Full Cabinet – 21 July 2010
PRESENT: Councillor Kirk in the chair.
Councillors Foster (vice-chair), Carlile, Gosling, Grant, Swift and Regan.
Councillors Barker, Barkworth, B Briggs, J Briggs, England, Jawaid, Wilson and Whiteley also attended the meeting.
Simon Driver, Mike Briggs, John Coates, Keith Ford, Sarah Howe, Helen Manderson, Becky McIntyre, Stuart Minto, Paul Savage, Chris Skinner, John Spicer, Susan Twemlow, Dave Watson, Mike Wedgewood, Mike Wood, Peter Young and Mel Holmes also attended the meeting.
890 DECLARATIONS OF PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – There were no declarations of personal or personal and prejudiced interests from cabinet members.
891 MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of cabinet held on 9 June 2010, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chair.
892 (16) OUTSTANDING ACTION FROM PREVIOUS MEETINGS – The Service Director Legal and Democratic 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.
In response to these announcements, Service Directors affected by the cuts had identified how spending reductions equivalent to the grant cut could be made and the impact on their services. The report considered alternative approaches to making in-year cuts and also asked whether greater cuts should made in the cost base now to reposition the council for the period ahead.
The government had made clear that its most urgent priority was to tackle the deficit in order to restore confidence in the economy and support the recovery. It believed that it was better to start to make cuts in the current financial year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had also stated that he would be looking for savings of at least a further 25 per cent in the period 2011/2015, more for some as other areas were protected.As with central departments, the government expected local authorities would be able to make savings in 2010/2011 from efficiency measures, eliminating waste and, where necessary, reducing spending in areas that were lower priority for their communities. The government wants local government to have flexibility to take decisions locally.It would therefore lift restrictions on how local government spends its money by removing some ring fences and stated that it is for local authorities to decide where their priorities and opportunities for efficiencies lie across the totality of their responsibilities.
The local government contribution towards overall savings of £6.2bn across government in 2010/2011 was initially notified at £1.166m; primarily through cuts to capital and area based grants.There were no cuts to formula grant or to dedicated schools grant, Surestart and spending on education for 16/19 year olds. However, further cuts were announced on 17 June after the treasury review of all new spending commitments made to 1 January 2010 and other cuts had followed.For the £6.2bn cuts package, £1.166bn for local government, cuts to individual grants/funding streams had been made on a pro rata basis, so that every authority was affected to the same proportionate extent in relation to that grant stream.This meant that there were no differences between authorities with proportionally more required of authorities with more funding streams.A cap of 2 per cent reduction in revenue grant had been applied.North Lincolnshire was required to make cuts of £1.2m equivalent to 0.7 per cent of the revenue streams identified.
The Department for Transport had focussed most of its cuts on capital. This would scale back some general Local Transport Plan (LTP) allocations and take away 50 per cent of the carry forward of underspent funds from previous years in the Yorkshire and Humber Region.It had also suspended or cancelled some major capital schemes nationally.A reduction of £1.3m was required to capital budgets in North Lincolnshire.Paragraph 3.4 of the report set out the local government cuts by department with paragraph 3.5 onwards setting out how these would directly impact on North Lincolnshire.
There were also three other revenue grants which had been abolished or reduced, for which entitlement depended on performance. None of this funding had been allocated to projects in 2010/11 –
- Housing and Planning Delivery Grant – Abolished
- LABGI – Abolished
- LAA Reward Grant – Reduced by 50 per cent
Subsequently on 17 June, the government had announced the outcome of its review of all spending commitments made since January 2010.217 projects were re-submitted to the Chief Secretary for re-approval, totalling £34bn.Of these –
- 12 would not go ahead, cost £2bn
- 12 would be suspended, cost £8.5bn
There was some overlap with the £6.2bn savings announcement, in particular no further roll out of the Future Jobs Fund in which the council was actively involved. Further departmental reviews of spending decisions that did not require treasury approval continued to be announced, taking local authority cuts beyond the initial £1.2bn figure.The list to date follows and action will be taken by services affected to reduce spending permanently in line with the funding reduction –
- Cancellation of the free swimming policy after 31 July 2010.Council to fund extension for under 16’s to end of August 2010.
- Cancellation of the Contact Point Project: £78k grant for 2010/11 reduced by 75 per cent
- A 50 per cent cut in the Harnessing Technology Grant, of £409k cut (half in schools)
- A cut in the extended Schools Capital Grant of £86k
- Withdrawal of Revenue Grants to play builder authorities
There was likely to be a further impact on local authorities through the £270m savings from ending lower value regional development agency spending which includes Yorkshire Forward. The government had also removed the ring fences from around £1.7bn of grants to local authorities in 2010/2011, but only identified £1.2bn in its announcement on 10 June. The scope to make use of this flexibility was reduced by the fact that £948m was capital grant which could only be spent for capital purposes; and all of this funding is allocated in the council’s current capital programme.
The report then considered an analysis of the information set out above. Service Directors had been asked to identify for each grant cut –
- Which grant the budget supports
- Whether it funds an activity in whole or in part
- Whether the activity can be stopped
- What alternative adjustments can be made to service budgets to deliver the savings
This worked on the principle that spending cuts in the areas affected should be required first. Highways and Planning had identified how they could make £1.3m savings in the Capital Programme. All services which lose revenue grant except children and young people had identified how their revenue cuts could be made in full in 2010/11.Against the £0.9m cut in area based grant, the Children and Young People’s Service had identified restructure savings of £280,000 which were feasible in the first year; the balance to be addressed in later years.
It was proposed that the principle of cutting spend in the service targeted for grant reduction be upheld. There was, however, a case for some phasing of that reduction where it could not be realistically delivered in full in the current year as in the case of the Children and Young People’s Service. A number of options had therefore been explored –
- Make a one year charge against contingency or reserves
- Use the £250,000 carry forward of underspends from 2009/2010
- Reconsider developments built into the 2010/11 budget
- Make cuts in all service budgets to capture savings from the recently announced vacancy freeze
The report considered each of these in light of the options available with further analysis. The fourth of the above proposals was the most practicable option. It equated to a half percent reduction in the bottom line budget for each service.The vacancy freeze should deliver permanent savings starting in 2010/11 to help meet this reduction. The impact by service, including the withdrawal of most discretionary carry forwards was shown at appendix 1 to the report. Current monitoring suggested that service spending in 2010/2011 was on track, and, given that we are only three months into the financial year, services should be able to take action to contain any emerging pressures and the cuts proposed in the report.
The report then considered future years 2011/2015. The approach proposed above started the process of making more substantial adjustments now to revenue budgets outside the areas directly affected by the 2010/11 grant cuts. For 2011/2015 real term cuts of 25 per cent or more in revenue grants were predicted. Similar large scale cuts were also confirmed in future capital grants. Given the need to take immediate action, the Leader and Chief Executive on 25 June announced a freeze on all jobs unless the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services approved an exception. Only when absolutely necessary to safeguard a frontline service would recruitment in these cases be endorsed. For capital a review of 2010/2011 schemes which were not contractually committed had been made. Details of the review were set out in appendix 2. This proposed that cuts of £0.475m were made in current year spending funded from internal resources, and confirms a reduction in grant for the Local Transport Plan, the Safety Camera Partnership and Extended Schools.
Resolved – (a) That approval be given to the amended revenue budget for 2010/2011 as set out in appendix 1 to the report; (b) that the amendments to capital spending in 2010/2011 as set out in appendix 2 to the report be approved, and (c) that the vacancy freeze be endorsed.
Current contracts for the delivery of Waste Management Services for the council would terminate on 31 March 2011.A Contract Notice had been issued on 19 March 2009 to the European Union and Local Media. The contract was advertised in two lots – Lot 1 for Residual Waste and Lot 2 for Organic Waste.
The bids for Lot 1 were fully evaluated and the recommendation to progress two bidders through the next stage of dialogue was endorsed by the Project Board and implemented by the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood, Environment and Communities. The project team had considered the needs of the competitive dialogue process for the final tender stage for Lot 1 and there was now a need to seek an amendment to the project timetable to take account of recent developments and the proposed strategy to take the two bidders through to the next stage of dialogue. However, the contract award date remained unchanged.
The cost of new Waste Treatment Contracts was a key risk for the council. The technology proposed by the remaining bidders for Lot 2 were deemed unaffordable in the current budgetary climate.The Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood, Environment and Communities on 12 May 2010 gave approval for the abandonment of Lot 2 procurement and the procurement of an interim solution for treatment of organic waste for a period of two to four years. The need to put in place alternative arrangements before the expiry of the current service contract in March 2011 would necessitate the publication of a Contract Notice in the Official Journal of the European Union as soon as possible.Use of the restricted procedure should allow for completion of the process, including contract award, before the new service commencement on 1 April 2011.
A contract term for the interim organic waste solution of two years duration with options to extend via 2 further periods of 12 months each was considered prudent to attract sufficient competition and to provide adequate time for the current uncertainty surrounding public finances and central government waste strategy to be eased. Each of the Lot 1 solutions included significant capital expenditure. The ability of the council to make a contribution to the solutions through the use of prudential borrowing would help reduce the total revenue cost of each. Financial benefit was derived through lower borrowing costs available to the council. Bidders had confirmed this reduction through a re-modelling of their prospective solutions with an assumed contribution of £5m. A prudential borrowing option would be worked up with each bidder and a final decision based on overall value for money. The Waste Project Board had endorsed this approach.
The selection of North Lincolnshire Green Energy (NLGE) and Waste Recycling Group Limited (WRG) as the two bidders to progress through to the next dialogue stage led to a review of the procurement strategy and timetable for Lot 1.The Waste Contracts Project Team and their consultants had considered the needs of the competitive dialogue process, the likelihood of refining one or more bids into a position where an invitation to submit a final tender could be made and the work required in completing the contract award and financial close with the preferred bidder. The options were –
- Option 1 – Approve the revised timetable for Lot 1 at appendix A.
- Option 2 – Not to approve the revised timetable and retain the current approved timetable at appendix B.
The report analysed these options and the Waste Contract Project Board were satisfied that the process was being conducted in accordance with the governance arrangements agreed at cabinet on 11 March 2009 and was confident that the project would be able to deliver its objective before the expiry of the current contracts. Option 1, was, therefore recommended.
The report also contained the resource and other implications associated with this matter.
Resolved – (a) That the report be noted; (b) that the revised timetable for Lot 1 as detailed in appendix A to the report be approved; (c) that the use of the restricted procedure for the procurement of an interim municipal organic waste treatment solution to commence immediately be acknowledged and (d) that the in principle use of prudential borrowing, up to a maximum of £5m, as a capital contribution to the proposed Lot 1 solution be agreed.
The CYPP was the over-arching plan for all services for children, young people and their families in North Lincolnshire. It set out the council’s vision for the future, its shared priorities and commitment to deliver high quality integrated services, where children and young people are at the centre of all that we do. The CYPP 2006/2009 had been superseded by the Transitional Plan 2009/2010 which began to introduce the vision and strategic intention for the future of the Children’s Trust.
The report indicated that much progress had been made during the previous plan as detailed in paragraph 2.3 and indicated that the plan was now a statutory requirement of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act (ASCLA) 2009. As part of this, there was a requirement for the Children’s Trust to develop, publish, review, revise and monitor the implementation of the Plan.
The report referred to the guidance issued in relation to this matter which outlined the key components for inclusion in the plan and set out partners roles and responsibilities. In line with this guidance, the council had taken the lead in setting up and maintaining co-operation of partnership arrangements, which comprised the Children’s Trust. The vision for the plan is that “We want North Lincolnshire to be a place where children and young people are safe, where families are supported and where life chances are transformed. “To support this, the CYPP for 2010/2013 had identified six strategic priorities as follows –
- Raise aspirations
- Children and Young People feel safe and are safe
- Best start
- Close the gap
- Celebrate and engage children and young people
- One vision one workforce
Partnership arrangements and delivery plans had been developed to underpin the plan and ensure the strategic priorities were fulfilled. The plan had been approved by the Children’s Board on 18 June and by the NHS North Lincolnshire Board on 15 July 2010.Copies of the full plan had been deposited in the political group offices and were available on request.
Resolved – That cabinet approves the final draft of the Children and Young People’s Plan for 2010/2013.
Abuse of vulnerable adults, whether physical, sexual, emotional or financial was a reality in North Lincolnshire and across the country. In 2009/2010 there were 366 reports of adult abuse (or their potential).However, it was widely held that the reported incidents were a considerable under-representation of actual abuse. Adult abuse had a far lower profile in the public eye and media than child abuse, which meant that it had a lower awareness of its possibility amongst the public.
Safeguarding adults was a developing agenda throughout the country and was expected to continue. The cabinet endorsement of a “Zero Tolerance” policy for North Lincolnshire in March 2009 had further increased public and professional awareness of the issues and subsequent actions to take. The council had a duty and lead responsibility to protect adults who were vulnerable due to disability or infirmity. The council fulfilled this duty in a number of ways and three years ago it established a North Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board (SAB) to ensure a co-ordinated approach across all relevant agencies. The Care Quality Commission are the regulators for Adult Social Services and they consider the safeguarding of adults a key aspect of their performance assessment.
The SAB consisted of senior representatives from the police, NHS, voluntary sector, care providers and others. The council’s Director of Adult Social Services chairs it and the board publishes an annual report and was subject to oversight by the council’s Safer and Stronger Communities Scrutiny Panel. The work of the board had produced good progress in creating the infrastructure to manage the safeguarding policy and procedure and this had helped many individuals. The work needed to be continued to ensure that the current achievements were further progressed and the actions required to prevent abuse introduced. This was a complex multi-agency undertaking that required a strategy to ensure that the benefits were realised.
A draft strategy had therefore been developed in conjunction with SAB members, the public and providers of services. The document had an outline action plan. The plan would be updated annually through consultation. The government was also reviewing the legislative and guidance framework surrounding the safeguarding of vulnerable adults and had undertaken an extensive consultation exercise “No Secrets”. The results and subsequent actions from this consultation had been under review for an extended time and the strategy now developed by the council included consideration of changes to external drivers and would not therefore be undermined by any outcome from the government’s review.
The report set out further information in relation to the development of the strategy, a copy of which had been placed in political group offices and was available on request. Cabinet was asked to endorse it.
Resolved – That cabinet approves the safeguarding adults strategy for publication.
The National Support Team (NST) visit had taken place last autumn and the feedback meeting held early in 2010. However, work on developing the NST support plan had been delayed until April 2010 to allow existing capacity to focus on developing and implementing the contract for the new community alcohol service.
The report of the NST took into account many of the findings of the review carried out by the Healthier Communities and Older People Scrutiny Panel which had published its report on Alcohol Misuse and Health in May 2009.In addition, the NST proposed a partnership wide visioning process at LSP level to engage all partners in the cross cutting theme of alcohol harm reduction.
The report was considered and approved by the Safer Neighbourhood Strategy Board at its meeting on 18 March 2010 when the board agreed that cabinet should be informed of the work it was carrying out which would link all these issues together including the 15 recommendations of the scrutiny panel report.
Cabinet was asked to note the contents of this report, endorse the NST recommendations and associated support plan which would include the actions contained in the scrutiny panel report outlined above.
Resolved – That the report be noted and that cabinet endorse and support its recommendations including those in relation to the support plan and the recommendations of the scrutiny panel.