Full Cabinet – 25 September 2012
Councillors Ali, Allcock, Barker, Bunyan, Carlile, Eckhardt, Evison, L Foster, Glover, Kataria, Kirk, Marper, Ogg, O’Sullivan, Robinson, Rowson and Wilson also attended the meeting.
Simon Driver, Will Bell, Mick Gibbs, Denise Hyde, Trevor Laming, Karen Pavey, Chris Skinner, Mike Wedgewood, Peter Williams and Mel Holmes also attended the meeting.
The meeting was held at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe.
983 DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY INTERESTS AND PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – There were no declarations of interests.
984 MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of Cabinet held on 10 July 2012, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chairman.
985 (9) OUTSTANDING ACTION FROM PREVIOUS MEETINGS – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which contained a schedule of outstanding issues on which cabinet had requested reports to future meetings.
Resolved – That the report be noted.
986 (10) EXECUTIVE DECISION MAKING – NEW REGULATIONS – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which outlined the new provisions introduced by the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.
These regulations came into force on Monday 10 September 2012. They revoked the current regulations which govern meetings of the executive and how executive decisions are recorded. The government considered that the regulations were necessary in order to clarify and extend the circumstances in which local authority executive decisions were to be open to the public by requiring maximum transparency. The government however did not plan to issue any separate guidance on these regulations which they considered to be self explanatory, nor did it intend to monitor local authority compliance with them.
The previous regulations required that any meeting of the executive where a key decision was to be made had to be held in public. The new regulations established a presumption that all executive meetings would be held in public, unless certain circumstances applied. In addition, whilst the meeting was open to the public, any person attending the meeting for the purpose of reporting the proceedings is, so far as practicable, to be afforded reasonable facilities for taking their report.
The report considered the key issues arising from the regulations. In particular, there was no longer a requirement to produce and publish a forward plan detailing the key decisions to be taken during a four month period. Instead, the new regulations stated that where a decision maker intended to make a key decision that decision must not be made until a notice had been published at least 28 clear days beforehand. This notice had to be made available for inspection by the public at the offices of the council and on the council’s website. There were also provisions for additional information relating to documents to be submitted when taking key decisions.
The report also referred to changes in regulations relating to the recording of executive decisions, background papers, dispensations, members’ rights of access to information, reports from the leader in relation to urgent decisions, the inspection of documents by members of the public and other issues.
As previously mentioned, the new regulations came into effect on 10 September 2012 and did not contain any transitional provisions and therefore local authorities could only issue the required 28 days clear notice in respect of key decisions after 10 September. The effect of this was that any key decision proposed to be made between 10 September and 19 October could not be taken unless the general exception or special urgency procedures applied. The report indicated that there was one key decision listed on the agenda for this meeting of cabinet – the September Budget Review 2012/2013. It was proposed therefore that the general exception provisions should be invoked to enable a decision to be made on that item and the chairman of the appropriate scrutiny panel had been informed accordingly.
A number of professional organisations including the Association of Council’s Secretaries and Solicitors had requested an urgent meeting with the Department for Communities and Local Government to seek clarity about some of the regulations and cabinet would be kept informed of any issues arising from those discussions.
Resolved – (a) That the implications of the new regulations be noted and implemented with immediate effect, subject to any clarification issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government; (b) that officers continue to consider the regulations and submit a report to council in November to include proposed changes to the council’s constitution to take account of the changes brought about by the regulations; (c) that the council publish notices of key decisions on an individual basis, and (d) that cabinet agenda item number 5 – September Budget Review 2012/2013 – be progressed for decision by the use of the general exception provisions contained within the new regulations and the council’s constitution.
987 (11) SEPTEMBER BUDGET REVIEW 2012/2013 – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted the council’s September Budget Review for 2012/2013. At regular intervals, cabinet received a formal report on the budget position which allowed it to take an opportunity to take stock of how plans were progressing and take corrective action if necessary.
The report tracked council expenditure and income by service in the current financial year and considered the actions services were taking to resolve problems and identify where there were saving opportunities. Where appropriate the use of contingency funds was considered. The report also looked at progress on the council’s capital investment programme and also reviewed the management of the council’s cash investments and debt management against the criteria and targets set in the treasury management strategy for 2012/2013.
Services deal with a range of spending pressures during the year and were expected to adjust their spending plans to accommodate these pressures within the approved cash limits, unless specific provision had been made in the contingency fund. Monitoring at the end of July had identified a number of pressures on spending and services had identified strategies to keep the budget in balance. These were considered in more detail within the report in relation to each of the council’s directorates, People, Places and Policy and Resources. The report also considered the position in relation to contingencies and reserves, the approved capital budget and treasury management. The key points arising from the report were –
- Overall spending against the revenue budget was on target. Where budgeted savings could not be delivered in full services had identified alternative funding or were currently looking to contain pressures within their cash limited budgets.
- Consideration had to be given to the use of contingencies to cover shortfalls in corporate savings and to meet inflationary cost increases.
- There had been some changes to the capital programme.
- Cash balances and debt were reducing in line with the planned treasury strategy.
- The council continued to receive periodic payments from Landsbanki and Heritable Banks as the original investments were returned. The council now expected to recover 91% of the original investment.
Attached as an appendix to the report was a copy of the revised service budgets.
Resolved – (a) That cabinet notes the current revenue budget position; (b) that cabinet agrees the revised directorate budgets contained in appendix 1 to the report, including £325k for drainage works; (c) that the changes to the capital programme as set out in appendix 2 to the report be approved, and (d) that the latest position on treasury management be noted.
988 (12) CHILDREN IN CARE QUARTERLY PERFORMANCE REPORT 1 MAY – 31 JULY 2012 AND PROGRESS ON THE PRIORITY ACTION PLAN 2012/2013 – The Director of People submitted a report which provided cabinet with information summarising the performance of children in care services against national and local comparators during the period 1 May to 31 May 2012 together with progress on the children in care priority action plan for 2012/2013.
Services to children in care had a range of performance measures to compare services within North Lincolnshire and other local authorities. These included national comparators and with authorities assessed by the government at having a similar demographic picture to North Lincolnshire. These indicators informed service developments, measured progress and service action planning to ensure the service strived to continuously improve and develop to achieve the best outcomes for children in care. In addition, the service had in place a children in care priority action plan 2012/2013. This detailed priorities for improvement, ensured these were shared by partners and was reviewed regularly so there was measurable progress. This sits within the North Lincolnshire Childrens’ Trust six strategic priorities which are reflected in the Children and Young People’s Plan. The six priorities were –
- Raise aspirations
- Children and young people feel safe and are safe
- Best start
- Close the gaps
- Celebrate and engage children and young people
- One vision one workforce
The priority action plan’s progress was updated by the named lead against each action and this was monitored via the children in care strategy group. Updates against the actions were completed quarterly. The latest strategy group took place on 31 August 2012.
The report then considered detailed information in relation to each of the six priorities and indicated that the service continued to do well in relation to the poor performance measures. In addition, the fostering service and The Grove Children’s Home had both been inspected by Ofsted during July and August and the outcome of the inspections were that the fostering service was judged to be outstanding and The Grove good with outstanding features. Details of these inspections were to be included in separate reports. Outcomes for children in care were generally good and improving and paragraph 3.3 highlighted the key areas.
Partners contributed to progress against the children in care priority action plan which was reviewed regularly by the children in care strategy group (a multi-agency partnership) so there was measurable progress.
Resolved – That cabinet notes the reports on progress against the indicators and supports the continued development of services through the priority action plan.
989 (13) INSPECTION REPORT – NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE COUNCIL COMMUNITY SUPPORT TEAM – A report was submitted by the Director of People which informed cabinet that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had completed an unannounced inspection on the Adult Social Services Community Support Team.
The CQC was the national regulator for health and social care services and its role is to check whether providers comply with the government’s essential standards of quality and safety. The inspection regime had previously been based on a three year cycle of announced inspections. However, following recent changes, the commission had reintroduced annual unannounced inspections with a more robust inspection regime.
The North Lincolnshire Council Community Support Team (CST) is a domiciliary care agency registered to provide personal care to people who live in their own homes. The aim of the service is to provide short term rehabilitation and re-ablement support, to help people to remain living in the community and be as independent as possible. The CST primarily supports older or disabled people who have been in hospital, the Lilacs or who had had a period of illness in their own homes to return to as high a level of independence as possible. Staff had access to a high level of training and the majority of staff were risk assessors enabling them to provide equipment and technology out of hours to prevent admissions and promote further discharge.
In July 2012 the CST had an unannounced inspection and in August 2012, the Care Quality Commission published the findings into the compliance of the North Lincolnshire Council’s CST against the essential standards of quality and safety. There were 28 outcomes with 6 standards of compliance which the Care Quality Commission assessed services against which were detailed in the report. The judgement awarded to the service was “compliance” which was now the highest judgement available.
A copy of the full report of the Care Quality Commission was attached as an appendix to the report.
Resolved – That cabinet receives the inspection report for the North Lincolnshire Community Support Team and recognises the work and performance of the team.
990 (14) PEOPLE SCRUTINY PANEL REPORT – CORPORATE PARENTING AND SERVICES FOR LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which considered the report of the People Scrutiny Panel entitled “Corporate Parenting and Services for Looked After Children and Young People.”
Under the revised overview and scrutiny procedure rules agreed at the annual meeting of the council on 25 May 2011, scrutiny reports had now to be considered by cabinet. The People Scrutiny Panel had completed the review into Corporate Parenting and Services for Looked After Children and Young People.
Following the review, the panel had made four detailed recommendations and a copy of the full report including the recommendations was attached as an appendix to the report of the Director.
Resolved – (a) That the report be received and (b) that the cabinet member for People and the Director of People consider the contents of the report and prepare an action plan in response to the recommendations for submission to a future meeting of the cabinet.
991 (15) PEOPLE SCRUTINY PANEL REPORT – REVISIT OF THE FORMER CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE’S SCRUTINY PANEL REVIEW OF PLAY, PLAYGROUNDS AND OPEN SPACES IN NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which considered the report of the People Scrutiny Panel entitled “Revisit of the Former Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel’s Review of Play, Playgrounds and Open Spaces in North Lincolnshire.”
Under the revised overview and scrutiny procedure rules agreed at the annual meeting of the council held on 25 May 2011, scrutiny reports had now to be considered by cabinet. The People Scrutiny Panel had completed its revisit into the Review of Play, Playgrounds and Open Spaces in North Lincolnshire.
Following the review, the panel had made eight detailed recommendations and a copy of the full report including the recommendations was attached as an appendix to the report of the Director
Resolved – (a) That the report be received and (b) that the cabinet member for People and the Director of People consider the contents of the report and prepare an action plan in response to the recommendations for submission to a future meeting of cabinet.
992 (16) SCRUTINY REVIEW OF NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH IN NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE – ACTION PLAN – The Director of Places submitted a report with an attached action plan in response to the Places Scrutiny Panel Review into the effectiveness of Neighbourhood Watch in North Lincolnshire.
The Places Scrutiny Panel had completed its report and made eight recommendations. Attached to the report was a proposed action plan to take forward the recommendations of the panel.
Resolved – That the action plan attached as an appendix to the report be approved and adopted.