Agenda and draft minutes

(Opposition Budget), Overview and Scrutiny Performance and Value for Money Select Committee
Tuesday, 9th February, 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Virtual address. View directions

Contact: Constitutional Services 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies For Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Phythian.

 

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.

 

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.

Liberal Democrats Budget Amendment Proposals 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 355 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 2020/21.  The report identified additional savings proposals totalling £1.109m in 2021/22 and £0.279m in 2022/23 which could be considered individually or collectively.  There were also initial investments proposed that would be funded from the savings proposals and suggested amendments to the Capital Programme. 

 

The Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance and Green commended Officers for their assistance in compiling these budget proposals.  As an overview, the aims of the Liberal Democrat proposals were in addressing health, green issues, pavements, and the prosecution of anti-social behaviour and dog fouling, all issues that would feature most in Councillors’ casework.  Councillor Gloster then presented the proposals and addressed the enquiries of the Select Committee.  The effect of Covid was acknowledged, and a hope expressed that light could now be seen at the end of the tunnel with a move to a ‘new’ normal.  The Liberal Democrats did not underestimate the task and financial challenge facing the Council and that facing the Cabinet Member in presenting a budget, but it was believed that the submitted proposals were robust alternatives to enhance the life of residents across the Borough.

 

In respect of the Committee’s considerations, it was determined that the budget reduction proposals be considered first as these would be required to fund any alternate investment proposals that the Committee might wish to recommend to the Cabinet.

 

Liberal Democrat Alternative Budget Reduction Proposals

 

OPP-BR1-201 - Additional Vacancy Management factor to achieve greater efficiency including limiting the present use of agency staff and consultants (£0.473m)

The proposal sought to assist in reducing the number of agency staff and consultants used across the Council further by applying an Additional Vacancy Management factor of 0.75% to all Council mainstream employee budgets. 

 

In response to a query as to where the proposed figure had been drawn from, the Committee was advised that this figure had been considered achievable in discussions with the Head of Corporate Governance and Responsible Officers. 

 

OPP-BR1-202 - Reduction in the amount of stationery purchased across the authority (£0.010m)

It was proposed that stationery be centralised in particular locations across the Borough to ensure better value for money through increased understanding of which items are required, volumes etc.  It was also proposed this saving could temporarily increase due to the current home working, with a budget reduction of £0.010m for 2021/22, of which £0.005m could be built back into the budget for 2022/23 in the event staff returning to office working. 

 

The location of centralised stores and who would be responsible for collecting stationary was queried.  The Committee was advised that the advice from Officers was that this was achievable and as such, taken as correct. 

 

OPP-BR1-203 - Reduce refreshments budget (£0.004m)

It was proposed to reduce the mainstream budget for refreshments by 10% for 2021/22, with a further 10% reduction in 2022/23, it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Council Performance Report September 2020 pdf icon PDF 3 MB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report presenting a review of Council performance as at September 2020. 

 

The presentation of performance commenced with the provision of an ‘Oldham Profile in Numbers’ comprising basic data in respect of population, housing, education, crime, income and benefits, household information, health, and community in the Borough.  Performance against each of the three corporate objectives of an inclusive economy, thriving communities and co-operative services was then reported, it being noted that 23 measures had achieved their target, two were within tolerance, and six were currently outside tolerance.  The performance measures were considered in more detail within Appendices 1 and 2 to the submitted report.

 

The above performance report meant that 74% of measures were now on target and 79% of actions completed.  Action Plans for each performance measure and the risks associated with those actions were considered at Appendices 3 and 4 respectively to the submitted report.  It was noted that a number of measures were currently suspended due to the impact on reporting as a result of Covid, and these measures were listed within the submitted report.  There were no proposed changes to performance measures or actions contained within this performance report.  The report also provided performance data related to the HR function and Council finances.

 

The Committee was advised that, following feedback from this Committee, the suspended performance measures had been reviewed and 13 were being re-introduced.  These measures were to be included in the Quarter 3/December 2020 performance report that would be available at the next meeting of the Committee.  The Committee was further advised with regard to matters arising that would be included in the Quarter 3 report.

 

Members noted improved performance on Council Tax processing times and queried whether this would be maintained.  The Director of Finance noted the measure related to Council Tax reduction claims performance and advised that it was expected this would be managed as effectively as the peak of pandemic passed.  Members further noted the decline in reported sickness absence considering this a credit to the workforce in a year that had been most challenging.  A ‘red’ rating for highways was noted and comment made that the Committee had recently received a positive report on highways.  The point was acknowledged, but distinction was drawn between the measure and the service generally, between the primary and secondary road networks etc.

 

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

 

7.

Update on the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Inspection Re-visit pdf icon PDF 366 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Select Committee received an update on the progress made to date addressing the two remaining recommendations from the Written Statement of Action (WSOA) that had formed the priorities identified in the Accelerated Progress Plan (APP) being monitored by the Department for Education (DfE).

 

The Committee was reminded that the APP was developed to ensure that significant improvement continued to be made in relation to area 3 (Education, Health & Care (EHC) process and quality of plans) and area 5 (Achievement of children and young people with SEND, including the high rates of fixed term exclusion and persistent absenteeism), the two remaining areas requiring improvement identified following the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) reinspection in September 2019

 

As a result of Covid which had seen the closure of all schools in England during the first national lockdown and the cancellation of national performance tables and national examinations for all Key Stages, the actions identified in area 5 had been updated and agreed with the DfE to reflect the significant challenges presented by this situation.  Work to improve the achievement, attendance and reduce exclusions for children and young people with SEND, as identified in area 5, had continued, and a Graduated Response Toolkit that would assist schools and other settings to put in place effective special educational provision through a graduated response had been developed and made available.  The Assistant Director was able to advise on positive outcomes from a formal monitoring review meeting with the DfE held on 14th January 2021.

 

Despite the challenges provided by the Covid, actions related to area 3 had proceeded at pace.  Quality standards continued to be reviewed and raised through rigorous audit processes and a quality assurance workshop with the DfE advisor and representation from across the local partnership to review the quality of EHC plans confirmed this view.

 

Despite the third national lockdown starting in January 2021 with schools reducing their opening to vulnerable children and critical workers, attendance in Oldham schools had been above the national average for children with an EHC plan or supported by a social worker. A strong multi-agency approach to encouraging attendance and safeguarding Oldham children and young people has been introduced to discharge our statutory safeguarding duties alongside schools and other key partners.

 

Due to the disruption caused by Covid and the refocus towards greater system-wide improvement, the SEND strategy and development plan, including outcomes to be delivered by the end of 2021 updated and approved by the SEND Partnership Board to become operational in January 2021.  The Committee received a paper showing the principles and priorities behind the SEND strategy and development plan.

 

Members welcomed the report and improvements, and expressed appreciation of the staff dealing with vulnerable children.  The Assistant Director indicated that the improvement journey was not complete and undertook to report further to the Committee.

 

RESOLVED that

1.            the SEND Local Partnership be commended for maintaining the significant ongoing improvements to quality and consistency of Education, Health and Care plans being  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 127 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee gave consideration to the proposed Overview and Scrutiny Performance and Value for Money Select Committee Work Programme for 2020/21 which outlined those issues considered and which would be considered by the Committee during the municipal year.

 

RESOLVED that the Overview and Scrutiny Performance and Value for Money Select Committee Work Programme 2020/21 be noted.

 

9.

Date and Time of Next Meeting

The date and time of the next Performance and Value for Money Select Committee will be Thursday, 11th March 2021 at 6.00 p.m.

 

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting of the Performance and Value for Money Select Committee was scheduled to be held on Thursday, 11th March 2021 at 6.00 p.m.