Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny - Resources - Monday, 20th June, 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Burys, Godalming. View directions

Contact: Kimberly Soane  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence and Substitutes

To receive apologies for absence and note any substitutions

 

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

2.

Declarations of Interests

To receive Members’ declarations of interests in relation to any items included on the agenda for this meeting, in accordance with Waverley’s Code of Local Government Conduct.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Minutes

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 22 March 2022 and published on the Council’s website.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 22 March 2022 were confirmed as a correct record.

4.

Questions from Members of the Public

The Chairman to respond to any written questions received from members of the public in accordance with Procedure Rule 10.

 

The deadline for receipt of written questions is 5pm on Monday 13 June 2022.

Minutes:

There were no questions received from members of the public.

5.

Questions from Members

The Chairman to respond to any questions received from Members in accordance with Procedure Rule 11.

 

The deadline for receipt of written questions is 5pm on Monday 13 June 2022.

 

Minutes:

There were no questions received from Members of the Council.

6.

Community Infrastructure Levy

To discuss and where appropriate make recommendations on how to enable Surrey County Council and the local NHS to make use of CIL funding to provide infrastructure.

Minutes:

At the invitation of the Chairman, the Surrey County Council Cabinet Member for Transport, Infrastructure and the Economy Councillor Matt Furniss addressed the Committee in relation to the County Council’s CIL bids in Waverley, the comments which had been received on their unsuccessful bids and the action being taken to improve those bids which included meeting with Waverley officers.  Lauren Pennington, NHS Frimley CCG addressed the Committee, welcoming any advice on how to improve their CIL bids. 

 

Committee members welcomed their attendance and expressed some concern over the impact on residents of their unsuccessful CIL bids and highlighted the work of Town and Parish Councils in respect of obtaining CIL funding.  In response, Councillor Furniss suggested that the application criteria could be reviewed, including implementing a two stage application process involving an initial expression of interest followed by a detailed application if that expression of interest was accepted.  The Chairman advised that the comments would be passed to the Council’s CIL Advisory Board for consideration.

 

At the invitation of the Chairman, Jules Wilmhurst-Smith, Surrey Heartlands CCG addressed the Committee, advising external support had been procured to assist with strategic planning of CIL bids.  In response to a question, he advised that the CCG engaged where appropriate with neighbouring CCGs on projects which had cross-border implications.

 

The Chairman thanked the speakers for the contributions and encouraged them to continue to work with Waverley officers.

 

7.

Corporate Performance Report Q4 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 133 KB

The Corporate Performance Report provides an analysis of the Council’s

performance for the fourth quarter of 2021-22. The report, set out at Annexe 1,

is being presented to each of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees for

comment and any recommendations they may wish to make to the Executive.

 

Heads of Service to highlight areas relating to this committees remit (pages to note are Pages 4 – 37 of the Performance Report [14-47 of the agenda papers]).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

On behalf of the Committee, that Chairman thanked the Policy and Performance Officer for her support to the Committee and wished her well for her new role in the Council.

 

The Committee received the report and presentations from the Chief Executive and relevant Heads of Service.

 

In response to questions from the Committee, the Head of Finance and Property made the following comments:

·         There was a typographical error on page 19 of the report, paragraph 3.71.  The figure for General Fund overall income and expenditure, including £21m of housing benefits income from Government paid to recipients, should be £56m and not £45m.  If the housing benefits inflows and outflows are removed, the figure is reduced to around £35m.

·         Additional grant funding in the Environment service had been carried forward to future years for funding of projects.

·         The Committee could request an additional column on the General Fund Account Summary Table to show projected outturn.

·         A schedule of grant funding dispersed across the year would be circulated to the Committee for its information.

In response to a question from a Committee member, the Head of Policy and Governance advised that the Council was experiencing a national trend with staff turnover and an ageing workforce.  There were challenges with recruitment in a buoyant employment market and there were measures in place to address this which were addressed in the Workforce Profile item later in the agenda.

 

In response to a Member question, the Chief Executive drew the Committee’s attention to the commentary and detail throughout the report on any indicators which were RED.

 

RESOLVED that an additional column to the General Fund Account Summary Table to show projected outturn.

 

8.

Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 690 KB

The Resources Overview & Scrutiny Committee is responsible for managing its work programme.

 

The Scrutiny Officer will lead this agenda item.

 

Minutes:

The Committee noted the work programme.

9.

Collaboration with Guildford

To receive a verbal update.

Minutes:

The Committee noted an update from the Chief Executive on the collaboration with Guildford Borough Council.  Key milestones had been achieved and the Joint Appointments Committee would be making recommendations to both Councils on the appointments of the joint Director roles.  The next stage would be to carry out the consultation on the joint Management Team and an all Member briefing would be taking place shortly.

10.

Housing Allocations Task & Finish Group pdf icon PDF 363 KB

To inform Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee (henceforth ‘the Committee’) of the findings of the Working Group on Housing Allocations.

 

To ask the Committee to consider and endorse the Working Group’s recommendations.

 

Recommendation

 

2.1       That the Committee agrees the report included as Annexe 1 and commends its recommendations to the Executive.

 

2.2       The Working Group’s recommendations which this Committee is asked to endorse are:

 

1.    The Council should keep the income threshold at £60,000 per annum and the savings threshold at £30,000. However, this should be reviewed by the Resources Overview and Scrutiny committee or another appropriate O&S committee within 12-18 months.

2.    Establish a process to signpost applicants who are unable to join the housing register due to the income or savings threshold to Affordable Home Ownership Schemes notably shared ownership.

3.    Maintain the existing position that children will only be accommodated in one home even if a 50/50 residence arrangement exists. An exception will be made if there is a court order in place requiring this or if Surrey County Council Children’s Services (or an equivalent organisation elsewhere) provide compelling evidence that a second home is required.

4.    Only housing related debts such as rent arrears and deposit scheme debts should be taken into account when considering eligibility for inclusion on the housing register and allocation of housing. Other debts such as council tax or housing benefit overpayments would be disregarded for this purpose.

5.    Given the administrative burden in checking debts and that the average time someone is on the register is 2-3 years, it makes sense that checks at application stage are more light touch given an applicant’s debts status can change so much over time.

6.    Establish a process by which the Housing Options team signpost applicants unable to join the housing needs register due to debts to local debt advice charities. 

7.    The Chair of the Housing Allocations Group and the Chair of Resources Overview and Scrutiny to write a joint letter the Secretary of State for Housing, Levelling Up and Communities to reiterate the need for the importance of ensuring the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates properly reflect rents in Farnham.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Wilson, Chairman of the Housing Allocations Task & Finish Group, presented the report which set out the recommendations of the group.  He thanked the officers involved in supporting the work of the Group and expressed concern over the housing benefit rates in Farnham, being lower due to its proximity with Aldershot and that he would be writing to the Secretary of State to express his concern.

 

The Committee welcomed the report and was noted that those on the housing waiting list with housing related debt would need to have a payment plan in place, and be under £500, in order to be considered for housing.  The Committee sought clarification whether recommendation 4 related to Waverley related housing debt or also incorporated private sector housing debt.  It was proposed that this be clarified, with the final wording of the recommendation to be approved by the Chairman and Vice-Chairman.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the report included as Annexe 1 be agreed and its recommendations be

commended to the Executive, subject to clarification that recommendation 4

related to Waverley housing debt:

 

1.    The Council should keep the income threshold at £60,000 per annum and the savings threshold at £30,000. However, this should be reviewed by the Resources Overview and Scrutiny committee or another appropriate O&S committee within 12-18 months.

2.    Establish a process to signpost applicants who are unable to join the housing register due to the income or savings threshold to Affordable Home Ownership Schemes notably shared ownership.

3.    Maintain the existing position that children will only be accommodated in one home even if a 50/50 residence arrangement exists. An exception will be made if there is a court order in place requiring this or if Surrey County Council Children’s Services (or an equivalent organisation elsewhere) provide compelling evidence that a second home is required.

4.    Only housing related debts such as rent arrears and deposit scheme debts should be taken into account when considering eligibility for inclusion on the housing register and allocation of housing. Other debts such as council tax or housing benefit overpayments would be disregarded for this purpose.

5.    Given the administrative burden in checking debts and that the average time someone is on the register is 2-3 years, it makes sense that checks at application stage are more light touch given an applicant’s debts status can change so much over time.

6.    Establish a process by which the Housing Options team signpost applicants unable to join the housing needs register due to debts to local debt advice charities. 

7.    The Chair of the Housing Allocations Group and the Chair of Resources Overview and Scrutiny to write a joint letter the Secretary of State for Housing, Levelling Up and Communities to reiterate the need for the importance of ensuring the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates properly reflect rents in Farnham.

11.

Housing Development Update pdf icon PDF 446 KB

To receive an update on the current council housing developments.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the update from the Head of Housing Delivery and Communities.

 

At the invitation of the Chairman, Councillor Seaborne spoke on this item, seeking clarification on the length of the procurement process and proposing that the Executive include the challenges with the procurement in the performance commentary.

 

The Committee welcomed the update, noting the length of time it took contractors to work on their proposals and the delays caused by material shortages and inflation.  The Committee stressed the need for effective communication with both the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and residents about delays and the need for continuity in terms of scrutiny.

12.

Business Transformation pdf icon PDF 605 KB

The Committee receives a regular update on the progress and BT Programme savings realisation. This report seeks to provide a written update on the current status of the Business Transformation Programme.

 

Recommendation

 

Members are invited to comment on the content of the report.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted an update from the Head of Business Transformation.  BT1 was largely complete and BT2 was due to commence, in part waiting for the new Joint Management Team to be in place before elements of the programme could be agreed.  In response to a question from the Chairman relating to a projected shortfall in savings to be achieved, the Head of Business Transformation advised that further savings were hoped to be achieved and therefore the actual shortfall may not be that significant.

13.

Hybrid Working pdf icon PDF 210 KB

The Committee has asked to be updated as to how the Council is responding to the opportunities and challenges presented by remote working. This report seeks to respond to that request.

 

Recommendation

 

Members are invited to comment on the content of the report.

Minutes:

The Committee noted an update from the Head of Business Transformation on the Council’s response to the opportunities and challenges presented by hybrid working.

 

Some Committee Members expressed concern over productivity levels, recruitment and staff wellbeing through working from home.  In response, the Chief Executive advised that employers needed to develop a way of working that responded to people entering the workforce who had an expectation of being able to work flexibly; and he highlighted the challenges with recruitment and attracting talent.  The Council was monitoring closely approaches taken by other councils and the need to keep services viable and reduce the impact on climate change by reducing office space.

 

Given the remarks by the Head of Policy and Governance about the age profile of the Waverley workforce and the need to recruit younger officers, Members underlined the importance of new recruits being able to work with and learn from senior colleagues in person in their first few months of Waverley employment.

 

In response to Member questions, the Head of Business Transformation advised that technology was in place to ensure staff remained connected and contactable when working from home but that additional training may be required for some staff.  The Head of Policy and Governance advised that staff were provided with support if they wished to work from home, including technology and advice on the national scheme and feedback received in the Staff Survey indicated that staff do feel supported.  It was noted that there were costs to working from home and costs to travelling into the office and staff were weighing up those costs in light of the cost of living crisis.

 

The Committee felt that it was too early to determine what shape the hybrid way of working would take and that more caution should be demonstrated in future iterations of the report.

14.

Work Force Profile pdf icon PDF 473 KB

The purpose of this report is to provide an update to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the profile of the Waverley Borough Council’s workforce for the year 2021/22.

 

Recommendation

 

The Committee is asked to note this report and to make any comments or recommendations to the Executive based on its contents.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted the report which provided an update on the workforce profile for 2021/22.

 

The Committee expressed some concern over the number of resignations, which was in part due to staff retiring, and asked that information from exit interviews on reasons for resignations be brought back to the Committee.  The Committee also expressed concern over the challenges faced by the Council in respect of recruitment and retention; and the gender diversity in some grades.

 

It was suggested that a fifth aim be added to the recruitment and retention action plan on maintaining performance levels in new ways of working.  The Head of Policy and Governance advised that the recruitment and retention action plan was not the most appropriate place for this aim, however stressed that this was a priority for the Council.

 

RESOLVED that a further report be brought to the next meeting which:

 

i)              examined data from exit interviews and identified key trends;

ii)             examined the long term impact of career breaks and maternity leave on the gender pay gap; and

iii)           addressed the key issues facing the Council in terms of recruitment and retention.

15.

Godalming Regeneration Project: Update (To Follow) pdf icon PDF 165 KB

For the Committee to note and comment on the report going to the Executive on the 5 July 2022.

Minutes:

The Committee received a report of the Head of Commercial Services, setting out recommendations to the Executive to seek funding for the next phase in the Godalming Regeneration Project.

 

The Chairman expressed concern over the financial viability of the project as the Committee had not seen any analysis of either the capital and revenue implications.  This created concern about the wisdom of spending £164,000 on Phase 3 work before even the potential viability of the project had been established.

 

At the invitation of the Chairman, the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Commercial and Assets advised that the detail would be available when the Phase 3 work had been carried out.  Current assessments were indicative only and the purpose of Phase 3 was to develop capital and revenue models.  It was important that the Council retain control by developing the sites itself rather than a private developer. 

 

At the invitation of the Chairman, Councillor Hyman spoke on the report and expressed concern that it was proposed to spend money before an assessment of the viability had been carried out and the appropriate assessments should be carried out before being considered by the Executive and Council.

 

Some Committee Members expressed concern over the proposed development of the Crown Court site and objected to any reduction in parking or loss of public realm space.  It was noted that the proposals would provide further detail on the project and there would be an opportunity to comment as part of the consultation process.  Given the absence of any financial viability information, the Committee was only narrowly in favour of supporting the recommendation for a supplementary estimate.

 

RESOLVED that the Committee recommends that the Executive accepts the recommendations in paragraph 2 of the report to:

 

i)    Agree to change the name of the Burys Development Project to the Central Godalming Regeneration Project; and

ii)   Recommend to Council to approve a supplementary estimate of £164,000 to progress the project to the Phase 3 stage, including preliminary public engagement, to be funded from the Property Investment reserve.

16.

Annual Scrutiny Report pdf icon PDF 284 KB

To enable the Committee to comment on the report on its activities in

2021/22.

 

Recommendation

 

2.1       That the Committee endorse the report included as annexe 1 whilst making any suggestions for amendments.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that although the Annual Scrutiny Committee was an officer report reflecting on what scrutiny had taken place, he had proposed an amendment to the Chairman’s foreword, to express his view that there could have been more of an opportunity for the Committee to be involved before the Guildford Collaboration project commenced.

 

RESOLVED that the Annual Scrutiny Report attached at Annexe 1 to the Committee report be endorsed.

17.

Exclusion of Press and Public

To consider the following recommendation of the motion of the Chairman:

 

Recommendation

 

That pursuant to Procedure Rule 20 and in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items on the grounds that it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the public were present during the items, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information (as defined by Section 100I of the Act) of the description specified in the appropriate paragraph(s) of the revised Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act (to be specified at the meeting).

Minutes:

RESOLVED

 

That pursuant to Procedure Rule 20 and in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following item on the grounds that it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the public were present during the item, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information (as defined by Section 100I of the Act) of the description specified in Paragraph 3 of the revised Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act, namely: Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

 

18.

Property Investment Advisory Board Activity Report and Quarterly Performance

The purpose is set out in the exempt report.

 

Recommendation

 

The recommendation is set out in the exempt report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted the report.