Agenda and minutes

Performance & Corporate Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Friday, 17 June 2022 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber - County Hall, New Road, Oxford OX1 1ND. View directions

Contact: Khalid Ahmed, Tel: 07990 368048  E-Mail:

Link: videolink to meeting

No. Item


Election of Chair for 2022/23 Municipal Year


That Councillor Eddie Reeves be appointed Chair for the 2022/23 Municipal Year.


Election of Vice-Chair for 2022/23 Municipal Year


That Councillor Michael O’Connor be appointed Chair for the 2022/23 Municipal Year.


Apologies for Absence and Temporary Appointments


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Baines (Councillor Coles substituting), Councillor Corkin (Councillor Champken-Woods substituting), Councillor Fawcett, Councillor Johnson and Councillor Reeves (Councillor Murphy substituting).


Minutes pdf icon PDF 518 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2022 and to receive information arising from them.


The minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2022 were agreed as a correct record.


Organisational development, Agile and IT pdf icon PDF 454 KB

The Performance and Corporate Services Committee is RECOMMENDED to:


Consider this report and its accompanying annexes. Where necessary to seek further information on points of strategy or policy clarification from the Cabinet Member and operational or specialist clarification from officers, with a view to making suggested improvements, additions or refinements to the proposed approaches.

Additional documents:


The Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Corporate Director introduced the report, which brought together three work streams: the refresh of the IT, Digital and Innovation Strategy; a framework for agile working; and the organisational development and employee engagement programme (‘Delivering the Future Together’ (DTFT)).


The three programmes were interlinked as good, efficient IT enabled agile working and an organisational development strategy was required to deliver agile working by enabling engagement with staff around the council’s direction of travel as an employer and ensuring that that an agile workforce remained productive, efficient, effective and content.


The Committee heard that:


a.    The council had good IT capability. During lockdown, most staff had laptops and were able to transition to remote working; the challenge was in respect of enabling staff to use IT in a way which supports agile working – e.g. to work flexibly and collaborate in different online spaces. The agile framework represented a shift to long-term planning in respect of defining workforce agility and how flexibility and personal responsibility and accountability would operate in different cases; it was intended to support mangers to develop ways of working which enabled them to deliver their services.


b.    Significant engagement had been undertaken with staff in respect of the agile framework and DTFT. Trade unions were regularly engaged with in respect of other matters; union representatives had been lightly engaged in respect of the development of the strategies, as their focus was more on employee relations and HR policy. There were no immediate plans to introduce home-based contracts; the council was part of the national terms and conditions framework and would follow what was agreed at that level.


c.     IT solutions were being, and human resources (HR) policy solutions were to be, developed around four agile work types. The work types were to enable the development such solutions, rather than pigeonhole staff.


d.    The labour market had recently become significantly more challenging and agile working was part of becoming an employer of choice.


e.    Corporate services adopted a business partnering model to make services, including procurement, more integrated. The agile framework was coproduced with staff champions and workshops had been held to avoid siloes and inform its development, and that of the property strategy. However, the differences between services were recognised and welcomed and the council was not to apply a ‘one size fits all’ approach to services in respect of agile and IT.


f.      Workforce reporting had recently improved, but HR metrics were not yet of the desired standard. Productivity measures were to be developed as part of a new HR strategy. There was an expectation of staff meeting in person from time to time under agile working.12-3-2 – an appraisal, performance and management programme – had been reinstated.


In respect of IT specifically, the Committee heard that:


a.    The strategy was designed for the IT service rather than staff; the focus in respect of staff was working with them to improve user experience. The IT service had been redesigned in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16/22


Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 228 KB

This report sets out how the EDI action plan for 2022-23 has been developed to support the Council’s EDI Framework known as ‘Including Everyone’. The report invites comment from the Performance and Corporate Governance Scrutiny Committee on the draft action plan which is attached at annex 1 and notes the intention to revise the framework over the next year. For reference, the current ‘Including Everyone’ Framework is included as annex 2 to this report.


The Committee is asked to comment on the draft Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) action plan 2022-23 prior to consideration by Cabinet.

Additional documents:


The Cabinet Member for Corporate Services introduced the report and its contents, highlighting that tackling inequalities was one of the council’s strategic priorities. The council was committed to equality in all it did; the report drew together how that was embedded in services.


The broad range of actions produced for the 22/23 municipal year reflected a number of other strategies, had been developed so as to be more specific, measurable and time-specific than previously and reflected staff feedback. The council was working more closely with directorates to embed equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).


Achievements in the previous municipal year included improving key human resources policies to make it easier to tackle bullying, harassment and discrimination.


The council had recruited a senior policy officer with responsibility for inequalities, who worked within staff networks to enable the development of policy which reflects lived experience.


The Committee heard that:


a.    The framework and action plan were not required by law.


b.    The council had outcome measures specific to activities, some of which were harder to define measures for than others. It was important to consider peoples’ views, particular staff networks’. The council had consulted staff communities when introducing the EDI framework. External evaluation and validation were also useful indicators of performance: the council had received a Stonewall Bronze Award for its work with trans communities and been shortlisted by the Local Government Chronical for embedding EDI in its work. While the framework was broader than human resources, human resources casework – e.g. staff experiencing discrimination in the course of their work – was a useful indicator of performance in relation to EDI.


c.     The 22/23 action plan was more ambitious, specific and embedded in council services than its predecessor and had been coproduced with services. For example, service plans were now subject to equality impact assessments.


d.    The framework and action plan were a key but small element of delivering the council’s strategic priority of tackling inequality. Achieving equity in educational attainment and addressing the rising cost of living, for example, were outside the scope of the action plan but key to delivering the council’s priority. The development of a broader strategy around inequality could follow from the plan.


e.    The council’s apprenticeship team worked to provide career opportunities for people from under-represented backgrounds. Staff at lower grades were being supported to complete English and maths qualifications to enable career progression. It was suggested that apprenticeships be added to an overview & scrutiny work programme.


f.      The council’s social value policy supported EDI as well as other priorities, such as the environment and sustainability.


g.    The Head of Insight and Corporate Performance was delivering an action to identify how the council’s various strategies interfaced.


The Committee observed that it would be useful to have a single document with performance measures drawing together all of the council’s work in relation to the strategic priority of tackling inequalities.


RESOLVED – That approval be given to the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Committee, to agree draft  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17/22


Presentation: Responding to the Ukraine crisis pdf icon PDF 765 KB

A briefing to the Committee to update on the ongoing partnership response to the Homes for Ukraine scheme, including broader lessons learnt for crises response.


The Programme Director for Partnerships & Delivery gave a presentation on the council’s response to the ‘Ukraine crisis’.


The Committee heard that:


a.    The council’s response comprised two main schemes – ‘Homes for Ukraine’ and ‘Friends & Family’ – although there were other relevant pre-existing schemes and statutory duties, such as in respect of homelessness, access to education and safeguarding. The council’s main additional duties were in relation to Homes for Ukraine.


b.    The county began receiving refugees within weeks of the programmes being announced.


c.     The government set local authorities’ duties in relation to Ukrainian refugees and provided significant funding. Leading a whole-system approach, the council had worked with lower-tier authorities to apportion responsibilities based on who was best placed to deliver them, as national guidance was unclear on the delineation of responsibilities between local authorities in two-tier areas. Further to its pre-existing duties, the council was responsible for conducting checks on the suitability of accommodation and safeguarding which included a Disclosure and Barring Service check on hosts, providing information and guidance, support with community integration, and administering funding to hosts, guests and partner organisations.


d.    The system was developing further support for refugees, including rematching capabilities, seeking to streamline processes and providing a regular information bulletin to hosts.


e.    Things which had gone well to date included that the council was able to rapidly implement an effective multi-agency response following the county’s response to the covid-19 pandemic; the council’s leadership and delivery of programme management, data management and customer services functions while recognising the specialities and capabilities of lower-tier authorities had been critical; joint leadership of the response by senior county council and lower-tier officers ensured shared ownership and accountability; joint communications and stakeholder engagement had enable clear and consistent messaging which helped maintain confidence; and early involvement of the voluntary and community sector had been highly beneficial. 


f.      Key reflections included that new and different requirements on the local system are expected and government viewed local government as a trusted and capable area of delivery – however, this required the council to maintain response capacity and adaptability for medium- to long-term situations; practical data, systems and technology capabilities which enabled faster data sharing would benefit joint capacity to respond to events; and it had been challenging to manage public expectations when government announcements preceded the issuing of guidance and direction.


g.    A tracking tool enabled the council and partners to monitor people’s progress through the resettlement process. There was not a significant issue in respect of refugees going missing.


h.    The number of visa applicants had stabilised, the number of Ukrainian refugees in Oxfordshire was not so significant as to overburden public services in the medium to long term, and national feedback indicated that refugees largely wished to return home once possible. Meeting refugees needs upon arrival was the greater challenge, although there were concerns in respect of social and health service capacity to support them in the longer term.


i.      The council’s response had resulted in additional pressures  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18/22


Developing the Overview and Scrutiny Function

Scrutiny officers are currently drafting a number of protocols to formalise expectations of different stakeholders in relation to key elements of scrutiny: the Scrutiny/Executive relationship, the establishment and practices of working groups, and the call-in procedure.


The Committee is RECOMMENDED to agree to receive the draft protocols via email in due course and provide feedback via email.


RESOLVED – That the draft protocols be received via email in due course and feedback be received via email.


Draft Work Programme 2022/23 and Cabinet Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 207 KB

This paper provides the Committee with a considered working draft of its work programme for the year ahead.      


The Committee is RECOMMENDED to: -


1.1      Agree the Committee’s work programme for the municipal year 2022/23;


1.2      Note that the work programme is a document that is subject to change and Members can add, subtract and defer items as necessary;  


1.3      Agree to consider the work programme at each meeting of the Committee over the course of the municipal year alongside the Council’s Forward Plan;  


1.4      Agree to undertake further engagement with the Cabinet Members and Senior Officers to refine the work programme.   

Additional documents:


It was noted that an additional meeting had been called by the Chair for September 2022.


RESOLVED – (1) That the Committee’s work programme for the 2022/23 municipal year be agreed.


(2) That the Committee noted that the work programme is a document that is subject to change and Members can add, subtract and defer items as necessary.


(3) That the work programme be considered at each meeting of the Committee over the course of the municipal year alongside the council’s Forward Plan.


(4) That further engagement be undertaken with the relevant Cabinet Members and Senior Officers to refine the work programme.



Action and recommendation tracker pdf icon PDF 36 KB

The Committee is RECOMMENDED to note the action and recommendation tracker which will henceforth be used to monitor the implementation of formally agreed actions and recommendations.


RESOLVED – That the Committee noted that the action and recommendation tracker which was to be used to monitor the implementation of formally agreed actions and recommendations.