Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny & Overview Committee
Tuesday, 10th July, 2018 5.00 pm

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

Contact: Simon Trevaskis
0208 7266000 x 64840  Email: simon.trevaskis@croydon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

3/18

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 91 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 6th March & 23rd May 2018 as an accurate record.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meetings held on 6 March and 23May 2018 were agreed as an accurate record and signed by the Chairman.

4/18

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 none.

 

5/18

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.

 

6/18

Leader's Question Time pdf icon PDF 3 MB

Minutes:

The Leader of Croydon Council, Councillor Tony Newman, was in attendance at the meeting to provide an update on the Administration’s plans for the next four years which would be based upon the 283 pledges set out in the Labour Party election manifesto, Ambitious for Croydon. During the course of the Leaders presentation the following was noted:-

·The redevelopment of the Fairfield Halls was on track for the venue to reopen in early 2019. It was expected that information about acts appearing at the Halls would be announced in the near future.

·The Onside Youth Zone, which was being delivered through a combination of public and private investment, was currently onsite and was due to open next year. Once complete it would provide an excellent facility for young people across the borough.

·A recent peer review of Adult Social Care had highlighted the excellent performance within the Service.

·Following the inadequate rating of Children’s Services in September 2017, further investment had been allocated to continue the work to drive improvements in the Service, with real progress being shown. There were wider issues relating to the underfunding of Children’s Services across country but this had not stopped progress from being made.

·Progress continued to be made on the Westfield/Hammerson regeneration project for the town centre of Croydon, which had received support from both City Hall and the Government. Going forward, over next few years, it would be a huge challenge for the Council to oversee a project of the magnitude proposed.

·A new Corporal Plan was being developed and would be brought to Council in September. The Plan would translate the Labour Party Election Manifesto into a plan for the next four years. The Plan would emphasis working with the public and local communities and in particular focus on how the Council delivers its Services and who with.

·In recent years there had been cuts to local Government funding from central Government of approximately 65 – 70%. It was a tribute to the work and foresight of the Council that it was in a reasonably fortunate position in comparison to many other local authorities, but the impact from the cuts should not be underestimated. Looking forward, Croydon Council would be well placed to benefit from the Government’s new scheme which would see local authorities being able to retain a large proportion of any new business rates generated within the Borough.

·Progress on the Clean, Green, Sustainable Croydon project continued with a new scheme for household waste and recycling due to be launched in September 2018.

·The Healthy Croydon project continued to frame the health agenda with a focus upon prevention. Given the reduction in funding over recent years it was essential to develop new and innovative services with partners that met resident’s needs.

·Safer Croydon was a campaign to reduce knife crime in Croydon. Recent statistic had shown that Croydon was the only borough in London which had seen a decrease in knife crime, which demonstrated that the project was having  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6/18

7/18

Pre-Decision Financial Strategy 2018/22 pdf icon PDF 15 KB

To provide input into the Council’s Financial Strategy 2018/22 ahead of it being presented to Cabinet in September 2018.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources, Councillor Simon Hall, and the Executive Director of Resources & S151 Officer, Richard Simpson, gave a presentation to the Committee on the background to setting the new Financial Strategy for 2018 to 2022. The Committee was asked for any recommendations it wanted to make on the process, which would be fed into the production of the final Strategy, to be considered by the Cabinet in September. During the course of the presentation the following was noted:

·      It was intended that the new four year Financial Strategy would dovetail with the Corporate Plan, which would also be considered by the Cabinet in September. The Strategy would look to build upon the approach of the Administration over the past four years.

·      At the end of the last financial year the Council had a £5m net overspend in its budget, which could principally be attributed to spending in the People department relating to work required as a result of the Ofsted Inspection of Children’s Services. This overspend had been balanced by a £4.7m surplus in the collection fund and £332,000 from the general fund balance.

·      The level of earmarked reserves had increased with a significant receipt from the Right to Buy scheme that the Council would look to use for the provision of new affordable housing.

·      A recent rule change meant that Local Authorities now had greater flexibility around how it used capital receipts. Previously these could only be used for other capital expenditure, but could now be used for other purposes such as invest to save projects.

·      Since 2010/11 it had been the Council’s policy not to budget for the use of reserves to balance the budget, although there had occasionally been the need to do so as a result of overspends.

·      The funding required for Children’s Social Care was one of the biggest risks to the overall budget, with increased pressure from rising demand, the provision of Special Educational Needs transport and the provision of support for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children.

·      With people living longer, there was also a huge demand for Adult Social Care. The Council was focused on providing support that allowed for preventative support and early help within local services. As a result, this meant that schemes needed to be pump primed before any outcomes were delivered.

·      Other considerations factored into the Financial Strategy included the Spending Review 2019, the Fair Funding Review and the new scheme for the retention of business rates.

·      Further consideration also needed to be given on the level of borrowing acquired and amount of debt taken on to invest in services and local infrastructure. At present the current repayment on the Council’s borrowing was £20m per year which was a sizable portion of the overall budget.

Following the presentation, concern was raised about the level of balances with a view taken that the budgeted savings in Children’s and Adult Social Care may be optimistic given the recent history of overspending in these areas. In response it was advised  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7/18

8/18

Annual Complaints Report 2017/2018 pdf icon PDF 175 KB

To note the Annual Complaints report for 2017/18.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Support Service Manager, Marion Leigh and the Complaints Manager, Clare Davies, were in attendance at the meeting to provide a summary of the Annual Complaints report and answer any questions arising. It was confirmed that Croydon Council operated a two stage Complaints Policy. In the first instance a complaint would be dealt with by the respective service and if the complainant did not think the response at this stage had resolved the issue, it would be escalated to the Corporate Complaints Team.

In terms of Stage 1 complaints, there had been an 8% reduction in the amount received over the past year.  Response times had also improved with 88% answered within 20 working days against a target of 90%. The number of Stage 2 complaints had also decreased by 8% as well. Response times had also improved, but due to the complexity of the complaints at this stage only 39% had been answered with 20 working days.

The report included a summary of the statutory complaints for both Adult’s and Children’s Services as there were different procedures for complaints in these areas. Adult Services only had a one stage process, which had seen a reduction in the number of complaints received. The Children’s Service had a three stage process. The complaints made at stage 1 had increased in 2017/2018, but there had been a reduction in complaints reaching stage 2 and 3.

The Committee agreed that in order to put the Council’s performance into context, it would be very useful for future reports to include benchmarking data to allow comparison with the performance of other local authorities. In response, it was confirmed that although this data was not currently available, officers were in the process of developing a network with other Councils which would lead to future opportunities for benchmarking.

In response to a question about how the Council looked to learn from the complaints it received, it was confirmed that the Corporate Complaints team looked to work with departments to ensure that a timely response was provided to complaints and that were used to inform their own learning. As well as working directly with departments, the team also reviewed all complaints to look for overarching themes that might need action.  For instance within the Benefits Service, there had been a reduction in the number of complaints received in 2017/18, but many had been related to the theme of delays. As such the team had been working with the Service on their processes and putting measures in place to address this issues.

It was questioned whether the details about complaints were left on file should it be upheld, as there was a concern that it may be difficult for the complainant to continue to access services. It was confirmed that the information was held within the Complaints system and it was important to ensure that the complainant could continue to access Council Services.  If the complaint was of a sensitive nature, then it may be the case that the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8/18

9/18

Annual Scrutiny Report 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 17 KB

To note the Annual Scrutiny Report for 2017/2018.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the Annual Scrutiny Report for 2017/18. It was noted that the report had been considered at a meeting of the Council on 9th July.

10/18

Scrutiny Work Programme 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 74 KB

To agree the scrutinywork programmefor futuremeetings.

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered its Work Programme for 2018-19. It was noted that the current version contained a draft programme and the relevant Chairs were working with officers at present to finalise items coming forward to the Committee and Sub-Committee throughout the year.

11/18

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:

Not Needed.