Agenda and minutes

Our Council Scrutiny Panel
Wednesday, 11th January, 2017 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 4 - 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 members of the panel:

 

Cllr Payal Bedi-Chadha

2.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest recorded.

 

3.

Minutes of previous meeting (16 November 2016) pdf icon PDF 85 KB

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

Minutes:

Corrections

 

Matters arising

 

The panel agreed to the following amendment to the second paragraph

 

“Cllr Wynne commented that the meeting was very constructive and the information provided gave a snapshot view of the local economy.”

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 16 November 2016, subject to the agreed change, 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: Draft Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2017/18 - 2019/20

 

School Admission Appeal Fees

 

The panel discussed the item and requested that a report on the proposal, if approved by Council on 1 March 2017, to increase the level of fees to schools for providing an education appeals service is presented to the meeting on 15 March 2016. 

 

The panel expressed concern that schools may choose to either buy the service from another provider or undertake the work themselves. The panel would also like the report on the demand for school places, the increase in the number of appeals, the work being done to manage the situation and respond to concern of parents about getting their first choice of school.The report to be presented to the panel meeting on 15 March 2017. 

 

The panel expressed concern that a report on employee equalities monitoring that was requested at the last meeting was not on the agenda for discussion. The panel agreed that a report with the information be presented at the meeting on 15 March 2017.

 

The panel also requested a report on policy and practice concerning the completion of the equalities implications statements in cover reports is presented to Councillors for discussion.

 

 


5.

Wolverhampton City-Wide Financial Strategy pdf icon PDF 88 KB

[Mark Taylor, Director of Finance, to present report]

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mark Taylor, Director of Finance, presented the report and gave an outline on the background to the work done during Phase 1 and the plans for Phase 2 to develop a City Wide Financial Strategy.

 

The Director of Finance commented that the total public sector budget deficit for the City of Wolverhampton is estimated to be £417 million and that of the seven MET’s,  only Solihull Council had an estimated public sector budget surplus.

 

The Director of Finance gave further details of the work done during Phase 1 and explained that the aim is to align the findings to existing strategies, for example The City Strategy, and to put a plan into action to create new jobs. The panel suggested that it might be useful for a joint meeting to be held with members of the Vibrant and Sustainable City Scrutiny Panel to consider the report findings.

 

The panel queried the implications of the budget deficit figure of £1.8 billion for Birmingham and what impact, if any, it would have on efforts to regenerate the regional economy. The Director of Finance responded that the estimated deficit is a reflection of the reliance of Birmingham on the receiving central grant funding from the state. The Director of Finance added that the budget position of Birmingham would not have a direct impact on the economy of Wolverhampton. However, the situation will affect the ability of Birmingham to create jobs and respond to challenges of delivering services with reduced levels of Government funding.

 

The panel discussed the methodology used to calculate the estimates detailed for total public sector deficits across the region and queried its reliability. There was concern expressed that the information detailed in the report could be used to justify further reductions in the level of public sector spending and sought some reassurance.

 

The Director of Finance explained that the analysis work was done by Black Country Economic Unit, using the United Nations Classification of the Functions of Government, an established methodology. In addition, the model replicates the Centre for Cities model used to establish where tax is raised and spent.

 

The Director of Finance referred the panel to Appendix 2 of the report which gives more details about the analysis and sources of further information about the breakdown of public sector expenditure. The Director of Finance accepted that while the figures quoted are based on estimates, the approach is based on tried and trusted approaches to calculating income and expenditure at regional and national levels. This approach ensures that the results can be compared to anywhere else that uses this methodology.

 

There was concern that while the information was useful in future planning it important to remember that Wolverhampton is in a deprived region which is reliant on central government grant funding to deliver services.

 

The panel commented on the key overarching goals for inclusive growth as detailed in the City Strategy document.

 

A comment was made that the goal of reducing levels of child poverty should be the overall  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.