Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Management Board - Wednesday 10 February 2021 11.00 a.m.

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Governance Unit  The webcast can be viewed at http://www.rotherham.public-i.tv

Items
No. Item

297.

Minutes of the previous meeting held on 20 January 2021 pdf icon PDF 161 KB

 

To consider the minutes of the previous meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board and approve them as a true and correct record of the proceedings.

Minutes:

Resolved: - That the Minutes of the meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board, held on 20 January 2021, be approved as a correct record of proceedings.

298.

Declarations of Interest

 

To receive declarations of interest from Members in respect of items listed on the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

299.

Questions from Members of the Public and the Press

 

To receive questions relating to items of business on the agenda from members of the public or press who are present at the meeting.

Minutes:

There were no questions from the public or press.

300.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any part of the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no items requiring the exclusion of the public or press.

301.

Budget and Council Tax 2021-22 and Medium-Term Financial Strategy Update pdf icon PDF 872 KB

Cabinet Portfolio: - Corporate Services and Finance  

 

Strategic Directorate: - Finance and Customer Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 15 February 2021 in respect of the Budget and Council Tax 2020-21 and Medium-Term Financial Strategy. The Leader of the Council, the Chief Executive, the Strategic Director – Finance and Customer Services, the Assistant Director - Financial Services and the Head of Corporate Finance attended the meeting to present the report.

 

The Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Finance, the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services for Cleaner, Greener Communities, the Cabinet Member for Housing, the Assistant Chief Executive, the Strategic Director - Children and Young People, and the Strategic Director - Regeneration and Environment were also in attendance at the meeting.

 

The report provided information on the Council’s Budget and Council Tax for 2020/21 based on the Council’s Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for 2020/21, budget consultation and the consideration of Directorate budget proposals through the Council’s formal Budget process, alongside a review of the financial planning assumptions contained within the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy. 

 

In setting the proposed 2020/21 budget, increases of 1.99% in the Council’s basic Council Tax and of 1.0% in the Adult Social Care precept were being recommended. The report also detailed the proposed revenue budget for 2021/22, an updated capital programme to 2023/24 and the updated Medium-Term Financial Strategy to 2022/23.

 

The report stated that the Council had faced considerable challenges during 2020/21 in its response to the global pandemic, with the impact of COVID-19 seeing a significant shift in how the Council had been able to function and provide services to residents. The impact of the COVID-19 emergency had seen significant financial pressures for the Council due to additional expenditure and lost income and the delayed delivery of planned savings and cost reductions. The report stated that whilst these financial pressures would largely be covered in year by financial support grants from Government, the long-term financial impact of COVID19 and financial support available to the Council remained uncertain.

 

The report stated that since the introduction of austerity measures in 2010, the Council had had to make savings in excess of £200million in response to the significant reductions in Central Government funding. The two-year budget for 2019/20 and 2020/21 that had been set at Council in February 2019 and reviewed during 2020/21 had required £34million of budget savings and cost reductions to be delivered to meet estimated funding gaps over the two years, including savings that had been agreed in previous years for delivery across this timescale. It was noted that over £16million of these savings and cost reductions would have been completed by the end of the current financial year, however £18million of agreed budget savings were still required to be delivered during 2021/22.

 

The Leader in introducing the report advised that while there would be no cuts to services during 2021/22 it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 301.

302.

Digital Strategy pdf icon PDF 300 KB

Cabinet Portfolio: - Corporate Services and Finance  

 

Strategic Directorate: - Finance and Customer Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 15 February 2021 that proposed a refreshed Digital Strategy and that also detailed the progress made in the strategy’s implementation and ongoing development. The Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Finance, the Strategic Director – Finance and Customer Services, the Assistant Director - Customer Information and Digital and the Head of Digital Services attended the meeting to present the report.

 

In introducing the report, the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Finance noted that the Council’s Digital Strategy had covered the period 2016-2019, and as such was overdue a refresh and refocus.

 

The report stated that the Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted how integral technology had been in ensuring that Council services could be successfully manged and delivered remotely during the pandemic, as well as in ensuring that residents had been able to continue to access services through non face-to-face channels. It was noted that the refreshed Digital Strategy would underpin much of the work that was being carried out in order to deliver the Council’s Customer Access Strategy, providing the infrastructure, software and technology capabilities necessary to realise its aims and objectives, as well as exploring new and emerging technologies that would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the access channels used.

 

The Strategic Director – Finance and Customer Services noted that as the governance arrangements surrounding the strategy were proposed to be delegated from Cabinet to Officers, only major changes in the focus of the strategy would be brought to Cabinet for approval. The Assistant Director - Customer Information and Digital and the Head of Digital Services noted that while separate, the Digital Strategy was, and would continue to be closely aligned with the Council’s Customer Access Strategy.

 

The refreshed Digital Strategy was attached as an appendix to the officer’s report.

 

Members welcomed the refreshed Digital Strategy and its objectives. Members also noted their support for the approach of utilising existing software solutions, rather than building bespoke systems as these would be better supported technically and would also enable data to be migrated more easily to new systems when systems were updated or replaced.

 

Members asked how the Digital Strategy would be updated and refreshed moving forwards. The Strategic Director advised that the Digital Strategy would be updated and refreshed annually in order that it remained focused and relevant in a fast changing environment and that reports on its development could be brought to the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board they were asked for.

 

Members asked for further information on the Rotherham Health Record that would provide shared access for health and care professionals to patient data. The Head of Digital Services advised that the initiative would enable some patient data to be shared between health and social care practitioners to ensure a joined up and person-centred service to be delivered. The Head of Digital Services advised that the information that was shared and included in the record would be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 302.

303.

Amendment to the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy (vehicle licence plates) pdf icon PDF 396 KB

Cabinet Portfolio: - Waste, Roads and Community Safety  

 

Strategic Directorate: - Regeneration and Environment

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 15 February 2021 that detailed proposed amendments to the Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy, 2020-2023 regarding the issuing of vehicle licence plates. The Cabinet Member for Waste, Roads and Community Safety and the Assistant Director - Community Safety and Street Scene attended the meeting to present the report.

 

The report stated in March 2020 the Council had approved a new Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy where it had also been recommended that additional public consultation regarding the issuing of vehicle licence plates be carried out. It was noted that under the current Licensing Policy all licensed vehicles were required to undergo regular compliance checks with a maximum of three compliance checks per year for vehicles that were over five years of age with licence plates being issued for the duration of a compliance check. It was noted that this policy had been introduced so as to ensure that all vehicles attended their required compliance checks and provided a visible reminder to drivers that their test was due. As a result of this policy across the Borough, 237 vehicles had been issued with two licence plates per year and 639 vehicles had been issued with three licence plates per year.

 

The Cabinet Member for Waste, Roads and Community Safety noted that the Council had carried out a further consultation on this specific issue between December 2020 and January 2021. This consultation had focused on the views of the public, as the views of trade representatives, licensed drivers and Elected Members had already been captured. A summary of the 149 responses that had been received from the consultation were attached as an appendix to the officer’s report.

 

The Cabinet Member advised that response to the consultation had shown broad support for amendments to the Licensing Policy that would enable automatic reminders to be issued to drivers when their compliance check was due and that would also report on whether a vehicle had attended its latest compliance check. The Cabinet Member advised that with such safeguards in place it would in future be possible to issue just one plate a year. The Cabinet Member noted that the proposed amendment would enable the costs surrounding the issue of vehicle licence plates to be reduced for both the Council and also for drivers, as well as saving 112 square metres of used non-recyclable plastic licence plates being sent to landfill each year.  It was noted that the proposed amendment had also been supported by the Licensing Board.

 

Members welcomed the proposals that would lead to more efficient procedures that would benefit the Council as well as drivers. Members sought assurances that the new processes and systems would ensure that if a compliance check was not completed then a licence plate would be removed. The Cabinet Member advised that she was fully confident that the proposed processes, and the systems that managed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 303.

304.

Revisions to the Housing Allocation Policy and the Strategic Tenancy Policy pdf icon PDF 571 KB

Cabinet Portfolio: - Housing  

 

Strategic Directorate: - Adult Care, Housing and Public Health

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 15 February 2021 that detailed proposed amendments to the Council’s Housing Allocation Policy and the Strategic Tenancy Policy. The Cabinet Member for Housing and the Head of Housing Options attended the meeting to present the report.

 

In introducing the report, the Cabinet Member for Housing noted and welcomed the review of the proposed amendments to the Housing Allocation Policy and the Strategic Tenancy Policy that had been carried out by members of the Improving Places Select Commission, the report on which was included later on the agenda.

 

The report stated that Council’s Housing Allocation Policy had been in place since 29 October 2014 and that since its introduction it had been subject periodic reviews and  revisions, with the most recent update being carried out in September 2019 to respond to the requirements of the Homelessness Reduction Act. 

 

The report detailed the proposed further adjustments to policy that aimed to respond to the lessons learned over the previous 12 months and also from the outcomes of a benchmarking exercise that had been carried out with other local authorities. The Head of Housing Options advised that the information gathered through these processes had helped to refine the policy and had also presented an opportunity to further improve how the Council helped those in greatest housing need. The Head of Housing Options noted that with the increase in homelessness cases due to the pandemic, it was essential that the Council’s Allocation Policy was able to deal effectively with the challenges that the increase in numbers of homeless had created.

 

The Head of Housing Options advised that the proposed amendments would ensure that the Council’s policy reflected the Government’s taskforce recommendations regarding the need accommodate people faced with rough sleeping. The Head of Housing Options noted that the proposed changes would also help to prevent repeat homelessness and ensure that rough sleepers did not end up back on the streets. The officer’s report detailed the 15 proposed changes to the policy along with the reasons for each change that was being proposed.

 

It was noted that as the Council’s Strategic Tenancy Policy was closely aligned with the Council’s allocation of housing stock, the opportunity had been taken to review the policy as part of the Allocations Policy review. The proposed amendments to the Strategic Tenancy Policy were detailed in the officer’s report.

 

Members welcomed the proposed amendments to the Council’s Housing Allocation Policy and the Strategic Tenancy Policy and noted how they would ensure that the Council could respond to the needs of those who were homeless or rough sleeping in the most responsive way.

 

Members sought assurance that the proposed amendments would not stop tenants who were wanting to transfer properties from being able to so. The Head of Housing Options assured members that this facility would still be available, and that while tenancies required residents to commit to staying  for at least 12  ...  view the full minutes text for item 304.

305.

Outcomes from Homes Allocation Working Group pdf icon PDF 347 KB

Minutes:

The Chair of the Improving Places Select Commission presented a report that that detailed the recommendations that had arisen from of a review that had been carried out by a sub-group of the Improving Places that had reviewed proposed changes to the Homes Allocation Policy.

 

The Chair thanked the Chair of the Improving Places Select Commission and the members who had taken part in the review for their work in conducting the review.

 

Resolved: -

 

That the briefing be noted, and the following recommendations be submitted to Cabinet for consideration: -

 

a)    That the briefing be noted.

 

b)     That sustained funding for staff on the temporary accommodation and homelessness teams be safeguarded.

 

c)    That revisions to the policy be undertaken to ensure clarity and readability throughout the document, especially as regards application processes and shortlisting criteria.

 

d)    That notation about prolific offenders be included in the information provided to the Housing Assessment Panel.

 

e)    That quality standards regarding the proper completion of housing forms be reaffirmed to officers.

 

f)      That rent arrears be added to the scrutiny work programme for 2021-22.

 

g)    That single occupants of larger homes owned by the council be given the opportunity to downsize. 

 

306.

Outcomes from Working Group on Call Centre Communications pdf icon PDF 172 KB

Minutes:

The Chair presented a report that detailed the recommendations that had arisen from of a review that had been conducted by a sub-group of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board regarding Call Centre Communications.

 

The Chair thanked the members who had taken place in the review.

 

Resolved: -

 

That the briefing be noted, and the following recommendations be submitted to Cabinet for consideration: -

 

a)    That the Council further promotes a digital-first route for customers to access Council services.

 

b)    That regular data updates be provided to the Leader and Overview and Scrutiny Management Board on a six-monthly basis. 

 

c)    That the Customer Service Standards of the Council be reaffirmed to officers, in particular, in respect of written communication with customers.

307.

Outcomes from Building Use Working Group pdf icon PDF 345 KB

Minutes:

The Chair of the Improving Places Select Commission presented a report that detailed the recommendations that had arisen from of a review that  that that that had been carried out by a sub-group of the Improving Places Select Commission regarding the use of Council buildings.

 

The Chair thanked the Chair of the Improving Places Select Commission and the members who had taken part in the review for their work in conducting the review.

 

Resolved: -

 

That the briefing be noted, and the following recommendations be submitted to Cabinet for consideration: -

 

a)    That the principle be agreed that the future usage of buildings be determined in accordance with the needs of services located therein. 

 

b)    That, prior to buildings being brought back into use by staff or the public, consultation take place with Trade Unions and staff following completion of risk assessments in respect of the building or location concerned.

 

c)    That any decision to return employees to Council buildings beyond the minimal number that have been required to be present throughout the pandemic be made having regard to advice from the Corporate Health and Safety Team and Human Resources, as well as being subject to Government guidance around the safe use of Council buildings. 

 

d)    That Members be notified when main operational buildings are to be brought back into use, specifically the Town Hall as the civic hub of the Borough.

 

e)    That, having regard to the positive implications associated with virtual meetings in respect of the Council’s carbon footprint, the Leader of the Council lobby the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to legislate for the ongoing provision of virtual meetings beyond 7 May 2021. 

 

f)      That Asset Management and Digital Services work together to identify the necessary changes or solutions required in Riverside House and Rotherham Town Hall, as well as any changes required to equipment or software for Members and officers, to enable continued use of remote working whilst permitting physical presence in a Council building. 

 

g)    That the Head of Democratic Services prepare guidance and training on the procedures and operation of hybrid meetings.

308.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 339 KB

 

To consider the Board’s Work Programme.

Minutes:

The Board considered its Work Programme.   

 

Resolved: -  

 

That the Work Programme be approved.

309.

Forward Plan of Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 360 KB

 

To review and identify items for pre-decision scrutiny from the Forward Plan of Key Decisions covering the period from 1 February to 1 April.

Minutes:

The Board considered the Forward Plan of Key Decisions 1 February – 30 April 2021.   

 

Resolved: -   That the Forward Plan be noted.

310.

Call-in Issues

 

To consider any issues referred for call-in from recent Cabinet meetings.

Minutes:

There were no call-in issues.

311.

Urgent Business

 

To determine any item which the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

312.

Date and time of next meeting

 

The next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board will be held on Wednesday 24 February at 11am a Microsoft Teams meeting.

Minutes:

Resolved: - That the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board will be held at 11am on Wednesday 24 February 2021 as Microsoft Teams meeting.