At the Council meeting on 30th October the draft annual delivery report was put forward for debate. The Report aims to sets out what difference each improvement priority has had during 2012/13, looks at areas for improvement in 2013/14 and assesses the contribution made toward the Council's Community Strategy - 'Promoting Achievement, Tackling Disadvantage.'
The mainly statistical report presents a number of very disappointing figures across a variety of Council services.
One example of this is the number of additional affordable housing units which have been provided. Having identified that there is a need to provide 167 extra units per year, the number actually provided has fallen from 77 in 2010 / 11 to 40 in the past year, which is obviously far short of what is needed.
On the positive side, however, there has been a welcome rise in the number of vacant properties that have been brought back into occupancy.
Some of the children's services figures are extremely worrying, particularly with regard to the initial assessment times and the percentage of open cases of children allocated to qualified social workers. Even if the next set of targets are met then RCT will still be in the bottom quartile for performance in this area.
This poor performance also shows in the average number of days spent by homeless people in bed and breakfast accommodation. Again the lack of ability to improve is evidenced by the fact that even if they manage to meet their targets in the next year then they will RCT will still linger towards the bottom of the performance table.
There is limited information in this report with regard to how they intend to address this poor performance. Instead there are a string of references to other reports and strategies.
Some of the things over which the Council pat themselves on the back were done because they had to be rather than because the administration made them a priority - for example the reorganisation of Communities First wards into clusters which came about because of a Welsh Government directive.
It is difficult to see why that should appear either as a target or a significant achievement, although in all fairness to those involved in comparison to other areas RCT has done a relatively good job in bringing in the changes to Communities First.
All in all the report shows a great deal of room for improvement.
The Council's improvement priorities for 2012/13, as agreed by Full Council on 4th July 2012, were:
• Enforcement and regulation;
• Children and family centred services;
• Maintaining people's independence;
• Regeneration of our communities - physical regeneration and social regeneration;
• Streetcare Services and the natural environment;
• Medium term service planning;
• Better customer contact.