Agenda and draft minutes

Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 7th February, 2023 6.00 pm

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

Contact: Constitutional Services 

Note: Opposition Budget 

No. Item


Apologies For Absence


There were no apologies for absence received.


Declarations of Interest

Urgent business, if any, introduced by the Chair


There were no items of urgent business received.


Urgent Business

Urgent business, if any, introduced by the Chair


There were no items of urgent business received.


Public Question Time

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


There were no public questions received.


Liberal Democrats Budget Amendment Proposals 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 969 KB

Report to follow



Consideration was given to a report outlining  the Liberal Democrat Budget Amendment Proposals 2023/24 which presented to the Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the Liberal Democrats suggested amendments to the Administration’s Budget proposals for 2023/24 and offered some forward-looking proposals to achieve savings in future years.


The Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance and Low Carbon, Councillor Chris Gloster presented the report.


The report identified additional savings totalling £0.921m in 2023/24, £0.942m in 2024/25 and £0.278m in 2025/26 which could be considered individually or collectively. Also identified were initial investments to be funded from the range of savings proposals put forward to offset the increased expenditure and suggested amendments to the Capital Programme. Details of the proposals can be found in section 3 and in summary at Appendix A to the report. Business Cases for the individual budget reductions can be found at Appendix B to the report.


OPP- BR1-201- Additional Vacancy Management Factor


An assurance was requested that vital services for residents and indeed some of the key professional oriented services of the Council will not be impacted by these proposals taking into account the budget proposals already being put forward.


Councillor Chris Gloster informed the Committee that no negative responses had been received to their proposals as shown on BR1-201. He informed Members that the proposals had been costed and are workable with safeguards. With regard to specific vacancies to deliver the budget reduction, there were numerous vacancies throughout the Council. He referred to Building Control where vacancies meant that agency staff where being utilised which was very expensive.


Reinstate Parish Council Grant Funding - Paragraph 3.14 refers


Given that only a quarter of the Borough falls within the remit of a Parish Council, the disproportionate nature of the investment of  £30,000 to assist Parish Councils in their community work was raised.  Such investment was considered unfair as some parts of the Borough do not have Parish Councils nor do they have the ability to create a Parish Council.


Councillor Chris Gloster informed Members that the proposal was phased over 2 years and as the Council and Administration are facing financial challenges then it falls on the community and Parish Councils to be responsible for undertaking work that cannot be carried out by this Council.





OPP-BR1-204 – Reduction in Training Budget


A challenge to the proposal was made.  It was suggested that the Council, given the particular pressures being faced by all services, needs to invest in the workforce particularly as there will be forthcoming changes to Local Government functions.  Therefore, this budget reduction would have a compound effect on an existing reduction in the training budget and will have a negative impact on the workforce and future ability to recruit.


Councillor Chris Gloster informed the Committee that training can, given modern technology, be provided in different ways, e.g., on-line/teams calls and therefore there is scope for further reductions in this area.


OPP-BR1-202/203 - Mileage Budgets/Car Allowances Review


Reference was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Conservative Budget Amendment Proposals 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 543 KB

Report to follow


Consideration was given to a report on the Conservative Budget Amendment Proposals 2023/24 which presented to the Committee a series of amendments in addition to those proposals already presented by the Administration to the Scrutiny Committee on the 2023/24 Budget.


Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group and the Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance and Low Carbon Councillor Woodvine presented the report.


Councillor Woodvine advised that the report proposed, for the second consecutive year, a freeze in Council Tax for General Purposes.  He also advised that while the Conservatives in Opposition do support spending on Adult Social Care across the Borough, they do not support some of the Administration’s policy priorities.


The proposed amendments to the Administration’s 2023/24 Budget contained in this Report take into consideration the international situations such as the Russo-Ukrainian War, the United Kingdom’s (U.K.) withdrawal from the European Union (EU), and the Covid-19 pandemic that have made the financial situation for all Local Authorities worse than in previous times. While the Conservative Group understood and appreciated the difficulties so many Councils are facing, financially, they do believe further economies could be made in Oldham.


The Conservative Group also believes the generous Local Government settlement set out by the U.K. Government in Westminster had improved the financial situation very positively. In addition, thanks to the investment from His Majesty’s Government in the form of the Household Support Fund Grant and the Council Tax Support Fund, which have eased the burden for families and individuals experiencing cost-of-living pressures, the Conservative Group proposes to replenish reserves by discontinuing the Administration’s plans to replicate the same service covered by these grants.


Also taken into consideration during the production of the proposed amendments in the report are the parameters in which Oldham Council have to work within. That is, direction set by His Majesty’s Government, in policy areas such as Education, and the strategic oversight of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority across the Metropolitan County. The main purpose of the proposals in the report  ensure that the people living in Oldham do not have to pay a penny more as they compete with the pressures of the cost-of-living situation. The priority of the Conservative Group at this time is to keep taxation at the lowest possible level.


The proposals, while making further Budget reductions, do not directly impact any of the Council’s statutory services and residents should not feel any direct result of them – that has been the priority of the Conservative Group. The Conservatives in Opposition are retaining resource in statutory services, which residents expect to be delivered well, but asking this Council to feel the pinch for itself and giving residents much-needed relief in freezing Council Tax in these inflationary times.


The Conservative Group consider this is achievable through significant savings proposals identified within two years which will reduce the Council’s base budget requirement by over £3m on an annual basis (of which £2.748m will be delivered in 2023/24). This includes a partial reversal of the Administration’s response to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 166 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee considered its Work Programme for 2022/23.



That the Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme for 2022/23 be noted.



Key Decision Document pdf icon PDF 22 KB

Key Decisions scheduled to be taken by the Council/Cabinet.

Additional documents:


The Committee reviewed the Key Decision Notice which provided an opportunity for the identification of items or policy or service development, not otherwise listed on the Committee Work Programme.


That the report and the Key Decision Notice be noted.