Contact: Elaine Huckell
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WELCOME & APOLOGIES
1. The Chair, Councillor Erbil welcomed all attendees to the first OSC virtual meeting which was also being broadcast live online. Committee members confirmed their presence and that they were able to see and hear the proceedings.
2. Apologies for absence had been received from Councillor Lappage. Councillor Taylor was substituting for Councillor Lappage.
3. Apologies for slight lateness were received from Councillor Taylor. This was due to IT difficulties as his Council iPad did not support Microsoft Team meetings and unfortunately, he had not been provided with a Council laptop to enable him to access online meetings. Fay Hammond confirmed that all Councillors who were members of the Committee had been contacted by the IT Department in advance to arrange the necessary IT support, but because Councillor Taylor was substituting at the meeting and this had not been announced in advance, IT support had not been arranged. Officers confirmed that IT issues would be resolved to ensure access to future meetings.
4. Council Officers involved in the meeting introduced themselves.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Members of the Council are invited to identify any disclosable pecuniary, other pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests relevant to the items on the agenda.
There were no declarations of interest.
To receive a report from the Executive Director – Resources.
Councillor Mary Maguire (Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement) introduced the report of the Executive Director – Resources (No.249) outlining the initial assessment of the financial impact of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic across both the General Fund and the Housing Revenue Account (HRA). Further information was also provided by Fay Hammond, Acting Executive Director Resources.
1. That these were unprecedented and sombre times with many lives having been lost daily. It must be recognised that the Covid-19 pandemic was not only having a significant financial impact but a significant human cost as well. The Council’s response had been immediate and comprehensive providing all the support required to the Borough’s residents and to protect and help the most vulnerable. The response had been excellent from both Councillors and Officers. Local businesses had been supportive and generous donations received in seeking to support those in need.
2. That this report provided an initial assessment of the financial impact of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic across both the General Fund and the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and considered three areas: additional expenditure incurred; loss of income; and, the impact on 2020/21 savings. Prior to this crisis, in February 2020, the Council had agreed a balanced budget, as detailed in the report. As a direct result of the Covid-19 crisis the Council was forecasting financial pressures of £68.086m.
3. That there were uncertainties at this stage and some major financial consequences would take some time to filter through, as detailed in the report.
4. That as an initial measure the Council had set aside £3m of its reserves to create a Covid-19 Fund. At this time the total funding received from the Government had been £17.9m. The Government had assured local government that funding would be forthcoming to meet the challenge of Covid-19; the Council would continue to seek further Government funding, alongside other local authorities, to meet the additional costs incurred; currently predicted at £68.086m, as detailed in the report.
5. That the work that had been undertaken in previous years to set a balanced budget had ensured that the Council’s finances had been in a sustainable position. Rigorous processes had been undertaken and difficult decisions taken to achieve a strong, resilient and sustainable budget. This resulted in a good financial foundation, but all that work was now at risk due to the costs of dealing with Covid-19.
6. The huge financial pressures that had now arisen. A number of the most significant cost implications were highlighted including: Adult Social Care pressures and support; the implications and support for the Borough’s care homes – both the staff and residents; the impact and cost of additional support to children and families social care; support of the Borough’s homeless; and, the setting up of the Council’s community support hub. In addition, the impact of the loss of projected income was significant including: parking fees; tax collection rates; business rates.
7. That the appendices to the report set out the financial pressures for each ... view the full minutes text for item 574.
DATES OF FUTURE MEETINGS
NOTED the dates of future meetings and agenda items to be discussed as follows:
Thursday 28 May 2020
· Call-In – Sourcing of the Road Gully Cleaning Services
· Update on Community Resilience Work Undertaken During Covid-19
Thursday 4 June 2020
· The Re-Opening of Primary Schools in Enfield
Thursday 2 July 2020
· Update from Public Health on Covid-19
Thursday 30 July 2020
· Agenda items to be confirmed.
It was agreed that all future virtual Overview & Scrutiny meetings will commence at 6:00pm.
Members made the following comments:
(i) Councillor Aramaz felt that presentations for future OSC virtual meetings should be limited to 10 minutes to allow Members adequate time to scrutinise the reports discussed. He said it was important to adapt to this new ‘normal’ to ensure that every decision the Council makes is scrutinised properly and effectively. He also sought assurances that other Committees were intending to hold regular meetings in order to uphold democracy and accountability.
Councillor Georgiou referred to earlier discussions
and felt that it was important that the workstream on Meridian
Water should go ahead so that scrutiny on this project could
continue. He asked that a date for this be agreed as soon as
possible to look at the issue of
(iii) Councillor Smith agreed that the Meridian Water workstream should go ahead but also felt that there should be a timescale for all other major panels including Health Scrutiny and Crime Scrutiny. He also asked for an update at a future OSC meeting on the Food Distribution Hub that had been set up in the Borough to ensure vulnerable people had access to food and other essential goods during the Coronavirus outbreak.
(iv) Councillor Georgiou suggested Members should plan how to re-open some of the workstreams and other panels and have discussions with officers about how to take this forward.
(v) The Chair, Councillor Erbil noted the above comments and advised that with regards to the re-starting of workstreams it was important to look at officer resources to see if this could be achieved as many Council staff had been moved to other key areas to deal with the Covid-19 situation. In view of this the Chair felt it might be necessary to prioritise the importance of each workstream as to when they should re-start.
(vi) Councillor Georgiou felt that it was up to the Overview & Scrutiny Members to decide when and what workstreams re-start as OSC should decide what it scrutinises.
(vii) Councillor Taylor stated that if it is dependent on officer resources then there needed to be a demonstrative reason if workstreams did not continue. He felt that if Members are available and willing as well as officers being available then the workstreams should go ahead.
(viii) Claire Johnson, Head of Governance & Scrutiny agreed to refer this matter to the Monitoring Officer for further clarification and update Members at the next meeting of OSC.
Action: Claire Johnson, Head ... view the full minutes text for item 575.