Venue: Council Chamber - South Kesteven House, St. Peter's Hill, Grantham. NG31 6PZ. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services
Comments from members of the public
To receive comments or views from members of the public at the Committee’s discretion.
No comments from members of the public had been received.
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence had been received from Councillor Bob Adams and Councillor Charmaine Morgan.
It was confirmed that seven Committee Members were present.
Disclosure of interests
No interests were disclosed.
Action notes of the meeting held on 23 February 2021 PDF 206 KB
It was proposed seconded and agreed that the action notes from the meeting held on 23 February 2021 were a correct record.
Updates from previous meeting PDF 161 KB
To consider updates on actions agreed at the previous meeting.
Action point 34 (5) – Delivery of Affordable Housing. The Cabinet Member for Housing and Property noted that since the last meeting the Cabinet Member remits had changed. Planning was now under the remit of the Cabinet Member for Planning and Policy. A report would be brought to Committee and would incorporate the Council’s Stock Condition Survey, but a date could not be provided now.
That the Cabinet Member for Planning and Planning Policy provides a written response to this Committee on when the report on Affordable Housing would appear on the Committee’s Work Plan.
Action point 36 – Future High Street Fund Bid. The Cabinet Member for Growth and Leisure noted that since the £5.6m award to the Council, Alex Ward had been appointed as the Programme Manager. The project had to be completed within two and a half years and the Committee would be kept informed of progress.
That the Committee would be kept informed of progress.
Outturn Position Report 2020/21 PDF 656 KB
This report provides Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee with the detail of the Council’s provisional outturn position for the financial year 2020/21.
The Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources noted that the report provided details of the Outturn Position for 2020/21 and wished to have recorded his thanks to Council officers and especially the Finance Team for the fantastic work undertaken during the last year which ensured that the budget Stablisation Reserve would not need to be used to balance the 2021/21 financial year.
The Interim Director of Finance referred to the recommendation in the report noting that the review of the Revenue and Capital Outturn was provisional because the deadline for the completion of the accounts was 31 July 2021. Reference was made to recommendation 2 of the report in so far as the recommendation on the budget carry forwards would be going to Cabinet on 13 July 2021 and not Governance and Audit Committee. The outturn and the proposed reserve movements would be presented to the Governance and Audit Committee on 21 July 2021. The Committee would then be asked to approve both elements.
The key points of the report were:
Variance work would normally be undertaken on the budget agreed at the start of the financial year. Council had considered and approved an amended budget framework in September 2020, so the variance analysis work compared the original budget to the amended budget agreed by Council. The Outturn was closely aligned to the amended budgets so there were fewer variances than would normally be expected.
In February 2021, the Committee had been informed of a forecasted deficit of £300,000 which had been significantly reduced from a previously projected £1m. The balanced position had been established by utilising Government Grants and interventions by Members and officers to reduce expenditure across the authority. The reserves had not been utilised to balance the financial year, which meant the Council was in a good place for 2021/22.
Reference was made to the recommendation to establish a Covid Recovery Reserve of £1.2m made up of underutilised Government funding. This would be used to offset and mitigate against any further unforeseen costs that might be incurred during 2021/21 year and offset any losses in expenditure/income. The Committee was reminded that at the beginning of the 2021/22-year COVID restrictions were still in place which could still impact on budgets and potential income.
The report outlined elements of the General Fund, Revenue and Capital and the Housing Revenue Account. Member’s attention was drawn to the following key areas:
Page 27, Table 7 referred to the updated year-end income position. The Budget had been amended in September to an income prediction of around £3.5m This had been overachieved and was around £4m for the year.
The Income Loss Compensation Scheme reimbursed the Council and enabled the Council to access £653k to help offset income losses.
Table 6 provided an overview of the types of grants awarded to the Council by Government to offset expenditure: Re-opening High Streets Safely, COVID Compliance and Enforcement, Leisure Recovery, Cultural Recovery, Furlough Scheme (Arts and Building Control), Winter Grant Scheme, Tranches 1-4 Government Support ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
Local Council Tax Support Scheme 2022/23 PDF 494 KB
This report reviews the Council’s Local Council Tax Support scheme in advance of the 2022/23 financial year and seeks comments from this Committee regarding potential changes to the scheme for public consultation.
The Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources introduced the report on the Local Council Tax Support Scheme 2022/23 and noted the Committee’s comments were being sought on the proposals.
The Head of Revenues and Benefits referred to the recommendations and then provided a summary of the report. The Committee was reminded that the Council was required to review the Council Tax Support Scheme on an annual basis to ensure that it was fair to residents, provided the required support and was in line with budget requirements.
There were a wide-ranging set of competing and sometimes, conflicting objectives that had to be considered and the scheme for 2022/23 would be challenging due to the impact of COVID. Areas that had to be considered were:
There had been an impact on the amount of Local Council Tax Support Scheme awarded, with significant increases in caseload and the cost of the scheme due to the economic impact of COVID-19. Caseloads had increased due to the direct result of changes to the economic climate, with existing customers requiring more support and new customers making claims for Universal Credit, and in-turn Council Tax Support claims. The had been a national impact but Appendix 2 reflected the impact on Lincolnshire Councils. The cost of the scheme for 2020/21 was £7,204,780 which was an increase from £6,505,192 at the same point in 2019 and was an increase of £699,588.
A range of different scenarios had been modelled based on the current core elements of the existing scheme, along with an assumed increased charge in Council Tax of 3%. The changes were summarized at Appendix 1 and provided an indication of the potential cost to the Council.
The proposed changes for consideration reflected schemes in other areas in Lincolnshire and were a relatively common theme representing national schemes.
Progress on the new Complaints System
The Monitoring Officer to provide Members with a verbal update on the current progress and work undertaken on the new Complaints System.
The Deputy Chief Executive, on behalf of the Monitoring Officer, provided the Committee with a verbal update on the progress of the new Complaints process. He explained that the first part was around housing complaints The process was under review because the Housing Ombudsman had been very clear about the way housing complaints should be dealt with. The complaints system had to be aligned with the requirements of the Ombudsman. This meant that a two-stage process was required instead of the three-stage process currently used across the organisation. Work was being undertaken especially around the housing system and would go to Cabinet soon for a decision. A meeting with the Team had taken place to review the progress being made.
The Council had several complaints and feedback processes which were also under review. The current proposal was for all complaints to go through a similar process rather than having one process for the Housing Revenue Account and a different one the rest of the Council services.
In respect of timelines, the proposal was for the process to go to Cabinet in September but a report would be brought to this Committee first. At previous Committee meetings concerns around data and the lessons learned had been raised, and changes had been made at the end of April to improve workflows. No meaningful data was currently available to present to the Committee but the Committee would receive information in due course about the type or complaint, frequency of complaints, how they had been resolved, lessons learned and how this would be shared across the organisation.
In response to a query about whether the Committee would receive information before the processes went to Cabinet, the Deputy Chief Executive noted that a report would be brought to the July meeting of the Committee. Assurance was given that changes relating to specific areas would go before the appropriate Committee for consideration.
That the Committee receives a written report in July 2021 updating them on the progress of the Complaints System especially around the Housing Revenue Account.
That the update on the progress of the Complaints System was noted.
Corporate Plan Key Performance Indicators 2020/21 PDF 337 KB
This report outlines South Kesteven District Councils performance against the Corporate Plan Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for 2020/21.
The Assistant Chief Executive presented the first report to this Committee on the progress of the Corporate Plan performance indicators which were discussed and agreed at the previous meeting and were the performance indicators in the Corporate Plan. He noted that if all of these were achieved across the Council, they would be contributing to the vision to be “The Best District in which to live, work and visit”. All Committees would receive regular reports over the life of the Corporate Plan 2020-23. Appendix 1 contained the main detail and set out the current progress against performance.
An overview of the actions for this Committee was provided:
· Ten of the actions were rated as green which meant that they were on track for delivery.
· Six of the actions were rated as amber which meant they were on track for delivery but had mitigation plans in place or, if they were a KPI, they hit 10% of the target.
· One action was rated red. This meant that currently it was not on track and there was no robust mitigation plan in place so there was a threat that it would not be achieved.
The following areas were drawn to the Committee’s attention:
· The £5.5m funding for Future Hight Street Funding had been secured and was a big contributor to that action.
· A balanced budget at the end of March enabled the Council to be in a strong position. This was part of the financial resilience highlighted in the Corporate Plan as being a high performing council.
· The site acquisition for the depot took place in April 2021 and was a key milestone for that project.
The following areas that were not currently green were highlighted to the Committee:
· Work with local education providers to increase opportunities for learning and apprenticeships in the district was rated as red. This was because the University Centre had not opened due to COVID. There had been some activity outside the centre but education apprenticeship opportunities were not on track. Work was underway to look at the most beneficial ways for business learning in the district.
· IT Investment was rated as Amber. Current progress was red because the road map plan was not in place. This would be required when brought to future committees. This could be brought back on track and might be an area the Committee would want to explore and add to its’ work programme. This would set out the actions and the required KPIs.
The Committee to look at the Road Map Plan for IT investment as a future agenda item.
· Use of local supply chains is an action that the Council had to influence over rather than control. It was rated as Amber as the target for 2020/21 was 60% of spend under £50K being with the local supply chain, growing to 64% over the life of the Corporate Plan. Last year’s performance was 54% and was amber. The finance and procurement team were looking at ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
Work Programme 2021 - 2022 PDF 228 KB
To consider the contents of the Committee Work Programme for 2021 - 2022
A Member queried whether Affordable Homes delivery in the district could be included on the work programme for 7 September.
The Chairman acknowledged the request for the Affordable Homes delivery in the district to be included on the Work Programme and commented that he and the Vice Chairman would discuss with officers whether this was realistic.
Close of Meeting
The meeting closed at 12:20.