Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Room 1 - Wallasey Town Hall. View directions
Members' Code of Conduct - Declarations of Interest
Members of the Cabinet are asked to consider whether they have any disclosable pecuniary or non pecuniary interests in connection with any item(s) on this agenda and, if so, to declare them and state the nature of the interest.
No declarations of interest were received.
The minutes of the last meeting have been printed and published. Any matters called in will be reported at the meeting.
RECOMMENDATION: That the minutes be approved and adopted.
Resolved - That the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 29 November 2012 be confirmed as a correct record.
The minutes of the five Special Overview and Scrutiny Committees, at which the Budget Options were considered, are attached together with the minutes of the Wirral Schools’ Forum.
A report from the Interim Director of Finance provided the latest Budget Projections for 2013/16. The Budget Projections for 2013/16 included £11 million for growth arising from demographic changes, Government decisions regarding funding and local decisions relating to income.
It was proposed that an extraordinary Council meeting be convened before the end of January to approve the Council Tax Base and Business Rates Base as they had to be agreed by 31 January 2013. The Mayor had agreed to call this meeting on Monday 28 January, 2013 and all Members had been informed.
Budget Cabinet was scheduled for 18 February 2013 with Budget Council scheduled for 5 March 2013. The Council had to agree the Budget and set the level of Council Tax for 2013/14 by 10 March 2013.
The Chief Executive introduced the report, he informed the Cabinet that following the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn statement announcement, the budget gap for the next three years was now £109m. The Local Government Finance Settlement had been announced on 19 December and an initial analysis had been provided to the Cabinet by the Interim Director of Finance, this indicated that Wirral’s loss of grant in 2013/14 would broadly be as estimated within Wirral’s current budget projections, which was a loss of 6% equivalent to £8 million. Details regarding a number of grant areas were, however, still awaited. The Education Services Grant would only be known in late January and Public Health Funding had not yet been announced.
Joe Taylor, Unison Wirral Branch Secretary was invited to address the Cabinet. He welcomed the extension of the consultation period in respect of proposed changes to terms and conditions and emphasised that no savings had been agreed by any Trades Unions at this stage. With £6m in the salary budget for terms and conditions, the proposed reduction of £2.8m represented a 48 per cent cut, with an additional £1.5m saving if four days unpaid leave was introduced, a 1.5 per cent pay cut lasting three years.
Mr Taylor welcomed the extension of the consultation period in respect of the voluntary enhanced severance scheme and that the Administration would be speaking to the Government about possible capitalisation.
He re-emphasised the Trade Unions opposition to compulsory redundancies and that if any were put in place then the unions would ballot their members. Legal advice from UNISON’s solicitors had been forwarded to the Administration and he hoped that following the senior management restructure no redundancy notices would be issued on 21 December, 2012.
Mr Taylor further commented that UNISON’s national officer would be coming to Wirral on 16 January, 2013 and would be examining the Council’s books in the hope of suggesting alternative savings. He went on to give particular examples on certain staff of the devastating cuts in pay if the proposed changes to terms and conditions were approved.
Mr Taylor further stated that immediate savings could be made now by making it a priority to cease the employment of consultants, advisors and agency staff. ... view the full minutes text for item 144.
The Chief Executive introduced a report which detailed proposals in relation to the Council’s senior management restructure, following the Cabinet and Employment and Appointments reports of 18 September 2012 (minutes 83 and 21, respectively, refer). The proposals included details of financial savings which were attached as an appendix to the report.
The report proposed to reduce the senior management structure of the Council from 30 full time equivalent (FTE) posts to 19 FTE posts (excluding the three Strategic Director posts). Reducing senior management costs played a major contribution in reducing pressure on frontline services.
Councillor Phil Davies stated that the priority was to relieve as much as possible the pressure on frontline services.
With an addition to the recommendations in the report, moved by Councillor Phil Davies and seconded by Councillor McLachlan, it was -
Resolved – That Cabinet:
(1) Endorses the report
(2) Refers and recommends the following proposals to the Employment and Appointments Committee for consideration and decision:
The deletion of the following posts:
Adult Social Services:
· Deputy Director of Adult Social Services
· Head of Finance and Performance (Adults)
· Head of Locality Personalised Support (Adults)
· Head of Specialist Personalised Support (Adults)
· Head of Safeguarding and Care Governance (Adults)
· Deputy Director: Planning, Resources and Schools (CYPD)
· Head of Children’s Social Care
· Head of Learning and Achievement
· Director of Finance
· Deputy Director of Finance
· Head of IT Services
· Head of Benefits, Revenues and Customer Services
Law, HR and Asset Management:
· Director of Law, HR and Asset Management
· Head of Regulation
· Head of Asset Management
· Director of Technical Services
· Deputy Director of Technical Services
· Head of Cultural Services
Regeneration, Housing and Planning:
· Director of Regeneration, Housing and Planning
The creation of the following posts:
Families and Wellbeing:
· Head of Transformation (Adults)
· Head of Delivery (Adults)
· Head of Specialist Services (CYPD)
· Head of Targeted Services (CYPD)
· Head of Universal and Infrastructure (CYPD) and Assistant Chief Executive
Regeneration and Environment:
· Head of Environment and Regulation
Transformation and Resources:
· Head of Business Processes
The re-designation of the following posts:
Regeneration and Environment:
· Head of Housing to Head of Housing and Community Safety
· Head of Communication and Community Engagement to Head of Neighbourhoods and Engagement.
(3) Approves the re-alignment of services across the three programme areas as detailed in the report.
(4) Asks the Chief Executive to consult on and to implement the further management restructure for senior manager levels to PO level, with expected financial savings of £4m.
(5) Authorises the Chief Executive to confirm and implement the management structure as agreed at such time and in such manner as he considers appropriate, including making any additional administrative changes as are necessary to give effect to the changes including making any consequential changes to the scheme of delegation as are necessary to give effect to the new arrangements.
The Interim Director of Finance reported upon the revenue position for 2012/13 as at Month 7 (October 2012). His report identified the latest financial projections and prioritised the risks for ongoing management actions, to ensure the year-end position would deliver the budget allocated.
He highlighted a major risk which had just emerged concerning the reliability of fees and charges income, going back many years. It was clear from a system review of Social Services debt collection, that the process to enforce the payment of amounts owing was deficient. The process only consisted of the production of reminder letters, with no recourse to the courts and enforcement to ensure payment. Officers had urgently put in place a system to ensure ongoing income was recovered, by implementing agreed policy, and to establish the exact size of the unrecoverable debt.
On a motion by Councillor Phil Davies, seconded by Councillor McLachlan, it was -
(1) That Cabinet notes that:
(i) At Month 7 (October 2012), the full year forecast projects a potential General Fund overspend of £8.7m;
(ii) A review of over/underspends and Earmarked Reserves has been undertaken, reported to the November 29th Cabinet and incorporated into the Interim Director’s report;
(iii)there were no rejected freeze items in the month. Appendix 7 to the report listed those items considered as part of the process.
(2) Cabinet is extremely concerned at the reference in paragraph 2.14 of the Interim Director of Finance’s report concerning the failure of the Council to actively recover Social Services debt over a number of years.
(3) Cabinet asks the Chief Executive to commission an urgent external independent investigation to establish:
1. The circumstances leading up to this state of affairs.
2. The amount of money which has not been collected and how much might still be recoverable.
3. The length of time this practice has been in operation.
4. The reasons why this practice was allowed to continue.
5. Who knew of and authorised this approach to debt management?
6. What lessons can be learnt to ensure there is no recurrence?
(4) That Cabinet requests that a report be brought back in a month and an update provided at the 24 January Cabinet.
The Interim Director of Finance reported upon the current position regarding the Council’s 2012/13 to 2014/15 capital programme. The report reflected:
· The re-profiled 2012/13 capital programme budget which incorporated the decision made by Cabinet on 29 November 2012 (minute 136 refers) to cease or reduce a number of schemes within the programme;
· The expenditure to date, which continued to be less than it should be;
· A request for a revision to the capital programme to reflect slippage of £2.632 million of schemes into the 2013/14 financial year;
· A request for an increase in the programme of £0.3 million for schemes requiring no unsupported borrowing.
· The projected outturn figures for 2012/13, which suggested an underspend of £2.552 million on the revised programme.
· The current funding of the programme and its future affordability, which was subject to a review.
Resolved – That Cabinet:
(1) Agrees the revised Capital Programme of £51.660 million.
(2) Agrees slippage in the programme of £2.362 million from 2012/13 to 2013/14.
(3) Agrees an increase to the programme of £0.3 million for a Finance scheme (Moreton Library/One Stop Shop) which does not require financing from unsupported borrowing.
(4) Notes the spend to date at month 7 of £17.279 million, which represents 33.4% of the revised capital budget, with 58% of the financial year having elapsed.
(5) Notes the work of the Capital Steering Group to detail the schedule of sites to validate the estimate of capital receipts.
(6) Notes the inclusion within this report of the programme changes agreed by Cabinet on 29 November 2012 of ceased or reduced schemes totalling £30.755 million and consequent annual revenue savings of £2.3 million arising from a review of the current capital programme.
The Interim Director of Finance reported upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement of 5 December 2012. His report provided a summary of the main issues, a number of which had a direct bearing on local authorities. What was clear was that there would be no let up in the pressure being applied to local authority finances. The Chancellor had made it clear that spending reductions would continue into 2017-18. Additional spending cuts of £445 million were to be imposed on local authorities in 2014-15. Wirral’s resources could therefore be reduced by a further £5.2m over 2014-16. As a result, the 3-year savings target would increase from £103.5m to £108.7m, assuming an even distribution between local authorities.
In moving a motion, Councillor Phil Davies stated that the Autumn Statement revealed the true scale of David Cameron and George Osborne’s economic failure. They were failing on jobs and growth, with the economy shrinking this year. As a result, borrowing and debt figures had been revised up and the Government had had to admit it was failing on the one test they set themselves – to balance the books and get the debt down by 2015.
He further stated that, while millionaires got a £3 billion tax cut, it was people who were already struggling to make ends meet – middle and lower income families and pensioners – who were paying the price for this failure. Funding for local government was cut by 2% from 2014/15. This increased Wirral Council’s budget shortfall from £103 million to £109 million over the next three years. Instead of a change of course, the Autumn Statement was just more of the same failing policies.
On a motion moved by Councillor Phil Davies, seconded by Councillor McLachlan, it was -
Resolved – That Cabinet agrees that instead of ‘more of the same’ what was needed was a One Nation approach to the economy: an economy that grows, where everybody has a stake and where the rewards are fairly shared:
· A real plan for jobs and growth, including genuinely bringing forward infrastructure investment, a temporary VAT cut and a bank bonus tax to fund a jobs guarantee for young people.
· Long-term reforms to make our economy stronger, including proper reforms to our banks.
· And cancelling the tax cut for millionaires at a time when millions of families and pensioners are paying more.
The Chief Executive reported upon a proposal to delegate to him, as the Head of Paid Service, the power to make appropriate arrangements for conducting appeals in connection with gradings, grievances or disciplinary action against or dismissal of employees.
Currently such arrangements were delegated to the Appeals Sub-Committee of the Employment and Appointments Committee. It was recommended that the council move to the practice common in many authorities where the Chief Executive, as Head of Paid Service, ensured that appropriate appeal arrangements were established. Again this accorded with the feedback from the Peer Challenge which recommended that roles were clarified to ensure elected members did not get too involved in operational matters and officers were empowered to take decisions.
This would not apply to Chief Officers or Deputies, effectively Strategic Directors and Heads of Service in the new structure. In those cases the Employment and Appointments Committee would continue to be responsible for their appointment and dismissal.
With the permission of the Chair, Joe Taylor, Unison Wirral Branch Secretary, addressed the Cabinet. He stated that the unions were totally opposed to this proposal as this was the last piece of independence for officers within the authority. Previous appeals to Members had found flaws in the way some officers had carried out dismissals of staff.
Councillor Phil Davies commented that he agreed with the proposal as managers were paid to manage staff and Councillors should not be involved.
On a motion by Councillor Phil Davies, seconded by Councillor McLachlan, it was -
Resolved – That Cabinet recommends to Council that:
(1) They delegate to the Chief Executive, as Head of Paid Service, the power to make appropriate arrangements for conducting appeals in connection with gradings, grievances or disciplinary action against or dismissal of employees.
(2) The Chief Executive, as Head of Paid Service, report annually to the Employment and Appointments Committee on the operation of the arrangements for conducting appeals in connection with gradings, grievances or disciplinary action against or dismissal of employees.
(3) The delegations to the Appeals Sub-Committee to hear and determine appeals in connection with gradings, grievances or disciplinary action against or dismissal of employees, be removed.
The Director of Adult Social Services presented a report which gave details of the outcome of consultation with independent residential and nursing home providers regarding the fees option proposals as agreed by Cabinet at its meeting on 18 October 2012 (minute 102 refers).
The report also detailed a further revised option which had been developed in response to feedback received during the consultation period and which should be consulted on. The proposals had been considered with due regard to the Council’s priority to safeguard vulnerable adults and promote choice and control. The Council had a statutory duty to set a fee level that enabled efficiently run care homes to provide care that was compliant with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) Essential Standards of Quality and Safety Regulations 2010.
Resolved – That Cabinet:
(1) Considers the new fee level Option, as described in Section 5 of the report, that has been developed using a Model of a 37 bedded home and 95% occupancy that responds to the feedback from home owners.
(2) Consults with home owners for a further four weeks to ascertain views on the New fee level Option including that the increased offer is made to cover the period of two years, i.e. 2012/13 and 2013/14.
(3) Agrees to additional resources being allocated to the Department of Adult Social Services to take account of the costs of implementing the proposals.
(4) Adjusts the previously agreed recommendation to collect ‘top ups’ with effect from 1 April 2013 to 1 September 2013 in order to consider the debt management issues potentially raised by this policy.
(5) Amends its resolution of 18 October 2012 so as to authorise the Director of Adult Social Services to serve not less than three months notice of termination of all contracts with homeowners for residential and nursing care at pre-April 2011 fee levels in those cases where the homeowners have accepted residents since April 2011 at the current fee levels (with or without third party top ups) on the Council’s usual terms and conditions with the intent that the current contract at post-April 2011 fee levels should encompass all residents in the relevant home without differentiating between their date of entry into the home.
The Acting Director of Children’s Services asked the Cabinet to approve arrangements, following the directive from the Department for Education to delegate budget and staffing responsibilities to the Management Committee of Pupil Referral Units (PRU) from 1 April 2013. The Wirral Alternative Schools Programme (WASP) was the Wirral PRU. Currently WASP was a Local Authority Service and was controlled by the policies and practices of Wirral Local Authority. The directive from the Department for Education would result in WASP becoming a maintained school and the Management Committee would take over the delegated powers similar to other schools maintained by Wirral Local Authority.
Resolved – That Cabinet agrees that:
(1) Wirral Alternative Schools Programme (WASP) is transferred from a service to a maintained school.
(2) Budget responsibilities for WASP are transferred to the WASP Management Committee, in line with current Government funding arrangements, from 1 April 2013.
(3) Staffing responsibilities for WASP are transferred to the WASP Management Committee. Appropriate consultation regarding any required changes to contracts of employment and Statements of Particulars are dealt with prior to 1 April 2013.
(4) WASP is given the same level of autonomy as other Wirral Maintained Schools from 1 April 2013.
(5) A detailed plan will be produced to enable the transfer arrangements to be monitored closely by the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services in association with the Acting Director of Children’s Services.
The Interim Strategic Director: Regeneration and Environment submitted a report which sought the Cabinet’s views on the Tenancy Strategy Statement, attached as Appendix 1 to the report, prior to wider consultation with Registered Providers of Social Housing and the general public. The development of a tenancy strategy by local authorities was a statutory requirement of the Localism Act 2011.
Resolved – That Cabinet approves the Tenancy Strategy Statement in Appendix 1 to the report, prior to wider consultation with Registered Providers and the general public.
The Chief Executive submitted a report which provided the Cabinet with a range of options to change the Council’s Enhanced Discretionary Severance Scheme, including an update on the consultation process in relation to this.
Cabinet were asked to consider the options and the consultation feedback, and to make a decision in relation to changing the Council’s current Enhanced Discretionary Severance Scheme.
Councillor Phil Davies informed the Cabinet of the need to seek an urgent meeting with the Government to see how much might be capitalised.
On a motion by Councillor Phil Davies, seconded by Councillor George Davies, it was -
Resolved – That Cabinet:
(1) Recognises the importance of adopting a severance scheme which is as generous as possible. However, it also recognises that any scheme must be workable, affordable and reasonable having regard to the foreseeable costs.
(2) Agrees to note the report of the Chief Executive and to defer a decision on changes to the Enhanced Discretionary Severance Scheme pending advice from Government on how much it is prepared to allow Wirral Council to capitalise.
(3) Agrees to resume discussions with the trade unions as soon as possible once the position on capitalisation is clear.
The Acting Director of Law, HR and Asset Management submitted a report which sought approval to the freehold transfer of the Leasowe Millennium Centre to Leasowe Community Homes.
Resolved – That,
(1) the disposal of the Leasowe Millennium Centre to Leasowe Community Homes be approved on the terms reported.
(2) authority be delegated to the Acting Director of Law, HR and Asset Management, in consultation with the portfolio holder, to approve the final terms for lease back of the library facility.
The Interim Strategic Director: Regeneration and Environment reported that Cabinet at its meeting on 18 October 2012 (minute 108 refers) agreed the funding of £1.2m to implement the environmental scheme for New Brighton Promenade.
The processes involved in considering items affected by the freeze on Capital expenditure meant that the original implementation timescale for this project had had to be revised by the Interim Director of Technical Services. This revision showed that the works could not be implemented without significantly impacting on the spring/summer period in New Brighton and it was considered that as this impact would affect businesses and visitors to New Brighton, then the main works should be delayed until Autumn 2013.
In light of the above, the report set out a revised timetable for the project, recommended that the health and safety works commence and were completed by February 2013 and sought authority for the Interim Strategic Director: Regeneration and Environment to proceed with the necessary procurement processes to undertake both elements of the works.
Resolved – That Cabinet:
(1) Approves the revised timetable and Capital Programme funding profile for the delivery of the scheme as set out in the report;
(2) Authorises the Interim Strategic Director: Regeneration and Environment to proceed with the necessary procurement process to undertake the works.
The Interim Strategic Director: Regeneration and Environment submitted a report which sought Cabinet’s approval for the publication of the Council’s statutory Annual Monitoring Report (AMR), which reported on the impact of land use planning policies and the preparation of local plans and other planning documents. There was no longer a requirement for the AMR to be submitted to the Secretary of State but copies of the AMR had to be made available for public inspection on the Council’s website.
The report also recommended a change in the approach to the future publication of monitoring information to meet the requirements of new national regulations that required the Council to make any up-to-date information collected for monitoring purposes available as soon as possible after the information had been collected.
The report recommended that the Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Planning Strategy was given authority to approve the publication of future monitoring information on the Council’s website and that future monitoring data was wherever appropriate made available in an open machine readable format subject to a licence that allowed open re-use to maximise the value to the public.
(1) That the Annual Monitoring Report for 2011/12, attached to the report, and its accompanying data tables, are approved and placed on the Council’s website for public inspection.
(2) That the full Council be requested to approve that Schedule 5 of part 3 of the Constitution be amended to give the Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Planning Strategy delegated authority to approve the publication of future monitoring information on the Council’s website, to enable future monitoring information to be made available to the public as soon as possible after the information becomes available, in line with the requirements of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012.
(3) That future monitoring information is, wherever appropriate, made available to the public on the Council’s website in open and machine readable format subject to the Open Government Licence published by the National Archive or an appropriate equivalent standard, to allow open re-use to maximise the value of the data to the public.
The Trade Centre Scrutiny Review has been referred to Cabinet by the Economy and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Attached are the minute, report and Scrutiny Review.
Cabinet received the Scrutiny Review of Preparations for the International Trade Centre in Wirral; prepared by the Trade Centre Scrutiny Panel, which had been referred by the Economy and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 14 November, 2012 (minute 33 refers).
Councillor Hackett thanked the Scrutiny Review Panel for an excellent piece of scrutiny work which contained a number of innovative ideas and Councillor Phil Davies concurred with these comments.
(1) That the contents and recommendations of the Trade Centre Scrutiny Panel be agreed.
(2) That the thanks of Cabinet be accorded to the Members of the Scrutiny Panel for the significant work undertaken in the review of preparations for the International Trade Centre and also to Mr A Veitch, Scrutiny Support Officer.
The Cabinet is requested to approve the adoption of the Oxton Conservation Area Management Plan.
Attached are the Planning Committee minute, report and Management Plan.
Cabinet was requested to approve the Adoption of the Oxton Conservation Area Management Plan, which had been referred from the Planning Committee (minute 72 (26 July 2012) refers).
Resolved – That Cabinet approves the adoption of the Oxton Conservation Area Management Plan as a material reference in planning and conservation matters.
A report of the Interim Director of Finance sought a decision from Cabinet on the option to delay the automatic enrolment of existing eligible jobholders, into the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) employed at Wirral Council, from a staging date of 1 March 2013 to 1 October 2017. Eligible job holders would still be able to enrol into the scheme in the meanwhile.
Resolved – That Cabinet recommends that Wirral Council invokes the transitional provisions within the Employer’s Duties (Implementation) (Amendment) Regulations 2012.