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.
Members of the Cabinet were asked to consider whether they had any disclosable pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests in connection with any item(s) on the agenda and, if so, to declare them and state the nature of the interest.
Councillor Bernie Mooney declared a personal and prejudicial interest in Item No. 11 – Proposal to Realign the Joint Carers’ Commission (in line with Wirral’s Strategy for Carers 2014-17) (Minute No. 144 refers) by virtue of her employment at Age UK. She indicated that she would be leaving the meeting whilst the item was under discussion.
Councillor Phil Davies declared a personal and prejudicial interest in Item No. 13 – Proposal to Realign the Joint Carers’ Commission (in line with Wirral’s Strategy for Carers 2014-17) (Minute No. 146 refers) by virtue of his appointment as Director for the Chamber of Commerce. He indicated that he would be vacating the Chair and leaving the meeting whilst this matter was under consideration and that Councillor Ann McLachlan would take the Chair for that Agenda Item.
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 meeting held on 15th January be approved.
Councillor Phil Davies introduced a report of the Acting Section 151 Officer, updating the Budget Projections for 2015/16 to 2017/18. It outlined the issues and actions in relation to the Forecast Budget Funding Gap.
It indicated that Budget Council was scheduled for 24 February 2015 and the Council had to agree a Budget and set the levels of Council Tax for 2015/16 by 10 March 2015.
The Overview of the Council’s Future Financial Position report to Cabinet on 9 December 2014 had provided the context by which budget decisions were being made. The projections indicated a net funding deficit over the three years of £70 million.
The report highlighted the key issues and the following documents were appended to it:
Appendix 1 - Savings 2015/16 to 2017/18
Appendix 2 - Growth Submissions 2015/18
Appendix 3 - Fees and Charges (the draft Fees and Charges Directory can be accessed through the background documents to the Cabinet agenda)
Appendix 4 - Level of General Fund Balances
Appendix 5 - Reserves
Appendix 6 - Robustness of the Estimates
Councillor Phil Davies highlighted the issues and recommendations detailed in the Director’s report, which contributed to enabling the Cabinet to be in a position to recommend a Budget proposal. He introduced the Budget proposal and the following resolution was moved, which was seconded by Councillor Ann McLachlan and agreed unanimously –
That the following Budget Resolution be agreed and recommended to Budget Council:
BUDGET RESOLUTION 2015/16
Cabinet notes the following:
1. In spite of the continuing draconian cuts by the Tory-led government amounting to £151m since 2010, this Council has protected front-line services and welcomes the fact that in 2015/16 no Library, Children’s Centre or One Stop Shop will close.
2. Cabinet welcomes the fact that, in spite of inheriting an overspend of £17m from the previous administration, Labour will deliver a balanced budget in 2015/16.
3. In spite of the unprecedented cuts in the Council’s budget, Cabinet is able to recommend the following growth items in the period 2015/18 which will allow us to meet our corporate priorities (these are set out in Appendix 2 of the Acting Section 151 Officer’s report). These include the following:-
Protecting vulnerable people
£6.8m to address demographic growth in Children’s and Adults’ Services.
£400,000 to address homelessness and fund the Community Safety Team.
Narrowing the inequalities gap
£600,000 to address property conditions in the private sector and promote housing and growth.
£356,000 for Selective Licensing pilot scheme in four areas of the Borough to improve private sector housing standards.
£1.5m capital for a new house building programme which continues into 2015/16.
£1.9m to continue support to schools previously funded by the Education
Services Grant cut by the government.
£808,000 capital to provide assistance to businesses.
£7m investment, primarily from grant, to replace the Dock Bridges.
£4m of capital to install LED lighting throughout the Borough.
£2m of capital investment into Highways (over and above Government funding).
Improving staff pay
£2.5m growth has been identified ... view the full minutes text for item 136.
Councillor Phil Davies introduced a report by the Acting Section 151 Officer providing the Cabinet with a draft Capital Programme for 2015/18 for consideration and referral to Council for approval. It also included information regarding the revenue implications of this Programme.
(1) the new bids as detailed in Appendix 4 be approved;
(2) any new bids supported by grant funding do not commence until written confirmation has been received from the granting authority that such grant(s) have actually been approved;
(3) progress on delivering the Capital Programme be presented in accordance with the agreed Capital Monitoring arrangements; and
(4) the overall Capital Programme 2015/18 as detailed in Appendix 6 to the report be agreed and referred to Budget Council for approval.
Councillor Phil Davies introduced a report by the Acting Section 151 Officer, setting out the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2015-18. This was a strategic, financial document that set out the Council’s financial approach for the planning period 2015-16 to 2017-18. It also incorporated the Treasury Management Strategy for 2015-18 in accordance with the CIPFA Code of Practice for Treasury Management in Public Services.
(A) That in respect of the Treasury Management Strategy 2015-18
(1) The Treasury Management Strategy for 2015-18 be agreed
(2) The Prudential Indicators be adopted
(3) The Council’s Minimum Revenue Provision Policy be approved; and
(4) The Council Officers listed in Appendix G be authorised to approve payments from the Council’s bank accounts for all treasury management activities; and
(5) Referred to Budget Council for approval.
(B) That in respect of the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2015-18
(1) The Medium Term Financial Strategy be agreed and referred to Budget Council for approval;and
(2) Regular updates of the Medium Term Financial Strategy be reported to Cabinet.
Councillor Phil Davies introduced a report by the Acting Section 151 Officer, setting out the revenue position for 2014/15, which at Month 9 (December 2014) showed a projected General Fund overspend of £0.82 million (0.3% of the net revenue budget). This was a small improvement on the £0.85 million projected overspend reported at Month 8 as shown in Graph 1 of the report.
The report indicated that the Adult Social Services projected overspend had increased in the month by £52,000 to £2.77 million. The overspend was mainly due to slippage or non-delivery of in year savings and continued demand pressures. The forecast overspend within Children’s Services had reduced further with a forecast overspend now of £196,000 (down from the Month 8 projection of £330,000). The overspend largely related to the non-achievement of in year transport savings as well as costs of external placements. The Families and Wellbeing Directorate had implemented a number of management actions to help compensate and/or limit any adverse variances.
Councillor P. Davies asked officers and Cabinet Members to bear down on any possible slippage in savings as it was important to balance the books.
(1) that at Month 9 (December 2014), the full year forecast projected a General Fund overspend of £825,000 be noted;
(2) the changes in budget allocations relating to the pay award, revised depreciation charges and re-modelling savings as detailed in paragraphs 2.1 and 2.2 in the report, which did not impact on the General Fund position; and
(3) the risks relating to non-delivery of savings as detailed in the report and the continued requirement for mitigation and actions to be identified be noted.
Councillor Phil Davies introduced the report of the Acting Section 151 Officer, setting out the capital position for 2014/15 at Month 9 (December 2014).
Councillor P. Davies commented that he was pleased to see the progress made on the Capital Receipts as detailed within the report.
That the spend to date at Month 9 of £22.5 million pounds, with 75% of the financial year having elapsed be noted.
(Cabinet will have regard to Cabinet minute 106).
At its meeting on 9 December, 2014, the Cabinet considered a report by the Chief Executive and Councillor Phil Davies on the Council Budget Consultation Findings. As part of its resolution, the Cabinet made a recommendation to Council which the Cabinet was asked to consider. (Minute No. 106 refers)
The Cabinet had resolved:
At its meeting on 14 April, 2014, the Transformation and Resources Policy and Performance Committee considered a report by the Head of Business Processes on the Local Welfare Assistance Scheme 2014/15 and Future Support Options. As part of its resolution, the Committee made a recommendation to Cabinet which the Cabinet was asked to consider. (Minute No. 36 refers)
The Committee had resolved:
(1) That this Committee sets up a Task and Finish Group to examine future options for the Local Welfare Assistance Scheme as a potential piece of work in the new municipal year recognising that the timing of this is critical.
(2) That this Committee recommends to Cabinet the establishment of a reserve to include the unspent grant funding so the Authority could review spending on welfare assistance and that it would be disheartened to see this unspent funding subsumed into general reserves rather than go towards extending the lifetime of the LWA scheme.
(3) That the Chief Executive be asked to write to the appropriate Government Minister and request that the Government rethink its position on this grant funding for 2015/16 and beyond.’
That the Cabinet recommendations as set out above be noted.
Councillor Phil Davies introduced a report from the Head of Business Processes, providing an update on areas of change within the Government Welfare Reform agenda, the impact on the residents of Wirral and how Council services were responding.
Councillor P Davies and Members of the Cabinet commented that this was yet another example of the Government cuts which affected the most vulnerable in society, concerns were raised about the further impact Universal Credit would have on those already struggling with financial hardship.
(1) The report be noted and that further reports be given on Welfare Reform;
(2) the £70,000 transfer to the Discretionary Housing Payment fund for 2014/15 to help address the rent shortfalls that continue to be identified and require support be approved; and
(3) it be noted that this Cabinet condemns the Government’s decision to withdraw the funding for Discretionary Housing Payment fund and asks that our representative MP’s put pressure on the Government to revise their decision on the damaging cuts affecting the most vulnerable people in Wirral .
Councillor Phil Davies introduced the report of the Head of Financial Services, setting out details of Housing Benefit overpayments requested to be written off.
That the report be noted and the debts be written-off as detailed in the report.
Prior to consideration of this item, Councillor Mooney having previously declared a prejudicial interest in this item, left the room and took no part in its consideration.
Councillor Chris Jones introduced the report of the Director of Adult Social Services. Stating that, under the Care Act and in line with Better Care Fund resource allocation, Health and Social Care commissioning was increasingly becoming integrated.
The report set out the outcome of a Social Care and CCG review that was undertaken to set better outcomes for Carers overall by using resources more effectively across the Health and Social Care economy.
The Better Care Fund Plan identified joint investment of £765,000, of which £65,000 was already committed, to achieve the outcomes of:
· Protecting social care services
· Joint assessment
· Acute impact
· Resources pooled for commissioning of Carers support services across the Council and the CCG
· Joint commissioning service review 2014/15 with a view to jointly re-commissioning a single service.
The key performance indicators included supporting increased number of Carers receiving an assessment or review. A specific Carers experience survey would also be undertaken.
The report set out the reasons for, and outcomes of, a tender for Carer services.
In addition, the draft Short Break (Respite) Care Practice and Procedure Guidance has been amended as a result of the comments received through the consultation period and were used to shape the final Guidance.
(1) the awards being offered to the provider organisations for the delivery of the Carers Health and Wellbeing Service, be approved as follows:
(2) that the following services had not been awarded as part of the tender and will require further action:
(3) the revised Short Breaks (Respite) Care Practice and Procedure Guidance with amendments ... view the full minutes text for item 144.
Councillor Tony Smith introduced the report of the Director of Children’s Services, recommending the approval of a Schools Budget for 2015/16 of £242,576,100 for early years, maintained schools, academies, colleges and providers in Wirral and changes to the schools funding formula following consultation with schools last term. The budget and the schools funding formula proposals were presented to and agreed by the Schools Forum on 14th January 2015.
Councillor T. Smith commented that eight of the Borough’s primary Schools had received a letter from the Education Minister commending them on their use of Pupil Premiums to help disadvantaged children.
Councillor Smith further commented that in relation to attainment, the Borough was rated 1st against our statistical neighbours and 2nd in the North West for GCSE results. Councillor Smith, along with the Cabinet Members commended the work of all the teaching staff, support officers, governors and officers on their achievement towards the attainment results of their pupils.
That having taken account of the views of the Schools Forum Cabinet recommends to Budget Council that:
(1) the contributions to combined budgets be agreed;
(2) the proposed reductions totalling £2.3m (£1.7m in 2015-16) be agreed;
(3) the High Needs Contingency totalling £500,000 be agreed;
(4) the reserves totalling £894,900 used to set the Schools Budget be agreed;
(5) the submission of the Schools Funding Formula to the Education Funding Agency containing amendments to increase the unit value of funding for Looked After Children and to cap the unit value for Free School Meals / Deprivation is approved; and
(6) that following the increase in High Needs place funding for Alternative Provision to £10,000 in September 2015, the Top Up element of funding be reduced by a matching amount – from £5,000 to £3,000 per annum;
(7) the teaching staff, support officers, governors and officers be congratulated on all their hard and achievement towards the attainment results of their pupils.
Prior to consideration of the item Councillor P Davies having previously declared a prejudicial interest in this item, left the room and took no part in its consideration.
Councillor Ann McLachlan in the Chair.
Councillor Pat Hackett introduced the report of the Senior Manager – Business and Investment, updating on the progress of Wirral Council business support initiatives and the merger of Wirral Business Partnership and Wirral Chamber of Commerce (the Chamber). The report sought approval for the formation of a strategic business collaboration between Wirral Council and The Chamber for the delivery of the borough’s business support services.
(1) the formation of a collaboration agreement between Wirral Council and The Chamber to deliver all business support services in the Borough be approved; and
(2) the Head of Legal and Member Services be authorised to sign a legal collaboration agreement between the Council and The Chamber upon the content of this report.
Councillor Ann McLachlan vacated the Chair.
Councillor Phil Davies in the Chair.
Councillor Bernadette Mooney introduced a report of the Director of Universal and Infrastructure Services, advising Members of the corporate and departmental progress made against the Carbon Budget 2014/15 as detailed in Appendix A to the report; and the revisions that were required to meet Corporate Goals for 2015/16.
Council requested that a carbon budget be established (Council 14th December 2009, Minute 77 refers). The resolution included instructions to prepare carbon budgets for each department to be presented at Budget Cabinet and Council alongside the Council’s financial budget.
The Corporate Plan 2013 – 2016 stated that the Council should spend less on ourselves and obtain best value for every penny its spent. In the portion relating to Asset Management, the Transformational Projects report (Cabinet 23 May 2013, Minute 249 refers) identifies: the lowering of building running costs; carbon output; and associated penalties as measures that will deliver budget savings through reduced running costs. The Carbon Budget process promoted these aims.
The Carbon Budget was not a statutory requirement but was Wirral’s only method of managing CO2 emissions in order to reduce the carbon footprint and the costs associated with it.
Carbon Budget performance figures were used to provide evidence for the 2014 Grant Thornton Value for Money report. Together with progress on the ‘Cool Wirral’ initiatives they contributed to a green rating for Management of Natural Resources and a positive overall assessment.
The Carbon Budget was not financial but meeting the annual targets will have an impact on costs. Reductions in carbon emissions were achieved by reducing energy use and there are financial savings that would be made from the avoided costs of energy and Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) allowances.
(1) progress towards the 2014/15 target included in Appendix A to the report be noted;
(2) the Carbon Budget for 2015/16 be agreed and referred to Budget Council for approval;
(3) the current Carbon Budget method be applied until the impacts of the corporate restructuring are assessed and reflected in the new Asset Management System and that Officers be instructed to report further to Members to recommend alterations as a result of these processes;
(4) Managers are directed to ensure that Carbon Reduction Implications of projects and initiatives are assessed and reported as required by the standard report template. Impacts must be reported to the Building Services and Sustainability Section to support the carbon management process.
Councillor Stuart Whittingham introduced a report of the Strategic Director Regeneration and Environment. It stated that the Department for Transport (DfT) had written to the Council setting out the maintenance allocation within the Local Highways Maintenance Capital Block Funding 2015/16 to 2020/21. This included funding for the Highways Maintenance Block for Wirral totalling £3.305 million, and Cabinet was requested to accept the allocation for 2015/16.
The report presented both the breakdown of that highway maintenance allocation between the Bridges, Lighting and Roads/Footway elements of the network and the proposed Highway Structural Maintenance Programme 2015/16, for approval.
The maintenance of highways was a statutory duty for the Council under the Highways Act 1980 (as amended).
(1) acceptance of the £3,305,000 Local Highways Maintenance Capital Block Funding 2015/16 be approved;
(2) the proposed allocation of Local Transport Plan Capital Programme 2015/16 Maintenance Block between Street Lighting, Bridges and Roads/Footways be approved;
(3) The Highway Structural Maintenance Programme for 2015/16 as detailed in paragraph 2.6 of the report be approved; and
(4) that the Head of Environment and Regulation, in consultation with the Cabinet Member and Party Spokespersons, be authorised to make the necessary adjustments to the priorities within the programme should the need arise due to financial, condition or other factors.
Councillor George Davies introduced a report from the Strategic Director of Regeneration and Environment, which sought the endorsement of Cabinet to increase the fees applied for the delivery of home adaptations funded through Disabled Facility Grant (DFG).
the fees associated with the provision of home adaptations as funded through Disabled Facility Grants, be increased to 11.5% from 1st April 2015 be agreed and be recommended to Budget Council for approval.