Agenda and minutes
Venue: The Committee Room, Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE
Contact: Sarah Buffrey
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
To receive any apologies for absence.
There were no apologies from members of the cabinet.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
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.
To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 27 October 2022.
Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 27 October 2022 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairperson.
To receive questions from members of the public.
Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 1 to the minutes.
To receive questions from councillors.
Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 2 to the minutes.
To receive reports from the Council’s scrutiny committees on any recommendations to the Cabinet arising from recent scrutiny committee meetings.
The chairperson of the Health, Care and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee presented the recommendations of the committee following its recent consideration of obesity in Herefordshire. The committee made 15 recommendations to Cabinet.
It was resolved:
a) That the recommendations on Obesity in Herefordshire made by the Health, Care and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on the 23rd September 2022 be noted; and
b) That an Executive Response to the scrutiny recommendations be prepared for consideration by the Cabinet within two months.
To approve the drawdown of tranche two funding against progress of the transformation programme of £6.49m which includes the £1m as approved under delegation from the Director of Resources and Assurance in July 2022 for Children's Transformation in immediate response to the Ofsted Inspection in July 2022.
The cabinet member children and families introduced the report and thanked colleagues for their support concerning the improvement journey for children’s services. The corporate director children and young people explained the purpose of the additional resource requested and the impact of the first tranche of the funding.
In discussion of the report it was noted that:
· The children’s commissioner would make recommendations shortly;
· Officers were confident that the improvement in case rates and other measures represented genuine change and that the actions taken early in 2022 were now starting to take effect;
· It was important that the council explained the changes and improvements to children and young people, this was an area that had been poor in the past and work was ongoing to develop channels of communication.
Group leaders gave the views of and raised queries for their groups. Progress was generally welcomed and in response to points raised it was noted that:
· The improvement plan would be fully scrutinised by the children and young people scrutiny committee;
· All elements of the budget setting would be closely examined;
· The children’s commissioner is expected to complete her report in December, all councillors would be briefed early in the New Year;
· The additional management capacity had improved regularity and quality of supervision, care would be taken not to disproportionally remove that support in the future;
· Learning reviews took place when complaints were received to ensure managers understood where things had gone wrong;
· Numbers of children in the care of the council were expected to reduce as permanent arrangements were put in place for current cases;
· The numbers of children coming in to care had already reduced and more resources should be able to be put into early help in future to further reduce numbers.
It was resolved that:
a) Cabinet authorise the drawdown of tranche two funding as per the cabinet decision in March 2022 up to the value of £6.49m which is being funded from the Financial Resilience Reserve;
b) Cabinet receive this report on progress of the children’s transformation journey as requested in the March 2022 cabinet upon drawing tranche two funding;
c) Cabinet authorise delegation to the Corporate Director for Children and Young People in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Children’s and Family Services, and Young People’s Attainment; the Cabinet Member for Finance, Corporate Services and Planning; and the council’s Director for Resources and Assurance to take all operational decisions relating to the further £6.49m of funding available;
d) Cabinet receive a further update on the precise allocation of tranche 2 funding in the new year of 2023 which will reflect up-to-date priorities and focus in light of the Ofsted Improvement Action Plan currently in development and also the recommendations of the Commissioner for Children’s Services, expected to be submitted to the Secretary of State in December.
To agree which of the presented recommendations, if any, present a preferred way forward regarding the investment in council owned heritage sites within Hereford city centre, namely, Shirehall to inform the capital bid process and to invite Cabinet to propose alternative recommendations for further development and consideration.
The cabinet member commissioning, procurement and assets introduced the report. She explained that her preference was to invest in and celebrate the council’s civic buildings and that options for a civic hub at the Shirehall had been explored. However it would irresponsible to take the decision to press ahead without careful consideration of the financial position of the council.
Cabinet members discussed the report and noted the building was of significant local importance. The costs to refurbish the building are considerable and the council had other priorities such as the investment in children’s services. It was proposed and seconded that option 3 in the report be approved, placing the report on hold to allow the council to take stock and have clarity on the financial situation.
Group leaders gave the views and queries from their groups. There was general support for retaining the building and concern that delays might cause the building to deteriorate further. The financial constraints were recognised and in response to queries it was confirmed that external sources of funding would be pursued in the interim.
It was resolved that:
a) Cabinet agree to place the report on hold to allow further investigations on potential future uses of the building linked to the outcome of the Corporate Asset Review and the outcome of the planned asset transfer of the Town Hall;
b) Delegated authority is given to the Director Resources and Assurance following consultation with the Cabinet Member for Commissioning, Procurement and Assets to take all operational decisions necessary to implement this recommendation;
c) The staff car park (M-F) at the Shirehall be reviewed to consider if it can be made available for public pay and display parking for seven days per week until a formal decision on the future of the site can be made;
d) Delegated authority is given to the Director Economy & Environment following consultation with the Cabinet Member Infrastructure and Transport to take operational decisions necessary to alter the parking order at Shirehall temporarily.
To seek cabinet approval to submit the Rural England Prosperity Fund (RPF) Addendum (Appendix A) to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) Investment Plan to government on 30 November 2022. Government has allocated Herefordshire £1,705,669 of RPF, subject to the submission, and approval, of an Addendum.
The cabinet member environment and economy introduced the report. Cabinet members welcomed the funding but noted it was less than the county had typically received under European funding programmes which this was intended to replace. It was hoped that further funding would be made available in the future.
Group leaders gave the views and queries of their groups. The funding was welcomed but there was disappointment at the level of funding offered. The needs of rural areas and businesses were highlighted.
It was resolved that:
a) Cabinet approve the submission of the Herefordshire Rural England Prosperity Fund Addendum to government, in order to secure up to £1,705,669 of funding for the county;
b) Authority to make any final technical amendments to the Addendum submission is delegated to the Corporate Director for Economy and Environment following consultation with the Cabinet Member for Economy and Environment;
c) Should the Addendum be approved, the Council agrees to be the accountable body for the implementation of the RPF allocation and the resulting projects; and
d) Authority is delegated to the Chief Executive Officer and the Section 151 Officer to formally submit the bids by the 30 November 2022 deadline.
To review performance for Quarter 2 2022/23 and the forecast budget outturn for the year.
To provide assurance that progress has been made towards delivery of the agreed revenue budget and service delivery targets, and that the reasons for major variances or potential under-performance are understood and are being addressed to the cabinet’s satisfaction.
The cabinet member finance, corporate services and planning introduced the report and highlighted that:
· The current forecast was for a net overspend of £8.7m after the use of reserves and actions to redress overspends;
· Provision of children’s social care continued to experienced increased demand and work continued to reduce placement costs;
· Delivery of the capital programme had been impacted by covid and increased costs;
· More than 90% of planned savings have been delivered or are on track;
· More than 80% of performance targets have been delivered or are on track;
· Costs in children’s services presented a serious risk for the council and the use of reserves to manage this was not a sustainable position.
Cabinet members highlighted key developments within their portfolio areas.
Group leaders gave the views and queries of their groups. The challenging financial situation was noted and in response to queries it was confirmed that recovery programmes were in place. The council was seeking to close the gap as much as possible however inflationary pressures were significant and there was no additional funding for councils from the government.
It was resolved that:
a) Cabinet, having reviewed performance and financial forecast for year 2022/23, as set out in the appendices A-E, had not identified any additional actions to be considered to achieve future improvements.