Council meetings

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Civic Suite

Contact: Jasmine Kassim 


No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 26 KB

Additional documents:


RESOLVED that the Minutes of meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Business Panel held on 11 February 2020 be confirmed as a correct record.


Declaration of Interests pdf icon PDF 223 KB


None received.


Outstanding Scrutiny Matters pdf icon PDF 203 KB


RESOLVED that the report be noted.


Open Item(s) - Decision by Mayor and Cabinet on 12 February 2020 pdf icon PDF 238 KB

Summary of decisions that took place at open session.


The Chair of the Panel, Councillor Bill Brown, announced that he received a request from Councillor Liam Curran after the agenda was published, requiring consideration of five decisions taken at the Mayor and Cabinet meeting on 12 February 2020.  It was confirmed that the request was circulated to Members of the Panel, the relevant Cabinet Members, and officers prior to the meeting.


In outlining the process to the followed, the Chair informed that Councillor Curran, the instigator of the request, would be the first to comment on each item.  Thereafter, other Members would have an opportunity to contribute.  The Chair invited representations on the items and advised that the Panel could make recommendations and/or call-in referrals to the Mayor and Cabinet as appropriate.


1.            2020/21 Budget Update


Councillor Amanda De Ryk, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, and the Acting Chief Finance Officer made representations on this Item.  Responses to questions raised are summarised below.


a.         Financial Resilience

The main budget report to be considered at a meeting of full Council on 26 February 2020 highlighted systems to support financial governance.  The budget figures showed how the Council would fund services and maintain its funding levels, together with an explanation of the risk for not doing so.  The net general fund budget would be reliant on increases in business rates and council tax.


b.         Achieving budget commitments

When compared with other London boroughs, budget pressures were not unique to Lewisham.  The risk of overspending remains because delays between making a decision about full cost of a service and the actual delivery were inevitable.  However, it was unlikely that the use of budget reserves would trigger the issue of Section 114 notice against Lewisham under the Local Government Finance Act 1998.  The Council was broadly operating within its own means.  In recent years 1/3 of cuts in the budget figures were related to income generation, rather than cost-reducing initiatives.


c.         Rationale for increase

The increase in council tax comprised the Greater London Authority fund and the local government financial settlement.  The increase in housing/hostels rents by 2.7% was linked to the consumer price index inflation following the 4-year funding freeze by the Government to the Housing Revenue Account.


d.         Community considerations

There was no significant concern in delivering services to residents as part of Lewisham’s risks assessment leading to Brexit at this time.  Increases in business rates and council tax had no correlation with Universal Credit arrangements.  Hardship and other discretionary funds and discounts were in place to help vulnerable residents in Lewisham.


The allocation of the capital programme fund was consistent with the Council’s corporate strategy because implementation had much to do with social housing programme, including new-build initiatives.  There could be a strain on schools’ finances because budgets were based on admissions numbers which are falling.


e.         Entrepreneurial Initiatives

The Council had financial and technical assets registers that it was maintaining.  The Council was already generating income from sales and private rentals on elements of land it owned and/or  ...  view the full minutes text for item 288.


Overview and Scrutiny Select Committee Work Programmes - 2019-2020 pdf icon PDF 110 KB


The Scrutiny Manager gave an oral report to the Panel about the Council’s scrutiny function.


The Panel noted that a proposed new scrutiny structure had been agreed in principle.  The elements requiring change would be considered by the Constitution Working Party prior to submission at the Council’s Annual General Meeting.  The key features of the new constitutional structure included requirements:

·                     to have 6 Members per select committee, apart from the Children and Young People Select Committee, which would have 8 members plus five independent education representatives;

·                     to have 5 meetings per select committee within a municipal year;

·                     to propose to the full Overview and Scrutiny Committee to set up time-limited Task and Finish groups, with a view to carry out in-depth scrutiny into topical issues.


Specific to the work of the select committees, the Panel noted that arrangements were underway to conclude the final cycle of meetings and in-depth reviews.  However, time would be required to analyse the volume of evidence to support recommendations in regard to the equalities review.  This the work would continue on equalities issues, with a view to submit the final report to the first meeting of the Safer and Stronger Communities Select Committee in the next municipal year.


The Panel also received clarification that task and finish groups to be set up would gather input on cross-cutting issues about the Council’s services.  Thus, the groups’ work would be independent from those undertaken by select committees.


On behalf of the Panel, the Chair thanked the Scrutiny Manager for her contribution.


Exclusion of the Press and Public pdf icon PDF 142 KB


RESOLVED that the report be noted.


Decisions made by Mayor and Cabinet on 12 February 2020

Summary of items considered at the closed meeting.


RESOLVED that the report be noted.