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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 2 - County Hall, Durham. View directions

Contact: Lucy Gladders  03000 269712

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors A Batey, H Liddle,

L Maddison, J Makepeace, O Milburn, J Robinson, C Potts, M Simmons and F Tinsley.

2.

Substitute Members

Minutes:

Councillor A Hopgood substituting for Councillor M Simmons.

 

Councillor R Manchester substituting for Councillor C Potts

3.

Minutes of the meeting held on 22 June 2018 pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 22 June 2018 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

4.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

5.

Medium Term Financial Plan(9), 2019/20-2022/23 and Reviews of the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme, Council Tax Discounts and Business Discretionary Rate Reliefs pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Board considered a joint report of the Corporate Director of Resources and Director of Transformation and Partnerships which provided an update on the development of the 2019/20 budget and the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP(9)). The Report further provided information regarding considered reviews of the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme, Council Tax Discounts and Business rate Discretionary Relief (for copy see file of Minutes).

 

The Head of Corporate Finance & Commercial Services advised that the council continued to operate in a period of significant financial uncertainty brought about by a combination of on-going austerity, pressures in social care services and other unfunded pressures arising from pay and price inflation. He further reported that the Fair Funding Review is scheduled for implementation from April 2020 alongside a move to 75% Business Rate Retention (BRR). Beyond this point there was no certainty as to local authority funding allocations and how funds would be distributed.

 

He went on to provide details of significant financial risks to the council including that  the government may choose to adopt a revised apportionment methodology in the Fair Funding review for  Public Health Grant.. Should this occur the council would be the biggest loser of Public Health funding of any authority in the country. In the main, the Advisory Council for Resource Allocation (ACRA) formula would see a shift in Public Health funding from deprived areas to more affluent areas.

 

In addition, the council were also planning on reductions in other areas including; Revenue Support Grant (RSG) which would result in a reduction of £14.24 million in 2019/20. He went on to advise that although the settlement from government was unchanged from that reported to Council in February 2017, savings of £35.3 million were forecast to be required to balance the budget over the 2019/20 to 2022/23 period. Details of savings were included within the July 2018 Cabinet report and it was noted that the council could consider utilising the Budget Support Reserve to help balance the budget.

 

Further details were reported with regard to Council Tax Support within the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) and it was noted that, the Council along with Northumberland, were the only two local authorities in the North East to have retained entitlement levels.

 

Moving on, the Head of Corporate Finance & Commercial Services provided a summary of the review of the MTFP Model providing information on Better Care Fund monies, Housing Benefit Administration Grant, Council Tax and the Adult Social Care Precept, Business Rates and the increases in the National Living Wage.

 

Moving on to workforce implications it was reported that by 31 March 2019, it was forecast that there will have been a reduction of 2,900 posts since 2011 which equated to 30% of the workforce. 750 of those posts had been deletions of vacant posts.

 

Councillor Bell queried the timetabling of the Cabinet report and asked whether this would be the last report the Board would have the opportunity to comment upon until December 2018. He further queried changes  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Update on the delivery of the Medium Term Financial Plan (7) pdf icon PDF 131 KB

Minutes:

The Board considered a report of the Director of Transformation and Partnerships which provided confirmation that the 2017/18 Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP7) had been successfully delivered (for copy see file of Minutes).

 

The Head of Transformation confirmed that by following a robust approach in managing the MTFP programme to deliver the savings required, the plans for 2017/18 had now been successfully delivered. Since 2011 and up until March 2018, over £209 million pounds of savings had been achieved.

 

The report went on to provide details relating to HR implications and data regarding staff leaving through ER/VR during the quarter. It was noted that during the period 95% of leavers were female and 5% were male. However, leavers during the quarter were from service areas where there were much higher than average proportions of female staff overall. In addition it was noted that staff numbers of those leaving through compulsory redundancies was too low to analyse.

 

Councillor Crute asked whether it would be possible to provide a further breakdown on the number of redundancies since 2011 and in particular data relating to equality.

 

Councillor Wilkes referred to paragraph 12 of the report and asked for further information in respect of BME (Black Minority Ethnic) leavers and the overall figures in relation to the number of redundancies. The Head of Transformation advised that he would be able to provide this information after the meeting.

 

Councillor Wilkes then went on to query vacant posts and asked whether information could be provided to show how many there were across authority, how long they had been vacant, the impact and when the posts would be permanently deleted, or retained.

 

The Head of Transformation advised that by retaining vacant posts services were able to achieve savings within the service in a painless way. He did however acknowledge that further information could be provided in a future report to provide further detail relating to HR / Budget systems and vacant posts.

 

Councillor Bell commented that he considered the management of vacant posts responsible and understood the importance of this. He further asked whether staff who had been laced on the redeployment register would be eligible for deployment through the digitisation of Business Support services. In order to provide some clarification the Head of transformation provided an overview of the planned restructure of Business Support Services. He further noted that the Head of People and Talent Management was reviewing indicative training and learning across the councils skill set and also noted that a new training levy could offer opportunities for upscaling existing employees.

 

Councillor Jopling asked whether employees who had left the authority on ill-health grounds were categorised under ER/VR. The Head of Transformation advised that there were categorised as leavers and did not fall under ER/VR.

 

Resolved:

 

That the content of the report and the progress made in delivering MTFP 7 be noted.

 

 

7.

Revenue and Capital Outturn 2017/18 (Resources and TAP) pdf icon PDF 174 KB

(i)            Report of the Corporate Director of Resources

(ii)          Report of the Director of Transformation and Partnerships

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Board considered two reports, the first of the Corporate Director of Resources and the second of the Director of Transformation and Partnerships which provided details of the outturn budget position for each service grouping highlighting any major variances in comparison with the budget based on the outturn position to the end of March 2018 (for copy see file of Minutes).

 

In referring to page 89 of the report Councillor Martin queried why there was such a significant difference on the capital programme. The Head of Corporate Finance and Commercial Services advised that this related to Digital Durham and a significant underspend on contract 2 which would be spread into later years.

 

Councillor Wilkes asked whether a calculation could be undertaken to determine what was actually saved from vacant posts in comparison to what was planned to be achieved. The Head of Corporate Finance and Commercial Services advised that there is an assumption that there is a 3% reduction in most employee base budgets on the basis of turnover. In the past eight years this target has often been exceeded as posts have been held vacant due to upcoming restructures. It is noticeable however that there are few planned restructures for future MTFP savings plans and that in some areas the council may struggle to hi

rt the 3% turnover target.

 

Councillor Hopgood referred to page 89 of the report and asked why there had been an overspend in Election Costs. The Head of Corporate Finance and Commercial Services advised that election ncosts normally only occur every four years and are funded from an earmarked reserve set up to finance these costs. It would not be practical to have an annual budget that the Council knew would not be required.

 

Resolved:

 

That the content of the report be noted.

 

8.

Quarter 1 June 2018: Forecast of Revenue and Capital Outturn 2018/19 (Resources and TAP) pdf icon PDF 179 KB

(i)            Report of the Corporate Director of Resources

(ii)          Reprt of the Director of Transformation and Partnerships

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Board considered two reports, the first of the Corporate Director Resources and second of the Director of Transformation and Partnerships which provide details of the forecast outturn budget position for the service grouping highlighting major variances in comparison with the budget based on the position to the end of June 2018 (for copy see file of Minutes).

 

Resolved:

 

That the content of the report be noted.

 

 

9.

Update in relation to Petitions pdf icon PDF 87 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Board considered a report of the Head of legal and Democratic Services which provided the quarterly update in relation to the current situation regarding various petitions received by the Authority (for copy see file of Minutes).

 

The Senior Committee Services officer advised that since the last update 3 e-petitions had been submitted, 2 of which were rejected. In addition, 5 new paper petitions had been submitted and 3 had now completed the petition process.

 

Resolved: That the content of the report be noted.

 

10.

Notice of Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 96 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Board considered a report of the Head of Legal and Democratic Services which provided details of key decisions that were scheduled to be considered by the Executive (for copy see file of Minutes).

 

The Senior Committee Services Officer advised that items new to the plan were:-

·                County Durham Plan Submission Draft

·                Delivery Proposals for Aykley Heads Delivery Vehicle Strategic Site

·                Homelessness Review and Strategy

·                Housing Solutions Private Sector Housing Policy

 

Councillor Wilkes noted that the quarterly report presented did not provide an accurate picture of what reports would be considered during the plans 3 month period as things inevitably were added or removed during that time. He therefore asked whether members could be notified of any additions or deletions accordingly.

 

The Senior Committee Services Officer advised that the notice of key decisions was prepared in line with statutory guidelines however he would feedback comments made to the Head of Legal and Democratic Services.

 

Councillor Hopgood asked whether the Economy and Enterprise Overview and Scrutiny Committee were looking at the regeneration of Aykley Heads. She further asked whether consideration could be given to format of the County Durham Plan workshops and whether the sessions could be split into geographical areas or groups.

 

Councillor Crute responded that Transformation Programme updates were included on the Management Boards work programme and included the Aykley Heads Development. He also suggested that the comments made regarding the County Durham Plan workshops would be discussed with the relevant committees Chair and Vice-Chair.

 

Resolved: That the content of the report be noted.

 

11.

Information Update from the Chairs of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees pdf icon PDF 131 KB

Minutes:

The Board considered a report of the Director of Transformation and Partnerships which provided an information update of overview and scrutiny activity from 22 June – September 2018 (for copy see file of Minutes).

 

Councillor Martin in referring to paragraph 8 of the report asked how opposition members were able to feed into NECA Overview and Scrutiny process. Councillor Crute advised that any comments on the issues listed on the NECA website for discussion should be provided to himself or Councillor Patterson. Further discussion took place regarding the North of Tyne Mayoral Election and how this role would work alongside the North East Combined Authority (NECA).

 

Resolved: That the content of the report be noted.

 

 

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