Agenda and minutes

Opposition Budget, Overview and Scrutiny Performance and Value for Money Select Committee
Tuesday, 5th February, 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Crompton Suite, Civic Centre, Oldham, West Street, Oldham, OL1 1NL. View directions

Contact: Fabiola Fuschi  0161 770 5151

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies For Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Ahmad. Councillor Stretton chaired the meeting.

2.

Urgent Business

Urgent business, if any, introduced by the Chair

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business received.

3.

Declarations of Interest

To Receive Declarations of Interest in any Contract or matter to be discussed at the meeting.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest received.

4.

Public Question Time

To receive Questions from the Public, in accordance with the Council’s Constitution.

Minutes:

There were no public questions received.

5.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 179 KB

The minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Performance and Value for Money Select Committee meeting held on 13th December 2018 are attached for approval

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Performance and Value for Money Select Committee meeting held on 13th December 2018 be approved as a correct record.

6.

Minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board to note pdf icon PDF 199 KB

The minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 27th November 2018 are attached for noting

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 27th November 2018 be noted.

7.

Position Statement on Education Standards 2018 pdf icon PDF 507 KB

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report of the Education Partnership Leader which sought to inform the Select Committee of the position statement on education standards in Oldham in 2018, as indicated by outcomes across key stages and in Ofsted inspections. The information pertained to all schools and Academies in Oldham.

 

Members were informed that, overall, key educational outcomes had improved in most areas in 2018. However, most standards remained below the national average levels. Improvements had been seen in Key Stage 2 assessments, as the percentage of Oldham pupils achieving the National Standards for Reading, Writing and Maths had increased by 6% from 2017 to 2018; this result had been better than the national increase of 3%. At Key Stage 4, Oldham pupils, on average, had not improved their attainment from 2017 to 2018. However, some secondary schools had some excellent performances. With regards to Post 16 outcomes, this measure continued to be above the national average. Participation rate of year 11 pupils moving to education, employment or training had decreased slightly compared to 2017. However, it remained higher than in 2016. Participation data for Looked After Children was very positive, with 9.6% better than in 2016. The percentage of young people who were Not in Employment, Education or Training (i.e.: NEET) had also increased, but it remained lower than in 2016.

 

Ofsted outcomes were also reported. The general trend in primary sector was positive. Secondary schools had been inconsistent in performance when compared to England average. However, recent trends showed a good level of improvement.

 

The Select Committee sought and received clarification / commented on the following points:

-       Measures to address issues (including food poverty and children’s health and wellbeing) and to achieve priorities – It was explained that, through the Opportunity Area Programme, Oldham Council had formed a local partnership with early years providers, schools, colleges, businesses and charities to ensure that all children and young people had the opportunity to reach their full potential. 31 schools had been identified and support would be provided to their leadership and curricula. Some of these schools had English as an additional language; extra training would be put in place to ensure that schools had the time to embed in their day to day work. The Council had engaged students over the summer break via the Holiday Hunger scheme. Breakfast Clubs took place and food was being provided for children and, sometimes, also for parents. This was an opportunity to work closely with families. Measures were also in place to support children and young people with their mental wellbeing. 

 

RESOLVED that the content of the report be noted.

8.

Liberal Democrats Budget Amendment Proposals 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 307 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Select Committee considered a report of the Head of Corporate Governance which outlined the Liberal Democrats’ suggested amendments to the Administration’s Budget Proposals for 2019/20. The report also offered some forward-looking proposals to achieve savings in future years. Investment proposals for £1.019m were also outlined in the document. These would be offset by the savings identified in 2019/20.

 

The Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Resources, accompanied by the Head of Corporate Governance, presented the proposals and addressed the enquiries of the Select Committee. The Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group also commended the work of the Finance Team who provided assistance with the preparation of the budget. 

 

It was explained that the Liberal Democrats were aware of the scale of financial challenge the Council was facing and the difficult choices that needed to be made to ensure a balanced budget could be presented to Council. 

 

The Select Committee examined in detail the saving proposals.

 

OPP-BR1-001 Additional Vacancy Management factor to achieve greater efficiency including limiting the present use of agency staff and consultants – This suggestion extended the proposal of the Administration’s target of 1.5% by a further 1% to a total of 2.5%. Members agreed that it would be prudent to see first the outcome of the implementation of the Administration’s proposal before making a further increase. Therefore, the Select Committee was not minded to take forward this saving proposal.

 

OPP-BR1-102 Reduction in the number of Councillors from 60 to 40 and a review of the Electoral Cycle – Members agreed that no savings would be achieved within financial year 2019/20. Furthermore, the Council would have to apply to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England for this option to be investigated. There would be no certainty that the outcome of this process would meet the request. It was also noted that this proposal would have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the work done by Councillors in their wards. For the above reasons, the Select Committee was not minded to take forward this proposal.

 

OPP-BR1-103 Reduction in the General Training Budget agreed in 2018/19 to be made permanent – This was a proposal to make the Administration’s “one off” reduction for 2018/19 permanent. The Select Committee felt that, given the pressure that members of staff sustained currently, training allowed personnel to be flexible, and effective and it also safeguarded their professions. Furthermore, it was noted that this could have an impact on members of staff’s morale. It also affected staff retention. For the above reasons, the Select Committee was not minded to take forward this proposal. 

 

OPP-BR1-104 Reduced Sickness Absence through more robust absence management procedures – It was explained that this proposal would achieve £13,000 savings via increased intervention at earlier stages including signs and symptoms of future potential absence. The Select Committee felt that systems and process were already in place to reduce sickness absence. Furthermore, it was noted that a feature of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Work Programme 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 195 KB

For noting

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the work programme for 2018/19 be noted.

10.

Date and Time of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Performance and Value for Money Select Committee will take place on Thursday 21st March 2019 at 6 p.m.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the date and time of the next meeting, Thursday 21st March 2019 at 6 p.m., be noted.