Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 14th February, 2019 7.30 pm

Venue: New Council Chamber - Town Hall, Reigate. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services (01737 276182)  Email: Democratic@reigate-banstead.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

54.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 91 KB

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the previous meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 17 January 2019 be approved as a correct record.

55.

Apologies for absence and substitutions

To receive any apologies for absence and notification of any substitute Members in accordance with the Constitution.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Committee Members: Councillors D.T. Powell, J.M Stephenson (substituted for by Cllr J.M. Ellacott), A.F. Tarrant, and J.F. White.

 

Others: None.

 

56.

Declarations of interest

To receive any Declarations of Interest (including the existence and nature of any Party Whip).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

57.

Portfolio Holder Briefing

To receive a briefing from Councillor Knight, Executive Member for Housing & Benefits, and to consider any issues that arise.

 

To consider any Advance Questions submitted.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation from Councillor G.J. Knight, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Housing & Benefits, on the Housing & Benefits portfolio, including the work of Housing Services, the Intervention Team, and Revenues, Benefits & Fraud services.

 

The information on Housing Services included an overview of the service’s work to address homeless in the borough, with regard to the expanded requirements of the Homeless Reduction Act 2017.  This made reference to levels of demand and supply, a new emergency accommodation unit opened by the Council in September 2018, challenges facing the service, including the demands of universal credit, work with registered housing providers, including Raven Housing Trust, and future objectives and the developing Housing Strategy.

 

The information on the Intervention Team included an overview of the team’s work to support vulnerable residents across four services: Family Support, Refugee Resettlement, Universal Credit, and Money Support. This made reference to activity levels in these areas, and the objectives and outcomes of the services.

 

The information on Revenues, Benefits & Fraud services included an overview of the service’s work to collect Council Tax and Business Rates, support households though Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support, protect the public purse though fraud and financial investigations, and the provision of services to other councils, housing providers and private companies, thereby generating income for the Council. This made reference to activity levels and performance, and to the potential for future expansion to the service’s commercial activities.

 

The Committee considered and discussed the presentation. There were a number of questions and comments relating to the following topics:

 

·               Housing Services demand levels and support requirements. It was queried if the additional demands resulting from the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA), along with the effects of the roll out of Universal Credit, had led to an increased requirement for officers. It was confirmed that this was the case, with an increase from 15 to 19 officers, the 4 new fixed term contracts currently funded by central government funding to support the implementation of the HRA, with options for permanent funding being considered.

·               Additional emergency accommodation sites. It was queried if consideration was being given to the council establishing additional emergency accommodation sites in the borough, as the site in Horley appeared be operating well. It was suggested that a site in a more central or northern location in the borough would be beneficial for those with local connection to these areas and requiring emergency accommodation. It was identified that there were no current plans for additional sites, but that options would be kept under review.

·               Housing Register waiting times. It was identified that average waiting times for housing register properties varied in line with the size of the property required and specialist requirements, and were estimate to be as follows in cases with no special requirements:

o   1 Bedroom – 1 Year

o   2 Bedrooms – 2.5 Years

o   3 Bedrooms – 3.5 Years

o   4(+) Bedrooms – Over 3.5 Years

It was identified that these times reflected the limited availability of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.

58.

Commercial Governance Review pdf icon PDF 150 KB

To consider the report on the Commercial Governance Review, as conducted by the Commercial Governance Review Member Task Group, to be considered by the Executive on 18 March 2019, and to make any comments for consideration by the Executive.

 

To consider any Advance Questions submitted.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report on the Commercial Governance review, as conducted by the Commercial Governance Review Member Task Group, to be considered by the Executive on 18 March 2019.

 

Councillor Ellacott, chair of the task group, introduced the report and outlined the approach and key aspects of the review. It was noted that the review had sought to be forward facing and to identify lessons learned for the future. It was identified that the task group had undertaken a thorough review of previous commercial activities, including consultation with relevant Members and officers, and with advice from an independent consultant. It was identified that all Members had been updated during the course of the review, and thanks were offered to all those who had contributed to the process.

 

Attention was drawn to the proposed commercial governance framework, which the task group had recommended form the basis for future consideration of potential commercial activities, and questions and comments from the Committee were invited.

 

There were a number of questions and comments relating to the following topics:

 

·         Internal Audit review of the draft Framework. It was confirmed that the internal audit review of the draft Framework was in progress and was expected to be completed in time for any information arising to be considered by the Executive on 18 March.

·         Live risks. It was confirmed that the panel was satisfied that appropriate actions were in place in response to any ongoing risks for existing commercial ventures identified as part of the review process.

·         Pathway for Care business case. It was identified that the finding that the business case for the Pathway for Care company initially established was considered to have been insufficient to persuade a commercial bank to lend funds was made on the basis that the business case would have been expected to provide additional detail in order to do so. It was identified that the requirement for sufficient detail in this area formed part of the proposed future rules for establishment of commercial ventures.

·         Due diligence. It was confirmed that the previous commercial activities of all key parties involved with the Path had been considered as part of the due diligence process, and that the panel had considered this information as part of their review.

·         Non-Executive Directors. It was confirmed that the panel supported the use of non-executive directors to Council commercial ventures, and that the framework identified that this should be considered in future on a comply-or-explain basis. It was recommended that the wording in the framework on this topic, particularly point 6.(viii) should be clarified to make clear that appointment of non-executive directors should be considered as part of the establishment of commercial ventures, as part of the associated Executive report, rather than at a later date.

·         Governance and the role of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee. A number of comments were made regarding the role of the Committee in future governance, and associated matters. Attention was drawn to the importance of ensuring that meetings providing important  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.

59.

Draft Treasury Management Strategy 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 136 KB

To consider the draft Treasury Management Strategy 2019/20 that was agreed by the Executive on 24 January 2019 for consultation with the Committee.

 

To consider any Advance Questions submitted.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the draft Treasury Management Strategy published by the Executive on 24 January 2019. A briefing note providing a summary of key changes in the Draft Treasury Management Strategy Statement (TMSS) was tabled.

 

Councillor Schofield, Executive Member for Finance, introduced the report, and it was identified that the main changes were to ensure compliance with updated regulatory requirements and that the TMSS would thus be compliant with these requirements. It was identified that the updated TMSS was now presented as a single report covering all relevant sections, which had previously been separated into three reports.

 

It was identified that the TMSS had been discussed and reviewed by the Treasury Management Panel and that the panel was content with the proposed strategy. It was identified that the strategy would support the Council’s forthcoming Capital Investment Strategy and general investment approach, which would in turn support the delivery of the Council’s objectives. It was identified that the Council’s draft outline Capital Investment Strategy would be scrutinised by the Committee on 14 March 2019.

 

Attention was drawn to the benefits of the provision of summary of key points when technical matters were being considered by Committees, and it was suggested that this approach be considered for other future technical reports.

 

The Committee considered and discussed the report. There was one question on the report, relating to the following topic:

 

·         Remuneration of fund managers. It was confirmed that external fund managers (where used) would be paid on a fixed fee basis.

 

RESOLVED that the draft Treasury Management Strategy 2019/20 be noted.

 

60.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 206 KB

To consider the proposed Work Programme for the Committee for 2019/20 and to forward the Programme and any comments to the Executive for recommendation to Council.

 

To consider any Advance Questions submitted.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the proposed work programme for the Committee for 2019/20. It was identified that the proposed work programme had been discussed by the Chair of the Committee, the Leader of the Council, and the Chief Executive, and that they were all content with the proposed programme.

 

It was identified that the work programme contained scope for the inclusion of additional activity in response to outcomes emerging from reviews of the Council’s governance arrangements and developing strategies. It was identified that it was expected that part of this emerging work would be a review of the proposed Commercial Governance Framework approximately 12 months following its adoption.

 

Attention was drawn to the potential benefits of having an expert panel able to consider specialist and technical matters and then report back to the Committee, and it was suggested that the establishment of such panels be considered for any appropriate emerging areas of work.

 

RESOLVED that the proposed Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme for 2019/20 be recommended to the Executive and Council.

 

61.

Executive

To consider any items arising from the Executive which might be subject to the ‘call-in’ procedure in accordance with the provisions of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules set out in the Constitution.

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Minutes:

It was reported that there were no items arising from the Executive that might be subject to the ‘call-in’ procedure in accordance with the provisions of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules.

62.

Any other urgent business

To consider any item(s) which, in the opinion of the Chairman, should be considered as a matter of urgency - Local Government Act 1972, Section 100B(4)(b).

 

(NOTE: Under the Committee and Sub-Committee Procedure Rules set out in the Constitution, items of urgent business must be submitted in writing but may be supplemented by an oral report.)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

None.