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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Upper Street, N1 2UD. View directions


No. Item


Apologies for Absence

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Apologies were received from Councillors Graham, Nathan and Weekes.


Apologies for lateness were received from Councillor Ozdemir.


Declaration of Substitute Members

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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  

(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.




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Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 252 KB

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It was noted that it was unfortunate that the committee was not able to consider agenda items C2 – C5 in detail at the previous meeting.




Subject to the above, the minutes of the previous meeting on 15 September 2022 be agreed as a correct record and the Chair be authorised to sign them.


Chair's Report

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The Chair noted that the council was processing council tax rebates under the government’s Energy Bill Rebate Scheme. Under the scheme, those in council tax bands A to D were eligible for a £150 rebate on their council tax. However, ratepayers could ask for this money to be paid to them directly, and around 1,000 households a week were asking for the rebate to be applied in this way. It was commented that this was particularly resource intensive for staff.


Further to the item at the previous meeting considering the impact of recent flooding caused by mains water bursts, the Chair had received a written update from Thames Water and summarised the contents. This is appended to the minutes.


At the previous meeting the Committee heard from Operose Health in relation to the findings of a BBC Panorama documentary, raising concerns about their services. The Chair noted that the information offered by Operose on details of their GPs had not yet been received. It was also noted that NHS North Central London Integrated Care Board had decided not to renew the GP Services contract for the Hanley Road Medical Centre with Operose.




External Attendees

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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.


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Monitoring item (Council Forward Plan / Scrutiny updates) pdf icon PDF 512 KB

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The Committee requested an update on when responses to the Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee’s review of the Net Zero Carbon 2030 Strategy, and the Policy and Performance Scrutiny Committee’s informal working group on Performance Management and Development, would be available. The Executive Member for Finance, Planning and Performance advised that this would be followed up outside of the meeting.




Democratic Services to seek confirmed dates for scrutiny response reports.


Financial Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 221 KB

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Paul Clarke, Director of Finance, and Cllr Ward, Executive Member for Finance, Planning and Performance, presented the report. It was noted that the primary financial challenge was the £21.7m overspend associated with energy inflation, demographic pressures and other factors. 


The following main points were noted in the discussion:


·       The Committee asked about the council’s long term energy purchasing strategy and if the council would be joining a Public Buying Organisation (PBO). In response, it was advised that the council was seeking to join a PBO for up to two financial years; longer term options would be assessed with reference to advice from the council’s energy consultants.

·       With regard to the increased cost of purchasing energy, the committee noted that the council was in a difficult position and faced challenging consequences as a result. It was asked what lessons had been learned from the situation and what would the council’s risk management strategy be going forwards. In response, it was advised that the Energy Team would be requested to provide a briefing note.

·       It was queried if other London boroughs were facing the same scale of financial challenge to the increase in energy costs. In response, it was advised that the increased cost of energy was a significant financial issue for many organisations, however the council did not have comparative data on the energy purchasing arrangements or baseline energy usage of other boroughs. Officers across London were discussing how best to respond to the energy crisis. The Committee commented that it was important to consider such issues at a pan-London level, and would welcome information on what other London boroughs are doing to mitigate against the increase in energy costs. 

·       The Committee discussed the impact of increased energy prices for those on communal heating systems, and expressed concerns about residents being unable to pay bills. In response, it was advised that the council’s financial planning factored in an element of uncollected debt. There were services to support residents experiencing hardship, including SHINE and the Income Maximisation Team. It was commented that the IMAX team were able to attend Ward Partnership meetings on request.

·       On the increased cost of borrowing, it was advised that capital projects already underway were largely unaffected, however this may be a factor in allocating budgets to future projects.

·       In relation to the upcoming decision on the Forward Plan on parking fees and charges, it was queried if the new fees and charges model would fully cover the cost of providing the Parking service, or if the service would be subsidised through other income. It was advised that a response would be sent after the meeting.

·       In response to a question, it was advised that the council was exploring the further use of e-cargo bikes as an alternative to cars and vans. This had environmental benefits, and would reduce spend on the cost of fuel.

·       In relation to children’s centre occupancy data at Figure 9 of the report, members asked for more information on why occupancy rates were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.


Resources Performance Report - Quarter 1 pdf icon PDF 250 KB

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Joana Dawes, Corporate Performance Manager, introduced the report. It was noted that the report summarised all corporate performance, and not just that of the Resources directorate.


The following main comments were made in the discussion:


·       It was commented that a more detailed narrative and performance data would help members in focusing their scrutiny work.

·       The Committee considered measures to reduce the use of temporary accommodation where the council does not have a statutory duty. The Committee expressed concerns about homelessness residents and queried the wider impact of this approach, particularly on vulnerable residents. It was requested that officers provide an update.

·       It was welcomed that the council was reporting on the number of people killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions.

·       The uptake of places on school holiday activities was lower than expected. Members suggested that the introduction of a waiting list may help to ensure that spaces are made available if a young person is not able to attend.

·       The Committee welcomed the progress made on voids performance and requested further data on this, in particular in relation to the number of households choosing to downsize, and the time taken to process voids.

·       The Committee requested further information on the recruitment challenges in the Early Intervention and Prevention Service and how this was being addressed. 




That the quarter one performance update be noted.




As detailed above, the Committee requested further information on:


·       Measures to reduce the usage of temporary accommodation, and the impact on residents;

·       How to ensure that places on school holiday activities are best allocated;

·       Voids performance and the number of households choosing to downsize;

·       Recruitment challenges in the early intervention and prevention service.



Annual Workforce Report pdf icon PDF 210 KB

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Julie Foy, Director of Human Resources, introduced the Annual Workforce Report.


The following main points were noted in the discussion:


·       It was noted that over 1,000 working days had been lost to sickness absence for Covid-19; this peaked during the Omicron wave.

·       In relation to the previous scrutiny review of performance management, it was advised that a new approach was being developed. Further detail would be available in early 2023.

·       Officers summarised the council’s ‘Futurework’ arrangements, detailing which staff were required to work in the borough, and which were able to work from home.

·       Members queried the reasons behind the ethnicity pay gap and the council’s actions to improve diversity in the top quartile of earners. Officers explained that this was a priority for the council and a number of initiatives were underway as part of the Diverse Recruiter scheme. This included longstanding arrangements for anonymised applications, and new arrangements, such as the “internal first” approach to all job vacancies up to PO10 grade to promote career progression for internal staff. The Council had also introduced two leadership and management development qualifications and  these had been specifically targeted at colleagues from Black and Asian backgrounds. The ‘Black on Board’ scheme also sought to improve the diversity of internal board meetings. The Inclusive Mentoring Programme had also been well received and a second cohort would be launched soon. The Director of HR had been asked to co-chair a London-wide Tackling Racial Inequality programme for HR professionals and it was hoped this would lead to the further sharing of best practice. 

·       It was asked that secondment and acting up opportunities be detailed in future workforce reports to the committee.

·       Following a question on diverse recruitment panels, it was confirmed that there was a pool of staff available to participate in such panels where services were not able to provide a diverse recruitment panel from within their service.

·       The Committee requested further information on the council’s use of the apprenticeship levy, and if we undertake any transfer to SMEs.

·       It was queried how the council tracked improvements in productivity following the upskilling of staff. Officers explained how a new e-learning system was able to better track the training and development of staff, although it was not straightforward to attribute changes in productivity to particular development activities at an individual level. However, strategic discussions were underway on the skills staff need in order to increase performance across the organisation.

·       The Committee referenced the work of a task and finish group on the BAME pay gap and suggested that it would be helpful for that work to be circulated to the committee. It was noted that the ethnic profile of different council departments varied, and it would be helpful for future reports to track how this has changed over time. It was advised that the task and finish group was reporting into the Council’s Challenging Inequality Programme. Officers would consider how this could be best reported to the committee.

·       A discussion was had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.


Workplan 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 150 KB

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It was advised that some items on the workplan may be rescheduled and an update would be circulated to members shortly.