Agenda and minutes

Executive - Tuesday, 25th July, 2023 6.30 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2 Town Hall

Contact: Democratic Services  01527 64252 (Ext 3072)

No. Item




An apology for absence was received on behalf of Councillor Joanne Beecham.




Declarations of Interest

To invite Councillors to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and / or Other Disclosable Interests they may have in items on the agenda, and to confirm the nature of those interests.


Members requested clarification as to whether those Members who owned businesses and who theoretically could submit bids in the Council’s procurement process needed to declare an interest in respect of Minute Item No. 19 – Approvals to Spend Report.  Officers advised that as the report did not relate to specific contracts, no conflicts of interest had been identified on this occasion.




Leader's Announcements


The Leader advised that at the latest meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 20th July 2023, Members had pre-scrutinised the Worcestershire Housing Strategy 2023 - 2040.  The Committee had made a recommendation on the subject, which had been published in a supplementary pack for consideration at the Executive Committee meeting.  Members were urged to consider the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s recommendation when discussing that item.


The Committee was also asked to note that during a meeting of the Budget Scrutiny Working Group that took place on 24th July 2023, Members had pre-scrutinised the Approval to Spend report.  The Budget Scrutiny Working Group had agreed a number of comments that they were keen for the Executive Committee to be made aware of when considering this item and those comments had been published in a second supplementary pack for the Executive Committee meeting. 




Worcestershire Housing Strategy 2040 pdf icon PDF 241 KB

Additional documents:


The Chief Executive presented the Worcestershire Housing Strategy 2023 – 2040. 


The Executive Committee was advised that the strategy had been commissioned by Worcestershire Leaders’ Board in 2021 and had involved partner organisations working together.  As part of the process, there had been a lot of consultation held with local stakeholders from the public, private and voluntary sectors.  The strategy was designed to provide a good evidence basis for addressing housing issues at a local level.  Redditch Borough Council, like other District Councils in Worcestershire, would develop a bespoke action plan for the Borough which would address specific local housing needs.  Reference was made in the report to homelessness but Members were asked to note that a detailed Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy had already been approved by Councils in Worcestershire, including Redditch Borough Council.


Following the presentation of the report, Members discussed the content of the strategy in detail and in doing so raised a number of points:


·             The importance of housing to a range of issues impacting on residents, including health and well being and the local economy.

·             The challenges in respect of housing provision locally, regionally and nationally and the action that could be taken by the Council in this context.

·             The need for joined up thinking and for partner organisations to work together to ensure that good quality homes were available to meet the needs of local residents.

·             The potential for the Council to learn from other district authorities when drafting the bespoke action plan for Redditch.

·             The level of commitment from partner organisations to delivering the vision detailed in the Worcestershire Housing Strategy and the need for organisations to recognise the value of housing in terms of helping to take preventative action in respect of poor health and other factors that impacted on people’s lives.

·             The impact of the cost of living crisis on the extent to which partner organisations would recognise the importance of housing to local communities.

·             The levels of deprivation in Redditch compared to other parts of Worcestershire and the impact that poor quality housing could have on deprived communities.

·             The role of Redditch Borough Council has a social housing provider and the demand locally for Council houses.

·             The extent to which public consultation would be undertaken with respect to the Redditch action plan and the forms of consultation that might be utilised.

·             The financial costs involved in retrofitting existing houses and the point at which it would be more cost effective to build new homes to replace existing buildings.

·             The extent to which owner occupiers would be eligible to apply for grant funding to help with retrofitting their properties.

·             The grant funding available from the Government for the decarbonisation of properties and the likely level of demand for this funding for properties in the Borough.  Officers explained that bids would need to be submitted and there was likely to be a lot of demand for this funding in relation to social housing units.

·             The role of the local MP for Redditch  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Finance Recovery Plan - Update pdf icon PDF 538 KB


The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling presented an update on the Finance Recovery Plan for the Executive Committee’s consideration.


Members were informed that the purpose of the report was to set out the processes the Council had been following to rectify a deterioration in its financial position and processes due to the impact of the implementation of a new financial system in February 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic.  A finance recovery programme had been put in place from April 2022 to start to rectify the situation. This was reported through to the Executive Committee in September 2022.    


The Financial Recovery Plan had built on comments from the external auditors, Grant Thornton, relating to the 2019/20 accounts, which were only approved in the autumn of 2021 and the subsequent issuing of the Section 24 recommendations to the Council on 31st October 2022 due to non-delivery of the 2020/21 Statement of Accounts. Comments on the 2019/20 accounts had highlighted issues on working papers, which were raised as a significant issue.


The Committee was informed that the Council continued to move forward with the rectification processes required in particular:


·       The Corporate Peer Challenge took place in March 2023, which was a joint review with Bromsgrove District Council, and the associated action plans had been discussed at the Executive Committee meeting held on 13th June 2023.  This included a “finance action plan”, to meet the Peer Challenge’s recommendations.

·       Redditch Members, at a meeting of the Executive Committee held on 13th June 2023, approved the implementation of the recommendations of the Bromsgrove Audit Task Group whose objective was to carry out a root and branch review on how and why Bromsgrove District Council received Section 24 recommendations.  This Task Group met in February 2023 and its findings were initially presented to the Redditch Audit, Governance and Standards Committee at a meeting held on 23rd March 2023.

·       The Audit, Governance and Standards Committee, as a standing agenda item, reviewed progress against the audit recommendations, and national and local deadlines.


In terms of closure of the 2020/21 accounts, Members were advised of the following timeframes:


·             Agreement of treatment of the take on balances would take place in early July 2023 as significantly more testing was required by the external auditors.

·             Provision of the draft 2020/21 accounts to the external auditors (to begin the audit) would take place in July 2023.  This was dependent on the external auditor’s confirmation that they had approved both Councils’ take-on balances work.  The auditors were having issues in how they needed to test the transactional data due to their “normal” models not working on the authorities’ data.

·             The 2020/21 audit was due to take place between July to September 2023 (although these were estimated timeframes).

·             Sign off of the 2020/21 accounts was scheduled to occur by November 2023.

·             Closure of the 2021/22 accounts was planned for sign off by May 2024.

·             Closure of the 2022/23 accounts was planned to be signed off by November 2024.


The Committee  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Approvals to Spend Report pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Additional documents:


The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling presented the Approvals to Spend report for the Executive Committee’s consideration.


Members were informed that the report detailed the key implications of the new Procurement Bill, which needed to be enacted by 1st April 2024.  The Bill introduced a requirement for greater transparency in terms of how Councils undertook their business.  The Bill would reform the UK’s public procurement regime, and aimed to make it quicker, simpler, more transparent and better able to meet the UK’s needs while remaining compliant with international obligations.  The legislation would introduce a new regime that was based on value for money, competition and objective criteria in decision-making.  The legislation required Councils to more effectively open up public procurement to new entrants such as small businesses and social enterprises so that they could compete for and win more public contracts.     


The Committee was assured that, whist this might appear daunting, the recent work that the Council had already done to put measures in place meant that the majority of the requirements under the new legislation were already being addressed with a few changes required for transparency purposes.  Measures already in place included:


·        The No Compliance No Order procurement regime which had been implemented on the TechOne system on the 1st April 2023. With this, an order could not be raised unless it was linked to a contract or an identifiable procurement route.

·        All new suppliers had to be approved by the procurement and payments teams. 

·        Monthly spending of over £500 was already published on the Council’s website.

·        The Council had an European Professional Card (EPC) card system for small expenditure.

·        The authority’s contracts register was available to Officers, Members and the public to view.

·        The Procurement team was available for monthly meetings with Heads of Service and this ensured the procurement team had knowledge of what service departments were procuring and that they could check that there was compliance with the No Compliance No Order regime.

·        Procurement training was provided to teams on request.

·        Monthly accounts payable training was being delivered.

·        There was a dedicated Procurement team page on the Council’s website.


Part 5 of the Council’s Constitution detailed the Officer Scheme of Delegations.  This scheme outlined the decisions that had been delegated to Officers by the Executive Committee and Council. The Council’s Constitution clarified that key decisions with signficant financial implications for the authority were Executive level decisions with a combined financial spend (either as a single item or for the length of the contract) of £50,000 or more.  This included revenue, capital and Section 106 allocations.


There was a legal requirement for the Council to give notice of forthcoming key decisions and the authority did this by publishing items on the Executive Committee’s Work Programme.  Decisions due to be taken by the Executive Committee were actioned through a report presented for consideration at a meeting of the Committee.  Decisions that were delegated to Officers were actioned via an Officer Decision Notice.


The Council’s Procurement  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


Treasury Outturn Report 22/23 pdf icon PDF 443 KB


The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling presented the Treasury Outturn Report 2022/23 and in doing so explained that the report presented the draft outturn position on the Council’s Capital and Treasury Management Strategies, including all prudential indicators.  There was the requirement for progress in respect of this matter to be reported through the Executive Committee to Council. 


The 2021 Prudential Code included a requirement for local authorities to provide a Capital Strategy, a summary document approved by full Council, covering capital expenditure and financing, treasury management and non-treasury investments. The authority’s Capital Strategy, complying with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA’s) requirement, was approved by full Council on 27th June 2022.


On 31st March 2023, the authority had a position of net borrowing of £93.3 million arising from revenue and capital income and expenditure. The underlying need to borrow for capital purposes was measured by the Capital Financing Requirement (CFR), while usable reserves and working capital were the underlying resources available for investment. The Council was making returns in the region of 4 per cent for the balances it was investing in the short-term (working capital).  In terms of the Council’s borrowing position, the majority of the authority’s long-term debt was not due for repayment for at least 15 years.  Members were asked to note that as detailed in the report, the Council was complying with its prudential indicators.


During consideration of this item, Members commented that the report referenced a £5 million bank loan to the HRA and questions were raised about the reasons for this loan and the timeframes in which it would need to be repaid.  Officers explained that the loan was for the HRA capital programme and it was agreed that further information on this subject would be provided to Members after the meeting.




Council note the Treasury Outturn position for 2022/23. 




Overview and Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 561 KB


The Leader confirmed that there were no outstanding recommendations from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for consideration on this occasion.




the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on Thursday 8th June 2023 be noted.




Minutes / Referrals - Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Executive Panels etc.

To receive and consider any outstanding minutes or referrals from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Executive Panels etc. since the last meeting of the Executive Committee, other than as detailed in the items above.


There were no referrals for consideration on this occasion.




Minutes pdf icon PDF 511 KB

Additional documents:




the minutes of the meeting of the Executive Committee held on Tuesday 13th June 2023 be approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Chair.




Establishment of a Programme Office pdf icon PDF 802 KB

Additional documents:


The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling presented the report in respect of the establishment of a programme office and in doing so explained that the report helped to implement proposals agreed at the previous meeting of the Executive Committee.  The report detailed how a programme office would be set up at the Council and the role of key personnel in relation to managing the Council’s projects.


Following the presentation of the report, Members discussed the work of the project office and questioned which projects would be managed by the new project officers.  The Committee was informed that the programme officers would be required to project manage a range of existing projects as well as new projects in the future.  Whilst there would be some financial implications in respect of recruiting new staff to manage this process, Officers clarified that it was anticipated that this work would help to reduce financial costs associated with project management in the long-term.


Consideration was given to the staff who could be recruited into the new posts and questions were raised about the reporting lines for these staff members.  The Committee was informed that there were up to 20 members of staff employed by Redditch Borough and Bromsgrove District Councils who had a Prince2 Project Management qualification and they might be interested in applying for the positions.  There was also the possibility that the lower graded post could be linked to an apprenticeship opportunity, which was a suggestion that had been raised by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.  The staff would be based in the Business Transformation and Organisational Development department, which was already responsible for taking a lead on co-ordinating the delivery of Council projects.  Officers confirmed that it was possible that the work of the programme office could lead to a reduction in the Council’s need to use external consultants for specific work in the long-term.


Reference was made to the need for Councillors to be updated on the work of the programme office and Members questioned how this would be managed.  Officers explained that information on the work of the programme office and progress with the implementation of projects would be included in the quarterly finance and performance monitoring reports, that were presented for the consideration of the Executive Committee during the year.


In concluding their discussions in respect of this matter, Members questioned whether the officers employed to manage the programme office would be required to attend programme board meetings for all of the Council’s projects.  The Committee was advised that Officers employed in this service would be expected to attend board meetings.  This would be necessary as many of the projects that were delivered by the Council had implications for other Council projects and there therefore needed to be strategic oversight of their co-ordination.  In addition, the officers would be helping to manage scarce resources at the Council and would need to ensure that the work that was undertaken was timetabled appropriately.




1)          formal reporting of all  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.