Agenda and minutes

Resources & Delivering Value Scrutiny Board - Monday 12th October 2020 6.00 pm

Venue: PLEASE NOTE that any member of the press and public may view the proceedings at this virtual meeting via this weblink

Contact: Paul Rogers  Email:


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Councillors: K Wild (Chairman), T Dicicco (Vice Chairman),  W Qais, M Gough, M Parker, M Allen, B Groom, J Fairburn and M Brain


Paul Johnson, Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive

Sam Gilbert, Assistant Director (Finance and Property Services)

Paul Langham, Assistant Director (Business Systems)

Sarah Barnes, Head of Business Intelligence and Improvement

Frank McSheffrey, Director (Children, Young People and Families)

Alison McGrory, Assistant Director (Communities and Partnerships)

Lizzie Edwards, Assistant Director (Adult Social Care)

Alan Brown, Assistant Director (Environment and Highways)

Mohinder Johal, Service Support Lead, Solihull Connect

Karen Millard, Customer Relations Manager

Paul Rogers, Democratic Services




1.  Apologies for absence


No apologies for absence were received.



Declarations of Pecuniary or Conflicts of Interest

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No declarations of interest were received.



Questions and Deputations

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No questions or deputations were received.



Annual Complaints Reports - 2019/2020 pdf icon PDF 253 KB

To present to the Board an overview of both Corporate and Statutory complaints and compliments activity for 2019/2020.

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The Head of Business Intelligence and Improvement introduced the report to the Scrutiny Board.


Members were informed that the Annual Complaints report was inclusive to 31st March 2020 and covered a range of Council services. Report headlines included the following:


A small increase in complaints had been recorded relating to Children’s social work, from 120 to March 2019, compared to 135 to March 2020.  Appropriate management action was taken to address all complaints. Only 1 complaint had progressed to Stage 2 and none had progressed to the Local Government Ombudsman.  Learning forms were also in place for Children’s Services to support improved processes going forward.


Adults Social Services had received 58 complaints to March 2020, which equated to the same number received for 2019. The Council had received 7 contacts from the Local Government Ombudsman for this service area.


With regard to Corporate Complaints and Compliments received to 31 March 2020, Members were informed that a total of 709 complaints had been received for 2019/20, which represented a decrease of 14.6% compared to 2018/19 when a total of 830 complaints had been received. The issue of the Council’s brown bins supply to residents had been identified as a significant contributor towards the number of complaints received during 2018/19. A total of 1,273 compliments had been received in 2019/20 compared to 1,137 received during 2018/19.


The corporate timescales for response to complaints received was 20 working days, although the criteria for this timescale was under review via a pilot scheme with the intention of reducing this timescale.


Having received the presentation, Members raised a series of related questions, which in summary included the following:


Councillor Qais queried how in cases of complaints spanning more than one Council Directorate were they recorded and entered into the complaints system.  Members were advised that such complaints were distributed to the relevant Directorates for attention with one, co-ordinated response being issued to the complainant. In the event that a complaint was re-opened and progressed to Stage 2 status, it would be progressed as an existing complaint.


Members referenced the detail for complaints received relating to staff attitude and behaviours and questioned whether such complaints pertained to Council employees or commissioners / third parties. It was confirmed that the complaints referred to employees employed directly by the Council.


Further to staff attitude and behaviours detailed in the report, Members raised the Council’s use of complaint Learning Forms and noted that 76% of Learning Forms had been completed by Managers.  Members questioned what had happened to the remainder of the Learning Forms and in the case of any unwanted reoccurring behaviours what disciplinary and follow up measures were in place.  The Scrutiny Board was advised that the 76% figure related to Learning Forms completed by 31 March 2020.  All Learning Forms would be  completed and on completion follow up took place with the responsible Manager/s as to what changes had been put in place to address the behaviours at the source of the complaint.  Managers were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Smarter Ways of Working Strategy pdf icon PDF 206 KB

To advise Members of proposals to reset the organisation following the COVID-19 pandemic and to recommend a new strategy for Smarter Ways of Working.

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Having received an introduction to the report from the Assistant Director (Finance and Property Services), Members of the Scrutiny Board raised a series of related questions, which in summary included the following:

Councillor Dicicco queried what system was scheduled to replace Citrix and how would the subsequent anticipated savings be made.  The Scrutiny Board was advised that Citrix was currently used to deliver office based desktop functions and remote working solutions and was scheduled to be replaced by the Microsoft 365 package.  Savings would be released through no longer paying the Citrix license costs, with the license arrangements ending in 2023.  Citrix licensing costs currently stood at £240,000 per annum, which post 2023 end through the introduction of Microsoft 365 corporately.

With regard to Council meeting arrangements, Members questioned whether any thought had been given to future arrangements and how such meetings would be delivered and what potential existed for fiscal savings to be made in this area. The Scrutiny Board was advised by the Assistant Director (Business Systems) that support arrangements for future meetings was being considered, but that no decision had been made as yet specific to Council Meetings.

Members were advised that technology existed to support formal meetings in a number of ways remotely and that future planned technology upgrades would improve such arrangements still further. The future solution in the shape of Microsoft Office 365 will provide a number of options going forward to support meetings and will be a matter for future discussions with Members. 

Councillor Groom noted of the 3 options outlined in the report supporting Smarter Ways of Working, one option appeared to already have a framework in place and the means to deliver the proposals quickly, namely the preferred Strategic Option 2 Blended Working Arrangements (combined home and collaborative workspaces model). 

Councillor Groom stated, however, that he would have liked to have seen included within the report examples of different office occupancy models (beyond the 40% occupancy rate figure) included in the options under consideration.  Councillor Groom expressed concern at the 40% occupancy rate, referencing Best Practice to allow for sufficient occupancy at peak times, which would equate to approximately 60% occupancy.  Councillor Groom queried how the 40% figure was arrived at and whether scope existed for the figure to be adjusted as the Council moved forward to a more agile working environment.  Councillor Groom expressed concern that taking forward the 40% model may be implementing a model that did not work for employees going forward. 

The Assistant Director (Finance & Property Services) advised Members that of the options put forward, the ‘blended’ option could be seen as falling somewhere in the middle between the extremes of the other two Strategic Options detailed in the report.  Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Council was already working towards delivering a 7/10 ratio occupancy.  The evidence available suggested that many organisations were going far more extreme in their occupancy levels i.e. less than 40% occupancy. 40% was seen to be a reasonable balance given the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.



The purpose of this report is to update Members on the issue of digital inclusion and the steps taken by the Council to provide access for those who are unable to use our digital services.

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The Assistant Director (Business Systems) advised the Scrutiny Board that the Digital Inclusion report was a follow up to the Scrutiny Board meeting held on 14 September 2020.


Members were advised that digital services were being rolled out by the Council for residents and businesses as an additional service, rather than a replacement. Residents could continue to communicate and engage with the Council via the telephone and correspondence.  Should any resident not have the means to access Council service online, they continued to have the option to receive assistance from Council employees via the telephone (for example, as facilitated by the Council’s Bereavement Services). 


Some paper based processes also remained in place, for example, for planning applications, even though 95% of applications were now received electronically.


The Council continues to produce the ‘Your Solihull’ publication for residents, providing details of Council services and contact details, whilst the Council’s Communications Team continued to further develop the Council’s social media platforms to facilitate communications and engagement with residents and businesses. 


Having received the presentation, Members noted that a cohort of people would not be receiving ‘Your Solihull’, and therefore access to Council services telephone numbers, due to the closure / reduced operating hours of some GP’s and libraries.  The Assistant Director (Business Systems) informed the Scrutiny Board that through the Council’s Covid-19 response, such as its Shielding operational arrangements to support the vulnerable, the Council had been providing contact details for vital services in paper format.  The Council had also provided targeted support services directly to vulnerable residents throughout the pandemic period.


Having considered the report the Resources and Delivering Value Scrutiny Board:




To note the measures being taken to provide access to those who are unable to use the Council’s digital services.