Agenda and minutes

Strategic Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 28th September 2017 6.00 pm

Venue: Gipping Room, Grafton House

Contact: Trisha Sutton  01473 432512

Items
No. Item

19.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor L Harsant. Councillor O Holmes was also unable to attend the meeting.  In the absence of Councillor L Harsant, Councillor S Gage took the Chair.

20.

Unconfirmed Minutes of the Meeting held on 31 August 2017 pdf icon PDF 85 KB

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

that the minutes of the meeting held on 31 August 2017, be signed as a true record.

21.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

22.

To Confirm or Vary the Order of Business

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

that the Order of Business be as printed on the agenda.

23.

OS/17/06 Annual Report of the Write Offs of Bad Debts 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 151 KB

Minutes:

23.1    Peter Timmins, Head of Finance & Revenues presented the annual report which set out where debts had occurred and he commented on how the debts for 2016/17 were less than those which had been reported in previous years.

 

23.2    The following amendments to the report were made:-

·         4.2 c. should read ‘Housing Benefit overpayments of £170,459 were written off ……during 2016/17.’       

·         4.4 Table 3 – should read ‘Housing Benefit ‘General Fund’ 170,459 and HRA 12,789.’  The total for HRA should read ‘133,918’ however the overall total remained unchanged.

·         Appendix B – Provision for Bad Debts – The Housing Benefit Overpayment, Provision added 2016/17 to read ‘183’ totalling ‘980’ and the Provision used 2016/17 to read ‘183’ totalling ‘1,118’ . 

 

23.3    In response to a question by Councillor Fisher, the Operations Manager, Revenues confirmed that at 4.1 of the report, the number of cases were in fact the number of occurrences.  Councillor Debman commended Officers for the report and the work undertaken.

 

            Resolved:

 

            that the sums written-off under Financial Standing Orders, in the period 1 April 2016 – 31 March 2017 amounting to £1,118,130, be noted. 

24.

OS/17/07 Annual Report of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 92 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

24.1    On behalf of the Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee, the Vice-Chair pointed out that 2016/17 had been a busy year for the Committee with 10 Task & Finish Group meetings being held, annual reports on Crime and Police Matters, the Health Scrutiny Committee at Suffolk County Council and Bad Debts.   There had been a review of the Area Committees and the Hidden Needs in Suffolk by the Suffolk Community Foundation.  2 Call-Ins had taken place and the work on Mental Health Awareness with Alison Armstrong and Sue Gray attending was highlighted. 

 

24.2    Work continued on the Orwell Bridge Closures Task & Finish Group, with Councillor Debman as Chair and on behalf of Councillor Harsant, Councillor Gage thanked the Committee, the Chief Executive, Officers and all the Councillors who had taken part in the Task and Finish Groups.

 

24.3    Councillor Pope mentioned that at the last meeting when the Task & Finish Group notes for Mental Health Awareness had been submitted it had been reported that an Emotional Wellbeing Hub would be set up at Landmark House however, it had since been reported that this had been delayed.  He asked that the Chief Executive write to ask Suffolk County Council for the revised date when the Hub would be operational and the Chief Executive agreed to action this.

 

24.4    Councillor Pope expressed disappointment that no Joint Scrutiny meetings had been held during 2016/17.  The Chair said that if any items could be suggested for joint scrutiny these could be made through the Overview & Scrutiny proposal form process.

 

            Resolved:

 

1.    that the Strategic Overview & Scrutiny Committee Annual Report 2016/17, attached at Appendix 1 to report Ref No: OS/17/07, be approved for submission to Council.

 

2.    that the Work Programme of the Strategic Overview & Scrutiny Committee, attached at Appendix 2 to report Ref No: OS/17/07, be approved.

25.

Annual Portfolio Holder Update - Communities

Minutes:

25.1    Councillor Meudec presented a Portfolio Holder update for Communities which included the Shared Revenues Partnership, Cemeteries, Corporate Support and Democratic Services.  Officers in attendance were Andrew Wilcock, Steve Kemp and Deborah Carr, Operations Managers for SRP, Cemeteries and Corporate Support respectively.  Councillor Meudec explained that Health & Safety had recently been added to her Portfolio and in respect of the Performance Indicators highlighted, the Committee could be reassured that a great deal of work was taking place to tackle the amber and red indicators.

 

 25.2   The Community Engagement and Democratic Services indicators demonstrated the challenges and successes of the year with 30 Area Committees being held, £198k funding being allocated and matched funding of £239k being attained.  Currently the Community Engagement Team were dealing with the Community Cash Grants process.  

 

25.3    The Shared Revenues Partnership, created in 2011, had delivered £3.7m of savings by working with Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Councils.  The ‘time taken to process new claims’ indicator had increased due to staff shortages but 7 new employees were shortly due to commence employment and it was anticipated that this indicator would then be on target.  The % of ‘LA error’ indicator was also being dealt with by checking the accuracy of claims and it currently stood at 0.25%, when it had been at 0.39% in August 2016.  The challenges were that indicators needed to adapt to legislative and policy changes which were sometimes unpredictable.  Universal Credit was due to be implemented in April 2018 but details of the implementation were still unknown. 

 

25.4    Customers were encouraged to submit claims on-line as the simple process asked for documents to be uploaded automatically to the system thereby alleviating the need for letters to be sent which allowed for a 30 day wait for their return. Council Tax collection was on target but there could be a risk of arrears from the implementation of Universal Credit.  There could also be an increased risk of homelessness due to rent arrears and the requirement to access claims on-line.  The % of Business Rate collection was down due to the recovery process of 2 appeals which had been challenged through the court. 

 

25.5    The number of Public Health funerals had increased and the team searched for family relatives but if no one was found who could pay, the responsibility became that of the local authority.  Brochures of the Ipswich Cemeteries and Crematorium were circulated and it was reported that there had been 2,600 views on the website.  A metal recycling scheme had seen money redistributed to local charities such as Inspire Suffolk. 

 

25.6    Events such as the Heritage Open Day in September 2017 had tours of the Cemetery and Crematorium and visits could always be arranged.  Discussion took place about the commercial aspect of the business, that funeral directors and staff were regularly contacted but while proactive promotion of the services took place it was often families wishes which determined usage. 

 

25.7    Councillor Debman asked what the size of the two large debts  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

OS/17/08 Work Programme 2017/18 - No Proposal Forms Received pdf icon PDF 55 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

26.1    Following discussion it was agreed that future Annual Portfolio Holder updates would include the latest Performance Data and that the Portfolio Holder for Development would be requested to provide a Portfolio Holder update on 23 November 2017 when Proposal Form No 21 S106 Developer Contributions would be discussed.  A discussion about the Implementation of Universal Credit would also be added to the agenda for 23 November 2017.

 

            Resolved:

 

            that the Strategic Overview & Scrutiny Committee Work Programme, attached at report Ref No: OS/17/08, with the amendments above, be agreed.