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Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Committee Rooms 1 & 2

Contact: Andrew Hagger (Tel: 020 8314 9446 Email:  andrew.hagger@lewisham.gov.uk) 

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 2014 pdf icon PDF 38 KB

Decision:

Resolved:

 

The minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 2014 were approved.

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

The minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 2014 were approved.

2.

Declarations of interest pdf icon PDF 26 KB

Minutes:

There were none.

3.

Financial Forecasts 2014/15 (including Mid-year Treasury Management Review) pdf icon PDF 141 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved:

 

The Committee asked for examples of spending that the Corporate Expenditure Panel had stopped to be provided as part of their next financial monitoring report.

Minutes:

Selwyn Thompson (Head of Financial Services) introduced the reports, highlighting the following key points:

·         The report sets out the financial forecasts for 2014/15 as at 30 September 2014.

·         An overspend of £10.6m against the directorates’ net General Fund revenue budget is forecast.

·         The revised budget for the Capital Programme for the year is £147m and the current forecast expenditure at the year end is £135m. The estimated final outturn will be 92% of the revised budget, compared to 96% for the previous year.

·         Council tax collection is 0.4% lower than this year’s profiled collection rate and business rates collection is 2.8% lower than the same period last year. Collection will need to pick up to meet targets.

·         The Children and Young People directorate has a projected overspend of £8.6m, mostly due to Looked After Children and Leaving Care budgets, as well as spending on No Recourse to Public Funds cases.

·         Community Services currently has a £2.5m overspend related to Adult Social Care.

·         Customer Services has a £1.9m overspend, the result of pressures on Bed & Breakfast provision. Work is being carried out to increase supply.

·         Resources and Regeneration currently has a £0.5m underspend.

·         Management action taken to address the overspend includes the creation of the Corporate Expenditure Panel, which sits above the Directorate Expenditure Panels to examine new spending and sends the message to managers that spending is being scrutinised.

·         Treasury Management returns are in line with what was expected given the level of risk the Council takes.

·         The new contract with Barclays for accounts will start in April 2015.

 

In response to questions from the Committee submitted in advance, Selwyn Thompson informed the Committee that while the overspend position has not improved, compensatory underspends to offset overspends have been identified. Historically it has been possible to manage down the overspend over the year, however pressures this year are greater than before and while all efforts will be made there is no guarantee the overspend can be eliminated.

 

In response to questions from the Committee, Selwyn Thompson provided the Committee with the following information:

·         The current position is a major challenge and the organisation is facing significant pressures. Savings have to be made to balance the budget in the future and proposals will need to be realistic and managerially achievable.

·         Some savings can be taken early, such as areas where there are vacant posts, and these are possibly impacting on the underspend already.

·         To make the level of savings needed across the organisation then services that make up a significant portion of the overall spend, such as Adult Social care, will need to make radical changes.

 

Resolved:

 

The Committee asked for examples of spending that the Corporate Expenditure Panel had stopped to be provided as part of their next financial monitoring report.

4.

Management report

-       A link to the management report can be found here

 

Minutes:

This item was considered as part of item 3.

5.

Lewisham Future Programme: 2015/16 Revenue Budget Savings pdf icon PDF 317 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved:

 

The Committee agreed to refer the following to Mayor & Cabinet:

 

·         The Committee endorsed the referrals made by Select Committees to the Committee and asked that the Mayor takes these referrals into account alongside officer reports when taking a decision on the Lewisham Future Programme – 2015/16 Revenue Budget Savings Report.

 

·         The Committee noted the lack of proposals including shared services and asked that shared services options are explored fully in the next round of savings.

 

G1: Increasing income from schools SLA, debt collection, investment strategy and blue badges

 

·         The Committee agreed with the concerns raised by the Safer Stronger Communities Select Committee and also highlighted the reputational risk to the Council that could occur through the introduction of charges for issuing blue badges.

 

I1: Reduction in corporate management and professional support services

 

·         The Committee recommended that further savings in Corporate Communications should be explored.

 

Minutes:

Cllr Alan Hall (Chair of Overview & Scrutiny) spoke to the Committee, highlighting the following key points:

·         The scale of the savings presented is unprecedented and it is important for there to be thorough pre-decision scrutiny and consideration of the proposals.

·         A lot of effort has been put in by officers to produce these proposals and members thank them for their efforts.

·         There will be further in-depth scrutiny of the Public Health and Youth Service proposals carried out by dedicated working groups.

 

Sir Steve Bullock (Mayor of Lewisham) then addressed the Committee, highlighting the following key points:

·         Four years ago the savings put forward were ones that could be easily achieved. This is not the case now and few of the proposals put forward here are as easily achievable.

·         Scrutiny’s role in the process is important as it can help identify the impacts that proposals will have, such as a short term saving that could have a longer term knock on effect, possibly in a different area of activity.

·         The Mayor is looking for surety that decisions are not being taken that then have to be revised or are undeliverable.

 

Cllr Bonavia (Cabinet Member for Resources) addressed the Committee and highlighted that the proposals here do not reach the halfway point of the amount of savings that are required over the next few years. The approach taken has been to look at everything the Council does.

 

David Austin (Head of Corporate Resources) introduced the report, highlighting the following key points:

·         The Council faces an £85m budget gap over the three years to 2017/18 with an estimated £39m gap for 2015/16.

·         This report presents £39.9m of new proposals, of these proposals £28.7m are for 2015/16, with the balance of£11.2m contributing to future year targets.

·          

·         There have been revisions made to the A2 and A9 proposals with further details included as requested by the Healthier Communities Select Committee. Proposal A8 has also been corrected.

 

Referral from Housing Select Committee

 

Cllr Carl Handley (Chair of Housing Select Committee) introduced the referral, highlighting that the cut proposed in B1 (Reduction and remodelling of Supporting People housing and floating support services) will have a major impact on the vulnerable and that a focus on prevention and early intervention would be beneficial.

 

Resolved:

 

The Committee resolved to refer the comments of the Housing Select Committee to Mayor & Cabinet

 

Referral from Children & Young People Select Committee

 

Cllr John Paschoud (Chair of Children & Young People Select Committee) introduced the referral, highlighting the following key points:

·         The potential cumulative negative impact on service providers of proposal K2 (YOS reorganisation, changes in interventions & reduction in contracts) could mean that services may no longer be viable in the future.

·         The proposal in Q2 (Reduction in Youth Service provision) to create an employee led mutual for youth services is a challenge but is possible although it will require resources and support to make it happen and is highly dependent on the involvement of the voluntary and community sector.

 

In response to questions from  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

No Recourse to Public Funds Review - Evidence session pdf icon PDF 102 KB

Decision:

Resolved:

 

The Committee accepted the information provided as evidence for its review

 

Minutes:

Ian Smith (Director of Children’s Social Care) introduced the report and highlighted the following key points:

·           Whilst not eligible for public funds, individuals might still be eligible for local authority assistance under s17 of the Childcare Act 1989 or s21 of the National Assistance Act 1948.

·           There are strict criteria around eligibility for NRPF, including territorial responsibility, genuine destitution, they are not asylum seekers and that they are seeking to regularise their stay in the UK.

·           NRPF numbers have risen dramatically in the last few years and there has been an urgent need to manage the costs.

·           There was a specialist team dealing with cases such as these in Lewisham and many other local authorities, but this was disbanded 7 to 8 years ago as the National Asylum Seeker Service was established and picked up the cases.

·           Now NRPF cases are picked up within social care, which is not equipped to deal with it. There are a number of reasons for this, partly because assessment by social workers prioritises safeguarding (especially after the huge increase in Child Protection cases in 2012/13) and not NRPF eligibility criteria and partly because a number of NRPF claims are dubious or fraudulent.

·           The Home Office can take a long time to assess cases, which means people stay illegally in the UK for a longer period of time.

·           The Clue vs Birmingham case changed case law so that individuals only had to be intending to make an application to the Home Office, rather than having an application registered.

·           The economic downturn has had an impact, as economic pressures mean that support networks people may have used such as a spare room or work in the grey economy have reduced.

·           There are local factors in play, such as the hub for face to face contact for immigration applications in Croydon and the demographic of Lewisham, with large numbers of Jamaican and Nigerian families who are more likely to present as NRPF.

 

Justine Roberts (Change & Innovation Manager) then provided the Committee with the following information:

·         NRPF cases usually relates to families, which explains why there are a high number of women presenting as NRPF.

·         The vast majority of those presenting as NRPF are visa over stayers. Many have been in the UK for a number of years and some have been in the UK for so long that they are not clear on their own status and what they are entitled to. Many will also have children with British parents.

·         Before developing the pilot officers looked across London to see how other authorities approached NRPF. They found that there is no comprehensive reporting on NRPF across London or nationally and that generally responsibility has fallen to social care workers, whose systems are not set up to deal with those presenting as NRPF.

·         NRPF involves complex immigration law, which is not part of social work role and can make the decision making process difficult. The anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a high amount of fraud and misrepresentation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Select Committee work programme pdf icon PDF 154 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved:

 

The Committee agreed the work programme

Minutes:

The Committee discussed the work programme.

 

Resolved:

 

The Committee agreed the work programme

8.

Referrals to Mayor and Cabinet

Decision:

Resolved:

 

The Committee referred the comments agreed under item 5.

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

The Committee referred the comments agreed under item 5.