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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham.

Contact: James McLaughlin, Head of Democratic Services  The webcast can be viewed at http://www.rotherham.public-i.tv

Items
No. Item

92.

Minutes of previous meetings pdf icon PDF 97 KB

 

To consider the minutes of the previous meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board held on 2 and 16 October and 27 November 2019 and approve them as true and correct records of the proceedings.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved:-

 

That the minutes of the meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board held on 2 and 16 October and  27 November 2019 be approved as true and correct records of the proceedings.

93.

Declarations of Interest

 

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

Minutes:

Councillor Wyatt declared a personal interest in agenda item 6 (Housing Revenue Account Rents and Services Charges 2020-21) on the basis that a family member was a council tenant.  

94.

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 members of the public or press.

95.

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:

The Chair reported that there were no items of business that would require the exclusion of the press or public from the meeting.

96.

Adult Services Non-residential Care Charging Policy Proposals pdf icon PDF 884 KB

Cabinet Portfolio:                 Adult Social Care and Heath

Strategic Directorate:           Adult Care, Housing and Public Health

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report which was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 23 December 2019, that presented policy proposals in respect charges for non-residential adult care services following a detailed consultation process with the public, service users and support agencies which had taken place between July and September 2019. The report provided details in respect of the feedback received during the consultation. 

 

It was reported that in December 2018, the Cabinet had previously approved consultation with service users, carers, providers and support agencies to inform proposed changes to the current policy and provide opportunities for feedback on the proposals set out below:-

 

·         Proposal 1 - To remove the current maximum charge and to charge those people who can afford it the full cost of the services that are provided to them

·         Proposal 2 - Under the new framework, those who can afford it would be charged for the total number of carers attending and providing services, which would mean introducing a charge where more than one carer is provided at the same time

·         Proposal 3 - It is proposed that the liability for charges be from the date on which the service commences, so people will be asked to pay the accrued charges for the services they have received following completion of a financial assessment

·         Proposal 4 - To include the full value high rate Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance, or the enhanced daily living component of Personal Independence Payments, when carrying out non-residential financial assessments

·         Proposal 5 – To review our current policy to determine whether our allowance is fair and equitable across Rotherham and to consider putting in place a standard list or rate of allowances, in line with our neighbouring authorities.

 

It was noted that a number of responses were received after the closing date of the consultation on 29 September 2019, but these had also been included on the basis that it was important to capture as many views as possible from those affected or potentially affected by the proposed changes.

         

Members sought to understand the impact of the changes on individuals and requested clarification on whether the changes applied to people living in their own homes and how their ability to pay would be assessed. In response, it was confirmed that there were minimum income guarantees in place for service users still resident in their own homes. Furthermore, financial assessments were expected to be undertaken within three weeks of the service need being established with the user. Officers would be mindful of individual circumstances and each case would be assessed on its merit with the aim of causing hardship to individuals. Officers reiterated that the safety of the service user was the paramount consideration for the Adult Care service and was a requirement under the Care Act 2014. Members were reassured that service users would be advised by experienced officers in respect of changes to two charging processes, which was at the essence of the report before  ...  view the full minutes text for item 96.

97.

Housing Revenue Account Business Plan 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 203 KB

Cabinet Portfolio:                 Housing

Strategic Directorate:           Adult Care, Housing and Public Health

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report presented for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 23 December 2019, which provided a detailed technical overview of the current position of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Business Plan and the reasons for changes to the plan.

 

It was reported that the Housing Revenue Account recorded all expenditure and income relating to the provision of council housing and related services, and the Council was required to produce a HRA Business Plan setting out its investment priorities over a 30 year period. Following the introduction in 2012 of HRA self-financing, the Council was awarded control over its HRA in return for taking on a proportion of national housing debt.

 

It was noted that since the last update to the plan, there had been no significant government policy changes that affected the business plan, however there were still some policies that had impacted on the plan:

 

·         Roll out of full service Universal Credit to all remaining working age tenants in   Rotherham since July 2018 onwards

·         Ongoing Right to Buy eligibility

·         Updated Guidance on Social rents permitting increases of CPI + 1% from 2020-21 onwards.

 

The Business Plan recognised the importance of continuing investment in new affordable homes, focused on the next five years and would continue to be amended and reported annually. Given the economic uncertainty the overall position remained challenging, but in view of the level of reserves and the previous decision to defer some investment in stock until later in the plan the ability to divert resources to fund housing growth and contribute to the Council Plan remained.

 

Members noted that, over the short to medium term forecast, the Business Plan showed a sustainable level of cash flow and balances; however over the longer term there would be a significant squeeze on resources due to inflationary pressures. It was further noted that the key risks in the Business Plan were increased Right to Buy sales above those planned for, interest rate rises above those planned and inflation. Those risks were monitored continuously and mitigated by the Housing Service with support from Financial Services.

 

Concerns were expressed that the level of rent arrears that had been amassed by claimants of Universal Credit and assurances were sought that the authority was responding positively to assist those individuals. In response, it was there were more officers were working closely with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the government agency responsible for the delivery and implementation of Universal Credit, to mitigate the issue. In addition, officers were also working closely with Rotherham Citizens Advice Bureau and with colleagues in Neighbourhood Services. It was noted that approximately 2,500 tenants were also claimants of Universal Credit and the predictions in respect of bad debts against the HRA were better than forecast, but the arrears issue remained a significant challenge. Following on, the Cabinet Member for Housing confirmed that a political decision was taken to invest in the financial inclusion team in preparation for the impact of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 97.

98.

Housing Revenue Account Rents and Service Charges 2020-2021 pdf icon PDF 145 KB

Cabinet Portfolio:                 Housing

Strategic Directorate:           Adult Care, Housing and Public Health

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report which was presented for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 23 December 2019, which sought approval for the proposed values of the housing rents, non-dwelling rents, District Heating and service charges and the draft Housing Revenue Account Budget for 2020/21.

 

The report proposed the following changes:-

 

·         That housing rents be increased in line with CPI (as at September 2019) plus 1% in 2020/21, therefore an increase of 2.7%. Non-Dwelling Rents

·         That an increase in non-dwelling charges be applied in line with the recommended increase being applied across the council of 2% for 2020/21

·         No change to District Heating charges

 

Members queried the practice of letting garages and the sharing of information with ward Members in respect of notifying them of changes to garage usage. In response, it was confirmed that there was work underway to review sites for various reasons and any actions arising from this would not be implemented until ward Members had been consulted.

 

Reference was made to the previous report on the agenda (minute 97 refers) which had highlighted an increase in the level of arrears amongst tenants who were also claimants of Universal Credit and it was proposed that this be monitored closely with a view to reducing the level of rent arrears. It was also felt that this should be a performance target in the service plan for Housing Services. The Cabinet Member for Housing indicated that he would be happy to accept such recommendations from the Board. To this end, it was agreed that update on performance in this area should be reported to the Improving Places Select Commission in June 2020.

 

Resolved:-

 

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

 

2.    That the number of Universal Credit claimants be closely monitored with a view to reducing the level of rent arrears from those tenants on that benefit.

 

3.    That consideration be given to including the measure in the service plan for Housing Services and be reported on to Improving Places Select Commission in June 2020.

 

99.

Rotherham Town Centre Parking Strategy pdf icon PDF 155 KB

Cabinet Portfolio:                 Jobs and the Local Economy

Strategic Directorate:           Regeneration and Environment

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report which was presented for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 23 December 2019 which sought formal adoption of a new Town Centre Parking Strategy, which formed a broad policy statement indicating that the Council would maintain an appropriate level of parking provision which was commensurate with the environmental, development and economic needs of the Town Centre and its businesses, visitors and residents and that the Council would undertake the enforcement of parking activities in a fair, consistent and proportionate manner.

 

It was reported that the strategy set out the Council’s approach to parking in the Town Centre and would help ensure that the following key actions were met:-

 

·         Occupancy levels will be reviewed annually to help ensure that the appropriate level and location of parking provision is maintained.

·         The impact on parking capacity of any new development within the town centre will be monitored to manage demand and promote sustainable modes of travel through working with developers.

·         Continue to work with the Rotherham Bus Partnership, including local bus operators and SYPTE, to improve Rotherham’s bus offer, to encourage the use of public transport.

·         Consideration will be given to the creation of additional short stay spaces. The service will identify the best locations for “priority customers”, such as those with disabilities, and investigate revisions to existing on-street parking restrictions.

·         The results of parking ‘beat’ surveys will be used to indicate where spaces are under-utilised and if they could be reallocated.

·         Annually review parking tariffs to ensure that they remain competitive.

·         Explore the possibility of the introducing / enhancing the existing Park & Ride provision in relation to the Tram Train pilot.

·         Continue the provision of EV charging points.

·         Consider the needs of disabled users in all public owned car parks and ensure that key destinations have appropriate levels of disabled parking availability either on or off street.

·         Ensure that off-street parking facilities are clean, tidy and user friendly

·         A programme of works will be delivered to achieve a high standard of cosmetic finishes to the off-street parking stock. This will be the subject of a regular maintenance schedule thereafter to sustain the high standards.

·         A programme of “pay and display” machine replacement will be developed and funding sought to achieve a full stock of machines with debit/credit card payment facilities including contactless card payment options.

 

Members welcomed the report and discussed broader issues relating to the provision of car parking and associated services in Rotherham Town Centre. Reference was made to the need to improve the quality of ticketing machinery and accessibility to pay parking charges by phone or app. Likewise, Members shared their experiences, and those of constituents using town centre car parks, in the Wellgate Car Park, where the barrier had frequently been out of use and the payment machines had also been out of order regularly, It was recommended that alternative equipment being investigated to improve the service offer in such locations.

·

Resolved:-

 

1.    That Cabinet be advised that the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 99.

100.

Outcomes from Workshop on Area Housing Panels Review pdf icon PDF 110 KB

 

To consider the recommendations arising from a workshop on Area Housing Panels

Minutes:

Councillor Mallinder, Chair of the Improving Places Select Commission, provided a brief update in respect of the work that the Commission had done in a recent workshop on the report to be presented to Cabinet on 23 December 2019 in respect of the review of Area Housing Panels.

 

It was noted that the following points had been discussed:-

 

·         Role of Elected Members – providing a community leadership role and ensuring tenants’ voice is reflected.

·         Consultation responses and how these were reflected in the emerging proposals.

·         The range of options for receiving bids for funding including on line applications as well as more ‘traditional’ methods. Ward Housing Hubs would be flexible to ward needs – there would be different models of engagement, including online platforms, ward walkabouts, meetings etc. Area panels would cease to operate, to be replaced by Ward Housing Hubs.

·         Opportunities for cross ward working - however, focus should be on ward priorities – closely aligned to neighbourhood working.

·         The annual review of housing stock – funding would be adjusted annually reflecting stock numbers in the Ward

·         Steps to encourage people’s involvement – particularly in areas where there has been low engagement and there has been a struggle to identify projects or spend money. It was noted that there was a need to engage with a greater number of tenants who had not been previously engaged in Area Housing Panels.

·         RotherFed would remain principal first point of contact for tenant involvement.

·         Approval for projects would be made through support from ward councillors and tenants through the Ward Housing Hubs, supported by Council officers

·         Reiteration that projects would align with ward priorities and would need to meet HRA funding criteria.

·         Clarity was sought about budgets and areas of spend.  This would be project specific, but generally speaking funding for smaller scale projects could be accommodated within the Ward Housing budget, but larger scale projects would have to be funded through the Housing Capital Programme.

·         Customer access still to be further developed through digital channels, however with recognition that there may need to be other channels available for people who may have difficulty with digital access. Most younger tenants have access to the internet through mobile phone contracts. Free access to wifi was available in local libraries and was also being rolled out in some of the Housing neighbourhood centres.

·         Need to publicise the benefits of ward based working and successes. There was also a need to move swiftly on projects, with regular updates provided to ward members and groups on progress.

·         Awareness raising would take place with officers to update them of new arrangements.

·         Process for conflict resolution was discussed, particularly in two member wards.  Any issues arising would be considered by the Cabinet Member for Housing, as portfolio holder and Head of Housing Operational Services, as senior officer for tenant involvement and associated budget.

·         Closer working with Parish/Town Councils was welcomed; however, clarification was sought about how this would be facilitated.

 

Overall, Members had indicated their broad support for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 100.

101.

Urgent Business

 

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

Minutes:

The Chair advised that there were no urgent items of business requiring the consideration of the Board at the meeting.

102.

Date and time of next meeting

 

The next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board will be held on Wednesday 15 January 2019 at 11.00 a.m. at Rotherham Town Hall.

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that this was the final meeting of the calendar year and placed on record his thanks to Board Members, Cabinet Members and officers for their work in supporting the work of Overview and Scrutiny in Rotherham. Furthermore, he took the opportunity to wish Members and officers a very merry Christmas and conveyed his good wishes for the new year.

 

Resolved:-

 

That the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board be held on Wednesday 15 January 2020 at 11.00 a.m. at Rotherham Town Hall.