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Agenda and minutes

Contact: Peter Moore 

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Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillors Gantly, Gallagher, Nathan, Clarke, Ismail and Councillor Chowdhury for lateness

2.

Declaration of Substitute Members

None

Additional documents:

Minutes:

None

3.

Declarations of Interest

If you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest* in an item of business:

§  if it is not yet on the council’s register, you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent;

§  you may choose to declare a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest that is already in the register in the interests of openness and transparency. 

In both the above cases, you must leave the room without participating in discussion of the item.

 

If you have a personal interest in an item of business and you intend to speak or vote on the item you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent but you may participate in the discussion and vote on the item.

 

*(a) Employment, etc - Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation
  carried on for profit or gain.

(b)   Sponsorship - Any payment or other financial benefit in respect of your expenses in carrying out duties as a member, or of your election; including from a trade union.

(c)   Contracts - Any current contract for goods, services or works, between you or your partner (or a body in which one of you has a beneficial interest) and the council.

(d)  Land - Any beneficial interest in land which is within the council’s area.

(e)  Licences- Any licence to occupy land in the council’s area for a month or  
 longer.

(f) Corporate tenancies - Any tenancy between the council and a body in which you or your partner have a beneficial interest.

 (g) Securities - Any beneficial interest in securities of a body which has a place of business or land in the council’s area, if the total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body or of any one class of its issued share capital. 

 

This applies to all members present at the meeting.

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

None

4.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 343 KB

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Minutes:

RESOLVED:

That the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 7 October 2021 be confirmed and the Chair be authorised to sign them

5.

Chair's Report

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Minutes:

None

6.

Public Questions

For members of the public to ask questions relating to any subject on the meeting agenda under Procedure Rule 70.5. Alternatively, the Chair may opt to accept questions from the public during the discussion on each agenda item.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair outlined the procedure for Public questions

7.

Islington Council's use of Consultants, Interims and Agency Workers - update pdf icon PDF 620 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Julie Foy, Director of Human Resources was present and outlined the report

 

During consideration of the report the following main points were made –

 

·         Agency spend has increased by £67k for the first two quarters, compared to the first two quarters of 2020/21. There has been spend in Public Health on lateral flow testing of £592k. Also the spend for 2020/21 includes the effect of the 2.75% pay award applied to the majority of agency workers, and the transfer of off contract agency workers to the Reed contract

·         The average tenure of agency workers has been rising however this should be reduced through recruiting agency workers to permanent posts

·         Council officers continue to take steps to reduce the number of interim/agency staff, however there has been an overall rise in highly specialised agency staff and workers engaged above £450 per day, due to the additional project managers in IT and Digital Services, the Council’s modernisation programme, FutureWork and senior management cover in Peoples Services. However it is significantly lower than a year ago, and below 1% of the total workforce

·         Noted the breakdown by Department of interims

·         Guidance from Temp to perm has been introduced to support recruitment in departments, and departments are developing Peoples plans which will incorporate strategies for agency reduction, as part of their workforce planning

·         Noted that the contract for a Managed Service Provider for the supply of contingent workers has recently been closed for re-procurement. and bids have been received and evaluation for the contract is taking place during October

·          A Member expressed concern that some agency workers had been in post over 2 years, and only a small number had transferred from temp to perm

·         It was noted that Islington had one of the lowest percentages of agency staff amongst London Boroughs

·         A Member referred to the fact that although the target for agency staff was 10%, there should be an ambition to reduce this number, although it was recognised that agency staff would always need to be employed

·         Members expressed the view that in future reports there need to be details of the definition of contingent workforce employed and the percentage of staff employed for over a year and details of those employed over 2 years

·         Members were informed that whilst the Council were taking measures to reduce agency staff, it had to be recognised for a variety of reasons that these needed to be employed, and that the numbers of interim staff had been reduced

·         In response to a question it was stated that only interim staff were engaged outside the Reed contract

·         In response to a question as to whether overtime was being monitored in departments to ascertain whether these were the same departments as had high agency spend it was stated that departmental monitoring was taking place. Noted that business partners were working with departments to establish strategic staffing decisions in relation to services

 

RESOLVED:

(a)  That the following be provided in the next report to the Committee

Definitions of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Scrutiny Review - Employment, Business, Employment/Council Financial position - COVID 19 - Witness evidence pdf icon PDF 919 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 David Hodgkinson, Director of Corporate Resources and Councillor Satnam Gill, Executive Member Finance, Performance and Resources

 

Thomas Foster of Grant Thornton, the Council’s external auditors was also present, and made a presentation to the Committee, copy interleaved

 

David Hodgkinson also outlined the report for the Committee, and Thomas Foster outlined the presentation, during which the following main points were made –

 

·         Noted that Grant Thornton COVID 19 vulnerability, and recovery index, provides a nationwide view of how different places are positioned to respond and recover from COVID 19. The social and economic impacts of COVID 19 will be profound, affecting all elements of business communities

·         Indicators overview - vulnerability index include financial, people, place, economy, health, social care. The recovery index looks at a number of factors including level of reserves as % of total expenditure, house price recovery, employment risks, business size etc. varies greatly across London, and many boroughs fall below the median. However L.B. Islington were well placed in terms of being subject to any financial vulnerability, and the economic recovery prospects were good for the borough

·         Financial foresight – headline scenario pessimistic but possible – funding reforms are delayed, but 3% annual uplift in central government funding. Councils are unable to maximise council tax increases. Business rate growth slowed by economic challenges, significant collection fund deficits to clear, wind down of Government support, crystallisation of COVID costs (social care, homelessness), increased inflation in staffing costs

·         Noted income and expenditure in a do nothing scenario, and the cumulative gap between income and expenditure

·         Noted that the proportion of authorities potentially at risk due to low reserves – at risk = usable reserves depleted to less than 5% of net expenditure. 12%-45% of upper tier authorities at risk by 2023/24, and less than 15% of London Boroughs at risk by 2024/25. London tracks as the fourth lowest region

·         Financial risks – 2020/21 posed a unique challenge, and by and large, Councils have stepped up but in the longer term financial consequences are still emerging. Ongoing cost pressures crystallising e.g. social care, children’s and impact of heavy borrowing to be felt over the next 5 years. Implications for funding e.g. business rate base, and other income generation. Wider economic uncertainty, supply chain and inflation, traditional financial assumptions and risks need to re-evaluated rather than reverting to normal

·         Governance – role of members in financial governance – every Councillor is responsible for financial control and decision making at their Council. Whilst Members may not be financial experts, they should take an interest in financial and best value decisions. There should be a culture that encourages scrutiny and accountability as a key element of decision making to successful delivery of services. Constructive challenge and debate from Members can enhance performance. All Members, not just members of Scrutiny and Audit Committees, should be clear on role in financial management, have access to adequate financial skills, be provided with regular, and ongoing financial training, be provided with accurate and timely reports on the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Performance Management and Development Scrutiny Review pdf icon PDF 619 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Julie Foy, Director of Human Resources was present and outlined the scrutiny initiation document

 

During consideration of the report the following main points were made –

 

·       Members welcomed the SID and that the Working Group should meet 3 times in order to make recommendations to PPS in March

·       Noted that the Members of the Working Group should be kept to a minimum as indicated in the SID

 

 

 

 

RESOLVED:

(a)That an informal working group be approved, and that Members wishing to serve on the Working Group should notify the Clerk to the Committee as soon as possible so that dates of meetings can be established

 

(b)That the Scrutiny Initiation Document and proposed work programme be agreed

 

 

The Chair thanked Julie Foy for attending

10.

Financial Monitoring pdf icon PDF 206 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Paul Clarke, Director of Finance was present, together with the Executive Member, Finance, Performance and Resources, Councillor Gill, and outlined the report

 

During consideration of the report the following main points were made –

 

·         The budget forecast remains uncertain at this stage, and the COVID 19 pandemic, will continue to have an effect on the Council’s budget for the foreseeable future. There is a need to maintain and increase the resilience in the Council finances and reserves to reflect hardening budget risks

·         Overall the General Fund is currently forecasting total budget fund pressures of £24.95m. This is an increase of +£2.223m since the previous reported position, primarily due to adverse movements in the Environment and People directorates. After the allocation of available COVID funding and an assumed allocation from contingency, this reduces to a forecast net overspend of +£0.894m

·         Noted at present there are no forecast Council tax or business rates income budget variances

·         The HRA is forecasting an in year surplus, and this is unchanged from the previous reported position

·         At end of month 5 capital expenditure of £29.345m had been incurred against a total full year forecast of £169.082m, and against the revised expenditure budget of £203.222m. It is expected that the capital expenditure will be re-profiled for approval between financial years for approval in subsequent budget monitoring exercises

·         Noted that the Council were in terms of the medium term financial plan in a similar financial position as pre COVID and needed to achieve £25m of savings

·         Noted that the Local Government pay award which has not yet been agreed, would add to the budget deficit as it had been assumed that there would not be a pay award in 2021/22

·         In response to questions it was stated that information on the reasons for the increase in costs in the vehicle fleet management costs would be circulated following the meeting, together with the reasons for the increase in the substance misuse budget

·         It was stated that there were economic risk factors such as rising energy costs, inflation and increases in Adult Social Care and Children’s Social Care costs. It was stated that there had been an increase in the sexual health budget due to the changing method  of providing the service due to COVID

·         A Member enquired whether the increase in rents of would provide additional capital, and it was stated that the capital programme was looked at over a number of years

·         Reference was made to Council tax collection, and that with regard to arrears these were higher in those residents who were on the Council Tax support scheme

·         In response to a question it was noted that decisions on increases in parking charges would be looked at as part of the budget making process

·         Noted that decisions were taken in consultation with Members as to whether services needed increases in funding due to COVID

 

RESOLVED:

That the report be noted and that Councillor Russell be informed of the reasons for the increase in vehicle management fleet  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Monitoring Report

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Minutes:

RESOLVED:

That the report be noted