Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny & Overview Committee
Tuesday, 10th September, 2019 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX. View directions

Contact: Simon Trevaskis
0208 7266000  Email: simon.trevaskis@croydon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

24/19

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 125 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 10 July 2019 as an accurate record.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 16 July 2019 were agreed as an accurate record.

 

25/19

Disclosure of Interests

In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to register disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) and gifts and hospitality to the value of which exceeds £50 or multiple gifts and/or instances of hospitality with a cumulative value of £50 or more when received from a single donor within a rolling twelve month period. In addition, Members and co-opted Members are reminded that unless their disclosable pecuniary interest is registered on the register of interests or is the subject of a pending notification to the Monitoring Officer, they are required to disclose those disclosable pecuniary interests at the meeting. This should be done by completing the Disclosure of Interest form and handing it to the Democratic Services representative at the start of the meeting. The Chair will then invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3. Completed disclosure forms will be provided to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion on the Register of Members’ Interests.

 

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest made at the meeting.

26/19

Urgent Business (if any)

To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.

 

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

 

27/19

Report from the Chief Executive pdf icon PDF 818 KB

The Committee is invited to:

i)      Note the financial and national context within which we are operating

ii)     Note the progress in system redesign, with services focused on prevention, collaboration and locality based working

iii)    Note the improvements made with Croydon Children’s Services

iv)    Note the work undertaken to engage staff in the development of a new Workforce Strategy

v)     Note plans to undertake an external equalities assessment through the LGA

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation from the Chief Executive and Head of Paid Service of Croydon Council, Jo Negrini. During the course of the Chief Executive’s presentation the following points were noted:-

·         The population of Croydon continued to grow with current estimates indicating that nearly 400,000 people were living in the borough, with it predicted that the population would continue to rise to approximately 445,000 by 2031. As Croydon was one of the top five most affordable boroughs in London it had led to poverty being exported from central London, which placed an increased demand upon the Council’s services.

·         Having the Home Office located in Croydon created additional demand for support from unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) and other people in need which also placed a significant demand on Council services.

·         Brexit continued to impact upon other areas of government, such as the comprehensive spending review which had only covered the forthcoming year when it had been expected to cover a number of years. Which together with uncertainty over the future of the business rate retention scheme meant that it was difficult to predict how the Council’s finances would be impacted in the coming years.

·         Key budget pressures included the cost of supporting UASC, a shortfall in the Dedicated Schools Grant, an increased demand for Special Educational Needs transport and the high cost for placements within the Adults Service.

·         In light of the changing financial landscape a refreshed Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) was being prepared taking into account the latest information. The MTFS would include a focus on identifying efficiencies, increasing reserves and maximise income generation capabilities with a view to putting the Council on a firm financial footing.

·         A series of sprint sessions to address the budget shortfall had been arranged for early September. These sessions were focused towards areas of high cost, such as Children’s and Adults services, as it was recognised that the biggest impact would be achieved from doing things differently in these areas. Arising from these sessions would be proposals for consideration at a Cabinet Away Day scheduled for the end of the month.

·         One of the key aims of locality working was to deliver services in different parts of the borough which were designed to specific local needs. As part of this the Council was working on health and social care integration including linking localities to provide joined-up services.

·         The first localities pilot was based in North Croydon as there was an existing level of partnership working in the area. It was also known that there was a high demand for Children’s services and the localities work included a combination of both acute and preventative services. Work also continued on two other localities pilots which were based in New Addington and South Croydon.

·         Preparations continued to be made for the possible impact from Brexit with work being coordinated with partners such as the Croydon Health Service NHS Trust and the Police, through the London Resilience Forum. The looked after children who needed to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27/19

28/19

Question Time: Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources pdf icon PDF 242 KB

Question time with the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, Councillor Simon Hall.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, Councillor Simon Hall, was in attendance at the meeting to provide the Committee with an update on his Portfolio and answer questions arising. 

During the course of the presentation, the following points were noted:-

·         It was highlighted that Croydon had lost three quarters of its funding from central government since the start of austerity in 2010.  The General Fund balance had remained stable over the past 5 years and was actually showing a percentage increase due to budgetary control over that time period. In comparison to other London authorities the level of reserves held by the Council was relatively low and as such required careful management.

·         From the 2018-2019 accounts there had been a revenue overspend of £5,466m, with this mainly attributed to an overspend on support for unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) and a growing demand for high needs educational services.

·         For the 2020-2021 budget a funding gap of £12.5m had been identified which was being addressed through ‘sprint sessions’ taking a detailed look at specific areas of the budget to identify areas of either saving or growth. A key driver of these sessions was to develop realistic options that did not lead to unintended consequences further down the line. Due to a lack of clarity from central government over funding there was a greater level of uncertainty in the budget than would usually be expected.

·         From the recently announced Government Spending Review it would appear that cuts to grants were stopping and in some areas such as public health there would be a modest increase. The Adult Social Care precept had been extended and there would also be additional funding for Special Educational Needs provision. As the Business Rate Retention Scheme had ended in London, but continued across the rest of the country, it was hoped that the decision for London may be reversed.

·         Electoral Services were currently running the annual canvass with a 57% response rate to date and 74% of electors matched. Home visits to non-responding properties would begin in October. There was a total of 267,776 electors in the borough, 8.7% of which were European Union nationals.

·         The Polling District and Polling Place Review had been completed with a report due to be considered by Council later in the year, however significant change was not expected. The Electoral Services team had started preparations for the possibility of a General Election with staff being put on stand-by, contact being made with polling stations and the main contractors such as those responsible for printing.

·         The new Croydon Digital Service had seen a strong start with a new culture being displayed within the team.  Work undertaken so far included a seamless move to new suppliers and a website review was underway. Work had been prioritised towards those systems that would make the most difference for residents.

·         A new strategy for commissioning and contract management was being implemented which included a focus on social value and local procurement as well as cost.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28/19

29/19

Scrutiny Work Programme 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 195 KB

The Committee are presented with the latest version of the Scrutiny Work Programme for 2019-20 for their information.

Minutes:

Resolved: That the work programme for the Scrutiny and Overview Committee and it Sub-Committees be noted.

30/19

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The following motion is to be moved and seconded where it is proposed to exclude the press and public from the remainder of a meeting:

 

“That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information falling within those paragraphs indicated in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended.”

 

 

Minutes:

This motion was not required.