|Cabinet considered a monthly update report providing members with an overview of the current economic climate, outlining the effects that this was having on Stockton Borough, and the mitigations already in place and those being developed.|
Members noted some of the positive and negative developments since the last report. Details of the support on offer to people and businesses was also provided.
|Cabinet was provided with a report relating that provided details of the final evaluation of the Stockton Communities Fund. The report also provided an account of the way forward.|
Members noted the some of the many achievements of the Community Fund delivered between April 2009 and March 2012.
Cabinet was reminded that it had agreed that should any surplus monies become available priority should go towards tackling the growth in youth unemployment and that the Council and its partners would still continue to source other streams of funding to help and support residents in to sustainable employment.
Members were provided with details of current activities and future priorities for the employability agenda, moving forward. These included:
Stockton Youth Employment Initiative (based on the success of the Future Jobs Fund).
Flexible Support Fund
Enterprise Culture Project
14 - 19 Partnership
The Creative Employment Programme
Stockton Employability Consortium
Members highlighted the impact and success that this local authority led employability initiative had had within a particularly difficult economic climate and suggested that this approach be highlighted to the Secretary of State for Employment as a more beneficial approach than deployment of national companies / businesses to take such a lead.
|Cabinet considered a report which provided an update on the progress of the North of Tees Dementia Collaborative. |
It was explained this was a joint programme between the following health and social care organisations in Stockton and Hartlepool:-
Stockton and Hartlepool Clinical Commissioning Group
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust
Stockton Borough Council
Hartlepool Borough Council
Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust
The collaborative had been established to implement Living Well With Dementia: a national dementia strategy (DH, 2009). This strategy had 17 key objectives, broadly-themed into three high-level outcomes.
Raising awareness and understanding
Early diagnosis and support
Living well with dementia
The aims of the North of Tees Dementia Collaborative were to deliver large-scale change across organisational boundaries to improve services for people with dementia in Stockton-on-Tees and Hartlepool. It had been endorsed by the Chief Executives of the statutory organisations involved.
A number of improvement events (Rapid Improvement Workshops or RPIWs) had been agreed, with three of these having been completed since March 2013. A further four RPIWs were planned until September 2013.
A Project Lead for the Collaborative had been recruited for a one year fixed term post from 1st October 2012.
The North of Tees Dementia Collaborative steering group had identified that it intended to continue as a collaborative after October 2013. Membership and Terms of Reference need to be agreed. The Terms of Reference were provided to Cabinet.
The steering group needed to agree how:-
they would ensure sustainability from the improvement activity already completed.
to continue to promote sharing of new processes from pilot areas across Stockton and Hartlepool.
to maintain document control for the shared documentation agreed and tested after the events.
to identify and deliver further improvement activity including whether the certified leads will continue to deliver RPIWs or one-off improvement events.
|Members considered a report relating to the Government's Green Deal Scheme.|
The report explained how the Energy Company Obligation aspect of it could be rolled out in Stockton, and the progress on selection of a partner to deliver on the energy efficiency measures.
Cabinet was reminded that it had previously considered an update report on the Community Energy Savings Programme (CESP) at its meeting on 29 November 2012. At that time around 1,000 private sector homes had benefited from energy efficiency measures in the Borough, saving 180,000 tonnes of carbon, along with substantial reductions in residents' energy bills, improvements in comfort levels and in health.
CESP had come to an end in December 2012 and was replaced by the Government's new initiative "Green Deal", the National CESP scheme only applied to 17 lower super output areas in the Borough. Under the new energy company obligation a further 8 lower super output areas become eligible and measures would be available to all solid walled properties in the Borough, totalling around 5,500 homes.
Members noted the implications for the Council of the new initiative and agreed that the best approach would be to engage a partner to deliver the area-based insulation measures. The benefits would be:-
To the partner: the Council's endorsement to residents and support in area-wide promotion to try to ensure a high take-up.
To the resident: peace of mind that the installation would be to a high quality and consistent with others in the area, and delivered to a planned timetable.
To the Council: there was a high level of take-up and quality control, to a planned and known timetable agreed with various Council services e.g. Care For Your Area, Building Control, street works coordination.
It was clear therefore that there were benefits to be gained for the Council by entering into a further partnership.
Discussions had taken place with 4 potential partners on various aspects of ECO to determine what would be the most appropriate arrangement. A fundamental principle within this was that any scheme would need to be fully funded by the energy company, via its installer i.e. with no cash input from the Council for top-up or remedial works.
Based on the Council's experience with the CESP scheme members noted:-
What the Council would offer:-
Endorsement of the partner as a 'trusted brand' to the residents;
Office space for local operations management by the partner and resident drop-in centre;
Access to housing stock data to enable effective programming.
What the Council would require:-
To work with the partner to develop a targeted promotion and installation programme;
To work with the partner to coordinate building control, street works, scaffolding and cleansing;
Detailed data from the partner on measures completed
A partnership review at 6 months, 12 months and then annually thereafter.
It was suggested that partnership selection was determined as soon as possible based upon the information from the 4 sets of discussions and proposals and that this decision be made by the Head of Technical Services via a delegated decision.
|Cabinet considered a report on the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration (IER).|
Members were provided with details of the proposals and how IER would be implemented over the next four years. Members also received details of what IER would mean for citizens, local democracy, Electoral Registration Officers and the Council.
Cabinet was informed of the funding issues relating to IER:-
The Government was committed to funding the transitional costs and Section 151 Officers had been asked to sign a declaration that the s.31 grant would be used to fund the new responsibilities and not other registration duties which were to be met from local authority budgets in the usual way
An up-front formula grant allocation of £8,778.06 had been released to the Council on 22/04/13 in relation to the funding of IER for the 2013/14 financial year. This up-front grant was to enable EROs to carry out work in relation to change management and the confirmation dry run. The ERO intended submitting evidence to support a bid for further funding on the basis that the necessary hardware and software upgrades to support the confirmation dry run were estimated to be £17,324.30 and therefore exceeded the up-front funding allocation
An indication of funding for 2014/15 would not be known until Local Authorities had tested the confirmation process this summer and Cabinet Office had indicated that it would not be in a position to offer details on on-going funding as this fell into the next spending review period
Printing, postal and staffing costs (including door to door canvassing) would be significant based on data matching estimates and estimates of the unconfirmed population. Residents would need to be written to more than once and canvassed if necessary. A clearer picture would emerge following the 2013 confirmation dry run. It was likely that additional temporary staff would be employed during the transition period to assist with peaks in workload and canvassing
|Cabinet considered the Xentrall Annual Report 2012 - 2013.|
It was explained that Xentrall Shared Services had now delivered all the efficiencies and main benefits outlined in the original business case and, with the additional savings identified, it was on target to make £13.6m savings over the 10 years of the partnership, which would nearly double the original target. The year on year saving, once all the efficiencies were delivered, would be £2.6m, which equated to 32%. These were valuable savings in the back office and support services, which were contributing to the protection of front line services.
In addition to the savings Members noted that net employee satisfaction was 77% and customer satisfaction in Stockton was 80%
Cabinet noted other achievements of Xentrall including:-
The introduction of new self service facilities in terms of recruitment, car mileage and ICT
Print consolidation project
Finalist in APSE 2012 Public Sector Partnership.
The vision for Xentrall for the next three years was:-
Continue to improve services
Create value for Stockton and Darlington
Tactically grow the business
|Consideration was given to the minutes of the meetings of various bodies.|
|Cabinet considered a report that provided an update relating to the Asset Review, Schools Capital Investment Strategy and Site Disposal Plan. Included in the report were findings of the Public Consultation, feedback and Equality Impact Assessments relating to the Library Service.|
Also included in the report was an option following an exercise to review the future of The Education Development Centre Site. In addition Cabinet were provided with recommendations relating to the development of a Community Building Trust.
Members noted that significant progress continued to be made in reviewing the office portfolio and the Billingham Library/Access to Services Development was scheduled to open in winter 2014.
With regard to Libraries, Members were reminded that the Council was statutorily required to provide a comprehensive public library service.
In the summer of 2012, the Council had conducted initial 6 week general consultation on the library service. The key messages were that the public valued a wide ranging and up to date book stock, well trained staff and flexibility in accessing services locally.
Subsequently, further consultation had taken place between 10 January and 4 April 2013, which included scenarios. Full details of the consultation results were provided to Members.
The overall message received from the Consultation had been of agreement to the principle of the scenarios proposed. In all cases, comments had shown a considerable general support for the library service and its facilities locally, a concern at the potential reduction of services and opening hours, but a realisation that the retention of at least some local access to the service would be valuable.
It was explained that Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) had been undertaken for each of the community libraries affected directly by the proposals for co-location and reduced service provision. Members were provided with copies of those EIAs and noted the findings.
Members considered conclusions coming from the scenarios, public consultation feedback and EIAs, for future delivery of library services in the Borough.
Members noted that the proposals recommended for implementation would generate annual savings of £350,000. When added to the savings of £47,000 per annum already achieved this would equate to an annual saving of £397,000, in line with the target saving from this aspect of the EIT Review of £400,000.
Co-location would require a level of capital investment and the agreed strategy committed to funding of the co-location developments and a level of improvements to existing town centre libraries. This would now be progressed and funding had been identified in the Council's MTFP to support the delivery of the Asset Review and would be available for this purpose.
With regard to Community Assets, Cabinet was informed that the Catalyst Board had concluded that the development of a Community Building Trust, using the governance framework of a company limited by guarantee with charitable status, could deliver a sustainable model for the future management of community building assets. Under this model specific community assets would be transferred to the Community Building Trust to be operated and managed by that organisation. The Community Building Trust would be formed as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and as a separate legal entity to Catalyst. It was anticipated that existing management committees and the Council would have representation in the governance structure.
Benefits would include:
Protection of long term future of assets
Access to grant funding
Financial benefits of charitable status e.g. NNDR/VAT
Opportunities to maximise usage and income via centralised booking system
Reduced cost structure
Potential training opportunities
A vehicle for future transfers
Catalyst had developed a draft business plan involving individual management committees for the formation and future operation of a Community Building Trust.
In their business planning process, Catalyst had considered which community assets could be brought together to form a viable Community Building Trust. They have requested that the Ragworth Neighbourhood Centre be considered for transfer into the Trust. Their business plan had therefore been prepared on the basis of the following buildings being transferred to the Trust:-
Ragworth Neighbourhood Centre
Robert Atkinson Youth and Community Centre
Elmwood Youth and Community Centre
Grangefield Youth and Community Centre
Stillington Youth and Community Centre
A further expression of interest had also been received in respect of the Ragworth Neighbourhood Centre and, in line with the agreed strategy, it was recommended that the property be advertised as being available for asset transfer with a deadline for any further expressions of interest of one month. The organisations would then be invited to submit a business plan and the findings would be subject to a further report to Cabinet.
It was expected that annual savings amounting to £360,000 could ultimately be generated by the model proposed.
Members were then given an update on the Schools Capital Investment Strategy
The funding available for investment in schools maintenance was provided to members.:
A balance of funding from the funds identified for planned maintenance in the previous year of £0.780m would be carried forward for use in 2013/14. The DfE capital maintenance funding allocation for 2013/14 was £2.070m. In addition, schools in Stockton had agreed to top slice Delegated School Grant to create a fund for utilisation on prioritised maintenance and for maintained schools this amounted to £0.625m. Therefore a total of £3.475m was available in respect of addressing prioritised condition issues in maintained schools.
A detailed update and review had identified prioritised maintenance schemes with a value of £1.750m for 2013/14. It was recommended that these be agreed and funded from the available balance, leaving £1.725m to be utilised in 2014/15. It was recommended that this sum be ring-fenced for use to address prioritised maintenance schemes in 2014/15.
Cabinet was reminded that it had previously agreed the relocation of services from the Education Development Centre, in order to make savings and also to avoid repair and maintenance costs, and to undertake an options appraisal on the future of the site. In the context of the increasing pressure on school places, the preferred use of this site was to relocate Crooksbarn Primary School to increase pupil capacity.
It was explained that in the report to Cabinet in June 2012, Members had approved, in principle, the disposal of a number of ex school sites subject to examining:
Quantity of land available for sale
Level of community facilities on site and extent of use
Level and quality of open space and playing pitches
It was also agreed that further details would be provided to cabinet on each site prior to any recommendation for disposal. Members were provided with details of recommendations relating to the following sites:
Norton School Site
Blakeston School Site
Billingham Campus School
During discussion of the various issues under discussion Cabinet heard representations from local Ward Members
|Consideration was given to a report on the financial challenges facing the Council, provided an update on the Big Ticket reviews and proposed a range of savings to contribute to the financial pressures.|
The Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) report to Council on 27 February 2013 set a balanced budget for 2013/14 and agreed an approach to addressing the budget gap in future years. A table showing the budget gap was detailed within the report.
The MTFP reflected a significant reduction in Government Funding over recent years. Between 2010/11 and 2013/14 there had been a reduction of £31m which was a 25% cash reduction (35% in real terms).
The Government had only provided indicative grant allocations to 2014/15 and the future funding assumptions in the MTFP were based on Government announcements at the time of an estimated reduction of an additional £20m by 2016/17, which would be a total of £51m over the 7 years, a 42% reduction (58% in real terms). The recent announcements as part of the Chancellor's recent Budget Statement indicated that there would be further restrictions on Public Sector Spending which would inevitably mean further reductions which could be in excess of £3m by 2016/17. Further details were expected and the 2015/16 Spending Review was due to be announced on 26 June 2013. ANEC had prepared a submission to Ministers and this was attached to the report at Appendix A.
Also, a number of significant changes to Local Government finance had been introduced which take effect in 2013/14 including Business Rates retention and Local Council Tax Support Scheme. In addition, assumptions have had to be made around pay increases, income from New Homes Bonus, health funding and Council Tax capping levels.
Nonetheless the Council had a long history of strong financial management and of providing value for money. It was the first Council in the country to introduce 3 year financial planning and its flexible approach between years was seen as very innovative. For the first 10 years of the Unitary Council most services received only 1% increases in budgets despite inflation running much higher. This encouraged an efficient approach and provided a development fund which was used to progress Council priorities. The Council was one of only three in the country to achieve top ranking by the Audit Commission on managing its resources. This had been reinforced in the letter from the District Auditor who suggested that the Council had a strong track record of delivering savings and efficiencies and was therefore well prepared for the challenges ahead.
This strong culture of managing resources well was apparent across the Council and resided both with Members and officers (in fact it's a core management competency). It involved challenging what the Council did, why the Council did it and how the Council did it. The EIT programme being a prime example. This delivered approximately £20m of savings, with approximately 600 fewer staff being employed.
Proposals had been identified and these had been discussed by:
a. Informal Cabinet
b. Informal Executive Scrutiny sessions
c. Members seminars
The report to Council on 27 February 2013 agreed the approach to dealing with the projected budget gap as twofold. Firstly, the Big Ticket reviews were to continue with a target to at least cap growth in these areas, which would aim to remove £7.2m from the budget gap by 2016/7. This would mean remaining gap (estimated at £10.6m) and it was agreed that officers were to develop proposals for savings or service reductions which would then be considered a various Member meetings including Cabinet, Executive Scrutiny and Members Seminars.
The Council continued to experience pressures and growth to a range of services, not least in Social Care.
There were 3 Big Ticket reviews:-
Childrens Board chaired by Jane Humphreys
Adults Board chaired by Jane Humphreys
Waste & Energy Board chaired by Paul Dobson
There was a separate report attached at Appendix B outlining progress in all 3 areas. The reviews were wide-ranging and required services to undertake radical transformations. They were looking for example, at high cost placements; different methods for fostering; alternative provision for home care. Some initiatives had already been introduced. Photovoltaic panels were being fitted to Council buildings and split body vehicles were being introduced to recycling rounds. A recent report to Cabinet also approved the redevelopment of King Edwin School. These three initiatives alone would generate savings of almost £1m. Quarterly reports to Cabinet and Executive Scrutiny would update on progress and there would be opportunities via Members Seminars and Group sessions for input and debate.
There were a number of savings proposals which Cabinet were recommending for implementation and these were attached to the report at Appendix C.
The proposals covered all portfolios and totalled £7.4m by 2016/17. They were either:
a. Management reductions
b. Service Restructures
c. Reductions or removal of subsidies to schools and outside bodies
d. Service reductions
There were also a number of areas where Cabinet were recommending a detailed service review. These were outlined at Appendix D and had a target saving of £2m by 2016/17 and would include appropriate consultation arrangements. These would be reported back to Cabinet in due course. The schedule also indicated where Equality Impact Assessments and public consultation may be required.
All services had been considered and the strong resource management culture had been evident throughout the exercise. CMT and Heads of Service were very aware of the policy priorities and this had played a significant part in the development of the proposals as had the understanding of the Council's statutory responsibilities. The general approach had been to protect the "front line" and the most vulnerable. Services in Resources and Law & Democracy for example, contribute 25% of their budget to the savings. Many of the proposals look to join teams still further thereby reducing the number of senior managers. The proposals for many of the reviews, which were to be undertaken and reported back in the future, were to target resources/services more.
The proposals included a number of changes to Heads of Service. There was an overall reduction of 5 posts, in addition to the reduction of 1 post following the merger of the Head of Human Resources / Head of Communications post and the reduction of 2 posts within CESC as part of the EIT process. This represented an overall reduction in excess of 30% and the proposed changes were as follows:-
The functions of the Head of Finance and Assets and the Head of Finance and Procurement would be merged into one post with effect from 2014. The Head of Finance and Procurement had expressed a preference for voluntary redundancy and it was therefore recommended that the Head of Finance and Assets would take on Financial Planning and Audit, Risk Management and Insurance and Health & Safety.
The post of Partnership manager would be deleted, with some of the functions being taken on by the remaining 2 Heads of Service in Xentrall. The Partnership Manager would therefore be in a redundancy situation.
The post of Head of Legal Services would be deleted, with the Director of Law and Democracy taking on direct responsibility for the management of Legal Services. The current Head of Legal Services had expressed a preference for Voluntary Redundancy.
The functions of the Head of Housing and the Community Safety functions which were the responsibility of the Head of Community Safety would be combined. Following the transfer of public health responsibilities, there was the opportunity to consider Health functions across the Council and as such it was proposed that the responsibility for Environmental Health Services would transfer to the Director of Public Health. The Head of Community Safety had expressed a preference for Voluntary Redundancy and therefore the Head of Housing would take on the additional Community Safety responsibilities. The Head of Community Safety also carried out a number of lead roles for the Council and it was recommended that the decision on who carries out these roles in the future be delegated to the Director of Development and Neighbourhood Services.
Business Support (DANS).
It was proposed that The Head of Business Support post be deleted. The Registrars and Bereavement Service would transfer to the Head of Direct Services, with responsibility for Events transferring to the Head of Arts, Leisure and Culture. Options for the Performance and Support aspect were being considered and it was recommended that the final decision on this aspect of the Service be delegated to the Director of Development and Neighbourhood Services. The Head of Business Support had expressed a preference for Voluntary Redundancy.
Members were aware of the commitment to deliver savings from the Big Ticket areas and there was a significant workload involved. To support this, a number of temporary arrangements had been put in place within CESC and it had been identified that an additional Head of Service be required on a temporary basis to support and manage the Big Ticket process. This opportunity would be ring fenced to the Heads of Service identified as being in a redundancy situation with the usual Member appointment process followed for Head of Service posts.
The posts affected by the changes would need to be subject to review through job evaluation.
With regard to staffing a reduction in funding of this magnitude would undoubtedly have an impact on staff. A reduction of around 300 posts was referred to specifically in the proposals and others would arise as proposals were firmed up and reviews finalised. The breakdown by levels of staff was detailed within the report.
Paragraph 1 had identified that there was a balanced budget position for 2013/14. The proposals incorporated into the report meant that some of the savings were delivered in 2013/14 which would increase the one off resource available by £1.9m. Council had approved, via the urgency route, as reported to Council on 8 May 2013, the allocation of £175,000 to support super-fast broadband.
Since the budget was approved by Council in February, there had been some additional calls on one of Resources identified and these were detailed within the report.
The remaining one off funding would be considered as part of future MTFP update reports.
The report concluded that the overall savings total, assuming that the reviews delivered in line with the target, was £9.4m by 2016/17. Although this was short of the £10.6m gap, they were being targeted for early delivery, most beginning to deliver in 2014/15. This should allow the Council to continue with its planned approach over the medium term through, if necessary, utilising the savings to bridge the 2016/17 gap.
Once there was further clarity around Government funding and the MTFP, the position for future years would be re-assessed and further savings and service reductions could not be ruled out. Further information would be provided as part of the MTFP update reports.
Members were provided with Equality Impact Assessments for Proposed Budget Reduction Measures in Bus Subsidies, Cashiering and the Proposed Budget Reduction Measures in Countryside Parks.