Agenda and draft minutes

Finance & Performance Scrutiny Panel - Thursday, 5th November, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting/Remote - Please use links on the Agenda Front Sheet to join the virtual meeting

Contact: Jacqui Hurst 

Items
No. Item

1.

WELCOME AND APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Minutes:

Councillor Birsen Demirel (Chair) welcomed everyone to the meeting and invited Panel Members to introduce themselves.

 

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Ian Barnes (Deputy Leader), Councillor Yasemin Brett and Councillor Anne Brown.

2.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Members of the Scrutiny Panel are invited to identify any disclosable pecuniary, other pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests relevant to items on the agenda.

 

Minutes:

NOTED, that there were no declarations of interest in respect of any item listed on the agenda.

3.

MINUTES OF MEETING HELD ON 8 SEPTEMBER 2020 pdf icon PDF 110 KB

Members are asked to confirm the minutes of the previous Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 8 September 2020.

 

Minutes:

AGREED, that the minutes of the previous Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 8 September 2020 be confirmed as a correct record.

4.

BUDGET 2021/22 AND MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL PLAN 2021/22 TO 2025/26 pdf icon PDF 693 KB

Members will receive a presentation.

(7.10 – 7.50)

Minutes:

Councillor Birsen Demirel (Chair) invited Councillor Mary Maguire (Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement) to briefly introduce to the Panel the information provided to Members on the Budget Review 2021/22 – 2025/26 for the Panel’s consideration.

 

Councillor Maguire set the context of the budget setting process and the difficulties faced by the Council as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was further noted that had the pandemic not happened, the Council’s budget forecasts would have been accurate and achievable. Members were advised of the funding which had been received from the Government to date but that more was still required to meet the costs incurred by the Council as a result of the pandemic.

 

Councillor Maguire highlighted the detailed work currently being undertaken and the issues to be considered including the need to challenge the budget assumptions being made regarding forecast expenditure, potential loss of income, risks and, whether the proposed savings were realistic and achievable. A detailed review of savings and income generation had been considered at the October 2020 Cabinet meeting.

 

Councillor Maguire highlighted the impact of the pandemic on the Borough, in relation to local businesses, and individual residents, with a significant proportion of the working age population in the Borough having been furloughed. This would have a negative impact on the Council’s income through Council Tax and Business rates and, would also result in further expenditure through the Council Tax Support Scheme.

 

Councillor Demirel thanked Councillor Maguire for her introduction and invited Panel Members to raise any questions.

 

NOTED

 

1.            The detailed information that had been circulated to Panel Members in advance of the meeting outlining the budget review 2021/22 – 2025/26. Executive Directors were present at the meeting to answer any questions that Members had.

 

2.            Members were given an opportunity to raise questions which are summarised below together with the responses provided by the Executive Directors of Resources, Place and People:

 

3.            In relation to the current budget gap and funding requirements, Enfield’s position in comparison to other neighbouring Councils was questioned. In response it was noted that benchmarking with other London Councils was undertaken. Differences were highlighted, for example some Central London Councils were being impacted by a significant loss of car parking income; Enfield was not affected so severely by this. Other Councils had set savings targets previously for Adult Social Care provision which they could no longer meet; this was not the case in Enfield. However, Enfield had the highest number of cases in London of Council Tax Support applications, although Enfield’s scheme was not the most expensive, the number of cases arising was an additional pressure for the Borough. The Council would continue to lobby the Government for adequate funding support to meet the growing demand.

 

4.            Members questioned whether the proposed savings were realistic and deliverable. It was noted that whilst the savings were challenging, they had been fully assessed through the budget processes and only those savings felt to be possible were presented for consideration. It was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

IMPACT OF COVID 19: FINANCE AND PERFORMANCE pdf icon PDF 316 KB

Members will receive a presentation.

(7.50 – 8.30)

Minutes:

Councillor Birsen Demirel (Chair) invited Fay Hammond (Executive Director – Resources) to introduce the presentation to Members on the “Impact of Covid on Performance” as set out in the presentation slides previously circulated to the Panel.

 

Members noted that whilst there had been changes in service delivery during the pandemic the Council had remained open for business and had reacted positively and robustly; and, the increased use of technology had been significant. Changes in delivery had included increased customer contact through the telephone and website with the necessary reduction in face to face contact. The excellent work of “Enfield Stands Together” was highlighted which had provided support to vulnerable residents through the delivery of approximately 40,000 food packages, telephone calls, prescription collections and other support services. The Council had performed well and many Council officers had been redeployed to meet the new demands and had worked closely with volunteers.

 

The behaviour of Council customers had changed, and there had been an increase in online activity and web chat enquiries. The information circulated to Members in advance of the meeting set out the impact on performance and service provision.

 

Councillor Demirel took this opportunity to praise the Council’s excellent response to the pandemic and was proud of the work that had been achieved through “Enfield Stands Together”. Residents had been very appreciative of the support provided. These were challenging and unprecedented times. Councillor Demirel expressed her thanks and appreciation to all those who had been involved.

 

Members were invited to raise any questions on the information provided, as summarised in the minutes below.

 

NOTED

 

1.            Members questioned why the Public Health grant received by Enfield was lower than that received by other comparable local authorities and stressed the need for lobbying of Government to continue. In response Members were advised of the historical basis of the funding and transference from the NHS to Local Government and the complex historical basis of the funding levels received. Lobbying was continuing and the needs of the Borough were clearly evident.

 

2.            It was noted that approximately 80% of Council staff were working from home, Members questioned the impact on staff and any pressures created through the current working from home arrangements. Members asked what support was being made available for staff at this time. In response, Members were advised of the steps being taken by the Council’s management team to support staff through increased communication and seeking to ensure that they had the required resources available to them. It was further noted that the level of staff sickness due to stress had reduced which may be as a result of a better work/life balance for staff.

 

3.            The impact on staff was discussed and the mental pressures on individuals during the pandemic was recognised including the loss of interpersonal connections with others in the normal working environment. The impact on younger members of staff living in shared accommodation was noted. There were approximately 20% of staff working in Council buildings at any one time.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

QUARTERLY MONITORING REPORTS pdf icon PDF 61 KB

The Panel’s terms of reference include the consideration of the quarterly monitoring reports provided by the Council, which are considered by Cabinet and circulated to all Members. Since the previous meeting of the Panel in September, the following quarterly reports have been received by the Cabinet and are attached to this agenda for ease of reference and for consideration/noting as appropriate:

 

Revenue Monitoring 2020/21: Quarter 1 (June 2020) – Cabinet – 16 September 2020 (KD 5198)

Capital Programme Monitoring First Quarter (June 2020) – Cabinet – 16 September 2020 (KD 5199)

Quarterly Corporate Performance Report – Cabinet – 14 October 2020 (Non key)

 

The Panel may wish to raise any particular issues arising from the reports on which they require further explanation/information at a future meeting, as appropriate.

(8.30 – 8.50)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Birsen Demirel (Chair) reminded Members that the Panel’s terms of reference included the consideration of the quarterly monitoring reports provided by the Council, which were considered by Cabinet.

 

NOTED

 

1.         That since the previous meeting of the Panel in September, the following quarterly monitoring reports had been received by the Cabinet:

 

·         Revenue Monitoring 2020/21: Quarter 1 (June 2020) – Cabinet – 16 September 2020 (KD 5198)

·         Capital Programme Monitoring First Quarter (June 2020) – Cabinet – 16 September 2020 (KD 5199)

·         Quarterly Corporate Performance Report – Cabinet – 14 October 2020 (Non key)

 

2.         That Members had no questions to raise in response to the reports provided and noted the information that had been presented and agreed by Cabinet.

7.

WORK PROGRAMME 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 164 KB

To note the Panel’s agreed work programme for 2020/21.

Minutes:

NOTED, for information, the Panel’s agreed work programme for 2020/21.

8.

DATES OF FUTURE MEETINGS

To note the dates of future scheduled Panel meetings as follows:

 

Wednesday 6 January 2021 – 7.00pm

Thursday 11 March 2021 – 7.00pm

 

Minutes:

NOTED, the dates of future scheduled Panel meetings as follows:

 

Wednesday 6 January 2021 – 7.00pm

Thursday 11 March 2021 – 7.00pm