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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 10th December, 2013.

 

Present: Councillor M.R. Wilson (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. P. Drake (Vice-Chairman); Councillors K.J. Geary, H.C. Hamilton, K. Hatton, H.J.W. James, P.G. King, R.A. Penrose and G. Roberts.

 

Also present: Councillors R.J. Bertin and N. Moore; Mr. R. Hughes (Unison).

 

 

682     MINUTES –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 12th November, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

683     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

Councillor G. Roberts declared an interest in Agenda Item 8 – matter relating to S106 works at Belle Vue Park – Penarth Town Council representative.

 

 

684     INITIAL REVENUE BUDGET PROPOSALS 2014/15 (REF) –

 

(a)          Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) – 2nd December, 2013.

(b)          Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) – 4th December, 2013.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the above be deferred for consideration with the report relating to the initial revenue budget proposals later in the meeting.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To allow all matters pertaining to the initial revenue proposals to be considered at one time.

 

 

685     INITIAL CAPITAL PROGRAMME PROPOSALS 2014/15 (REF) –

 

(a)       Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) – 2nd December, 2013.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the above be deferred for consideration with the report relating to the initial Capital Programme proposals later in the meeting.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To allow all matters pertaining to the initial Capital Programme proposals to be considered at one time.

 

 

686     INITIAL HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT BUDGET PROPOSALS 2014/2015 AND REVISED BUDGET 2013/2014 (DVSH) –

 

The report had been previously considered by the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) at its meeting held on 4th December 2013.  Following consideration at the time the Committee recommended

 

'(1)      That the revised budget estimate for 2014/15 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Initial Housing Revenue Account budget proposals for 2014/15 be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T the next financial monitoring report submitted for consideration contain a breakdown of expenditure allocated against each of the following budget headings:

  • General Management
  • Special Services
  • Central Support and Operational Buildings.'

The Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) was now considering this matter as the lead Scrutiny Committee for overseeing the budget process.

 

Each local housing authority was required under Section 74 of the 1989 Local Government and Housing Act to keep a Housing Revenue Account.  Section 76 of the above Act required local authorities to set a budget for their Housing Revenue Account (HRA) on an annual basis.  The budget must be such that the Housing Revenue Account was not in deficit at the year end.  In addition, local authorities were also required during the course of the year to review their HRA expenditure and income and if, on the basis of the information available, the account was heading for a deficit, they must take steps as were reasonably practicable to prevent such deficit.  Such a deficit would be carried forward and must be made good the following financial year.  Each local authority should endeavour to have a working balance on the HRA, for any exceptional circumstances that may arise. 

 

The level of rent increases was based on the Subsidy Determination issued by the Welsh Government (WG).  This would not be known until January 2014.  An average rent increase of 3%, based on the latest Business Plan, had been included in the 2013/14 initial budget proposals.  Set out below is a summary table comparing the original budget with the proposed revised estimate.

 

2013/2014 Original Budget

2013/2014 Proposed Revised Estimate

Variance Favourable (-) Adverse (+)

£'000

£'000

£'000

Housing Revenue Account

           8,452

          8,129

          (323)

 

The net anticipated deficit had decreased by (£323,000) due to an increase in net income of (£324,000), because of an extra rent week in 2013/2014; recharges had decreased by (£56,000); there was a saving of (£109,000) on staff costs due to vacancies; (£32,000) reduction in Council Tax expenditure on empty properties.  In addition there was a (£25,000) saving on insurance costs.  Further savings on the budget were: the HRA Subsidy payment was expected to be (£159,000) lower than current estimates; the anticipated growth in the bad debt provision had reduced by (£85,000), based on the current bad debt level.  In addition there were further savings totalling (£4,000) on various other items in the Housing Revenue Account.  These savings had been offset by budget increases of £30,000 on the repairs budget because of changes to the Gas Servicing contract costs, the Capital Expenditure from Revenue Account (CERA) had increased by £279,000, due to demands on the Housing Improvement Programme (£186,000 slippage, £600,000 expenditure on Voids, £150,000 Sheltered scheme acceleration, offset by additional useable capital receipts utilised (£657,000)) .  There had also been an increase in the loss of rental income through increased void days due to WHQS £162,000.

 

The Budget Strategy for 2014/15 outlined that in order to establish a baseline, services should prepare revenue budget for next year based on the cost of providing the current level of service and approved policy decisions.  This meant that the cost of price increases and pay awards should be included. 

 

Due to the nature of the HRA in that it was ring fenced and any growth had to be funded from its revenue balance, no cost pressures had been formally identified.  The budget was presented in the traditional objective analysis format.  The proposed 2014/15 budget was detailed in Appendix A to the report.  The 2013/14 Summary Cost Centre Analysis was detailed in Appendix B to the report which broke down the budget over the types of expenditure.  

 

The charges for rent and other services provided by the Housing Service were reviewed annually and would be subject to a future report once the information had been received from the WG.  Detailed below is a summary of the original budget for 2013/14 with the proposed budget for 2014/15. 

 

2013/2014

Original

Budget

Inflation /

 Pay Award

Committed

Growth /

(Savings)

Estimated Rent

Increase

2014/2015

Proposed

Budget

£000

£000

£000

£000

£000

8,452

38

(4,591)

(476)

3,423

 

A provision for general inflation included an allowance of 1% for 2014/15.  A 1% increase in pay amounted to approximately £13,000.

 

The rent increase was estimated at 3% based on the latest Housing Business Plan, for 2014/2015 this equated to (£476,000).  The actual rent increase was not due for release until January 2014.

             

The net saving of (£4,591,000) was due to a number of factors:

  • A decrease in Capital Expenditure from Revenue Account (CERA) to finance the Housing Improvement Programme of (£4,995,000). The amount of revenue contribution required was dictated by available revenue balances and the value of the Housing Improvement Programme.
  • A (£120,000) decrease in Central Support recharges. 
  • A decrease in the expected growth in the bad debt provision of (£135,000).  The original anticipated loss of rent due to the welfare reform accommodations cap was thought to be less than originally budgeted for.
  • A decrease in insurance charges of (£24,000).
  • The above savings have been offset by an increase in staff expenditure.  A restructure was being drafted for 2014/2015, which could cost an additional £200,000, but was intended to strengthen the service in terms of dealing with anti-social behaviour, statutory compliance (e.g. fire risk assessment work, gas and electrical safety), asset management and welfare reform  and make it fit for forthcoming challenges.
  • An increase in the provision of HRA Subsidy payable to WG based on the current guidance issued of £195,000
  • An increase in Capital Financing charges of £193,000 in relation to unsupported borrowing being taken out for the first time in 2014/2015 to fund the Housing Improvement Programme.
  • A decrease in interest earned on Revenue Balances £80,000.
  • Further budget increases of £15,000

As indicated in earlier reports considered, Scrutiny Committees were being consulted on the budget proposals with the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) being the lead Scrutiny Committee who would be required to respond to the Cabinet on the budget by no later than 13th  December 2013.  Cabinet’s final proposals on the budget would be considered by the Council on 5th March 2014.

 

The Housing Revenue Account working balance at 1st April 2014 would be £5.441m. 

 

Having regard to the above and related issues it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the revised budget estimate for 2014/15 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Initial Housing Revenue Account budget proposals for 2014/15 be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of monitoring the budget for 2013/14.

 

(2)       To inform Cabinet of the outcome of the scrutiny process on the matter.

 

 

687     INITIAL REVENUE BUDGET PROPOSALS 2014/15 (MD) –

 

The Council’s Scrutiny Committees had previously considered the initial Revenue Budget proposals on the following dates:

 

            Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 2nd December 2013

            Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment): 3rd December 2013

            Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection): 4th December 2013

            Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 9th December 2013.

 

The Council was required, under statute, to fix the level of Council Tax for 2014/15 by 11th March 2014 and in order to do so would have to agree a balanced Revenue Budget by the same date.  To be in a position to meet the statutory deadlines and requirements for consultation as set out within the Council’s Constitution, much of the work on quantifying the resource requirements of individual services needed to be carried out before the final Revenue Support Grant (RSG) settlement was notified to the Council.    The Council’s provisional settlement was announced on 16th October, 2013.  The Council’s Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) represented the Welsh Government’s (WG) view of the relative resources required to provide a standard level of service in each local authority in Wales and its primary use was to allocate RSG to these authorities.  For 2014/15 the Council’s provisional SSA was £214.384m.  

 

The Council had also been advised by the WG of its 2014/15 allocation in relation to RSG (£118.834m) and NNDR (£38.941m).  Together, these sums constituted the Council’s Aggregate External Finance (AEF) of £157.775m.  This represented a cash reduction of 4.5% (£7.4m) for 2014/15 and was a larger reduction than the 4% projected in the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP). 

 

The Council would also receive a sum provisionally set at £1.236m via the Outcome Agreement Grant (OAG) for 2014/15.  This grant was an unhypothecated grant (i.e. not earmarked for particular services).  It was noted that the Council was not necessarily guaranteed to receive the full amount of the OAG.  The amount for 2014/15 would be determined by a rating score of the Council’s performance in achieving its 2013/14 Outcome Agreement targets.

 

There were transfers into the RSG settlement for 2014/15 as follows:

 

First Steps Improvement Package - £119k.  Additional funding in respect of the £50 per week cap for non residential service charges.

 

Council Tax Reduction Scheme Administration Subsidy - £177k. This was previously received as a direct grant from the Department for Work and Pensions.

 

In addition, WG had stated that the provisional settlement for 2014/15 includes the transfer in of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme "Top Up" of £788k and an adjustment for the third year funding of the Local Government Borrowing Initiative (LGBI) for Highways of £152k.

 

It was the Council's contention that a comparative adjustment was required to account for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme "Top Up" received as part of the 2013/14 settlement.  Also, the 2014/15 AEF did not recognise the third year funding of the LGBI for Highways as an additional burden falling on the Council.  When taking both these adjustments into account, there was an actual cash reduction to the Council of 4.9%.  Pay and price inflation results in a much higher decrease in real terms. The September Consumer Price Index stood at 2.7%.  As part of the consultation process on the provisional settlement, the Leader was responding to WG on these issues.

 

WG had provided an indicative settlement figure for 2015/16 which showed a further cash reduction of 1.63% (£2.6m).  The MTFP was based on a cash reduction of 4%.  WG had not given any indication as to the level of settlement for 2016/17, however the MTFP was based on a further 4% cash reduction.  The assumptions made in the MTFP would, therefore, be reconsidered by the Budget Working Group (BWG) as part of the final budget proposals.

 

With regard to the revised budget for 2013/14, a number of employees in the Building Services section undertook a substantial amount of duties on behalf of the respective unions.  The time spent was considered to be 'lost time’ to the section and created particular difficulties for Building Services and its trading account.  It was therefore proposed to make a 50% contribution towards these costs from Policy of £31k for 2013/14 and £32k for 2014/15. If approved, the contribution would be reviewed in 2015/16.

 

Appendix 1 to the report set out the necessary adjustments to the original estimate for this period which were required to be made as follows (there was no overall effect on the net budget of the Council):

  • Asset Rents, International Accounting Standard (IAS) 19, and Recharges etc. – these relate to accounting items and expenditure outside the control of Services. They reflect charges to Services for the use of capital assets, changes to inter service recharges, superannuation increases not required and adjustments in respect of pensions to comply with accounting standards.  The overall impact on the Council was nil.

The following table compared the amended budget with the projected outturn for 2013/14:

            

 

2013/14

2013/14

Variance

 

Amended

Original

Projected

 (+)Favourable

Directorate/Service

Budget

Outturn

 (-) Adverse

 

£’000

£’000

     £’000

Learning and Skills

 

 

 

Education and Schools

93,879

93,879

                           0

Libraries

2,606

2,606

                           0

Lifelong Learning 

193

193

                           0

Youth Service

1,127

1,127

                           0

Catering

1,743

1,743

                           0

 

 

 

                           

Social Services

 

 

 

Children and Young People

14,660

14,660

                           0

Adult Services

36,124

36,124

                           0

Business Management and Innovation

298

298

                           0

Youth Offending Service

653

653

                           0

 

 

 

 

Visible Services and Housing

 

 

 

Environment and Visible Services                  

18,393

18,290

                     +103

Parks and Grounds Maintenance

3,477

3,580

                    (103)

Building Services

0

0

                           0

General Fund Housing

           1,150

         1,000

                     +150

 

 

 

 

Development

 

 

 

Public Protection

2,564

2,564

                 0

Private Housing

11,270

11,270

                           0

Planning and Transportation

           5,329

         5,329

                           0

Leisure

           4,085

         4,085

                           0

Economic Development

950

950

0

 

 

 

 

Managing Director

 

 

 

Resources

              130

            130

                           0

Corporate and Customer Services

379

379

                           0

General Policy

21,224

20,344

                    +880

Total

220,234

219,204

+1,030

Met from General Reserve

-1,500

-1,500

0

Grand Total

218,734

217,704

                  +1,030

    

Budgets in respect of each service area set out the budget position below and a more detailed account of budgetary movements and variations were detailed in paragraphs 7 to 30 of the report.

  • Education and Schools – Overall, the Education Budget was projected to outturn on target
  • The Strategic Planning and Performance and Service Strategy and Regulation Budgets were currently projected to outturn on budget
  • Social Services – The current forecast was an overspend of £140k, however, further work was being undertaken this year to address this position and a balanced budget was forecast at year end
  • Children and Young People’s Services – The major issue was the need to manage continued pressure on the children’s placements budget.  The current projected outturn for the jointly funded Residential Placements budget for Looked After Children was an overspend of £518k
  • Adult Services – The major issue was the continuing pressure on Community Care Packages, the Division's most volatile budget and the one most dependent upon levels of service demand which were not entirely within the Council's direct control.  At present, the projected year end position was an overspend of £829k which was after the reduction in budget to accommodate the savings target for the year of £685k. This overspend was also after the approval to release £646k from the £1.5m cost pressure allocated to Social Services, as part of the budget setting process for 2013/14
  • Visible Services and Housing – The projected outturn for the Visible Services and Housing Directorate was a favourable variance of £150k when compared to the amended original budget
  • Waste Management –  It was projected that the Waste Management section would have a favourable variance of £33k
  • Support – It was estimated that there was a £152k underspend compared with the budget
  • Parks and Grounds Maintenance –  It was estimated that overall the Grounds Maintenance section would have an adverse variance of £103k
  • Building Services – The Service was expected to outturn on target
  • General Fund Housing – There was a projected year end favourable variance in the sum of £150k
  • Public Protection – This service showed a balanced budget, however, there continued to be pressure on the Coroners service in relation to mortuary fees
  • Housing Benefit / Council Tax Reduction – The year end projected position was a balanced budget
  • Planning and Transportation – The year end projected outturn for this service showed a balanced budget
  • Leisure – The projected outturn for this service showed a balanced budget
  • Economic Development – The projected outturn for this service showed a balanced budget
  • Resources – The Finance and ICT service was projected to outturn on budget
  • Policy – The projected outturn was a favourable variance of £880k
  • A sum of £1.3m was to be provided for capital works.  £650k was for Education to fund Additional Learning and Skills Building Asset Renewal Schemes, as approved by Cabinet on 9th September 2013, min no. C2015.  The remaining £650k was for Environmental and Visible Services works at Cross Common Road Bridge
  • There was an estimated Council Tax surplus for 2013/14 of £2.5m which after deducting £470k use of reserves (estimated use of reserves £1.5m less £1.03m surplus in year) resulted in an estimated General Fund Reserve as at 31st March 2014 of £11.858m.

The Cabinet approved the Budget Strategy for 2014/15 on 29th July 2013 and, as in previous years, required all Directors to make the following provisions:

  • Supplementary estimates would only increase the base budget if Council had given specific approval to this effect. Increases met by virement within a year would not be treated as committed growth.
  • Directors should find the cost of increments and staff changes from their base budget unless the relevant specific approval had been given for additional funding.
  • The effect of replacing grant from outside bodies that had discontinued would not be treated as committed growth. In addition, before any project or initiative that was to be met either wholly or partly by way of grant may proceed, the exit strategy must be approved.
  • Certain items of unavoidable committed growth would continue and these include the effect of interest changes and the financing cost of the Capital Programme, increases in taxes, increases in levies and precepts charged by outside bodies and changes to housing benefits net expenditure.
  • Services would be expected to identify and achieve recurrent efficiency and other savings, including (but not restricted to) those identified in the Interim Medium Term Financial Plan.
  • It was envisaged that the costs of service development would need to be met from within the respective Directorates.

Having regard to the above, it was, therefore, proposed in respect of the 2014/15 Budget Strategy that Directors be instructed to prepare initial revenue budgets for 2014/15, in accordance with a timetable agreed by the Director of Resources.  Preparation should be on the following basis:

  • Capital charges, central accommodation costs and central support costs to be estimated centrally
  • Services to prepare baseline budgets on current service levels as set out in the 2013/14 final revenue budget report
  • Budgets to be broken down subjectively and objectively in as much detail as deemed appropriate by the Director of Resources
  • Budget reports to include revised estimates for 2013/14
  • Full account to be taken of the revenue costs, other than debt charges, of new capital schemes coming into use
  • Full account to be taken of the revenue costs, other than debt charges, of new capital schemes coming into use
  • Minimum savings targets to be met initially as detailed in the 2013/14 Final Revenue Budget report.  Any savings made directly by services over and above individual service targets to count towards future saving targets
  • Individual services would continue to draw up Service Plans that set out the aims and objectives for the service and any possible future developments and efficiencies.

As a result of the reduction in the provisional settlement, the Authority would now have to identify additional savings to those originally approved for 2014/15.  It had also been necessary to revisit the cost pressures facing services in order to build up a complete and up to date picture of the financial position of the Council.  The updated list of cost pressures for this Committee was shown in Appendix 2 to the report.  These were not shown in any order of priority.

 

When approving the Budget Strategy for 2014/15, Directors were asked to consider bringing forward the implementation of future years' savings ahead of the scheduled date.  This message was reinforced by Cabinet when approving the MTFP, where Directors were also asked to identify additional areas for savings.

 

The 2013/14 budget included approved savings targets for the years 2014/15 to 2016/17.  Directors have assessed future year savings in order to establish those that can be brought forward to supplement the 2014/15 savings.  In doing so, regard had been given to those savings which are time bound and cannot be accelerated.  Details of the approved areas for savings for 2014/15 for this Committee, together with proposals for savings to be brought forward were attached at Appendix 3 to the report.  The savings did not include the cost of potential redundancies.

 

A summary of the overall base budget for 2014/15 was attached at Appendix 4 to the report.  This had been arrived at by adjusting the 2013/14 budget for items such as inflation and unavoidable growth, but did not include identified cost pressures or savings.  These were shown as a note to the table and were further detailed in Appendices 2 and 3 respectively.  The total cost pressures for 2014/15 for the Council were £5.984m.

 

Asset Rents, IAS 19 and Recharges etc. related to accounting items and expenditure outside the control of the relevant Services.  These reflected charges to Services for the use of capital assets and adjustments in respect of pensions to comply with accounting standards.

 

Recharges/Transfers – Relate to changes in inter-service recharges and from the transfer of functions and responsibilities between services.  Included was the previously approved transfer of £320k from Education to Children's Services in respect of the joint budget for residential Looked After Children.

 

Budget Adjustment – Included in Policy was a sum of £880k as a provision for the incremental effect of job evaluation.  These costs had been largely funded. The Authority's policy was for Directorates to fund their own increments and, therefore, the £880k had been removed from Policy's estimates as it was no longer required.  There was also an adjustment of £119k for the First Steps Improvement Package as it was previously included in the base estimate.   The £167k reduction in the use of the Social Services fund for 2014/15 was also included under this heading.

 

Inflation – The total figure for inflation of £2.252m related to general price increases (£1.649m) and a 1% allowance for pay awards (£603k). These figures did not include schools inflation which amounted to £489k for pay and £336k for prices.

 

Committed Growth – This totalled £1.042m of which £198k reflected the minimum funding commitment for schools, £216k related to Landfill Tax, £152k to LGBI and £180k to capital charges.  It also included the transfers into RSG of £177k for Council Tax Reduction Scheme Administration Subsidy and £119k for First Steps Improvement Package.

 

Once the base budget for 2014/15 for the Council as a whole had been established, it must then be compared to the funding available to identify the extent of any shortfall.  With a provisional AEF of £157.775m and Council Tax at a current level of £53.567m, total available funding would be £211.342m.  When compared to a base budget of £221.196m, this would result in a funding shortfall for 2014/15 of £9.854m.  This shortfall was mainly attributable to the reduction in funding from WG, an increase in pay and price inflation and the requirement to fund committed growth.

 

If all identified cost pressures were funded for the whole of the Council, this would increase the shortfall to £15.838m.  If all proposed savings were achieved for the whole of the Council, the shortfall would be reduced to £8.539m as shown in the table below. 

 

Projected Budget Shortfall 2014/15

 

 

£000

Funding Available

 

Provisional AEF

157,775

Council Tax

53,567

Provisional Funding Available

211,342

 

 

Base Budget

221,196

 

 

Provisional Shortfall Against Base Budget

9,854

 

 

Assume all Cost Pressures funded

5,984

 

 

Provisional Shortfall with Cost Pressures funded

15,838

 

 

Assume all Savings Achieved

(7,299)

 

 

Provisional Projected Shortfall for 2014/15

8,539

 

This level of shortfall was unprecedented.

 

Further work would be undertaken by the BWG when formulating the final budget proposals for 2014/15, which would include a review of the use of reserves, a possible increase in Council Tax, a review of all cost pressures, possible savings and the current financial strategies, in order to achieve a balanced budget.  The BWG would also look at the impact on the 2015/16 budget.

 

It would be extremely difficult in the short term to meet all of the budget shortfall through further savings next year.  This may require consideration of the use of substantial levels of reserves in 2014/15, thus allowing a more thorough review of options for savings and their implications, alternative methods of service delivery and collaborative ventures.

 

The General Fund Reserve as at 31st March 2014 was projected to stand at £11.858m.  The 2014/15 base budget proposal included the use of £1.5m from the General Fund reserve.  Cost pressures for 2014/15 include £500k for a reduction in the use of reserves, in line with the existing financial strategy.  A further reduction of £500k was also scheduled for 2015/16.  In light of the unprecedented funding shortfall, this strategy needed to be reviewed.  At this stage, it was proposed that a use of reserves to a maximum of £3.5m could be used in 2014/15.  The Section 151 Officer believed that the minimum balance on the General Fund Reserve should be no less than £7m.

 

The use of reserves to fund recurring expenditure can only be countenanced as part of a specific strategy to achieve a balanced budget in future years.  The consequence of such actions will be to increase the level of savings required in 2015/16 onwards.

 

In terms of the role of the Cabinet Budget Working Group, this Group would be holding a series of meetings with the relevant Cabinet Members and officers to consider the budget proposals.  Any recommendations from this Group would be submitted so that the Cabinet could make its final budget proposal by no later than 24th February 2014; before making its recommendation the Cabinet Budget Working Group would consider the comments made by all the Council’s Scrutiny Committees.

 

The Cabinet’s final budget proposals would be considered by Council on 5th March 2014.   

 

External consultation was proposed to be carried out with Vale Viewpoint, the Citizens Panel for the Vale, to ascertain the public’s priorities in order to inform the budget process. The Local Service Board, Town and Community Councils and Vale businesses would also be consulted.

 

Brief discussion centred on Parks and Grounds Maintenance expenditure and in particular on the future maintenance of Rhoose Point with Councillor H.J.W. James reiterating his points made at the meeting of the Scrutiny Committee in October regarding the need to establish a budget for this site.  He further commented on the ongoing cost of the maintenance of bowling greens and referred to two specific sites in the Vale.  He also made reference to proposals to reduce 'Bring Sites' with the risk of increased fly tipping if implemented.  To clarify, Councillor N. Moore, who spoke on the matter with the consent of the Committee, indicated that it was proposed to withdraw 'Bring Sites' which were currently located at supermarket sites and where management issues of the site had been identified.

 

The Committee also expressed disquiet in regard to the savings proposal C3 (Communications Team) which was particularly relevant given the need to effectively communicate to the public the potential impact on services affected as a consequence of reduced funding from the Welsh Government.

 

Having regard to the above and related issued it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the amended budget for 2013/14 as set out in Appendix 1 to the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the initial Revenue Budget proposals for 2014/15 be noted and that the Cabinet be informed of the outcome of the Scrutiny process on the matter subject to recommendations (3) and (4) below and subject to the below cost pressures being prioritised and referred to Cabinet for further consideration.

 

(3)       T H A T the recommendation (2) of the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) of 2nd December, 2013 on the initial Revenue Budget proposals as set out below be noted and referred to Cabinet for further consideration:

 

             "(2)      T H A T the Initial Revenue Budget Proposals for 2014/15 be noted together with the cost pressures in the

              Social Services Directorate as amended at the meeting.  It was the view of the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and

              Health) that these cost pressures would need to be fully funded in view of the ever increasing demand for Adult

              Services’ Community Care Packages and the difficulties in predicting the requirement for children’s residential

              placements."

 

(4)       T H A T the recommendation (2) of the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) of 4th December, 2013 on the initial Revenue Budget proposals as set out below be endorsed and referred to Cabinet for further consideration:

 

             "(2)      T H A T the initial Revenue Budget proposals for 2014/15 including cost pressures and savings proposals be

               noted, subject to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) being requested to ask the Cabinet to investigate

               the feasibility of utilising charities / third sector organisations to assist in the procurement of furniture in respect of

               savings proposals V11 and V12 for 2014/15."

 

(5)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee would wish to make the Cabinet aware of the need to effectively communicate to service users and the public of the implications of the funding reduction from Welsh Government which may be impaired when taking account of the suggested saving proposals for 2014/15 in respect of the Council’s Communication Team (C3).

 

(6)       T H A T it be noted that a contribution of £31k for 2013/14 and £32k for 2014/15 is to be made from Policy to Building Services towards employee costs in carrying out union duties.

 

(7)       T H A T it be noted that Vale Viewpoint would be consulted to ascertain the public's priorities in order to inform the budget process, as well as consultation being undertaken with the Local Service Board, Town and Community Councils and Vale businesses.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of the Scrutiny Committee’s responsibility for monitoring the budget.

 

(2-5)    To inform Cabinet of the outcome of the scrutiny process.

 

(6)       To be aware of the contribution to the costs of union duties within Building Services.

 

(7)       To obtain the comments of external consultees before Cabinet makes a final proposal on the budget.

 

 

688     INITIAL CAPITAL PROGRAMME PROPOSALS 2014/15 (MD) –

 

Set out at Appendix A to the report were full details of the progress on the Capital Programme as at 30th September 2013.

 

The following adjustments had been requested to the Capital Programme 2013/14 in respect of the following:

 

Director of Learning and Skills

  • Oakfield New Entrance and Reception Area - Carry forward £146,000 of funding for Oakfield new entrance and reception area to 2014/15.

 

Director of Social Services

  • Flying Start Grants - Following approval from Welsh Government  additional funding had been made available to Flying Start in 2013/14, a provisional budget of £413,000 had been included in the Capital Programme and it was now requested to increase this by £131,520. The revised budget £544,520 would cover the following schemes:

    -     Ladybirds provision at Holton School £193,250, £20,000 for equipment was already built into the Capital Programme

           for 2013/14

    -     £40,000 to fund a Parenting Suite at Holm View this would consist of a creche, a room for group working as part of the

           parenting classes and also a preparation room

    -     Funding of £122,364 for the Flying Start Family Centre; this would fund a Parenting Room at the Gladstone Road site

    -     Funding £168,906 for Co-location project at Skomer Road office

    -     Rondel House Boiler Replacement virement of £40,000 from Hen Goleg Boiler Replacement and Heating Works to

           Rondel House Boiler Replacement to ensure that the scheme was progressed in 2013/14.

 

Director of Visible Services and Housing

  • Flood Risk Management – £750,000 was approved as part of the 2013/14 Capital Programme for various schemes to address flooding and drainage issues
  • Cross Common Road Bridge – the Capital Programme increased by £650,000 to address the outcome of a feasibility study which was considering options for the future of Cross Common Road Bridge, this would be funded from a revenue contribution
  • Housing Improvement Programme – Increase the Housing Revenue Account Capital Programme by £600,000 to fund work to be carried out on void properties
  • Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) works for Sheltered Housing £150,000 should be brought forward from the Capital Programme in 2014/15 to progress WHQS works for sheltered housing.

Director of Development Services

  • S106 / Belle Vue Park – Cabinet had been requested to include £10,000 in the Capital Programme for Section 106 funding awarded to the project.
  • WHQS works for sheltered housing – Funding of £150k brought forward from the Capital Programme in 2014/15.

Cabinet had previously agreed that further information would be provided where schemes have a value of over £500,000 and showed a variance of 20% or more between actual spend and the profile. The following schemes met this criteria –

  • WHQS Works – As outlined in previous capital monitoring reports there was always likely to be a variance in the WHQS expenditure as the extent of works required in a property was not known until the works commenced.  During September, works on central heating / boilers and roofing works were behind profile, whilst asbestos management costs had exceeded the initial profile.
  • Learning in Digital (Wales) Grant – A large order £470,000 was placed during September which would rectify the discrepancy between the profile and actual expenditure and ensure the grant was fully spent by the grant deadline in December 2013.
  • Ysgol Nant Talwg, Barry – The variance between actuals to date at the end of September and profiled budget was due to a delay in issuing a certificate of payment.  All required information was now in place and a payment was made in October which brought the actuals to date in line with the profiled expenditure.
  • Vehicles Renewal Fund – Expenditure was slightly behind profile due to second hand vehicles being purchased in year and some items of expenditure being delayed pending the outcome of decisions regarding future revenue services.

The Welsh Government (WG) had announced the provisional 2014/15 General Capital Funding on 16th October 2013.  The 2014/15 capital settlement represented a £246,000 (4.7%) increase in funding over the previous year’s allocation; however because this amount included the reinstatement of £280,000 transferred to supported borrowing for the Housing Revenue Account in 2013/14, the actual position for the Council was a reduction of £34,000 which represents a 0.61% cut.  The indicative amount provided by WG suggested that capital funding will be maintained at this level for 2015/16.  This has been reflected in the proposed Capital Programme 2014/15 to 2018/19.

 

Whilst the indicative amounts have been utilised in 2014/15 and 2015/16, for the purposes of this programme, the assumption of a 10% cut each year had been assumed in 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19.  In line with the financial strategy, the Council would mitigate the deteriorating situation by looking to progress only those schemes which were deemed to be a key corporate priority, whilst also seeking to gain assurance that such schemes were delivered on time and within budget.

 

Cabinet, on 13th February 2008, approved that the Director of Resources in consultation with the Cabinet Member responsible for Finance, be given delegated authority to transfer supported borrowing between General Fund and the Housing Capital budgets as appropriate.  Due to the uncertainty regarding the future of Housing Subsidy, the Authority did not intend to seek a £280,000 transfer in each year of the Capital Programme as had been previously assumed; unsupported borrowing in the Housing Revenue Account has been increased accordingly.

   

The Major Repairs Allowance (MRA), which was a grant that provided capital funding to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) for 2014/15, had not been announced by the WG.  Cabinet would be advised once the announcement was made.  However, an assumption had been made which was set out in Appendix B to the report that the grant would continue at the current allocation of £2.8m in 2014/15. 

 

In addition to funding from the WG, the Council would finance part of the Capital Programme from its own resources, e.g. Capital Receipts and Reserves.  Set out in Appendix B was the proposed 2014/15.  The following table of information set out details of the General Capital Funding and internal resources required to fund the proposed schemes. 

 

Analysis of Net Funding Required for the Indicative 2014/15 Capital Programme

 

GENERAL FUND

£’000     

£’000

Welsh Government Resources

 

 

Supported Borrowing

3,438

 

General Capital Grant

2,092

 

 

 

  5,530

Council Resources

 

 

Capital Receipts

2,509

 

Reserves/Leasing

6,095

 

Unsupported Borrowing

5,600

 

 

 

14,204

Net Capital Resources

 

19,734

 

HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT

£’000       

£’000       

Housing Reserves                                                       

7,387

 

Housing Capital Receipts                                                 

1,525

 

Housing Unsupported Borrowing                   

6,034

 

 

 

 

Net Capital Resources

 

  14,946

 

The indicative 204/15 Capital Programme shown in Appendix B included allocations already approved by Council.

 

Capital bids were invited for return by 30th September 2013 and the number of bids received was reduced from the high volume in the previous year. This reduction reflects that the Capital Programme had been set to 2017/18 following the budget review that took place as part of the 2013/14 budget process.  Departments were requested to rank their own bids in order of importance before submission, and bids from each Department were forwarded to the Corporate Asset Management Group (CAMG) for evaluation.

 

The Budget Working Group had prioritised bids based upon the recommendations of the CAMG (and were shown in Appendix B) who had used the criteria set out by the Budget Strategy and met the risk assessment which had been undertaken in line with the Council’s Corporate Risk Management Strategy which was also set out in the report.  Only those schemes assessed as corporate priority 1 or medium risk and above were included.  Bids which did not meet this criteria and therefore excluded from the Capital Programme were detailed in Appendix C to the report. 

 

In addition to bids meeting the criteria for inclusion in the Capital Programme, there had been a number of changes approved by Cabinet since the final budget proposals in February 2013 that impacted on the Capital Programme, such as, amendments to the budgets carried forward and these changes were included.  Also reflected in Appendix B were proposed changes to the Housing Revenue Account Business Plan.

 

As in the case of the consideration of the Initial Revenue Budget Proposals, similar arrangements were in place for the Scrutiny Committees to pass their comments to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) who would, on behalf of all the Council’s Scrutiny Committees, formally respond to Cabinet by no later than 13th December 2013.  However, Scrutiny Committees were being asked to first consider the indicative Capital Proposals as set out in Appendix B.  If a change to the initial proposals was desired, the Scrutiny Committee was required to provide a reason for this need in order to assist the Cabinet and the CBWG in their deliberation when drawing up the final proposals.  The total net capital expenditure of the proposed programme for the whole of the Council over the five years was approximately £102m.  

 

Managers would be asked to revisit the schemes listed in Appendix B and to confirm final cost and spend profiles prior to the final proposals being considered by Cabinet by no later than 24th February, 2014.  Cabinet’s final Capital Programme proposals would be considered by Council no later than 5th March, 2013.

 

If the schemes proposed for the whole of the Council were approved, the effects on General Fund useable capital receipts were as follows:

 

General Fund Capital Receipts

          £'000

Anticipated Balance as at 1st April 2014

7,940

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2014/15

(2,656)

Anticipated Receipts – 2014/15

885

Balance as at 31st March 2015

6,169

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2015/16

0

Anticipated Receipts – 2015/16

0

Balance as at 31st March 2016

6,169

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2016/17

(2,237)

Anticipated Receipts – 2016/17

0

Balance as at 31st March 2017

3,932

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2017/18

(0)

Anticipated Receipts – 2017/18

0

Balance as at 31st March 2018

3,932

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2018/19

(0)

Anticipated Receipts – 2018/19

0

Balance as at 31st March 2019

3,932

 

In line with the overall strategy and specific suggestions proposed by the Budget Working Group (BWG), in order to resource the Capital Programme, reserves will be utilised over the period of the Capital Programme 2014/15 to 2018/19.

 

The Project Fund would be used to fund schemes assessed on an invest to save basis, and in certain circumstances business critical schemes may also be funded from this reserve with the prior approval of the Director of Resources.  A balance of £2m would be retained as a balance on this fund.  The projected usage of this reserve, for the whole of the Council, over the period of the Capital Programme was shown below:

 

Project Fund

             £'000

Anticipated Balance as at 1st April 2014

4,217

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2014/15

(1,754)

Anticipated Receipts – 2014/15

402

Balance as at 31st March 2015

2,865

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2015/16

(450)

Anticipated Receipts – 2015/16

100

Balance as at 31st March 2016

2,515

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2016/17

(400)

Anticipated Receipts – 2016/17

60

Balance as at 31st March 2017

2,175

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2017/18

(100)

Anticipated Receipts – 2017/18

60

Balance as at 31st March 2018

2,135

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2018/19

(0)

Anticipated Receipts – 2018/19

0

Balance as at 31st March 2019

2,135

 

The above forecast balances needed to be seen in the context of significant pressures for spending which were not yet included in the Capital Programme.  These pressures included the backlog of school, highways and buildings improvements. 

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Initial Capital Budget Proposals for 2014/15 be endorsed and that Cabinet be informed of the Scrutiny Committee’s deliberations on the matter.

 

(2)       T H A T the following changes to the 2013/14 Capital Programme be noted:

  • Increase the provisional Flying Start capital budget by £131,520, following approval by Welsh Government of additional funds, the amended budget of £544,520 will cover the following schemes Ladybirds at Holton School, Parenting Suite at Holm View, Flying Start Co-location and Flying Start Family Centre
  • Increase the Capital Programme by £650,000 for a scheme at Cross Common Road Bridge to be funded from a revenue contribution
  • Increase the Housing Revenue Account Capital Programme to reflect a £600,000 contribution from revenue to fund works with void properties
  • Include a £10,000 budget for S106 works at Belle Vue Park in the Capital Programme
  • Carry forward £146,000 for Oakfield School new entrance and reception area, to 2014/15 when the funding will be used as part of the 21st Century Schools funded proposals for Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oakfield Primary School

Reason for recommendations

 

(1)       To inform Cabinet of the outcome of the scrutiny process on the matter.

 

(2)       To amend the 2013/14 Capital Programme.

 

 

689     VALE OF GLAMORGAN LOCAL SERVICE BOARD UPDATE (MD) –

 

The purpose of the report was to set out the progress made by the LSB and key partnerships in delivering the Community Strategy 2011-21 and to raise awareness about some of the activities being undertaken through the various partnerships.  The report in itself represented a significant overview of work which took account of related information which took account of data sets e.g. economic and educational.  The report in itself provided an update on the work of the LSB since the previous report made in December 2012 and reflected the activities undertaken by the LSB to deliver the commitments of the Community Strategy and to ensure there were robust arrangements in place to support effective partnership working.  This included the development of an Information and Engagement Strategy, a new Unified Needs Assessment (UNA) and a number of events including an anti poverty event in July and the recent Local Service Forum in October.

 

The report encompassed a number of activities being developed through the LSB to support partnership working and the monitoring of progress which in the main related to the following areas:

  • the Annual Report 2013-14
  • the Unified Assessment
  • the Community Strategy Delivery Plan
  • Local Service Forum
  • engagement activities.

In summing up the Head of Performance and Development alluded to proposals to explore a range of opportunities for collaborative working with a successful bid being made to the Welsh Government Regional Collaboration Fund to explore a Cardiff and Vale LSB.  Further updates on the proposals arising from this initiative would be subject of further reports to the Scrutiny Committee in due course. 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the achievements made in delivering the Community Strategy, work undertaken to improve engagement and the collection and analysis of data to provide a robust evidence base for the work of the LSB and key partnerships be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To allow the Scrutiny Committee to consider progress with the Community Strategy and work undertaken by the LSB and key partnerships.

 

 

690     THE LIVING WAGE (MD) –

 

The above matter had been the subject of a Request for Consideration submitted by Councillor R.J. Bertin who had requested a report to be submitted to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration regarding the implementation of the Living Wage and to support Unison’s campaign to get the Living Wage implemented and get the Authority committed to being a Living Wage employer.  The Living Wage he considered was a rate of pay per hour which was enough for workers and their families to be able to live free from poverty.  A copy of Councillor Bertin’s original Request for Consideration submission was set out in Appendix A to the report. 

 

The Scrutiny Committee considered a comprehensive report which had been prepared by the Head of Human Resources and set out the various implications for the Council if it chose to introduce the Living Wage.  He reminded the Scrutiny Committee that the Living Wage (LW) was entirely voluntary and in Wales to date there were 16 employers currently accredited with the Living Wage Foundation including, one local authority (Caerphilly).  There were also two other known Councils within Wales who were paying staff currently in accordance with the LW but had not committed to the wider and ongoing requirements as set out in the Living Wage Foundation.  The Head of Human Resources went on also to refer to the requirements for accreditation to be an official LW employer and separately he made reference to the objectives of the LW and particularly in relation to address low pay and in-work poverty.  The benefits of the introduction of the LW had been cited by the Citizens UK document 'Living Wage: A Guide for Employers' which were also set out in paragraph 12 of the report.  These benefits were based on a survey of the beliefs and perceptions of those accredited LW employers.  In referring to these benefits the Head of Human Resources indicated that they were clear positive benefits for businesses and particularly relevant at present where public sector employers were searching for additional engagement and capacity from a workforce that was diminishing in numbers.  He also alluded to employee motivation and the relationship of pay.  He also referred to the example the Council would set for taking the lead to other local employers and indeed across Wales if they chose to adopt the LW.  Separately he alluded to the guidance note from the Local Government Association dated November 2013 which set out future concerns about recruitment and retention rates at the lower grade levels which had been identified.  He referred specifically to two points which were contained in the guidance note which related to the increasing number of flexible lower skilled jobs within the UK economy and also in regard to a cautionary note which warned against complacency given 'the fact that the austerity programme would continue to hit Council budgets long after the rest of the economy had recovered'.  His attention then turned to the concerns in regard to the implications of introducing the LW and, whilst acknowledging the positive benefits of introducing such, there were a number of fundamental concerns that remained.  These related to the affordability of such an initiative in the current economic climate, concerns about the true impact the LW would have on in-work poverty and concerns about the immediate and ongoing impact on the Council’s existing pay structure following Job Evaluation and the associated vulnerability to new equal pay challenges.  The implications of such were set out in paragraphs 21 to 42 of the report. 

 

At this juncture the Head of Service then commented on the wider concerns in relation to the impact of the LW on low pay and drew Members’ attention to the doubt which remained about the timing of implementing the LW and the true impact it would have in reducing poverty.  Such concerns were set out in a number of research papers, some of which were included in the background papers to the report.  The main issues of concern raised in these research papers were set out in paragraph 45 of the report.  The Head of Human Resources also referred to the fact that the LW focused solely on the value of basic hourly pay rates and it did not take into account the other 'non pay' benefits (generous sick pay schemes and high levels of employer pension contributions) which remained a significant element of local authorities’ terms and conditions.  He felt that the positive impact of these types of benefits in relation to reducing the effects of poverty clearly needed to be considered as part of the wider debate around the introduction of the LW. 

 

In summing up he felt that it was incumbent on the Committee to consider the appropriateness and timing of implementing the LW for the stated reasons set out in the report, in particular given the current budgetary pressures on councils.  In relation to the timing issue, he considered that the implementation of the LW may be considered more appropriate at a point where the Local Government financial settlement included the necessary funding for the full and ongoing consequences of implementing the LW. 

 

At this juncture the Chairman invited Mr. Rowan Hughes (Joint Trade Unions representative) to put forward the Unions’ position in regard to the adoption of the LW.

 

Mr. Hughes, in referring to the subject under debate, considered that it was a moral imperative to pay employees a fair wage for a fair day’s work.  He made reference to cross party political support for the adoption of the LW and referred to the fact that it was the Labour Party’s official policy and separately the Prime Minister had personally supported the initiative.

 

In responding to the report and to the specific points touched upon by the Head of Human Resources he confirmed that Caerphilly County Borough Council was a fully accredited employer with the Living Wage Foundation, Cardiff County Council was not officially credited but paid the LW via a supplement payment and he further indicated that Monmouthshire County Council was currently looking at the feasibility of implementing the initiative.  He contested the financial implications of introducing the LW and referred to the reported financial costs for Caerphilly to introduce it for part of the year and indeed indicated that a much bigger authority i.e. Glasgow had reportedly introduced it at a cost of £1.2m in the first year.  He acknowledged the benefits which were as set out in the report and he felt that the Council was in a position to take a strong lead setting an example for other local employers if a decision was taken to adopt the LW.  He accepted comments made and acknowledged these in regard to the affordability of introducing the LW in the current economic climate, particularly the fact that there had been a significant funding reduction to local governments across Wales, however he felt that it would be difficult for any organisation to ignore the fact that the initiative was the best way to tackle in-work poverty.  He also considered that the equal pay implications following from the potential introduction of the LW had been overstated in the report.  His attention then turned to the financial implications as detailed in the report and questioned the accuracy of these and enquired as to how the data had been captured.  He considered that the financial implications of introducing the LW for the Council would have a minimal impact on Council finances given that the LW was aimed at the lowest paid staff on the existing pay scales.  Any future national pay settlements would significantly reduce any costs and the assumptions made by the Head of Human Resources in regard to specific job types which he referred to in his comments to the Committee were misleading.  He also touched upon the existing gender pay gap which was a considerable issue for female staff in the Vale and it was particularly relevant given the efforts that the Council had made in the recent past. 

 

In summing up he reiterated his previous comments that a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work should be the main consideration by the Committee.  He also made reference to funded sources that could be used to fund the implementation of the LW in the Council and alluded to historical budget which had been set aside but which had not been fully utilised given the restrictions placed on pay settlements in the public sector in recent past years by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.  He also referred to funding set aside in regard to job evaluation.  Overall he indicated that all salaries for staff in the Vale of Glamorgan had fallen behind given inflationary pressures over the past few years.

 

The Chairman at this point opened up questions to the Committee with general discussion centring around the following points:

  • The reliance on local government to consider the implementation of the LW without proper funding being in place to do so.  The Committee widely accepted the benefits of LW which was laudable, particularly given that it would address employees on the lowest salaries.
  • The fact that the adoption of the LW was not a statutory requirement whereas the minimum wage was.  Concerns in regard to the impact on the Council’s budget which was particularly relevant given the recent funding settlement from the Welsh Government.
  • The fact that the report outlining the Council’s budget proposals refer to the potential use of budgetary reserves to reduce the full impact of cuts and separate concerns about the use of reserves to pay salaries which was not sustainable.
  • That there was no guarantee that if adopted the cost associated with the LW would not increase in future years.
  • Concerns in regard to the recent 'painful' introduction of Job Evaluation in the Council and the risk to that scheme in the event that the LW was adopted.
  • There was a duty of the Committee to weigh up what was in the wider interests of the Council.

There were questions in regard to the motivational benefits from the adoption of the LW and, for some Members of the Committee, it was more of a morality issue. 

  • That the initial budget proposals under consideration in the agenda later in the report set out clear implications for the Council, particularly in relation to the potential for job losses and to adopt and pay the LW in the current economic climate would likely lead to further job losses.
  • If the UK Government and the Welsh Government supported the principle of adopting the LW then they should allocate appropriate funding to local government in future funding revenue support grant settlements.
  • There were more people in work receiving benefits than there were unemployed individuals. 
  • It was likely that many local authorities would resist paying the LW given the financial implications of introducing the same.
  • It would be more pragmatic if councils joined together to support a decent increase in the statutory minimum wage in the UK and campaign accordingly for the improvement of pay in regard to future minimum wage levels.

The Chairman then gave the Head of Human Resources, Mr. Hughes and Councillor Bertin an opportunity to sum up, with the Head of Human Resources indicated that in the event of the LW being adopted by the Council it would have to be paid on a consistent basis and if this was not done it would leave the Council vulnerable to legal challenges in regard to equal pay; Mr. Hughes reiterated his previous comments in that Caerphilly Council paid the LW by a supplement to avoid any challenges regarding equal pay and he also referred to a number of private sector companies who also paid the LW; Councillor Bertin referred to specific private sector employees who currently paid the LW and he felt that the Council should be leading the way with the adoption of the LW and was disappointed with the comments made and disputed the facts and figures contained in the report. 

 

The Chairman, in referring to the figures contained in the report, enquired of the Head of Financial Services as to what information had been taken into consideration when the information was prepared in the report.  The Head of Financial Services indicated that the figures had been based on an extract from the Council’s payroll data as of October 2013 and a line by line analysis of each job had been undertaken accounting for full time equivalent employees, basic rate overtime payments, casual workers’ payments, agency workers, etc.  However, he acknowledged that these were estimates based on best available information. 

 

Having regard to the above and related issues it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T Cabinet be requested on behalf of the Council to seek a way of raising a campaign for the improvement of the minimum wage on a UK wide basis and lobby the UK / Welsh Governments to include in future Revenue Support Grant Settlements appropriate funding to ensure that the Minimum Wage could be adopted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To work towards the eradication of in-work poverty in Wales and the UK.

 

 

691     SCHOOL RE-ORGANISATION PROPOSALS FOR WELSH MEDIUM PRIMARY SCHOOLING IN BARRY (CLSO) –

 

The above matter had been subject of an earlier report which was considered by the Scrutiny Committee at its meeting held on 15th October, 2013.  The Scrutiny Committee, following consideration of the report, called for a further report which included evidence to support the proposals.  Accordingly, the report now submitted contained evidential data to support the business case underpinning the stated aims of the proposals.  The matter had also been considered by the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) the previous evening and subsequently recommended

 

"(1)      T H A T the Scrutiny Committee support the decision to expand Ysgol Gwaun y Nant to meet increasing parental demand for Welsh Medium education in Barry. 

 

(2)       T H A T the recommendation of the Scrutiny Committee be referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) for its meeting on 10th December."

 

In May 2013 a reassessment of pupil projections including potential LDP housing allocation sites had been carried out, the data for which was included in Appendix A to the report.  The report highlighted that it was not known when homes on the allocated housing sites would be built and occupied as it was wholly dependent upon the developers for each site.  However, in order to consider the full impact of the allocated housing sites on schools, the pupil projections assumed that all developments would be completed by 2018. 

 

The reduction in surplus capacity arising from population growth alone demonstrated the need to retain all existing schools and expand Welsh Medium provision in Barry as approved by Cabinet

 

The pupil projections included within Appendix A showed that an additional 73 places (25 At Ysgol Gwaun y Nant, 4 at Ysgol Sant Baruc, 34 at Ysgol Sant Curig and 10 at Ysgol Nant Talwg) would be required in the existing Welsh medium schools by 2018 if all potential housing developments were included within the projection.  The pupil projections for Welsh Medium schools were calculated using the current percentage of parents expressing a preference for Welsh Medium reception places.  In 2013 16% of parents expressed a preference for Welsh Medium education at reception level; this had increased from 10.2% in 2006.  This growth in the popularity of Welsh Medium was anticipated to continue which could result in a higher number of children attending Welsh Medium education than was currently forecast.

 

In order to meet this increased demand in Barry a number of different options were considered before arriving at the preferred option.

 

A new 210 place school could be built in Barry on a new site but no suitable sites were identified under the remit of Learning and Skills.

 

An alternative approach used by other Local Authorities was to utilise surplus capacity within existing schools, however the pupil projections demonstrate that this was not a long term option in Barry.

 

The expansion of Ysgol St Baruc to 420 places was not achievable due to the confined school site which could not be increased in size due to surrounding buildings.

 

Ysgol St. Curig has capacity for 420 children but had insufficient grounds to provide sports provision to meet the needs of 630 children.

 

Ysgol Nant Talwg was located on the same site as Ysgol Bro Morgannwg; building work on a 210 place school started in November 2013 and the new school was due to open in September 2014.  The further expansion on Ysgol Nant Talwg was not favoured as this could jeopardise the possible future expansion of Ysgol Bro Morgannwg to meet increased numbers of Welsh Medium secondary school pupils

 

Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oak Field Primary occupy a joint site totalling 29,300m2 which exceeded current area guidelines and had sufficient area to accommodate the expansion of Ysgol Gwaun y Nant to 420 from 210 places.

 

Research suggested that the quality of where we learn affects the quality of how we learn.  To have the greatest impact the learning environment should support and enhance the learning process, encourage innovation and be a tool for learning.  Improvements to the learning environment of both Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oak Field Primary school would be delivered through the preferred option.

 

The location of the new Oak Field Primary school would be determined following consultation with both Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oak Field Primary to fully consider the educational needs and aspirations of both schools and the local community.  At present no decision had been made regarding the location of the new school on site.

 

The expansion of Welsh Medium education was being proposed to meet increasing parental demand in the Barry area. The Authority had a legal duty to meet this demand and would need to find alternative schools to meet this demand if Ysgol Gwaun y Nant was not expanded.  Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oak Field Primary have occupied the same site since 2000 and the Authority has no evidence that this co-location has had a detrimental effect on either school.

 

The preferred option to build a new pattern book design school for Oak Field Primary and remodel the existing school to increase capacity to 420 places for Ysgol Gwaun y Nant was estimated to cost £3,645,000 which was to be met from the existing funding available within the Capital Programme.  It was noted that this would be approximately £430,000 less than the cost to remodel and extend Ysgol Gwaun y Nant. 

 

Having considered the report and related issues, including the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning), it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the proposals to expand Ysgol Gwaun y Nant to meet increasing parental demand for Welsh Medium education in Barry be endorsed.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having considered the detailed information contained within the report.

 

 

692     PRESENTATION –

 

The Scrutiny Committee received a presentation from the Head of Public Protection on proposals to fully integrate Regulatory Services functions across Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

Each Council had received reports on potential collaborative working projects and bids to the Welsh Government's Regional Collaboration Funds.  This included proposals to create a regional regulatory service. 

 

At their July Cabinet meetings, each Council agreed the following recommendations which were now being implemented:

  • The Chief Executive from Bridgend Council is undertaking the role of Chief Executive Project Sponsor.
  • The Head of Regulatory Services from Cardiff Council had assumed responsibility as the Interim Project Manager for the initial development phase of the project.
  • During the preparation of the detailed Business Case the Heads of Regulatory Services from each Council be authorised to continue to work together to support preparations for the proposed collaborative service whilst ensuring continuity of service.
  • A Shadow Joint Committee had been established to provide overall direction for the project pending decisions by each Authority as to the way forward and that the Shadow Committee should comprise two Members from each Authority.
  • The Shadow Joint Committee considers a range of collaborative models, including a Joint Committee, to provide governance to the proposed Regional Regulatory Service and collectively make a recommendation to each Council's Cabinet.
  • Should the Shadow Joint Committee recommend a governance model that required a host (employing) Authority, that a Business Case subsequently be developed on the basis that the Vale of Glamorgan Council would be the host (employing) Authority.
  • The governance arrangements be a matter for the Authorities to finally determine when reporting back to Cabinets.
  • The proposals would be the subject of detailed consultation with the staff affected by the proposals and their Trade Unions during the development of the detailed Business Case.
  • That Cabinet delegate authority to the Head of Paid Service, in consultation with the Leader, to enter into an interim collaborative working agreement to facilitate the further development of the Regional Regulatory Services proposals.

Committee were advised that the drivers for the change included:

  • financial pressures for savings and efficiencies within the service (at least £400,000 over three years within the Vale of Glamorgan)
  • the Welsh Government Collaboration Agenda following the publication of the Simpson Report
  • need to ensure future service resilience / long term sustainability
  • opportunity to 're-model' Regulatory Services
  • the Welsh Government Regional Collaboration Fund opportunity.

It was the intention of the Collaborative Project to create a full integrated Regulatory Services function working across Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan operating within one Management Structure. 

 

By way of explanation, the phrase “Regulatory Services†included:

  • Trading Standards
  • Environmental Health
  • Licensing.

The existing services:

  • employ over 200 people
  • have a controllable budget of approximately £8m
  • would serve approximately 615,000 people
  • would possibly include other areas of service at a later date.

A shared Regulatory Service should mean that all Councils would benefit operationally and financially from the project i.e.

  • customer services could be maintained via a more integrated and co-ordinated approach
  • savings in excess of £1m by 2016, comprising efficiency savings and budget reductions
  • increased service resilience across the region
  • enhanced technical capability of staff teams
  • dynamic operating model.

To date, progress on the project had included:

  • a bid for funding from the Regional Collaboration Fund had been approved – £250,000 for the next three years
  • an officer project team had been formed
  • reports had been made to all three Councils’ Cabinets in July 2013
  • consultants had been engaged in accordance with the Cabinets’ decisions which required outputs to be provided within ten weeks
  • senior stakeholder, trade union and project work stream lead meetings had taken place
  • a 'Health Check' review of collaborative model had been presented to Shadow Joint Committee, staff and manager workshops in each Authority
  • activity based costings had been undertaken.

Key staff issues to be considered included:

  • job losses / terms and conditions of staff
  • location
  • service offerings
  • communication
  • management structure
  • training and development
  • organisational structure.

Members were offered an opportunity to ask questions.

 

Questions ensued as to whether the proposed service would represent a compromise, resulting in a reduced level of service provision.  In reply, Committee were advised that the collaborative service would result in greater specialisation which could be 'sold’ to other organisations, thus giving the shared service and income.

 

Members enquired as to where the staff would be based and were advised that the Consultants were investigating the availability of property and also different ways of working but it was likely that services would be required in outlying areas. 

 

The Committee was advised that the final recommendations concerning the shared service would be brought before the Committee.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the proposed Business Case / Contract for a regionalised Regulatory Service comprising Environmental Health, Trading Standards and Licensing when available be the subject of a further report to the Scrutiny Committee.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise Members of the proposed changes and to allow the scrutiny of the proposed Business Case / Contract. 

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