Policy & Resources Cabinet Member – Minutes – 27 March 2015

The council had a number of ‘family friendly’ policies.  Statutory changes due to come into force with effect from 5 April 2015, meant that the following policies had been updated:

  • Maternity scheme
  • Adoption scheme
  • Paternity/maternity support leave scheme
  • Parental leave
  • The Additional Paternity Leave policy will be removed and replaced with a new Shared Parental Leave policy

The policies were essential in ensuring that the council not only met its statutory obligations but supported employees in their family life and enabled them to find a balance that worked for them and the council.

Resolved That the revised policies be approved and implemented in time for 5 April 2015.

183     (56)  VIREMENTS – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which sought approval for changes to the revenue and capital budgets for 2014/15 as part of the council’s policy of active budget management.

On 25 February 2014 Council approved the revenue and capital budgets for the 2014/15 financial year respectively.  The report gave details of virements approved by the Director of Policy and Resources under delegated powers and those that required Cabinet Member approval.

Resolved – (a) That the virements at paragraph 3.1 of the report, approved by the Director of Policy and Resources under delegated powers be noted, and (b) that the permanent virements outlined in paragraph 3.2 of the report be approved.

184     (57)  PUBLIC SERVICES NETWORK INFRASTRUCTURE UPDATE – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report to provide an update on the implementation of a replacement PSN compliant IT network infrastructure and identify the associated business benefits arising from the project’s successful implementation.

Since 2012 the council has embarked on an ambitious programme of transformational IT projects that collectively help to deliver the vision set out in its IT and Digital strategy. The procurement and implementation of a modern data network forms a key strand of this programme 

Over the summer of 2013 a procurement exercise for a replacement network infrastructure took place and specific needs were identified. To achieve these requirements a successful competitive procurement was undertaken and a new contract was awarded via the central government PSN framework to MDNX (now Easynet) for the provision of a managed network infrastructure.

During 2014/15 a new data infrastructure was implemented and all sites were successfully migrated across to the new network by end February 2015.

Resolved That the outcomes and benefits arising from the successful completion of the PSN Infrastructure project be noted.

185     (58)  EMAIL PLATFORM REPLACEMENT – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report to introduce a proposal to replace the council’s email platform, and sought approval to proceed with a procurement exercise in line with Contract Procedure Rules.

The council operated an IBM Lotus Notes email platform which was first introduced in 1999.

Although the Lotus software environment, including Notes, was robust and secure, over recent years many public sector organisations had implemented Microsoft (MS) email facilities or migrated from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange. The main reason for this shift was due to integration and compatibility difficulties, new licensing models and associated technical administration demands and skills.

Recent investigations had highlighted that most of the neighbouring authorities and regional partners operated Microsoft email environments. It was explained that the  move to a Microsoft email environment was a complex task, requiring careful planning, but did have many immediate and longer term benefits. The implementation of such facilities would effectively be the final piece in the Microsoft jigsaw, enabling future transformation, improved integration and the rationalisation of applications.

It was intended that the official scoping of the project would commence during early March 2015 with a target completion of November 2015. This would see the migration from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange fully completed.  It was then envisaged that a 2nd phase would commence during early 2016 enabling the council to join its email system up with partners. This was likely to bring additional benefits and efficiencies to the council.

It was explained that a detailed project plan would be produced to identify each step and would be communicated once finalised.

Resolved(a) That the strategy to migrate to a Microsoft email platform be approved, and (b) that the proposed procurement plan as outlined in paragraph 2.14 of the report be approved.

186     (59)  COUNCIL TAX SUPPORT SCHEME DISCRETIONARY SUPPORT FUND –  The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which sought approval to reinstate the discretionary element of the Council Tax Support scheme for 2014/15 and 2015/16 in order to ensure that additional support may be provided to claimants requiring financial assistance over and above that which was allowed through the core scheme.

It was explained that the recommendation within the report would ensure that the council mitigated a risk of challenge at Valuation Tribunal as any decisions would have been made on an individual basis taking into account the relevant circumstances of the individual.

The Council Tax Support Scheme introduced in April 2013 included a discretionary element which would allow additional support to be granted to claimants who could evidence that they required additional financial assistance. Applications for additional support were assessed on an individual basis based on Income and expenditure.

During 2014/15 it had become clear that whilst the level of financial demand remained low, the provision for some discretionary payment was crucial for claimants who required extra help.  The award of the additional support was also beneficial to the council as the costs of attempting recovery of these debts, potentially leading to write-off, out-weighs the cost of what were extremely modest awards.

The report outlined that should North Lincolnshire Council face an appeal against a decision not to consider an award of additional support, it was important that the council could demonstrate that all of the facts in relation to the individual application had been considered.

Resolved – That the provision for additional discretionary support for recipients of Council Tax Support be reinstated for 2014/15 and onwards.

The corresponding report of the following item (Minute 187 refers) contains exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).

187     (60) FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT REVIEW – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which recommended changes to the structure of the Financial Management Service to ensure it could deliver council priorities and customer needs, while achieving the financial saving targets set in the council’s financial plan 2015/17.

The report sought approval to implement the proposals on a phased basis over the next two years which would achieve the savings target.

Full details of the proposal were outlined within the report.

Resolved That the proposals contained within the report be approved allowing the service to make the savings required in the Medium Term Financial Plan.

Note: Reports are in Portable Document Format (PDF) and therefore require a suitable reader to view them. A reader can be downloaded free from the Adobe website (full instructions for downloading the reader are provided on the site).

Where there is no report this is because it is exempt, as it contains information which is considered to be of a confidential nature, as detailed in the Local Government (Access to Information) Act.