Venue: County Hall Worcester
Contact: Alison Spall/Samantha Morris Overview and Scrutiny Officers
Apologies and Welcome
Apologies were received from Mr R.J. Morris, Mr.P.Tomlinson and Mr R. Udall.
Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Head of Legal and Democratic Services in writing or by e-mail indicating the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case 21 January 2019). Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/e-mail address below.
Declarations of Interest and of any Party Whip
Confirmation of the Minutes of the Previous Meetings (previously circulated)
The Minutes of the Meetings held on the 23 October 2018 and the 7 November 2018 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
As part of the Council's development of the 2019/20 budget, the Overview and Scrutiny Panels had been asked to consider the draft budget proposals within their remit. Panels had previously carried out a review of the 2018/19 budget position at their meetings in November 2018. The Panel's views would contribute to the Overview and Scrutiny's overall response to the budget which was being discussed by the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board on 24 January 2019.
The Chief Financial Officer made the following initial points to set context:
· An outline of the budget process was provided. Feedback from the Overview and Scrutiny Panels would be considered at the OSPB on 24 January, following which approval for the budget would be sought at Cabinet on 31 January.
· The Forecast Outturn for 2018/19 position at Period 7 was still around the £3M overspend level and it was anticipated to remain at this level for Period 8.
· The Council's net income would increase by £6.2M in 2019/20. Despite a decrease in the Government's general funding, the significantly increased income through Council Tax and business rates, meant that the overall income position was positive.
· Despite the increase in income, the pressures on the Council's finances meant that there was still a projected shortfall for the 2019/20 budget of £22.9M. The Council's actions had already resulted in significant savings towards this shortfall, but a further £14.5M was needed to close the gap. The Panel was referred to Appendix 1C of the Cabinet report of 13 December at agenda item 4, where full details of proposed new savings, reforms and income proposals were set out, some of which came under the remit of this Panel.
· The Chief Financial Officer drew members attention to the detailed investment plans to prepare for the future by ensuring that the Council was operating efficiently and effectively and the main areas of the Transformation programme. He also highlighted the General Fund Reserves Assessment at Appendix 3 but assured Members that there was no need to access reserves at this time.
· The Director of Commercial and Commissioning (the Director) stressed that the key areas in the Transformation Programme, set out below, must be delivered this coming financial year in addition to all of the Council's other services.
· Adult social care
· Children's Services
· Commercial procurement and efficiency
· Reshaping and redesign of services in partnership and through digital technology
The following main points were raised:
· The CMR for Transformation and Commissioning advised that work was pushing ahead on producing a new Procurement Strategy. Once this was in a suitable draft format, it would be brought to this Panel to enable Members to have an input. The Director informed the Panel that adding social value (e.g. local spend, apprenticeships etc.) was a key driver in the work being done. This linked to Corp 2 in Appendix 1C referred to above. Members were interested in the value of the local pound to the Council and any mechanisms being used to quantify this. The Director advised that some ... view the full minutes text for item 243.
The Panel received an update on the recent activity that had been undertaken in relation to maximising income generation and the strategy and plan for 2018/19 and 2019/20. The Panel was advised that the Strategy would be developed within the wider context of the organisational redesign and existing plans to refine the Council's procurement strategy.
The Director advised that officers had reflected on the questions raised by Panel members during the presentation they received last May. He explained that there was the desire and intention to develop the Council's commercial capability to contribute to the wider sustainability of the Council. The process of reviewing the Council's current trading activity had commenced to gain an understanding of the financial sustainability and opportunities for growth. The question would be asked as to whether these activities were worth continuing with or whether it was time to cease that activity. The importance of ensuring that the schemes had the support and skills necessary to grow the revenue streams was highlighted.
The Panel was informed that a Trading and Income generation strategy was being developed which would form part of the overall commercial strategy alongside procurement and contract management. This work was on track, but not yet completed.
Appendix 1 was referred to, which highlighted some of the trading initiatives which had been introduced around the country. It was noted that such activity was not risk free and it was difficult to make significant surpluses from such activities, however with a creative and innovative approach, there was much to be gained.
The Panel was asked for any ideas on income generating ideas. A discussion took place about the business sector and the need to encourage new businesses and help them to develop. Specific ideas discussed included:
· loans being offered to small businesses
· working with District Councils towards the development of housing
· further work on maximising the value of land being sold in terms of the future usage
· maximising dividend streams from shares in utilities companies
· The upskilling of in-house staff to reduce the need to use Consultants
· Opportunities for Highways charging
· Review of charges to Parishes and their ability to deliver services at a local level
The CMR Communities provided some details regarding the charging scheme within the Archives service which was currently under review.
It was agreed that the Director would arrange an informal session, whereby Members could share any ideas they had on income generation and also receive further briefing on the emerging Trading and Income generation strategy.
The Panel received a copy of its current Work Programme to review. After discussion, the following actions were agreed.
1. Worcestershire County Council workforce.
This item was scheduled for the Panel's March 2019 meeting. A Member asked that the following information be included:
· Details of the graduate scheme
· Information on apprenticeship schemes
· Breakdown of Agency staff
· Outcome of the Voluntary redundancy scheme – which areas of the Council’s activity had lost staff as a result of this
2. Councillor IT.
This item should be included for the Panel's May 2019 meeting. An update on the management structure and strategic plan for the IT service was also requested for this meeting.
3. Libraries Re-Modelling.
This item was scheduled for the Panel's March 2019 meeting. A site visit to view the operation of open libraries to be arranged, to take place in advance of the March meeting.
This item to be added to the Work Programme. Issues for consideration:
· Consideration of Council locations where voluntary support would be welcomed
· how volunteering can be enabled and expanded
· any obstacles which need to be considered