Agenda, decisions and minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 14th February, 2019 5.30 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1 - City Hall, Bradford. View directions

Items
No. Item

49.

DISCLOSURES OF INTEREST

(Members Code of Conduct - Part 4A of the Constitution)

 

To receive disclosures of interests from members and co-opted members on matters to be considered at the meeting. The disclosure must include the nature of the interest.

 

An interest must also be disclosed in the meeting when it becomes apparent to the member during the meeting.

 

Notes:

 

(1)       Members may remain in the meeting and take part fully in discussion and voting unless the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an interest which the Member feels would call into question their compliance with the wider principles set out in the Code of Conduct.  Disclosable pecuniary interests relate to the Member concerned or their spouse/partner.

 

(2)       Members in arrears of Council Tax by more than two months must not vote in decisions on, or which might affect, budget calculations, and must disclose at the meeting that this restriction applies to them.  A failure to comply with these requirements is a criminal offence under section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. 

 

(3)       Members are also welcome to disclose interests which are not disclosable pecuniary interests but which they consider should be made in the interest of clarity.

 

(4)       Officers must disclose interests in accordance with Council Standing Order 44.

 

Minutes:

In the interest of transparency Councillors Azam and Kamran Hussain declared an interest in the item relating to Universal Credit (Minute 55) as private sector landlords.

 

ACTION: City Solicitor

50.

MINUTES

Recommended –

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 15 November and 13 December 2018 be signed as a correct record (previously circulated).

 

(Yusuf Patel - 01274 434579)

 

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 15 November and 13 December 2018 be signed as a correct record.

51.

INSPECTION OF REPORTS AND BACKGROUND PAPERS

(Access to Information Procedure Rules – Part 3B of the Constitution)

 

Reports and background papers for agenda items may be inspected by contacting the person shown after each agenda item.  Certain reports and background papers may be restricted. 

 

Any request to remove the restriction on a report or background paper should be made to the relevant Strategic Director or Assistant Director whose name is shown on the front page of the report. 

 

If that request is refused, there is a right of appeal to this meeting. 

 

Please contact the officer shown below in advance of the meeting if you wish to appeal. 

 

(Yusuf Patel - 01274 434579)

 

Minutes:

There were no appeals submitted by the public to review decisions to restrict documents

52.

REFERRALS TO THE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

No referrals were made at the time of the publication of this agenda.

 

(Yusuf Patel – 01274 434579)

 

Minutes:

There were no referrals made to the Committee.

53.

PERIOD AND HYGIENE POVERTY IN THE BRADFORD DISTRICT pdf icon PDF 146 KB

The Strategic Directors Health and Wellbeing and Corporate Resources will submit a joint report (Document “AA”) which updates the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee on work across the Bradford district in relation to ‘Period and Hygiene’ Poverty.

 

Recommended –

 

It is recommended -

 

(1)       That options 9.2 and 9.3 set out in Document “AA” are adopted by       this committee.

 

(2)       That officers are asked to work closely with current providers    across the district to better understand the impacts of period         and/or hygiene poverty and that a further report be prepared for       this committee in 12 months time.

 

(Sarah Possingham – 01274 431319 / Paul Bland - 01274 43 7874)

 

Decision:

Resolved –

 

(1)       That this Committee welcomes the report and thanks officers and organisations for the work being undertaken to date to tackle period and hygiene poverty.

 

(2)       That a report be presented in 12 months time which specifically focuses on:

 

(i)            The causes of period and hygiene poverty;

(ii)          Actions being taken to address period and hygiene poverty;

(iii)         Identifying best practice and how this can be applied across the Bradford district;

(iv)         The approaches being used with homeless people in tackling period and hygiene poverty.

 

(3)       That this Committee requests that officers liaise with appropriate          organisations to address period and hygiene poverty across the      district.

 

ACTION:       Strategic Director Health and Wellbeing

 

(Sarah Possingham – 01274 431319)

Minutes:

The Strategic Directors Health and Wellbeing and Corporate Resources submitted a joint report (Document “AA”) which updated the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee on work across the Bradford district in relation to ‘Period and Hygiene’ Poverty.

 

The Assistant Director Revenues and Benefits stated that following a motion at the meeting of Council on 16 October, a recommendation on period and hygiene poverty was considered by the Health and Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee, who in turn referred the matter to this Committee as the issue was related to poverty.

 

The Senior Manager for Wider Determinants explained that although a comprehensive analysis of period and hygiene poverty in Bradford had not been undertaken, national figures had been extrapolated to give an insight into the problem locally.  In addition partner agencies involved with food banks routinely provided help and support in this area, as did schools and a number of organisations including the Council and the Unions, who were contributing to providing period and hygiene products and the success of the red box scheme was alluded to.

 

Representatives from partner agencies were present at the meeting and stated that period and hygiene poverty was linked to the wider poverty people experienced, and that further work was required to extend the help required and work with community organisations was on going.

 

Members welcomed the report and the work that was going on to address period and hygiene poverty and commented that the provision of products at the point of use was an excellent idea which reduced the stigma around the issue.

 

The work being undertaken by a number of schools and supermarkets was also endorsed and there was a need to increase provision of products across the secondary and primary school sector.

 

Members also alluded to the need for more education around periods and identifying best practice in order that the issue can be addressed effectively and efficiently. In addition gauging the problem amongst those who were homeless was also essential in order to provide the necessary support to them.

 

Resolved –

 

(1)       That this Committee welcomes the report and thanks officers and organisations for the work being undertaken to date to tackle period and hygiene poverty.

 

(2)       That a report be presented in 12 months time which specifically focuses on:

 

(i)            The causes of period and hygiene poverty;

(ii)          Actions being taken to address period and hygiene poverty;

(iii)         Identifying best practice and how this can be applied across the Bradford district;

(iv)         The approaches being used with homeless people in tackling period and hygiene poverty.

 

(3)       That this Committee requests that officers liaise with appropriate          organisations to address period and hygiene poverty across the      district.

 

ACTION:       Strategic Director Health and Wellbeing

 

54.

QTR. 3 FINANCE POSITION STATEMENT FOR 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 516 KB

The Director of Finance will submit a report (Document “AB”) which provides Members with an overview of the forecast financial position of the Council for 2018-19.

 

It examines the latest spend against revenue and capital budgets and forecasts the financial position at the year end. It states the Council’s current balances and reserves and forecasts school balances for the year. 

 

Recommended –

 

That the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee review and comment on the Qtr 3 Finance Position Statement for 2018-19.

 

(Andrew Cross - 01274 436823)

Decision:

Resolved –

 

(1)       That this Committee requests that a report be presented to this             Committee which sets out the reasons for the £0.6m overspend in   Sports and Leisure.

 

(2)       That this Committee also requests that a report be presented     which demonstrates how Council departments are addressing   overspends in their service areas and to what extent are the             approaches being used robust enough to the address the           overspends.

 

(3)       That the information requested by Members in relation to             vacancies be provided.

 

(4)       That this Committee requests an update on Going for Growth.

 

ACTION:       Director of Finance

 

(Andrew Cross – 01274 436823)

Minutes:

The Director of Finance submitted a report (Document “AB”) which provided Members with an overview of the forecast financial position of the Council for 2018-19.

 

It examined the latest spend against revenue and capital budgets and forecasted the financial position at the year end. It stated the Council’s current balances and reserves and forecasted school balances for the year. 

 

Based on the 31 December 2018 projection, the Council was forecasted to overspend the £358.1m net budget by £0.4m.  The overspend related primarily to the area of Adults and Children’s Social Care and in the Department of Place.

 

It was stressed that more work needed to be done to close the budget gap going forward for 2020/21 and therefore there was a need to plan for the future, and in addition protect the reserves position.

 

During the discussion Members asked a number of questions on the Quarter 3 position statement, the questions together with the responses are detailed below:

 

A Member raised concerns around the overspend in the Department of Place and the missed targets in a number of the waste related areas.  In response it was stated that mitigation measures had been put into the budget when the Council moved from weekly to fortnightly waste collection, and despite a number of initial setbacks, contamination was lessening and recycling rates were steadily improving.

 

The Member also raised a concern around the £0.6m overspend within Sports and Leisure which was primarily related to the use of casual staff and allowances, and he urged that the staffing costs should be brought under control as this was a significant overspend in the context of reduced Council funding.

 

The £200,000 loss on the Bingley Music Live festival was also alluded to by a number of Members and although the suggestion that poor ticket sales and the weather were to blame for the loss, Members expressed concern at the loss, again in the context of reduced funding and where statutory services were being affected.

 

A Member commented that there had been a concerted effort to increase the Council Tax base by increasing the number of homes built and increase prices to achieve income generation, however this report was thin on details on how the going for growth initiative was progressing.

 

In response the Head of Budgeting, Management Accounting and Projects stated that within the 18/19 budget and in future budgets one off monies from Government were difficult to plan for as they could vary year on year.  He acknowledged that they were increasing the Council Tax base and this had amounted to an extra £700k in this financial year.

Members further expressed concerns on the significant overspend within Children’s Services, however no one from the Service was present at the meeting to respond to Member’s questions.

 

In relation to the overspend in the Department of Place, it was stated by the Assistant Director Transportation Design and Planning that senior officers within the Department were looking at the recovery plan and identifying savings to achieve  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.

55.

UNIVERSAL CREDIT pdf icon PDF 164 KB

From 20 June 2018, working-age households, with up to two children, across the Bradford District became eligible to claim Universal Credit.

 

The Strategic Director Corporate Resources will submit a report

(Document “AC”) which examines the progress of, and future plans for, the roll out of Universal Credit, its impact, and the arrangements in place to support claimants.

 

Recommended –

 

That Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee;

 

(1)       Note progress made in the development of arrangements to       support residents, and in responding to adverse impacts on       Council service delivery.

 

(2)       Consider the issues raised in this report, the likely impacts on the         district’s residents, the Council, and other providers and agencies   and provide any comments and views for consideration by the         local delivery partnership.

(Martin Stubbs - 01274  432056)

 

 

Decision:

Resolved –

 

(1)       That this Committee welcomes the report and requests a further           report which focuses on the impact of Universal Credit on the         most vulnerable residents of the district and also include the   impact on Housing and Homelessness Service.

 

(2)       That this Committee requests that Bradford Council officers       contact the Department for Works and Pensions, both locally and            nationally to consider ways of mitigating sanctions for people           who do not have access to Information Technology.

 

ACTION: Strategic Director Corporate Services

 

(Martin Stubbs – 01274 432056)

Minutes:

From 20 June 2018, working-age households, with up to two children, across the Bradford District became eligible to claim Universal Credit.

 

The Strategic Director Corporate Resources submitted a report

(Document “AC”) which examined the progress of, and future plans for, the roll out of Universal Credit, its impact, and the arrangements in place to support claimants.

 

The Assistant Director Revenues and Benefits stated that many current housing benefit claimants will, over time, have a change in their circumstances and will be required to claim Universal Credit, a process known as natural migration.  He added that challenges remained and how more vulnerable or disabled claimants will be affected by Universal Credit remained to be seen, however the Council would be working with the Citizens Advice Bureau to ensure the right level of support was provided.

 

During the discussion a Member stated that in terms of access to digital support and the informal support provided by Libraries and Community Centres, how was this factored and supported through the Universal Credit process.  In response it was explained that the figures provided on digital support were purely done via the agreement with the Department for Work and Pensions, any informal arrangements were not factored in.  The Assistant Director acknowledged that more work could be done with Libraries and Children’s Centres in terms of how much digital support was provided to Universal Credit claimants.

 

The Chair of the Health and Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee was present at the meeting and stated that many claimants had no access to IT or email and they could lose out under the new system, and that there was no mention about vulnerability within the report.  In response it was stated that under Universal Credit there was a need to own a email and additional support was required to facilitate this.

 

A Member commented that Universal Credit was an ill thought out welfare system and would adversely affect some of the most vulnerable in our communities.  He also raised an issue around payment to a single person in the household, and that this could have a detrimental impact in situations where there was an issue around domestic violence or coercion. 

 

He added that the new benefit had also seen a spike in the number of people resorting to using food banks as well as the potential to be evicted by the landlord when payments were late, which in turn would exacerbate the homelessness situation.

 

The Assistant Director acknowledged there were issues with the new benefit and as a Council we would try and provide the necessary support, especially to the most vulnerable and try and build additional protections, where possible.

 

Resolved –

 

(1)       That this Committee welcomes the report and requests a further           report which focuses on the impact of Universal Credit on the         most vulnerable residents of the district and also include the   impact on Housing and Homelessness Service.

 

(2)       That this Committee requests that Bradford Council officers       contact the Department for Works and Pensions,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.

56.

BREXIT PREPAREDNESS pdf icon PDF 197 KB

The Corporate Resources Director will submit a report (Document “AD”) which advises members on progress to date in preparing for the impact of Brexit, including a no deal Brexit, and the actions proposed to deal with identified issues.

 

It must be stressed that the current situation is highly uncertain and liable to change.  At the time of writing, a range of options remain open, including a no deal Brexit. The Prime Minister will be negotiating with EU partners and due to return to Parliament on the 14th February for a vote on a final deal. 

 

Recommended –

 

That the Committee note the report and offer their views on the issues and actions identified. 

(Phil Witcherley - 01274 431241)

Decision:

Resolved –

 

(1)       That this Committee requests a report to be presented which     specifically focuses on the community cohesion issues across     the district related to Brexit.

 

(2)       That a verbal update on Brexit be presented at the 21 March       meeting of the Committee.

 

(3)       That it be recommended to the Executive that the status of          Looked After Children be adopted by the Council.

 

ACTION:       Strategic Director Corporate Resources

 

(Philip Witcherley – 01274 431241)

 

 

Minutes:

The Corporate Resources Director submitted a report (Document “AD”) which advised members on progress to date in preparing for the impact of Brexit, including a no deal Brexit, and the actions proposed to deal with identified issues.

 

It was stressed that the current situation was highly uncertain and liable to change.  At the time of writing, a range of options remained open, including a no deal Brexit. The Prime Minister had been negotiating with EU partners and due to return to Parliament on the 14th February for a vote on a final deal. 

 

The Council was undertaking work in a number of areas pertaining to Brexit including implementing a scheme to support settlement status within our own workforce; engaging with partners such as the Chamber of Commerce around wider business and employment issues affecting the district; working with partners in the voluntary and community sector to develop a bid to support the most vulnerable residents.  To this end a community consultation event was held on 13 February and it was a very successful event, which was attended by over 50 community group representatives and highlighted issues around impact of Brexit and the impact on community cohesion issues, and the potential for an increase in hate crimes; to this end it was important to celebrate the strengths of Bradford as a diverse community.

 

In addition it was mentioned that the feedback from the consultation event will be used to inform proposals for how best to spend the additional funding announced by Government in late January.

 

It was also important to identify specific issues that we can take back to Government, for example around passport and other status documentation, and how to advise and help people who had misplaced their documentation.

 

During the discussions a number of Members reaffirmed the need for the Council to ensure that Looked After children were supported through the Brexit process.  In response it was stated that the sufficiency team in Children’s Services could be approached on the issue specifically.

 

A Member stated that he had real concerns around the potential for a surge in hate crime post Brexit. In response it was stated that the community event last night addressed this issue amongst other things, and it was important to ensure we had a grasp of the situation as well as reach out and support the hard to reach communities like the Roma community around settlement status and community cohesion.

 

A Member also stated that the actions of the far right and their potential to stir up hatred in the district should also be closely monitored, so that we are prepared.

 

A Member also stated that procurement should also be proactive in terms of how contracts will be procured in the coming months and that we are clear which rules we are working to.  In response it was mentioned that some work around procurement and Brexit had already been done.

Resolved –

 

(1)       That this Committee requests a report to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.

57.

CORPORATE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE - WORK PROGRAMME 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 73 KB

The Chair of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee will submit a report (Document “AE”) which sets out the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee work programme for 2018/19. 

 

Recommended –

 

(1)       That members consider and comment on the areas of work        included in the work programme.

 

(2)       That members consider any detailed scrutiny reviews that they             may wish to conduct.

(Mustansir Butt - 01274 432574)

Additional documents:

Decision:

No resolution was passed in respect of this item.

 

Minutes:

The Chair of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee submitted a report (Document “AE”) which set out the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee work programme for 2018/19. 

 

No resolution was passed in respect of this item.