Agenda and minutes

Our Council Scrutiny Panel
Wednesday, 2nd December, 2015 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 3 - 3rd Floor - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Earl Piggott-Smith  Tel: 01902 551251 or Email: earl.piggott-smith@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies were received from the following member(s) of the panel:

 

Cllr Jasbir Jaspal

Cllr Jacqueline Sweetman

Cllr Wendy Thompson

 

2.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Minutes of previous meeting (7.10.15) pdf icon PDF 77 KB

[To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record]

Minutes:

That the minutes of the meeting held on 7 October be approved as a

correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

4.

Matters arising

[To consider any matters arising from the minutes]

Minutes:

Minute 6 - Future Money – Income Generation (Savings Proposals)resources

 

The panel were advised that a briefing paper was sent to members. A more detailed report on the performance of Agresso payment system will be presented to the panel on 3.2.16.

 

5.

Budget Review - Draft Budget 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 291 KB

[Mark Taylor, Assistant Director Finance, and Claire Nye, Head of Finance, to present 2016/2017 Draft Budget Strategy and Medium Term Financial Strategy report]

 

Minutes:

 

Cllr Potter invited Claire Nye, Chief Accountant, to present the report to panel. The Chief Accountant gave a brief introduction to the report and explained that members of the panel were invited to provide feedback on the savings proposals. The comments would be presented in a report to Scrutiny Board for their consideration.

 

Cllr Andrew Johnson, Cabinet Member for Resources, gave a brief introduction to the report and invited panel members to comment on the proposals summarised in Appendix A, B and C. The panel comments on the proposals were as follows:

 

Customer Services Transformation – accelerate existing savings

 

The panel asked for an explanation of the “lift and shift” methodology. Cabinet Member for Resources explained that the term refers to the process of bringing in backroom function services to a central location and over a period of time making changes to make them efficient and responsive to customer needs. Sue Handy, Head of Customer Services, gave examples of services where changes had been made to make them more efficient by removing unnecessary stages in the process.  This process has led to a reduction in the resources needed and lower administrative costs to the Council.

 

Review of council tax scheme and discounts

 

Cabinet Member for Resources explained that the changes are to confirm eligibility and reduce the level of fraud. The process will involve introducing new procedures and the sharing of intelligence. The end of the discretionary council tax discount for the first 21 days will have implications for Wolverhampton Homes and other housing providers in terms of the management of voids. There will be exemptions to the policy if the property needs major work done to meet the necessary standard.

 

The panel queried the reason for not introducing the policy change earlier.

Cabinet Member for Resources explained that there had been discussions three years ago to consider this issue. However, at the time there was a consensus that 21 days was a reasonable time period to grant a discount given for an empty property.

 

The panel queried if the policy change applies to charities or voluntary sector bodies owing property. Cabinet Member for Resources explained that charities pay business rates and are not affected by the proposed changes and would receive either a discount between of 80% to 100% depending on circumstances on their business rates.

 

Review of ICT requirements

 

No comments

 

 

Efficiencies within Financial Services

 

No panel comments

 

Revised approach to Procurement

 

No panel comments

 

Review residual fraud resource (within Internal Audit)

 

Cabinet Member for Resources outlined the change. The proposal has been discussed with the Head of Audit and the Chair of Audit Committee. No panel comments

 

Charges for late payment of invoices

 

Cabinet Member for Resources outlined the change.  The panel commented that this should have introduced earlier. Cabinet Member for Resources explained that there is an administrative cost involved in chasing late payment of invoices which would have affected the amount of any potential savings. Further the previous finance systems would not have been able  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Terms of Reference and Nominations for Specific Reserves Working Group pdf icon PDF 171 KB

[Claire Nye,Chief Accountant, to present report to establish the terms of reference for a working group to review the Council’s specific reserves and to agree the membership of the working group.]

Minutes:

The panel accepted the recommendation to set up a specific reserves working group. The Chair made the following nominations

 

Cllr Potter

Cllr Bolshaw

Cllr Mary Bateman

Cllr Thompson

 

Resolved:

 

A specific reserves working group to be set up . Scrutiny Officer to agree a date for a meeting in January 2016 and contact nominees to advise them.