Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Warspite Room, Council House

Contact: Democratic Advisor  Email: democraticsupport@plymouth.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Appointment of Vice Chair

Minutes:

The Committee agreed that Councillor Pauline Murphy would be Vice Chair for the meeting.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Members will be asked to make any declarations of interest in respect of items on this agenda.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

3.

Chairs Urgent Business

To receive reports on business, which in the opinion of the Chair, should be brought forward for urgent consideration.

Minutes:

There were no items of Chair’s urgent business.

4.

Session One - Welcome and Overview

Minutes:

Also in attendance: Councillor Evans OBE, Councillor Laing, David Draffan (Service Director for Economic Development), Ross Jago (Head of Governance, Performance and Risk), Tracey Lee (Chief Executive), David Northey (Interim Service Director for Finance) and Anthony Payne (Strategic Director for Place).

 

Councillor Evans OBE (Leader of the Council) provided an overview to the process and the conditions under which the budget was set: 

 

a)   The national economy was inflicted with elevated levels of inflation and the associated uplift in the minimum wage wasaffecting the levels of spending on the council budget; 
 

b)   Increases in costs to Adult Social Care and Childrens Social Care, including SEND costs and the increase in cost of transport for these individuals; 
 

c)   As many as one in five councils were on the cusp of bankruptcy; 
 

d)   As a top tier unitary authority with more than 300 services to operate, certain choices would need to be made to between the funding of certain services; 
 

e)   There were strategies and funding in place for various projects, such as the Freeport, Levelling up bid, National MarinePark and shore power.  

 

In response to questions, the following was discussed:

 

f)     The aspirations and rationale of the budget;

g)    The outlook and impact of increased funding in Children’s Services; 

h)    The impact of the minimum wage increase, pensions and Revenue Support Grant funding;

i)     Support for small schemes of money such as community grants and living streets funds;

j)     The 2% precept uplift for council tax;

k)    The potential savings from the instigation of annual elections;

l)     Workforce Productivity, flexible working and building occupancy;

m)  Risk Management and review of risk management processes;

n)    The Council Tax collection rate;

o)    Accessibility to services, equality and stakeholder engagement and consultation;

p)    Economic development, growth,investments and the quality of, social values of and return on said investments;

q)    The capital programme and the needs and allocated budget and the moving of revenue to capital;

r)    The localness and social values of spending, investment and procurement;

s)     Staff sickness absence, well-being and the use of contractors/temps.  

 

 

5.

Session Two - Health and Social Care

Minutes:

Also in attendance: Councillor Aspinall, Councillor Lowry, Emma Crowther (Interim Head of Commissioning), Julie Frier (Consultant in Public Health Medicine), (Ross Jago (Head of Governance, Performance and Risk), David Northey (Interim Service Director for Finance) and Helen Slater (Lead Accountancy Manager).

 

Councillor Aspinall gave an overview of the Health and Adult Social Care (H&ASC) budget and discussed: 

 

a)    The 2023/24 Adult Social Care (ASC) budget was £88.859m including £107m for care packages. Budgets were offset by client income and grant funding; 

 

b)    The budget had supported 4,713 people in residential and nursing homes, community settings, and through direct payments; 

 

c)    ASC currently supported 3,620 individuals.Demand for support had approximately returned to pre-pandemic levels however, increased complexity of need and the ‘cost of living crisishad resulted in considerable cost pressures; 

 

d)    Compared to the previous year, average weekly costs of residential care had risen 8.9%, nursing care had risen 18.6%, and domiciliary care packages had risen 10.7%; 

 

e)    The 2024/25 draft budget for ASC was £97 MM, which included a growth of £7.99 MM to reflect inflationary and demand pressures.  

 

f)     £3.448MM had been added to the budget to cover the rise in the National Minimum Wage however, confirmed figures of 11.44 /hr would require an additional £1.99 MM; 

 

g)    The Local Government Settlement was due on 19 December 2023 however, Government would not be providing financial resources to cover the increase in the National Minimum Wage; 

 

h)    Packages of care were tailor-made to individual’s needs, and were subject to review;  

 

In response to questions, the Committee discussed: 

 

i)     The Local Authorities responsibility for ensuring ASC needs were met; 

 

j)     The impact of inflation and the cost of living on providers in the care market; 

 

k)    Close partnership between the PCC commissioning team and care providers to ensure quality and continuity of care; 

 

l)     The establishment of ‘Caring Plymouth’ to encourage and support people into caring roles;

 

m)  The Governments’ new restrictions on immigration could negatively affect the sector, particularly as many workers could not bring their families; 

 

n)    Positive discharge performance for Devon, Cornwall and Plymouth; 

 

o)    An estimated 6% rise for care fees and charges for those who were financially assessed as required to contribute toward their care; 

 

p)    The Government’s withdrawal of previous commitments to the development of the Colin Campbell Court, West End Hub; 

 

q)    The development of a Community Diagnostic Centre on the land at Colin Campbell Court; 

 

r)    Ongoing communications between PCC and NHS Devon ICB to improve the health outcomes of the city. ICB funding was frozen until 2025; 

 

s)     The impact of early intervention and treatment, both for long term wellbeing, and financial efficiency; 

 

t)     A Strategic Needs Assessment had been undertaken to assess the long term future needs of the city; 

 

u)    The recovery of waiting  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Session Three - Children and Young People

Minutes:

Also in attendance: Councillor Cresswell and Councillor Laing, Nigel Denning (Interim Service Director for Children, Young People and Families), Matt Fulton (Lead Accountancy Manager for Children, Young People and Families), Annie Gammon (Interim Service Director for Education, Participation  and Skills), David Haley (Director of Children’s Services), Ross Jago (Head of Governance, Performance and Risk), and Louise Jenkins (Lead Accountancy Manager for Education, Participation and Skills). 

 

Councillor Cresswell (Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Apprenticeships) gave an overview of education and highlighted: 

 

a)    There was a budget uplift of £1.37 million for expected cost and volume pressures in Home to School Transport (£1 million) and SEND short breaks (£0.37 million);  

 

b)    There was an overspend of £1.889 million due to an increase in the number of children meeting statutory thresholds at increasing costs related to home to school transport;  

 

c)    The number of children with an Educational Health Care Plan increased by 36%; 

 

d)    Additional funding of £2.42 million would be required in 2024/25 budget due to additional pressures within home to school transport; 

 

e)    The service would be looking to ensure children’s needs were being met in a school or specialist provision closer to home;  

 

f)     The Service was delivering the Local Area SEND action plan following a local area inspection in 2023 which would improve inclusion and school attendance and reduce mobility and exclusions;  

 

g)    All other budget pressures were predicted to be balanced for 2023/24;  

 

h)    Long term actions were being planned to control costs in 2024/25 and into the future;  

 

i)     The Council would look to maintain children and young people in their local schools rather than specialist provision;  

 

j)     The Council would increase the number of special schools and places in Plymouth to meet the increased demand into the future;  

 

k)    The Council was evaluating route optimisation for Home to School Transport and reduce single use taxi routes;  

 

Councillor Laing (Cabinet Member for Children’s social care, Culture, Events and Communications) gave an overview of Children’s and highlighted: 

 

l)     Financial pressures for Children’s Social Care were due to high cost residential placements and the use of Independent Fostering Agencies;  

 

m)  Additional investment was provided to Children’s Social Care to manage capacity within the services;  

 

n)    Additional budget was proposed to provide additional capacity for the predicted number of families requiring a service from the Council;  

 

o)    A recruitment and retention package would be formulated to entice potential foster carers to the Council;  

 

p)    The Council was exploring new ways to help children and young people to live with their families under connected carer arrangements.  

 

In response to questions, the following was discussed: 

 

q)    Good planning of special educational needs provision and lower transport costs;  

 

r)    The Council would look to provide as many placements as possible in mainstream schools;  

 

s)     The Council would be driving early intervention in both services to reduce the number of EHCP applications and to reduce the number of high cost placements for cared for children and young people;  

 

t)     Partnerships  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Session Four - Homelessness / Cost of Living

Minutes:

Also in attendance: Councillor Dann, Councillor Penberthy, Ross Jago (Head of Governance, Performance and Risk), Jackie Kings (Community Connections Strategic Manager), Giles Perritt (Assistant Chief Executive), Rachel Silcock (Community Empowerment & Operational Lead), Helen Slater (Lead Accountancy Manager), Chris Squire (Service Director for HROD), Gary Walbridge (Interim Strategic Director for People). 

 

Councillor Dann (Cabinet Member for Customer Services, Sport, Leisure and HR & OD) introduced her budget area and highlighted: 

 

a)    The leisure budget was one of the smaller parts of the budget; 
 

b)    Budget pressures on HR & OD; 
 

c)    Pressures on IT to keep the Council safe, within a tight budget; 
 

d)    A budget saving in business support had not been met; 
 

e)    Cost of Living Action Plan. 

 

Councillor Penberthy (Cabinet Member for Housing, Cooperative Development and Communities) introduced his budget area and highlighted: 

 

f)     The areas his portfolio covered; 
 

g)    He wanted to focus on homelessness, which had been rising nationally due to the cost of living crisis, changes to rental legislation; 
 

h)    2044 households approached the Council for homelessness support in 2019/20, and the forecast for 2022/23 was over 3700; 
 

i)     The increase in demand had led to an increase in the number of households in emergency accommodation and there had been an increase in the cost of nightly paid accommodation; 
 

j)     A homelessness taskforce had been set up to help drive a homelessness recovery plan as well as develop a new plan for homes; 
 

k)    Alternative forms of temporary accommodation; 
 

l)     Increase in homelessness prevention; 
 

m)  New affordable accommodation; 
 

n)    Additional money had been put into the budget for homelessness. 

 

In response to questions, the following was discussed: 

 

o)    Digital access to contact the Council, and provision for those who were not able to contact digitally; 
 

p)    Rough sleeper numbers fluctuated between 10-20 per night; 
 

q)    £1 million savings target was achievable with changes, meaning that costs would be covered by housing benefit; 
 

r)    £10 million was to be spent on family housing to help reduce the cost of temporary accommodation; 
 

s)     Increased affordable housing provision and use of a direct delivery model; 
 

t)     Plan for Homes 4 was due to go to the Growth and Infrastructure Overview and Scrutiny Committee in February 2024 for pre-decision scrutiny; 
 

u)    Refugee and asylum seeker support schemesand partnership working; 
 

v)    Work with partners on housing pipeline; 
 

w)   Utilisation of technology and automation to be used for some administrative tasks to free up members of staff for other, more complex tasks; 
 

x)    Blue badge application support; 
 

y)    No separate budget for gypsy and traveller encampments; 
 

z)    23 encampments in 2022/23, with an expected drop in 2023/24; 
 

aa)  Targeted hardening of sites of unauthorised encampments; 
 

bb)Sites in the Joint Local Plan were being focused on within the Plan for Homes 4; 
 

cc)  There were no plans to release any land in 2024/25, so no budget line for income on this matter; 
 

dd)IT support provision within community sector; 
 

ee)Modernisation of Plymouth City Council’s  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Session Five - Place Services

Minutes:

Also in attendance: Councillor Tom Briars-Delve (Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change), Councillor Mark Coker (Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport), Paul Barnard (Service Director for Strategic Planning and Infrastructure), Ross Jago (Head of Governance, Performance and Risk), Anthony Payne (Strategic Director for Place) and Philip Robinson (Service Director for Street Services). 

 

Councillor Briars-Delve (Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change) gave an overview of his budget area and highlighted the following points:  
 

a)    Environmental Services, including Environmental Planning and Street Scene, was one of the largest departments in the Council, comprised of nearly 500 staff and had a gross budget of £41 million and a net budget of £21 million;  
 

b)    The largest element of Environmental Services was Street Scene and Waste Services which stood at £8 million net, and included waste recycling collection, street cleansing and grounds;  
 

c)    Environmental Planning had continued to help the Council access external and national funding which woulddeliver nature and community projects; 
 

d)    The income for Environmental Planning would increase in 2024-25 to £1.9 million; 
 

e)    Statutory services had been carried out to over 123,000 households throughout 2022-23 and the garden waste service had been used by over 26,000 households;  
 

f)     The Climate Impact Assessment Tool had been implemented and applied to all key decisions made by the Council;  
 

g)    Carbon Literacy training had been carried out with officers and Councillors; 
 

h)    A total of over £11 million of grand funding had been secured to aid net zero infrastructure and sustainable transport projects. 
 

Councillor Coker (Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport)gave an overview of his budget area and highlighted the following points 

 

i)     The Department for Transport visited the Bus Section which resulted in a £1.6 million grant for a two year period to maintain and enhance the network; 
 

j)     Active Travel Funding had been successfully acquired and had enabled the delivery of Safer School Street Programmes;  
 

k)    Plymouth was the best Local Authority in the country at delivering cycle training for children in Year 6;  
 

l)     Plymouth had been made the Vice-Chair of the Peninsula Transport Board and Chair of the Rail Task-Force;  
 

m)  Living Streets Budget for Councillors would be reintroduced. 
 

In response to questions, the following was discussed 

 

n)    All roads in Plymouth were professionallymonitored and evaluated and undertook an annual road condition survey;  
 

o)    Section 106 updates for all Councillors would be reintroduced; 
 

p)    Plymouth City Council were working towards a silver accreditation as a carbon literate organisation;  
 

q)    Ongoing contract negotiations were considered in the budget; 
 

r)    The awarded funding from the Department for Transport (DFT) was awarded contractually to the Council to spend on bus services;  
 

s)     A Bus Champion had been introduced to be the go between the bus companies and members of the public;  
 

t)     Plymouth City Council had worked directly with Plymouth Energy Community resulting in an additional £3 million  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Recommendations

Minutes:

Requests of Government? 

? 

Highlight the difficulty of operating services in the financial climate and:

? 

1.    Request a multi-year finance settlement for the Council against demand-led costs;

2.    Request appropriate financial uplifts to deal with the Living Wage and inflation; 

3.    Request a review of Adult Social Care Funding, so that funding is allocated on need/demand rather than the ability of Councils to raise Council Tax; 

4.    Along-term strategic funding solution for Homelessness;
 

5.    Welcome an increase in Local Housing Allowance and request that the calculation of the 30th percentile of market value is undertaken in April 2024;

6.    Request continuation of the Household Support Fund;

7.    Reconsider recently announced changes to immigration rules given the significant impact this is likely to bring to bear on the Social Care workforce 

8.    Review home to school transport eligibility andadditional options which could mitigate costs to the Local Authority;

9.    Highlight that the additional funding for highway maintenance (£366k in 23/24 and 24/25) isinsufficient for current requirements.? 

 

Recommendations to Cabinet? 

 

10.  Recommend that work is undertaken to assess the impact upon all council budgets of dealing with unauthorised encampments (UE) and consider a centralised budget to deal with costs so that service budgets are not impacted by UE;

11.  Welcome continuation of current Community Grant Scheme and recommend an increased back to £5,000 per member;

12.  Re-profilethe Capital programme to ensure that the programme is affordable for the revenue budget;

13.  Recommend an expansion of the housing programme for Care Leavers;

14.  Recommend that a cross party working group is established to consider contractual arrangements for major projects and the methodology for procurement. 

? 

 

Congratulate the Cabinet on  

 

15.  Additional Funding provided in the budget for Grass Cutting; 

16.  The commitment to a new Living Streets programme;

17.  Increased involvement of Ward Councillors in discussion related to Section 106 Monies;

18.  Commitment to not implementing Car Park charges where they are not currently in place;

19.  The new Bus Service Improvement Plan.