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Agenda and minutes

The Former Sustainable Communities Scrutiny Panel
Thursday, 28th January, 2010 9.30 a.m.

Venue: Bailey House, Rawmarsh Road, Rotherham S60 1TD

Contact: Dawn Mitchell (Ext. 2062)  Email: dawn.mitchell@rotherham.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

64.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no Declarations of Interest made at the meeting.

65.

Questions from members of the public and the press

Minutes:

There were no members of the public and press present at the meeting.

66.

Communications

Minutes:

Resolved:-  That the Chairman and Vice-Chairman (substitute) represent the Scrutiny Panel on 2010’s Environmental Works Partnering Board.

67.

Tackling Climate Change in the Community pdf icon PDF 744 KB

- presentation by Paul Woodcock, Director of Planning and Regeneration

Minutes:

Paul Woocock, Director of Planning and Regeneration, gave the following powerpoint presentation:-

 

Overview

-        NI186 per capita reduction in CO2 emissions in the Local Authority area

-        Location action

-        Sub-regional working:

-     Climate Change Leadership Programme

-     Engaging the Third Sector

-     Carbon Calculator

-     Activity in schools

 

What is NI186?

-        Percentage reduction of the per capita CO2 emissions in the Local Authority area

-        Annual amount of end user CO2 emissions across an agreed set of sectors:-

-     Housing

-     Road transport

-     Business

 

Wider Linkages

-        NI167 Congestion – average journey time per mile during the morning peak

-        NI185 CO2 reduction from local authority operations

-        NI187 Tackling fuel poverty - % of people receiving income based benefits NI194 Air quality – percentage reduction in NOx and primary PM

-        NI198 Children travelling to school – mode of transport usually used

-        Environment and Climate Change Strategy (Draft)

 

NI186 Reduction in CO2 Emissions Calculation (DECC 09)

-        Total CO2 emissions per capita

Rotherham

2005        8.2

2006        6.9

2007        6.6

 

Current baseline               6.6

Reduction from 2005      1.54

Percentage change          -18.88% (U.K. -2.3%)

 

NI186 Reduction in CO2 Emissions 2005-2007

-        ‘5th in U.K. and leading the region?’

2006 (6.9)

2007 (6.6)

 

The Local Picture

-        Domestic

-     2005              648

-     2006              644

-     2007              613

-        Roads

-     2005              366

-     2006              353

-     2007              358

-        Industry and Commercial

-     2005              1,049

-     2006              760

-     2007              706

 

Querying the DECC dataset

-        In 2005

DECC’s methodology of the treatment of large energy users changed between 2005 and 2006-07.  When looking at NUTS4 locations, Rotherham’s gas consumption figure does not exclude a power station or a large industrial consumer

However, in 2006 and 2007

Rotherham’s gas consumption figure excludes the gas consumption of one large industrial consumer

 

This change was mainly due to a large industrial user being included in the 2005 figure and not included in 2006 onwards

 

Actions split into 3 groups:

-        Purely national actions but still influencing community emissions

-        National actions but can be improved in performance with influence by local authorities

-        Purely local actions implemented by local authorities or other organisations

 

Local Action

-        Although data reported nationally, a local evidence base was required for both NI186 and CAA

-        4 key areas:

o             Reducing domestic emissions

o             Reducing transport emissions

o             Reducing non-domestic emissions

o             Reducing emissions across the community

 

Example Activities

-        Insulating entire housing stock

-        Lifestyle changes of households

-        Efficient heating in residential buildings

-        Lights and appliances in residential buildings

-        Increasing travel by public transport

-        Building energy efficiency and management in non-residential buildings

-        All industry: energy and resource efficiency

-        Biomass heating for all types of buildings

-        On-shore wind generation

 

South Yorkshire Climate Change Network Aims

To assist South Yorkshire in becoming 1 of the best performing sub-regions in the country in respect of climate change by:  ...  view the full minutes text for item 67.

68.

HRA Monitoring Statement pdf icon PDF 27 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Finance Manager (Neighbourhoods) reported that, based on performance to the end of December, 2009, the HRA was projected to outturn with a surplus of £2.083M (3% variance from gross budget) by the end of March, 2010.

 

The report set out a number of variances:-

 

-        Supervision and Management Costs – Overspend forecast of £500,000.  This principally related to the expansion of the Rotherham Furnished Scheme and was mainly offset by increased income in non-dwelling rents (£474,000).  The balance was related to difficulties in meeting the vacancy factor in Area Assemblies.

 

-        Negative Subsidy to Government – Original budget was based on the draft determination issued in November, 2008.  Subsequent changes to the guidance were issued as a result of the prevailing economic conditions which allowed Rotherham to take advantage of increased subsidy in return for a reduction in the proposed rent increase.  This had altered Rotherham’s position by £2.350M to become a receiver of positive subsidy.

 

-        Depreciation of Fixed Assets – Forecast to be £529,000 less than the budget of £19.800M.

 

-        Repairs and Maintenance – 2010 Ltd. currently projecting a balanced budget with robust management actions in place.

 

-        Income – Dwelling rent income forecast to be below budget by £1.188M, partially offset by the forecast rent loss due to voids and other losses and refunds being less than budget by £0.444M, leaving a net position of £0.744M – mainly due to the original budget being set with an assumed rent increase of 6.9%.  The Government subsequently allowed the Council to reduce this to increase to 3.6% due to the prevailing economic conditions in return for additional subsidy benefit which would offset the loss.

 

The position had improved from the previous forecast as the reduction in weekly rent charges for the second half of 2010/11 was less than anticipated due to more robust information held in the ledgers and the removal of the Private Landlord Schemes from Council Rent Income forecasts.

 

It was stressed that that there was a risk of the HRA receiving charges of up to £1.008M of procurement and set up costs relating to the externalisation of the Repairs and Maintenance Service which was not included in the forecast outturn.  The financial projections also assumed that there would be no significant change in the consolidated rate of interest for capital borrowing.

 

Resolved:-  That the report be noted.

69.

Housing Rents 2010/11 pdf icon PDF 39 KB

Minutes:

The Finance Manager (Neighbourhoods) presented a report setting out the proposed housing rent, garage rent and heating charge increases for 2010/11.

 

The national rent setting regime had been in place since 2002/03 which required all authorities to use a prescribed formula to calculate each tenant’s rent and to apply annual increases to actual rents to achieve the Formula Rent.  This formula for 2010/11 produced an average rent increase for Rotherham tenants of 2.91%, however, for 2010/11, the DCLG had set a national guideline rent increase of 3.1%.

 

The average rent for 2009/10 was £56.88 collected over 48 weeks: the proposed 2010/11 average weekly rent collected over 48 weeks would rise to £58.54, an increase of £1.66 per week.

 

The Garage Site Improvement Programme had received £100,000 investment in 2009/10 with substantial works having been carried out in 2008/09.  It was proposed to increase the rents by 2.91% in line with the rent increase.

 

In accordance with a previous decision, the District Heating Strategy was a phased increase over three years to achieve full recovery of district heating costs thereby avoiding any shortfall being effectively funded by all Council house tenants.  It was proposed to increase payments in 2010/11 from between 5% for three bed properties to 15% for two bed properties. 

 

The Wardens Service was currently subject to a full service review with any potential new charges likely to be implemented in or around June, 2010.  Current rates would continue until the outcomes of the review were confirmed.

 

Discussion ensued on the report with the following issues raised/highlighted:-

 

-        HRA reserves

-        Externalisation of IHSP

-        Income received from garages

-        Level of investment spent on garages

-        The garage rent increase applied to both garages and garage plots

-        District Heating Scheme – collection of payment

 

Resolved:-  (1)  That the report be noted.

 

(2)  That an update on the Garage Investment Plan be submitted to the Panel in the new Municipal Year.

70.

Cabinet Member for Housing and Neighbourhoods pdf icon PDF 44 KB

- minutes of meetings held on 30th November, 14th and 21st December, 2009 and 4th January, 2010

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel noted the decisions made under delegated powers by the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods held on 30th November, 14th and 21st December, 2009.

71.

Sustainable Communities Scrutiny Panel pdf icon PDF 64 KB

- minutes of meeting held on 10th December, 2009

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 10th December, 2009, were agreed.

72.

Performance and Scrutiny Overview Committee pdf icon PDF 27 KB

- minutes of meetings held on 20th November and 4th December, 2009

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the Performance and Scrutiny Overview Committee held on 20th November and 4th December, 2009, were noted.

73.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

Resolved:-  That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act (information relating to the financial or business affairs of any person (including the Council))

Minutes:

Resolved:-  That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the Council)).

74.

Budget Update

Minutes:

Pete Hudson, Director of Service Finance, gave a powerpoint presentation on the budget 20/11 and beyond. 

 

The presentation drew attention to savings and investments proposals developed having regard to:-

 

-        The Budget Gap

-        Current spend in Service areas compared to similar Councils

-        Service performance compared to similar Councils

-        Current Service spending pressures

-        Proposals to bridge the budget gap

-        Directorate specific saving proposals.

 

It was noted that detailed proposals would be considered by the Performance and Scrutiny Overview Committee at its meeting on 12th February, 2010.

 

Discussion ensued on the information presented and queries raised and answered relating to the provision of services in localities.  It was noted that a Value for Money Review was underway on this issue looking at how each of the Area Assemblies utilised services and resources, not just those of the Council but also partners’, and ensure they worked in the most efficient manner possible.

 

Resolved:-  (1) That Pete Hudson be thanked for his informative presentation.

 

(2)  That the information presented be noted.

 

 

 

75.

Sheltered Housing Warden Service – Short Term Overspend Reduction Proposals

Minutes:

The Older Peoples Housing Services Manager presented a report setting out short term/interim solutions to reduce the projected overspend of the Sheltered Housing Warden Scheme. 

 

Proposals for the merger of the In House Sheltered Housing Warden and Care Enablement Service had been supported by both Cabinet Members for Adults Social Care and Health and Housing and Neighbourhoods in March, 2009.  The merged service would allow a more efficient and streamlined preventative service maximising the existing staff skill set, reduce duplication and support an increased range of customers offering broader support activities.

 

A Project Board established to ensure the success of the project had proposed that a feasibility study should commence at York Gardens, Wath upon Dearne, for 3 months with Care Enablers based in the area taking over the role of the Sheltered Housing Wardens.  The Board was considering a range of options including historical issues such as laundry collection, TV licences, cleaning etc.  A further report was to be submitted to the Cabinet Member shortly.

 

The report also highlighted the financial situation of both the Wardens and Care Enabler Services and the charges incurred for provision of such.

 

It was noted that since the report had been considered by the Cabinet Member for Housing and Neighbourhoods on 30th November, 2009 (Minute No. 97 refers), further work had taken place.  Consideration was being given to a possible increase in charges and discussions had taken place with HR and the Unions about the possible change in contracts for Care Enablers.

 

Discussion ensued on the report with attention drawn to:-

 

-        The effect, if any, on self-payers on an increase in charges

-        Wardens promoted the Service

-        Care Enablers’ contracts

-        Majority of Service users did not pay for the Service

 

Resolved:-  (1)  That the report be noted.

 

(2)  That the evaluation of the pilot at York Gardens, Wath upon Dearne, be submitted to this Scrutiny Panel.