Agenda and minutes

Finance and Performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 13 January 2011 7:00 pm

Venue: Salon - York House. View directions

Items
No. Item

34.

WELCOME

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    Introduction by the Chairman.

     

    Minutes:

    The Chairman welcomed the members of the Committee.

     

35.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

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    In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Members are requested to declare any interests orally 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.

     

    Members are also reminded of the requirements of Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 that they should declare and not vote on specified matters if they are two months or more in arrears with their Council Tax payments.

     

    Minutes:

    There were no declarations of interest.

36.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 71 KB

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    To consider and approve the minutes of the Finance and Performance Overview and Scrutiny meeting held on 29 November 2010 – attached.

     

    Minutes:

    The minutes of the meeting held on 29 November 2010 were approved and the Chairman was authorised to sign them.

     

37.

APOLOGIES

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    Minutes:

    Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Churchill and Williams. Councillors Elengorn and Coombs attended as their substitutes.

     

38.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCE SETTLEMENT UPDATE pdf icon PDF 64 KB

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    The report gives an update on the impact on the Council’s financial position of the Local Government Finance Settlement.

    Minutes:

    Representations were heard from Mark Maidment, Director of Finance.

     

    The Director gave the Committee a presentation on the Local Government Finance Settlement (LGFS) Update which covered the following points:

     

    ·  The settlement was not announced until mid-December.

     

    ·  Richmond was to receive the lowest funding per head of all London boroughs.

     

    ·  The total grant excluding schools was £62m which represented 26% of the Councils funding.

     

    ·  Richmond borough would lose £7.8m compared to 2010/11 which represented 12.6% of the original funding

     

    ·  The government had introduced the phrase “Spending Power” which calculated that after allowing for the council tax freeze grant (£2.9m), the formulas grant and other grants Richmond would only lose 0.6% of its spending power compared to the London borough average of 5.7%.

     

    ·  The new “floor” mechanism was structured in such a way that those boroughs least dependant upon government funding were least protected in the settlement

     

    ·  The government had announced it would allocate an additional £2bn towards Health and Social Care. It had not been possible to track all of this through to cash allocations but there was an additional £1.75m that was to be allocated to health and to be allocated via a joint agreement with the local PCT. It was unclear if this money would continue beyond 2012/13.

     

    ·  The Director highlighted the possible introduction of a maximum benefit levels for rent and the concern that this may impact on homelessness levels and costs.

     

    ·  The Director said the LGFS had been in line with the worst end of expectations but in overall terms would not mean significant change to the Councils 4 year financial strategy.

     

    In response to member’s questions, the Director made the following points:

     

    ·  The level of cuts/efficiencies/savings for 2012 would be dependent on Council Tax levels and a number of other factors.

     

    ·  The Director explained that the Council was in negotiations with the Primary Care Trust in relation to the additional funding allocated to health. It was expected that the agreement would benefit both health and social care demands.

     

    ·  In terms of grants, the LGFS had resulted in the Council losing as much as was permissible under the floors and ceilings regime, however, in cash terms this was much lower than a number of boroughs who started with higher grant levels.

     

    ·  There was £12m of savings agreed as part of the budget process in 2012.

     

    The Greater London Authority was reported to have had their funds cut by £168m. The Director explained this could impact on various areas including transport and local policing. The Council was awaiting further details.

     

    RESOLVED: that the report be noted

     

39.

SHARED LEGAL SERVICES pdf icon PDF 64 KB

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    This Report is a Position Statement in relation to the proposed sharing of legal services with the London Borough of Merton.

     

    Minutes:

    Representations were heard from Helen White, Interim Head of Legal and Electoral Services.

     

    Helen White gave a slideshow presentation on Shared Legal Services which covered the following points:

     

    ·  Legal Services acted on behalf of and advised the Council in relation to all of its functions including: Enforcement, Child protection, Contracts, Planning and Housing.

    ·  At that time the cost of the in house legal service was £1.8m and the majority of expenditure was on staff.

    ·  The staffing and budgets of Richmond and Merton borough councils were similar.

     

    The benefits of a merged service included:

     

    ·  Greater flexibility, team capacity and resilience to change.

    ·  Efficiency savings through economies of scale and knowledge transfer.

    ·  A larger team would provide improved job satisfaction and development  opportunities.

    ·  Assist in the recruitment and retention of high quality staff.

    ·  Provide a revised service which emphasised high performance and quality legal support.

     

    Helen White explained that the project was commenced with the intention to save 20% of expenditure in both Richmond and Merton boroughs. 

     

    Savings would include:

     

    ·  Staff reductions (including managers) – The overall structure would be flatter and a few lower paid staff would be required to create a balance.

    ·  Less duplication of software and legal publications,

    ·  Increased potential of income generation for partner bodies,

    ·  1 shared legal library rather than 2,

    ·  1 shared legal case system rather than 2

     

    Costs involved in establishing a shared legal department would include:

     

    ·  Moving/accommodation

    ·  IT

    ·  Redundancies

    ·  Pensions (a deficit is created by staff moving to a new employers)

     

    Helen White suggested the shared legal team could take on work for schools including academies. There was potential to sell legal services to other boroughs in areas where the new service had a good reputation.

     

    The following issues were raised by the Committee:

     

    Helen White explained that if a conflict of interest arose between the two boroughs they would seek independent legal advice.

     

    Pension deficits - as a result of staff transferring to another borough - would not be jointly shared. Such deficits would be expected to be borne by the borough which the staff were transferring from; however, this would be subject to an overall “fairness” review.

     

    It would be the responsibility of department managers and a new shared legal “Governing Board” to safeguard against one borough overusing the shared resources. The Committee expressed concern that the monitoring of shared services could require more resources than at present.

     

    Helen White suggested that some non-legal work currently covered by Legal Services could be handled better by other, more relevant departments. This was unlikely to yield significant savings but would enable the Council to provide a more efficient service.

     

    If one borough had a crisis to deal with the aim would be to use the larger joint staff resources to manage the extra work.

     

    It had been necessary to allow enough time to prepare for a Shared Legal Services. This allowed valuable staff feedback to be considered. The result was that staff had embraced the change, believing it was the right move.

     

    There was a requirement upon the Council to provide staff with a 90 day consultation to explain the new structure before they could begin to implement the decision. 

     

    In relation to the new service level agreement, Helen White explained a basic set up had already been established and assured the Committee that the service level had the potential to improve.

     

    RESOLVED that:

     

    ·  the report be noted,

     

    ·  the report return to the Committee in May.

     

    [Helen White left the meeting]

     

40.

LOCAL PERFORMANCE FRAMEWORK UPDATE pdf icon PDF 76 KB

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    This report provides an update on the development of a new local Performance Management Framework (PMF) for the Council.

    Minutes:

    Representations were heard from Councillor Arbour, Cabinet Member for Performance and Mandy Skinner, Assistant Director Commissioning Corporate Policy and Strategy.

     

    Councillor Arbour introduced the item:

     

    He explained that the developing the content of the Local Performance Framework (LPF) was a work in progress.  The Performance Indicators in the latest version, before the committee, were indicative and the final version had yet to be agreed.  Indicators would be carefully selected and were intended to be easily understood by residents.

     

    The following issues were raised by members:

     

    The Assistant Director explained that the Council was working with other boroughs to produce a shared list of Performance Indicators against which all would report to ensure that accurate comparative studies could be carried out.

     

    The Committee suggested there should be an indicator for people killed or seriously injured on the road.

     

    The Assistant Director assured members that the driver would be to ensure the right indicators were used, not simply those which would be easily measurable and produce quick results.

     

    Councillor Arbour explained, in order to demonstrate value for money to residents, who are paying for services through Council Tax, the Council would need to set out the cost and performance of services provided

     

    To ensure the LPF was accessible to all, the Assistant Director agreed it was important to avoid using jargon in the LPF.

     

    She agreed that the Council would need a clear way of measuring if residents felt they were getting value for money from Council services.

     

    The Committee felt it was important that residents were aware that value for money was to be measured by the Council’s expenditure not the amount of money collected through Council Tax. Without a clear understanding of what constitutes value for money, the Performance Indicators could be misleading.

     

    The Assistant Director said the Council would like to start implementing the findings from the LPF at the beginning of the financial year (1 April).

     

    The Committee noted that for ease of comparison, all Councils’ performance against the agreed set of common Indicators should be displayed together in one place.

     

    The Cabinet Member for Performance explained that by the start of the new financial year the Council aimed to have a list of objective measures to meet local needs. This would demonstrate that the Council was reacting to targets.

     

    The Committee said that the different wards would have their own individual values and interests. For this reason, different PI’s should be used to meet geographical differences.

     

    RESOLVED:

     

    ·  that the report be noted,

     

    ·  that an update on the Performance Management Framework timetable be provided at the Finance and Performance meeting on 9 February 2011.

     

    [Councillor Arbour left the meeting]

     

     

41.

MID-Q3 2010/2011 TOP TEN STRATEGIC PROJECTS AND PROGRAMMES UPDATE pdf icon PDF 72 KB

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    This report provides an update, as at November 2010, on the status of key identified strategic Projects and Programmes.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Representations were heard from Mandy Skinner, Assistant Director Commissioning Corporate Policy and Strategy.

     

    The Assistant Director agreed to provide an update on affordable housing and provide a list of all the borough children’s centres. An update on library efficiencies, including information about outsourcing, would also be provided. These updates would be presented at the Finance and Performance, Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 8 February 2011.

     

    The Assistant Director explained that she would have the headline results from the All In One survey the following week.

     

    The Assistant Director said it was unlikely that PI’s related to savings would have progressed from red to green by the end of the year.

     

    RESOLVED that:

     

    ·  the report be noted,

     

    ·  the report return to Committee at the 9 February 2011 meeting to provide an update.

     

42.

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE pdf icon PDF 87 KB

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    Includes the Cabinet report ‘Promoting Social Enterprise in the Borough’ - which sets out the general approach to social enterprise in the borough - and the action plan.

    Minutes:

    Representations were heard from Councillor Fleming, Cabinet Member for Community Development and Mandy Skinner, Assistant Director Commissioning Corporate Policy and Strategy.

     

    Councillor Fleming explained that profits made by Social Enterprises (SE’s) would be reinvested into worthy local causes including SE’s.

     

    She cited Proper Oils as a local SE success story and highlighted the following advantages to SE’s:

     

    ·  Potential for new jobs to be created

     

    ·  SE’s understand and can address local demand

     

    ·  Dragons Den style access to Council funding could provide additional investment through sponsors

     

    It was likely that local businesses would be offered the chance to join the panel in a Dragons Den style event. This could possibly generate additional sponsorship.

     

    Councillor Fleming explained that a SE partnership was planned. This would help oversee the SE’s and react appropriately if they encountered difficulties.

     

    The Committee was concerned that business rate discounts for SE’s could provide too much competition for local businesses. Councillor Fleming assured the Committee that SE’s did not receive council tax relief.

     

    Councillor Fleming explained that Credit Unions had been considered to financially assist SE’s. However, Credit Unions generally dealt with smaller financial requirement and were not deemed suitable.

     

    The Committee asked that a terms of reference for SE’s be provided at a later date.

     

    Councillor Fleming said the Council was keen to ensure the SE project was functional as soon as possible. The Richmond Social Enterprise Partnership was not likely to be in place before March 2011.

     

    RESOLVED that:

     

    ·  the report be noted,

     

    the report return to the Committee in May for an update.

     

     

     

     

43.

TAKING FORWARDS THE ALL IN ONE SURVEY AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT pdf icon PDF 80 KB

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    This report provides Members of the Committee with an update on the progress achieved in the first stage of the All in One Consultation.   It also provides an overview of and opportunity to comment on the proposals agreed at Cabinet on 6 December for taking forward the next stage of the All in One including:

     

    ·  Using the results of the current survey of residents to inform the development of local/village area plans.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Representations were heard from Councillor Fleming, Cabinet Member for Community Development and Mandy Skinner, Assistant Director Commissioning Corporate Policy and Strategy.

     

    The Assistant Director said the Council had started to identify geographies from the All In One. She expected to have a better picture of emerging villages the following week.

     

    The Assistant Director explained that once emerging issues had been identified the Council would go out and engage with residents who might not have responded. She intended to ensure hard-to-reach minority groups were involved in the next stage of consultation (March onwards).

     

    The Committee was keen to make sure that responses to the AIO reflected all demographics as well as wards.

     

    There was some concern raised over the use of the term “villages” to identify geographical regions within, and across, ward boundaries.

     

    The Committee were concerned that a good cross-section of residents responded to the AIO. If only the “usual suspects” responded the results would be skewed.

     

    There was a general consensus among councillors that results should be broken down into electoral wards. This would be very useful for ward councillors.

     

    The Committee were concerned that that certain areas might have a majority of the Council’s allocated funding awarded to them because they produced a higher number of responses for the AIO. The Committee felt that a mechanism should be in place to prevent this happening.

     

    The Committee considered that the AIO had the potential to instil high hopes in communities which might not be met.

     

    RESOLVED that the Committee noted the progress of the report

     

44.

LONDON BOROUGH GRANTS SCHEME - PROPOSED EXPENDITURE 2011/2012 pdf icon PDF 98 KB

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    The report details the proposed reduction to the London Borough Grants Scheme prior to Cabinet considering a report at its meeting on 24 January 2011.

    Minutes:

    Representations were heard from Councillor Fleming, Cabinet Member for Community Development and Mandy Skinner, Assistant Director Commissioning Corporate Policy and Strategy.

     

    The Orange Tree Theatre was used as an example by the Committee, of an overlapping, pan-London organisation which needed recognition. It was felt that such organisations serve London as a whole, and should receive additional funding, perhaps from a variety of neighbouring boroughs. The Committee considered that money not invested in the Grants Scheme should be ring fenced for organisations like the Orange Tree Theatre.

     

    Councillor Fleming said the next step was for Council officers to meet with London Councils at the end of January. The London Boroughs Grant Scheme report would return to the Committee in April when the Council would have identified local needs.

     

    RESOLVED that,

     

    ·  the report be noted

     

    ·  that the report return to the April Finance and Performance Scrutiny meeting.

     

45.

WORK PROGRAMME 2011 pdf icon PDF 51 KB

 

Updated: 4 April 2014