Venue: Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham.
Contact: Debbie Pons, Principal Democratic Services Officer.
Declarations of Interest
No Declarations of Interest were made.
Questions from Members of the Public and the Press
There were no members of the public or the press in attendance.
Nothing was raised under this item.
The minutes of the previous meeting of the Self-Regulation Select Commission held on 18th September, 2014, were considered.
Under Minute No. 27 (Complaints – annual report - April 2013 – March 2014) discussion continued on the classification of complaints and issues arising from Councillors’ surgeries. How were these recorded – were they surgeries or complaints? If they were not recorded as complaints the data about complaints was incomplete. Very often Councillors resolved issues at surgery level which could well have been reported through the complaints process. Consideration needed to be given to how the constituent bringing the issue to the surgery wanted it to be recorded – either as a complaint or as a surgery request. Data was collected both on complaints and on service requests.
Councillor Whelbourn asked for clarification on whether the paper-based complaints forms had been withdrawn and how Elected Members could report complaints reported at their surgeries.
Resolved: - (1) That the minutes of the previous meeting be agreed as a correct record.
(2) That a response be provided to Councillor Whelbourn regarding methods for reporting complaints.
- Director of Finance to report.
Councillor S. Currie, Chair of the Self-Regulation Select Commission, introduced Stuart Booth, Director of Finance, Joanne Robertson, CYPS and Schools’ Finance Manager (Financial Services, Resources Directorate), and Paul Dempsey, Service Manager for Family Placements and Residential (Safeguarding Children and Families’ Services, Children and Young People’s Services Directorate).
The Director of Finance presented the submitted report on budget monitoring information for the period ending 31st August, 2014, for the first five months of the 2014/2015 financial year. This had been considered at the Cabinet Meeting that had been held on 15th October, 2014 (Minute No. C73 refers).
Overall, the Council was forecast to over-spend on the 2014/2015 Revenue Budget by £3.105millions. This represented an increase of 1.5% against the total budget. The main reasons for the overspend related to continuing service demand and cost pressures for safeguarding vulnerable children and young people across the Borough, cost pressures relating from some schools converting to academies, income pressures within the Economic and Development Services Directorate and ICT department, and demand pressures for Direct Payments within older people and physical and sensory disability clients.
Other information included: -
· 44 employees had been approved to access voluntary early retirement/voluntary severance, and 34 applications were currently being considered. Savings arising from the approved applications had been reflected in the forecast outturn position;
· The Chief Executive had used his delegated authority to implement a moratorium on non-essential spend;
· There were a small number of historic recurrent budget pressures across the Council where permission had been sought for a permanent budget virement to address these;
· Revenue staff savings from the day of industrial action that had taken place on 10th July, 2014, had amounted to £86,000 and had been used to reduce staff cost pressures;
· Continued close management of spend remained essential if the Council was to deliver a balanced outturn, in-year financial performance and overall financial resilience;
· It was forecast that the budgeted levels of Council Tax and Business rates would be achieved;
· The agency, consultancy and non-contractual overtime costs for each Directorate were considered at their outturn for the 2013/2014 financial year, and a comparison of spend at August 2013 and August 2014 was supplied. Overall, all spends as at August 2014 were lower than the same point in 2013.
The submitted report provided information about the annual budget allocation for 2014/2015 for each Directorate/Service and the Housing Revenue Account, their projected outturn and the forecast variation after actions. A commentary was also provided that outlined the reasons for the variations against annual budget at appendix one.
The submitted report outlined the proposals that the Cabinet had accepted to allow the £1.4 million under-spend from the voluntary early retirement and voluntary severance budget. The virements to Services were outlined along with why they were necessary: -
· £700k recurrent ICT income pressure;
· £97k to address the forecast recurrent income pressure in Parking Services;
· £437k to address the non-delivery of corporate commissioning savings targets set in the previous years;
· £166k to address previous years’ unrealisable ... view the full minutes text for item 33.
- Director of Finance to report.
The Director for Finance presented a report that provided the Capital Programme Budget Monitoring report for 2014/2015 and an outline for the Capital Programme Budgets for 2015/2016 and 2016/2017.
The forecast outturn for the 2014/2015 budget included the 2014/2015 revised estimate, the variance from the last report, the 2015/2016 estimate, the 2015/2016 variance from the last report, the 2016/2017 estimate and the 2016/2017 variance from the last report for the Council’s four Directorates.
The submitted report provided commentary on how each Directorate was using their capital funding during 2014/2015. The Director of Finance explained the role of the officer group in scrutinising and accepting or rejecting new applications for capital funding.
The Director of Finance reported that there had been slippage on the new teaching block at Wickersley School and Sports College and the new Central Primary School and areas of the Environment and Development Services.
Discussion ensued on the £600k of grant funding that had been received in 2014/2015 in order to meet the Government’s requirement to provide universal Free School Meals to all infant-aged school children. The funding was being spent on capital works to kitchens including extensions and new kitchen equipment. The Self-Regulation Select Commission requested more information about this process and whether it was due to complete on-time and on budget.
Q: - Councillor Ellis asked for more information about the occupancy rate of the Borough’s business investment units.
A: - These were managed by the Council’s Asset Management Service who worked to attract international interest and investment in the Borough. If occupancy rates were starting to drop, or if there were good news stories it would be reflected in income monitoring reports. The Service needed to ensure that it had available capacity to respond to new enquiries.
Resolved: - (1) That the report be received and its content noted.
(2) That the Council’s decision to approve the updated 2014/2015 to 2016/2017 capital programme budget be noted.
(3) That further information be requested in relation to the capital programme around the requirement to deliver universal Free School Meals for infant-aged school children.
Date and Time of Next Meeting
Resolved: - That the next meeting of the Self-Regulation Select Commission take place on Thursday 27th November, 2014, to start at 3.30 p.m. in the Rotherham Town Hall.