Agenda and draft minutes

Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 8th February, 2022 6.00 pm

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

Contact: Constitutional Services 

Note: Opposition Budget 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies For Absence

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence received.

 

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 Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 219 KB

The minutes of the Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 20th January 2022 are to follow.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 20th January 2022 be approved as a correct record.

 

6.

Liberal Democrats Budget Amendment Proposals 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 189 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Senior Finance Manager which outlined the Liberal Democrats’ suggested amendments to the Administration’s budget proposals for 2022/23. The report identified additional savings proposals totalling £0.987m in 2022/23 and £0.013m in 2023/24 which could be considered individually or collectively. There were also initial investments that would be funded from the range of savings proposals put forward to offset the increased expenditure and suggested amendments to the Capital Programme.

 

The Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance and Low Carbon commended Officers for their assistance in compiling these budget proposals.  As an overview, the aims of the Liberal Democrat proposals were to offer common-sense practical solutions to the borough’s problems and challenge the Administration to cut waste and provide the value-for-money local services the public want with a focus on making the borough safer, greener and cleaner.

 

The Liberal Democrats proposed capital investment of £6.950m from the £7.291m Funds for Emerging Priorities provision with the capital programme, thus not increasing any revenue budget financing requirement.

 

Liberal Democrat Alternative Revenue Budget Reduction Proposals

 

OPP-BR1-201 - Additional Vacancy Management factor to achieve greater efficiency including limiting the present use of agency staff and consultants (£0.550m)

 

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. 

 

OPP-BR1-202 - Reduction in mileage budgets to reflect changes in work practices (£0.050m)

 

It was proposed that due to the increase in Council employees working from home and the increase of Teams based meetings, the requirement to travel on Council business using a personal vehicle had reduced.

 

OPP-BR1-203 - Review of car allowances as previously promised to reduce the amount paid as a lump sum to staff doing zero or minimal mileage (£0.037m)

 

It was proposed that a review of the posts which attract essential car user status be undertaken with the intention of removing the lump sum payment from posts where users routinely record zero or very few miles.  It was noted to the Committee that many staff who did use cars regularly did not hold such status.  In presenting the proposal, it was further noted that proposal had been before the Committee several times previously, with the promised review failing to appear.

 

OPP-BR1-204 - Reduction in the General Training Budget agreed in 2018/19 to be made permanent (£0.100m)

 

The proposed reduction would require all future training requirements, which cannot be funded via the apprenticeship levy, to be reviewed to ensure that best value is being secured. Priority would be provided to statutory and mandatory training. Any additional training and development would be assessed on the basis of value provided to the organisation, managing any identified risks to the Council in terms of building capability across all service areas.

 

OPP-BR1-205 - Reconsideration of Council priorities with regards to the Communications and Research service (£0.250m)

 

It was proposed to reduce the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Conservative Budget Amendment Proposals 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 255 KB

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Finance Manger which outlined the Conservatives’ suggested amendments to the Administration’s budget proposals for 2022/23. The report identified additional savings proposals totalling £0.892m in 2022/23 and £0.013m in 2023/24 which could be considered individually or collectively. It was also proposed that there was a partial reversal of the Administration’s Development Fund investment proposals saving £0.500m per annum. There would also be an additional contribution from reserves of £0.986m in 2022/23 and £0.032m in 2023/24.  Creating a resource of £2.423m, this would therefore support the Conservative proposals to:

·         invest £0.300m in fly tipping enforcement

·         postpone the 10p increase in school meals for 12 months costing £0.154m

·         not increase the Council Tax for general purposes in 2022/23 costing £1.969m

 

The Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group and Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance and Low Carbon commended Officers for their assistance in compiling these budget proposals.  As an overview, the aims of the Conservative proposals were to alleviate the cost of living pressures many families were facing, especially from higher gas and electricity bills as well as increases in the price of many other goods and services caused by worldwide supply chain disruption exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

To help finance the proposals set out at paragraphs 3.2 to 3.4 f the report, the Conservatives recommended the reversal of two Development Fund investment initiatives proposed by the Administration which would reduce expenditure by a total of £0.500m per annum:

• District Partnership Working (£0.300m per annum)

• Improved Customer Engagement (£0.200m per annum)

 

Conservative Alternative Budget Reduction Proposals

 

Inclusion of an Additional Vacancy Management factor within the budget estimates to achieve greater efficiency including limiting the present use of agency staff and consultants (£0.550m)

 

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. 

 

Reduction in the amount of stationery purchased across the authority (£0.010m)

 

The purchase of stationery is completed by individual teams across the organisation on an ad hoc basis which did not always ensure best value for money through economies of scale. The purchase of stationery could be centralised in specific locations across the borough such as the Civic Centre, which would ensure that better value for money was being achieved through increased understanding of which items were required.

 

Reduction in car allowances and mileage budgets to reflect changes in work practices (£0.087m) in 2022/23 and £0.013m in 2023/24.

 

It was proposed that due to the increase in Council employees working from home and the increase of Teams based meetings, the requirement to travel on Council business using a personal vehicle had reduced.

 

It was proposed that a review of the posts which attract essential car user status be undertaken with the intention of removing the lump sum payment from posts where users routinely record zero or very few miles.  It was noted to the Committee that many staff  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Oldham Green New Deal - 2030 carbon neutrality target and growing the green economy pdf icon PDF 634 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report of the Green Energy & Sustainability Manager which provided an update on initiatives in the Oldham Green New Deal programme which would contribute to achieving the 2030 carbon neutrality target for Oldham Borough. The initiatives would also bring co-benefits such as supporting growth in Oldham’s Green Technology and Services sector, creating and supporting jobs and training opportunities for residents; enabling Oldham’s households and businesses to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties; and supporting the Council to achieve its 2025 carbon neutrality target for Council Buildings and Street Lighting.

 

The Oldham Green New Deal (OGND) Strategy was adopted by the Council in March 2020. The Strategy set a number of objectives and pledges for delivery on environmental issues in a range of work areas, which broadly fitted into three over-arching ‘pillars’:-

·         Growing the green economy

·         Low carbon infrastructure and a Local Energy Market

·         Northern Roots

 

The OGND Strategy also set two carbon neutrality targets:-

·         For Council Buildings and Street Lighting by 2025

·         For the borough by 2030

 

The most recent data available showed that in 2019, overall emissions for the borough fell by 6% on the previous year to 772.6 ktCO2. Oldham retained its position within Greater Manchester as the borough with both the lowest total carbon footprint and also lowest per capita emissions at 3.3 tCO2 per Oldham resident. Emissions for Council Buildings and Street Lighting fell to 8,059 tCO2, which was a reduction of 4% on the baseline of 8,395 tCO2 in the Oldham Green New Deal Strategy.

 

It was noted that the most recent update report on the Oldham Green New Deal programme was presented to the Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee in September 2021, which provided a funding update on a number of projects and initiatives and set out the potential for the Council to work with the private sector to deliver low carbon infrastructure in the borough. A further update was requested once further work had been done to develop the concept of a public-private sector partnership to deliver low carbon infrastructure in the borough.

 

Since the report in September, the Council had carried out soft market testing exercise, inviting private sector low carbon infrastructure companies to provide feedback to the Council on its proposed approach to setting up a public-private sector partnership to deliver against the 2025 and 2030 carbon neutrality targets. Alongside this exercise, a Local Area Energy Plan (LAEP) had been developed for Oldham by Energy Systems Catapult who were leading delivery of the GM Local Energy Market project. The LAEP showed that an investment of around £5.6 billion would be required in energy infrastructure in the Oldham borough to achieve carbon neutrality.

 

Members were advised that in October 2021, the Council commissioned Aleron social impact consultants to prepare a SWOT analysis and Regional Action Plan looking at how the Council and other key stakeholders could support growth in Oldham’s Green Technology and Services sector. For the study, Aleron carried out both a desktop analysis and interviews  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Key Decision Document pdf icon PDF 79 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Key Decision Document be noted.

 

10.

Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 335 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme be noted.