Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Board - Tuesday, 21st September, 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - 4th Floor - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Julia Cleary  Email: julia.cleary@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from  Cllr John Reynolds, Cllr Paul Birch was in attendance as a substitute.

2.

Declarations of interest

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 460 KB

[To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record.]

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved:

That the minutes of the previous meeting be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

4.

Annual Social Care, Public Health and Corporate Complaints Report pdf icon PDF 303 KB

[Report will be sent to follow]

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel received a report from the Customer Engagement Manager, requesting the Board to review complaints management and performance for the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.

 

The Council had received 256 stage one corporate complaints in comparison to 185 received during the same period in 2019/20. Details of the complaints were provided in Appendix 2. It was noted that out of the 256 cases received, 97 were upheld (at fault).

 

In relation to the corporate stage one complaints, the highest figure of 170 complaints referred to Waste Management and out of 170 received, 82 were upheld; this was in comparison to 56 stage one complaints received during the same period in 2019/20. The Complaints Team had worked closely with the waste management service to improve complaint handling and ensure

appropriate remedies were put in place to achieve the best outcomes for customers. The council received 20 stage two cases; Out of the 20 cases received, 4 cases were upheld (at fault), 2 were partially upheld and 14 cases were not upheld (not at fault).

 

The Council had received 33 stage one Children’s Services complaints in comparison to 58 complaints for the same period in 2019/20, this was a decrease of 25 and details were provided in Appendix 1. The Board noted that no stage one cases were upheld, 19 were partially upheld and 14 cases were not upheld.

 

There had been five stage two complaints which was consistent with the previous year and no stage three complaints had been received.

 

The Council had received 32 stage one Adult Services complaints in comparison to 53 in the previous year. Six cases had been upheld, 13 were partially upheld and 13 were not upheld.

 

The Council received 30 Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) assessment enquiries and 13 full enquiries. Wolverhampton Homes had received 7 Housing Ombudsman (HO) assessment enquiries and 7 full enquiries.

 

The Board understood that when a complaint was upheld (council at fault) and the findings of a subsequent investigation required a financial remedy, change to policy or service delivery, the Customer Feedback Team produced an action plan report. Recommendations within these reports were agreed with appropriate Heads of Service and shared with the relevant Service Manager or Director to ensure appropriate remedies and changes were implemented. The Customer Feedback Team also attended regular quality assurance meetings for Adults and Children’s Services and Waste Liaison meetings to ensure that learning from complaints was used to drive service improvement.

 

 

A number of compliments had also been received with 221 for Corporate Services, 22 for Children’s Services and 142 for Adult’s and Public Health Services.

 

The Chair thanked the Customer Engagement Manager for the presentation.

 

A question was raised as to whether a complaint form always had to be completed for a complaint to be logged and that this might put some residents off submitting a complaint. The query was raised as to whether this might account for the low number (8) of complaints in relation to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Private Sector Housing Standards pdf icon PDF 300 KB

[To receive an update from Chris Howell Commercial Regulation Manager in relation to Private Sector Housing Standards]

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Board received an update from the Regulatory Services Manager to provide comment on the ‘BRE Client Report – BRE Integrated Dwelling Level Housing Stock Modelling and Database for City of Wolverhampton Council October 2017’, assertion that 21% of private rented properties had a cat 1 hazard.

 

Board understood that in 2016 the City Council had commissioned the Building Research Establishment to undertake a series of desktop modelling exercises on housing within the City of Wolverhampton. This modelling

was based on a variety of data sources including Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings, and the English Housing Survey 2012. This data was now nearly 10 years out of date.

 

The aim of the report was to highlight CAT1 hazards in the City, which was likely to have resulted in the way the data was reported. Using EPC statistical information meant that the CAT1 hazards mostly related to excess cold in

private rented accommodation, trip hazards were also included. How trip hazards could be guessed without visiting a property was an unanswered question. It was understood that private rented properties in Wolverhampton compared favourably when pitched against other regional properties however this was not the case nationally. The number of CAT 1 hazards in the City was still unknown and to find this information would require an inspection of every property in the City by a qualified officer, which was not considered feasible for many reasons including, resources, costs, access to homes and time.

 

Historically the case management system that was used by the Private Sector Housing Service had been configured poorly making it difficult to produce meaningful statistics. Previously reported statistical information could not be replicated and officers stated that there was no confidence in any data prior to

April 2021.

 

It was considered reasonable to assume that in in 2021 - 2022 that the Private Sector Housing Service would receive around 60 Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) Cat 1 hazard complaints from the 19,443 private rented houses in Wolverhampton. This did not mean that there were very few housing problems in Wolverhampton. Private Sector Housing was a reactive service, only responding to complaints that were received. There were rogue landlords who would stop tenants complaining and there were tenants who would not necessarily know how to complain, especially those new to the country and where English was not their first language. The Team were carrying out work with landlords to ensure that tenants knew how to complain about hazards. Work was also being carried out in relation to illegal evictions, and a Trading Standards Officer had been employed to work to stop this. The Team had been successful this year and no illegal convictions had gone to court.

 

It was noted that in previous years, work had also been carried out with the Refugee and Migrant Centre to ensure that tenants were aware of their rights and how to report hazards, further work was planned in this area. The Rent with Confidence Scheme had been relaunched with an emphasis  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Work programmes pdf icon PDF 703 KB

[To consider the Board and Panel’s work programmes for future meetings.]

Additional documents:

Minutes:

An update on the draft work programmes was provided by the Scrutiny and Systems Manager.

 

Board members noted the variety of issues being addressed not also noted that it would be beneficial to have more pre decision scrutiny brought to the Board for consideration. It was suggested that Scrutiny Board needed to be considering more of the big decision items prior to decisions being made by the Executive. A request was made for the Relighting our Council item to be considered by scrutiny prior to going to Cabinet on 17 November along with the Leisure Private Finance Initiative Report and the report in relation to City Centre Hotel Delivery. A request was also made for a report to come before the Board in relation to the Council’s cultural events, including a breakdown of costs and evidence of demand and the affect that such events had on the local economy.

 

A question was also raised in relation to exempt items as it was noted that some of the items requested would need to be considered in closed session.

In relation to exempt reports. The Council’s Chief Operating Officer stated that each report needed to be considered on its on measures and that issues such as Council finances could be a legitimate reason for a report being exempt. It was stated that in all cases the starting point for a report was that it should be above the line and then, only if there was a legitimate reason identified, should it be considered below the line.

 

Resolved:

 

1.    That the following items be considered by Scrutiny Board as pre decision scrutiny:

 

·       Relighting our Council update report

·       Leisure Private Finance Initiative report

·       City Centre Hotel Delivery

 

2.    That a report be provided to a future meeting of Scrutiny Board in relation to the Council’s cultural events.