Full Cabinet – 28 January 2014

PRESENT:  Councillor Briggs (Vice-Chairman) in the chair.

Councillors Poole, N Sherwood and Waltham.

Councillors Allcock, Barker, Mrs Bromby, Clarke, Collinson, Eckhardt, England, Evison, L Foster, Glover, Gosling, Marper, Ogg, O’Sullivan, Vickers, Wardle, Wells and Whiteley also attended the meeting.

Simon Driver, Mike Wedgewood, Peter Williams, Will Bell, Nolan Bennett, Wendy Brownbridge, Mick Gibbs, Chris Matthews, Becky McIntyre, Peter Thorpe and Mel Holmes also attended the meeting.

Allison Cooke and Kathryn Helley also attended the meeting.

The meeting was held at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe.

1071  DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY INTERESTS AND PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – Declarations of personal interests were indicated as follows:-

            Member Subject/Minute
Councillor J Briggs Agenda Item 5 – Member of Humberside Fire Authority
Councillor N Poole Agenda Item 5 – Small Businessman
Councillor R Waltham Agenda Item 5 – Member of Humberside Fire Authority

1072  MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of Cabinet held on 12 November 2013, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chairman.

1073  (82)  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.

1074  (83)  JANUARY BUDGET REVIEW REPORT 2013/2014 – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted his January 2014 Budget Review.  This was one of a series of reports to Cabinet produced during the year to update Cabinet on the council’s financial position for the 2013/2014 financial year.  It provided an opportunity to review how the council’s revenue plans and capital programme were progressing and to take corrective action where necessary.

The report indicated that despite directorates being faced with significant cost pressures, overall the revenue position was positive and showed a saving of £100,000k against the planned budget for the year.  Schools were forecast to use £1.2 m from balances to meet expenditure pressures and the council’s capital programme of investment had been rephased and re-costed in line with a reduced spend position in 2013/2014.  The cash and debt management position was in line with the treasury strategy.

The net expenditure position against budget was monitored on a regular basis and the report considered the current directorate position and actions that were being taken to resolve problems and identify savings opportunities.  Where services required additional support or where additional savings had been identified cabinet could consider the reallocation of resources between directorates, earmarked reserves and the contingency fund.

Capital schemes had a long lead time and implementation usually took place over more than one financial year.  That is why the council approved a four to five year programme.  Over the life of a scheme a range of factors could affect delivery which made the regular review of the programme necessary. The report looked at current progress in achieving the council’s programme of investment.  It also considered the latest position in delivering the treasury strategy, cash investments and returns, debt levels and key performance indicators.

The report then considered the different elements of the budget in detail. The revenue position for 2013/2014 was set out in paragraphs 3.1 to 3.17 and detailed the current position by directorate including any areas of concern.  It also detailed the actions being taken to address these concerns.  The position in relation to capital expenditure for 2013/2018 was detailed in paragraphs 3.18 to 3.26 and again set out the current position with details of the proposed rephasing of certain elements of the programme as detailed in paragraph 3.21. The position in relation to treasury management was set out in paragraphs 3.27 to 3.31.

Attached as appendices to the report were details of the revenue budget and a revised capital programme which reflected the contents of the report.

Resolved – (a) That the revised revenue budget attached to appendix 1 to the report be approved and adopted; (b) that the revised capital programme at appendices 2 and 3 of the report be approved and adopted and (c) that the performance against the treasury strategy be noted.

1075  (84)  SETTING THE NON-DOMESTIC RATES TAX YIELD 2014/2015 – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which considered the North Lincolnshire National Non-Domestic Rates (NNDR) Tax Yield for 2014/2015.

A report on this matter had been considered by council on 10 December 2013 (minute 2244 refers).  However, a tax yield could not be finalised at that time because of changes made to the business rate multiplier and various reliefs as part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.  The matter had therefore been referred to cabinet for consideration.

Under arrangements introduced from 1 April 2013, the total business rate for England was shared 50/50 between central and local shares.  The local share was then allocated to individual councils in proportion to the amount of business rates they collected in 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 and increased by inflation each year.  The government used the central share to fund any grants it made to local government.

Each year the council was required to estimate the amount of NNDR it believed it would collect in the following financial year and make a return, the NNDR 1 to government. However, there were restrictions on how much of the local share of business rates councils like North Lincolnshire could retain.  This was because the government wanted to protect areas which currently depended most heavily on central government funding.  It used the 2012/2013 local government settlement to derive a start up funding assessment for each council.  This meant that it would continue to redistribute business rates from authorities with large tax bases to those with smaller tax bases relative to there needs.  It would do this by applying a tariff to some councils in order to provide a top-up to others.  This would come out of the local share and the tariff for 2014/2015 for North Lincolnshire was £9.7m.  This was fixed for 7 years, upgraded annually in line with the Retail Price Index (RPI).

The NNDR 1 return therefore estimated the amount of NNDR the council would collect for the following year 2014/2015.  Half of this total had to be paid over to central government with a further 1% share being paid to the Humberside Fire Authority as a local precepting body.  Humberside Police were now funded outside the new system through grant.  Any tariff was then paid from the remaining portion.  If the sum remaining after all these payments were made was more than a share of NNDR funding, the government had determined for the council it had to pay a levy of 25% on the excess. This meant that the council could retain a proportion of any growth in business rate income after adjusting for annual inflation.  There was a levy of a further 25% on ‘excessive’ growth after the 50/50 central/local shares were determined.  This was intended to tie councils more directly to the fortunes of the local economy and to give them a greater incentive to take a more active role in promoting economic prosperity.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement included a number of changes to the business rates regime which were detailed in paragraph 2.9 of the report.  As a final point the government would continue to set the parameters of the scheme including the business rate to be levied.

The net NNDR tax yield for 2014/2015 was currently estimated to be £88.461m.  After allowing for transitional relief arrangements it was estimated to be £88.068m.  It was also estimated that by setting the NNDR tax base at £88.464m, the council would retain funding of £32.685m.  This was after deduction of the central share, the fire authority share, a tariff payment of £9.754m and a levy payment of £0.907m.  That would give the council £3m more than the council’s inflation adjusted NNDR base line funding level and this additional sum would be taken into account in the council’s forward financial planning.  This was £0.137m more than previously assumed in the budget.

The Director indicated that this was currently the best estimate of the 2014/2015 tax yield.  He also indicated that the final NNDR1 had not yet been received in its final form so the final version and figures could not be calculated.  He suggested, therefore, that the decision on submitting the final NNDR1 be delegated to himself in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Policy and Resources.

Resolved – (a) That the decision in relation to the NNDR1 be delegated to the Director of Policy and Resources in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Policy and Resources, and (b) that the Secretary of State and Humberside Fire Authority be duly notified.

1076  (85)  RESIDUAL WASTE TREATMENT FACILITY – CONSIDERATION OF OTHER SOLUTIONS – The Director of Places submitted a report which referred to the work previously undertaken to secure a Residual Waste Treatment Facility Solution and to other solutions that might be available which could offer enhanced value for money.

The council was currently in the process of procuring a Residual Waste Treatment Facility Solution (Waste 2).  A number of decisions had previously been taken in respect of this.  Following the last decision taken in June 2013 (minute 1037 refers) cabinet had reviewed the council’s budget position both in September and January and the council was currently preparing its 2014/2018 financial plan.  It was noted that council still faced a financial position which required value for money to be maximised wherever possible.

In relation to waste treatment and disposal market conditions had changed over recent months.  Over supply in respect of waste treatment capacity was now being reported whilst it appeared that the availability of local landfill solutions were reducing.  A number of other councils were suspending or cancelling their waste procurement projects as a result of the economic and market conditions.  As currently structured, the scope of the waste to procurement project required all of the associated project objectives to be achieved.  This, combined with the effect of the changed market conditions noted above, now made it less likely the council would be able to access the best value for money solution consistent with its priorities and guiding principles. In light of this, consideration had been given to the best means of achieving a best value for money solution from a business prospective.  An evaluation of the changed market condition showed that the cost of a merchant facility could be in the range of £161-180m over 25 years, compared to Waste 2 which could cost £175-237m over 25 years.

Given the changes to market conditions as detailed above it would be prudent to consider how best to proceed given that the timing for such consideration was optimal as the council’s ITPD document on the current Waste 2 procurement project had not yet been issued and bidders had not been engaged in the dialogue process. If a decision was taken to withdraw from the Waste 2 procurement this would be the right time for such a decision to be made.

The report considered two possible options in relation to a Residual Waste Treatment Facility, Option 1 being to continue with the existing Waste 2 procurement project including associated key project objectives or Option 2 proceed based upon implementation of an alternative solution which would be intended to deliver lowest short and long term costs.

The report considered an analysis of these options together with the likely resource implications involved.

Resolved – (a) That cabinet approve the implementation of option 2 as set out in paragraph 4.2 of the report including the cancellation in principle of the Waste 2 project, together with the identification of an appropriate procurement and delivery strategy to secure the best value for money short and long term solutions for treatment and disposal of the council’s residual municipal waste, and (b) that further reports be submitted to the cabinet member for further consideration of these matters when an appropriate procurement and delivery strategy had been identified.

1077  (86)  WESTCLIFF UPDATE – Further to minute 1064, the Chief Executive submitted a report updating cabinet on progress with the Westcliff Regeneration Programme.

At its meeting held on 24 September 2013, cabinet had considered a report entitled ‘Westcliff Looking Back and Moving Forward’.  Cabinet had approved the report and its recommendations to develop the Westcliff Regeneration Programme and had asked to receive regular updates on progress.

The council working with North Lincolnshire Homes had undertaken a ‘community conversation’ with the community of Westcliff on 9 December 2013.  A total of 214 people completed a ‘post-it note’ with over 496 comments recorded.  Paragraph 2.3 of the report summarised the key issues emerging from the ‘community conversation’ and attached as an appendix to the report was a full evaluation of this work.

The first Westcliff Regeneration Programme Board had been held on 16 January 2014 when the group discussed a number of items as detailed in paragraph 2.4.  In addition, task and  finish groups would now commence and feed into future steering groups covering a number of key themes namely –

  • Housing development.
  • Community engagement.
  • Retail.
  • Community hub, resources and funding.
  • PR and communications.
  • The Desert Rat

The first task for the groups would be to agree key actions and timescales and these would be fed into the commissioning of the wider development plan.

The report also referred to the Project Initiation Document which all partners had signed up to and approved.  This meant that the Westcliff Regeneration Board had been tasked to ‘use the physical regeneration of the precinct area of Westcliff, including the provision of new homes, retail and community facilities, to kick start a fundamental shift in wellbeing, aspirations and employment prospects of current and future generations.’  The board had also approved the overall resource plan in relation to this matter which was detailed in paragraph 2.7 of the report and had also approved the commencement of the procurement process to commission the necessary consultancy support to develop the Westcliff Development Plan and carry out the necessary financial viability exercises.  In addition, the board had approved the preparation and submission of a bid to the Homes and Communities Agency for new homes as part of the Westcliff regeneration project.

The report contained further information in relation to this matter.

Resolved – (a) That cabinet notes the progress achieved to date on the development of the Westcliff Precinct Regeneration Programme, and (b) that cabinet received a further progress report as its next meeting.

1078  (87)  THE STANDARDISED HOSPITAL MORTALITY INDEX – (SHMI) IN NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE – ACTION PLAN IN RESPONSE TO THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE HEALTH SCRUTINY PANEL – With reference to minute 1069, a report was submitted together with an action plan in response to the recommendations of the Health Scrutiny Panel in relation to the standardised Hospital Mortality Index (SHMI) in North Lincolnshire.

At its meeting held on 12 November 2013, cabinet had considered a report and action plan in response to the recommendations.  However this was not sufficiently detailed and officers were asked to prepare a more detailed action plan for submission to this meeting.  Attached as an appendix to the report was a detailed action plan which dealt with the recommendations of the Health Scrutiny Panel.

Members commented on the contents of the detailed action plan.

Resolved – That the action plan be approved and adopted.

1079  (88)  YOUTH JUSTICE PLAN 2013/2015 – NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE YOUTH OFFENDING SERVICES – The Director of People submitted a report informing cabinet of the 2013/2015 Youth Justice Plan for North Lincolnshire.  The report indicated that the Youth Offending Service was required to produce a Youth Justice Plan which had to be submitted for approval to the Youth Justice Board and published via that board.  The report also indicated that the Youth Justice Board had recently agreed the North Lincolnshire Youth Justice Plan which covered a two year period.  The plan had also been approved by the multi-agency youth offending service management board and would be monitored and reviewed by that board.  The statutory members of the board included Humberside Police, Probation, the North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group and North Lincolnshire Council.

The Youth Justice Board stipulated that a number of elements had to be addressed within the plan including –

  • Structure and governance.
  • Partnership arrangements.
  • Resources and Value for Money.
  • Performance.
  • Risks to future delivery.

The governance and structure elements of the plan had been incorporated into the first section and the partnership arrangements were set out to show how the Youth Offending Service operated within North Lincolnshire.

The 2013/2015 plan had been produced following the Youth Offending Service Inspection in 2012 when the service had been judged as performing within the top 5% of such services in England and Wales. The service continued to perform well and enjoyed excellent working relationships with the police in the management of out of court disposals which had resulted in ongoing improved performance.  A full copy of the Youth Justice Plan was appended to the report.

Resolved –  (a) That cabinet receives and supports the Youth Justice Plan; and (b) that the Youth Offending Service actively work with other agencies in relation to job creation for young offenders.

1080  (89)  LOCAL SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN’S BOARD (LSCB) – ANNUAL REVIEW REPORT 2012/2013 – A report was submitted by the Director of People presenting the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board Annual Report for 2012/2013.

The Local Safeguarding Children’s Board had a statutory requirement to publish an annual report on the effectiveness of child safeguarding and the promotion of the welfare of children in a local area.  The report had to be submitted to the Leader of the Council, the Chief Executive, the local Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chair of the Health and Well Being Board. The statutory guidance set out in ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children 2013’ stated that the annual review report should be a rigourous and transparent assessment of the performance and effectiveness of local services. The report was written in accordance with the National Association of Independent LSCB Chairs guidance on preparing annual reports.  A full copy of the report had been made available in the political group offices and was also available on request.

The report outlined the progress made in respect of the LSCB statutory functions including –

  • Agencies duties in respect of Sections 11 and 14 of the Children Act 2004.

The board’s duties in respect of –

  • developing policies and procedures to safeguard and promote the well being of children.
  • Training of persons working with children.
  • Communication and awareness raising about safeguarding children.
  • Undertaking reviews into child deaths.
  • Undertaking serious case reviews.

The Annual Report also included progress against LSCB priority areas which were detailed in paragraph 2.5 of the report.  Paragraph 2.6 set out the main headlines within the report.  The work of the LSCB had received recognition from Ofsted in June 2012 (Safeguarding and Looked after Children Inspection) who described the board’s work as excellent.  Following the inspection Ofsted had returned to North Lincolnshire specifically to write up best practice which had focused on the North Lincolnshire risk analysis framework and the work undertaken with children subject to child protection plans, the Cool Kidz Club.  Both examples had been featured on the Ofsted Best Practice website as outstanding examples of keeping children safe and working in collaboration partnership with children and their families.

By seeking to continuously improve on the effective safeguarding arrangements already in place, the LSCB had identified three priority areas for 2013/2014.  These were –

  • Reduce the harm from exploitation.
  • Provide early help to children and young people.
  • To support effective parenting capacity.

Resolved – That cabinet receives the LSCB Annual Review Report for 2012/2013.

1081  (90)  ADOPTION SERVICE 6 MONTHLY BUSINESS REPORT – APRIL 2013 – SEPTEMBER 2013 – The Director of People submitted a report providing cabinet with a business report summarising the work of the Adoption Service between 1 April and 30 September 2013.

The Adoption Service operated under a strict statutory framework as detailed in paragraph 2.1 of the report and was required to present for information every six months a business report on its activities.  The report now submitted covered the period 1 April to 30 September 2013.

The report indicated that since the last business report the statement of purpose had been updated and approved and that since the last adoption business report, the government had continued with its programme of reform for adoption.  New regulations and guidance had been issued with effect from 1 July 2013 which had set out a new framework for the assessment of prospective adopters.  There were also new regulations introducing fostering for adoption, with a new temporary approval of prospective adopters as foster carers.  The new framework for assessing prospective adopters was now embedded in practice.

The Adoption Panel continued to meet on a monthly basis (a regulatory requirement) to make independent recommendations on the approval of new adoptive carers, the matching of children to carers and where a child had been relinquished for adoption.  Where required, additional Adoption Panels were arranged in order to ensure that there was no excessive delay.  Approval of plans for adoption for individual children (unless relinquished) was no longer required to be presented to the panel and was now approved by the agency decision maker.

The business report contained comprehensive performance information for the adoption service during this period and overall the service continued to make good progress and was meeting the threshold set by the adoption scorecard. The service had a strong performance monitoring system in place and would continue to monitor this to ensure that it continued to make progress.

Resolved – That cabinet receives the report and continues to support the work of the Adoption Service.

1082  (91)  INDEPENDENT REVIEWING OFFICERS (IRO) SERVICE ANNUAL REPORT – A report was submitted by the Director of People which presented the Independent Reviewing Officers (IRO) Annual Report to cabinet.

The IRO Handbook 2010 provided statutory guidance to IROs about how they should discharge their distinct responsibilities for looked after children. It also provided guidance to local authorities on their strategic and managerial responsibilities in establishing an effective IRO service. The aim was to give all looked after children the support and services that each one required to enable them to reach their potential and to achieve improved outcomes for children. The Handbook stated that the IRO manager should be responsible for the production of an annual report for the scrutiny of the members of the corporate parenting board.

North Lincolnshire had maintained a low number of children in care which remained lower than statistical neighbours and the England average. There were 165 children and young people in full-time care as at the end of March 2013. In addition, there were 5 children in short-break care and 6 young people aged 16 and 17 ‘relevant’ care leavers whose pathway plans were independently reviewed.  The report also referred to the IRO Handbook which stated that an estimated caseload of between 50 to 70 children for a full-time IRO would represent good practice in the delivery of a quality service.  The average IRO caseload in North Lincolnshire was 59 cases in 2012/2013.

The report contained detailed information about the work of IROs and about corporate parenting which had demonstrated an excellent commitment to dialogue with children in care. The report also referred to previous IROs Service Annual Reports and to the developments in 2012/2013 which were detailed in paragraph 2.10 of the report. That paragraph also updated the details of developments and also referred to future developments for 2013/2014.

Resolved – That the Annual Report of the Independent Reviewing Officers service be received.

1083  (92)  UPDATE ON PUPIL PREMIUM 2014/2015 – The Director of People submitted a report updating cabinet on the increase in the Pupil Premium grant for 2014/2015.

North Lincolnshire Council was determined to raise the achievement and aspirations of all children and young people especially those from relatively disadvantaged backgrounds.  The council’s ambition was to close the attaining gap between those children eligible for free school meals and their peers at every stage of education – and particularly for the youngest children. Over the last three years, the council had begun to narrow the attainment gap between children eligible for free school meals and their peers.  Across early years, primary and secondary education, there had been improvements in the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals achieving expected levels of attainment in reading, writing, mathematics and English.  Despite these improvements the council was ambitious for faster improvement and so the increase in targeted funding through the Pupil Premium was welcomed.

The Pupil Premium was a separate funding stream from the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) available to schools to improve attainment and achievement of pupils all eligible for free school meals. In 2013/2014 the Pupil Premium is currently £900 per pupil (based on the number of pupils in a school that are or have been registered for free school meals in the past 6 years).  In addition, the premium is also allocated to schools for children who were in public care and those pupils registered as children of armed forces personnel.  In 2014/2015, the Pupil Premium would increase in value to £1,300 for eligible primary schools and £935 for eligible secondary schools.  The allocation for children in public care extended to those children who had been adopted and children with guardians and would be £1,900 per eligible pupil.  The allocation for service children would increase to £300 per eligible pupil.  Schools were expected to demonstrate how they would use the funding to improve attainment and this information had to be published on the school website.

The use of the Pupil Premium supported the council’s strategic aim to raise aspirations and empower our young people.  An option for the council was to ask the Schools Forum as a key stakeholder group for consultation and decision making on issues regarding the local use of education funding to evaluate the impact of the Pupil Premium within North Lincolnshire.  The decisions and the application of the Pupil Premium were the responsibility of individual schools and their governing bodies and the indicative Pupil Premium allocation for North Lincolnshire pupils in 2014/2015 was £7,257k. The final allocations would be based on the January 2014 Pupil Census.

Resolved – (a)  That cabinet promotes the use of the Pupil Premium in schools for the purposes of ‘narrowing the gaps’ in attainment between groups of children and young people, and (b) that the Schools Forum be asked to assess the value for money provided through the Pupil Premium within its work programme for 2014/2015.

1084  (93)  THE REVIEW OF CHILDHOOD WEIGHT IN NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE – THE REPORT OF THE PEOPLE SCRUTINY PANEL – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report with the attached report of the People Scrutiny Panel entitled ‘The Review of Childhood Weight in North Lincolnshire’.  The People Scrutiny Panel had approved its draft report in connection with the Review of Childhood Weight in North Lincolnshire and had referred the report to cabinet for consideration of the recommendations with a view to the preparation of an action plan.

Resolved – (a) That the report and recommendations be approved and adopted, and (b) that the Director of Public Health and other appropriate officers and cabinet members prepare an action plan in response to the recommendations of the report for submission to cabinet.