Agenda and minutes

Venue: Bromley Civic Centre

Contact: Philippa Gibbs  020 8461 7638

Items
No. Item

11.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND NOTIFICATION OF SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Keith Onslow, Councillor Michael Rutherford, and Councillor Russell Mellor.  Councillor David Jefferys attended as substitute for Councillor Onslow.

12.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

Councillor Fawthrop and Councillor Harmer both declared interests as employees of British Telecom (BT).

13.

QUESTIONS FROM COUNCILLORS AND MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ATTENDING THE MEETING

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, questions to the Chairman of this Committee must be received in writing 4 working days before the date of the meeting and must relate to the work of the scrutiny committee.  Please ensure questions are received by the Democratic Services Team by 5pm on Friday 29th June 2018.

 

Minutes:

There were no questions. 

14.

MINUTES OF THE EXECUTIVE AND RESOURCES PDS COMMITTEE MEETINGS HELD ON 16 MAY 2018 AND 17 MAY 2018 (EXCLUDING EXEMPT ITEMS) pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meetings held on 16th May 2018 and 17th May 2018, excluding Part 2 (exempt) information, were agreed and signed as a correct record.

15.

MATTERS ARISING AND WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Minutes:

Report CSD18097

 

The Committee considered a report setting out matters arising from previous meetings and the Committee’s work plan for 2018/19.

 

The Chairman noted that the Director of Regeneration would be attending the Committee’s October meeting in order to provide an update on the Amey Total Facilities Management issues raised by Members at the last meeting.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

1. Progress on matters arising from previous meetings be noted; and

 

2. The 2018/19 work programme be noted.

16.

FORWARD PLAN OF KEY DECISIONS pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Minutes:

The Committee noted the Forward Plan of Key Decisions covering the period July 2018 to October 2018.

 

The Committee asked for an explanation as to why the reports concerning the Corporate Parenting Update; Health and Support to School Aged Children; and the Growth Fund scheduled for the July meeting of Executive were not in fact on the agenda.

 

Action Point 3: That an explanation be provided as to why the reports concerning the Corporate Parenting Update; Health and Support to School Aged Children; and the Growth Fund scheduled for the July meeting of Executive were not on the agenda.

 

17.

QUESTIONS TO THE PORTFOLIO HOLDER FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC AND COUNCILLORS ATTENDING THE MEETING

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, questions to the Resources Portfolio Holder must be received in writing 4 working days before the date of the meeting and must relate to the work of the Portfolio.  Please ensure questions are received by the Democratic Services Team by 5pm on Friday 29th June 2018.

 

Minutes:

The following written question to the Resources, Commissioning & Contract Management Portfolio Holder had been received from Mr Colin Willetts:

 

We understand there is a backlog on processing housing benefit claims, if so:

 

i) what is the average turnaround time in processing?

ii) the total number of current claims in the backlog borough wide,

iii) the number of current claims in the backlog in each of the nineteen individual wards?

 

Reply

 

There is no backlog of benefit claims. This is illustrated by the current level of outstanding work and the processing times for the financial year to date. Unfortunately, our systems do not provide information on a ward basis, it is therefore not possible to provide a response to your final question.

 

1. The average time to process new claims is 21.5 days which includes the time taken for the claimant or third-party to respond to a request for further information.  The average time to process change in circumstances is 7.6 days which includes the time taken for the claimant or third-party to respond to a request for further information

 

For information, 92.6% of the claims have been processed within 14 days of receiving all necessary documentation to support the claim

 

  1. The total number of new claims awaiting processing is 205 and the number of change in circumstances 1,960, both figures exclude those where the authority is awaiting further information/documentation.

 

For information, the level of outstanding work is within the target of being less than the equivalent of 2 weeks incoming work.

 

 

18.

RESOURCES, COMMISSIONING & CONTRACT MANAGEMENT PORTFOLIO - PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY

Portfolio Holder decisions for pre-decision scrutiny.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the following reports where the Resources, Commissioning and Contract Management Portfolio Holder was recommended to take a decision.

18a

BUDGET MONITORING 2018/19 - DRAWDOWN OF CARRY FORWARDS FROM CENTRAL CONTINGENCY pdf icon PDF 88 KB

Minutes:

Report FSD18050

 

The report requested approval for drawdown from the central contingency of underspends carried forward from 2017/18 to be allocated to the Resources, Commissioning and Contract Management Portfolio.  The total sum relating to the Portfolio being requested this cycle was £815,000.  £38,000 of this was funded by government grant providing a net carry forward of £777,000.

 

Action Point 4: That Officers seek clarification surrounding the drawdown in relation to the Biggin Hill Airport Noise Action Plan as it had been widely understood that the airport would pay these costs.

 

The Director of Finance also agreed that following the meeting he would  confirm the level of drawdown for GDPR.

 

Action Point 5: that the Director of Finance confirm the level of drawdown for GDPR.

 

RESOLVED: That the Resources, Commissioning and Contracts Portfolio Holder be recommended to agree the drawdown from the Central Contingency of the 2017/18 carry forward sums totalling £777,000.

18b

TREASURY MANAGEMENT - ANNUAL REPORT 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 152 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD18054

 

The set out a summary of treasury management activity during the March quarter, including the Treasury Management Annual Report  for 2017/18, which was required to be reported to Full Council.  Investments as at 31st March 2018 totalled £284.8 million and there was no external borrowing.

 

The Director of Finance confirmed  that the £40 million Lloyds investment that had matured had been reinvested in multi asset income funds.

 

It was noted by a Member that the statutory requirement for Treasury Management reporting was bi-annually and it was suggested that it would help officers if the Committee were to move to bi-annual reporting rather than the current quarterly reporting.  The Committee agreed that reports could be presented every six months unless Officers felt that a matter should come before the Committee sooner.

 

The Director of Finance highlighted that it was a statutory requirement to report prudential indicators.

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee move to bi-annual Treasury Management reporting and that the Portfolio Holder be recommended to:

 

1. Note the Treasure Management Annual Report for 2017/18;

 

2. Approve the actual prudential indicators within the report.

 

19.

PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY OF EXECUTIVE REPORTS

Members of the Committee are requested to bring their copy of the agenda for the Executive meeting on

Minutes:

The Committee considered the following reports on the Part 1 agenda for the meeting of the Executive on 11th July 2018.

 

(6)  BUDGET MONITORING 2018/19

  Report FSD18055

 

The report set out the first budget monitoring position for 2018/19 based on expenditure and activity levels up to the end of May 2018.  The report also highlighted significant variations which would impact on future years as well as early warnings that could impact on the year end position.

 

The Chairman noted the overspend of £1.697k within the Children, Education and Families Portfolio and referred the matter to the Education, Children and Families Budget and Performance Monitoring Sub-Committee for further detailed scrutiny.  A Member highlighted that this was a demand-led service and that the Local Authority had little control over levels of demand.  The Chairman of the Education, Children and Families Select Committee highlighted that the Education, Children and Families Budget and Performance Monitoring Sub-Committee regularly reviewed the overspend and the action being taken to mitigate this but that it only required 1 child to present to the service with multiple needs and the service was facing costs in excess of £500k.  More work needed to be done to develop in-borough specialist provision.  The Member highlighted that officers within the Department had been under considerable pressure to control expenditure and he was confident that the officers would be able to deliver the management action necessary to bring expenditure in line with budget.  The Chairman said he hoped to see more innovation to help bring this back under control. The additional £4 million funding agreed by Members had been absorbed by staffing costs as one of the key factors identified by the 2016 Ofsted Inspection was the lack of staffing.  The cost pressures reflected in the budget were a result of a rise in the number of children accessing services and costly legal proceedings.

 

Action Point 6: That the overspend of £1.697k within the Children, Education and Families Portfolio be referred to the Education, Children and Families Budget and Performance Monitoring Sub-Committee for further detailed scrutiny.

 

In response to a question, the Director of Finance explained that the drawdown of £400k from contingency was for the general cost of the Local Election.  The costs of the Voter ID Pilot had been met by the Cabinet Office.

 

RESOLVED: That Executive be recommended to:

 

  1. Consider the latest financial position;

 

  1. Note that a projected net overspend on services of £1,679k is forecast based on information as at May 2018;

 

  1. Consider the comments from Chief Officers;

 

  1. Note a projected variation of £219k debit from investment income;

 

  1. Note the carry forwards being requested for drawdown;

 

  1. Note a projected reduction to the General Fund balance of £2,396k;

 

  1. Note the full year cost pressures of £2.8m;

 

  1. Agree to the release of £400k relating to the cost of Local Elections from the 2018/19 Central Contingency;

 

  1. Agree to the release of £28k SEND Pathfinder grant from the 2018/19 Central Contingency;

 

  1. Note the return to the Central Contingency of £961k;

 

  1. Identify any  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

SCRUTINY OF THE RESOURCES, COMMISSIONING & CONTRACT MANAGEMENT PORTFOLIO HOLDER

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Resources, Commissioning and Contract Management, Cllr Graham Arthur, addressed the Committee outlining activity across the Portfolio since the last update:

 

  • The annual Bromley Stars event had been held on Friday 29th June 2018.  This event recognised the achievement of a number of staff and excellence across the Council.
  • Merit Pay had now passed £1 million and was a way to show tangible appreciation for what staff did and the services that were delivered.
  • Departmental Representatives continued to meet frequently and therefore improve both working conditions and levels of service.
  • Staffing levels had now reduced to just under 1200 across the Council.  An age profile had been requested by the Portfolio Holder in order to facilitate thinking around service continuity and succession planning.
  • The Member induction courses that had been arranged following the election were well received and by and large well attended.  The Portfolio Holder expressed his thanks and appreciation to all the staff who had given up their time to facilitate the induction sessions.
  • A number of site improvements had been identified.  In respect of the Registrars Service, the Portfolio Holder noted that large numbers of people attended the Civic Centre site for a variety of reasons including weddings, birth and death registration, and Citizenship Ceremonies.  In order to protect the revenue that this activity generated there was a need to further invest in the site.
  • The IT Strategy was currently being reviewed and rewritten.
  • A detailed asset review of all the sites owned by the Council was being undertaken with a separate review of developmental sites.
  • The Old Town Hall had been sold and a paper on the Civic Centre site redevelopment had been consideration by the Committee at the meeting (Minute 19(12)).  A great deal of time had been spent talking about what to do and the time to take action had now come.
  • The Council maintained a balanced portfolio of investments with property investments subject to review from time to time.
  • Budgets were getting tighter and the overspend in children’s social care, the area of greatest concern, needed to be controlled.  The increasing cost of SEN was also concerning.
  • The implementation of Universal Credit in the Borough would put a strain on the Council’s resources.
  • The Business Rate Pool was looking encouraging.
  • The introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) was expected to deliver approximately £3½ million in revenue.
  • Relentless lobbying concerning fairer funding for the London Borough of Bromley continued.

 

In response to questions the Portfolio Holder made the following points:

 

·  It had been necessary to sell the Old Town Hall.  The ‘Y Blocks’ had been passed to the Resources Portfolio for disposal in 2013, and it had subsequently taken 5 years to decide what to do.  During the course of that 5 years the cost of the rates incurred by the Council was £460k.  The Portfolio Holder stated that given there was no proven need for ‘Y block’ it should be sold as any sale would not impact  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

BENEFITS SERVICE MONITORING REPORT pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD18051

 

The Committee considered a report outlining the performance of the benefit services provided by Liberata between 1st October 2017 and 31 March 2018. A letter from Liberata’s Contract Director appended to the report provided Liberata’s assessment of performance. Liberata were represented at the meeting for the item.

 

In opening the discussion the Chairman noted that the trend in terms of targets was good.

 

A Member noted that the change in circumstance assessments that were processed in February and March distorted the figures reflected in the report and suggested that the point should be addressed in the retendering of the new contract.  In response the Head of Revenues and Benefits reported that when the targets were initially set it was known that there would be a large volume in February and March and this was reflected in the targets.

 

In response to a question the Chairman confirmed that the Local Authority would not be consulting on 100% exemption for Care Leavers.

 

Councillor Ian Dunn moved a motion that Care Leavers be 100% exempt from Council Tax until the age of 25.  The motion was seconded by Councillor Angela Wilkins.  The motion was put to a vote and was LOST.

 

In response to a question concerning whether the Universal Credit Advice HUB would be operational when the Universal Credit ‘Full service’ started on 25th July 2018, the Head of Revenues and Benefits reported that the Local Authority would be ready however the operation of the HUB was dependant on third parties over which the Local Authority had no control.

 

The Chairman noted the good performance in relation to the error rate and asked whether a ‘soft’ target of 4% could be considered given that errors were found in less than 5% of the cases checked by the Authority’s monitoring team.  Representatives from Liberata confirm that a ‘soft’ target of 4% could be considered.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

1.   The report and letter provided by Liberata be noted;

 

2.   A consultation exercise be held in August 2018 for the Authority’s 2019/20 Council Tax Support/Reduction scheme based on the scheme being the same as currently in place (i.e. the maximum contribution of working age claimants remaining at 25% of a household’s Council Tax liability;

 

3.  That consideration be given to a ‘soft’ target of 4% for error rates; and

 

4.  The Portfolio Holder be recommended to agree that the scheme to be recommended in the consultation exercise for the Authority’s 2019/20 Council Tax Support/Reduction scheme be the same as currently in place.

 

22.

REVENUES SERVICE MONITORING REPORT pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD18052

 

The Committee considered Liberata’s performance for Revenues Services in the six months to 31st March 2018. A letter from Liberata’s Contract Director appended to the report provided an update on each service. Liberata representatives were also present for the item.

 

The in-year Council Tax collection rate for 2017/8 was 98.04%, a 0.12% improvement on that achieved in the previous financial year.

 

In discussion the Chairman noted that the best performance in 11 years was reflected at Appendix 2 of the report.  The Committee extended its congratulations to Liberata for the good performance.

 

A Member suggested that where high percentages were referred to in the report it would be helpful to have the sum in pounds as well as percentages.  The Director of Finance confirmed that this would be actioned for future reports.

 

A Member also noted that some Council Tax arrears, reflected in Appendix 2 of the report, dated back to 1993.  The Member questioned when the arrears would be written off.  In response, the Head of Revenues and Benefits reported that this was dependant on the ability of the Local Authority to trace the individuals concerned.  Some of the longer-term amounts could also relate to small amounts that were being recovered every year through taxable earnings.  The Chairman reported that he had requested that the lines showing zero in Appendix 2 be removed from the table.  The Chairman further noted that the sum total of the arrears for 1999, 2002, and 2006 was 32p.  At the conclusion of the meeting the Chairman paid the Director of Finance 32p in order to clear three years of Council Tax arrears and requested that these lines be removed from Appendix 2.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

1.  The report and the letter from Liberata at Appendix 1 to the report be noted; and

 

2.   Liberata be congratulated for the best performance in 11 years.

 

23.

EXCHEQUER SERVICE - CONTRACT PERFORMANCE REPORT pdf icon PDF 117 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD18053

 

The Committee considered Liberata’s performance in the provision of Exchequer Services for the period 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018. A letter from Liberata’s Contract Director appended to the provided an update on individual services.

 

The Committee emphasised that British Telecom (BT)  needed to be encouraged to settle its debt.  The Head of Exchequer Services confirmed that Officers continued to negotiate with BT and the level of debt had been reducing.  A review of recent case law was now being undertaken in order to identify whether at least part of the debt could be recovered.

 

A Member noted that Appendices 2 and 3 to the report appeared to indicate that this year, whilst there were fewer invoices, the level of outstanding debt was increasing.  In response the Head of Exchequer Services confirmed that there were fewer invoices outstanding but that the value of these outstanding invoices was greater than in previous years.

 

A Member noted that a large number of payments were made by cheques which carried an additional cost to the Council.  The Head of Exchequer Services confirmed that Officers were doing all they could to convert as many of these payments to BACS as possible.  However there were certain payments which could only be made by cheque such as Counsel fees for legal advice or refunds to individuals.  The Local Authority had been reviewing all the options and consideration was being given to removing the facility to pay for any services received by cheque.  The Committee requested that a paper setting out the options and considerations for paying for services received by the Council be presented to the Committee in October.

 

Action Point 8: That a paper setting out the options and considerations for paying for services received by the Council be presented to the Committee in October.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

 

24.

CUSTOMER SERVICES - CONTRACT PERFORMANCE REPORT pdf icon PDF 110 KB

Minutes:

Report CSD18092

 

The Committee considered Liberata’s performance for the Customer Services contract between 1st December 2017 and 31st May 2018. A letter from Liberata’s Contract Director was appended to the report - Liberata was also represented at the meeting for the item.

 

The Head of Customer Services reported that figures reflected in the table at paragraph 4.2 of the report were incorrect and the following amendment was tabled:

 

Out of Hours Contact Centre performance Nov 2017 – May 2018

Out of Hours

SLA – 80% within 30 secs

Nov-17

Dec-17

Jan-18

Feb-18

Mar-18

Apr-18

May-18

Offered

818

882

824

733

968

852

1070

Answered

793

841

802

717

858

845

1050

% of Calls Ans. in 30 sec

74.0%

72.0%

85.0%

86.0%

73.0%

91.0%

86.0%

 

A Member, whilst welcoming the fact that 50% of calls were answered within 60 seconds, noted that still meant that a large number of Bromley residents were awaiting up to 1½ minutes for calls to be answered.  The Member questioned whether this was an acceptable standard of service to Bromley residents.  The Committee noted that the service standard set by the Local Authority had been met by the contractor and that it was up to the Council to review the targets towards which suppliers worked.

 

In response to a question, the Head of Revenues and Benefits confirmed that there had been a great deal of preparation in advance of the implementation of Universal Credit.  Staff knew where to direct service users.  Whilst there was no plan to increase the number of staff in the call centre there would be  an automated message directing queries to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

 

Members noted that following the implementation of Universal Credit, which was managed by the DWP, any constituent queries regarding Universal Credit should be directed to the local Member of Parliament to pursue on behalf of the resident.  The Head of Revenues and Benefits did however agreed to circulate the list of contact telephone numbers to Members for information.

 

Action Point 9: That the list of Universal Credit contact numbers be circulated to Members for information.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

 

 

25.

SECTION 106 AGREEMENTS : UPDATE - PART 1 pdf icon PDF 103 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD180046

 

The Committee considered a report providing an update on Section 106 arrangements.

 

In response to a question from the Chairman, the Director of Finance confirmed that the progress of all ‘Red’ rated agreements was reviewed in detail and monitored by an officer group. 

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

 

 

26.

RISK REGISTER pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CSD18096

 

The Committee considered the 2018/19 Quarter One iterations of the Chief Executive’s, Commissioning. Finance, and Human Resources Risk Registers.

 

In terms of IT security failure, the Chairman asked for details of when the last penetration test was carried out and what it had revealed.  In response, the Director of Finance confirmed that the last test was carried out in November 2017 and that test were conducted annually.  The Director would provide details of the outcome of the test following the meeting.

 

Action Point 10: That details of the outcome of the November 2017 Penetration Test be provided to the Chairman following the meeting.

 

The Director of Finance confirmed that facilitation of a disaster recovery site would form part of the review of the IT Strategy.  It was acknowledged that more needed to be done on disaster recovery and a report would be presented to Members in the coming months.

 

In response to a question, the Director of Finance stated that in terms of the risks associated with contractor failure, whilst the Council did not have specific insurance for such an eventuality, an annual financial review of any contractors working with the Council was undertaken in order to identify any early warning signs.  The Director of Finance highlighted that a bond would cover only the costs of the original contractor and not the additional costs of employing a new contractor.

 

The Chairman suggested that the Committee needed to see action plans detailing how any ‘Red’ rated risks would be moved to ‘Green’.  It was agreed that the Committee should receive regular updates on each red rated risk until such time as they were no longer red.

 

RESOLVED: That the Risk Registers be noted and that the Committee receive regular updates on each red rated risk until such time as they are no longer red.

 

27.

TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR THE CONTRACTS AND COMMISSIONING SUB COMMITTEE pdf icon PDF 83 KB

To follow

Minutes:

Report CSD18108

 

The Committee considered a report proposing new Terms of Reference for the Contracts and Commissioning Sub-Committee.

 

The Chairman of the Sub-Committee reported that the proposed Terms of Reference attempted to bring the two, previously separate, streams of contracts and commissioning together. 

 

The Chairman noted that the proposed Terms of Reference were a good starting point and could be reviewed and amended if the need arose.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Resources, Commissioning and Contracts Management, whilst acknowledging the need for scrutiny, highlighted the importance of not duplicating work that was being done by other internal board within the Council.  To this end, the Portfolio Holder extended an invitation to the Chairman of the Contracts and Commissioning Sub-Committee to sit on the internal Commissioning Board which met every Monday morning.

 

RESOLVED: That the amended terms of reference of the Contracts and Commissioning Sub-Committee be approved and reviewed in six months (January 2019).

 

28.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 AS AMENDED BY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT (ACCESS TO INFORMATION) (VARIATION) ORDER 2006, AND THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000

The Chairman to move that the Press and public be excluded during consideration of the items of business listed below as it is likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings that if members of the Press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Press and public be excluded during consideration of the items of business referred to below as it is likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings that if members of the Press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.

 

The following summaries

refer to matters involving exempt information

 

 

29.

EXEMPT MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 17 MAY 2018

Minutes:

The Part 2 (exempt) minutes of the meeting held on 17th May 2018, were agreed, and signed as a correct record.

30.

SECTION 106 AGREEMENTS : UPDATE - PART 2

Minutes:

The Committee noted the Part 2 report.

 

Original Text: