Agenda item

Quarter Two, 2023/24 Performance Management Report - Report of Chief Executive


The Cabinet considered a report of the Chief Executive which presented an overview of progress towards delivery of the key priorities within the Council Plan 2023-27 in line with the council’s corporate performance framework. The report also covered performance in and to the end of quarter two, 2023/24, July to September 2023 (for copy of report, see file of minutes).


The Deputy Leader of the Council thanked the Head of Corporate Affairs and his team for the detailed and comprehensive update on performance against the targets and actions set out in the council plan. The positive feedback from Overview and Scrutiny regarding the new format of the performance report was welcomed and noted.


The Council continued to deliver strong performance and Councillor Bell summarised some areas to note.


In relation to the environment, latest figures showed a further percentage reduction in CO2 emissions in 2023. Recycling was a very important part of the Council’s environmental strategy. Campaigns and increased enforcement activity had led to a reduction of the contamination rate of non-recyclable material put into household recycling bins for the fourth successive quarter.


Focused efforts had been made by the Council to address the local impact of national shortages of children's social workers. It was good to note that the vacancy rate had fallen with fourteen newly qualified social workers joining the Council following successful recruitment campaigns.


In Housing, availability of good housing was another focus for the Council and during quarter two more houses were built due to larger construction schemes and quicker completion rates were being achieved. More empty houses had been brought back into use. Both indicators were higher than their profile targets.


The Council continued to tackle fly tipping with proactive action being taken against perpetrators. The number of incidents remained low and significantly better than our statistical neighbours.


The report also highlighted areas requiring attention. For example, the national shortage of educational psychologists required to undertake education and health care plans meant that the Council were not meeting its obligations to assess cases within the 20 week target. There had been a significant growth in demand in this area and the Council’s approach would ensure that children were supported with quality provision in an appropriate setting.


The Deputy Leader of the Council then invited Cabinet Portfolio Holders to comment on their individual areas of responsibility.


Councillor E Scott referred to the inclusive economic strategy which ensured that people have access to good jobs and to cement Durham’s status in the region as a great place to do business. Councillor Scott spoke of the solid tourism base being built, the cultural offer and the boost to the economy this was bringing. The Council were seeing healthy demand for development land demonstrating strong potential in the County. Employability support and skills provision to key sectors meant that more people were achieving higher level qualifications. An investment plan was currently being devised to ensure that the Council were maximising opportunities regionally, nationally and globally.


Councillor S McDonnell, spoke of the digital side of business. The Council now had over 175,000 households with a registered ‘Do It Online’ account which helped improve efficiency and performance and provided agility and flexibility required in directing resources. From a customer satisfaction point of view more than 3/4 customers gave a five star rating. The County Council continued to be the lead Council for social value.


Councillor M Wilkes placed on record his thanks to the Low Carbon Team which the joint administration had supported and placed into the core of all decision making. Significant improvements included the low carbon depot at Morrison Busty, decarbonisation of heating at Abbey Leisure Centre with Newton Aycliffe, Teesdale and Peterlee Leisure Centres following in due course. New business management systems for energy use operating at the Louisa Centre in Stanley and St. John’s in Seaham were paying dividends. Durham County Council had been confirmed as the best council in the region for tackling climate change and one of the highest in the country in terms of communication and involvement with Climate Change. The Council, residents and partners had been securing more grants from government since the Joint Administration took control of the Council from Labour. The Neighbourhood Warden teams were doing a better job than in anytime since the existence of the local authority through tackling fly tipping and other environmental crimes at levels we could have only dreamed of under the previous administration. Fly tipping was still at record lows in in the County, down 35% since the Joint Administration took control. Record high fines, scrapping of the previous Labour administration discount meant that residents could be reassured that the Joint Administration had put an end to the soft touch approach to tackle the significant contamination of recycling, with falls in contamination rates in each of the last five quarters.


Councillor C Hood referred to the continuous monitoring of performance in relation to assessments and reviews and the investment of new mobile technology to support staff with the assessment process. The percentage of older people still at home, 91 days after discharge from hospital into reablement remained high, however staff in the commissioning service were undertaking a review to see how capacity could be increased to provide reablement to more people.


Councillor A Shield, commented that the revised Performance Management report provided easily accessible information, was intelligence led, evidence based, and provided the foundation and guidance on decision making considerations by the Council.


Cllr J Rowlandson, commented that although leisure centres appeared at first glance, to still be struggling to gain ground lost during COVID, the figures in reality related to leisure transformation work across several sites which had an effect on the figures. The cost of living crisis continued to have a real effect on communities, but it was pleasing to report that the overall membership to leisure centres was only 543 below target out of a total of 18,748. The launch of the new leisure membership was positive and the new attractions coming to fruition now would improve take up.  Other highlights included the continued inward investment in Durham with new infrastructure and business parks. The ambitious plans for Aykley Heads and investment in NETPark were generating interest around established companies in Durham, but also from new companies from around the North East and the world who see Durham as the place to be.


Councillor T Henderson, welcomed the depth and breadth of the report and spoke around the higher demands for services within his Cabinet Portfolio. Councillor Henderson also spoke of the challenging time for families and the associated cost pressures. Councillor Henderson welcomed the progress made to support the service and service improvement in securing better outcomes for children and young people. It was pleasing to note the high levels of positive feedback of early help services from parents, carers, children and young people.




That the recommendations in the report be approved.

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