LEARNING AND CULTURE SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 11th December, 2017.

 

Present:  Councillor L. Burnett (Chairman); Councillor A. Hampton (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Ms. R.M. Birch, N.P. Hodges, M. Lloyd, M.J.G. Morgan, Ms. S.D. Perkes and Mrs. M. Wright.

 

Co-opted Members: Mr. P. Burke and Mrs. J. Lynch-Wilson.

 

Non-Voting Observer: Mr. N. Want (Vale Youth Forum)

 

Also present:  Councillor R.A. Penrose (Cabinet Member for Learning and Culture).

 

 

533     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors B.T. Gray and Mrs. J.M. Norman and Co-opted Member, Dr. C. Brown.

 

 

534     MINUTES – 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 16th October, 2017 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

535     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

536     WELSH PUBLIC LIBRARY STANDARDS PERFORMANCE 2016-2017 (DLS) –

 

The Library Services Manager, in presenting the report, advised that the purpose of the report was to endorse the Annual Return for 2016-2017, to provide an update on the feedback received on the Library and Information Service performance received from Welsh Government and to inform Members about the Sixth Framework of Welsh Public Library Standards 2017-2020.

 

The report highlighted that the Welsh Public Library Standards were introduced by Welsh Government in 2001 to provide a common performance assessment framework for public library services in Wales.  The Standards were reviewed and updated by Welsh Government on a three year cycle.  The Annual Return submitted for 2016-17 was the third report of the Fifth Framework, which operated from April 2014 to March 2017.  Committee was advised that in setting targets and areas of reporting, the Fifth Framework had taken into account the financial difficulties affecting Councils, yet also still set some aspirational targets.

 

The Library Standards Return for 2016-17 was attached at Appendix 1 to the report, with Case Studies at Appendix 2.  The return was completed using a template provided by Welsh Government and it required sufficient information to enable the assessors to evaluate performance and identify factors that may impact on performance.  The first part of the report is related to Core Entitlements, and the second part related to Quality Indicators (WPLSQI 1-16).

 

Feedback in the form of an Annual Assessment from Welsh Government was to be found at Appendix 3 to the report.  The executive summary of the Assessment commended the Vale of Glamorgan for continued investment in stock but also mentioned disappointment that the Authority missed staffing and opening hour targets.  The assessment went on to summarise that the "Authority appears to be an average performer, with many indicators in all areas close to the median for Wales and some pockets of good performance”.

 

In terms of positive performance, the Committee was advised that the Vale: 

  • was one of five services in Wales that had achieved the target for book stock;
  • ranked 5th in Wales in terms of active borrowers;
  • was 12th in the rankings for events at libraries; and
  • up in terms of volunteers and now ranked 2nd in Wales.

For the performance indicators which were not met, only one Quality Indicator (QI) had not been met, with two others being partially met as follows: 

  • QI 3, for individual development, was only partially met.  This QI related to activities provided for library users in relation to literacy and digital skills, reader development and information literacy.  During 2016-17 there was significant change in libraries with the implementation of the community libraries initiative, and one consequence was that individual development work could not be timetabled or undertaken to the same level as before.  While the target was missed in 2016-17 it was anticipated that this QI would be achieved again during the period of the new framework;
  • QI 13, staffing, and professional staffing per capita, was only partially met in common with all but one authority in Wales, staffing numbers being 10.5 FTE below the target per population. Given necessary staffing changes over recent years, which followed opening hour changes and the establishment of five community libraries, it was expected that the total staffing establishment would not meet the indicator for staff per capita and also professional staff per capita.  It was not foreseen that this QI would be achieved during the life of the next framework.  It was felt that the current library workforce was appropriate for the structure of the service.  Whilst staff numbers did not meet the target, the indicator did not take account of over 100 volunteers who now did valuable work in their communities to provide libraries services with substantial Council support for infrastructure, equipment, books and staff support;
  • QI 16, opening hours per capita, was not met.  This QI included the opening hours for both Council run and Community Supported libraries. Together they opened for 107 hours, which were fewer than the target of 120 hours per annum per 1,000 resident population.  A further 35 opening hours per week would be required to meet the target. Currently, there was little demand from customers for extended hours at Council libraries, however a number of community libraries had expressed a desire to increase their hours in future, subject to the availability of volunteers.  In an effort to make libraries accessible to users outside current opening hours, the library service had invested in a system which would enable unstaffed use of Barry library up to 9pm weekdays, in the first instance.  The Sixth Framework asks Authorities to report on the number of unstaffed hours they provided from 2017 onwards, however, these will not be included in the calculation for the QI.

In addition, the Library Services Manager advised that there had been a fall in visitor numbers, which was not uncommon across Wales, and that periods of rising and falling visitor figures happen from year to year. .  Partly as a result of a drop in visitors the net cost per visit of running the Service had decreased by only £0.18 despite significant budget savings over the previous year.

 

A copy of the Framework was attached at Appendix 5 to the report.

 

A Committee Member commented on the introduction of booths at Penarth Library, used to drop off books without the assistance of a member of staff.  The Member stated that if people were standing in large queues then this would be an ineffective service.  In reply, the Library Services Manager stated that the Library Management System had been implemented during July but there had been an issue with the supply of new equipment.  There had also been difficulties with the network.  The new system was operating in Cowbridge, Barry and Llantwit Major but there were issues at Penarth.  The Library Services Manager stated that Penarth Library was on a different network exchange and so a meeting with the Head of I.C.T had taken place.  He added that the Council was working on a solution and that this was a priority for the Library Service.

                                                                                                                   

In relation to a reduction in the number of visitors to libraries during 2016/17 when compared to 2015/16, a Committee Member asked if this reduction was larger within the community run libraries.  The Library Services Manager confirmed that the reduction in visitors was larger for the five community libraries.  He also advised that during the period of transfer, there had been an element of uncertainty among the public in regard to opening times and whether the libraries were operating and this may have accounted for some of the fall in use along with some adjustment of opening hours.

 

A Committee Member referring to the rural parts of the Vale asked whether more could be done to promote the libraries on line.  The Library Services Manager advised that a Digital Library Officer had been appointed and one of their tasks would be to promote the service, so there would now be more promotional activity in this area.  The Library Services Manager also referred to Book Groups, of which there were 32 in the Vale and he also made mention of the House Bound Service that was available to individuals who were not able to leave their homes.  In addition he commented that the Service was being active in trying to attract people into the libraries.

 

In answer to a question about unplanned emergency closures during the year the Library Services Manager advised that emergency closures were very rare.  These had happened during a period of short staffing, between the time when some staff had left the Service and before community libraries were transferred and being operated by volunteers.

 

A Committee Member asked for more detail around risk assessments in relation to the Open+ scheme planned for Barry.  The Library Service Manager advised that the Service had produced risk assessments.  One of the risks might involve a person gaining access to the library by following a library user that had activated the automatic doors; another might involve someone being taken ill in the library when unstaffed.  For both occasions library users could pick up the phone and dial emergency services.  He also outlined that Open+ would be restricted to adult users and they would all receive an induction programme before being given access.

 

A Committee Member gave praise to the library staff, particularly in Barry, and to their work to organise extra events in order to increase footfall.  The Member also praised the use of twitter feeds, which was a very useful tool.  The Member then asked about the future prospects for the Library Service.  In reply, the Library Services Manager stated that there was a positive future for the Library Service and he outlined that compared to other local authorities, the Vale was in a much better position.  Some Local Authorities had decided to reduce their book stock; the Vale however had a priority to maintain its stock as without it people would not be encouraged to visit.  The Library Services Manager also stated that staff and their creativeness and commitment was invaluable, with the Service now under less pressure due to better opening times.  He outlined that more could be done online which would remove the need to purchase expensive reference books.  He also referred to the Wales consortium to purchase books and the possibility of working regionally in other ways especially in relation to the Library Management System.  There was also a positive way forward for working in a joined up way with Community Libraries. They now had almost the same access to library systems as the Council’s libraries and in future there will be opportunities for joint training.

 

At this point, the Cabinet Member with permission to speak, stated that the range of services available at libraries had been increased, for example by allowing residents to be able to purchase Vale goods such as recycling bags, and he hoped that this would also include Blue Badge and Bus Pass services.  These would help to increase footfall.  In terms of opening hours, the Cabinet Member stated that the Bibliotech library system had been used successfully in Scandinavian countries for many years, although this came with some risk, it was a proven system.  He added that this could be the way forward as it would allow people to visit libraries at times which best suited them.

 

The Chairman, in referring to a potential 24 hour service, queried whether the unstaffed service operating at Barry until 9pm could continue later than that.  In reply, the Library Services Manager stated that it could, and once the trial period had proved its worth the Service might be extended beyond 9pm and on weekends.

 

The Chairman praised the use of new online facilities such as E-Books and E-Magazines and commented on the positive use of social media in order to promote services.  The Committee agreed to receive a presentation on how the library services are promoted, particularly in regard to the use of social media.  Also, it was agreed for a Committee site visit to take place that could possibly coincide with an open day.  The Library Services Manager referred to the importance of promoting services and this was a constant process, as for example, many people may not be aware that the library service was free.

 

The Chairman, referring to support for literacy and digital skills, queried whether there had been any positive knock on effects following the move of Vale Learning Centres into libraries.  The Library Services Manager confirmed that there were, and made reference to the use of personal computers and I.T. equipment.  As Vale Learning Centre users were joined up to the library service when they enrolled, it was hoped use of the centre would increase their use and knowledge of libraries and would help them feel comfortable there.

 

There be no further comments or queries, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T Cabinet be recommended to endorse the Annual Return for 2016-2017 submitted to Welsh Government in June 2017.

 

(2)       T H A T the performance of the Library and Information Service in relation to the Welsh Library Standards Framework be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T the Committee receives a presentation with regard to promotion of the Library Service via Social Media.

 

(4)       T H A T a Committee site visit to Barry Library be arranged that possibly coincides with an open day.

 

(5)       T H A T the Committee’s thanks and appreciation be passed on to staff.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To comply with the requirements of the Welsh Government for formal approval of the Annual Return for 2016-2017 and to seek Cabinet endorsement.

 

(2)       To keep Members informed of progress.

 

(3)       In order for the Committee to consider how the library services are promoted.

 

(4)       So Members of the Committee can see the range of services provided at Barry Library and meet and talk to some of the staff and library users.

 

(5)       In order for the staff to be congratulated for their hard work.

 

 

537     INITIAL CAPITAL PROGRAMME PROPOSALS 2018/19 (DLS) –

 

Committee was provided with an update on the progress of the Capital Programme for 2017/18 and for their views on the initial capital proposals for 2018/19. The Principal Accountant in presenting the report advised that Appendix 1 to the report detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 30th September, 2017 and Appendix 2 provided details of the changes that had been reflected in the proposals as highlighted below: 

  • Rhoose Primary New School – It had been requested that the Rhoose scheme be reprofiled in line with the 21st Century Schools Band B proposals set out in the report.  This would maximise the opportunity to draw down on the available Section 106 and utilise potential 21st Century Schools Band B funding for the scheme. 
  • Llantwit Major Learning Community – The 2018/19 budget for this scheme was £29k.  It had been requested that this budget be brought forward into the 2017/18 Capital Programme as retention had to be accrued into the year that the works were carried out.
  • Romilly Primary – The design of the new classroom block at Romilly Primary had been delayed due to the discovery that a 200mm water main running under the site was nearly 5m away from the location shown on the Welsh Water plans.  The original plans had been completed before this was discovered.  The water main ran under the proposed location of the building and due to the need to retain 4.5m distance from the main, the scheme had to be completely redesigned to enable the building to fit on the site.  It had therefore been requested that £858k be carried forward into the 2018/19 Capital Programme.
  • Victorian Schools – Due to the extent of preparatory investigative works required, the Property Section were not able to undertake the full programme of Victorian Schools works during the 2017 summer holidays.  Works at Ysgol St. Curig, Romilly, Cogan and Gladstone Primary would be completed by December 2017.  It would not be cost effective to undertake the remaining work during the winter due to contractor time lost due to poor weather conditions.  The tender documentation for the remaining schemes would be completed during the winter for the schemes to be completed during the summer of 2018.  It had therefore been requested that £1,388k be carried forward from 2017/18 into the 2018/19 Capital Programme.
  • Cogan Primary Reception Area – Works included the conversion of the Caretaker's house into a new reception area.  It had been requested that a new scheme be included within the 2017/18 Capital Programme with a budget of £113k to be funded by a revenue contribution from the school.
  • Holton Primary Outdoor Shelter – Works included the purchase and installation of an outdoor shelter.  It had been requested that a new scheme be included within the 2017/18 Capital Programme with a budget of £14k to be funded by a revenue contribution from the school.
  • Wick Primary Nursery and Remodel Building – This scheme would include a new nursery at Wick Primary and would allow for the remodelling of the existing building.  It had been requested that a new scheme be included in the Capital Programme with a budget of £800k, split £52k in 2017/18 and £748k in 2018/19.  This scheme would be funded from Section 106 monies.
  • St. Joseph's Nursery and Early Intervention Base – The design process for the scheme had been delayed therefore it had been requested that £964k be carried forward into the 2018/19 Capital Programme.
  • Youth Service Software – This scheme was to purchase an add on module to the Council's Management Information System 'One'.  The module was called Integrated Youth Support Service (IYSS) and replaced the current Quality Education Systems (QES).  It had been requested that a new scheme be included in the 2017/18 Capital Programme with a budget of £28k to be funded by a contribution from revenue.

New capital bids had been invited for return by 30th September, 2017 and the number of bids received was in line with previous years since the five year Capital Programme was introduced (1 from Learning and Skills, 10 from Environment and Housing and 4 from Managing Director and Resources).  Departments had been requested to rank and assess their own bids in order of importance before submission with the bids from each Department being forwarded to the Insight Group for evaluation who used a number of criteria to assess the Capital Bids.  

 

Under the School Investment Programme, Committee was informed that the first tranche of schemes under Band A of the funding had been submitted prior to November 2011, with Band A scheme funding between 2013/14 and 2018/19 and Band B schemes expected to commence in 2019/20.

 

The schemes included under the Band A submission for construction between 2013/14 and 2018/19 being ; Ysgol Nant Talwg, Ysgol Dewi Sant, Ysgol Gwaun Y Nant and Oakfield , Colcot, Llantwit Learning Community and Romilly Primary School.  The Ysgol Nant Talwg, Ysgol Dewi Sant, Ysgol Gwaun Y Nant and Oakfield schemes were now complete.  Romilly Primary School scheme was at design stage and Llantwit Learning Community was on track to complete in December 2017.

 

At the end of July 2017 the Council had to submit a Strategic Outline Programme to Welsh Government for Band B.  Based on latest indications, it had been assumed that 50% funding would be available from Welsh Government to fund non faith school schemes and 85% funding would be available for faith school schemes.  On 10th November, 2017 an announcement by the Cabinet Secretary for Education appeared to indicate that the level of Band B funding (circa £2.3 billion across Wales) would allow the Council to deliver its submitted proposals.  A detailed business case would be required for each scheme contained in the Band B Programme.  This amount would be used to inform the final budget setting in February 2018.  

 

Committee was requested to consider the report and to make any comments to the lead Scrutiny Committee, Corporate Performance and Resources, prior to submission to Cabinet.

 

The Principal Account in provided further clarification around the scheme to build a new primary school in Rhoose that had been re-profiled as a Band B funding proposal, advised that the Planning and Education departments had discussed ways to implement this project.  There were a number of developments in the Rhoose area that required Section 106 contributions that would help part fund this project.  The Committee was advised that the re-profiling to a Band B scheme would result in there being the prospect of 50% funding provided by Welsh Government. 

 

The Chairman commented on previous year’s investment plans for Band B schemes, with the Council planning to invest around £48m each year.  The Chairman expressed concern that the Council was not investing to same level and queried Welsh Government and Section 106 contributions.  In reply, the Principal Accountant advised that the Council had recently increased borrowing, and in total, just over £102m would come from Welsh Government and Section 106 contributions.  The Principal Accountant also stated that capital receipts had recently been taken to a low level, and so the contribution by the Council would be around the £40m level.

 

In reply to a query as to why the costs for Welsh Medium schemes was projected to increase by 11%, the Principal Accountant advised that this was based on an expected annual inflation rise for building costs.

 

Having considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the changes to 2017/18 Capital Programme be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the initial capital proposals for 2018/19 be agreed.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       Following consideration of the changes to the Capital Programme for 2017/18 as outlined in the report.

 

(2)       Having considered the initial capital proposals for 2018/19.

 

 

538     INITIAL REVENUE BUDGET PROPOSALS 2018/19 (DLS) –

 

The initial revenue budget proposals for 2018/19 were submitted to the Committee for consideration together with the amended original budget for 2017/18 for services that formed part of the Committee’s remit. 

 

Appendix 1 to the report set out the Amended Budget for 2017/18 for the Committee, together with the necessary adjustments to be made to the original budget.

 

The forecast position for the Learning and Skills non-school budgets was an overspend of £879k, which would be partially met by drawing down £624k from the Directorate’s reserves.  The Directorate was requested to look at ways of mitigating the remaining overspend of £255k in order to deliver an outturn within budget at year end.

 

For the Schools service area the delegated budget was expected to balance as any under/over spend was carried forward by schools.

 

Strategy, Culture, Community Learning and Resources – It was projected that the service would outturn at a favourable variance of £10k after drawing down £340k from reserves.  There was an adverse variance of £66k relating to the schools’ long term supply scheme, however, premiums would be increased from April 2018 to ensure the scheme was sustainable in the future.  There was an adverse variance of £50k anticipated on education and transport which was managed within the Environment and Housing Directorate.  There were also adverse variances of £24k in relation to primary school rates revaluations and £7k relating to legal fees.  This was offset by favourable variances of £88k relating to staff vacancies, £34k on ICT SLA income from schools, pension payments of £28k and union backfilling of £7k.  The Catering service would draw down £109k from the Catering reserve to outturn at budget to fund urgent gas works required in schools as well as the school holiday enrichment programme.  The Schools Invest to Save Reserve would be used to cover the £50k adverse variance in relation to redundancies in schools, which was covered by a statutory requirement to be funded centrally.  £107k from the Rationalisation reserve would be used to fund revenue costs in relation to the Barry Secondary School Transformation, £22k from the Rationalisation Reserve would be used to fund one off staffing costs at Penarth Learning Community, a further £20k of the Rationalisation reserve would be used to fund the cost of Welsh immersion for primary pupils transferring from English medium to Welsh medium schools and £16k would be transferred from the rationalisation reserve to cover amalgamation costs at St. Helen’s Primary school.  £16k of the Library reserve would be used to purchase new tills for Libraries.

 

Strategy and Regulation – It was anticipated that this service would outturn with a favourable variance of £34k due to vacancies within the Business Support section.

 

Achievement for All – This service was currently predicted to outturn with an adverse variance of £631k which would be partially met by transfers from reserves of £284k resulting in an adverse variance at year end of £347k.  A £403k adverse variance was projected on the recoupment income budget.  This budget was set for recouping income from other Local Authorities that purchased placements at Ysgol Y Deri.  The budget had been under pressure for a number of years as a result of a demographic increase in the number of Vale pupils presenting with complex needs which had resulted in less placements being available for other Authorities to purchase.  In addition, other Authorities had developed their own provision and the level of demand had reduced.   The adverse variance would be partially offset by a transfer from the School Placement Reserve of £200k.  It was anticipated that the Social Inclusion and Wellbeing service would overspend by £122k due to increased pressure on the alternative curriculum budget for pupils that had either been excluded or could not be educated at school and the costs of the remodelled guidance to engage provision which was a NEETS prevention service.  This overspend would be partially offset by a transfer from the Youth reserve of £47k and a transfer from the Excluded Pupil reserve of £37k.  A £140k adverse variance was projected for the Pupil Placements budget.  Occasionally the needs of very complex pupils could not be met within the Vale of Glamorgan resources and placements were purchased from independent schools or other Authorities.  Unit costs were typically very high and as a result this budget could be volatile as one new pupil could have a dramatic effect on the outturn.  The above would be offset by a favourable variance on staffing of £34k.

 

School Improvement – It was anticipated that this service would underspend by £48k due to a part year vacant senior post.

 

Provision had been made within the budget to make unsupported borrowing debt repayments in relation to the Schools Investment Strategy of £598k per annum and any favourable variance on debt repayments would be directed into the Schools Investment Strategy.

 

As part of the Final Revenue Budget Proposals for 2017/18, a savings target of £640k had been set for the Committee and attached at Appendix 2 to the report was a statement detailing each savings target with an update of progress.  As part of the Initial Budget Proposals, 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 and an updated list for the Committee was shown in Appendix 3 to the report. 

 

The Committee was advised by the Principal Accountant that further work would be undertaken by the Budget Working Group in order to achieve the balanced budget for the Final Budget Proposals for 2018/19, this would include a review of reserves, a possible increase in Council Tax, a review of all cost pressures, possible changes to the approved saving targets, a review of the inflation assumption and the current financial strategies. 

 

The next stage for the estimates was for the Scrutiny Committee to consider the report, together with the appendices, and make any recommendations to Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee as the lead Scrutiny Committee, who would then forward any proposals to Cabinet for consideration by no later than 14th December, 2017. 

 

Having presented the report, discussion ensued as outlined below.

 

A Committee Member queried plans to reduce the projected £255k budget overspend.  The Director of Learning and Skills advised that this was a volatile budget, but the Directorate would consider ways to mitigate the projected overspend.  Underspends were being managed in other service areas and where appropriate vacant posts were being put on hold.  The Director went on to state that cost pressures for this year had been identified during last year’s budget setting process, but the pressures had not been fully funded.  The Director added that the Directorate was therefore aware of the pressures and the Directorate was doing all that it could to mitigate the impact but pointed out that it would not be possible to mitigate the overspend in full without there being an adverse impact on the provision of statutory services.

 

In reply to a query regarding confidence in meeting the level of savings, the Director stated that the planned savings for the financial year had been met.  For next year, the Directorate was required to save £50k within Strategy, Culture, Community Learning & Resources and £166k savings within Achievement for All.  The Director stated that the Achievement for All budget was under significant pressure and so it would be not be possible to find the savings from this service but they would need to be found from other service areas within the Directorate.  The Director pointed out the conflict between a budget area that was under financial pressure and the need to find additional savings.  The Director also referred to the reduced scope to find savings, i.e. salami slicing. 

 

A Committee Member in following up this query asked whether there was provision in the budgets to cover the projected increase in demand for children with complex needs.  In reply, the Director stated that cost pressures had been identified but these had not yet been built into the budgets.  The Director referred to her previous comments and stated that the cost pressures had been projected and so the current overspend was as a result of these pressures not being funded.  The Director commented that budget savings had been made in other service areas which had helped to mitigate pressures on the Achievement for All budget.

 

In addition, the Head of Achievement for All advised that it was very difficult to predict the level of demand for services.  Previously the Directorate had been able to project the level of recoupment funding coming in for the use of Ysgol Y Deri, but other local authorities were now not making placements to that school and had created their own specialist provision.  There was therefore less out of county placements.  However, the Head of Achievement for All stated that a large number of children placed at Ysgol Y Deri, 5 to 10 years ago, were expect to leave and so a high point of numbers may have been reached. 

 

The Director then referred to the loss of income for placements at Ysgol Y Deri made by other local authorities, and also to an increase in the number of children placed from the Vale.  The Director advised that the school was currently full, designed for 205 pupils but currently supporting over 240.  These factors had placed pressure on the budget.  The Director went on to state that there was a need for a discussion around regional placements of children with additional learning needs as all local authorities were facing the same situation.  This was because there were not enough spaces for children with complex needs.  Further to these comments, the Head of Achievement for All stated that the crisis point would be when there were no appropriate spaces available to place a child, with all places full.  He added that needs of children were increasing and this needed to be properly recognised.

 

The Chairman queried whether the budget report accurately reflected the pressures facing the Directorate and asked how robust would monitoring be.  In reply, the Director stated that the Directorate’s ALN budget was volatile and if the funding for the  cost pressures for Additional Learning Needs (projected to be £860k for 2018/19) was not awarded, then this budget would be overspent again next year.  Savings in other service areas had been found but it was now difficult to further savings, and so, budget pressures would likely impact statutory services.  The Director referred to a Cabinet report on Ty Deri which would be presented early in the New Year.  This report would not likely impact on the budget position, but would set out ways to meet increased demand.  This report could also be referred on to the Scrutiny Committee for its consideration. In addition, the Head of Achievement for all referred to the impact of the new Welsh Government Bill on Additional Learning Needs.  This was difficult to quantify, but there was an expectation that this would result in increased costs.

 

The Chairman commented that last year’s budget had been set in the range of 3% above the Indicator Based Assessments (IBA).  This equated to about £3m and the Chairman queried whether this would be the same for next year.  In response, the Principal Accountant stated that this was difficult calculate as the current figures did not include school transport or the cost pressures.  There was however an expectation that the budget would be above the IBA.  The Director also referred to the extra £61m set aside for education across Wales by Welsh Government, but there was no indication of this money within the budget settlement. 

 

The Committee then discussed and agreed a proposal for Cabinet to consider funding all cost pressures, as outlined within Appendix 3 to the report.  For 2018/19, the identified cost pressures being: 

  • £1.362m - for Teaching/Non-Teaching Pay Award.
  • £29k - for non-pay inflation.
  • £868k - for demographic growth, based on 181 additional nursery/primary pupils and 62 additional secondary pupils.
  • £701k - for Additional Learning Need inter Authority recoupment – due to a reduction in income as other Local Authorities now have their own provision and because there was a reduced number of places available as a result of increased demand for Vale pupils.
  • £159k - for Additional Learning Need complex needs placements – due to a requirement to purchase places for an increasing number of children presenting with complex needs.

The total projected cost of these pressures, for 2018/19, was in the region of £3.119m. This was however offset by less pressures to be funded by schools to the tune of £824k.  This left the total remaining cost pressure for next year to be £2.295m.

 

There being no further discussion, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the amended revenue budget for 2017/18 as set out in Appendix 1 of the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet, via a reference to the Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee, be requested to give serious consideration to funding all the cost pressures identified for the Learning and Skills Directorate, as detailed in Appendix 3 to the report.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       Having considered the amended budget for 2017/18.

 

(2)       In order to advise Cabinet of the importance and necessity to fund cost pressures, which were already and would continue to have an adverse impact on the budget of the Learning and Skills Directorate.

 

 

539     2ND QUARTER SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND UPDATED WORK PROGRAMME SCHEDULE 2017/18 (MD) –

 

The report provided Members with an update of progress in relation to the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations attached at Appendices A and B to the report, with the Committee being requested to consider the updated work programme schedule at Appendix C for approval in order that it could be uploaded to the Council’s website.

 

With regard to Appendices A and B, the Scrutiny Committee was being requested to review progress against each recommendation to assess whether further action was required, ensure the required action was undertaken and to confirm which recommendations were to be agreed as completed.

 

In referring to the work programme at Appendix C, Members were reminded that it had been aligned to the Cabinet Forward Work Programme and it also included other reports that had been requested by the Committee over previous months and would be included on the schedule as and when necessary. 

 

The Committee noted that a Request for Consideration regarding free sanitary products in schools had been submitted.  In commenting on this request, the Director advised that, as schools controlled their own budgets, this was an area in which she did not have a mandate to control.  The Director added that this was still an interesting question and she advised that an evaluation of the practice adopted within schools could be carried out and the findings communicated back to Members.  This however may not take the form of a formal report.  The Committee noted that one particular aspect that could be looked at was how schools used their Pupil Deprivation Grants.  The Chairman also commented that it was worth finding out from Head Teachers whether school attendance had been affected and whether this was a barrier to learning.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the recommendations highlighted below as completed be approved.

 

17 July 2017

Min. No. 161 – End of Year   (2016-17) Performance Report: An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale and   Target Setting Update for 2017-18 (DLS) – Recommended

(2)   That the proposed targets for 2017/18   aligned to the Wellbeing Outcome 3 priorities be endorsed, with it being recommended   to Cabinet, that in respect of performance indicator, CPM/088 (the percentage   of customers satisfied with the Heritage Coast), the definition of this could   be strengthened as the results for this come out of an annual survey.

All the Scrutiny Committees’   comments have been incorporated into a report which IDT submitted to the   Cabinet meeting on 31st July.

Cabinet, on 31st   July, noted the Scrutiny Committees’ comments.

(Min No C38 refers)

Completed

18 September 2017

Min. No. 275 –          Corporate Safeguarding Annual Report   2016/17 (REF) – Recommended

(2)   That a six monthly update be presented to   the Committee on work carried out to improve corporate safeguarding   arrangements and the effectiveness of relevant policies.

Added to work programme   schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 277 –          Key Stage 3 Pupil Referral Unit (PRU)   and Education Other Than at School (EOTAS) (REF) – Recommended

(1)   That Cabinet be requested to continue with   the aim of bringing the PRU back to Barry and developing a centre for   behavioural excellence.

Cabinet, on 23rd   October, 2017 resolved that the Scrutiny Committee’s comments be noted and   considered as part of a future detailed report to Cabinet.

(Min. No. C108 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 279 – Co-Ordinated Scrutiny of the Central   South Consortium Joint Education Service (MD) – Recommended That the proposed arrangements attached   at Appendix A to the report be recommended to Cabinet for approval.

Cabinet, on 23rd   October, 2017 approved the proposed arrangements as detailed in the report and   Appendix.

(Min. No. C107 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 280 – Scrutiny Committees’ Draft Annual   Report May 2016 to April 2017 (MD) –   Recommended

(1)   That the draft Annual Report be approved   with the amendments as outlined below (shown in bold) to reflect the Public   Participation Guide be referred to Full Council.

Annual Report presented to   Full Council meeting on 27th September.

Completed

Min. No. 281 – 1st Quarter Scrutiny   Decision Tracking of Recommendations and Updated Work Programme Schedule   2017/18 (MD) – Recommended

(2)   That   the Work Programme schedule attached at Appendix C to the report be approved   and uploaded to the Council’s website.

Work programme schedule   uploaded to the Council’s website.

Completed

 

(2)       T H A T the forward work programme attached at Appendix C be endorsed and approved for uploading to the Council’s website.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       Having considered the progress to date.

 

(2)       To confirm the work programme schedule up to April 2018 and in order that it can be uploaded to the Council’s website for information.