Full Cabinet – 24 January 2012

PRESENT:  Councillor Mrs Redfern in the chair. 

Councillors Briggs (vice chairman), Poole, N Sherwood and Waltham. 

Councillors Ali, Mrs Bromby, Bunyan, Clarke, Collinson, Davison, Eckhardt, England, Evison, L Foster, T Foster, Glover, Gosling, Kirk, Marper, Ogg, O’Sullivan, Rowson, Swift, Wells and Wilson also attended the meeting. 

Simon Driver, Will Bell, Nolan Bennett, Mike Briggs, Frances Cunning, Keith Ford, Denise Hyde, Neil Laminman, Helen Manderson, Karen Pavey, Marcus Walker, Mike Wedgewood, Peter Williams and Mel Holmes also attended the meeting. 

The meeting was held at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe. 

953  DECLARATIONS OF PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – There were no declarations of personal or personal and prejudicial interests. 

954  MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of Cabinet held on 8 November 2011, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chairman. 

955  (23)  OUTSTANDING ACTION FROM PREVIOUS MEETINGS – The Director of Corporate and Community Services 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. 

956  (24)  JANUARY BUDGET REVIEW 2011/2012 – The Director of Finance submitted the council’s latest budget review for 2011/2012.  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 services needed additional support, or where savings had been identified, cabinet could consider re-allocating resources between services or from the contingency fund.  The report also looked at progress on the council’s capital investment programme which stretched beyond 2011/2012.  This included major multi-year projects such as Building Schools for the Future, The Pods, Flood Defences and Road Maintenance and other similar schemes.  Finally, the report also reviewed the management of the council’s cash investments and debts against the targets set out in the Treasury Management Strategy for 2011/2012. 

The report then considered in detail the revenue budget, the approved capital budget and treasury management.  The key points arising from the report were – 

Revenue spending was within the approved budget and some contingency funds could be returned to reserves at year end.  An overall underspend of £0.4m was projected for 2011/2012.

The capital programme had been re-phased and re-costed.  The effect was an increased call on internal resources in the planned period as a result of adding 2015/2016 ongoing schemes into the programme.

Cash and debt management was in line with the treasury strategy. 

The report also commented on the Icelandic Investments and indicated that it was now likely that the council would recover most of the £5.5m invested in Icelandic Banks in 2008.  So far £2.3m had been returned to date. 

Resolved – (a) That the revised revenue budgets attached as appendix 1 to the report be approved; (b) that the revised capital programme as set out in appendix 2 be approved, and (c) that the latest position on treasury management be noted. 

957  (25)  BUILDING SCHOOLS FOR THE FUTURE (BSF) – PROGRAMME UPDATE – The Director of Infrastructure Services submitted a report providing cabinet with an update on delivering the council’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) Programme. 

BSF was an initiative launched by government in 2003 with the intent of rebuilding and renewing all of England’s 3,500 secondary schools and provide high quality ICT to support improved learning.  Alternative ways of teaching and making innovative use of ICT together with managing schools differently were other key features.  In mid 2009, the council had received approval to proceed with work at a number of schools as detailed in paragraph 2.2.  The council had therefore entered into a contract with Engage North Lincolnshire Limited to deliver the BSF Programme.  Engage North Lincolnshire Limited was a Local Education Partnership (LEP) whose role was to manage the integrated ICT installation alongside the design and construction of BSF Schools.  Contracts had also been entered to maintain the new school buildings and ICT. 

The report contained further detailed information about the current progress with the scheme which was progressing well.  A number of changes had increased efficiency and pre-construction work was underway on all the projects.  It was anticipated that all work should be completed by the end of 2015.  The council would not receive any more BSF funding after 2015 although other sources of capital funding were available for schools.  Appendix 1 to the report set out more details on each project within the programme. 

Resolved – That the report be noted. 

958  (26)  COUNCILWIDE REVIEW OF COMMUNICATIONS – A report was submitted by the Director of Corporate and Community Services which confirmed that communication with local residents and service users was a priority for the council, but that advantages had to be taken of opportunities to achieve value for money savings from communication functions for re-direction to other areas, particularly frontline services.  

The report indicated that communication activity at the council was undertaken at two levels: the centrally based functions of the communications service area in Corporate and Community Services and functions carried out by outward facing services in the other directorates.  The former provided the core functionality and co-ordination for the council as a whole whilst the latter was service specific and targeted at particular audiences and stakeholders. 

The central functions operated as the essential conduit for external and internal communications as set out in the council’s policies whilst the balance of roles carried out at the centre and in services had been viewed as being largely complementary and appropriate.  However, it was recognised that there was scope for systems to be further improved and streamlined.  Although the council’s approved budget for 2011/2015 already provided for communication functions to yield savings over the four year period the general direction was now that a larger saving should be generated and brought forward for initial capture in the 2012/2013 budget. 

On that basis, a review of communications had been commissioned.  The initial terms of reference were prepared with a focus solely on the communications service area based in Corporate and Community Services but that had been extended after a few weeks to cover all council communications activity wherever it took place.  The scope of the review had been the level of resources and the arrangements that the council should have in place for a number of functional areas as detailed in paragraph 2.6.  The development of these functions over time had been to help deliver a number of outcomes that were in turn the measure of effective council communications and details of these outcomes were contained in paragraph 2.7. 

An analysis had been undertaken of the various elements of communications both at the centre and in service areas including the staffing costs, other communication spend and internal income budget targets.  Details were contained in paragraph 2.10.  The estimated total cost across the council was £853,923.  Cabinet was therefore asked to determine an appropriate level of budget reduction on the council’s overall communication activity and it was considered that a reduction of 30% was both achievable and sufficient to deliver the objectives of the review.  This would yield a base budget saving of £256,177. 

The report contained further information in relation to the review including the resource and staffing implications and the period over which the 30% reduction could be achieved. 

The Director reported orally on the feedback received from staff as part of the consultation process in relation to the review. 

Resolved – (a) That cabinet notes the estimated costs of council communications as detailed in the report and agrees that an overall level of budget reduction be set at 30% equating to a saving of £256,177; (b) that this reduction be made in one year 2012/2013 and that the allocation of savings to directorates and service areas forms part of the council’s budget planning process, and (c) that the effectiveness of council communications and the efficiency and economy of the systems and processes that are used be evaluated at regular intervals with improvements made as necessary. 

959  (27)  ADULT SERVICES STRATEGY – The Director of Adult Social Services submitted a report in connection with the stated commitment to provide excellent services to vulnerable adults together with a fresh strategy on one page to help service users, carers, staff and partners improve services entitled “Your Life, Your Choice.” 

The future for Adult Social Services was clear –  “People have choice and control of their lives.”  The report indicated that to do this the council must work together with others to create strong communities that provide advice, information and guidance to enable people to manage their own needs.  Supported by integrated health and social care teams based in the localities had ensured a rapid response to enable people to regain any lost independence.  This would ensure that anyone who, after reablement, still required ongoing care and support does so with an allocated personal budget and to continue to hold services to account through intelligent commissioning, quality and performance management. 

The council had taken on board all the most recent published policy guidance and created a one page strategy to express the council’s direction and provide the public and partners with clarity of purpose and expected outcomes.  This was detailed at appendix 1 to the report.  The government had also published “A Vision for Adult Social Care: Capable Communities and Active Citizens” in November 2010.  This vision built on seven principles which were contained in paragraph 2.3.  In addition, in March 2011 the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework had been published and this set out outcome measures that would give an indication of the strength of social care and success in delivering better outcomes for people who used services.  The framework was set out under a number of domains as detailed in paragraph 2.4 and councils could choose how to use this framework and the national vision for adult social care to drive change and provide performance data to the public which was an annual requirement.  Finally, reference was made to the Think Local, Act Personal Partnership which was comprised of over 30 national and umbrella organisations representing the broad interests in personalisation and community based support.  Further details were contained in paragraph 2.6 of the report. 

Resolved – That cabinet notes the report and the strategy attached at appendix 1. 

960  (28)  LINCS 2 EMPLOYMENT – WORK EXPERIENCE PROGRAMME – The Head of Regeneration and Planning submitted a report in connection with the proposed approval of a programme of work experience/training placements to support people who are currently claiming Job Seekers Allowance to get back into work.  The report also sought approval to support the Lincs 2 Employment Programme councilwide. 

The council had been approached by Jobcentre Plus to look at how it could support the new government agenda around work experience and provide opportunities to those claiming Job Seekers Allowance to assist them to gain skills and experience to support them into future employment.  The council had confirmed its support to work experience in general terms, allowing services to take on people through work experience but not agreeing to a comprehensive programme, only the provision of placements at the manager’s discretion.  To date take up had been relatively low. 

The Economic Development Team, working alongside Human Resources and Jobcentre  Plus had now developed a programme in North Lincolnshire to support up to 37 people in a work experience placement programme across the council.  The programme would target those job seekers on the register that did not currently have an NVQ Level 1 or 2 and had been unemployed between 0 and 12 months.  This would provide some support to those who had not currently been referred through to the work programme provision at 9 or 12 months which had been identified as a target area for intervention.  Placements would be available to anyone aged between 18 and 65. 

As part of its support for the programme, Jobcentre Plus would provide support as detailed in paragraph 2.6 and North Lincolnshire Council would provide additional support as detailed in paragraph 2.8.  The report contained further information about the programme and attached at appendix 1 was the current full list of placement opportunities for the council.  The report also contained details of the resource implications involved. 

Resolved – That the council supports the Lincs 2 Employment Programme and the establishment of up to 37 placement opportunities within the council for people who are currently claiming job seekers allowance to get back into work. 

961  (29)  DECLARATION AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE COUNT FOLLOWING THE DISTRICT ELECTION AND NATIONAL REFERENDUM HELD ON THURSDAY 5 MAY 2011 – ACTION PLAN – This matter was deferred for further consideration and a report and more detailed action plan would be submitted to cabinet in March, 2012. 

962  (30)  THE FUTURE MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE OF THE COUNCIL – The Chief Executive submitted a report which considered the key challenges the council faced with possible changes to its senior management structure to most effectively meet those challenges.  Paragraph 2.3 of the report detailed a series of principles to be followed in delivering any new structure.  These and the council’s senior management would then need to reinforce the ‘one council’ approach. 

The report proposed changes to the council’s senior management structure and arrangements for service delivery based on the principles set out in the report.  The changes sought to reduce the number of senior managers in the organisation and to focus the organisation towards the priorities of the new administration and respond to the financial pressures faced by the council.  Staffing costs made up a significant proportion of the council’s budget and it was therefore important that staffing structures were completely aligned with the council’s priorities and resources. 

Consideration had been given to a number of structural options which had been developed in the context of both national and local demands/aspirations and predicted resource constraints.  Further details were contained in paragraph 4 of the report and attached as appendices were further details of the preferred option including the current and proposed management structure of the council.  The report also set out the resource implications in relation to the proposals which contained indicative savings of £780,000 per year, although those would also be one off costs relating to staffing reductions if redeployment was not possible.  Reference was also made to consultations undertaken with staff and the Chief Executive reported orally on the outcomes of that consultation. 

Resolved – (a) That in the light of the contents of the report, the preferred option as detailed in Appendices 2 and 3 be approved and adopted; (b) that any further work as identified be undertaken in relation to the functions to be included in each service area, and (c) that a report be submitted to full council on 21 February, 2012 on the issues that fall within its remit.