Agenda and minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 19th January, 2021 5.30 pm

Venue: Online viewing only

Contact: Charles Hungwe 

Link: This meeting will be held by video call

Media

Items
No. Item

270.

Apologies for Absence

271.

Declaration of Interests pdf icon PDF 87 KB

272.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 143 KB

    To approve the Minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 24 November 2020, copy attached.

    Minutes:

    Councillor Paul Moore proposed, Councillor Coleman-Cooke seconded and Members agreed the minutes as a correct record of the Panel meeting held on 24 November 2020.

273.

2021-22 Budget pdf icon PDF 71 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Tim Willis, Deputy Chief Executive & S151 Officer introduced the report and made the following points:

     

    ·  The proposed budget was drafted in the context of significant changes on local government financing;

    ·  Covid-19 had forced local authorities to focus on short term issues. This had drained the council reserves, council finances and council staff reserves;

    ·  The budget gap in the proposals was largely due to factors internal to the council like pay and contractual inflation an increase in cost of waste disposal;

    ·  There were some projected reductions in government grants;

    ·  Any Panel recommendations to amend the budget that have a cost or reduced income would need to be matched with an identified funding source;

    ·  A correction to paragraph 13.6.1 to the cabinet report – the increase in average rent between this year and next year is £1.98 not £1.89 as reported.

     

    Members made comments and asked questions as follows:

     

    • Members thanked Mr Willis and his finance team for the work done particularly the hosting of briefing sessions for Members;
    • 57% of the residents surveyed were surprised at the amount of money that went to the council of the council tax;
    • At paragraph 13.7 there were adjustments made for the HRA between the accounting basis and funding basis there is a difference of nearly half a million. What was the basis for that and was there material impact from it?
    • At paragraph 11.7 (HRA – Major Repairs Reserve); the table indicates that it was £15.5 million as at 31 March 2020, but will be drawn down to leave £384k by 31 March 2022. Was it a prudent decision to reduce the reserves and was it also prudent to leave such a small amount in the reserves?
    • In the same table there was also a movement in 2021/22 of £7.676million, but at Annex 3 it was suggested that £11.986million will be used from the Major Repairs Reserve. Could this be clarified?
    • S151 Officer’s view is reported as taking the middle position regarding the budget position to take. What would have the budget looked like had the S151 Officer taken a pessimistic view?
    • Why was it that in paragraph 16 Table 9, one bedroom social rent average was indicated as being higher than affordable rent?
    • Can the council not use the £3million in the reserves to offset loss in income for not increasing the rent?

     

    Mr Willis responded as follows:

    • This adjustment of £479K was required in order to show the complete picture within the HRA. This was to reflect different valuations of assets within the HRA;
    • This adjustment did not have a material impact on the overall bottom line as to what rent income required;
    • A more comprehensive explanation would be provided after the meeting;
    • The council was using a substantial amount of the Major Repairs Reserve to fund the significant investment plan for the HRA stock, in particular the refurbishment of the tower blocks. There will be also be slippages of the capital works as well to consider;
    • A combination of bringing East  ...  view the full minutes text for item 273.

274.

Corporate Performance Report Q1 and Q2 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 128 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Hannah Thorpe, Director of Communications led the discussion with a slides presentation and made the following comments:

     

    • The Corporate Performance report was due to be refreshed in 2020-21 to link in with the council’s new Corporate Statement. Due to significant pressures on the team to support the council’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, a new approach to corporate performance and new indicators would now be implemented from 1 April 2021;
    • As a result, the council’s corporate performance for 2020-21 is to be measured in line with the former Corporate Plan (using the existing indicators and targets);
    • There is evidence of council performance being impacted as a result of the pandemic and having to redirect resources - green measures have fallen by two and red measures have risen by 2. In the current context however this is not as significant as it potentially could have been and is testament to the hard work of the council in very challenging times;
    • Within the covering report, a commentary has been provided for each indicator which is below target (red), as these are the areas which require focus;
    • Ms Thorpe provided a summary of the results by each priority area; a clean and welcoming environment, supporting neighbourhoods, promoting inward investment and job creation and statistical information;
    • Ms Thorpe apologised for an error in the statistical information section regarding the number of starters and leavers, confirming the figures should state there had been 50 starters and 31 leavers, which would mean a net increase of 19 staff;
    • Ms Thorpe drew the panel’s attention to the improved performance of the council regarding its response time to FOIs which has moved from significantly below target to within reach of the target and also to the homelessness indicators which have continued to be met despite significant pressure on the team.

     

    Members made comments and asked questions as follows:

     

    • Missed bin collections showing as red – under current circumstances (with covid) a missed collection rate of 0.34% would be unfair to record it as red. It was actually quite good performance;
    • Incidents of dumped rubbish on council land had gone up from 134 to 234. Was that due to KCC charging the type of waste being dumped?
    • Action to improve living conditions was low. What were the prospects for that figure being improved in the future?
    • The time taken to reduce homelessness was impressive;
    • On the target regarding the number of people in employment – When was that measured and how soon would the Panel get the next figures for that indicator, would help the Panel understand the full impact of covid?
    • Who sets the target for recycling? Was it the government or TDC? Given the current worries particularly about plastic recycling, could the target be raised?
    • How many respondents would be in the residents’ survey and how were they selected?
    • Had the response rate increased in the lockdown and what were the main areas of concern registered by residents?

     

    In response, Ms Thorpe, Mr Bob Porter,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 274.

275.

Proposals for new look corporate performance reporting format

    Members to receive a slides presentation on this item.

    Minutes:

    Hannah Thorpe and Nathaniel Fisher, Business Analyst led the discussion with a slides presentation and made the following comments:

     

    • The new approach would link corporate performance monitoring to the current corporate objectives which are Growth, Environment and Community;
    • This would also focus on what matters most to residents and the process would be more transparent and engaging;
    • Performance indicators would be reduced from the current numbers whilst improving the quality of the data. The data would be more contextual;
    • Most of the reporting would be live data on the council website, which residents can track easier as the information would be available to the public 24 hours each day. This would help demonstrate that the council was achieving what it had set out to do in the corporate objectives;
    • Officers would like to report back to the Panel before 1 April in order to share the more concrete new framework for performance reporting.

     

    Councillor Bayford summed up discussion then proposed, Councillor Coleman-Cooke seconded and Members agreed the following:

     

    1.  Officers were going to send around the slides presentation to all the members of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel, for Members to give feedback comments about the new approach;

     

    2.  Final proposals were going to be presented at a future Panel meeting before 1 April 2021.

276.

Memorials Working Party Update Report pdf icon PDF 86 KB

    Minutes:

    Councilor Stuart Piper, Chair of the Memorials Working Party led the discussion and gave the update as follows:

     

    • The working party was joined in the discussions by a member of the public;
    • Members agreed to seek some lessons from other council that have had to address similar issues, including from Liverpool City Council;
    • On 17 January 2021, Community Secretary Robert Jenrick announced a change in law to protect public monuments;
    • The Secretary said that the public should have a chance to be consulted on such matters, before statues and monuments were removed;
    • Thoughtful considerations should be given before such decisions were made to remove status and monuments from public view;
    • When coming with its own policy, the council would always need to use the proper process when making future decision on statues and monuments;
    • The new law would require that any future decisions to remove heritage monuments, would need to go through the planning process and public consultation in accordance with the constitution of the local council;
    • The Secretary of Communities would retain the right of veto power on such decisions, which could used to overrule any local decisions;
    • The working party was now waiting for the lead officer to draft the policy document for review by Members before reporting back to the Panel.

     

    Members noted the report.

277.

Tenant and Leaseholder Services Transition Update pdf icon PDF 103 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Mr Porter introduced the item and made the following points:

     

    • Since the transition, a number of liaison meetings with tenants and leaseholders had been held which the portfolio holder had attended;
    • The new service was 15 weeks into the new in house arrangement and the team was settling in well;
    • There were 58 posts in the new structure. Of that number only three were covered by agency staff and another one would be going out for recruitment;
    • Twenty eight of the fifty eight posts came from East Kent Housing, with the remaining ones being new recruitments;
    • New contact arrangements, including new email details for the service had been introduced and shared with every tenant and leaseholder;
    • A newsletter with a fridge magnet that contained all details including telephone numbers was sent out in the first week of the service;
    • New generic neighbourhood housing officers had been introduced to the service. This was something that tenants and leaseholders had always wanted;
    • The service has had to deal a lot with legacy issues, but relatively few new complaints;

     

    • This could be a reflection that the new contact arrangements set up were effective in addressing issues as they arose;
    • The first report of the new services included a position statement, health and safety report and performance data for the first two months of the service;
    • With regards to the health and safety update, the council had meetings regularly with the regulator for social housing. The regulator agreed the council’s voluntary undertaking and action plan (that covers the period up to April 2021), relating to tenant and leaseholder health and safety matters;
    • The council hoped to have an East Kent Audit Partnership review conducted in May to assess the new position on health and safety. This would then be reported to the regulator in June, hoping to then get the regulatory notice on the council removed;
    • Gas Safety – The current position was now very positive. There was one resident who was refusing to give engineers access to the property. The council was currently working with other agencies to resolve that issue;
    • Electrical compliance – the performance figures were quite low at when the new service started. The team had since carried out a line by line review of the data of all of the certificates for domestic and communal areas and the work was due to be completed in December 2020. The work had since been completed. The level of compliance had increased;
    • The service would be reporting quarterly to the OSP and Cabinet. The council would continue to report to the regulator monthly on health and safety matters;
    • The capital programme – a significant amount of slippage was anticipated from this year to next year, as 13% of allocated amount had been spent as at 1 October 2020. The team was working on correcting some coding in a number of capital expenditure areas against revenue codes;
    • The service has had some success with securing new procurement contracts for decorations and repairs. A  ...  view the full minutes text for item 277.

278.

Review OSP Work Programme 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 93 KB

279.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 86 KB