Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Management Board - Wednesday 15 December 2021 11.00 a.m.

Venue: Council Chamber - Rotherham Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham, South Yorkshire S60 2TH. View directions

Contact: Martin Elliott, Governance Adviser Tel: 01709 254407 email:  martin.elliott@rotherham.gov.uk  The webcast can be viewed at http://www.rotherham.public-i.tv

Items
No. Item

70.

Minutes of the previous meetings held on 3 and 17 November 2021 pdf icon PDF 139 KB

To consider the minutes of the previous meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board held on 3 and 17 November 2021 and to approve them as a true and correct record of the proceedings.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved: - That the Minutes of the meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board held on 3 and 17 November 2021 be approved as a true record.

71.

Declarations of Interest

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

Minutes:

Councillor Wyatt declared a disclosable pecuniary interest in agenda items 7 and 8 (Housing Revenue Account Business Plan 2020-21 and Housing Rent and Service Charges 2022-23), as he was the holder a garage tenancy with the Council.

72.

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.

73.

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 of business that required the exclusion of the public or press.

74.

Annual Complaints Report pdf icon PDF 280 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Assistant Chief Executive that presented the annual summary of compliments and complaints received by the Council. The Cabinet Member - Finance and Corporate Services, the Assistant Chief Executive and the Corporate Complaints Manager attended the meeting to present the report.

 

In introducing the report, the Cabinet Member - Finance and Corporate Services noted that the purpose of the annual complaint report was to outline the complaints and compliments that the Council had received in the period 1 April 2020 – 31 March 2021 and to highlight key themes and also longer-term trends that it highlighted.

 

The key issues detailed in the report were:

 

·       The overall number of complaints received by the Council had decreased by 32%, going from 1,372 in 2019/20 to 931. This decrease had been driven by the reduction of complaints in the first quarter of 2020. 349 complaints were received in the first quarter of 2019/20 compared to 135 complaints received in the first quarter of 2020/21(61% decrease).

 

·       All Council departments had seen a decrease in complaints from the previous year. It was fully expected that the number of complaints received in the current financial year, 2021-22 would return to near average levels continuing the trends seen over the last five years.

 

·       The largest percentage decrease of complaints received had been in the Finance and Customer services directorate with the number reducing from 182 to 76, 58%, followed by Children and Young People’s Services reducing from 147 to 86, 41%. In line with the overall Council average decrease (32%), Housing Services complaints had decreased from 551 to 367, 33%. Adult Social Care complaints had reduced from 72 to 48, 33% and Public Health complaints had decreased from 4 to 3, 33%. The smallest percentage decrease had been in Regeneration and Environment Services that decreased from 411 to 346, 16%. Complaints received by the Assistant Chief Executive’s directorate had remained unchanged with five complaints being received. 

 

·       Overall, 86% of complaints had been responded to within timescales, compared with 89% of complaints during 2019/20.This had been better than the five-year all council average of 84%. The response rate had significantly increased in Adult Social Care (85% 2020/21 from 73% 2019/20). The response rate had remained the same in Children’s and Young Peoples services (83% 2020/21 and 83% 2019/20). Response rates in other areas had decreased slightly but remained over target overall.

 

·       The number of compliments that had been received decreased to 695 received in 2020/21, in comparison to 794 in 2019/20.

 

·       The most frequent category of complaints that had been received by the Council had again been ‘quality of service’, accounting for 35% of all complaints (325 of 931.)

 

·       Fewer complaints had been escalated to Stage 2 of the complaint’s procedure, at 25 (in contrast with 31 in 2019/20.) Of the 931 complaints that had been taken through the Council’s formal complaints procedures, fewer had been upheld in 2020/21 at 235 or 26%, in contrast with the 365 or 27% that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 74.

75.

HRA Business Plan 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 278 KB

Cabinet Portfolio: - Housing

 

Strategic Directorate: - Adult Care, Housing and Public Health

 

Report to follow

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 20 December 2021 regarding the proposed Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Business Plan 2022/23. The Cabinet Member for Housing, the Acting Assistant Director of Housing and the Interim Head of Housing Operational Services attended the meeting to present the report.

 

The report stated that the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) recorded all expenditure and income relating to the provision of council housing and related services and as such the Council was required to produce an HRA Business Plan that was reviewed annually to set out its investment priorities over a 30-year period.

 

In introducing the report, the Cabinet Member for Housing noted that since the last update of the plan there had been significant policy changes that had impacted on the delivery of business plan, specifically relating to the Council’s commitment to become net zero carbon by 2030 following the government’s target for the UK to achieve net zero carbon by 2050. The Cabinet Member noted that this created a significant financial challenge for the HRA Business Plan that would require further consideration even based on the government’s 2050 target.

 

Members asked for further information on the challenges of delivering the HRA Business Plan in the context of the Council’s commitment to become net zero carbon by 2030 following the government’s target for the UK to achieve net zero carbon by 2050. The Cabinet Member advised that the net carbon commitments had created a significant financial challenge for the HRA Business Plan as it would require an estimated £585 million to achieve net zero carbon emissions in Council Housing. The Cabinet Member noted that given the scale of the financial challenge the HRA did not have sufficient resources to achieve net zero carbon by 2030 and to even achieve net zero carbon by 2050 and as such the government’s target, would be extremely challenging to achieve. The Cabinet Member advised that due to the scale of the challenge activity around reducing the carbon impact of the HRA Business Plan would be focused where it would have maximum impact. The Acting Assistant Director of Housing assured members that significant work was being carried out to look at the various options for how the Council’s housing stock could be decarbonised, become more energy efficient and to establish the level of investment required to achieve these changes. The Acting Assistant Director of Housing advised that officers would be working with other social housing providers to share best practice on how to meet the challenges related to decarbonising the Council’s housing stock and that all possible options to secure extra resources to support the changes required would be explored.

 

Members asked what the implications would be for the Council if it was unable to meet the net zero carbon targets. The Acting Assistant Director of Housing assured members that when the current work that was being carried out to establish which activities would deliver maximum benefit regarding  ...  view the full minutes text for item 75.

76.

Housing Rent and Service Charges 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 271 KB

Cabinet Portfolio: - Housing

 

Strategic Directorate: - Adult Care, Housing and Public Health

 

Report to follow

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 20 December 2021 regarding the proposed Housing Revenue Account Rents and Service Charges for 2022/23. The Cabinet Member for Housing, the Acting Assistant Director of Housing and the Interim Head of Housing Operational Services attended the meeting to present the report.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing noted that the report would be considered in conjunction with the Housing Revenue Account Business Plan report that members had already discussed as the as proposed rents and service charges for 2022/23 supported the assumptions that had been used in the preparation of the in the Business Plan. 

 

The Cabinet Member advised that it was being recommended that for 2022/23 that housing rents should be increased by 4.1%. The Cabinet Member advised that this increase was in line with the Government policy on rents for social housing and that this would increase rents by CPI (as of September 2021) plus 1% in 2022/23. It was noted that as a result there would be an average rent increase of £3.09 per week from £75.45 to £78.54 per week.

 

It was noted that for non-dwelling properties, such as garages, garage plots, cooking gas supplies and communal facilities that a 2% increase was being recommended in order to enable cost of supplying and managing these services to be covered. It was also proposed that due to the significant increase in the prices of utilities that there should be a tapered increase over four years for district heating charges. It was noted that this would result in a 15% increase to the current unit cost in 2022/23 and further increases of 12%, 9% and 7.3% over the following three years.

 

The Chair thanked the Cabinet Member for Housing, the Acting Assistant Director of Housing and the Interim Head of Housing Operational Services for attending the meeting and presenting the report. The Chair advised that the Board had no further questions as members had had the opportunity to discuss all areas of concern and interest during the consideration of the Housing Revenue Account Business Plan report.

 

Councillor Carter requested that his opposition to 4.1% increase to housing rents be recorded.

 

Resolved: -

 

That Cabinet be advised that the recommendations be supported.

77.

Medium Term Financial Strategy pdf icon PDF 445 KB

Cabinet Portfolio: - Corporate Services, Community Safety and Finance

 

Strategic Directorate: - Finance and Customer Services

 

Report to follow

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 20 December 2021 regarding the updated Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS). The Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Community Safety and Finance, the Strategic Director – Finance and Customer Services and the Assistant Director - Financial Services attended the meeting to present the report.

 

In introducing the report, the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Community Safety and Finance noted that the report set out a review and update of the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy up to 2025/26 following the release of the Government’s Spending Review 2021. It was noted that the MTFS would be revised further in advance of the Council Budget setting meeting in March 2022 in order to take account of the Local Government Finance Settlement for 2022/23 and budget policy proposals on levels of council tax and fees and charges and of any budget investment.

 

The Cabinet Member advised that the MTFS review alongside the latest Financial Monitoring 2021/22 report to Cabinet in November envisaged a balanced financial outturn position being achieved for 2021/22 and made recommendations on reserving funds and savings from 2021/22 in order to support the budget over the medium term. It was also noted that the MTFS forecasts had identified that a balanced budget for 2022/23 could be set with a small funding gap for the following two years. The Strategic Director – Finance and Customer Services advised that the report was a technical update and was a forerunner to the full budget report that would be due early in 2022. The Strategic Director noted that the local government finance settlement that was scheduled to be announced on 16 December along with the latest inflation figures would result in further updates to the figures that were contained in the MTFS.

 

Members asked whether a backup plan was in place should the work that the Council was carrying out with the Department for Education (DfE) to support local authorities that had large Dedicated School Grant (DSG) deficits did not achieve a mutually agreeable solution of eliminating the Council’s DSG deficit and securing a sustainable DSG position. The Strategic Director advised that current strategy was to carry on in with the negotiations with the DfE in order to reach a sustainable position with regard to the DSG and as such there wasn’t a fully formed backup plan in place. The Strategic Director advised that if negotiations ended without an agreement in place then the Council would need to look at utilising its own resources to support the DSG.

 

Members asked for further information regarding council tax collection rates. The Assistant Director - Financial Services advised that collection rates had increased during 2020/21 from the previous year, noting that this was a very positive outcome given the financial difficulties that many residents had faced during the pandemic. The Assistant Director also noted how favourably Rotherham compared to other similar local authorities with regards to council tax collection rates.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 77.

78.

New Council Plan 2022-2025 pdf icon PDF 302 KB

Cabinet Portfolio: - Leader

 

Strategic Directorate: - Assistant Chief Executive

 

Report to follow

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 20 December 2021 regarding the Council Plan 2022-2025 and Year Ahead Delivery Plan. The Leader, the Chief Executive, the Assistant Chief Executive and the Acting Head of Policy, Performance, and Intelligence attended the meeting to present the report.

 

In introducing the report, the Leader noted that in September 2020 the Council had adopted a Year Ahead Plan as the Council Plan for operating within the Covid-19 pandemic. It was noted that the plan had been extended in March 2021 and that it ended in November 2021. The Leader advised that informed by public consultation, a new Council Plan had been developed for 2022-25. The report stated that the plan was a key document that set out the Council’s vision for the Borough and its priorities for serving residents and communities.

 

The Leader noted the wide-ranging consultation that had been carried out with residents and key stakeholders in the development of the plan. The Leader advised that the new Council Plan set out medium-term priorities and actions and was framed around the five themes of:

 

·       Every neighbourhood thriving

·       People are safe, healthy, and live well

·       Every child able to fulfil their potential

·       Expanding economic opportunity

·       A cleaner, greener local environment.

 

The Leader noted that these five themes would be underpinned by a cross-cutting strand - ‘One Council’ – that set out how the Council would operate to achieve the vision of the plan.

 

The Leader advised that the Council Plan would be monitored through both the delivery of milestones and activities that would be detailed in a Year Ahead Delivery Plan and monitored by a set of performance measures. The Leader noted that in order to ensure that the Council Plan was managed effectively, quarterly progress reports would be produced for Cabinet and would be made publicly available.

 

The full Council Plan 2022-25 and the Year Ahead Delivery Plan 2022 were attached as appendices to the officer’s report.

 

Members welcomed the new Council Plan and its clarity, aspiration and ambition.

 

Members noted the commendable objective contained in the plan regarding the expansion of opportunities for all and in ensuring that no one in the Borough was left behind but asked how this very challenging task would be achieved. The Leader acknowledged that achieving this objective would be very challenging but advised that the activities included elsewhere in the plan around growing the local economy, creating high quality jobs, supporting local businesses and wider regeneration activities would support the delivery of this objective. The Leader also noted the Council’s commitment to providing security to residents in the provision of good quality housing, support with council tax payments and crisis support for those in need.

 

Members asked for further information on how the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that had been included in the plan had been arrived at, noting that some of the KPI’s had not had target levels of performance set. The Leader  ...  view the full minutes text for item 78.

79.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 304 KB

To consider the Board’s Work Programme.

Minutes:

The Board considered its Work Programme. The Chair noted that she had considered the items pending scheduling removal detailed on the Work Programme and advised that as a result all of the outstanding items had been removed, allocated to a select commission or had been selected to be the subject of a one off briefing for Overview and Scrutiny Management Board Members.

 

Resolved: -

 

1)    That the Work Programme be approved.

 

2)    That a workshop session on performance monitoring of Children’s and Young People’s services be arranged for members of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board.

80.

Forward Plan of Key Decisions - 1 December 2021 - 28 February 2022 pdf icon PDF 463 KB

To review and identify items for pre-decision scrutiny from the Forward Plan of Key Decisions covering the period 1 December 2021 - 28 February 2022.

Minutes:

The Board considered the Forward Plan of Key Decisions for the period 1 December 2021 – 28 February 2022.

 

Resolved: - That the Forward Plan be noted.

81.

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 urgent items.

82.

Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board will be held on Wednesday 19 January at 11am at Rotherham Town Hall.

Minutes:

Resolved: -

 

1)    That the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board will be held at 11am on Wednesday 19 January 2022 at Rotherham Town Hall.

 

2)    That an additional meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board be held at 11am on Thursday 27 January 2022 at Rotherham Town Hall.