Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 13th February, 2019 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Andrea Tomlinson  Democratic Services

Items
No. Item

OSC.345

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

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.

Minutes:

Councillor Leach declared a personal interest in any item relating to the NHS and CCG as she works for the NHS.

 

Councillor Harris declared a personal interest in any item relating to Six Town Housing as she is a member of the board.

OSC.346

PUBLIC QUESTION TIME

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.

Minutes:

There were no questions asked under this item.

OSC.347

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 92 KB

Minutes:

It was agreed:

 

That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 21 January 2019 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

OSC.348

MONTH 9 CORPORATE MONITORING REPORT pdf icon PDF 400 KB

A Report from the Interim Executive Director of Resources and Regulation is attached.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor O’Brien, Cabinet Member for Finance and Housing submitted a report informing the Committee of the Council’s financial position for the period April to December 2018 and projecting the likely outturn at the end of 2018/19.

 

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

 

It was reported that the current projected overspend was £2.608m which represented approximately 1.89% of the total net budget of £138.016 and was a reduced figure from the previous quarter.

 

Service specific financial monitoring was included within the report and provided more detailed analysis for each department.

                                               

Questions and comments were invited from the Committee and the following issues were raised:-

 

·         Councillor Hankey referred to the 10 point cost saving plan that was set out within the report and had been in place for a number of years and asked how effective the measures had been.

 

Steve Kenyon explained that it was difficult to attribute figures to the measures as the information isn’t available. It was a healthy exercise to undertake as it challenged and enhanced the approval processes.

 

·         Councillor Hankey stated that the plans produced always contained ambitious cost savings which weren’t always met and seen through to the end of the plan. Councillor Hankey asked if a plan would be seen through.

 

Councillor O’Brien explained that it was quite difficult to work towards objectives that weren’t clearly defined and looking 3 years ahead. There was always an ongoing process of change.

 

·         Councillor Caserta referred to the costs associated by using Independent Fostering Agencies and the amount that the Council paid in house foster carers. Councillor Caserta stated that he was aware that the Council had historically paid less than IFAs and other Councils but had good relationships with Foster Carers. Recently, the amount paid to in house foster carers had increased and Councillor Caserta asked why this was.

 

Karen Dolton explained that there had been improvements in the way that IFAs and other local authorities worked with their foster carers to the point that the Council was no longer seen as the best option and therefore in house foster carers were moving to either IFAs or other local authorities as they paid more. The council needed to retain foster carers so had to be competitive in the amounts paid to them.

 

Karen also reported that it was anticipated that the Council reduce the use of IFAs over the next 3 years.

 

Councillor O’Brien also explained that a lot of work was being done in relation to prevention work which would lead to a reduction of looked after children in the borough.

 

·         Councillor N Jones referred to 3.6.1 in the report and the reference to recruitment freeze and stated that the Council had recently employed a number of directors and assistant directors at a significant cost.

 

Geoff Little, Chief Executive explained that the Council had changed its structure at the top level to bring in new skills that would be required to meet the challenges that it was facing. There was a  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC.348

OSC.349

2019/2020 BUDGET REPORT pdf icon PDF 570 KB

A report from the Interim Executive Director of Resources and Regulation is attached.

·         Directorate Budget Reports

·         2019/2010 Capital Strategy & Capital Programme 2019/2020

·         2019/2020 Dedicated Schools Grant

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor O’Brien, Cabinet Member for Finance and Housing presented a report providing Members with details of the 2019/2020 revenue budget and outlined;

 

·         Local Government Finance Settlement for 2019/20

·         Forecast Outturn for 2018/2019

·         Budget Strategy for 2019/2010 and the approach to balancing the budget in future years

 

The report also examines the robustness of the assumptions behind the budget forecast and contains an assessment on the adequacy of the Council’s balances.

 

Councillor O’Brien explained that the Council had had to change the way that it functions and make a number of short term decisions in the lead up to the roll out of the transformation work.

 

The Council will be working differently than it has in the past and will incorporate health and social care and the CCG.

 

Geoff Little, Chief Executive explained that the papers provided to the Committee were a lot more in depth than in previous years’ and contained more depth and detail on how savings will be delivered. Each Directorate had provided an individual report including audit trails, details of achievements made or not, new delivery models and partnership working.

 

Geoff explained that the Council would face a challenging year to deliver what it needs to and to build up reserves for the future in order that a 3 year rolling budget can be set from 2021 onwards. A Corporate Plan will be produced which will promote stronger Corporate Governance. Each Directorate will be required to produce their own 3 year plans which will include business plans.

 

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

 

·         Councillor Harris referred to the use of dormant Earmarked Reserves which was set out in the report and asked what these related to.

 

Councillor O’Brien explained that there had recently been a review undertaken of all of the Earmarked Reserves, the 5 that were included within the budget were identified as no longer being needed and could therefore be used as a one off.

 

·         Councillor Bayley referred to the austerity measures that had been introduced by Central Government and asked what the cumulative effects to the Council were.

 

Councillor O’Brien stated that the Council had lost 650 staff members and had financial cuts of £97m, demand has increased across most services which had meant that difficult decisions had to be made.

 

·         Councillor N Jones referred to the figures in the report regarding 200 – 300 new houses being built on brownfield sites and asked how this would be funded.

 

Councillor O’Brien explained that the Council could use borrowing to fund house building and grants would also be applied for through Homes England.

 

·         Councillor N Jones referred to the 4000 houses that were mentioned further on in the report and asked how these would be funded?

 

Councillor O’Brien explained that business cases would be drawn up for each scheme. It was anticipated that there would be 200 to 300 houses built to start with and the money made going back into the pot  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC.349

OSC.350

2019/2020 HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT pdf icon PDF 153 KB

A Report from the Interim Executive Director of Resources and Regulation is attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor O’Brien, Cabinet Member for Finance and Housing presented a report providing Members with details of the proposed Housing Revenue Account for 2019/2020 and proposals for Dwelling and Garage rents, Sheltered Support, Management, Amenities and Heating charges, Furnished Tenancy Charges and Fernhill Caravan Site tenancy charges.

 

It was agreed:

 

That the contents of the report be noted

OSC.351

2019/2020 TREASURY MANAGEMENT STRATEGY pdf icon PDF 549 KB

A Report from the Interim Executive Director of Resources and Regulation is attached.

 

Minutes:

Councillor O’Brien, Cabinet Member for Finance and Housing presented a report setting out the suggested Strategy for 2019/2020 in respect of the following aspects of the Treasury Management function.  It is based upon the Treasury officers’ views on interest rates, supplemented with leading market forecasts provided by the Council’s treasury advisor.  The Strategy covers:

 

·       Capital plans and prudential indicators;

·       the minimum revenue provision policy;

·       the current treasury position;

·      treasury limits in force which will limit the treasury risk and activities of the Council;

·      prospects for interest rates;

·      the borrowing strategy;

·         policy on borrowing in advance of need

·         debt rescheduling;

·         the investment strategy;

·         creditworthiness policy; and

·         policy on use of external service providers

 

It was agreed:

 

That the contents of the report be noted