Venue: To Be Confirmed
Contact: Julia Cleary Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies for absence
There were no apologies for absence.
Declarations of interest
There were no declarations of interest.
[To approve the minutes of the previous meetings as correct records.]
a) That the minutes of the meeting held on 29 September 2020 be agreed as a correct record.
b) That the minutes of the meeting held on 6 October be agreed as a correct record.
There were no matters arising.
[Alison Shannon, Chief Accountant to present report.]
[Report will be sent to follow.]
The Chair welcomed Cllr Louise Miles, Cabinet Member for Resources and Alison Shannon, Chief Accountant to the meeting. Cllr Miles introduced the Draft Budget and Medium-Term Financial Strategy Report for 2021-2022 to 2023-2024. It was confirmed that the draft report had already been considered by the other scrutiny panels and comments from the panels were included with the paperwork.
Section two of the report provided an overview of the Council’s financial position and showed that the Council had set a balanced budget for 2020-2021 without the use of general reserves and was reported to Council in March. However, it was projected that the Council would be faced with finding further estimated budget reductions totalling £15.5 million in 2021-2022 rising to around £20 million over the medium term to 2023-2024.
It was important to note that the budget was prepared prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time of reporting to Council, the full impact of Covid-19 was not known and the impact on both the finances and operating environment could not have been foreseen. The Covid-19 pandemic had a significant international, national and regional impact, and would continue to have, significant financial implications for the Council.
Work had been ongoing across the Council to review corporate resources assumptions, growth and inflation assumptions and income generation opportunities in line with the Five-Year Financial Strategy to support the budget strategy for 2021-2022 and future years, whilst also detailing the emerging pressures that the Council currently faced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the 11 November an update was provided to Cabinet on the financial strategy, progress against the deficit and how the Council had responded to the pandemic including the projected financial implications of the pandemic against the one-off grants that had been awarded to the Council. However, following announcements made by Government it has been assumed that sufficient grant funding would be provided to cover the cost pressures arising as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Taking this into account, the 2021-2022 projected budget deficit stood at £4.5 million rising to £19.6 million over the medium term. In the event that the Government did not provide sufficient grant funding to meet the cost pressures arising as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021-2022 projected budget deficit would be in the region of £23.2 million rising to £40 million over the medium term. This would have a significant impact on the Council and result in the Council undertaking a fundamental review of all services in order to identify budget reductions sufficient enough to set a balanced budget.
The Chair thanked the Chief Accountant and the Cabinet Member for the report.
The Board considered that this was a difficult situation and hoped that the Government would be able to cover the costs associated with the pandemic.
The Board requested information in relation to the current rate of Council tax and business rate collection and any impact that this may have on the Council’s current assumptions. It was stated that these could ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
[Sarah Campbell, Customer Engagement Manager to present report.]
The Customer Engagement Manager provided an overview of the quarter one social care, public health and corporate complaints report for the following areas:
Adults and Public Health
In relation to children’s complaints the Council had received 8 stage one children’s services complaints which was a decrease of 18 cases in comparison to quarter one in 2019/20 and was outlined in Appendix 1.
There were no stage two or three complaints received and out of the 10 complaints closed and resolved during this period, no cases were upheld (at fault), 7 cases were partially upheld (partially at fault) and 3 cases were not upheld (not at fault).
In relation to adult’s and public health Complaints, the Council had received 12 stage one adult services complaints which represented a decrease of 8 cases in comparison to quarter one in 2019/20 and was outlined in Appendix 1.
The Council had received no public health complaints. Out of the 5 cases closed and resolved during this period no cases were upheld, 2 cases were partially upheld and 3 cases were not upheld.
In relation to corporate stage one complaints, the Council had received 74 stage one corporate complaints which represented an increase of 19 cases in comparison to 2019/20, details of which were outlined in Appendix 2. Out of the 74 cases received, 22 were upheld (at fault). The highest figure of 54 complaints referred to Waste Management where out of 54 received, 20 complaints were upheld which was in comparison to 15 stage one complaints received during quarter one 2019/20. Waste management complaints and service requests increased during this period.
The Complaints Team had worked closely with the Waste Management Team to ensure responses were issued in a timely manner and that appropriate remedies were put in place to achieve the best outcomes for customers. It was noted that Covid 19 pandemic restrictions and revised working procedures had impacted on service delivery during this period.
In relation to stage two complaints, if a customer remained dissatisfied they could escalate to stage two of the complaints procedure. In this period the council received 5 stage two cases and out of these, two cases were upheld (at fault) and three cases were not upheld (not at fault).
The council had received two Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) enquiries; one case for Children’s Services and one case for Regeneration, the outcomes were as follows:
• Children’s complaint - outcome, not upheld, no maladministration.
• Regeneration complaint – outcome awaiting final report.
The council had also received three enquiries from the Housing Ombudsman (HO) for Wolverhampton Homes and one assessment enquiry from the LGSCO and two assessment enquiries from HO.
The Board considered the impact that the pandemic had on the complaints procedure. It was noted that customers were notified that the Council was focusing its attention on addressing the challenges of the pandemic and that confirmation had been given that the Council may not be able to meet the corporate complaint deadline ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
[To consider the Board’s work programme for future meetings.]
The Scrutiny and Systems Manager provided an update on the Scrutiny Work Programme.
The Scrutiny Chairs and Scrutiny Officers provided updates on the work that had been carried out by the panels they covered and upcoming items for consideration.
A Board member provided comments in relation to types and rates of crime in his ward and across the City and stated that it was vital to scrutinise areas around crime and disorder in the right way.
A Board member requested that levels of educational achievement be added to the list of possible items for the Children, Young People and Families Scrutiny Panel.
It was also requested that consideration be given to scrutinising strategic partners of the Council.
Resolved: That the Work Programme be agreed.