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.
Councillors Tony Cox and Stuart Whittingham declared personal and prejudicial interests in Item No. 12 on the agenda – Day Nursery Delivery (Minute No. 114 refers) by virtue of them being Directors of Nurseries. They indicated that they would be leaving the meeting whilst the item was under discussion.
Councillor Adrian Jones declared a personal interest in Item No. 4 on the agenda – Council Budget Consultation Findings by virtue of him being an allotment holder.
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.
That the Minutes of the meetings of the Committee held on 6 and 27 November 2014 be confirmed as a correct record.
Councillor Bernie Mooney introduced a report by the Strategic Director – Regeneration and Environment which reminded the Cabinet that on 11 September 2014 it had reviewed a report (Minute No. 48 refers) that considered the benefits, opportunities and risks associated with extending the current Waste and Environmental Streetscene Services contract. The Cabinet had noted that the partnership between the current service provider and the Council had demonstrated a successful track record in delivering service improvements and efficiencies, in order to steadily improve Value for Money over the life of the contract. The Cabinet had agreed that the Strategic Director would enter into negotiations with Biffa, in order to ensure that the contractor improved the current “offer” in return for extending the contract to its full permissible term (2027).
The report detailed the “best and final offer” secured from Biffa Waste Services. The Cabinet noted that the negotiations had resulted in an improved financial offer, and agreement to a number of contractual terms and clarification that eliminated or reduced some of the risks highlighted during the review of the contractor’s original offer.
The Cabinet noted that the result of the negotiations was an improvement on the established Value for Money position to a discount equating to £7.27 per household per annum by April 2018. Due to the limitations of data sets around value for money and fluctuating procurement markets, the only way of knowing exactly how advantageous Biffa’s proposal would be to the Council would be to decline the offer and go back out to the market. The cabinet, therefore, had to balance the risks and lost opportunities of accepting the offer with the financial benefits and future opportunities gained by securing a long term deal.
The opportunities lost included:
· Ability to re-package services where synergies may result in enhanced neighbourhood working capacity (e.g. A Street Cleansing, highway maintenance and grounds maintenance bundle);
· The ability to go to the market in a re-tender exercise.
The opportunities gained included:
· Immediate revenue savings totalling a minimum of 9.22% over 4 years;
· Avoidance of procurement costs of up to £250K in 16/17;
· Stability of provider with proven track record in performance;
· Immediate identification of significant further savings for implementation by 2016/17.
Appendix 1 to the report detailed the value and terms of the revised and final offer from Biffa in return for the Council extending the contract to 2027. In total Biffa was offering a contract discount of £13,383K over an extended contract term to 2027. This was an increase of £3,758K from the original offer in January 2014; £450K increase on the current term and £3,308K increase in the extended term. In terms of the Council’s annual revenue budget savings from these proposals, there would be an initial stepped increase of the savings between 2014-17 before an ongoing annual revenue saving of £1,065K was achieved from 2017-18 onwards.
Appendix 2 to the report detailed key risks arising when considering Biffa’s offer. A risk register had been kept since the offer was first proposed ... view the full minutes text for item 105.
The Cabinet considered a report by the Chief Executive and Councillor Phil Davies informed it that he intended to move a Budget Options resolution for 2015-16. Before he moved his resolution he invited Mr Phil Goodwin, Unison Branch Secretary to address the Cabinet.
Mr Goodwin accepted the invitation and reminded the Cabinet that for four years in succession the Council, like others in the North West of England, had been forced to implement cuts due to the Coalition Government’s austerity measures.
Mr Goodwin informed that in many parts of the Council, work forces had been “cut to the bone” and some services were now being provided by a “skeleton work forces”. Some staff had suffered cuts of up to £7,000 per annum and some staff members were still under the threat of redundancy. The Council had £4 million worth of savings options to consider but £2.5 million worth would need to be agreed. Mr Goodwin asked the Cabinet to avoid options that result in job cut backs and pay cuts. He suggested that the Cabinet amended the measures proposed and save public services. Mr Goodwin asked that the Cabinet take account of the fact that the workforce had “suffered long and hard from cuts, as a result of the Coalition Government’s actions”.
Councillor Phil Davies introduced the Chief Executive’s report on the Council’s budget proposals for public consultation. The report informed that on 8 September 2014, the Chief Executive had published a series of budget proposals for public consultation as the Council sought to make savings of £18 million in 2015-2016.
The Future Council project had identified potential savings of £15.5 million through changes and efficiencies. If implemented, these changes would potentially reduce the budget gap to £2.5 million in 2015-2016. Options were proposed for public consultation which totalled £3.7 million, providing choice for Members in setting the budget.
The report also presented a summary of the feedback from the public consultation and the pre-decision scrutiny work completed by the Policy and Performance Committees. The Cabinet was requested to consider these findings, and if it was so minded, to use this feedback to inform its budget deliberations and recommendations.
Councillor Davies informed the Cabinet that the Council was faced with a situation where, for five years running, it had to make draconian and savage cuts because of Central Government. The Council had to find savings of £18 million in 2015-16 and £70 million over the next three years. £151 million had already been found since 2010. Councillor Davies also informed that he was of the view that the Council could not sustain that level of cuts without affecting its services. If there was to be more cuts like this for another five years, it would mean the end of local government as people knew it. Councillor Davies also informed that he had not come into public service to make cuts as he believed in vibrant public services and strong local government. Unfortunately, the present Government had an opposing view to ... view the full minutes text for item 106.
Councillor Phil Davies introduced a report by the Director of Resources which set out an overview of the Council’s future financial position. The report provided an update to the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) approved in March 2014 and outlined the approach to operate within the finance available. The Cabinet noted that it would consider the Council’s Budget for 2015/16 at its meeting on 10 February 2015 and that the Council would consider it at its meeting on 24 February 2015.
The Cabinet noted that the MTFS provided an overview of the Council’s financial position and the strategy required to operate within the finance available. The Council set a detailed budget for the forthcoming financial year but the annual process fitted within financial plans for a longer timeframe to ensure decisions taken had due regard to future sustainability and were part of a more strategic approach to the future challenges.
The report set out an update to the MTFS and provided the context in which budget decisions for the period 2015/18 were being made. This followed the decisions the Council had taken over the last five years against a changing and challenging local government financial environment. The future response to further reductions in funding, planned through the setting of the 2015/16 budget was detailed in the report and elsewhere on the agenda.
The Cabinet noted that the MTFS approved for 2014/17 reflected the financial projections for the Council based on the SR 2013, a forecast impact of the changes to local government finance that commenced in April 2014 and budget assumptions. The forecast was that the Council would have an overall deficit of £83 million for the period 2014/17.
The Cabinet was informed that the revised position now being updated highlighted a gap of £70 million for the period 2015/18. The previous forecast gap had been updated for information released in the summer and the Council’s agreed budget saving options. Further revisions had come from the announcement of the indicative grant figures for 2015/16 and the addition of the anticipated budget gap for 2017/18 to give a financial forecast for 2015/18. A summary of the movement in the forecast gap was set out in table format for the Cabinet’s information.
It was clear to the Cabinet that the total financial resources of the Council and partners needed to be maximised, prioritised and channelled to the right areas and activities. As such resources would need to be matched to priorities as identified in the Corporate Plan whilst ensuring that statutory functions continued to be delivered and that enabling functions were provided in the most efficient way.
The Council had already examined and challenged the way services were delivered, looking for improvements in the effectiveness of services to produce savings. It had also challenged the methods of delivery.
The increasing deficit coupled with the ability of the Council to continue to get “the same for less” became increasingly difficult and the emphasis for future years would be on the challenging services the ... view the full minutes text for item 107.
Councillor Phil Davies introduced a report by the Head of Business Processes which brought together related issues regarding the proposed Council Tax Tax-Base for 2015-16 upon which the annual billing and Council Tax levels would be set; the proposed Council Tax levels and exemptions for 2015-16 and the Council Tax Support Scheme to be used during 2015-16. The Cabinet noted that all, apart from the Pensioner Household Discount which was a local discount, needed to be approved by Council by 31 January 2015.
Appended to the report at Appendix 1 was the Future Council Budget Options Scrutiny Review Report of the Policy and Performance Families and Wellbeing Committee dated November 2014
The Council had a number of statutory decisions it must make each year in respect of its administration of Council Tax. The Authority was required to annually determine the Council Tax Tax-Base in order to determine the appropriate levels for the Preceptor Authorities (Wirral Council, Police and Crime Commissioner and Fire and Rescue Services). The Tax-Base had a direct impact on the Council Tax that would be levied for Wirral for 2015-16. The decision could be a delegated function but was to be considered by the Cabinet and the Council for 2015/16.
Local Discounts could be granted under Section 13a of the Local Government Act 1992 and were used in Wirral to support Wirral Women’s Aid Refuge and award Pensioner Household Discounts. These were reviewed annually. The Local Government Finance Act 2012 had introduced changes in national Council Tax discounts and exemptions. These were considered and adopted for 2013-14 by the Cabinet on 24 January 2013. Also considered was the level of discount awarded on empty properties and the premium charged on long-term empties. These were unchanged in 2014-15. The Council had chosen to maximise the amount payable in each category and had to review its charges again for 2015-16. The calculation and factors taken into consideration were set out in Appendix 2 of the report. The Pensioner Discount in 2015-16 was the subject of public consultation, the results of which were covered in a separate report and needed to be agreed at least 21 days prior to their adoption.
In April 2013 the Government had replaced the national Council Tax Benefits Scheme with a localised scheme of support which was set and administered by each Council to support people on a low income. Certain national parameters remained such as previous levels of support continued for pensioners and vulnerable people. The Council’s Tax Support Scheme had been largely based on the previous Council Tax Benefit Scheme. The Scheme had to be approved by each 31 January prior to the year it would be applied. The calculations, implications and factors taken into consideration were set out in Appendix 3.
That Cabinet agrees and recommends to Council for approval:
(1) the figure of 89,344.9 as the Council Tax Tax-Base for 2015/16;
(2) that the level and award for each local discount for 2015/16 made as follows:
Wirral Women’s and Children’s ... view the full minutes text for item 108.
Councillor Phil Davies introduced a report of the Head of Legal and Member Services which proposed an Agenda and the procedure for the Budget Meeting of the Council to be held on 24 February 2015.
Standing Order 13 provided that the Head of Legal and Member Services:
“Shall, prior to the Budget meeting of the Council, consult with the Leaders of each political group and submit to the Cabinet and Council a suggested procedure to be adopted at the budget meeting, but if no such procedure is adopted the normal procedures of the Council in relation to amendments to Cabinet recommendations shall apply”.
The Cabinet was reminded that the Council’s Budget meeting was scheduled to take place on 24 February 2015.
(1) the Agenda and Budget Council Procedure set out in Appendix 1 to the report be approved;
(2) the Council be recommended, at its meeting on 15 December 2014, to adopt the Agenda and Budget Council Procedure set out at Appendix 1 to the report in respect of the Budget Council meeting scheduled for 24 February 2015;
(3) the Council be recommended to authorise the Head of Legal and Member Services to make changes to the Agenda and/or Budget Council Procedure set out in Appendix 1 to the report providing the consent of all the three Political Group Leaders has been obtained.
Councillor Phil Davies introduced a report by the Director of Resources which set out the revenue position for 2014/15, which at Month 7 (October 2014) showed a projected General Fund overspend of £2.25 million (0.8% of the net revenue budget). This was an improvement compared with a projected overspend reported at month 6 of £2.69 million as detailed in graph 1. The Cabinet noted that the improvement was largely a result of an increased projected underspend within Regeneration and Environment which was due to savings made in advance and efficiencies from supporting people contracts.
The Cabinet was informed that the projected overspend originated, in the main, from the Families and Wellbeing Directorate. Adult Social Services continued to project a £2.7 million overspend. This was mainly due to slippage or non-delivery of in year savings and demand pressures. The Children’s area of the Directorate was also forecasting an overspend of £552,000. This was largely due to the non-achievement of in year transport savings as well as costs of external placements. A series of management actions were taking place within the Directorate to help compensate and/or limit any variances.
Councillor Davies informed that he was glad that the Council was continuing to drive down overspend. It was now standing at £2.25 million as opposed to £17 million in 2012. He thanked Cabinet Members and Officers for their efforts in bringing this about.
(1) in Month 7 (October 2014), it be noted that the full year forecast projects a gross General Fund overspend of £2,249,000; and
(2) the risks relating to non delivery of savings as detailed within the report and the continued requirement for mitigation and actions to be identified be noted.
Councillor Phil Davies introduced a report of the Director of Resources, which set out the capital position at Month 7 (October 2014). The Cabinet noted a number of variances which would impact on the forecast outturn (Table 2). The report provided information which outlined the 2014/15 Capital Programme and the sources of funding.
Appended to the report were the Revised Capital Programme and Funding and Capital Receipts.
Councillor Phil Davies informed that the Council was realising as many capital receipts as possible and paid tribute to Councillor Adrian Jones who was leading the work on this.
(1) the spend to date at Month 7 of £15.8 million, with 58% of the financial year having elapsed be noted;
(2) the inclusion of the LED Lighting Scheme as agreed by Council on 20 October 2014 be noted;
(3) the revised Capital Programme of £45.7 million be agreed and referred to the Council for approval;
(4) the re-profiling in respect of the schemes referred to in Table 2, reference D (£1.211 million) be agreed and referred to the Council for approval; and
(5) the inclusion in the Capital Programme of the Flood Risk Management (£87,000, 2014/15) and Parks Improvement Works (£35,000, 2014/15) schemes be agreed and referred to the Council for approval.
The Leader of the Council introduced a report of the Director of Resources that reminded the Cabinet that the original Treasury Management and Investment Strategy 2014-15 was approved by it as part of the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2014-17 on 12 February 2014. The UK was implementing the final bail-in provisions of the EU Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive which would commence in January 2015, a year ahead of most other countries. Credit rating agencies had informed that they plan to review EU banks’ ratings in line with each country’s implementation of the directive.
The Director reported that many UK banks had standalone credit ratings in the “BBB” category with uplifts for potential Government support taking them into the “A” category. The Cabinet noted that there was a realistic risk that some major UK banks’ credit ratings would, this financial year, fall below the Council’s current minimum investment criteria rating of A-, if this uplift was removed. Therefore, it was considered that, as a precursor to this, the Investment element of the Strategy should be amended.
A revised table of Non-Specific Investments was attached to the report as Appendix 1.
That the Cabinet approves and recommends to Council for approval the amendment in respect of the Annual Investment Strategy in Appendix 1. This is the inclusion of a specific proviso relating to banks and other organisations with a long-term credit rating of BBB+.
Councillor Chris Jones introduced a report by the Strategic Director - Families and Wellbeing which warned that there was a real and significant financial challenge facing the NHS, Local Government and the Council’s partners in the coming years.
The Cabinet noted that if the Council continued to deliver services the way it did now, the demand for services would outweigh the available funding. An ageing population with increased complex health conditions, the increased expectations of patients, and the cost of new drugs and technologies that enabled people to live longer, meant, nationally, that the NHS would be facing a potential shortfall of £30 billion by 2020/21. Alongside this, councils had to make unprecedented savings, due to reductions in funding from Central Government. This was a challenge facing health systems up and down the country.
Vision 2018 was the local response to national challenge which was being led by Chief Executive Officers (or equivalent) in; Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group; Wirral Council; Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust; Wirral Community NHS Trust and Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Members noted that Vision 2018 was the plan to re-shape health services and social care in Wirral, whilst supporting people to take more responsibility for looking after their own health. Over the next 20 years, the number of people who were aged over 85 or over would more than double, meaning many more people with multiple, long term health conditions and increased financial pressures. However, it was also noted that these challenges also presented opportunities.
Vision 2018 would transform GP, primary care, community health, hospital and social care services in Wirral.
It would mean:
- Community based health services (e.g.: access to GPs, community nurses and social workers) seven days a week.
- More hospital services in the community, with consultant led teams.
- Health and social care professionals working together for people with ongoing needs: one assessment, one care plan, one key coordinator.
- Specialist in-patient hospital care for those that need it.
- Support for people to look after themselves and stay healthy.
A Vision 2018 Strategy was in the process of being developed to outline the case for change, to describe the vision for Wirral health and social care economy and how this would be achieved.
Attached to the report was the Vision 2018: An Update for Partner Governing Bodies/Organisational Boards which described the process to date in respect of:
· the review of Vision 2018 governance arrangements and programme structure and priorities;
· the case for change describing the size of the financial challenge and population need;
· and the development of the next steps for implementing change.
Councillor Phil Davies made reference to the financial pressures and the increasing demand for local services. He also referred to the link between poor health and an in ability to get into employment and not being able to improve quality of life. Councillor Davies considered that the Council should do all that it could to enable people to stay in their own ... view the full minutes text for item 113.
Councillor Ann McLachlan introduced a report by the Director of Children’s Services, which reminded the Cabinet that at its meeting on 7 July 2014 it had been agreed that proposals to cease delivery of Day Nursery provision by the Council, at five different locations, would be subject to a further 12 week period of consultation (this was to ensure that the school holiday period did not inhibit schools from engaging with the process). (Minute No. 30 refers.)
The report provided the Cabinet with an update on the future proposals for the Council’s Day Nursery provision, following the further period of consultation – undertaken between 15 July 2014 and 22 October 2014.
The Cabinet noted that ceasing to deliver Day Nursery provision would realise a saving of £772,000 already taken as part of the Council’s Budget saving options for 2013/14, but not yet fully delivered. It represented the shortfall between fees and charges collected at six day nursery settings from parents/carers and the cost to deliver the service.
Following a tendering exercise in 2013, one of the day nursery settings had transitioned to a social enterprise company; this had been resolved by the Cabinet at its meeting on 19 June 2014 and would reduce the outstanding saving to approximately £700,000. (Minute No. 5 refers.)
Councillor Phil Davies paid tribute to the work of the Head of Targeted Services and her Team and informed the Cabinet that it was important to ensure that nursery provision was available wherever one lived in the Borough.
(1) the recommendation to stop delivering day nursery provision as soon as practicable (arrangements for carefully managing transitions for families, staff and services have been considered in the report) be agreed;
(2) work with families accessing day nursery provision shall begin in order to ensure a smooth transition of care, using a phased approach where necessary, in order to minimise the disruption and need for multiple transfers and disruption to children and their parents and carers;
(3) negotiations with relevant partners and co-located primary schools from the five settings (for the continued delivery of the 2, 3 and 4 year old offer) be progressed, with due regard being given to HR arrangements for staff that are fair, equitable and transparent;
(4) subject to appropriate agreements being secured, facilities and resources be transferred to schools and partners to deliver the extended 2 year old offer;
(5) in the event appropriate agreements are not reached, or are not reached within mutually agreeable timeframe to support children, parents and staff, a contingency plan be detailed in order to support transitions and secure sufficiency of the early education offer at the affected settings. The plan will consider:
· Direct delivery (by the Council) of the 2, 3 and 4 year old early education offer on a term-time only basis and for a period of time until other partners can be identified or other local providers can accommodate and meet need. This will need to ensure clarity of the government’s intention with regard ... view the full minutes text for item 114.
Councillor Adrian Jones introduced a report by the Assistant Chief Executive which sought approval for the disposal of land at Manor Drive, Upton following the Court’s decision to uphold the termination of the tenancy. The report also provided an update on the proposals to relocate Upton Park Pony Owners’ Association from Manor Drive, Upton to alternative land known as Kerr’s Field which was located off Pasture Road, Moreton.
The report also sought approval to enter into an Agreement for Lease/Lease of land at Kerr’s Field, Pasture Road, Moreton shown in the report for indicative purposes edged in red on Plan 2 annexed to the report for the relocation of the Upton Park Pony Owners’ Association.
In addition, approval was required for the land shown edged red on Plan 2 to be appropriated for planning purposes under Section 237 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Appropriation occurred where the Council held land for one particular purpose and it made a declaration that it was going to hold it for a different purpose. The site was held as open space, as part of the North Wirral Country Park, which was designated as a Countryside Recreational Site on the UDP Proposals Map.
The Cabinet was informed that section 122 of the Local Government Act required the Council to advertise the intention to appropriate open space as shown red on Plan 2 for two successive weeks in a newspaper circulating in the area. Section 123 of the Local Government Act required the Council to similarly advertise any proposed disposal of open space land. Any objections needed to be notified to the Council for consideration prior to such appropriation or disposal.
The Cabinet was therefore requested, subject to there being no objections as referred to in the paragraph above, to approve the appropriation and disposal of the land shown edged in red on Plan 2 and to approve the appropriation and grant of an Agreement for Lease/Lease of land. It was further proposed that any objections be considered by the Director of Universal and Infrastructure Services in consultation with the relevant Cabinet Member who would then have delegated authority to determine the appropriation and disposal.
The Chief Executive informed that he was agreeable to call-in being waived so that the asset could be disposed of in a timely manner.
Councillor Phil Davies informed that the Upton Park Pony Owners Association was long established and it was important to deal sensitively with its requirements. He hoped the resolutions met the concerns that had been expressed.
(1) the land off Manor Drive, Upton known as Fernbank Farm be declared surplus to requirements and officers be instructed to dispose of the land in accordance with S123 Local Government Act 1972;
(2) the area of land known as Kerr’s field shown edged red on Plan 2 be declared surplus to requirements and it be agreed that, subject to there being no objections to the disposal of the land at Kerr’s field referred to in ... view the full minutes text for item 115.