Venue: Council Chamber - Rotherham Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham, South Yorkshire S60 2TH
To consider the minutes of the previous meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board held on 14 June, 2023 and to approve them as a true and correct record of the proceedings.
Resolved: - That the Minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board held on 14 June 2023 be approved as a true record.
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of interest from Members in respect of items listed on the agenda.
Cllr Tinsley declared a disclosable pecuniary interest as the owner of properties in an area of selective licensing. (Item 9 – Scrutiny Review Recommendations – Impact of Selective Licencing). He remained in the meeting but did not participate in the debate or vote.
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.
There were no questions from members of the public or press.
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.
There were no exempt items.
To consider a report from the Strategic Director for Finance and Customer Service.
1. Note the revenue outturn position.
2. Note the budgeted transfer to HRA reserves increased by £2.1m following the revenue and capital outturn positions.
3. Note the carry forward of the combined schools balance of £2.992m in accordance with the Department for Education regulations.
4. Note the reduced DSG deficit following receipt of Safety Valve funding, as set out in paragraph 2.14.
6. Note the capital outturn and funding position as set out in paragraphs 2.63 to 2.92.
7. Note the revised Capital Programme following year end 2022/23 as set out in paragraphs 2.93 to 2.97 and appendices 1 to 4 of this report.
The Assistant Director for Finance introduced the report, which contained a more detailed outline position report to that considered by the Committee at its previous meeting.
It was noted that the outturn position of £7.3m was an improvement on the projected overspend in February of approximately £8.3 - 8.5m.
As agreed previously by Council, the overspend would be covered by the use of reserves. It was noted that the financial position had improved significantly from September’s earlier projection of £18.2m overspend. Savings had been made across all directorates, however there had been a notable reduction in the cost to the Council of placements in Adult Social Care which had contributed to the savings.
A series of short-term temporary savings had been made to reduce the impact of inflation pressures in the 2022- 23 financial year. The bulk of the residual overspend related to those inflationary pressures and energy prices as outlined.
The report also covered the Dedicated School Grant (DSG) position which had significantly improved and the Council continued to work with the Department for Education’s Safety Valve Programme to reduce the deficit.
The Chair invited questions from Members of the Board and a discussion on the following issues ensued:
· Further clarification was sought on what funding was available from the Home Office to support unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. A briefing would be circulated to the Board.
· It was noted that Facilities Services were experiencing pressures as a result of rising food prices affecting school meals. Assurance was sought that this would not have a negative impact on the nutritional quality of the meals. The Strategic Director of Regeneration and Environment confirmed that the quality of food had not been affected, however it was outlined that inflationary pressures and supply chain issues had been challenging. It was noted that many Rotherham families may struggle to pay for school meals. Further details were provided on changes to suppliers.
· Further details were requested in what mitigations were in place for families who may not qualify for free school meals but who may need support. It was outlined that consideration was given to the cost of meals to minimise the impact on families.
· Clarification was sought on the slippage relating to replacement fire doors. It was outlined that over 1000 doors had been installed and the contractors had provided assurance that the programme would be completed within this current financial year. Work was being undertaken to engage with tenants and residents to address delays.
· It was outlined that the underspend related to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) related to circumstantial slippage in the capital programme.
· It was noted that considerable effort had gone into reducing the overspend in the budget for Child and Young People’s Services over the recent years.
· It was clarified that inflationary pressures and rising fuel costs had been assigned to Central Services rather than individual directorates.
· Clarification was sought on the underspend related to Ward Housing Hubs. A response would be provided in writing.
· Further details were sought on ward ... view the full minutes text for item 17.
To consider a report from the Assistant Chief Executive.
1. That Cabinet:
a) Note the progress made over the past 12 months towards the equalities agenda.
b) Note the next steps outlined within the Equalities Annual Report and action plan for 2023/24.
The Chair invited the Head of Policy, Performance, and Intelligence and Assistant Director of Human Resources to introduce the report. It was noted that the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Community Safety and Finance had submitted his apologies.
It was outlined that publication of the Annual Report was part of the Council’s Public Sector Equality Duty. The purpose of the report was to highlight the progress made over the previous year towards the equalities, diversity and inclusion agendas and outlining next steps.
The Annual Report was aligned to the following themes outlined in the Equalities Framework for Local Government. It was noted that there was a target that the Council would achieve ‘excellent’ status under this framework by 2025.
An overview of activity was given against each theme:
· Theme 1: Understanding, listening to, and working with Rotherham’s Communities. Examples were given equalities data was collected and analysed to inform understanding of the breadth of communities in the borough.
· Theme 2: Providing Leadership and Organisational Commitment to Actively Promote Equalities.This theme demonstrated how the Council’s leadership is positively promoting equality, diversity and inclusion across the borough.
· Theme 3: Delivering Accessible and Responsive Services that Meet Diverse Needs. This theme showed how effective planning and service delivery across the Council ensures services were accessible to all customers.
· Theme 4: Ensuring a diverse and engaged workforce.The Council continued to improve workplace equality and diversity through the delivery of the Workforce Plan 2022-2025.
Equalities action plan 2023/24
Alongside the report, the Equality Action plan identified workstreams from the Council Plan’s Year Ahead Delivery Plan 2023/23.
Major areas of work for the forthcoming year included:
· Refreshing ward profiles to update and improve the data available at the local level.
· An action plan for digital inclusion.
· Work with partners to deliver the Council Plan commitments to tackle inequality and disadvantage.
· Improve workplace equality and diversity through the delivery of the Workforce Plan 2022-2025.
The Chair invited questions from the Board and a discussion of the following issues ensued:
· Clarification was sought on staff representation networks and if consideration had been given to forming a men’s network, citing the success of ‘Andy’s Man Club’. It was outlined that networks were employee-led, and those referenced were based on employees with protected characteristics. Should there be a request to set up additional networks, support could be provided to facilitate their running.
· It was noted that there was a commitment to achieve ‘excellent’ status under the LGA Equalities Framework by 2025. Further details were sought on how equalities were prioritised within the authority, whether achieving ‘excellent’ was achievable and what improvements had been made since the authority was awarded ‘development’ status in 2017 and if progress had stalled. It was outlined that the Council had embedded equalities, diversity and inclusion in each of its plans. It was also outlined that the framework had changed, which had meant that Council’s were required additional criteria to evidence outcomes under the standards. It was noted that other local authorities had ... view the full minutes text for item 18.
To consider a report from the Assistant Chief Executive.
That Cabinet note:
1. The overall position in relation to the Year Ahead Delivery Plan activities.
2. The Quarter 4 2022-23 data for the Council Plan performance measures.
3. The performance reporting timetable for the remainder of the 2022-2023 year.
The Chair invited the Head of Policy, Performance and Intelligence to present the report. Also in attendance for this item were the Strategic Director for Finance and Customer Services, the Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment; the Assistant Director, Early Help, CYPS; the Interim Assistant Director, Strategic Commissioning, ACHPH; and the Assistant Director, Human Resources, ACE.
The report provided Members with an annual update on the delivery of the Council Plan and the final report on the Year Ahead Delivery Plan for 2022-2023. The report focused on the progress made since April 2022 against the 92 actions and milestones in the Year Ahead Delivery Plan. It also included Quarter 4 performance data on the 66 Council Plan performance measures. As in previous quarters, Appendix 1 of the report included a high-level overview along with a note of achievements and challenges, Year Ahead Delivery Plan trackers and performance scorecards. As with previous reports, it also included case studies and a timeline of key achievements/activities.
Following feedback from OSMB Members the progress report brought together the achievements and challenges into a single section, providing a summary of overall progress across our Council Plan themes.
It was noted that good progress was made in 2022-2023 on the activities within the Year Ahead Delivery Plan. In total 80% (74) of the activities were completed with a further 7% (6) on track for delivery after 31 March 2023. 3 actions were delayed by less than 3 months and 9 actions would not be met within 3 months of the original target date.
The report also included performance information on the 66 performance measures contained within the Council Plan. The performance measures show that the number of measures hitting their target was only 50% of those measured (44% overall as 12% do not have targets). In total, 29 performance measures had hit their target for the year (50% of those with targets) and 29 did not hit their target. There were 28 performance measures where performance improved during the year and 28 where it fell compared to the previous year. This was a better position than at quarter 3 where only 24 measures were on track to hit their targets. Management were taking action to address areas where performance needed to improve, and it was expected that more targets will be hit in the course of 2023-24 as a result.
It was noted that there would be two public monitoring reports during 2023-2024.
The Chair invited questions from the Board and a discussion on the following issues ensued:
· Clarification was sought on the process of safe discharge from hospital. It was outlined that health colleagues followed strict protocols and there was an integrated discharged team to ensure smooth transition between hospital, social care and community services. Further details were requested on what safeguards were in place in case discharge was not appropriate. It was outlined that assessments were undertaken to ensure that individuals were stabilised in their care setting and assurance given that ... view the full minutes text for item 19.
To consider a report from the Improving Places Select Commission summarising the findings and recommendations of its review into the impact of the selective licensing scheme in Rotherham at its halfway point.
The Chair invited the Chair of Improving Places Select Commission to introduce the report.
The review focussed on the impact of selective licensing at its mid-point. Members whose wards included selective licensing areas were asked to give evidence to the review and the impact of the scheme. Landlords, housing staff and police gave evidence to the review. He outlined that there were a large number of housing units in the areas covered by selective licensing, including areas of high social deprivation. The purpose of the review was to see how the scheme had contributed to raising housing standards.
A series of recommendation were made focussing on staffing issues; targeting resources and clarifying the purpose of the scheme. It was noted that despite best efforts, it had been difficult to engage with tenants.
The Chair invited questions and comments from Board Members. The review was welcomed, particularly its focus on safety and health of tenants.
1) That the following recommendations be submitted to Cabinet for consideration and response.
a) That reinspection be prioritised for landlords whose properties have required action previously.
b) Due to the shortage of experienced inspectors, that consideration be given to how the Council may support recruitment and development of trainee inspectors and retention of experienced inspectors.
c) That consideration be given to incentivising responsible landlords, and, where there is a proven track record, empowering landlords to self-assess, provided that the Service can still obtain assurances that decent standards are maintained.
d) That consideration be given to managing expectations around selective licencing as a measure focused on the health of residents rather than beautification or regeneration.
e) That consideration be given to how uptake of the cost-of-living support offer among families in selective licencing areas may be further promoted and monitored with a view to identifying gaps and promoting financial inclusion.
f) Given the complexity of measuring impact on deprivation and difficulty in improving relative levels of deprivation, that consideration be given to how internal metrics may better reflect the real impact of the scheme.
g) That a joined-up approach be sought with relevant Council strategies and services, with partner and voluntary sector organisations and with resident-led initiatives prior to any future selective licencing declaration.
h) That engagement with landlords and with tenants be considered alongside any response to the above recommendations, and that the response to the above recommendations be subject to the learning derived from continued engagement with landlords and tenants.
2) That Cabinet respond to the recommendations by November 2023, in accordance with the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules.
To consider and comment on the draft Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report (2022-23) prior to its submission to Council on 26 July 2023.
The Senior Governance Adviser introduced the annual report, outlining that it had been circulated for comments previously. It would be submitted to Council at its meeting of 19 July 2023.
The report was an overview of activity of OSMB and Select Commissions over the 2022-23 municipal year, with outcomes aligned to the Council plan themes.
The Chair thanked officers for compiling the report.
That the report be noted.
To consider and comment on the draft Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme (2023-24).
The Senior Governance Advisor introduced the draft work programme as detailed in Appendix 1 -4.
The work programme has been informed by discussions with Chairs/Vice-Chairs, link officers and existing commitments inherited from the 2022/23 programme. It has also included for the first time, reference to issues raised at the scrutiny strategy day held on April 26, 2023. It was outlined that the work programmes remained dynamic and responsive to items which may arise (for example referral of petitions or actions arising from Council Motions).
Arising from the workshop was a consensus on adopting criteria to long/short list commission’s respective priorities using the following principles:
· What are the key issues?
· What is the outcome that we want?
Agree principles for longlisting:
· Can scrutiny add value or influence?
· Is it being looked at elsewhere?
· Is it a priority – council or community?
Developing a consistent shortlisting criteria e.g.
T: Time: is it the tight time, enough resources?
O: Others: is this duplicating the work of another body?
P: Performance: can scrutiny make a difference
I: Interest – what is the interest to the public?
C: Contribution to the corporate plan
The Chair invited questions and comments and the following issues were added to the programme:
· Domestic abuse – Improving Lives Select Commission
· 2021 Census Findings – OSMB
1) That the Work Programmes be approved.
2) That the criteria for selecting issues for scrutiny’s consideration be endorsed.
Work in Progress - Select Commissions
To receive updates from the Chairs of the Select Commission on work undertaken and planned for the future.
There were no updates.
To consider any issues referred for call-in from recent Cabinet meetings.
There were no call-in issues.
To determine any item which the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency.
There were no urgent items.
Date and time of next meeting
The next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board will be held on Wednesday 2 August 2023 at 10.00am at Rotherham Town Hall.
Resolved: - That the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board will be held at 10am on Wednesday 2 August 2023 at Rotherham Town Hall.