Meeting documents

SWT Corporate Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 2nd March, 2022 6.15 pm

This matter is the responsibility of Executive Councillor Member Ross Henley.


Report Author: Malcolm Riches, Business Intelligence and Performance Manager.


The Portfolio Holder for Corporate Resources introduced the report:  

·                     The report included the position in respect of the Council’s key performance indicators (KPIs) and a summary of the Council’s key business risks and issues together with the current status of actions being taken to address the risks and issues.  

·                     There were five red and two amber indicators for KPIs which were being monitored closely.  

·                     The report detailed five business risks and three issues. 

·                     The response rate for freedom of information (FOI) requests had improved.  

·                     Call response wait times had increased. This was due to more calls being received and average call durations having increased. Issues with waste and the rollout of RecycleMore had increased calls. Staff turnover within the team had also contributed to call response wait times increasing. Calls on average were answered in 2 minutes 44 seconds.  

·                     Overall performance was strong in most areas. Over 88% of the year’s council tax had been collected. Planning applications for large developments determined within 13 weeks was 100%. 


Durning the debate: 

·                     It was asked if figures were available for how many repeat calls were received for issues which were not dealt with in the first instance. Officers would provide a written response.   

·                     It was asked whether improvements to Firmstep were being considered. Officers responded that Firmstep was being continually improved and recently work had been done around improving how complaints were processed.  

·                     It was asked how many calls could be attributed to the rollout of RecycleMore. Officers responded that waste calls and the increase in calls this resulted in had been dealt with relatively well, particular team members were assigned to take waste calls and that system worked well. However, more generally in all areas the numbers of calls and length of time of calls had increased.  

·                     It was asked if much time was lost to staff sickness, in particular stress due to the nature of the role of customer services being quite stressful. Officers responded that days were lost to stress and sickness but that it was managed closely, and time was spent investing in the staff and regularly checking in on their welfare.  

·                     It was asked what directions councillors could give to their constituents to help with the tax rebate government was offering to help with rising energy bills. Officers responded that councillors could encourage residents to sign up to pay for their council tax by direct debit as this would mean they would receive the rebate payment faster. Managing expectations around when the payments would go out was also important as payments would not be received until late April.  

·                     It was asked in which areas the higher numbers of complaints were being received and if these were the usual areas higher numbers of complaints were seen in. Officers responded that they would provide a written response as to the different areas where higher numbers of complaints were received. Some areas such as Housing had seen a significant increase in complaints, and this was a trend which was reflected nationally in housing.  

·                     It was raised that experiences of interacting with customer services had been positive and was asked if thanks could be passed onto the team.  

·                     It was questioned whether customer expectations rising had led to the increase in complaints.  

·                     It was asked whether, excluding the increase in housing complaints, the number of complaints had increased. Officers responded that they would provide a written response.  

·                     It was asked about the statistics for enforcement in various areas across the Council, such as environmental health. Officers responded that they would provide a written answer following the meeting. 

·                     It was asked if any comparisons were available for call wait times with other Somerset authorities. Officers would provide a written answer after the meeting. 

·                     Support was given for continuing to improve Firmstep and for the improvements already made.  

·                     It was requested that long-term and short-term staff sickness be separated out in the report and asked whether Covid had had a big impact on staff sickness. Officers would provide a written answer after the meeting.  

·                     It was asked how many planning enforcement orders were currently out and active versus how many had been closed down. Officers would provide a written answer after the meeting. 

·                     It was suggested that it may be better to keep more staff on phones rather than moving them to work in reception.  

·                     It was asked if staff turnover figures could be provided, particularly for planning staff. It was responded that there was an indicator which provided staff turnover for the whole organisation, but that more detailed figures could be provided in a written response.  

·                     It was asked that more information be given on planning in these reports and that it be reported in such a way that shows the issues with planning as a result of the phosphates issue. Officers responded that they would be willing to provide alternate data sets if members wished for any other data measurements to be included in the report.  


Councillor John Hassall and Cllr Whetlor left the room during the item and then returned and so could not vote on the item.  

Cllr John Hassall left the meeting at 20:40 


The Committee resolved to note the recommendations in the report; 

The Scrutiny Committee and Executive are asked to note the Council’s performance report for quarter 3.  


Supporting documents: