Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 9th February, 2023 7.00 pm

Please let us know if you are planning to attend and have any access requirements or other needs which we need to take account of.

Venue: Council Chamber, Bury Town Hall

Contact: Chloe Ashworth  Democratic Services

No. Item




Apologies are noted above.



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 Pilkington declared an interest with regards to SEND Transport as he is currently applying for transport with the Authority.


MINUTES pdf icon PDF 296 KB

The minutes from the meeting held on 12th January 2023 are attached for approval.


It was agreed:


1. The minutes of the meeting held on 12th January 2023 be approved.




here were no matters arising.



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 public questions.



A period of up to 15 minutes will be allocated for questions and supplementary questions from members of the Council who are not members of the committee. This period may be varied at the discretion of the chair.


There were no member questions.



A report from the Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Finance and Communities is attached.


Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member outlined the forecast financial position of the Council at the end of 2022/23 based on the information known at the end of the third quarter, 31st December 2022. The report set out the position for both revenue and capital and provides an analysis of the variances, both under and overspending.


Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Communities and Finance highlighted the forecast out turn position and forecast overspend at quarter 3 of £3.959m. Members were advised where budgets are overspending work is taking place to identify mitigating actions to bring budgets back into line. This is in line with the forecast at quarter 2 which was circa £4m after allowing for the pay award which has now been paid and the utilisation of the utilities reserve.


Therefore, it is imperative that Departments continue to look to bring forward savings proposals and mitigating actions to reduce expenditure and bring spend back into line but recognise this is more difficult to do as year-end approaches.  However, if the creation of the Children’s £2m reserve is approved as part of the 2023/24 budget this will allow the release of the balance of the childrens reserve currently held which will reduce the year end forecast deficit by £2m.


Highest areas of overspend are:


One Commissioning Organisation £1.4m

This has reduced from the forecast of £1.92m at quarter 2. The forecast overspend is due to slippage on savings delivery and increased demand, partially offset by underspends due to staff vacancies. The mitigation of the £0.7m of Persona savings continue to be a challenge and requires further work.


Children’s Services £6.452m


This is an increase from the £3.5m reported at quarter 2 and assumes the use of £1.5m of the reserve created at the end of 21/22.  The balance was due to be retained to fund the family safeguarding model into next year.  However, this could be released in year subject to the approval to recreate this reserve next year.

£4.784m up from £2.7m at quarter 2 of the overspend is within social care and safeguarding due to increased numbers and complexity of packages and the heavy reliance on agency workers and additional staffing costs. 


Education and Inclusion is also forecast to overspend by £2.117 with circa £1.5m of this being within SEN transport.


Operations Department £3.47m


A slight rise from the £3.15m at quarter 2 and £1.788m up from £1.6m this is due to inflationary pressures on fuel and energy costs.    It should be noted that the utilities reserve is held separately but this is only £1.5m across all Council services.


Members were then invited to ask questions.


·         Councillor Birchmore asked for clarification on the item “Engineers including Parking” table referring to 7D - Operations Directorate


Donna Ball, Executive Director advised this information can be shared following the meeting.


·         Councillor Vernon questioned if this reduction of income is due to loosing income from the flexi hall being built.


Donna Ball Executive Director of Operations advised this is not in the budget it  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC.7



A report from the Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Finance and Communities is attached.



Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Communities and Finance advised members that this report forms part of a suite of documents relating to the Council’s budget setting process for 2023/24 and establishes the Housing Revenue Account budget for 2023/24. Councillor Gold highlighted that the report proposes the rent levels for Council Housing for Dwelling and Garage rents, Sheltered Support, Management, Service and Heating charges and Furnished Tenancy charges. In addition, the report establishes the Management Fee paid to Six Town Housing for 2023/24.


Members were informed that for 2023/24 individual social and affordable rents will be set at the Governments rent cap of 7% with effect from 3rd April 2023.


·         Councillor Birchmore flagged about the transfer of 280 properties to Springs Tenant Co-operative which is a 3% reduction in properties for Six Town Housing to Manage.


·         Members discussed the rent lost on empty properties being projected to be 1.07% over the course of 2022/23; this will mean a reduction in rent income of approximately £22k as the original budget allowed for a void level of 1%. They asked for reassurance on what is being done to get to this projection.


Members were advised this have been discussed with Six Town Housing and has been agreed as deliverable with them.


·         Councillor Birchmore questioned the future of Six Town Housing


Lynne Ridsdale, Deputy Chief Executive advised work is being done on this and there will be a report sent to Cabinet on proposals by the end of the financial year.


·         Councillor FitzGerald flagged that the is a strong possibility that new legislation may be brough forward on work required to properties that will need to be done by Six Town Housing.


·         Councillor Vernon questioned information regarding the lost income from the Fern Hill Caravan Site


In response Paul Lakin, Executive Director of Place advised that travellers have been decanted to alternative sites across the country.


In conclusion Councillor Vernon thanked all for their questions and responses.







A report from the Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Finance and Communities is attached.

· The Council’s Budget 2023/24 and the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2023/24 - 2026/27 (Appendix 4 attached)

· The Dedicated Schools Grant and setting the Schools Budget 2023- 24

· Capital Strategy and Capital programme 2023/24

· Flexible use of Capital Receipts Strategy 2023/24

· Treasury Management Strategy and Prudential Indicators 2023/24

Additional documents:


Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Communities and Finance provided an overview of the budget reports, there comprised of:


·         The Council’s Budget 2023/24 and the Medium-Term Financial Strategy 2023/24 - 2026/27 (Appendix 4 attached)

·         The Dedicated Schools Grant and setting the schools Budget 2023- 24

·         Capital Strategy and Capital programme 2023/24

·         Flexible use of Capital Receipts Strategy 2023/24

·         Treasury Management Strategy and Prudential Indicators 2023/24


Councillor Gold advised members the budget is set amongst the backdrop of the economic crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising energy costs, rising interest rates, rising inflation and also the local context of the Children’s Improvement journey and workforce shortages, particularly social workers. The funding settlement did result in a welcome increase in grants over and above those previously anticipated, but these are nonrecurrent. The proposal is to approve an increase in Council Tax of 2.99% in terms of General Council Tax and a further 2% for the Adult Social Care Precept in each of the 2023/24 and 2024/25 financial years.


Spending pressures identified within the budget reports are:

·         £1million for utilities

·         £1million per annum for 2 years to fund the children’s safeguarding



Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Communities and Finance opened to questions from Committee Members.


·         Cllr Boles questioned about the increase in Education Health and Care Plans and stated we have more people than ever before with them, he asked if this a concern for future overspend and what reassurances do we have that these monies provided to schools are spent effectively.


Jeanette Richards, Executive Director of Children and Young People advised it is ensuring need for children is appropriately met and EHC plans are a vehicle to ensuring this. Bury has seen growth in the number of children who require an EHC Plan. Bury has strengthened the support before EHC Plans to support children and families and supporting schools. In addition, once a child does have a plan it is about ensuring it is robust and scrutiny to check the planned support does yield better outcomes for the child. There is also multi agency audits of Education Health and Care Plans.


·         Councillor Lancaster questioned the Councillors Discretionary Budget


Committee Members were advised it is not in the budget.


·         Councillor Lancaster questioned if consideration to selling the Restaurant in Lytham St Annes has been given.


Paul Lakin, Executive Director of Place advised the property has been re-let, and there are tenants in the building, there are several properties that were acquires simultaneously several years ago and they are continually monitored.


·         Councillor Moss asked for assurances about the use reserves


In response Sam Evans Executive Director of Finance advised she has undertaken a piece of work this year looking at all of the reserves and this will be completed as part of the year end process, we will have the amount of reserves to smooth but we are not in a position to not use any further so we will be looking to replenish reserves in future


·         Councillor Walsh asked about the reduction in  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC.9



Any other business which by reason of special circumstances the Chair agrees may be considered as a matter of urgency.


There was no urgent business.