Year end performance report reveals many positives during challenging times

Barnsley Council’s year-end performance report (April 2019 to March 2020) has been presented to Cabinet Members today, Wednesday 10 June, and the challenging times that the borough, along with the rest of the world is going through, is clearly reflected.

Despite these difficult times, it also contains highlights of progress, achievements and improvements that the council has seen over the past 12 months, including exceptional performance in the areas of adult social care and child protection.

The report – which is produced quarterly and at year-end - tracks the council’s progress towards achieving its twelve outcomes, which are critical in making sure the three corporate priorities are achieved, as laid out in the corporate plan.

 So, how has the council performed in 2019-20?

Some significant progress has been made towards the council’s priority to create a thriving and vibrant economy, including:

  • Through the council’s work with the private sector, some 1,593 news jobs have been generated in total, due to the growth of large companies and inward investment. 2019-20 has seen 44 companies choose Barnsley as the place to be and have relocated to the borough to trade. In Q4, 12 companies chose to relocate to Barnsley. Despite Brexit uncertainty and COVID-19 implications, 97 per cent of the annual target has been achieved (44 out of 45). These investors have occupied over 217,350 square feet of floorspace, helping to create over 142 new jobs and securing over £10.1 million of private sector investment into the borough.
  • We’ve helped 33 new businesses to start trading in Q4 resulting in 96 per cent of the annual target being achieved (139 out of 145). We have also supported 37 businesses to expand, achieving 94 percent of the target (212 out of 225). Our work with the private sector in Q4 has created 638 jobs for the borough, which means we have met and over-achieved this target (1,593 at year-end with a target of 1,500).

Some 26 per cent of jobs created in Q4 were associated with the boroughs SME businesses, compared to 45 per cent coming from the borough’s large companies. Some 22 per cent were associated with inward investment activity.

The support of the Enterprising Barnsley programme continues to make a significant contribution towards the ongoing rebalancing of the economy, with 40 per cent of all jobs created being classed as “better jobs” - jobs that grow Barnsley’s businesses in the long term, to ensure that Barnsley’s people are able to thrive.

  • The planning applications process saw 100 per cent performance in Q4, resulting in a 2019/20 outturn of 95.7 per cent against a target of 85 percent. The number of major applications in Q4 was below average, based on the past five years, but all were determined within time.
  • The number of 16 and 17 year olds on apprenticeships is currently performing well. At Q4 the percentage of young people engaged in an apprenticeship is 7.6 per cent, against a target of 7.4 per cent. In terms of benchmark comparator data (Nov 2019), Barnsley continues to outperform Yorkshire and Humber at 6.9 per cent and national at 5.1 per cent.
  • The percentage of the working age population with a Level 2+ qualification is at 71.9% which means Barnsley continues to close the gap with regional and national figures.

The percentage of the working age population with a Level 3+ qualification is 51.7 per cent, surpassing the target of 48 per cent and continuing to close the gap with regional and national figures. The percentage of the working age population with a Level 4+ qualification is 26.6 per cent, taking us over the target of 24 per cent.

  • Barnsley Museums has welcomed over 1.3 million visitors across its venues with the addition this year of Wentworth Castle Gardens. Quarter 4 performance was heavily affected by Covid-19 and extremes of weather, both of which led to site closures across the six venues. Covid-19 closures led to a loss of an estimated 40,000-70,000 visitors in March. Wentworth Castle Gardens has exceeded its targets during Quarter 4 and continues to build on its positive start. The service as a whole shows year on year growth of over five per cent.

A total of 212,140 people visited our museums during Q4, contributing an estimated £4.6 million to the local economy. Wentworth Castle Gardens contribution to the overall Q4 figures was £406,381.

  • Q4 saw 263 new homes built, exceeding the year end total by 66 and providing more and better homes for our existing and growing population.

Some 76 of these are affordable homes.

Areas to improve upon include the following:

  • Unfortunately, the impact of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the town centre footfall in March. We have fallen short of the target as a consequence of this. Footfall was 1,470,102 in Q4, meaning the year end figure is 6.1m against a target of 6.5m.
  • Some 83 per cent of market stalls are occupied, out of a target of 95 per cent).

Before lockdown, occupancy was steadily increasing as the market establishes itself and the Glassworks scheme starts to come online. Market Kitchen is 100 per cent occupied. There is now a growing interest in the ground floor Food Hall and Q4 saw some additional lets in this location. The rent reduction on the first floor has seen two new units let and we are looking to develop a youth enterprise zone in this location to develop interest in remaining units. 

The report also highlights the progress made towards the priority to help people achieve their potential by creating a healthier, safer and better educated population, as well as getting access to early help:

  • Currently, 99 per cent of childcare providers have either a good or outstanding outcome compared to 96 per cent nationally and 97 percent regionally. This is also above the council’s target of 97 per cent.

  • Latest available data shows that 34 young people entered the Youth Justice system for the first time (October 2018 to September 2019). This is a reduction on the 56 pupils reported for the same period the year before. In terms of the rate per 100,000 of the age 10-17 population; at 157, Barnsley is below the England average of 220 and the Yorkshire average of 229. Barnsley also saw a much greater reduction in comparison to the previous year at -41.3 per cent in comparison to -12.9 percent for England and -11.9 percent for Yorkshire.
  • Current performance represents a marked improvement across the year so far regarding the timeliness of adult social care reviews. Barnsley's performance of 92.8 per cent far exceeds the national average of 61 percent and is currently the second best performance among regional Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS).
  • Some 91.7 per cent of looked after Children were in family fostering placements at the end of Q4, against our target of 90.7 per cent.
  • 9 per cent of Adult Safeguarding Section 42 decisions (an enquiry if there is reason to believe that abuse or neglect is taking place or is at risk of taking place) were made within 72 hours. Performance has been above target for the whole of the financial year. The average time of one day to make a decision represents the best performance among regional ADASS groups.
  • Some 90.2 per cent per cent of Section 47 investigations (investigating situations where a concern has been expressed about the safety and well-being of a child) proceeded to initial child protection conference within 15 days in Q4. This is well above the year-end target of 60 per cent. Ofsted made this as a recommendation, and it demonstrates Barnsley Council’s ability to drive improvement for children.
  • In Q4, the council successfully prevented homelessness in a further 148. This brings the year-end figure to 606 against a target of 240.
  • The proportion of pupils attending schools and settings judged good or outstanding by Ofsted is 73.4 per cent. This is an improvement on the Q3 figure of 68.2 per cent.
  • Take up of two-year old’s entitlement is now at 73.4% taking us just over the target of 73 per cent. An action plan is in place to increase take up during the forthcoming financial year.

Areas for improvement include improving school attendance levels. Despite the slight improvement in the attendance of pupils in Barnsley Primary schools, the gap with national figure has increased. There was a slight decrease in the attendance of pupils in Barnsley Secondary schools in comparison to no change nationally. Improving attendance is a focus area of the Barnsley Alliance Improvement Strategy and the recruitment of an Education Welfare Officer for SEND pupils will support this further.

The council has also seen a drop in the number of adult social care clients in receipt of direct payments during Q4. The figure was 42.5 per cent which means the year-end target was missed by 7.5 per cent. This is due to the spot purchase project which resulted in a reduction in the number of those receiving a direct payments. 

Communities continue to become more strong and resilient, with some great achievements highlighted:

  • Q4 has seen a fantastic 1,620 people volunteering in their communities with 302 of these being new volunteers, an increase on the last quarter. It is likely that the take-up new volunteering in this quarter will be properly reflected in the next (Q1) report, due to the COVID-19 response, where we expect see a huge amount of new volunteers emerging to respond to the needs of their communities. 

  • In Q4, the council derived enough energy from waste to power 3,345 We are on track to comfortably exceed the annual target with our projected figures.
  • The percentage of total highways service cost spent directly on highway repairs (roads and footpaths) is 82.5 per cent at Q4 against a target of 70.35 per cent.
  • The Average Duration of Works on Principal / Major Routes was 3.68 days in Q4. Virgin Media installations were largely completed due to the reduced amount of road users.
  • The amount of antisocial behaviour incidents dealt with was 4,620 against an annual target of 7,120. There was an increase in anti-social behaviour incidents in Q4 to 1,206. Barnsley Council, in partnership with South Yorkshire Police, has taken prompt and decisive intervention measures to respond to a spike associated in ASB specifically involving young people in the town centre. Key locations including the library, interchange and fast food outlets were identified and a full list of individuals involved for whom we have developed intervention plans.

Areas for improvement include:

Improving the amount of household waste diverted from landfill and the number of refuse collections made on the scheduled day.

94.8 per cent of household waste was diverted from landfill. This is based only on January’s figures, but is under the annual target of 97.5 per cent.

88.3 per cent of all refuse collections were made on the scheduled day, against a target of 97 per cent.

Covid-19 had a massive impact on round completion in March. Green and Blue Rounds had to be turned off for a period of time due to the loss of staff because of Covid-19.

Cllr Alan Gardiner, Cabinet Spokesperson Core Services, said: “This report shows the tremendous achievements and progress made towards achieving the council’s corporate priorities, which together strive towards a brighter future for Barnsley.

It also shows how the Covid 19 pandemic has impacted on a number of council services and their related performance targets.

“We will continue to work hard to achieve and improve the outcomes for our customers and the community. There are already a number of initiatives in place to deal with areas where we need to make improvements.”

The Cabinet report can be read in full here and the performance report is available here

This news is linked to Town Spirit, our new way of working better together. We believe, that if everyone in Barnsley does just one thing, we can make our borough a more welcoming place to live, work, invest and visit.

We’re committed to #ImagineIt by working to make Barnsley a place where people love to live and work, and where they can see a brighter future for themselves and their families. #OwnIt by finding out how we’re reaching our goals by reading out quarterly performance reports.

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