Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 7th September, 2017 7.00 pm

Venue: Meeting Rooms A & B - Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Andrea Tomlinson  Democratic Services

No. Item



Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee are asked to consider whether they have an interest in any matters on the agenda and, if so, to formally declare that interest.


Councillor S Wright declared a personal interest in any items relating to schools as his wife is employed at a Bury School.


Councillor J Walker declared a personal interest in the item relating to the Neighbourhood Engagement Item as he is Deputy Cabinet Member for Communities.



The Minutes of the Meeting held on 4 July 2017 are attached.


The Minutes of the Meeting held on 18 July 2017 are attached.

Additional documents:


It was agreed:


That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 4 July 2017 and 18 July 2017 be approved as correct records and signed by the Chair.



A briefing note is attached.


Further to the meeting held on 4 July 2017 Councillor Smith referred to the topic of devolution being included on the work programme. It wasn’t on the forward plan so Councillor Smith asked whether the Committee would be receiving an update on it.


It was hoped that the Committee would be given the opportunity to review the work that was being carried out in relation to devolution across Greater Manchester at its February 2018 meeting.


Further to Minute OSC.49 of the Meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 4 July 2017, Klare Rufo Assistant Director and Peter Lowe Head of Finance Services, Children, Young People and Culture attended the meeting to update members on the Schools and the Dedicated Schools Grant 2016/2017 following the questions that were raised in relation to this:


  • Councillor Wright referred to the academisation of schools and whether more schools becoming academies would affect schools’ funding and what impact this would have in relation to Council finances.


The local schools funding formula is determined each year by Financial Services in consultation with the Schools Forum and approved by the Council at the annual Budget Setting meeting.  The local formula is the basis on how each school and each academy within the local authority area is funded.


These funds are provided by the national taxpayer through the ring-fenced Dedicated Schools Grant which is currently determined for each local authority by the Department for Education (DfE).


Those schools that convert to an academy, the DfE will provide additional resources from their coffers to compensate the converters for what the local authority used to provide for schools generally ‘free-of-charge’, for example VAT compliance and returns, closure of accounts and audit fees. 


Also the local authority achieves efficiencies through economies of scale, for example insurance premiums, which individual academies are not able to benefit from.  The DfE provide additional funding and are developing schemes to assist academies with these additional costs.


Although local authorities are seeing reductions in their external funding for some education services, these are subject to change in the national funding arrangements being proposed by the DfE.  Although there are indications what these proposals might mean for local authorities like Bury, the details won’t be known for a few weeks.


Local authorities are able to trade with academies and a number of services, e.g. payroll, are already working with academies within Bury and also to a number of academies outside of the Bury area.


·         Councillor James referred to schools’ overspending and the requirement for them to repay the deficit to the DSG Control Account. Councillor James asked how schools would be able to repay this if they didn’t have the funds available.


Almost 90% of Bury schools have surplus funds and the others have action plans to bring them into a balance budget position by 2018/19.  This could fluctuate depending upon the impact of the proposed national funding formula that the DfE have indicated should begin in 2018/19 with full implementation by  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC.142



A period of 30 minutes has been set aside for members of the public to ask questions on matters considered at the last meeting and set out in the minutes or on the agenda for tonight’s meeting.


There were no members of the public in attendance at the meeting.



A report from the Cabinet Member for Finance and Housing is attached.

Appendix A attached

Appendix B attached

Appendix C attached

Additional documents:


Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, Cabinet Member for Finance and Housing presented the Corporate Financial Monitoring Report – April 2017 to June 2017. The report informs Members of the Council’s financial position for the period April 2017 to June 2017 and projects the estimated outturn at the end of 2017/18.


The report also included Prudential Indicators in accordance with CIPFA’s Prudential Code.


Set out in the report was a projected overspend of £3.651m which represents approximately 2.70% of the total net budget of £135.330m. 


Due to the extremely difficult financial situation that the Council faced in 2016/17 the Senior Leadership Team agreed and drew up an action plan with some immediate additional spending controls over & above usual controls. These will continue in 2017/18.


These include:


·         Recruitment freeze on staff and new agency placements (exceptions to be signed off by SLT);


·         Release of all existing casual / agency staff (exceptions to be signed off by           SLT);


·         Cease overtime / additional hours (exceptions to be signed off by SLT);


·         Enter into no new training commitments, and review existing arrangements           (exceptions to be signed off by SLT);


·         Re-launch Work Life Balance options around reduced hours / purchase of leave;


·         Cease spend on discretionary budgets; stationery, office equipment etc;


·         Cease spend on IT / Communications (exceptions to be signed off by SLT);


·         Any spend greater than £250 to be signed off by Executive Director;


·         Any new contractual commitments greater than £5,000 (lifetime value of contract) to be signed off by SLT;


·         Consider “in year” budget options – e.g. previously unidentified efficiencies,           review of non-key services.


These were communicated to staff in 2016/17 and compliance with these will continue to be monitored throughout the year.  It is expected that these actions will not only help to reduce the financial burden facing the Council within the current year but also for the coming years.


In addition to these measures, Executive Directors have been tasked with preparing “turnaround” plans as a matter of urgency for their Departments, to ensure that levels of expenditure are controlled and sustainable going forward.


Service specific monitoring was set out at section 4 of the report and highlighted demand pressures within the 3 directorates and what action was being taken in response to these.


Members were given the opportunity to ask questions and make comments and the following points were raised:-


  • Councillor Hankey referred to the civic halls and the review that was being undertaken. He asked when the review would be completed as it seemed to have been going on for years.


It was explained that some services required ongoing reviews to ensure that they were fit for purpose.


  • Council Hankey asked whether the 10 measures that had been put in place had had the desired impact.


Councillor O’Brien reported that the measures had helped to save £285,000 so the effects of the measures were being felt.


  • Councillor Harris asked whether the Council were using agency staff to fill vacant posts.


It was explained that the Council had its own agency for admin  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC.144



A report from the Leader of the Council is attached

·         The report from the Leader of the Council presented to Cabinet on 27 June 2017 is attached

·         Appendix 1a attached

·         Appendix 1b attached

·         Appendix 2 attached

Additional documents:


Councillor Shori, Leader of the Council presented a report providing Members with an update on performance in line with Team Bury’s Single Outcomes Framework.


It was explained that under each of the single framework outcomes are a series of indicators and performance measures. These collectively contribute towards the delivery of the respective outcome.


The report and appendices detailed a number of areas where performance has improved or is at a high level including; household recycling rates (up by 3.52% for the year); reablement service effectiveness; and increase in Council gym membership and; increase in social contact received by adult social care users.


The report also made reference to areas of performance that were less positive such as spikes to calls in Council Tax; pressures on the urgent care system and; recognition of Bury being significantly lower than the national average for top A level grades.


It was explained that where performance was declining or below target or another relevant comparator, work would take place to understand what was required to improve performance. This would be done by understanding the partners involved, the true reasons as to why the data was as it was and assess what would be required to improve performance.


It was also reported that work was being carried out within several areas of the Council in relation to refreshing strategies and performance arrangements. Future reports to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee will include enhanced details on the Life Chances Commission and Community Safety.


Those present were invited to ask questions or make comments and the following points were raised:


  • Councillor Hankey explained that the lay-out of the report was easy to understand and asked whether comparisons could be built into future reports.


It was explained that this was currently being worked into future versions.


  • Councillor Smith referred to the indicator relating to safeguarding concerns and that the number had increased. She asked which organisation was responsible.


It was explained that indicators quantify performance at a whole population level, so more reflect the state of the Borough. The Council has a role to play in contributing towards the indicators but it was explained that no one organisation was solely responsible for the achievement of the indicator.


  • A question was raised with regards to the spike in the number of telephone calls made to Council Tax and what the reason for this was.


It was explained that there had been a number of changes in relation to council tax and these were set out within the report. It was also explained that there would be more specific information available once the full year figures were included.  


It was agreed:


That the update be noted and that the team involved in producing the report be thanked for their input.



A report from the Neighbourhood Engagement Manager is attached.


Councillor Tariq, Cabinet Member for Communities presented a report setting out the new Neighbourhood Engagement Framework which had been developed to enable behaviour change and build independence, shared decision making, democratic accountability and voice, genuine co-production and joint delivery of services.


The new framework offers a ‘3,2,1’ approach to working with and investing in neighbourhoods at various levels across Bury through the following structures:


3. – Borough Wide Engagement

This will be available in the form of a digital engagement platform that will be aligned to Team Bury’s existing digital offer.


2. – Township Level Engagement

At Township level, the framework will build upon the borough wide digital engagement offer through an Annual Neighbourhood Network meeting and Neighbourhood Celebration Awards ceremony in each of the six Township areas.


1.   – Ward Level Engagement

At Ward level, the framework will build upon the borough wide digital engagement offer, Annual Neighbourhood Network meeting and Neighbourhood Celebration Awards ceremony in each of the six Township areas. It offers an annual or bi-annual Ward-level Neighbourhood Engagement Forum meeting which is linked to two ward level Participatory Budgeting events. Priorities for each ward will be decided and actioned via a series of Project/Action groups led and determined by people living in the local area but supported where required by the Neighbourhood Engagement Co-ordinator.


The new approachoffers an alternative model which replaces the old Community Grants budget of £56k and previous allocation process with a combination of:

·         Participatory Budgets (PB) to be invested at either Township or Ward level events

·         Elected Member Discretionary Budgets (£250 per Councillor)

·         Strengthened by an additional £450k of Transformation monies over three years (£50k year one, £200k year two, £200k year three)


It was explained that the new Neighbourhood Engagement Framework and Grant Investment Model were approved at CWB Wider Management Board, SLT, Labour Group, Cabinet, Scrutiny and full Council in April.


The draft operating principles which provide governance for the new structures and funding framework have been developed by the Neighbourhood Engagement Team and co-produced by the newly appointed Elected Member Engagement Leads.


A series of development workshops have taken place and planning has started on the next stages of implementation of the new framework.


Pre-paid cards will be utilised for both Participatory Budgets and Elected Member Discretionary Budgets with governance outlined within the Operating Principles.


It was explained that the framework will be monitored via a set of clearly defined key performance indicators and outcomes that align with the Team Bury Single Framework. An annual performance review will be undertaken at the end of each Municipal Year and a report produced at Annual Council and to Team Bury


Those present were given the opportunity to ask questions and make comments and the following points were raised:-


  • It was asked what safeguards were in place and whether there would be any punishment for abuse of the system in relation to the Elected Member Discretionary Budgets.


It was stated that there would be a vigorous monitoring process in place  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC.146



The Overview & Scrutiny Forward Plan is attached


The Work Programme was presented to the Committee for information.