The Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive introduced the report which provided Members with a summary of the Service’s financial performance (for the first quarter of 2016/17) and progress against the 2016-17 Service plans.
The Head of Finance summarised the financial performance and drew Members’ attention to Appendix 1 of the report which contained information on the anticipated outturn for each department compared to the original budget. He expanded on additional costs pressures that had arisen in Operational Policy and Assurance (OPA) due to the provision of additional swift water rescue training and the employment of an additional technical support officer. He highlighted the pay budget underspend in Protection, which would be offset by some anticipated costs relating to training for the Primary Authority Scheme. He also referred Members to the savings from the SMT restructure and the income received from Cumbria (£60k) as reimbursement for the Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive acting as Chief Fire Officer for Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service (CuFRS).
The Head of Finance informed Members of items which would be funded from reserves, including the apprenticeship scheme, Blue Light Collaboration (BLC), and the Prince’s Trust Programme. He advised Members that whilst Appendix 1 showed an overall underspend of £119k it was likely that this situation would change as the financial year progressed.
The Head of Finance referred Members to the Authority’s capital programme, detailed in Appendix 2 of the report. He explained that there was a projected overspend on the Emergency Response Programme of around £270k and expanded on the reasons for this overspend. He informed Members that the overall overspend remained well within the contingency agreed when the Authority approved the final capital expenditure. He also gave further information and updates on other approved schemes detailed in Appendix 2.
Finally, the Head of Finance drew Members’ attention to the total amount of debt due to the Authority at the end of Quarter 1, which was £189k as of June 2016. He explained to Members that the debtor’s position was manageable and that the majority of outstanding debts would be paid as debtors were mainly public service bodies.
The Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive provided further information on progress against plans and drew Members’ attention to the update on firefighter apprenticeship scheme. He informed Members that 13 candidates have been appointed; 38% of these were female which he stated was positive news for the Service. He also expanded on other areas referred to in the report, which indicated good performance progress overall for most of the Service’s schemes and programmes.
The Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive concluded by providing an overview of the corporate performance scorecard (Appendix 3) and explained that the information reflected the Quarter 1 position against targets set at the start of the year for the organisation’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). He expanded on the work that had been undertaken by the Service in response to targets that were not met.
A Member queried a decrease in public satisfaction levels for response times to incidents. The Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive informed Members that the fluctuation in public satisfaction levels was normal throughout each quarter and that figures still remained high. A Member also queried whether the Blue Light Collaboration (BLC) Programme had impacted on sickness levels within the organisation. The Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive explained to Members that sickness levels had not increased as a result of the (BLC) Programme and that any concerns from employees were addressed through several communication/engagement channels set up by the Service and by individual one to one sessions with the appointed BLC HR Adviser.
Members requested a further breakdown of working days lost to injury. The Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive confirmed that the figure in Appendix 3 included workplace and non-workplace injuries. A Member also queried whether the Service recorded the waiting times for smoke detectors to be replaced following a request from the public. The Deputy Chief Fire Officer confirmed that a record was kept of waiting times and informed the Committee of historic problems with certain makes of smoke detectors and also the procedures the Service followed concerning eligibility for free smoke detectors.
A Member also queried whether more information could be provided on the number of work-related incidents for future reports. The Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive confirmed that reports submitted to the Service Health, Safety and Welfare Committee contained more detailed figures and that this could be provided for Members.
 the Quarter 1 Financial and Performance Review 2015-16 be noted.