Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Management Board - Thursday 7 December 2017 2.00 p.m.

Venue: Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham.

Contact: Debbie Pons, Principal Democratic Services Officer. 

No. Item


Declarations of Interest


There were no Declarations of Interest to report.


Questions from Members of the Public and the Press


There were no questions from members of the public or the press.


Presentation - Shaping Rotherham's Future pdf icon PDF 922 KB


The Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive attended the meeting to deliver a presentation to Members setting out the future direction of the Council as the preliminary part of the budget scrutiny process. This presentation was linked to the update on the Medium Term Financial Strategy and Budget Monitoring Report elsewhere on the agenda.




That the presentation be noted.




October Financial Monitoring Report 2017-18 and Update of the Council's Medium Term Financial Strategy 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 148 KB


Consideration was given to the report which set out the financial position for the Revenue and Capital Budgets at the end of October, 2017 and was based on actual costs and income for the seven months ending 31st October, 2017 and forecasted for the remainder of the financial year. This was the fourth of a series of monitoring reports for the 2017/18 financial year which would continue to be brought forward on a regular basis. 


Delivery of the Council’s Revenue and Capital Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy within the parameters agreed at the start of the current financial year was essential if the Council’s objectives were to be achieved.  Financial performance was a key element within the assessment of the Council’s overall performance framework.


As at October 2017 the Council had a forecast overspend on the General Fund of £4.594m, an increase of £0.6m over the £4.0m forecast overspend as at September.  The main reason for this increase was a continuing rise in the projected overspend by the Children and Young People’s Directorate of a further £0.434m, chiefly attributable to continued increases in the number of children in care.


This increase in the number of Looked After Children had also placed significant and unavoidable pressure on Legal Services,  which currently had a forecast Budget overspend of £1.1m resulting in a net projected overspend for the Finance and Customer Services Budget of£0.6m. In addition, the Adult Care and Housing forecast overspend had increased by £0.2m from £5.1m to £5.3m. 


Offsetting these pressures, the Assistant Chief Executive’s Budget projected underspend had increased by £34k to £244k, chiefly as a result of staffing savings mitigating other cost pressures.   It was still anticipated that the review of Business Rates and Treasury Management would deliver £5m of savings against the Central Services budget this year. 


The Regeneration and Environment Services projected budget outturn remained a break even position achieved through ongoing tight day to day budgetary control. 


Management actions to address areas of overspend were also ongoing and the overall budget position would continue to be monitored closely.  The current round of budget monitoring showed, however, that the Council’s Revenue Budget position had deteriorated by £0.6m since the previous monitoring report showing the position as at September. 


The majority of the £24m budget savings approved within the 2017/18 budget were on target to be achieved.  Within this target there were £11.9m of Directorate budget savings, which combined with a further £5.4m of 2017/18 Directorate budget savings agreed in previous budgets, gave a total Directorate savings target for 2017/18 of £17.3m.  The current monitoring indicated that of this total, £6.8m  of savings proposals were at risk of non-delivery in the manner approved by Council when the 2017/18 Budget was set (an improvement of £0.4m compared to September). These at risk proposals and the impact of mitigating actions were reflected in the current overspend projection.  Approval by Cabinet would be sought for any budget savings which ultimately were proposed to be delivered differently on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.


Review of Council Tax Support Scheme pdf icon PDF 134 KB

Additional documents:


Consideration was given to a report which detailed that until 2013/14 Council Tax Benefit was a national scheme administered by Councils, but fully funded by the Government.  In 2013 the Government abolished the national scheme and asked Local Authorities to create their own local Council Tax Support (CTS) Schemes with reduced funding.  Local CTS Schemes have to be reviewed annually and this report set out recommendations following this year’s review which was carried out within the context of the substantial financial challenges facing the Council.


Since 2010 Central Government grant to local authorities had been severely cut each and every year and the Council’s latest financial planning assumptions have identified that the Council needed to reduce its net spending by a further £31m over the two years 2018/19 and 2019/20.  The Council must address this funding gap whilst demand for services, particularly social care for vulnerable children and adults, was continuing to rise. 


As part of the review of the CTS Scheme, the level of potential savings that could be gained by changing the scheme was considered alongside the impact of a variety of options.


Rotherham’s scheme had remained unchanged since it was implemented, whereas many other Councils have already reviewed their schemes and provided support which was significantly less than was currently provided by Rotherham.  


The proposals related only to support for working age claimants (the support provided to pensioner claimants remained unchanged at nationally determined levels).


The options which were selected included retaining the current scheme and a further seven change options which could be implemented individually or in combination.  Any proposal to change the Council Tax Support Scheme required the Council to consult major preceptors (Fire and Rescue Authority and Police and Crime Commissioner) and also to undertake a public consultation exercise.  Consultation had been held with the major preceptors and a public consultation was undertaken over the period 9th October  to 20th November, 2017.


A total of 401 responses were received and detailed analysis of the consultation, including its scope and the analysis of the responses received, was set out in detail as part of the report.  These have informed the final recommendations.


Legislation required that any changes to the Council Tax Support Scheme must be adopted by Full Council by 31st January, 2018 in order to come into effect for 2018/19.  The Cabinet would then consider the proposals and any recommendations would, therefore be forwarded for consideration at the Council meeting on 24th January, 2018.



1.    That Cabinet be advised that the recommendations be supported.


2.    That greater clarity is provided about how consultation responses are used to inform proposals; and where the proposals differ from a majority consultation response, that a clear rationale is provided about how the proposals have been arrived at.


3.    That a further report is provided in October 2018 on the take up of the Council Tax Support Scheme and the impact of the roll-out of Universal Credit across the borough.


Rotherham Local Plan: Main Modifications to the Local Plan Sites and Policies Document pdf icon PDF 94 KB

Additional documents:


Consideration was given to a report which was to seek Council approval to consult on Main Modifications to the Sites and Policies Document. This was necessary to accommodate the changes to the plan required by the Planning Inspector. These changes were required to make the plan sound and enable the Council to adopt it in due course.


Members queried the changes proposed by the Planning Inspector and made specific reference to the removal of a restriction on takeaways near schools. In response it was confirmed that a refusal on the grounds of being against the interests of public health reasoning had been challenged and lost on appeal, as the Planning Inspector did not attach weight to the public health argument.


Reference was also made to land at Thorpe Hesley which was proposed to be protected by inclusion within the green belt and ward Members were very pleased with that amendment. Reflecting on this point, Members concluded that one of the great advantages of the Local Plan is that it gives the Local Planning Authority and the Planning Board the power to refuse applications which are not consistent with its provisions.


Resolved:-  That Cabinet be advised that the recommendations be supported.



The 'Time for Action' Initative pdf icon PDF 73 KB


Consideration was given to the report which set out the work that had been done in Rotherham to strengthen enforcement activity around environmental crime issues such as littering, dog fouling and fly-tipping following the approval by Cabinet and Commissioners of the ‘Time for Action’ approach on 9th January, 2017 and to progress discussions with Doncaster Council to develop shared service provision.


A pilot exercise in Rotherham had been underway since 26th April, 2017 to test the effectiveness of an alternative approach to deliver enhanced environmental crime and parking enforcement within the Borough.


The pilot had proven to be successful as could be evidenced by the increased level of fixed penalty fines and patrols undertaken to tackle littering and dog fouling and whilst it was difficult to measure any long term effects in relation to deterrent or reducing street cleansing costs, the short term aim of increasing enforcement against environmental crime offences could clearly be demonstrated.


Discussions with Doncaster Council have continued throughout with consideration of options, potential timescales, likely specifications and potential service level agreement items.


Members expressed concerns that Kingdom were operating on private owned land where the landowner had a duty to maintain cleanliness of their property and felt that Kingdom should operate solely on public land or Council owned property. In response, officers confirmed that a flexible approach could be adopted where a private landowner could pay for the service.


Further concerns were expressed that the initiative was targeting areas with larger footfall to increase the ratio of fine. In response, officers advised that targeting was something that should be pursued, but it should not be about targeting specific individuals, but rather to undertake enforcement activity to challenge behaviours.


Members sought clarification in respect of the number of fines that needed to be pursued through the courts for non-payment. In response, it was confirmed that 4,617 offences had been committed and the expectation was that 70% of these would be collected and 30% would require collection through the courts. It was agreed that specific information would be supplied outside of the meeting.


Clarification was sought as to why attendants were operating in pairs around the town centre. It was explained that this happened occasionally, although staff were provided with body cameras to record proceedings. This was particularly important due to the abuse received by staff and the authority needed to support staff undertaking what could potentially be difficult work.




1.         That Cabinet be advised that the recommendations be supported.


2.         That the following recommendations from Improving Place Select Commission be used to inform the negotiations:




a)   The service should be extended to include issuing of parking fines;

b)   A communication plan be developed to promote the initiative borough wide;

c)   Branding is clearly identified and included as part of the communications plan;

d)   Members are notified when Enforcement Officers are working in their Wards;

e)   Service provision is distributed equally across outlying areas and wards;

f)    The extension of service provision to private  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.


Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board will be held on Thursday 14 December 2017 commencing at 2.00p.m. at Rotherham Town Hall


Resolved:-  That the next meeting be held on Thursday, 14th December, 2017 at 2.00 p.m.