Agenda and minutes

Corporate, Resource Management & Governance Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 30th October, 2018 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2, Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Jonathan Vali  (0161 474 3201)

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 72 KB

To approve as a correct record and sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 18 September 2018.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes (copies of which had been circulated) of the meeting held on 18 September 2018 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Councillors and officers to declare any interests which they have in any of the items on the agenda for the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillors and officers were invited to declare any interests they had in any of the items on the agenda for the meeting.

 

There were no interests were declared.

3.

Exclusion of the Public and the Public Interest Test

To consider whether it is in the public interest to exclude the press and public from the meeting during consideration of the following item:

 

Item

Title

Reason

 

 

 

10

Fleet Management Replacement Strategy

Category 3 ‘Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority)’ as set out in Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended)

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED – In order to prevent the disclosure of information that was ‘not for publication’, the disclosure of which would not be in the public interest, the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the exempt information in the appendices of the following agenda item, in the event that it needed to be discussed:-

 

Item

 

Minute

Title

 

Reason

 

10

12

Fleet Management Replacement Strategy

 

Paragraph 3 ‘Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority)’ as set out in Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).

 

4.

Call-In

To consider call-in items (if any)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no call-ins to consider.

5.

Safer Stockport Partnership - Annual Report 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 64 KB

To consider a report of the Deputy Chief Executive.

 

The Safer Stockport Partnership (SSP) Annual Report 2017/18 outlines the key achievements of partnership working and across partner organisations against SSP Themes and Priorities. Whilst a new 3 year SSP Plan has been published (April 2018), it should be noted that this Report reviews progress against the performance framework associated with the 2016/17 SSP Plan.

 

Both the Communities & Housing Scrutiny Committee and this Committee are considering this report.  The Scrutiny Committee remits as they relate to SSP responsibilities are: 

 

·           Communities & Housing – Public Safety and Protection Priority including a statutory responsibility to review and scrutinise the functioning of the Community Safety Partnership

·           Corporate Resource Management & Governance – strategic oversight of Partnership work and the Radicalisation and Extremism Strategic Priority

 

Therefore, as a guideline, the focus for this Committee should be on Community Safety Partnership governance, general high-level performance trends and the Strategic Priority in relation to Radicalisation and Extremism.

 

Scrutiny Committee is asked to:

 

·         Consider the SSP Annual Report for 2017/18 and accompanying presentation;

·         Note the progress made in relation to delivering against the priority themes of the SSP Plan;

·         Provide any comments or reflections on the issues covered in the Report and presentation.

 

Officer contact: Katy Forde, katy.forde@stockport.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Deputy Chief Executive submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) outlining the key achievements of partner organisations against Safer Stockport Partnership Themes and Priorities.

 

The Cabinet Member for Reform & Governance and Superintendent Emma Taylor from Greater Manchester Police attended the meeting to introduce the report.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

6.

Portfolio Performance and Resources - Mid-Year Report pdf icon PDF 84 KB

To consider a report of the Deputy Chief Executive.

 

The Mid-Year Portfolio Performance and Resource Report (PPRR) for the Reform and Governance Portfolio is presented for consideration by the Committee. This provides a summary of progress in delivering the portfolio priorities, reform programme and other key projects in the first half of the year, with a particular focus on the second quarter (July to September). It includes forecast performance and financial data (where this is available) for the Portfolio, along with an update on the portfolio savings programme.

 

The report is based on the 2018/19 Portfolio Performance and Resource Agreement (PPRA) which was considered by the Committee on 3 July and approved by Cabinet on 17 July 2018.

 

In order to ensure the timeliness of the report, it is considered by Scrutiny Committee ahead of the Corporate Report (CPRR) and Leader’s Report being approved at the Cabinet Meeting.  This will also allow any significant changes or issues raised to be fed back alongside these reports at the Cabinet Meeting on 13 November. 

 

Where significant activity or decisions have been made since the end of the second quarter, these have been included to ensure that the report remains timely. These will also be referenced within the Third Update Report.

 

Scrutiny Committee is asked to:

·         Consider the Mid-Year Portfolio Performance and Resource Report;  

·         Review the progress against delivering key projects, priority outcomes, targets and budgets for 2018/19;

·         Highlight key areas of and responsibility for taking forward corrective action to address any performance or resource issues;

·         Highlight any significant issues or changes to be fed back to the Cabinet alongside the Corporate Performance and Resource Report;

·         Identify how areas of strong performance and good practice can be shared in other services.

 

Officer contact: Peter Owston / Susan Wood, 0161 474 3274 / 218 1032, peter.owston@stockport.gov.uk / susan.wood@stockport.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Reform & Governance submitted a the Mid-Year Portfolio Performance and Resource Report (copies of which had been circulated) providing a summary of progress in delivering the Reform and Governance portfolio priorities, reform programme and other key projects in the first half of the year, with a particular focus on the second quarter (July to September). It included forecast performance and financial data (where this is available) for the Portfolio, along with an update on the portfolio savings programme.

 

The following comments were made/ issues raised:

 

·         Confirmation was sought on the cost of the launch of the Council Values and Behaviours Framework. In response it was stated that the cost was met from within existing resources but was within the region of £1000.

·         Details of the turnover rate of staff at the Contact Centre was requested.

·         Confirmation was sought on whether the £1m Digital by Design savings were on track to be achieved. In response it was stated that the 2 year programme was on target to achieve its target in 2020. It was further commented that the phraseology ‘well on the way’ to describe target delivery was unhelpful and a cash value would be more useful.

·         Given the statements about the high quality service in relation to the existing support service the Council provided for Universal Credit support, clarification was sought on what made it high quality and whether the new provider would not be able to provide a similar service. In response it was stated that the Council had quickly sought to establish support mechanisms for those moving on to Universal Credit and to learn from the experience of other local authorities to anticipate areas of need and demand locally. The awarding of the contract to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) was unexpected but discussions were underway to implement shadowing arrangements so that the CAB were able to maintain the same level of service, as was their aspiration and the expectation of the Department for Work & Pensions.

·         Concern was expressed that the significant investment in enhancing the digital offer had done little to improve performance at the Contact Centre with nearly 20% of calls not being answered.

·         The improvement in performance against the Freedom of Information request target was welcomed although disappointment was expressed that the statutory duty was not being fully complied with. In response it was stated that the Information Commissioner’s own expectations was that compliance should be 90%, which the Council was well within but that it aspired to fulfil its duties 100% of the time.

 

RESOLVED – (1) That the report be noted.

 

(2) That the Borough Treasurer be requested to provide councillors with further details of staff turnover rates at the Contact Centre.

 

(3) That the Deputy Chief Executive be requested to, as far as was feasible, differentiate between simple and complex Freedom of Information requests in future performance reports.

7.

Treasury Management Strategy and Annual Investment Strategy Mid-Year Report 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 205 KB

To consider a report of the Borough Treasurer.

 

This report provides Cabinet with a mid-year review of the Council’s Treasury Management Strategy Statement and Annual Investment Strategy for 2018/19 approved by Council on 22 February 2018 and has been prepared in accordance with the CIPFA Code of Practice for Treasury Management in the Public Services.

 

The main report is very detailed and provides a full picture of all the variables and circumstances impacting upon the Council’s treasury management operation; consequently, a ‘key highlights’ summary report containing all of the prevalent points has also been provided. This can be found immediately before the full report for quick reference.

 

The Scrutiny Committee is recommended to consider and comment on the report prior to submission to the Cabinet and then the Council Meeting that will be asked to note treasury activity in the first half of the financial year and the revised interest rate forecasts for PWLB rates over the short and medium-term.

 

Officer contact: Lorna Soufian, 0161 474 4026, lorna.soufian@stockport.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Borough Treasurer submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) providing the Scrutiny Committee with a mid-year review of the Council’s Treasury Management Strategy Statement and Annual Investment Strategy for 2018/19.

 

The Leader of the Council (Councillor Alexander Ganotis) attended the meeting to respond to questions from the Scrutiny Committee.

 

The following comments were made/ issues raised:-

 

·         Comment was sought on whether the Council was considering the use of Municipal Bonds to finance borrowing. In response it was stated that these would be an option for future consideration.

·         In relation to references in the report to borrowing from BAE Systems comment was sought on how the Council would manage counterparty risk and reputational risk. In response it was stated that due diligence checks were always undertaken into any organisation the Council was going to borrow from, and BAE Systems were a reputable organisation. The rates being offered were more favourable than other sources of finance.

·         Clarification was sought on how much of the Council short term borrowing would be transferred to longer term borrowing. In response it was stated that between £20-50m was likely to be subject to refinancing, depending on prevailing economic conditions in the third quarter.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

8.

Annual Insurance Report 2017-18 pdf icon PDF 49 KB

To consider a report of the Borough Treasurer.

 

The Annual Insurance Report provides a summary of insurance performance for the financial year April 2017 to March 2018 and includes comparisons with the previous five financial years in order to allow for a meaningful comparison of trends. 

 

The Scrutiny Committee is asked to comment on the contents of the report.

 

Officer contact: John Pearsall, 0161 474 4033, john.pearsall@stockport.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A representative of the Borough Treasurer submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) providing the Scrutiny Committee with a summary of insurance performance for the financial year 2017-18. The report included comparisons with previous years and highlighted trends over that time to identify areas of risk and opportunities to mitigate risk.

 

The Cabinet Member for Reform & Governance (Councillor Elise Wilson) attended the meeting to respond to questions from Councillors.

 

A number of recent legal cases were highlighted.

 

The following comments were made/ issues raised:-

 

·         Comment was sought on whether there was a trend behind the increase in claims related to children and family services, whether that should be of concern and whether there was scope to invest in services to reduce the risk in this area. In response it was stated that abuse claims could be very difficult and systems were in place to respond to such cases quickly. While there was a slight increase locally this was reflective of a national upward trend and many were historical cases. There was close working with children’s and adult services to ensure future risks were addressed.

·         In light of the past success of the Council in the reducing costs and improving performance associated with insurance claims, comment was sought on whether improvement was now likely to plateau. In response it was stated that an actuarial assessment would likely come to that conclusion, but that for each claim there was a learning point to improve services and reduce the likelihood of future claims.

·         Comment was sought on whether there had been any impact on claims following changes to the rules on personal injury fees. In response it was acknowledged that there had been a reduction in personal injury claims although it was anticipated that there would likely be an increase in other areas.

·         Confirmation was sought on whether fraudulent claims reported to the Police. In response it was stated that in circumstances where there was clear evidence of fraud or fraudulent intent this would be referred to the Police.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

9.

Traded Services Progress Update pdf icon PDF 50 KB

To consider a presentation from the Deputy Chief Executive.

 

The presentations sets out the position for Traded Council Services, as requested previously by the Scrutiny Committee.

 

The presentation should be considered in conjunction with the MTFP report and proposals relating to the balancing the cost of services.

 

The Scrutiny Committee is invited to comment on the report.

 

Officer contact: Sue Williams, 0161 474 2175, sue.williams@stockport.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A representative of the Deputy Chief Executive submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) providing the Scrutiny Committee with an update on efforts to develop Traded Services, setting out achievements to date and further developments as part of the Medium Term Financial Plan.

 

The Cabinet Member for Reform & Governance (Councillor Elise Wilson) attended the meeting to respond to questions from Councillors.

 

The following comments were made/ issues raised:-

 

·         Further information was requested in relation to the current governance of these services. In response it was stated that current governance arrangement were officer-led, with regular reporting to the Corporate Leadership Team through a single service and toolkit because of the relatively narrow scope of services involved. Officers in Finance worked closely with the service to assess the impact of changes in costs and charges. As the number of traded services increased it was likely that the governance arrangements would need to change in response.

·         It was commented that it was encouraging that the service was trading with so many schools as in other areas the local authority lost schools when the rules around buy-back services changed.

·         Comment was sought on whether expanding the offer beyond schools had not been as successful as was hoped. In response it was stated that this was not the case as there was work ongoing to develop a toolkit to allow services to develop marketable services. Given that other local authorities were undertaking similar exercises it was important to ensure that the services on offer were as robust as possible.

·         Given the Council’s recent challenges around asset management it was queried whether there was scope for developing a tradable service. In response it was stated that there were no specific proposals for that area although proposals had been made in relation to maximising income from Council assets.

·         It was commented that many local authorities were considering similar projects as a means of meeting their funding challenges.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

10.

MTFP Cabinet Response: Our Budget Choices for 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 91 KB

To consider a report of the Cabinet Member for Reform & Governance.

 

The Cabinet have been preparing its medium term strategy in response to its medium term financial plan. The latest update was presented in October. This frames the choices the Council will make about its budget both next year and in future years aligned to five key themes:

 

·         Getting more out of our spending;

·         Improving citizen experience;

·         Making sure we have the right property in the right places;

·         Sharing services with other organisations;

·         Enabling an organisation fit for the future.

 

This latest update is presented to scrutiny for consideration and is comprised of:

 

·           An overview report summarising the strategy and budget choices;

·           Appendix for each theme which outlines the strategic direction and ambition for each theme as well as a suite of proposals for 2019/20.

 

The Scrutiny Committee is invited to:-

 

·         comment upon the strategic direction of travel outlined in the overall report and across the five themes; and

·         comment on the report and the proposals presented within the report relevant to the remit of the Scrutiny Committee.

 

Officer contact: Holly Rae, 0161 474 3014, holly.rae@stockport.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for Reform & Governance submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) seeking the views of the Scrutiny Committee in respect to the strategic direction of travel outlined in the overall report and across the five themes and to comment specifically on the proposals presented in the report relevant to the remit of the Scrutiny Committee.

 

The following comments were made/ issues raised:-

 

·         Reference was made to questions at the recent Council Meeting in relation to changes to Area Committee delegations and to references in in the report to a cross-party working group to discuss the proposals. It was stated that it would be helpful for the group to consider a wider review of the business programme, but stressed that such a group should be given proposals from the Cabinet to consider rather than for them to co-design proposals for change. Concern was expressed about any loss of powers and responsibilities by area committees.

·         In relation to the proposals around Communications it was queried why so much of the current workload related to GMCA functions. In response it was clarified that each local authority would provide support to its leader and their GMCA portfolio area although there was scope for the GMCA to take on more of the cost of this activity.

·         A number of councillors expressed concern about proposals to cease publication and distribution of the waste and recycling collection timetable for residents as they felt this was a false economy and would lead to an increase in problems with presentation of bins for collection.

·         It was commented that the proposals were conservative on income but ‘bullish’ in relation to expenditure and it was queried whether an increase in Council Tax was necessary, given that Stockport had the highest rate of Council Tax in Greater Manchester. In response it was stated that caution on income was prudent given its unpredictability. While a balanced budget could be proposed this year without a Council Tax increase it would require larger increases in future years or increase the overall savings requirement in the future. It was not the belief of the Cabinet that the funding gap could be adequately bridged without an increase. Stockport’s Council Tax rates was reflective of it historic underfunding and the Council continued to be one of the lowest spending authorities in Greater Manchester.

·         It was commented that while increasing Council Tax would impact the poorest most acutely, this should be seen in the context of increasing demand on services that were hidden from most residents and there was a need to protect the most vulnerable in our community.

·         Clarification was sought on the meaning of financial self-sufficiency in the context of the Council. In response it was stated that by 2020 the Revenue Support Grant from the Government to the Council would no longer be provided (previously having been one third of Council resources) so that the Council’s spending power would be from Council Tax, retained Business Rates and other locally generated income. It was hoped that the next Comprehensive Spending Review would make provision for a long term solution to local government financing.

·         Further information was sought on proposals for the Council’s companies, TLC and Stockport Homes, and comment was made that these bodies were often performing better than the Council in particular areas. In response it was stated that it was important to review contractual arrangements with these organisations to ensure they were aligned with other Council priorities and areas of activity in order to avoid having to make reductions in service quality in the future. Caution was advised about direct comparisons with these organisations and there were factors affect performance that were unique to each organisation.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

11.

Fleet Management Replacement Strategy pdf icon PDF 73 KB

To consider a report of the Borough Treasurer.

 

(Note: the report contains information ‘not for publication’ in its appendices that have been circulated to committee members only)

 

The report present a collaborative proposal produced by the finance officers of both the Council and Totally Local Company Ltd (TLC) for replacing TLC’s fleet of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and light vehicles used for delivering the company’s services.  This will involve the Council providing a loan facility arrangement to facilitate and support implementation of this strategy.

 

A detailed business case was considered by the TLC board and subsequently the Contributor’s Committee on 6 September 2018.  The Contributor’s Committee gave its full endorsement to the strategy and the provision of financing by the Council.

 

The Cabinet will be asked to:

 

           Support the Fleet Replacement Strategy; and;

           Approve the provision of a loan facility to TLC to implement the strategy with the terms of individual tranches delegated to the Borough Treasurer in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Reform and Governance

 

The Scrutiny Committee is asked to comment on this report.

 

Officer contact: Michael Cullen, 0161 474 4631, michael.cullen@stockport.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Borough Treasurer submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) inviting the Scrutiny Committee to consider a proposal to replace TLC’s fleet of Heavy Goods Vehicles through a flexible, state-aid compliant loan agreement.

 

(Note: the report contained information ‘not for publication’ that had been circulated to scrutiny committee members only).

 

The Cabinet Member for Reform & Governance (Councillor Elise Wilson) attended the meeting to respond to questions from Councillors.

 

The following comments were made/ issues raised:-

 

·         Clarification was sought on how the replacement strategy linked to efforts to improve air quality. In response it was stated that the ‘agile’ approach being taken would allow TLC to respond to changing demands on services and well as technological and market improvements for low emission or electric HGVs. Councillors welcomed this.

·         Confirmation was sought that what was being proposed was an Evergreen loan facility. In response it was confirmed that this was the case and that it would facilitate the agility needed to respond to changing market conditions. It would also prevent flooding the market with used vehicles as the loan period came to an end.

·         Clarification was sought on whether brokers would be used in procuring vehicles. In response it was stated where vehicles were leased this was likely to be the case, but this would be subject to TLC’s procurement rules.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

12.

Agenda Planning pdf icon PDF 53 KB

To consider a report of the Democratic Services Manager.               

 

The report sets out planned agenda items for future meetings of the Committee and Forward Plan items that fall within its remit.

 

The Scrutiny Committee is invited to consider the information in the report and put forward any agenda items for future meetings.

 

Officer contact: Jonathan Vali, 0161 474 3201, jonathan.vali@stockport.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A representative of the Democratic Services Manager submitted a report (copies of which had been circulated) setting out planned agenda items for the Scrutiny Committee’s next meeting and any relevant Forward Plan items.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.