Agenda and minutes

Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 22nd November, 2022 10.30 am

Venue: Council Chamber - South Kesteven House, St. Peter's Hill, Grantham. NG31 6PZ. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services 

No. Item


Public Speaking

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    The Council welcomes engagement from members of the public. To speak at this meeting please register no later than 24 hours prior to the date of the meeting via


    There were no comments from members of the public.


Apologies for absence

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    Apologies were received from Councillor John Dawson.


    It was confirmed that Councillor Ashley Baxter was representing Alliance SK on the Committee today.


Disclosure of interests

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    There were none.


Minutes of the meeting held on 27 September 2022 pdf icon PDF 188 KB

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    A Member informed the Committee that 3 or 4 points on page 9 of the minutes were recorded too briefly without any context of what was discussed and requested that this was considered and addressed.


    The Chairman agreed that the minutes would be rechecked.


    The minutes of the meeting held on 27 September 2022 were proposed, seconded and AGREED as a correct record.


Updates from previous meeting pdf icon PDF 13 KB

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    To consider updates on actions agreed at the meeting held on 27 September 2022.


    The Committee noted the actions from the meeting held on 27 September 2022.


    The Chairman confirmed that minute items 27 and 30 were complete and item 29 was to be received as a verbal update within the meeting today.


    A Member asked about the email circulated to Committee Members in reference to the update on St Martin’s Park Demolition Works as they did not think they had received the communication, which included the attachment of a survey report.  The Member requested that the date that any such emails were sent be included in future be recorded on the action sheet in future.  Another Member added that there were to be 2 reports circulated to committee members describing that one survey was before the works began where a professional surveyor informed that the 1904 building could be retained. A further survey carried out at a later date confirmed that the building could no longer be saved.


    The Head of Projects, Policy and Performance confirmed that the email, with both survey reports, would be re-sent immediately and the Officer was happy to answer any questions.


    The Assistant Director of Finance informed the Committee that they would be providing the update on minute item 29, the Cyber Security Action Plan.   The Council had received £150,000 from the Government to implement a cyber-security action plan.  Currently 32 actions were identified, 19 have been completed, 9 were in progress and 4 had not yet been started.  The Committee were informed that all actions would be implemented by February 2023.


    ACTION 1:


    A Member requested that the Cyber Security action plan update be added to the Work Programme for next February and the Chairman agreed.



Announcements or updates from the Leader of the Council, Cabinet Members or the Head of Paid Service

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    There were none.


    A Member raised a point of order (under part 4) that the ‘announcements’ item was not within the Constitution.  The Member added that as part of the process on scrutiny, an agenda item had been added to the scrutiny committees:


    ‘Announcements or updates from the Leader of the Council, Cabinet Members or the Head of Paid Service’


    The Member continued that since the item was introduced in July there had been no updates or announcements at any other meeting.


    The Chairman added that all items on every agenda were there to be scrutinised.



Localised Council Tax Support Scheme 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 229 KB

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    This report is for Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee to review the consultation responses and comment on the proposed Localised Council Tax Support Scheme 2023/24, as well as proposals made in relation to the discount for care leavers, discount for Special Constables and Discretionary Hardship Fund.



    Additional documents:


    The Deputy Leader of the Council presented the report and confirmed that each year the Council was required to review their Council Tax Support Scheme to determine its sustainability and consider any potential changes for the following financial year.


    The Council Tax Benefit system was abolished on 31 March 2013 and replaced by the Local Council Tax Support Scheme (CTS).  This scheme was to be determined locally by the Billing Authority having had due consultation with precepting authorities, key stakeholders, and residents.  There were currently 7,414 residents claiming Council Tax Support in the South Kesteven District.  Of these, 3,141 were pensioners and 2,731 were vulnerable working age, who were protected under the legislation and received Council Tax support as prescribed by the Government (broadly similar to the level of Council Tax Benefit).  It was the 1,542 remaining working age claimants where a local scheme could be determined which was able to change the level of support provided.  The scheme currently provided 80% entitlement for working age claimants.


    A report was presented to this Committee on 19 July 2022, giving more details with regards to the impact of the move of legacy benefits to Universal Credit, and the impacts of cost of living.  Despite the scheme being a ‘local’ CTS scheme due to the nature of protection provided to pensioners and vulnerable working age customers, there was always to be an element of cost that the Council had to incur and for which it had no influence over.


    Based on caseload as at 27 October 2022, the current cost of the 2022/23 scheme was £7,056,973 with South Kesteven’s share of this being £635,127 (9%).  Due to this protection from changes to pensioners and vulnerable working age customers, any ‘savings’ to be made to the proposed scheme could only be applied to the 1,542 customers, or 20.79% of the caseload.  This meant out of the current Council spend of £635,127 – only £132,043 (20.79%) could be influenced by a change to the current scheme.  The reality was that out of any potential options that may reduce spend against budget is to decrease the ‘maximum entitlement’ – e.g. to reduce the maximum CTS customers can receive from the current position of 80%.


    In addition, the scheme enabled the Council to support care leavers and special constables through a discretionary discount scheme.  The scheme was first approved for 2022/23. Currently, we had 3 Special Constables in receipt of the discount.  If the scheme was approved to continue in 2023/24, the award of the discount was to be referenced to service during 2022/23.  As a result, the eligibility for the discount was to be considered and an award made no later than the 31 May of the following financial year and would be applied to the Council tax account in 2023/24.  If the scheme continued, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) was to write to all Special Constables who lived within the district of South Kesteven, by 30 April 2023, confirming they have met the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.


Progress Update on the new South Kesteven Economic Development Strategy 2023 - 2028 pdf icon PDF 206 KB

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    The purpose of this report is to share a first draft of the emerging South Kesteven Economic Development Strategy (2023 – 2028) and provide recent data relating to key economic drivers for the District.


    Additional documents:


    The Leader of the Council presented a report on the draft Economic Development Strategy.


    Growth and our Economy is one of the five strategic priorities contained within the current Corporate Plan (2020-2023). The Council had several key roles to play in delivering economic growth and allowing the private sector to grow and create new jobs.  The consultation process was to start today and an action plan to be developed over coming months, linked to key performance indicators.


    The first draft of the emerging Economic Development Strategy was presented to Members, due to be adopted from 1 April 2023 to ensure the focus and priorities were sufficiently captured and where the Council could have the greatest impact through leadership, influence and delivery against its own priorities.  During 27 June 2022 meeting of this Committee, Members were made aware that a scoping exercise was underway to bring forward a new Economic Development Strategy for the District to cover the period 2023 – 2028. 


    Several reasons for why a new Strategy was required were given:


    ·       The previous strategy having expired in 2021


    ·       The closure of InvestSK Ltd and the economic development function being insourced from April 2022


    ·       The economic landscape post European Union Transition and the COVID-19 pandemic


    ·       The emerging Government Levelling Up agenda and the replacement of European Structural Funds with the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).


    A key element of the report was the updated economic intelligence which provided a number of local data sets gathered from the Office of National Statistics (ONS/ Nomis), The Centre for Entrepreneurs (CfE) and Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor (STEAM).  This was the most up to date economic data available and provided a great deal of information about the District across eight key indicators:


    ·       Population of South Kesteven: 143,200 (ONS 2021 census)


    ·       Households in South Kesteven: 55,894 (ONS 2021 census)


    ·       Businesses in South Kesteven: 6,265 (ONS 2022)


    ·       Net gain business growth between 2017 and 2022: 345 (ONS 2022)


    ·       New Businesses Start Ups in 2020: 926 (Centre for Entrepreneurs)


    ·       South Kesteven Businesses Employ: 54,000 (ONS 2021)


    ·       Average resident earnings: £583 per week (Nomis 2021)


    ·       Visitors to South Kesteven in 2021: 2.72m (STEAM 2021)


    Further analysis of the data provided information regarding a breakdown of the business sectors in the District, detailing the number of businesses and number of people employed within each sector.  This information had been vital in allowing the identification of the key sectors within the South Kesteven economy, namely:


    ·       Manufacturing (and Engineering)


    ·       Construction • Retail and Wholesale


    ·       Accommodation and Food Services


    ·       Professional, scientific and technical


    ·       Business administration and support services


    The strategy identified links to other plans and partner organisations the Council were to collaborate on, to meet the aims of the strategy. These were identified within the strategy and included: Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Department for Work and Pensions, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce and several local business support groups and educational establishments.


    Over £16 million of external funding was secured to deliver projects, support  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.


Finance Update Report: April to October 2022 pdf icon PDF 342 KB

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    To inform Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee of the Council’s forecast 2022/23 financial position as at the end of October 2022. The report covers the following areas:                                     


    ·                            General Fund Revenue Budget

    ·                            Housing Revenue Account Budget

    ·                            Capital Programmes – General Fund and Housing Revenue Account


    Additional documents:


     The Chief Finance Officer presented the third Finance Update Report of the year that monitored and forecasted the projected spend against the backdrop of the current economic conditions that were facing the Council.  The Financial Risk Register continued to be updated to reflect the current risk. 


    The General Fund budget set by Council on 3 March 2022 was £18.247m.


    The deficit forecast was primarily due to the inflationary increases on electricity (£200k), fuel (£200k), projected workshop cost pressures due to outsourcing of specific repairs (£82k), material costs (£200k) required for the maintenance of the Councils fleet and removal of the salary vacancy factor forecasts (£446k) which was proving challenging to achieve due to the use of temporary staff where there were key vacancies. The vacancy factor was to continue to be monitored throughout the remainder of the financial year, with an additional £168k of in year vacancies being forecast as at the end of October.  A projected net increase from the commercial waste service and an increase in interest rates receivable on investments was to be used to partially offset the forecasted inflationary increases (£400k).  Members were reminded that the net cost of budget included an efficiency saving of £500k for the corporate restructure. This would be achieved in 2022/23.


    The budget set by Council on 3 March 2022 for the 2022/23 General Fund Capital programme was £19.608m.


    The budget set by Council on 3 March 2022 for the 2022/23 HRA Revenue Budget was £6.116m. The budgeted surplus was fully utilised to fund future investment in stock growth and property maintenance.


    There was a reduced surplus for the HRA of £4.305m compared to a budgeted surplus of £4.402m. The increased surplus, partly due to an increase in interest rates receivable on investments, was to be used to partially offset the forecasted inflationary increases (£600k). This was offset by increased repairs and maintenance costs (£170k) and removal of the salary vacancy factor forecasts (£136k) which would be monitored throughout the remainder of the financial year.


    The budget set by Council on 3 March 2022 for the 2022/23 HRA Capital programme was £16.353m.


    Since the budgets were prepared last Autumn and approved by Council in March 2022, there had been an unprecedented and completely unforeseen increase in inflation and energy costs. This context along with potential pressures on the salary budgets was causing concern that the budget framework for 2022/23 would come under pressure as the year progressed.   As part of the outturn report, an inflation reserve of £500k was created for the General Fund to absorb any potential cost pressures during the current financial year.  Whilst this would provide some short-term funding support, there would be a funding pressure going into 2023/24 which would need to be considered as part of the budget setting process.


    Fuel usage was approximately 625,000 litres per annum and the budgeted price per litre was set at £1.10. The latest bulk purchase unit price paid was £148.75 and continued to be monitored on a weekly basis.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.


Corporate Plan Key Performance Indicators 2022-23 Mid Year Report pdf icon PDF 137 KB

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    This Mid-Year update report outlines South Kesteven District Councils performance against the Corporate Plan Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the year of 2022/23.


    Additional documents:


    The Leader of the Council presented the Corporate Plan Key Performance Indicators 2022-2023 Mid-Year Report.


    The South Kesteven Corporate Plan 2020-23 was approved by Council on 1 October 2020.  It was agreed by Council that actions, key performance indicators (KPIs) and targets would be developed by the relevant overview and scrutiny committee, which would retain oversight of the performance management arrangements at a strategic level.  These actions and indicators were presented to this committee and agreed on 17 November 2020.  The Year End report for 2021/22 was presented to the Committee on 19 July 2022 and outlined the performance against the Corporate Plan for the previous financial year.  This report provided an update on performance to the mid-year point of the 2022/23 financial year and incorporated the changes recommended by the last KPI review to outline areas of the council’s performance which were successful and to advise where challenges may lay.


    Appendix 1 outlined the overall performance against the 15 actions being presented in this report, as well as specific performance against the sub measures contained within those.  The summary was as follows:


    11 of the actions are rated Green. These are actions which were on or above target as planned.


    3 actions are rated as Amber.  These were those off target by less than 10% or where milestone achievement was delayed but with resolution in place to be achieved within a reasonable timeframe.  The Heritage Action Zone was rated Amber and Members were to note that the progress of the Grade II listed Westgate Hall was shortly going out to tender.


    0 actions are rated Red. These were those falling significantly below target or overdue with no specific resolution date planned.


    1 action is listed as unreportable as the action was currently under review and an update was to be presented as part of the year end reporting process.


    There have been no areas of significant under performance identified in this report.


    The Leader informed Members that A Grantham Engagement Officer had started their role this week and the Hello SK app was progressing well with over 170 businesses engaged currently.  The delivery of a new Maintenance Depot was underway although works had currently paused whilst procurement work was continuing.


    Completed projects for noting included:


    ·                              The Constitution Review

    ·                              The People Strategy

    ·                              The Governance Review

    ·                              IT Strategy

    ·                              Asset Management Strategy


    The Leader confirmed that the ‘Investing in high-quality Leisure’ KPI was rated green as it referred to existing Leisure Centres currently in operation.


    During discussion, Members raised the following points:


    ·            There was no mention within the KPIs of one of the corporate priorities – ‘housing that meets the needs of all residents’.  Why was this?


    ·            A Member welcomed the full condition surveys carried out on Grantham, Bourne and Stamford Leisure Centres.  There being no operating Leisure Centre at the Deepings surely meant that leisure facilities were not catering for the whole of the district and therefore how can the action be rated green?


    ·            Some of the KPIs were not  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.


Telephony System Calls Handling Performance pdf icon PDF 194 KB

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    This is an update for Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee regarding the current position for call handling and customer contact within the Customer Service team, high contact service areas. 



    At the meeting of this Committee on 27 September 2022, an action was requested for the Committee to receive recent data on the calls handled within the Customer Service telephony system.  This report, presented by the Head of Revenues, Benefits and Customer Service, provided current calls handling performance to 31 October 2022 and forward plan actions relating to Customer Service and telephony solutions.


    The report provided analysis of call handling from January 2022 through to October 2022 for high volume service areas (where calls go into an agent queue) – which were:


    • Allocations and Tenancy Services – lettings

    • Housing Improvements and Repairs

    • Customer Services – including: Benefits, Council Tax Billing,Housing Register, Switchboard

    • Revenues, Business Rates, Enforcement, Rents (internal queue only)

    • Elections

    • Street Scene, Green and Trade Waste Team (internal queue only) – this is a new queue for reporting since 3 October 2022.


    Statistics were produced and issued by the Customer Service Co-Ordinator on a weekly and monthly basis to the relevant service areas.  The information included number of calls offered, handled, abandoned, average speed of answer and FTE time for call handling.  In addition, since 30 May 2022, the Customer Service Co-Ordinator had requested commentary from all service areas regarding any factors which could impact call handling. Currently, the service areas detailed were averaging call answering of 79%.  This had since increased to 84%.


    During Quarter 2, the Customer Service Team saw a reduction in staffing and took on the call handing for two additional service areas – Council Tax and Benefits (not including complex calls).  Since April 2022 over 54,000 Council Tax Energy Rebate payments had been made.  There had been significant email and telephone contact resulting in this funding.  October had seen the recruitment of 5.27 full time equivalents into the Customer Service Team to replace vacant posts within the team and to ensure adequate resources for the additional service area contacts.  The new members of the team had received training during October and this had been very successful. The training was ongoing and will take time for them to learn all 16 service areas.


    Members raised the following points during discussion:


    ·            Had any examples of problems been received by Councillors as requested by the Head of Revenues, Benefits and Customer Services?


    ·            What changes had been made to mitigate the 1 in 5 calls that did not get answered.  Was there information on the length of time a customer waited and how many calls were abandoned?


    ·            It was noted that there had been a marked improvement in recent call-handling.


    ·            The number of complaints received by Councillors becoming reduced in numbers will be the most positive sign of improvement.  We should always aim to provide the best service we can.


    The Head of Revenues, Benefits and Customer Service confirmed that one example of a complaint had been received and it was dealt with and responded to at that time.  Changes to the staffing rota had meant that there were increased staff numbers  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.


Update on Changing Places Toilet Facilities Project pdf icon PDF 160 KB

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    To provide the Committee an update regarding the Changing Places Toilets facilities project across the district.



    The Cabinet Member for Housing and Property presented the report.


    In July 2021 the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced the opening for Expressions of Interest bids for a share of a £30M pot to provide Changing Places toilets in existing, publicly accessible buildings, having been announced some months previously and consultation with relevant groups across the district was carried out to determine the preferred locations of the people who would use a Changing Places facility and their carers.  Changing Places toilets were larger accessible toileting facilities for severely disabled people, with equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches and space for carers.  In March 2022 the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities informed the Council that its bid had been successful and that it had been awarded the maximum £160,000.


    The funding is awarded to cover a two-year period for completion of the project.  One location in Grantham was reviewed to allow for increased access and to meet the requirements and suggestions from feedback of local users.  The four sites are now:


    ·            South Street public toilets, Bourne (In partnership with Bourne Town Council)


    ·            Abbey Gardens public toilets, Grantham


    ·            Meres Leisure Centre, Grantham (in partnership with LeisureSK Ltd)


    ·            The Shack, Recreation Ground, Stamford (in partnership with Stamford Town Council)


    Feasibility works have been undertaken on each of the four sites by SKDC’s consultant building survey Banks Long & Co. which provided initial scheme designs and budgetary costings for each of the sites.


    From review of the four schemes, initial designs for the Meres Leisure Centre, Grantham and the South Street toilets, Bourne had been agreed and we were now looking to progress these two projects in 2022/23 financial year with contractors who were currently being engaged with via the Changing Places support teams approved contractor list.  From the review of the designs in relation to Abbey Gardens Toilets, Grantham and The Shack, Stamford, specific configuration issues had been identified and this would require further investigation in order for the sites to be brought forward in the 2023/24 financial year.


    Members raised the following points during discussion:


    ·            When was it anticipated that works would be complete?


    ·            Who will own and manage the facilities and pay for the maintenance?


    ·            Bourne Town Council was asked for further funding contributions which the Member felt was not appropriate.


    ·            A Member thanked the Officer who contacted them to explain the lack of suitable venue in the Deepings.


    The Chief Finance Officer confirmed that the Council were securing contractors but the sourcing of approved contractors for a national scheme was proving difficult.


    The Leader of the Council welcomed the scheme as positive and informed the Committee he had meetings with the Grantham Disabled Children’s Society and the national team at Changing Places.  It was great to provide the facilities that our residents deserved.


    The Cabinet Member for Housing and Property confirmed there was a planned meeting to confirm criteria and procedure with the Bourne Town Clerk and Town Councillor.




    That the Committee:  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.


Work Programme 2022 - 2023 pdf icon PDF 160 KB

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    To consider the Committee’s Work Programme for 2022 – 2023.


    The Committee noted the contents of the Work Programme 2022 – 2023.


Any other business, which the Chairman, by reason of special circumstance decides is urgent

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    There was no other business.


Close of Meeting

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    The Chairman closed the meeting at 12:58.


Appendix A -Written Submission and Responses pdf icon PDF 186 KB

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