Councillors' Attendance Statistics
Agenda and minutes
Finance and Performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 19 July 2010 7:00 pm
Venue: Terrace Room - York House. View directions
Introduction by the Chairman.
The Chairman welcomed the members of the committee.
No apologies were received.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
In accordance with the Members' Code of Conduct, Members are requested to declare any interests at the start of the meeting and again immediately before consideration of the matter. Members are reminded to specify the agenda item number to which it refers and whether the interest is of a personal or prejudicial nature.
There were no declarations of interest.
To consider and approve the minutes of the Co-ordination, Finance and Performance Commission meeting held on 17 February 2010– attached.
The minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 17 February 2010 were approved and the Chairman was authorised to sign them.
CABINET MEMBER FOR PERFORMANCE
Presentation by the Cabinet Member for Performance.
Committee Members will be given the opportunity to ask questions on the Cabinet Member’s presentation.
The Chairman welcomed Councillor Arbour, the Cabinet Member for Performance to the meeting for consideration of this item.
The committee received a summary of the Cabinet Member for Performance’s portfolio:
· The Council would be looking to deliver more for less.
· They would be looking at all Council activities to see if they were necessary and whether they could be outsourced.
At the request of Councillor Knight, Councillor Arbour explained the reasons why the model Council would be looking to outsource services to contractors:
· The Council wanted to be prepared for central government funding changes and make savings where possible.
· Outsourcing had been successfully implemented by other councils throughout the country already.
In response to a question from Councillor Miller, Councillor Arbour said that he would be able to present the Council’s strategy for performance to the committee by November.
Following on from Councillor Gibbons request, Councillor Arbour explained that the performance indicators they would use were aimed to clearly present information to the public. Working closely with neighbouring boroughs, the performance indicators would show:
· The cost of services compared to other boroughs,
· the time taken for delivery.
In response to Councillor Williams’ question, Councillor Arbour said he was happy the comprehensive area assessments were abolished. New performance indicators would be fewer but more relevant. This would change the partnership between the Primary Care Trust and the Council for the better. A white paper on healthwould be published the following week and would provide greater clarity.
In response to Councillor Williams’ question, Councillor Arbour explained that the cost of changes suggested by Price Waterhouse Cooper, compared to the savings meant that their recommendations were not worth implementing. The new assessment by Challenge Consulting Ltd would assess the entire working structure of the Council rather than key areas. This would justify additional cost. Councillor Arbour expected the contractors to have the potential savings figures by August 2010.
DEPUTY LEADER AND CABINET MEMBER FOR FINANCE AND RESOURCES
Presentation by the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources.
Committee members will be given the opportunity to ask questions on the Deputy Leader’s presentation.
The Chairman welcomed Councillor Samuel, the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources to the meeting for this item.
The committee received a summary of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resource’s portfolio:
Councillor Samuel explained that as Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources his main areas of responsibility were property, capital programmes and budget. Capital programmes presented him with two challenges:
1. There was no certainty as to when the Council would receive grants.
2. There was a necessity to impose a capital limit to ensure that all programmes were completed within the target budget. This was to prevent overspending which would have a negative effect on subsequent programmes.
Councillor Samuel explained that cuts would not be made all at once. The government would spread the cuts over a four year period.
Any streamlining suggestions from the committee would be seriously considered by the administration.
In response to a question from Councillor Miller, Councillor Samuel said studying the budgeting of other councils had been very beneficial. It had allowed the administration to make informed decisions based on others’ experiences.
This report highlights areas of the Council’s performance that the Committee may wish to investigate further.
Report of the Assistant Director, Commissioning, Corporate Policy and Strategy attached.
Mandy Skinner, Assistant Director of Commissioning, Corporate Policy and Strategy, was present to answer queries on the annual performance report.
The following opinions were expressed by members regarding the Annual Performance Report:
· Key indicators needed to be kept to a minimum.
· When a provisional view of the indicators was available it should be provided to the committee, which could go through it in detail.
· Some of the indicators were not considered very useful.
· There was the potential for performance indicators to be misleading and possibly manipulated.
· The need to colour code performance indicators was questioned.
It was felt that the quarterly and annual performance reports should be sent to all relevant overview and scrutiny committees and not just to finance and performance O&S. Mandy Skinner assured the committee that this would be the case.
It was agreed that, for clarity, colour copies of performance reports would be distributed to councillors before future meetings.
· All progress with the Twickenham riverside development be reported to the committee.
· All highlighted areas of concern in performance reports be presented to the committee for its recommendations.
The report summarises the Council’s review of budget strategy.
Report of the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources attached.
Councillor Williams referenced the Council’s pay freeze, which could save £600,000, and the cancellation of the community development workers contract. He asked what the net effect of these decisions would be. In response, Councillor Samuel said that cuts were justified in the current economic climate. There had been suggestions from central government that Richmond borough should have its contributions from central government cut further.
In response to Councillor Knight’s questions, Councillor Samuel explained that it wasn’t possible to accurately measure the planned spending cuts yet. It was important that the cuts were spread evenly across a 4 year period to make them more manageable.
Mark Maidment, Director of Finance, explained that in the current financial year he expected the Council to have under spent by more than £1 million. There was no clear figure for the number of redundancies expected. Provisions needed to be made to cover any redundancies.
Regarding the budget strategy update report, Councillor Samuel explained that he did not want to cut core activities from schools. The aim was to avoid education standards being affected by cuts. He assured the committee that officers had thoroughly assessed the areas where cuts would be made.
In response to Councillor Porter’s question regarding the Budget Review, Mark Maidment explained that there had not been any modelling yet to assess public sector pensions being made more affordable. This was because there were many ideas being considered and modelling would be carried out when a clearer plan was available.
Councillor Samuel said that LBRUT was the third worst affected London borough in terms of overall grant cuts.
The purpose of this report is to set out the Committee work programme for 2010/11, to give an opportunity to consider possible training and to note the broad principles behind scrutiny.
Report of the Head of Democratic Services attached.
The committee received a report from the Head of Democratic Services outlining the work programme for the remainder of the municipal year.
(a) The committee noted the terms of reference of the Council’s overview and scrutiny committees;
(b) The committee considered and commented on the work programme for 2010/11 including:
· the capital programme,
· review of voluntary sector grants,
· local economic assessment,
· comprehensive spending review.
(c) The committee considered forming a task group for the purpose of budget scrutiny. Councillor Miller agreed to develop a work plan for a task group in order to ensure it was efficient and worth while.
It was agreed that any further suggestions should be forwarded to Scrutiny team for investigation.
(d) The committee gave consideration to the appointment of co-optees and agreed that any final decision be delegated to the Chairman and vice Chairman.