Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence
were received from Councillors Khan, Murray and Opara.
Record of meeting PDF 413 KB
To approve the record of the meeting held on
21 October 2021.
The record of the meeting of the Committee
held on 21 October 2021 was agreed and signed by the Chairman as
Urgent matters by reason of special circumstances
The Chairman will announce any late items
which do not appear on the main agenda but which he/she has agreed
should be considered by reason of special circumstances to be
specified in the report.
Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests and Whipping PDF 471 KB
Members are invited to disclose
any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests
in accordance with the Member Code of Conduct.
Guidance on this is set out in agenda item
Other significant interests
Councillor Doe disclosed that he
was Chairman of Medway Development Company (MDC) and he relied on a
dispensation granted by the Councillor Conduct Committee to enable
him to take part in the discussion of the report at agenda item 5
(Attendance of the
Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community
Councillor Johnson declared that his employer, the
Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB), was mentioned in the
report at agenda item 5
(Attendance of the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing
and Community Services) but the interest was not closely aligned to
Councillor Tejan declared an
interest in agenda item 9 (Council Plan Performance
Monitoring Report and Risk Register Quarter 2 2021/22)
far as he had a virtual office at the Innovation
Buckwell and Maple declared that no whipping was in place in
respect of the Conservative and Labour and Co-operative Groups
Attendance of the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services PDF 583 KB
report sets out activities and progress on work areas within the
Housing and Community Services Portfolio, which fall within the
remit of this Committee. This information is provided in relation
to the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community
Services being held to account.
Members considered a report which set out
activities and progress on work areas within the Housing and
Community Services Portfolio, which fell within the remit of this
The following issues were discussed:
– whether the reduction in Universal Credit
was impacting on rent arrears was queried.
The Portfolio Holder commented that Universal Credit (UC) may work
if administered properly but the way it currently worked could be
damaging. People were now finding themselves in arrears who had
never had before. The Council aimed to deal with people in this
situation sensitively and did not seek to evict anyone for this
Scheme – the housing team were
congratulated on the success of this scheme and it was queried whether any positive
lessons from it had been learned. The Portfolio Holder confirmed a
lot of lessons had been learned. Outreach work was beneficial but
very expensive. Accommodation was available for homeless people but
there were a few people who did not wish to be
Importing and exporting of council
housing tenants – in terms of
whether any progress had been made on reducing this, the Portfolio
Holder confirmed the Council did not seek to export tenants to
other areas as it was important they were in a place with the
necessary support systems. As a general principle, the Council did
not accept council tenants imported from other areas.
Supported housing –
reference was made to a case where a provider had
been given a substantial sum to provide accommodation and support
to vulnerable residents without providing a service. The Portfolio Holder commented supported housing
was going through a transitional stage and believed people did
receive value for money and any complaints would be dealt
– what could be done to provide more
affordable housing was questioned. The Portfolio Holder commented
that more affordable housing was being built now compared to
previous years. Decisions on levels of affordable housing in
proposed developments were a matter for the Planning
Domestic abuse –
noting the increase in domestic abuse during the
pandemic the Portfolio Holder was asked if he was confident cross
border support was working properly. The Portfolio Holder commented
this was an issue the Council took very seriously and the best solution would be decided
alongside the affected individual. In terms of how many men
received support for domestic abuse, it was confirmed that 13 men
had requested support and were treated as seriously as women who
Homelessness – whether an estimated 3000 empty properties in Medway
could be used as homes or whether the Council could take more
action to require owners to improve properties was
questioned. The Portfolio Holder noted
that many properties had been improved following intervention by
the housing team. Not all empty properties were neglected and it was not always possible to
intervene but as a general principle he considered empty properties
were not desirable. In terms of empty army accommodation, the
view the full minutes text for item 466.
Medway Adult Education (MAE) Business Plan PDF 185 KB
Business Plan sets out a short-term and medium-term framework for
Medway Adult Education, focusing on work outside of business as
usual. It considers challenges and opportunities, both from a
commercial and holistic perspective. It lays out the priorities and
an action plan to deliver against.
Members considered a report regarding the
Medway Adult Education (MAE) Business Plan which set out a
short-term and medium-term framework for MAE, focusing on work
outside of business as usual. The Plan considered challenges and
opportunities, both from a commercial and holistic perspective as
well as an action plan to deliver against priorities.
The following issues
Skills – reference was
made to a number of organisations which the Council worked with
where people with an illness or disability who were unable to work
full time and had improved their IT skills during the pandemic to a
degree but now needed to improve further. Whether adult education
could help them to develop the IT skills needed to start a small
business was queried as it was felt what was currently offered was
not suitable. Members were advised that digital skills were a key
area for the adult education service and digital courses had
recently been expanded, although more were needed. Planning for the
next academic year was due to begin and officers would look at
whether the point raised about IT skills could be
whether the support for apprenticeships referred to in the Plan
included people over 24 years old was questioned. Members were
assured apprenticeships were for all ages, with good representation
in the 24 plus age range and no upper age limit.
tablets and data – with regard to the
provision of 50 tablets and data to enable learners to
access learning from home, the importance of learners having the
resources to get the data needed to use the equipment was
emphasised. Members were advised that data was critical and if
a user who had a tablet but needed data then that would be looked
Programme – how adult
education could play a part in this programme was queried and
Members were advised that the service had participated in this
programme, which had worked well.
prescribing - noting that this may be one of the motivations
for accessing adult education, a suggestion that this should be
strengthened in the Plan was agreed.
Decrease in foreign
language courses – noting the
decrease in the availability of these courses, whether the service
could work with the pool of interpreters that the Council had
access to was suggested.
Holistic education for
adults - the loss of academic qualifications was regretted,
particularly routes to higher education, although it was
acknowledged this was due to funding conditions. In response,
Members were advised that the adult education service worked
closely with Mid Kent College and universities to ensure there were
progression routes and guidance was given on high to reach higher
Sector - how the sector would
be engaged through the Plan was queried as well as what could be
done to help those volunteers would have given up lots of time
(e.g., in vaccination centres) to get into employment. Reference
was also made to the contributions of ...
view the full minutes text for item 467.
Update on Sponsorship and Advertising Policy PDF 148 KB
are asked to note the update on the application of the
Council’s Sponsorship and Advertising Policy introduced in
Members considered a report on the application
of the Council’s Sponsorship and Advertising Policy,
introduced in 2019.
The following issues
Make a Difference
Awards – accepting the
awards should be cost neutral to the Council, a concern was
expressed that one of the sponsors provided bailiff services and
whether this was appropriate was questioned. The Head of
Marketing and Communications responded this would be looked at in
the forthcoming review of the policy.
response to why one proposed advertiser had been turned down,
Members were advised that this was because the organisation was in
competition with a council service.
Reference was made to the stipulation in the policy that the
Council would not enter into any advertising or sponsorship
arrangements with any organisations or individuals which
were expecting to enter into a procurement process with the Council
in the following three months. Whether this should be changed to
three months after the start of the contract was
The Head of Marketing and Communications responded this
would be looked at in the forthcoming review of the policy,
although sometimes contracts were for a period of under 90
Matters – whether any
requests were received from council departments to advertise in
Medway Matters was queried, such as responsible dog ownership.
The Head of Marketing and Communications advised that some
parts of the Council did advertise in the publication but issues
such as responsible dog ownership were seen more as public
information than advertising.
The Committee agreed to note
Procurement Strategy 2021-2025, 2021 Update Report PDF 190 KB
report seeks to acknowledge the progress made against the 2021-2025
Procurement Strategy and to propose additional objectives to take
forward into 2022.
Members considered a report regarding progress
made against the 2021-2025 Procurement Strategy and proposed
additional objectives to take forward into 2022.
The following issues were
Climate change and
social value – a request was
made that the next progress report to the Committee include
tangible examples of what the procurement strategy was doing to
address these issues. The Head of Category Management advised the
Social Value policy operated in parallel with the Procurement
Strategy and accepted there was a need to demonstrate practical
social value benefits.
were asked as a matter of course about their climate change polices
and whether there was an expectation their polices aligned with the
Council’s were queried.
Voluntary and Community
Sector – a point was
made that the Strategy should encourage and support the sector to
procure with the Council in a way which would neither advantage or
disadvantage them. The Head of Category Management responded that a
proportionate approach was needed. The team had a good partnership
with the sector but there was a need to build on this through
bidders – reference was
made to an outside body which often needed to contract where there
was only one specialist bidder but experienced difficulties with
the Council’s procurement processes. The Head of Category
Management advised that in some markets there was a perceived
single supplier, but the Council had a responsibility to broaden
and expand the market.
noted the achievements of the first year of the first year of the
2021-2025 Procurement Strategy as outlined in in Appendix 1 to the
noted the delivery of the objectives within Appendix 2 of the
Council Plan Performance Management Report and Risk Register Review Quarter 2 2021/22 PDF 303 KB
Medway’s Council Plan 2021/22 sets out
the Council’s three priorities. This report and appendices
summarise how we performed in Q2 2021/22 on the delivery of the
programmes and measures which fall under the remit of this
Committee which are:
Priority: Growth (Appendix 1)
Values: 1: financial resilience, 2: digital enablement, 3:
working together to empower communities, 4: creativity and
innovation, 5: tackle climate change, and 6: child friendly
Given the overarching responsibilities of this
Committee to provide guidance and leadership on the development and
coordination of the scrutiny function for all overview and scrutiny
committees, this report also contains a performance summary of all
services (Appendix 3).
Due to the timing of the other O&S
meetings, which take place after the Business Support O&S
meeting has taken place, the summary of the performance matters
discussed at other overview & scrutiny meetings will not be
provided this quarter.
This report also presents the Q2 2021/22
review of strategic risks (Appendix 4).
The Council Plan 2021/22 set out the
Council’s three priorities. Members considered a report
summarising performance in Quarter 2 2021/22 on the delivery of the
programmes and measures which fell under the remit of this
• Values: 1:
financial resilience, 2: digital enablement, 3: working together to
empower communities, 4: creativity and innovation, 5: tackle
climate change, and 6: child friendly
The following issues were raised:
New strategic risk (Pandemic) - the point was made that it
seemed late in the day to add this as a new risk and the mitigation
measures seemed vague. The point was made that the current pandemic
should not be seen as a one in a century occurrence and how the
risk related to national emergency
plans and the Council’s emergency plan was queried. Members
were advised that the Council’s pandemic plan was separate
from the emergency plan and pre-dated the addition of the risk on
the register. The risk of a pandemic was also covered in the
individual service business continuity plans. The risk had been
added to the Strategic Register at Members’ request, and an
assurance was given that it was an issue the Council had always
Data and information risk – whether the Council was
confident it was as compliant as possible with the GDPR rules given
the pandemic pressures and
turnover of staff was queried. Members were advised there was
always room for improvement, but officers were confident the
Council had plans in place to comply with GDPR. Discussions had
taken place with Council owned companies to ensure any contracts
included information governance procedures.
risk – a request was
made for a briefing paper on the lessons learned from a cyber
security incident affecting a London Borough council.
reasons why fewer complaints were meeting their target response
times, particularly with Stage 1 complaints, and why there had been
a significant increase in Stage 1 complaints in Quarter 2 compared
to last year were queried. A written answer would be
releases – the point was
made that more could be done to publicise prosecutions and sanctions secured by the
Meeting the needs of
older people risk – a reassurance
was sought regarding the trigger of reduced provider capacity given
how quickly providers could go out of business and the crisis in
the adult social care system. Members were advised the trigger
related to what the service was measuring to see if the risk might
happen and the query would be passed on
to the Assistant Director – Adult Social Care.
Universal Credit and
rent arrears - the importance of the Committee keeping a watching
brief on this issue was emphasised.
Programme – the
relationship between any of the various ambassador programmes and
this Programme was queried and further information was requested. A
briefing paper would be provided on current schemes and any that
whether the Local Plan should be classed ...
view the full minutes text for item 470.
Capital Budget Monitoring Round 2 2021/22 PDF 328 KB
This report presents the results of the second round of the
Council’s capital budget monitoring process for
Members considered a
report regarding the results of the second round of the
Council’s capital budget monitoring process for 2021/22.
The following issues were
system – an undertaking
was given to provide a breakdown of spend on this
schemes – the good
liaison with ward councillors on the community schemes in the
capital programme was recognised.
levels - concern was expressed
whether the level of contingency built into the programme reflected
the recent significant increases in the cost of supplies and
labour. Members were advised that the capital programme contained
some level of contingencies to absorb costs, although the programme
was as lean as possible. For some schemes in the programme
contracts had already been let and were tied to historic prices.
Officers were looking at how the monitoring of the programme could
academy - how any emergency
bulge work would be funded was queried given low levels of
reserves. The Head of Finance Strategy advised the government had
not awarded any further basic needs grants for schools and
projections for pupil numbers exceeded current capacity. As the
Council had a duty to deliver school places then it would borrow to
fund this if necessary but at a strategic level was lobbying the
government for more funding.
– concern was expressed
that the basic needs programme was overspent given the pressures on
school places. The Council’s contribution to Cornwallis Send
school project was queried, as was when work would start. A
question was asked whether capital funding devolved to schools was
solely a matter for a school to decide on. The Head of Finance
Strategy advised the basic needs grant was overspent and the
Council was looking at opportunities to use S106 contributions from
developers that related to education provision to free up some
basic need grant and mitigate the overspend. In response to a
request, an update would be sought on the Rowans Primary Support
scheme and the issue of devolved capital to schools.
contributions - further detail was
requested on schemes which relied on time limited S106
contributions due to the risks involved. The Head of Finance
Strategy advised that the completion dates of any S106
contributions in the capital programme had been checked to ensure
they were within the timeframe of the scheme.
Medway – as the runway
was no longer going to be paved and the project had gone over time,
why it was classed as being on time and budget was queried. Concern
was expressed that to qualify for five years reduced business rates
at Innovation Park, applications had to be submitted by March 2022,
but no-one had yet signed up. The Head of Finance Strategy advised
the scheme would be revisited to ensure its status had not changed.
The position on business rates at Innovation Park would be looked
The Committee agreed to note the results of
the second round of capital budget monitoring for 2021/22.
Revenue Budget Monitoring Round 2 2021/22 PDF 640 KB
report presents the result of the second round of the
Council’s revenue budget monitoring process for 2021/22. The
Council’s summary position is presented at Table 1, with
sections 4-7 providing the detail for each service area.
Members considered a report which presented
the result of the second round of the Council’s revenue
budget monitoring process for 2021/22.
The following issues were discussed:
buildings - the Council’s
total financial contribution to its leasehold buildings was
queried. The Head of Finance Strategy advised that the Council was
carrying out a review to rationalise its operational property that
may result in leasehold buildings being disposed of. It was
difficult though the capital programme to identify what was spent
on works to leasehold properties, but the costs could be
established with the property team.
Budget pressures in
children’s and adult services – in response to
whether the Council was lobbying the Government for extra funding
for children’s and adults’ services in light of
significant and unsustainable pressures, the
Head of Finance Strategy confirmed the government was being lobbied
through all available channels and it appeared that the
Government’s tone on this matter had changed.
Supported living market in
whether the Council was securing value for money for residents was
queried and an undertaking was given to seek the views of the
Director of People.
Children’s Services Placements
financial pressure – in response to
whether Medway was an outlier in relation to other unitary
councils, the Head of Finance Strategy did not consider this was
the case based on benchmarking information.
Underspend on staff
progression – referring to a
£1.4m underspend in this area, the point was made that staff
needed to be supported in improving services. The Head of Finance
Strategy advised that after the Ofsted inspections staffing
structures had been reviewed and a package of support provided for
social work staff for pay progression. The budget had been built on
the basis that every member reached the top of their pay range when
in practice that was not the case. The draft budget included the
removal of this underspend, with a
recognition that the cost of that progression would be reflected in
future years’ budget builds.
The Committee agreed to note the results of
the second round of revenue budget monitoring for 2021/2.
Draft Capital and Revenue Budget 2022/23 PDF 408 KB
This report presents the Council’s draft
capital and revenue budgets for 2022/23. In accordance with the
Constitution, Cabinet is required to develop ‘initial budget
proposals’ approximately three months before finalising the
budget and setting council tax levels at the end of February
The draft budget is based on the principles set out in the
Financial Outlook 2022/23 reported to Cabinet on 28 September
Members considered a report regarding the
Council’s draft capital and revenue budgets for 2022/23.
The following issues
Transfer of £2m
children’s social care pressure to adult social care
– in response to a query,
Members were advised that historically most of the growth in
learning disabilities placements in adult social care came from
transitions from children’s social care. Having looked at the
expected cohort transitioning from children’s social care the
needs were now known and were lower than originally forecast. There
would be no impact on services from this transfer.
gap – noting that the
projected budget gap of £18.176m at this stage was
unprecedented the point was made that difficult decisions would be
needed at the February budget Council meeting.
bonus – the point was
made that the Government were instructing councils to build more
houses but this scheme which helped councils encourage housing
growth was being wound down. The Head of Finance Strategy advised
that the government may be moving from decentralised schemes like
this to schemes which better reflected local needs.
Health and Social Care
Levy – a point was
made that this was unlikely to benefit the Council. The Head of
Finance Strategy agreed this was unlikely to have a significant
positive impact on the Council’s budget and there was a
concern that providers would charge councils more.
Charging revenue costs
to capital schemes - referring to a
comment that this is something that the Council should not do, the
Head of Finance Strategy commented this was also something the
Council’s external auditors focussed on. There could be some
confusion in terms of what matters the government classed as
capital (i.e. potholes capital grant)
and it could sometimes be possible to spend capital receipts on
what were revenue items under temporary flexibilities in
place. The Council would seek to charge
appropriate items to capital where possible. A point was also made
that care should be exercised in how S106 contributions were
noting that 1% had been set aside for pay, the point was made that
due to inflation running at more than 4% this meant a pay cut in
real terms. The Head of Finance Strategy commented this was still
subject to negotiations with the Trade Unions.
Settlement – in terms of the
impact on the Council of the Government’s levelling up agenda
and also the timing of the settlement, the Head of Finance Strategy
was hopeful that some of the grant announcements had been
underplayed. The Council’s senior leadership were focused on
reducing the gap further.
Personal care costs
cap – referring to
the cap of £86k, whether this would lead to a cultural shift
where people started to release equity from their homes or move to
cheaper properties was queried and what the impact might be for the
Council. The Head of Finance Strategy commented this sort of shift
might be possible and the impact of the cap was still being
view the full minutes text for item 473.
Work programme PDF 221 KB
This item advises Members of the current work
programme and allows the Committee to adjust it in the light of
latest priorities, issues and circumstances. It gives Members the
opportunity to shape and direct the Committee’s activities
over the year.
Members considered a
report about the Committee’s work programme, including the
current Task Group programme.
Differing views were
expressed on what the next Task Group review should be and whether
the current programme should be amended. There was a suggestion the
Town Centres review be brought forward in place of physical
activity. It was also suggested that support for carers be given
greater priority and physical activity should not be delayed and
that an additional review on post pandemic Medway be
Comments were also made
that all the O&S Committee should scrutinise the Local
agreed to move the Medway Norse Update report from the meeting
scheduled for 27 January 2022 to
the meeting scheduled for 31 March 2022;
agreed the Committee’s work programme at Appendix 1 to the
noted the work programmes of the other overview and scrutiny
committees at Appendix 2; and
agreed that the current programme of Task Group reviews and also
the issue of the length of O&S meetings be discussed at a
meeting of O&S Chairmen, Vice-Chairmen and Opposition
Spokespersons with recommendations being made to this