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Rhondda Cynon Taf Council - Scrutiny Blog

Councillor Julie Williams Chair Finance and Performance Scrutiny Committee

Posted on 01/07/2019

Reflecting on my year as Chair of the Council’s Finance and Performance Scrutiny Committee, I feel we acted constructively as the ‘critical friend’ of this important area of service.

Our main responsibilities are scrutinising financial and operational performance; treasury management arrangements; the annual revenue budget consultation process; statutory performance reporting requirements and monitoring the implementation of medium-term financial planning decisions. A role which is crucial in these challenging economic times for the public sector.

I would like to place on record my thanks to Councillor M Powell for playing an integral part in taking forward the Work Programme for the first four meetings of the Municipal Year 2018/19 Following a change in the Council’s political balance, I return the responsibilities of this committee to Cllr Mike Powell for forthcoming municipal year (2019/20). I look forward to playing a continued role as a member of the committee.

During the past 12 months I have taken my role seriously as I appreciate the importance of monitoring the Council’s corporate performance against its annual targets and the quarterly financial monitoring function. I welcome the focus of the Council’s business unit, to strengthen the scrutiny and challenge of council services, based upon this evidence base.

We have undertaken regular challenge of the Council’s budget proposals and expenditure and scrutiny of Council performance every quarter. These quarterly reports contain a wealth of information, such as revenue and capital budget performance and organisational health information including staff turnover, sickness and Council strategic risks, Corporate Plan priority action plan updates and details of other national measures and target-setting.

With this in mind, it is crucial that our Committee understands and asks questions of Senior Officers & Cabinet Members to be able to carry out the most effective and robust review and challenge on elements of the Council’s budget and performance.

A Notice of Motion to the Council last October was subsequently referred to us in respect of the register of food businesses in Rhondda Cynon Taf. The Notice of Motion has required us to look at ways in which all local food producers in RCT are encouraged and supported, and how the marketing and consumption of local produce can be effectively promoted.

We have since established a Scrutiny Working Group to consider the extent to which the current statutory Food Business Register supports the local economy. The committee will shortly consider recommendations on how to put this decision of Council into practice, through a range of recommendations for Cabinet consideration The Council has a statutory duty to maintain its current register of food businesses. The existing database is available as a public register, and significant resources are required to maintain the integrity of this register as it directly informs the Council’s food law enforcement activity. As a committee we believe this data provides a huge opportunity to encourage individuals and other businesses to shop local and support our county’s economy.

We continue to respond to the varied Scrutiny Work Programme for Finance and Performance Scrutiny, with robust challenge to the Council’s budget proposals, taking consider of the wider decision making being undertaken by the Council.

As I leave the Chair, I would like to thank my Vice Chair, Councillor G.Thomas and all the members of the Finance and Performance Scrutiny Committee, who have been involved in a huge amount of work over the past year and supported my role.

You can be assured that our Scrutiny Committee will continue to be at the forefront of all matters relating to the Finance and Performance of this Council and I am delighted that the remit of the committee has recently been enhanced as part of the wider changes to scrutiny arrangements in the Council, to include the scrutiny and challenge of the Council’s services which support and promote our local economy, from town centres to inward investment.

I know that early in the autumn, as the Council begins its preparations for the 2020/21 budget setting process, this committee will again play a key role in scrutinising the financial priorities of the Council.

Posted on 01/07/2019