Agenda and minutes

Venue: Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE

Contact: Sarah Buffrey 

Link: Watch the recording on the Herefordshire Council Youtube channel

No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies were received from Cllr Pauline Crockett.



To receive declarations of interests in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.




MINUTES pdf icon PDF 746 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 24 November 2022.


Resolved:       That the minutes of the meeting held on 24 November 2022 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairperson.




Questions from members of the public pdf icon PDF 281 KB

To receive questions from members of the public.


Additional documents:


Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 1 to the minutes.


Questions from councillors pdf icon PDF 188 KB

To receive questions from councillors.


Additional documents:


Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 2 to the minutes.


Reports from Scrutiny Committees

To receive reports from the Council’s scrutiny committees on any recommendations to the Cabinet arising from recent scrutiny committee meetings.


The recommendations from the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee in relation to the Children’s Improvement Action Plan were dealt with as part of the substantive item on the agenda.


There were no other scrutiny reports to be considered.


Children’s Improvement Action Plan pdf icon PDF 468 KB

The purpose of this report is to present cabinet with the Children’s Services Improvement Plan for authorisation to submit the plan to Ofsted following the inspection in July 2022.

Additional documents:


The cabinet member children and families introduced the report and recommended that the improvement action plan be approved for submission to Ofsted. She thanked everyone who had contributed to the draft plan and explained that engagement would continue following the submission to Ofsted.


The draft improvement action plan was considered by the children and young people scrutiny committee. The cabinet member proposed that the three recommendations made by the scrutiny committee be accepted and highlighted the responses provided in the supplementary paper to the report.


Cabinet members discussed the draft plan and noted that:

·       An accessible version of the plan would be produced once it had been approved;

·       The speed of response to contacts and requests for information had improved but there was still work to do;

·       The council was working with midwifery and health visitor services to develop pathways for early support for expectant mothers and newborns, the impact of this would need to be monitored over time.


The chairperson of the children and young people scrutiny committee thanked cabinet members for the quick and positive response to the three recommendations made by the committee. He highlighted that there had been a constructive exchange between officers and members and that the additional timelines added showed the council was working at pace.


Group leaders spoke to give the views of their groups. In response to queries raised it was noted that:

·       Minor changes would be made to the text of the plan by the corporate director to clarify that the practice priorities reflected a vision rather than an aspiration;

·       Achieving appropriate permanent arrangements for children in care was a priority for the service;

·       There had been a robust scrutiny process and this would continue to ensure progress, however some activities were dependent on others being completed or sufficiently progressed;

·       It was important to listen to families and the council was working to build trust and improve the service from a low base;

·       Improving recruitment and retention of permanent staff was an urgent priority and also ensuring that the progress already made was embedded;

·       There were no measures at the moment for SEND as a new strategy was currently being worked on, appropriate measures would be identified as part of that work;

·       There would be engagement with families on improvements to the SEND service.



It was resolved that:


a)    That the Executive Response to the scrutiny recommendations on Children’s Services Improvement Action Plan (at Appendix 1), made by the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on the 13 December 2022, be agreed;


b)    Cabinet endorse the Improvement Action Plan outlined in Appendix A; and


c)    Cabinet authorise the Corporate Director for Children and Young People in consultation with the council’s Corporate Leadership Team to submit the action plan to Ofsted no later than 20 December 2022.



To Accept and Spend Any Approved UK Shared Prosperity Plan and Rural Prosperity Funds Approved by Government pdf icon PDF 238 KB

To seek cabinet approval to accept and spend the £6,642,136 of UK Shared Prosperity Funding (UKSPF) allocated to Herefordshire following government’s approval of the Investment Plan submitted in August 2022.  To also seek cabinet approval to accept and spend the £1,705,669 of Rural Prosperity Funding (RPF) allocated to Herefordshire, subject to the government approval of the required UKSPF Investment Plan Addendum submitted on the 30 November 2022.


The cabinet member environment and economy introduced the report. The plan for expenditure of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund was previously agreed by Cabinet in July 2022 and subsequently submitted to the government. An addendum to the plan was approved in November for expenditure of the additional Rural Prosperity Fund allocation.


The council had received notification that the initial shared prosperity fund plan had been approved. It was proposed that the funds be accepted and spent in line with the agreed plan.


An announcement on the rural prosperity fund was still pending but, subject to government approval being received, it was proposed that cabinet also agree to accept this fund and spend in line with the submitted addendum. It was noted that securing this approval now would allow implementation of the planned expenditure to begin promptly once confirmation of the funds was received.


Group leaders gave the views and comments of their groups, which were noted.



It was resolved that:


a)    Following government approval of the submitted Investment Plan, Cabinet approve the acceptance and expenditure of the £6,642,187of UKSPF allocated to Herefordshire (£5,507,211 Revenue and £1,134,976 capital);


b)    Subject to government approval of the submitted Addendum to the UKSPF Investment Plan, Cabinet approve the acceptance and expenditure of the £1,705,669 (capital) of RPF allocated to Herefordshire; and


c)    To delegate to the Corporate Director for Economy and Environment, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Environment and Economy and the Section 151 Officer, all operational decisions in implementing the funding in accordance with the Herefordshire UKSPF Investment Plan and RPF Addendum.


Council Tax Premiums on Second Homes & Empty Properties pdf icon PDF 239 KB

To determine options for proposed changes to Council Tax premiums as included within the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill which, subject to this Bill receiving Royal Assent prior to 31 March 2023, are due to become effective from 1 April 2024.


The cabinet member finance, corporate services and planning introduced the report. She explained that, subject to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill receiving Royal Assent, any changes to introduce additional Council Tax premiums needed to be confirmed at least 12 months ahead of their implementation. If the proposals in the report were approved they would be put to Council in the forthcoming budget information and included in the Medium Term Financial Strategy. The proposals would see additional premiums take effect from 1 April 2024 for second homes and properties that had stood empty for a period of between 1 and 2 years.


Cabinet members noted a persistent concern that Herefordshire residents struggled to buy and rent affordable housing. The use of council tax premiums was a tool to encourage owners of empty properties to bring them into use. Cabinet members also noted in discussion that:

·       Properties let as holiday rentals generate income for the local economy;

·       Similar premiums were in place in Wales and the data could be examined to judge the effectiveness and impact these measures;

·       It was estimated that implementation of these measures could provide up to £12m in additional income for the council;

·       Many second homes were in rural communities where demand for housing was high;

·       Any income generated would be part of the council tax revenue and it would be at the council’s discretion as to how it was spent.


Group leaders gave the views and queries of their groups. In response to queries raised it was confirmed that:

·       The council had good data on the number of properties these premiums might apply to, partly as a result of applications for covid grants;

·       There was a grace period for empty properties but this was not very long as the council was actively trying to bring empty properties into use;

·       There was already a premium for properties that had been empty for over 2 years, the longer the property was empty the greater the premium;

·       The Act would give the option to the council so it would have the choice whether to implement it or not.




It was resolved that:


Cabinet recommends that the following additional Council Tax premiums be applied from 1 April 2024, subject to the referenced legislation being approved:

·       100% premium for second homes;

·       100% premium for properties which have been empty and unfurnished for a period of between 1 and 2 years.