Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny - Thursday, 11th February, 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: During the Covid-19 outbreak Committee meetings are taking place on Microsoft Teams

Contact: J Gresham  Democratic Services Officer

Media

Items
No. Item

70.

Apologies and named substitutes

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

 

 

71.

Declarations of interest and of Party Whip

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, and any Party Whip.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest nor of any Party Whip.

 

 

72.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 334 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that

 

the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on Monday, 18th January 2021 be approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

 

73.

Public Speaking

To invite members of the public who have registered in advance of the meeting to speak to the Committee.

 

Minutes:

There were no registered public speakers on this occasion.

 

 

74.

Medium Term Financial Plan 2021/22 to 2024/25 (including the Capital Programme and Housing Revenue Account) - Pre-scrutiny pdf icon PDF 789 KB

(Report to Follow).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Financial and Customer Services presented the Medium Term Financial Plan 2021/22 to 2023/24 (including the Capital Programme and the Housing Revenue Account (HRA)).  During the delivery of this presentation the following matters were highlighted for Members’ consideration:

 

·                A key proposal detailed in the report was that Council Tax should be increased by £5.  This would result in a slightly higher return to the Council than an increase of 2.99 per cent and was the maximum level at which Council Tax could increase.

·                There had been a significant financial gap for 2021/22 which had been addressed in the report.

·                This budget gap had partially been addressed through projected income and savings.

·                The Council had also received funding for one year only from the New Homes Bonus (NHB), which had not been anticipated.

·                There were unavoidable pressures which had had to be built into the budget.

·                A key pressure on the Council’s financial position was related to Rubicon Leisure Limited.  A significant proportion of the Covid-19 grant funding that the Council had received from the Government would be allocated to addressing the financial pressures relating to the company.

·                In excess of £700,000 of earmarked reserves had been used to help balance the budget for 2021/22.

·                The capital bids included one in respect of Disabled Facilities Grants.  These were not funded by the Council but were distributed by the authority.

·                A capital bid had also been included for electric vehicle charging points and Officers were anticipating that the Council would receive grant funding to support this initiative.

·                The capital programme had been reprofiled as a number of projects in the programme could not be delivered during the Covid-19 pandemic.  This reprofiling work enabled the Council to realign the MRP (minimum revenue provision) in respect of investment income.

·                The proposed budget would result in a return of £44,000 in 2021/22 to balances.  However, there remained gaps in the budget for the 2022/23 and 2023/24 financial years which would need to be addressed moving forward.

·                There remained some uncertainty about what would replace NHB funding for Councils in the future.  There was also continuing uncertainty in relation to the Fair Funding Review and localisation of business rates.

·                The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic during the period of the plan was a risk factor that was difficult to address.

·                The Council had already distributed a lot of grant funding to local businesses that had been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

·                Another risk to the Council’s future budget position was Brexit.  There remained uncertainty about how Brexit would impact on local businesses, which in turn could have implications for the business rates collected by the Council.

·                The position of the HRA had improved significantly when compared to recent years.  This was partly due to the fact that the Council was once more able to increase rents paid by Council tenants as well as to an improvement in the turnaround times for void properties.

·                The Council was intending to invest in more Council houses and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 74.

75.

Executive Committee Minutes and Scrutiny of the Executive Committee's Work Programme - Selecting Items for Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 398 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the minutes of the meeting of the Executive Committee held on Tuesday, 19th January 2021.

 

The latest edition of the Executive Committee’s Work Programme for the period 1st March to 30th June 2021 was also considered by the Committee.  The Chair commented that many of the items on the work programme had already been selected for pre-scrutiny.

 

RESOLVED that

 

1)        the minutes of the meeting of the Executive Committee held on Tuesday, 19th January 2021 be noted; and

 

2)        the content of the Executive Committee’s Work Programme for the period 1st March to 30th June 2021 be noted.

 

 

76.

Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 182 KB

Minutes:

Members considered the content of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s Work Programme and noted that there were no updates.

 

 

77.

Task Groups, Short Sharp Reviews and Working Groups - Update Reports

a)        Budget Scrutiny Working Group – Chair, Councillor Wheeler

 

b)        Dementia Task Group – Chair, Councillor Michael Chalk

 

c)         Performance Scrutiny Working Group – Chair, Andrew Fry

 

Minutes:

The following updates were provided in respect of the work of the Scrutiny Task Groups and Working Groups:

 

a)        Budget Scrutiny Working Group – Chair, Councillor Jenny Wheeler

 

Councillor Wheeler advised the Committee that the latest meeting of the Budget Scrutiny Working Group had taken place that week.  During the meeting, Members had pre-scrutinised the Medium Term Financial Plan and had received a presentation on the subject of the Covid-19 grant funding that had been received by the Council during the pandemic.

 

The following meeting of the group was due to take place on 17th March 2021.  During the meeting, Members would interview Officers about the Covid-19 grant funding, interview a representative of Black Radley regarding the Council’s progress with commercialism and pre-scrutinise the third quarter monitoring update report in respect of the Council’s budget.

 

b)        Dementia Task Group – Chair, Councillor Michael Chalk

 

Councillor Chalk explained that the group had been unable to interview a clinician about dementia, primarily due to the pressures placed on the health service by the Covid-19 pandemic.  The group would be holding a meeting the following month to discuss progress.

 

During consideration of this update Members were advised that it was unlikely that the group would be able to report back to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 18th March 2021 as originally intended.  Therefore, Members agreed that the timeframes for the investigation should be extended and the group should aim to complete their review after the local elections in May 2021.

 

c)         Performance Scrutiny Working Group – Chair, Councillor Andrew Fry

 

Councillor Fry advised that a meeting of the group had taken place in January 2021.  During this meeting, an interview had been held with the Heads of Community and Housing Services and Environmental and Housing Property Services about the Housing Services provided by the Council.  This had included consideration of information about the turn around times for void properties and the group had agreed that the subject should be revisited for further scrutiny in 12 months’ time.

 

Members were advised that a further meeting of the group would take place in March 2021.

 

d)        Unicorn Hill Task Group – Chair, Councillor Peter Fleming

 

The Committee was informed that the following Members had been nominated to serve on the Task Group: Councillors Fleming (Chair), Baker, Beecham and Smith.  Officers would be contacting Members shortly to organise the first meeting of the group.

 

RESOLVED that

 

1)        the deadline for the Dementia Task Group be extended to after the local elections in May 2021; and

 

2)        the update reports be noted.

 

 

78.

External Scrutiny Bodies - Update Reports pdf icon PDF 31 KB

 

a)        West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Council representative, Councillor Chalk; and

 

b)        Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) – Council representative, Councillor Chalk.

 

c)         Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) – Council representative, Councillor Chalk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Michael Chalk provided a verbal update on the latest meeting of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership’s (GBSLEP’s) Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting.  Members were advised that during that meeting the Chair of the Committee had invited Councillors to identify areas of work delivered by the LEP which would be suitable for further scrutiny.  Councillor Chalk urged Members to let him know if there were any areas that they wanted him to raise with the Committee on their behalf.

 

During consideration of this update, clarification was requested regarding the level of young people who were were employed, which had been highlighted at 9.1 per cent in the update provided in the agenda.  Councillor Chalk explained that this related to the level of young peoploe who were not in employment, education or training (NEETs) in the whole of the area covered by the LEP and not specifically to the Borough of Redditch.  These figures were derived from data provided for December 2020 and there was the possibility that the levels had changed by February 2021.