Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Room 1 - Wallasey Town Hall. View directions
Members' Code of Conduct - Declarations of Interest
The members of the Cabinet are invited to consider whether they have a personal or prejudicial interest in connection with any of the items on this agenda and, if so, to declare it and state the nature of such interest.
No declarations of interest were received.
Councillor J Green informed that he intended to raise an item of urgent business as the last item of business at this meeting. This was in relation to a number of issues he had raised, at the Special Council meeting, the previous evening. He would report further to the Cabinet and ask officers to start work to progress them.
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 held on 12 January and 2 February 2012 be confirmed as a correct record.
Deputy Leader of the Council
Councillor Green announced that the Deputy Leader of the Council was Councillor L Rennie.
The 2012/13 Budget Agreed by the Cabinet on 13 February 2012
That the 2012/13 Budget proposals agreed by the Cabinet, under urgent business, at its Special meeting held on 13 February 2012 be rescinded (Minute No. 310 refers) and therefore, they will not go forward to the Budget Council meeting, scheduled for 1 March 2012, for consideration.
Schools' Budget 2012/13
The Acting Director of Children’s Services presented proposals set out within Wirral Estimates 2012/13 (The Blue Book) recommending approval of the Schools’ Budget for 2012/13 of £179,089,400 for maintained schools and £49,335,300 for the anticipated number of academies. In addition a transfer to the Schools’ Budget of two areas from Children and Young Peoples’ Budget, (Private Finance Initiative and Planned Maintenance) totalling £2,745,100 was proposed. The report included some minor changes to the Schools and Early Years Funding Formulae. Reports on these areas had been presented to the Schools Forum on 24 January 2012.
RESOLVED taking account of the Schools Forum: That
(1) the DSG funded Schools Budget for maintained schools be approved at the sum of £179,089,400;
(2) the headroom of £250,700 be allocated within the formula to all schools;
(3) £200,000 of PPM included in the Schools Budget be funded from Dedicated Schools Grant;
(4) the contributions to combined budgets be approved;
(5) the changes to the School Funding Formula and the Early Years Single Funding Formula be agreed;
(6) a Special School Funding Trigger be applied to deal with surplus places in four Special Schools.
The Cabinet considered a report and appendix by the Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Finance that formed part of the financial planning process providing Members with the information on which to consider the Council’s Budget for 2012/13. The appendix to the report set out the draft revenue estimates for 2012/13. A decision was required to enable recommendations to be made to the Council concerning the budget and Council Tax for 2012/13.
Councillor J Green in moving the Cabinet’s Budget Proposal for 2012/13 (seconded by Councillor L Rennie) reported as follows:
“The budget presented to cabinet this evening is designed to enable the new Council Administration to take the urgent action required to address the crisis of confidence local people have in this Authority.
It will enable us to tackle the urgent concerns regarding the Council’s ability to protect our most vulnerable residents and put us on the path to providing high quality services that are designed and delivered according to the wishes and needs of our communities.
Given the time we have had available we have accepted the budgetary assumptions made by the previous Administration (after all they have had nine months to examine the books). However we absolutely reject the Labour administrations decision to axe in excess of £1 million From the Day Services budget for 2013/14.
We will act to put right the injustices identified in the Anna Klonowski report. We will pay back in full all those who were overcharged back to 1997. We will reinstate Martin Morton if that is what he wishes, and we will ensure all who need to be held accountable for those dreadful failings are dealt with.
We believe the Council exists to serve local people not to tell them what we think is best for them and we have placed this principle at the heart of this budget.
Residents across Wirral are making careful decisions about their household budgets and monthly outgoings. To support them the Government has announced funding that has enabled us to freeze their Council Tax. In addition, when consulted, local people said that a cut in Council Tax was a clear priority for them. Therefore today we are announcing:
A rebate equivalent to a 3% cut in the Council Tax. With a commitment to work in future years to make this permanent
An extension of the current council tax relief scheme for the over 75s scheme to over 70s households
And for all households who pay via direct debit, provide the opportunity to spread their payments across twelve rather than ten months.
Combined with this year’s freeze and rebate over 70s households in Band B with a Direct Debit will pay £36.94 less each month.
As a result of sticking to our fundamental principle that people rather than Council’s know how to spend their own money best it has allowed us to inject an additional £4 million into local businesses and Wirral’s economy as residents have more money to spend locally. We will continue to strive to rebalance ... view the full minutes text for item 317.
The Cabinet considered a referral from the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee in respect of the Early Intervention Grant (Minute No. 50 refers).
The Committee at its meeting held on 26 January 2012 had resolved: That
“This Committee endorses the widely held view that early intervention works and praises the work of our Sure Start Children's Centres and the many other projects which are funded by the Early Intervention Grant and do so much for Wirral's families and young people.
Therefore, this Committee records its concern at the proposal to remove £1 million from the Early Intervention Grant. We are unconvinced that the removal of £1 million from this grant will not have a detrimental impact on those families who are reliant on the services which this grant funds and on the life chances of the children who benefit from these services. We ask Cabinet to think again.
It was further moved by Councillor Hayes and seconded by Councillor Povall and –
Resolved – That this Committee continues to scrutinise the Acting Director of Children’s Services over the coming year.”
That the referral above from the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee be noted and accepted.
A report by the Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Finance contained the mid-year review of the amounts held in balances, provisions and reserves. It was recommended that the release of those provisions and reserves which were no longer required to the General Fund balance.
The Cabinet was aware accepted good practice to regularly review the level of reserves and provisions. Section 25 of the Local Government Act 2003 requires the Director of Finance to comment on the adequacy of the General Fund balance and reserves in the setting of the annual budget.
During the financial year Departments had indicated that they would be seeking to use available provisions and reserves to help meet the financial pressures. As these sums were released to the General Fund balance authorisation was needed to confirm that the balance could be used in this way.
(1) having regard to the risks involved, £5,423,000 be returned to General Fund Balance;
(2) £14.5 million of provisions and £21.4 million of reserves be used to fund expenditure in 2011/12;
(3) £333,000 of the balances arising from the release of Children and Young People Department reserves be used to offset the projected overspend within the Children and Young People Department in 2011/12; and
(4) £140,000 of the balances arising from the release of Regeneration,
Housing and Planning Department reserves be used to fund the Working Wirral project in 2011/12.
A report by the Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Finance set out the Benefits budget for 2012/13 and reviewed the provision and the reserve.
The Cabinet noted that Housing Benefit spend was the largest individual heading within the Council Budget. It was advised of any changes which impact upon this whilst the budgets, including sums set aside in provisions and reserves, were kept under review to ensure that sums no longer required were released to General Fund balances.
(1) the budget for 2012/13 be agreed;
(2) the saving in 2012/13 of £1.2 million from implementing the lean review be agreed; and
(3) the release of £3 million of the Housing Benefit provision and £2 million of the Housing Benefit reserve to General Fund balances be agreed.
A report by the Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Finance provided an update on the Strategic Change Programme (SCP) for 2011/12 and recommended a schedule of projects for the next three years.
The report also provided an outline of the major projects that the Change Team would be addressing during 2012.
Thatthe revised Strategic Change Programme be agreed.
A report by the Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Finance set out the Treasury Management and Investment Strategy for 2012-2015 in accordance with the CIPFA Code of Practice for Treasury Management in Public Services.
(1) the Treasury Management and Investment Strategy for 2012-2015 be approved;
(2) the Prudential Indicators be adopted;
(3) the Minimum Revenue Provision policy be approved; and
(4) the Council Officers listed within Appendix E, of the Strategy Statement be authorised to approve payments from Council bank accounts for all treasury management activities.
A report by Director of Law, HR and Asset Management reminded Members that Standing Order No.13 provided that he
“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 will apply”.
The Director reported that the Budget meeting clearly was different from ordinary meetings and therefore the procedure that was proposed was based largely on that used since 2008, the relevant sections of the Constitution, and one or two suggestions made in the light of comments made in previous years. It was set out in the appendix to the report. The Director advised that the reference in the appendix to the date of this Cabinet meeting needed to be amended to today’s date.
The Director informed that any alternative budget proposals must be lodged with him by 12 noon on 27 February 2012.
That the Budget Council procedure be approved with the amendment reported by the Director.
A report by the Director of Law, HR and Asset Management advised Members of the corporate and departmental progress made against the Carbon Budget 2011/12 (Appendix A); the revisions that were required to meet Corporate Goals; and, provide the Carbon Budget for 2012/13.
Members had requested that a Carbon Budget be established (Council 14 December 2009, Minute No. 77 refers). The resolution included instructions to:
Appendix A to the report set out the Carbon Budget Performance Table for the Council’s buildings. The Carbon Budget Impact Statement (Appendix B) summarised the measures and projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
Progress against the actions requested by Members at the Cabinet meeting on21 February 2011 (Minute No. 331 refers) was also included in the report. The Carbon Budget process would be further developed in light of anticipated changes to the mandatory Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRCEES) and organisational needs.
The Carbon Budget was not a statutory requirement but is Wirral’s only method of managing CO2 emissions in order to comply with the Corporate Objective to ‘reduce our carbon footprint’ and the CRCEES.
The carbon budget was not financial but meeting the annual targets would have an impact on costs. Reductions in carbon emissions were achieved by reducing energy use and there were financial savings that would be made from the avoided costs of energy and CRCEES allowances.
(1) the progress towards the 2011/12 target included in Appendix A to the report be noted;
(2) the Carbon Budget for 2012/13 included in Appendix A be approved;
(3) the actions described in Appendix B be noted and endorsed; and
(4) the current Carbon Budget method be applied until April 2013 and that a further report detailing recommended alterations as a result of the review of the Carbon Budget process together with Carbon Budget targets for 2013/14 be presented to a future meeting of the Cabinet.
Urgent Business Approved by the Chair - Issues Raised at the Special Council Meeting on 20 February 2012
To consider any other business that the Chair accepts as being urgent.
Councillor J Green referred to the debate that had taken place the previous evening in the Special council meeting. At this meeting Councillor Green had indicated a number of issues that he intended to take forward. Therefore, he reported as follows in order to get the process by providing officers with the governance needed to start taking necessary actions:
“We will resolve to back-date from 1997 – 2000 to those vulnerable adults with learning disabilities who were unlawfully financially abused by this Council as we have always maintained that this is the right and proper thing to do.
We will also engage with the immediate families of those overcharged service users to compensate for the stress, upset and worry that they have been subjected to throughout this saga while fighting for justice for their loved ones.
We will engage an independent, external ombudsman to allow Council employees, who may feel that their concerns were ignored in the past, to raise any matter that they wish to without fear of reprisals.
We have asked the Head of Service for HR and Organisational Development to produce an early report concerning all the matters and associated issues that allowed two senior officers of the Council to leave under compromise agreements with Council Taxpayers money in their pockets less than one working day before the Council received the Anna Klonowski Associates (AKA) report.
We have asked the Director of Law, HR and Asset Management to undertake further work with a view to releasing an un-redacted copy of the AKA report.
We have requested a report from the Head of Internal Audit that explains exactly when internal audit became aware of the issues of overcharging vulnerable adults, who Internal Audit reported this to and what exactly was done about it.
We are seeking urgent meetings with Ministers to discuss the current situation concerning the AKA report and to ask for their support in the calling of a public inquiry to investigate all associated matters thoroughly.
Work will also begin so that Mr Martin Morton can become an employee of this Council again if he wants to.”
That the actions set out above for officers to take be agreed.