Full Cabinet – 29 January 2013

PRESENT:-  Councillor Briggs in the chair.
Councillors Poole, C Sherwood, N Sherwood and Waltham.Councillors Ali, Barker, Mrs Bromby, Bunyan, Carlile, Clark, Collinson, Eckhardt, England, L Foster, Gosling, Kirk, Marper, Ogg, O’Sullivan, Rowson, Swift, Wells and Whiteley also attended the meeting.

Simon Driver, Will Bell, John Coates, Frances Cunning, Keith Ford, Mick Gibbs, Denise Hyde, Trevor Laming, Stuart Minto, Karen Pavey, Lesley Potts, Chris Matthews, Chris Skinner, Peter Thorpe, Susan Twemlow, Mike Wedgewood, Peter Williams and Mel Holmes also attended the meeting.

The meeting was held at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe.

1002  DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY INTERESTS AND PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – Councillors Briggs and Waltham declared personal interests as members of the Humberside Fire Authority.

1003  MINUTESResolved – That the minutes of the meeting of Cabinet held on 13 November 2012, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chairman.

1004  (23)  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.

1005  (24)  JANUARY BUDGET REVIEW – 2012/2013 – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted the Council’s January Budget Review for 2012/2013.  At regular intervals, cabinet received a formal report on the budget position which represented an opportunity to review how financial plans were progressing and undertake corrective action if necessary.

The reporttracked council expenditure and income by service in the current financial year and considered the actions that services were taking to resolve problems and identify where there were savings opportunities.  Where services needed additional support or where savings had been identified, cabinet could consider the reallocation of resources between directorates or use of the contingency fund and earmarked reserves.  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 out 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 their approved cash limited budgets unless specific provision had been made in the contingency fund. Monitoring at the end of December had identified a number of pressures on spending totalling £1.61m and services had identified strategies for maintaining a balanced budget position.  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 council revenue spending will be contained within budget.
  • Consideration was being given to the use of contingency and earmarked reserves to cover shortfalls in savings, recessionary and transformation pressures.
  • The capital programme had been rephased and re-costed.  New bids for 2013/2014 and beyond were not included but would be submitted to council in February for decision.
  • The cash and debt management positions were in line with the treasury strategy.

Attached as appendices to the report were copies of the revised revenue and capital budgets.

Resolved – (a) That a sum of £40,000 made up of £10,000 capital and £30,000 revenue be included in the 2012/2013 budget to support veterans associations and the work they carry out in supporting veterans in North Lincolnshire following the signing of the Armed Forces Community Covenant; (b) that with the addition of the detail contained in (a) above, the revised revenue and capital budgets set out in appendices 1 and 2 to the report be approved, and (c) that performance against the treasury strategy be noted.

1006  (25)  SETTING THE NON DOMESTIC RATES TAX YIELD FOR 2013/2014 – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report informing members of changes to the National Non Domestic Rate (NNDR) funding regime from 1 April 2013, explaining the opportunities and risks this change would bring and to give consideration to the North Lincolnshire NNDR Tax Yield for 2013/2014.

As part of its agenda to devolve power from the centre the government was changing the way local government was financed.  Business Rates (NNDR) which for many years had been centrally pooled and then redistributed to councils based on a formula were now to be partially relocalised.  The scheme provided an incentive for councils to grow their local business base as they could then retain a proportion of the additional tax income any growth would generate.

Under the new arrangements the total business rate for the whole country would be shared 50/50 between central and local shares.  The local share would then be allocated to individual councils in proportion to the amount of business rates they collected in 2010/2011 and 2011/2012.  The government would use the central share to fund any grants it made to local government.  The new funding regime therefore had three elements –

(a)  Formula grant funding from government.

(b)  The local share of business rates.

(c)  Council Tax.

Each year the council would be 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 of the need to protect areas which currently depended most heavily on central government funding.  The Government was using the 2012/2013 local government settlement to derive a start up funding assessment for each council.  This would mean it would continue to redistribute business rates for authorities with a large tax base to those with smaller tax bases relative to their 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 North Lincolnshire would be £9.5m, fixed for seven years up rated annually in line with the Retail Price Index (RPI).

The NNDR1 return therefore estimated the amount of NNDR the council would collect for the year 2013/2014.  Half of this total must be paid over to central government, with a further 1% share being paid to the Fire Authority as a local precepting body.  Humberside Police would be funded outside the new system through separate grant arrangements.  Any tariff would then be paid from the remaining portion.  If the sum remaining after all these payments had been made was more than the share of  NNDR funding the government had determined for the council it must pay a levy for up to 50% on the excess. This means that the council can retain a proportion of any growth in business rates income after adjusting for annual inflation. There was a levy of a further 25% on excessive growth after 50/50 central/local shares.  It 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.

However, there were risks that the council’s funding could fall in the circumstances of recession or economic decline.  For this reason the government guaranteed a minimal level of funding for each council if actual NNDR receipts were lower than their baseline funding level.  For North Lincolnshire Council the maximum loss for 2013/2014 would be £2.173m, equivalent to a 3.9% increase in council tax.  If receipts fell by more than this amount then the council would receive a payment from government under its safety net scheme.

Under this scheme North Lincolnshire Council had an opportunity to offset future reductions in central funding by growth in its business base, but was also unusually reliant on a small number of businesses paying large amounts of NNDR.  That included TATA Steel and a number of refineries and power stations which comprised a substantial part of the local tax base.  North Lincolnshire Council was the only Humber authority which was a tariff authority, all the others would receive a top-up grant.  For the same reason there was a greater volatility in the local tax base due to appeals against rating valuations.  At a national level typically 25% of appeals were successful in reducing the assessed tax liability.  The government had allowed for this by reducing its estimate of the National NNDR tax income.  However, this effectively applied the same rate to all areas and did not allow for local variation.

The government would also continue to set the parameters of the scheme including the rate to be levied so there was no change for businesses who paid this tax.

The report contained further detailed information in relation to this matter including the estimated resource implications.  There was potential for the council to receive nearly £1m more than the council’s NNDR base line funding level in 2013/2014. This potential additional sum would be taken into account in the council’s forward financial planning.

Resolved – (a) That members note the changes to the NNDR funding regime; (b) that cabinet set an estimated NNDR tax yield for 2013/2014 before transitional arrangements, of £81.104m, and (c) that the Secretary of State and the Humberside Fire Authority be duly notified.

1007   (26)  RESIDUAL WASTE TREATMENT FACILITY – Further to minute 1001, the Director of Places submitted a report in connection with the proposed Residual Waste Treatment Facility.

The report referred to the recently adopted municipal waste management strategy for the future. That strategy indicated that mechanical and biological treatment and advanced thermal treatment by a gasification process were the favoured options on environmental grounds for the treatment of residual waste. The strategy also indicated a preference for generating renewable energy in the form of electricity. This would also potentially benefit from the subsidies arising out of the review of renewable obligations.  In terms of guarantee, these were time limited until 31 March 2017, but once accredited would be available for a period of 20 years.

The council had consistently taken a view towards dealing with North Lincolnshire’s waste at a facility in county, in line with the published strategy and with previous public consultation outcomes.  Furthermore, the encouragement of waste imports into the county was not supported, again in line with strategic objectives and consultation outcomes.  This would limit the size of any treatment plant to one capable of dealing with the 50-60,000 tonnes of residual waste per annum that is generated in North Lincolnshire.

The key points in the report were –

  • To seek agreement to the appropriate technological solution for the future treatment of residual waste in North Lincolnshire.
  • To obtain approval to secure a partner to enter into a joint venture arrangement for the delivery and operation of a residual waste treatment plant.
  • To obtain approval for the necessary resources to set up a joint venture arrangement and for the joint venture to procure the agreed technology and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor to deliver the residual waste treatment plant.
  • To obtain provisional approval for the use of prudential borrowing to fund capital works associated with the delivery of a residual waste treatment facility.

A soft market testing exercise had recently been undertaken which indicated that there were four potentially deliverable solutions for treating residual waste, details were contained within paragraph 3.1 of the report.

Following the refresh and subsequent adoption of the municipal waste management strategy, a value for money exercise had been conducted on a small scale energy from waste facility based on gasification.  With the potential for renewable obligation subsidies factored into the business case, this showed the potential for achieving renewable energy generation from waste at a competitive figure over 25 years. The report concluded that on the basis of the work carried out option B, treatment in a local small scale Advanced Thermal Treatment (ATT) facility was the best option and provided a better fit for the policy and strategic objectives set by the council.

The report contained further detailed information about this matter including the resource implications associated with the project and the challenging timetable.

Resolved – (a) That the preferred option for long-term residual waste treatment with production of renewable energy be a small scale Advanced Thermal Treatment facility; (b) that progress of the necessary steps required to secure a partner to engage in the setting up of a joint venture in order to deliver and operate the residual waste facility be approved; (c) that appropriate specialist financial, technical and legal support be determined and procured; (d) that a project team be established as outlined in the report to deal with this matter; (e) that the allocation of funding to facilitate (c) and (d) above be approved, and (f) that the Director of Policy and Resources investigate the use of prudential borrowing and settle the terms of all arrangements for funding the majority, or all of the capital expenditure, associated with the delivery of the waste treatment facility.

1008  (27)  APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMME UPDATE – A report was submitted by the Director of Places updating cabinet on the progress of the Apprenticeship Programme 2012/2013.

North Lincolnshire as a whole had seen an increase in the number of apprenticeship opportunities over the last two years of around 80%.  In this period, the area had seen 740 additional apprenticeships created. The council had also put in place an apprenticeship programme and the first year had proven highly successful. The programme had attracted over 370 applicants and of these, 40 successfully secured an apprenticeship.  Over 50% of the April 2012 apprentices were now in full time work having completed their apprenticeships or having found full time work and were continuing with their qualification. Details of some of these were contained in appendix 1 to the report.

In addition, the council had recently advertised the apprenticeship programme that would commence in April 2013 and around 160 applications had been received with 93 of these applicants shortlisted for interview. As a result, 16 offers of apprenticeships across the council had been accepted by young people, providing them with a real opportunity toward securing sustainable long-term employment.

The extension of the 2013 programme would see a further 30 apprenticeship opportunities created in the private sector and a further report would be submitted to cabinet covering this issue in March 2013.

Resolved – That cabinet notes the contents of the report and recognises the success to date of the apprenticeship programme operated by the council.

1009  (28)  MARAC (DOMESTIC ABUSE) QUALITY ASSURANCE PROGRAMME – The Director of Places submitted a report which provided an overview of the Coordinated Action against Domestic Abuse (CAADA), and the Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) Quality Assurance Programme.

The MARAC was a victim-focused meeting where information was shared on the highest risk cases of domestic abuse between relevant specialists.  These came from both the statutory and voluntary sectors and the outcome of the meeting was the development of a safety plan for each victim of domestic abuse.  MARAC meetings were held monthly and the North Lincolnshire MARAC typically deals with around 30 high risk cases each month.

In 2012, North Lincolnshire was subject to a quality assurance inspection on the processes and procedures for MARAC. The inspection had been undertaken by CAADA which was a national voluntary sector organisation who had been awarded a contract to undertake the quality assurance programme on behalf of the Home Office. The inspection report on North Lincolnshire had been submitted to the Home Office External Moderation Panel in October 2012 and a copy subsequently forwarded to the council.  The programme rated a local mark against 10 principles with each principle being given a risk score and a final overall score to be submitted to the external moderation panel.  Areas can be scored as either low risk (all key aspects met) medium risk (most key aspects met) or high risk (key aspects not met).

The report set out how the inspection process worked and indicated that overall the outcome of the inspection graded North Lincolnshire as “low risk”.  All key requirements of the MARAC process had been identified as in place with a small number of areas picked as “medium risk”.  No areas were graded as “high risk”.  This represented an extremely positive outcome from the inspection. The MARAC steering group had subsequently considered the report in some detail and were developing an action plan to deal with those areas where improvements were needed. A copy of the Executive Summary of the Inspection Report was attached as an appendix to the report.

Resolved – (a) That cabinet notes the very positive outcome of the inspection of the arrangements in place for responding to high risk cases of domestic abuse as part of the MARAC (Domestic Abuse) Quality Assurance Programme; (b) that cabinet agrees that the action plan dealing with those areas where improvements were needed should be submitted to the Cabinet Member for Customer Services, Sport and Leisure as the portfolio holder with the responsibility for this matter.

1010  (29)  ANNUAL REPORT OF THE LOCAL SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN’S BOARD – 2011/2012 – The Director of People submitted a report in connection with the annual report of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) for 2011/2012.

The LSCB was the body that managed multi-agency approaches to child protection and was required to publish an annual report summarising its activities.  The LSCB annual review report for 2011/12 which was attached as an appendix to the report, reviewed the strategic priorities of the LSCB Business Plan and summarised the priorities being taken forward during 2012/2013.  During 2011/2012, the LSCB worked within three priorities derived from the North Lincolnshire Children and Young People’s Plan.  These were –

  • Ensuring safe practice across the workforce.
  • Empowering Children and Young People to keep themselves safe.
  • Ensuring effective prevention and early intervention services, systems and processes were in place.

The annual report was able to present a very positive picture of progress on each of these priorities which was supported by the findings of the Ofsted Safeguarding and Looked After Children inspection carried out in April 2012.

Resolved – That cabinet notes and receives the North Lincolnshire Local Safeguarding Children’s Board Annual Review for 2011/2012.

1011  (30)  ADOPTION SERVICE SIX MONTHLY BUSINESS REPORT APRIL – SEPTEMBER 2012 – A report was submitted by the Director of People which provided cabinet with a business report summarising the work of the Adoption Service between 1 April and 30 September 2012.

The Adoption Service operated under the regulatory framework of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, The Adoption Agency Regulations 2005 and the National Minimum Standards 2011 (Adoption).  The service had been inspected by Ofsted under these standards every three years and the outcome of the last inspection in June 2009 was very positive with the service receiving a rating of good with no requirements or recommendations.  This judgement had been supported by the private inspection of adoption in November 2011 which  confirmed the service remained good with outstanding features.

The Adoption Service six monthly business report for the period April to September 2012 was attached as an appendix to the report and the report indicated that the service continued to meet the national thresholds set in the adoption score card.  The service had increased the number of assessments of adopted carers, the number of children who were adopted and had set robust and challenging targets for the future.

Resolved – That cabinet supports the continued development of work in adoption and the Adoption Service.

1012  (31)  OUTCOMES OF CHILDREN’S CENTRES OFSTED INSPECTIONS 2010/2012 – The Director of People submitted a report updating cabinet on the outcomes from Surestart Children’s Centre Inspections between 2010 and 2012.

Ofsted had a duty under Part 3A of the Child Care Act 2006 to inspect all Surestart Children’s Centres on a five yearly cycle, beginning, three years after the designation date of the centre.  North Lincolnshire had twelve Children’s Centres all of which meet the eligibility criteria for inspection.  Ten of the centres had been inspected to date with the first being undertaken in October 2010 and the tenth in September 2012.  The inspections of the remaining two centres was imminent.  Centres were judged on overall effectiveness and their capacity for sustained improvement.

All the children’s centres inspections since 2010 had resulted in judgements that were 100% good or better.  50% of North Lincolnshire Children’s Centres had outstanding features identified by Ofsted as part of the judgement and these features included safeguarding, good use of resources, quality of care, guidance and support offered to families including those in target groups.  Appendix 1 to the report contained further detail about these inspections.

Children’s Centres in North Lincolnshire offered a range of multi-agency universal open access to all families.  Centre staff target and deliver services and individual support to the most vulnerable families with children and young people aged 0 to 19 years.

The report contained further information in relation to this matter.

Resolved – That cabinet acknowledges the outcomes of Ofsted inspections of North Lincolnshire Children’s Centres.

1013  (32)  SERVICE RESPONSE TO PEOPLE’S SCRUTINY PANEL REPORT ON CORPORATE PARENTING AND SERVICES FOR LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN – The Director of People submitted a report informing cabinet of the actions taken in response to the People Scrutiny Panel report on “Corporate Parenting and Services for Looked after Children and Young People in North Lincolnshire”.

During 2012, the People Scrutiny Panel had undertaken a review of Corporate Parenting and Services for Looked After Children.  It had subsequently published its report in September 2012 which had been considered by cabinet during that month.  The panel had made four recommendations for further development in relation to this matter and attached as an appendix to the report was a proposed action plan to deal with them.

Resolved – That the action plan attached to the report be approved and adopted and cabinet welcomes and supports the progress on the actions.

1014  (33)  PEOPLE SCRUTINY PANEL – HOME SUPPORT IN NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE – UPDATE AND ACTION PLAN – A report was submitted by the Director of People informing cabinet of the actions taken in response to the People Scrutiny Panel report entitled “Home Support in North Lincolnshire”.

The People Scrutiny Panel had undertaken a review of the Home Support provided by Adult Social Services and had published its findings in January 2012.  These had been presented to cabinet in March 2012.

The report contained eight detailed recommendations and was attached as an appendix.  It set out the actions being taken in response to the recommendations and the progress being made.

Resolved – That the action plan attached as an appendix to the report be approved and adopted and the progress made on the recommendations made by the panel be noted.

1015  (34)  THE STRATEGIC RESPONSE TO HEALTH INEQUALITIES IN NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE – REPORT OF THE HEALTH SCRUTINY PANEL – Cabinet considered a report of the Health Scrutiny Panel entitled “The Strategic Response to Health Inequalities in North Lincolnshire”.

In July 2012, the Health Scrutiny Panel had decided to update a previous report in relation to Healthier Communities to incorporate recent developments across local government and the NHS and incorporating the Coalition Government’s stated aim to “improve the health of the poorest, fastest”.

The report detailed the background to the review, set out the findings and conclusions and contained eight detailed recommendations.

The chairman of the panel presented the report and other members commented on its contents.

Resolved – (a) That the report of the People Scrutiny Panel be received, and (b) that the appropriate cabinet members and officers prepare an action plan to deal with the recommendations contained in the report for submission to a future meeting of cabinet and other appropriate bodies.