This report is due to be pre-scrutinised at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee that is scheduled to take place on Thursday, 3rd September 2020. Any recommendations arising from this meeting will be reported to Members in a supplementary pack for the Executive Committee meeting.
The Head of Business Transformation, Organisational Development and Digital Strategy presented the Council’s Recovery and Restoration Plan and in so doing highlighted the following points for Members’ consideration:
· The purpose of the report was to provide the Council with a recovery plan, which needed to be developed whilst the Covid-19 pandemic was still in place.
· The local and national economies had both been impacted by Covid-19. To address this at a local level, an Economic Recovery Framework was in the process of being developed for Redditch and this would support the Worcestershire Economic Recovery Plan that was being developed at the County level.
· The lessons that had already been learned in responding to Covid-19 locally had been taken into account when developing the Council’s Restoration and Recovery Plan. The recommendations arising from the Corporate Peer Challenge had also been considered in developing the plan.
· The Council Plan would need to be reviewed in response to the pandemic to ensure that proposed action met the emerging needs of the local community.
After the report had been presented Members discussed a number of points in detail:
· The need for the Council to be able to act swiftly and appropriately in response to issues arising from the pandemic as and where this occurred. Officers were advised that it would be helpful for Members to be kept informed of major issues as they occurred.
· The potential for the Council to focus on a small number of key priorities. Officers explained that the key priorities would be to prepare for a second wave of Covid-19 in case this should occur and to ensure services could meet the community’s needs in this scenario, to work in partnership with other agencies, including businesses, to support the local economy, to review the Council’s future operating model and to ensure support was available to the most vulnerable in the community.
· The work that had already been undertaken by the Council in response to the recommendations set out in the Corporate Peer Challenge and the impact that Covid-19 had had on progress with this work.
· The potential impact that the end of the furlough scheme in October 2020 might have on unemployment levels in the Borough and the action that could be taken by the Council and partner organisations to address this locally.
· The potential for documentation to be provided for Members’ consideration which set out the scale of the task ahead in terms of local recovery following the pandemic and the potential financial costs involved.
· The progress that had been made with developing the action plan for the Redditch Business Improvement District (BID) and the potential for this plan to be shared with Members.
· The extent to which all relevant businesses were contributing to the levy for the Redditch BID.
· The valuable services provided by Dial A Ride and Shopmobility and the potential for these services to operate on a cost neutral basis during the pandemic.
· The support available to Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations and the contribution that these organisations had made in respect of providing support to vulnerable communities during the pandemic.
· The recent closure of the Redditch Boxing Club and the support available to VCS groups that were struggling. It was noted that the Council could be contacted by any VCS groups to discuss the support available locally, including from other organisations that provided grants.
· The potential for the Council to deliver on the aims detailed in the plan and the resources available to the authority.
· The availability of Government funding for local government to enable Councils to support communities during the pandemic.
· The action that had been taken by the Housing Department during the lockdown to provide support to Council tenants.
· The investment that had been made in new ICT systems for the Council and the impact that this would have on Council efficiency moving forward.
· The potential for the Council to work with local suppliers to aid local economic recovery, subject to procurement rules.
During consideration of this item the Chief Executive and Members commented on the hard work of Council staff during the lockdown. The Committee acknowledged that staff had had to adapt to working in new ways very quickly at the start of lockdown and had continued to ensure that crucial frontline services continued to be delivered. Council staff were thanked for their hard work during this time.
1) the proposed Recovery and Restoration Plan 2020-2021 be endorsed;
2) the Executive Committee monitor the Council’s recovery actions against the plan and that the Chief Executive Officer, in consultation with the Leader, be authorised to make amendments to the plan as required; and
3) the attached Corporate Peer Challenge Report 2020 be noted.