarter 1 performance report for 2021/22.


RESOLVED,that the report be noted.




To receive updates from the Chair of each of the following:-


Scrutiny Panel - Adults                                                             Mr M Wilson

Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee                      Mrs McCarron Holmes

Scrutiny Panel - Children and Young People                       Mrs V Tarbitt

Scrutiny Panel - Communities and Place                              Mr S Collins

Cumbria LEP Scrutiny                                                              Mr W Wearing

Cumbria Police and Crime Panel                                           Mr M Johnson



Additional documents:


The Board received an update on the work of the Scrutiny Advisory Boards, Panels and Committees from each of the Chairs.


(1)  Scrutiny Advisory Board – Adults


The Chair of the SAB – Adults advised members that the next meeting of the Board would be held on 1 October and currently the agenda included the Adult Social Care strategic position, Transfer of Care hub, Social Work England and Safeguarding Adults at risk from abuse and neglect.  The Chair advised that a more detailed report was being made available for ???The Chair verbally informed members that more details would be made available on the impacts of Covid on the whole health and care system.


(2)  Health Scrutiny Committee


The Chair of the Health Scrutiny Committee informed members that since the last meeting of the Board, the Committee had monitored the impact of the pandemic on the delivery of other health pathways and would continue to do that.  The Chair outlined items that would be considered at the next meeting of the Committee on 4 October, including implications for Cumbria of the Health and Care Bill, Stroke Services in South Cumbria, Ambulance Provision in Alston and the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit in Carlisle.


(3)  Scrutiny Advisory Board – Children and Young People


The Chair of the Board advised members that an informal meeting had taken place on 17 June and numerous issues were discussed.  The next meeting to be held on 21 September would focus on 16-24 Homelessness Pathway, the Children and Young People’s Plan, School and Education Vision and an Ofsted Children’s Social Care Update.


(4)  Scrutiny Advisory Board – Communities and Place


Members noted that an informal meeting of the Board had been held in June to discuss and develop the Board’s work programme and now had a programme in place to cover numerous issues.  Members were advised of the items of business for the Board meeting on 2 September which included Bus Service Improvement Plan, Waste Policy and Strategy, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service’s Inspection outcomes and improvement and the Independent Planning Review. 


(5)  Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Scrutiny Board


It was noted that the LEP Scrutiny Board meets twice a year and had not met since the last meeting of Scrutiny Management Board.  The Chair had remained in contact with the Chief Executive of the LEP and developed an agenda for the next meeting.  The agenda had been shaped to ensure Scrutiny on LEP activity within the currently rapidly changing environment, focusing on recovery from the pandemic and the UK’s exit from the EU.


(6)  Cumbria Police and Crime Panel


Members received a paper update from the Chair of the Police and Crime Panel.  The Panel had met on 9 July 2021 and considered a number of items including the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Annual 2020/21 Report, the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Accountability Framework, the latest budget monitoring reports and an update on complaints in relation to the Police and Crime Commissioner. 




To receive a report from the Senior Manager – Policy and Scrutiny (copy enclosed).


Additional documents:


Members received a report that provided the Board with an update on issues and developments that had occurred since their meeting in June 2021.  The appendices to the report also provided Board Members with the Scrutiny Work Programme and the current Forward Plan of Key Decisions. 




(1)  the range of activity in the report be noted;


(2)  the update on outcomes of recent Scrutiny and Task and Finish Group activity as set out in the report be noted;


(3)  the work programme presented in Appendix 1 be agreed;


(4)  the updated Scrutiny Development Plan attached as Appendix 2 be agreed;


(5)  the Forward Plan of Key Decisions be noted.




To note that the next meeting of the Board will take place on 24 November at 10 am at County Offices, Kendal.



It was noted that the next meeting of the Board would be held on 24 November 2021 at 10.00 am.  It was suggested that the next meeting of the Board be held at Barrow Library and the Chair agreed to investigate this.