Registration Services Annual Report 21/22 - To review the performance of the service area
- Meeting of Performance and Overview Scrutiny Committee, Tuesday, 17th January, 2023 10.00 am (Item 4.)
Jennifer Walton presented the report and answered the members’ questions with David Jones.
Alistair: The Monmouthshire birth-rate reduced significantly in this period – is that an aberration or trend? Does it reflect more widely?
There hasn’t been a dramatic drop in births but Monmouthshire residents are now going to The Grange, in Torfaen.
If the birth-rate is now split with The Grange, how do we know what the numbers and trends are?
The maternity services in Nevill Hall have been downgraded with The Grange’s opening, so it is midwife-led only. The majority of births in Aneurin Bevan now occur in Torfaen, therefore. The figures are fed into ONS, so those for Monmouthshire can be retrieved at any time, but we only have access for those births that occurred in the county. Also, following Covid, there were times this year when the maternity departments in Nevill Hall had to be closed due to staff pressures.
5.1, Is there information on the development of partnership working? To what extent has it been part of the thinking in the budget process?
We intend that partnership working will expand to include death registrations as well. Currently, a birth can be registered at any office in the Aneurin Bevan HB area, which has proven very popular and helped us to manage the backlog coming out of Covid. The ceremonies programmed last summer were so extensive that we couldn’t look at developing the service for death registrations but we hope to begin planning meetings soon, and the logistics are already in place.
What access do residents have to registrations and records?
Any resident can put in a request for a historical certificate, any details they have they can submit and we will search the records for them. The records are kept in a temperature-controlled strong room so we don’t generally allow public to view them themselves but anyone can submit a request and we will do our best to track down the information.
Customer feedback is good, though anecdotal – will digital feedback allow more quantitative information about residents’ views on these services and whether we can improve?
Customer feedback is generally fantastic, especially as we’re often dealing with people who have experienced a bereavement, for example. But we can quantify it better, yes. We are hopeful that the digital service will make a difference and that it will get underway soon.
Is there a way of baselining or relating the feedback to other areas, and is there any learning there?
The Register Office publishes monthly Performance data across England and Wales, so we can see our rank against everyone else, and we have regular visits from the compliance officer, who will raise any concerns with us based on the figures.
Are Marriage Registers now obsolete?
Over a long period of time there were discussions about trying to include mothers on marriage entries, as well as fathers; the solution reached was to dispense with the marriage registers altogether. Previously, the registrar took a register to the wedding, in which everyone wrote and signed. There is now a ‘Schedule’, a piece of paper with all of the information, checked and signed by all parties, but this is not the legal document – the registration is completed when taken back to the office and logged on the system. We store the previous registers but everything going forward will be on the database.
The team is comprised of 11 casual workers and 7 others?
This is a mistake in the report: there are 6 in the office and 11 casual workers.
Because of the new system, people aren’t getting marriage certificates as quickly as they would like – what is being done to speed that up?
There is a learning curve, and next year’s report will show that the numbers have gone up significantly. We are conscious of needing to allow more time and resources so that the certificates go out more quickly. We have regular meetings with the Superintendent of registrars across Wales, in which we have discussed whether something can be produced for the couple to have on the day – we can look to do this in the future, but the advice has been not to do so for now, in order to avoid confusion. The aim now is to work on getting the certificates out within a few days.
Can we, as a Council, make an input at a national level to the Citizenship Test? Some of the questions seem outdated or irrelevant, are we able to provide feedback?
Officers can enquire as to whether MCC can have an input on a national level towards the Citizenship test having more sensible questions – ACTION
The committee accepts the report and thanks the officers and their team. It is always good to see areas for improvement in the report – we would encourage considering the ways that they can be built in.