Agenda and draft minutes

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Contact: Emily Wilcox  Democratic Services Officer

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Items
No. Item

15.

Apologies for Absence/Replacement Members

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Mrs W Bowkett and Mrs A M Newton.Apologies were also received from Councillor B Young (Executive Councillor for Community Safety and People Management), Debbie Barnes OBE (Chief Executive) and Andrew Crookham (Executive Director – Resources).

 

It was reported that, under Regulation 13 of the Local Government Committee and Political Groups Regulation 1990, Councillor CJTH Brewis had been appointed as a substitute for Councillor Mrs A M Newton, and Councillor CR Oxby had been appointed as a substitute for Councillor Mrs W Bowkett for this meeting only.

16.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

17.

Minutes of the meeting held on 2 July 2020 pdf icon PDF 331 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That minutes of the meeting held on 2 July 2020 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman. 

18.

Minutes of the meeting held on 28 July 2020 pdf icon PDF 134 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That minutes of the meeting held on 28 July 2020 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman. 

 

19.

Announcements by the Chairman, Executive Councillor for Resources and Communications and Chief Officers

Minutes:

The Chairman announced that he had attended a meeting of the Executive on 7 July and presented the comments from the Board on the Review of Financial Performance, which included reference to:-  The overspend of £2.373 million on the home to school/college transport budget; the purpose of the Council's contingency budget of £3 million and slippage on the capital programme. In response, the Leader of the Council had referred to anticipated pressures on the Council's budget during 2020/21, such as the potential for inflation arising from the procurement of services, particularly for home to school/college transport and the purpose of the contingency budget which would be reviewed during the course of the year. In addition, the Leader had highlighted that capital programme funding would be focussed on the delivery of the Council's preferred schemes, and if other schemes were substituted to take up slippage, there would be a risk that funding would not be available for the preferred schemes. 

 

At the Board meeting held on 2 July, it was agreed that the Chairman and the Vice Chairman would meet with James Drury, Executive Director – Commercial, to discuss how to monitor future progress of the Business World re-design and other IMT services going forward. A meeting at the end of July was held and again on 26 August 2020 to discuss options and agree a way forward. A report on future IT reporting arrangements would be considered by the Board at its meeting on 24 September.

 

20.

Consideration of Call-Ins

Minutes:

None had been received.

21.

Consideration of Councillor Calls for Action

Minutes:

None had been received.

22.

Covid-19 Recovery Update pdf icon PDF 699 KB

(To receive a report from Diane Coulson, Assistant Director – Public Protection, which provides an overview of the partnership approach and governance arrangements to manage Lincolnshire's recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to an update report by the Assistant Director Public Protection, which provided an overview of the partnership approach and governance arrangements to manage Lincolnshire's recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The significant disruption created by Covid-19 had forced authorities and communities to change their behaviours and routine working practices, which although unsettling, had demonstrated what was achievable through collaborative working.

 

The report advised that as well as serious implications for people’s health and public services, Covid-19 was having a significant impact on the economy and the recovery approach would need to be considered against an uncertain economic backdrop. This situation was compounded by increased demand in areas of service activity such as social care teams, wellbeing services and infection control for example.

 

The Board was asked to consider the report and provide feedback on the points raised and agree when a subsequent report should be scheduled for a future meeting to allow the Board to monitor the progress of the Council's recovery.

 

Members considered the report, and during discussion the following points were made:

 

·         Members welcomed the report and requested that a further update report be given at the October meeting of the Board. It was thought that the September meeting was too soon for a further update and it was recognised that officers had spent a significant amount of time producing such a detailed and comprehensive report.

·         Assurance was sought and given that there were processes in place to deal with any outbreaks in neighbouring counties. Particular reference was given to an outbreak of the virus in a factory near Newark. Members noted that testing units were spread across the County. High risk settings such as factories had been provided with advice on how to prevent outbreaks and what to do if one occurred. Reassurance was given that prevention measures, staff training, data monitoring and collection and the action plan in the event of an outbreak were regularly reviewed.

·         It was confirmed, following a question, that good practice arising from the work of voluntary and support groups would be shared and disseminated amongst them. It was especially important as groups who may now be dormant may need to be reactivated in the future.

·         The implications for the County as a result of the recent announcement by the Government to disband Public Health England would be kept under review.

·         Assurances were sought and given about arrangements for staff homeworking, access to offices, staff testing and other measures to ensure staff safety and that such advice had been disseminated to managers.

·         The importance of ensuring safe and available transport from home to school, especially in rural areas, was acknowledged; as was the need to keep under review the measures in place to protect the vulnerable living in care homes.

·         It was noted that at present the County had the lowest number of cases in the country and although this was a good position, vigilance and preparedness was still very important and necessary.

·         The Government announcements on the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Revenue Budget Monitoring Report 2020/21 - Quarter 1 to 30 June 2020 pdf icon PDF 23 KB

(To receive a report from Michelle Grady, Assistant Director – Strategic Finance, which invites the Board to consider a report on Revenue Budget Monitoring, which is being presented to the Executive on 2 September 2020.  The views of the Board will be reported to the Executive as part of its consideration of this item)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report by theAssistant Director Strategic Finance, on Revenue Budget Monitoring, which was due to be presented to the Executive on 2 September 2020.  The views of the Board would be reported to the Executive as part of its consideration of this item.

 

The report compared the Council's projected expenditure with the approved budget for 2020/21 and provided explanations for any significant over or under spending. The overall revenue position forecasted this year was for an overspend of £3.555m (excluding schools). There was a forecast underspend on capital financing charges of £6.948m but this was not included within this forecast position at this stage. General reserves at the end of the year would remain within the target range of 2.5% to 3.5%, however, if it was not possible to manage to turn around the current revenue forecast then the Financial Volatility Reserve would need to be used to support the budgetary position.

 

The impact of this revenue budget forecast on the Council's resilience had been assessed and the conclusion was that financial resilience had weakened due to the financial impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic both in the current year and looking forward to next year. It was noted that there were healthy reserve balances and the aim was to strengthen financial resilience by: continued monitoring of the financial position and undertaking work to address issues as they arose; continued reporting of the Covid-19 impacts to Government alongside working with the Society of County Treasurers to ensure that the Government understood the particular issues faced by County Councils; refreshing and updating the Medium Term Financial Plan and Strategy; focusing on transformation work to reduce cost pressures and create budget savings; and requesting all budget holders to preserve any budgetary savings incurred this year to help support the overall position.

 

Members of the Board asked a number of questions, and the following points were confirmed:

 

·         Potential savings arising from Covid-19, such as from reductions in travel costs, utility bills for buildings, training costs, and room hire costs, should be available to report in Quarter 2. It was reported by officers that service areas were being asked to forecast these potential savings and keep the savings available to cover any budget pressures.

·         A number of bodies, such as the County Councils Network and Local Government Association, had been putting forward the budgetary pressures facing councils as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic across the country to the Government. In response the Government had delivered three tranches of additional funding to councils. The first tranche was calculated predominantly based on the adult social care needs assessment which focussed on adult social care figures as this was seen as an area requiring additional funding. The second tranche was calculated based on population which was more supportive of district council funding. The third tranche was around population and deprivation.

·         Councils had to complete monthly returns to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) which had helped the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.

24.

Capital Budget Monitoring Report 2020/21 - Quarter 1 to 30 June 2020 pdf icon PDF 22 KB

(To receive a report from Michelle Grady, Assistant Director – Strategic Finance, which invites the Board to consider a report on Capital Budget Monitoring, which is being presented to the Executive on 2 September 2020.  The views of the Board will be reported to the Executive as part of its consideration of this item)

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report by the Assistant Director – Strategic Finance, on Capital Budget Monitoring, which was due to be presented to the Executive on 2 September 2020.  The views of the Board would be reported to the Executive as part of its consideration of this item.

 

The report provided an update on capital spending compared with budgets for the financial year which started on 1 April 2020. The current forecasted position was for an underspend of £23.352m.

 

(Miss A Sayer, Parent Governor Representative gave her apologies for the remainder of the meeting)

 

Members discussed the report, and during the discussion the following points were noted:

 

·         The forecast overspend for the Lincoln Eastern Bypass and the Grantham Southern Relief Road reflected the additional costs for the projects due to Covid-19 and bad weather. The additional costs from Covid-19 was due to the impact of social distancing measures which needed to be put in place, for example two people would usually be required when laying kerbs but additional equipment was required to enable this work to be undertaken.

·         The refund from BT of around £1.840m for broadband was hoped for but not certain at the time the budget was set, and was therefore not included in the budget reserves. The carry forward of £1.187m from 2019/20 was due to the complexity of those properties left to connect to broadband. Due to Covid-19, the Council was in a more complex position trying to improve connectivity to hard to-reach properties as it was less appealing to commercial providers who were pulling out. The Council was waiting to hear about the £5bn of government funding for broadband and what share Lincolnshire would receive of this funding.

·         The overspends and underspends on the capital programme were significant and it was questioned how the forecasting could be made more accurate. The Board offered support to officers and the Executive for a review of how capital financing charges were reviewed on an on-going basis to provide more accurate forecasting.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.    That the Board unanimously support the recommendations to the Executive, as set out in the report;

2.    That a summary of the above comments be passed on to the Executive as part of its consideration of this item.

25.

Insurance Portfolio - Extension to Current Contract pdf icon PDF 208 KB

(To receive a report from Mandy Knowlton-Rayner, Insurance and Risk Lead, which invites the Board to consider a report on the Insurance Portfolio – Extension to Current Contract which is being presented to the Leader of the Council between 28 August 2020 and 2 September 2020. The views of the Board will be reported to the Leader as part of his consideration of this item)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report by the Insurance and Risk Lead, on the extension of insurance contracts which was due to be presented to the Leader of the Council between 28 August 2020 and 2 September 2020. The views of the Board would be reported to the Leader as part of his consideration of this item.

 

The report recommended a delay to the procurement and proposed the extension to the current insurance arrangements for no more than two years, with the tender to take place in April 2022 or April 2023, depending on the outcome of the extension offers by the current insurers. Also recommended was a corresponding extension of the broker contracts to realign to the procurement process for the tender. The insurance portfolio was due for tender in April 2021. The total current contract values amounted to £2.2m. The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 permitted such an extension.

 

The total insurance premium  spend for 2020/21 was £2,159,412 and the current insurance programme consisted of 18 different policies of insurance. The main ones related to employers and public liability, property, motor and professional indemnity.

 

The Board was informed that there were a number of factors currently affecting the insurance market which included: the capacity of insurers to underwrite risks; the number of insurers in particular markets - a reduction in the number of insurers for Public Sector risks; the premiums being charged for those risks and the policy cover being provided with additional exemptions or restrictions being advised. It was also noted that 2019 had been the fourth costliest insurance claim year in history, affecting the profitability of insurers. Lincolnshire County Council had to a large extent been protected from wholesale premium increases over the last five years. 

 

It was noted that the ability to have sustained premiums for liability insurances for five years was almost unheard of and the closest public sector comparators had experienced increases of between 10% - 30%. Covid-19 had further impacted the market.  As the full impacts of the virus were not known or yet clearly modelled for, insurers of risk were withdrawing from areas of the market and were also looking to significantly increase premiums to cover the uncertainty. An indication of expected premium increases across all lines of cover was between 15% - 35%.

 

Members of the Board asked a number of questions, when the following points were confirmed:

 

·         The extension to the broker contract was required as the Council's access to the insurance market would be severely impacted if the broker was not available to support access to the market.

·         Property insurance costs were high due to a number of fire and storm related losses over the past five years. There had been a significant loss every year for the past four years which included a fire at a county farm, an arson attack at a youth centre, and a fire at a depot in Barrowby. In addition, there was the recent storm damage caused to the windmill  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

Health and Safety Annual Report 2019-20

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report by the Health and Safety Team Leader, on the Health and Safety Annual report which covered the period between April 2019 and March 2020. The report highlighted actions undertaken to ensure statutory requirements, under health and safety legislation were met and gave a level of assurance within key areas of compliance. The final report had been published on the Council's website and was split into five sections: Key results, key achievements, employee wellbeing, supporting the business, key actions and future priorities. 

 

Members discussed the report, and during the discussion the following points were noted:

 

·         The Board welcomed the comprehensive and well laid out report and suggested that regular assurance reports would be helpful going forward. A new IT reporting system, when fully up and running, would be able to provide better comparisons year on year, as well identifying important trends and behaviours.

·         There was no significant coverage of Covid-19 in the report as it was for the period April 2019 and March 2020. Next year's report would extensively cover the impact of Covid-19.

·         A significant amount of guidance, support, risk assessments, building and regulation reviews had been undertaken as a result of Covid-19 and a reference document for managers had been produced.

·         Work was on-going to understand the impact on current staff working arrangements and also what new ways of working may look like in the future.

·         It was noted that the biggest health and safety decision the Council had ever made was to move staff to homeworking where possible in March 2020.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Board considered the report and provided feedback as detailed above.

 

 

27.

Overview and Scrutiny Management Board Work Programme pdf icon PDF 285 KB

(To receive a report which enables the Board to note the content of its work programme for the coming year)

 

Minutes:

Members were advised that this item was for information only.

 

 

 
 
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