Agenda and minutes

Cabinet
Tuesday, 19th November, 2019 2.10 pm

Venue: Committee Room 3 - Council House. View directions

Contact: Lara Knight / Michelle Salmon, Governance Services,  Tel: 024 7697 2642 / 2643, Email:  lara.knight@coventry.gov.uk /  michelle.salmon@coventry.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

49.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no disclosable pecuniary interests.

50.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 56 KB

(a)  To agree the minutes from the meeting of Cabinet on 29th October 2019

 

(b)  Matters arising

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 29th October 2019 were agreed and signed as a true record.  There were no matters arising.

51.

2019/20 Second Quarter Financial Monitoring (to September 2019) pdf icon PDF 228 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place)

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place) which set out forecast outturn position for revenue and capital expenditure and the Council’s treasury management activity as at the end of September 2019.

 

The headline revenue forecast for 2019/20 was a net balanced budget. At the same point in 2018/19 there was a projected overspend of £0.5m.   The headline capital position reported £4.8m of expenditure rescheduled into 2020/21.

 

The largest area of budget pressure and the biggest movement since Quarter 1 was services for housing and homelessness, which were projecting an overspend of £2.8m for the year.  There were other overspends in services relating to Looked after Children Placements and Special Education Needs (SEN) Transport with compensating below budget expenditure in corporate areas.

 

The Council’s capital spending was projected to be £218.7m for the year and included major scheme expenditure including investment in the A46 Link Road, Coventry Station Masterplan, Whitley South infrastructure and the National Battery Plant.  The position assumed the addition of £0.5m to the Capital Programme in 2019/20 for Waste Containers, for which approval was sought due to the need to fund this expenditure from Prudential Borrowing.  The borrowing was to be funded from the additional income generated from the containers.

 

With regard to the Net Asset Management Revenue Account, expenditure was anticipated to be £1.9m less than budget because of lower costs of capital financing, higher investment income and higher loan income.  Other corporate budgets reflected lower than budgeted pension costs linked to an early payment arrangement with the West Midlands Pension Fund (£2m), uncommitted resources related to one-off social care funding (£1m), Coventry and Warwickshire Business Rate Pool income in excess of budget (£1.1m), projected additional savings from the Friargate Project (£0.75m) and lower than budgeted levy costs (£0.6m). It was recommended that a contribution be made from this area into reserves for managing the costs of major.

 

The Cabinet noted that the report was also to be considered by the Audit and Procurement Committee at their meeting on 27th January 2020.

 

RESOLVED that, the Cabinet:

 

1.  Approve the Council’s revenue monitoring position.

 

2.  Approve the revised capital estimated outturn position for the year of £218.7m incorporating; £5m net increase in spending relating to approved / technical changes, £4.8m net rescheduling of expenditure into 2020/21

 

3.  Approve a contribution to reserves of £0.7m earmarked to fund future costs of managing the Council’s major projects.

 

4.  Approve the addition of £0.5m to the capital programme in 2019/20 for Waste Containers to be funded by Prudential Borrowing.

52.

Pre-Budget Report 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 125 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place), which outlined, as a basis for consultation, a set of new revenue budget proposals for 2020/21 to 2023/24, which represented changes to the Council’s existing Budget.  The consultation would also include a proposal for a Council Tax increase for 2020/21 of c2% as allowed for within the Government’s published guidelines and a separate 2% Adult Social Care Precept as allowed for within Government guidelines.  The final Budget proposals and the Council Tax increase will be subject to Council approval in February 2020.

 

The Council’s overall future strategy was set out in the “One Coventry Council Plan” and this set out the key priorities including improving the lives of the most vulnerable people in the city, attracting businesses and jobs to the city and opening opportunities for young people.  The council also remained committed to delivering a range of core services to everyone in the city.  The report came at a key time for the direction of local government funding.  Councils, including Coventry, had been subject to large reductions in Government funding since 2010 but the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Spending Round announcement in September gave an indication that the policy of austerity had been paused to a large degree for 2020/21.  Although no indicative figures had been released by Government, initial planning assumptions were that the Spending Round had eased the Council’s financial position for one year compared with previous financial forecasts.  Despite this, continue demand pressure in some services meant that the need remained to find savings in some areas in order to balance the Council’s budget.

 

The Chancellor’s Spending Round announcement included key messages on the delay of key expected reforms for local government funding which had now been put back until 2021/22 at the earliest.  This, and the one-year settlement announced, continued to meant that local government faces enormous uncertainty for the period after 2020/21.  As a result, the report and the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy have continued to focus on the need for the Council to find more cost effective ways to deliver some services and ensure that it continues to release resources to fund its priorities.

 

The report submitted included a number of savings proposals to help bridge the initial budget shortfall for 2020/21.  Moving beyond next year, the Council was developing a “One Coventry” approach that explored new approaches across several broad themes; commercialisation, digitalisation, place-based services and a workforce strategy.  These approaches were planned to become an increased focus on the Council’s financial strategy beyond 2020/21.  An updated medium term financial position was included to reflect revised estimates and new expenditure pressures.  As a result, the projected financial position has been broadly balanced for 2020/21 but included a cap of £28m in 2021/22 rising to £42m by 2023/24.

 

The Cabinet noted that, although many of the new savings proposals included within the report could be achieved without a significant negative impact, there were some changes which would affect services.  The proposals  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.

53.

Medium Term Financial Strategy 2021-2023 pdf icon PDF 140 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place)

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place), which presented the Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for adoption by the Council.

 

The Cabinet noted that the MTFS sets out the financial planning foundations that support the Council’s vision and priorities and the financial and policy context for the Council’s forthcoming Budget process.  Cabinet considered proposals within the Pre-Budget Report (Minute 52 above refers) and it was further noted that the final Budget Setting Report would be brought to Cabinet and Council in February 2020.

 

The national funding background to the MTFS was that the Council was currently within the final year (2019/20) of a four-year funding settlement from Government.  A major upheaval in the funding arrangements for all councils that had been signalled for the period from 2020/21 onwards had been postponed until 2021/22 at the earliest.  The Pre-Budget report that was considered by Cabinet, set out the impact of the one-year settlement proposed for 2020/21.  Current medium-term estimates were still based on assumptions of local authorities continuing to face significant financial pressures.

 

The national political environment was currently subject to much fluidity and uncertainty, resulting from deliberations over the UK’s exit from the European Union and the dynamic political situation that flowed from this. The likelihood or otherwise of the Government’s ability or intention to adhere to its fiscal rule (that borrowing should remain below 2% of Gross Domestic Product) had been widely questioned by commentators. The short-term impact of this was some short-term additional funding for local government but with no guarantee that this would continue beyond 2020/21. Therefore, concern remained that the pressure on public finances would not ease in a sustained way and that real reductions in available revenue resources and spending levels were likely to continue.

 

On a local level, the Council continued to face challenging conditions affected by shortfalls in achievement of a small number of existing savings plans and financial pressures in particular within services for children, housing and homelessness.  Although the Council had some ambitious Capital Programme plans, the scale and pace of these represented a significant challenge in terms of the Council’s ability to deliver them to the required timescales and within its existing project capacity.  In addition, the elements of the Programme that were funded by future West Midlands Combined Authority grant approvals would not be able to proceed until resourcing for these grants had been secured through the WMCA.

 

Notwithstanding the approaches set out in the strategy, the Council would need to maintain dynamic financial models that take account of changes in its medium-term budget position and ongoing re-evaluation of its Capital Programme.  This may include adopting some measures which would have a shorter-term focus or which re-evaluated the Council’s approach to financial risk.  These would be set out fully at the point of decision making.

 

In summary, the key national and local contexts that frame the Strategy included:

 

·  A paramount need to protect the most vulnerable people in the city;

·  Expectations on the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.

54.

Accommodation Based Support for Older People pdf icon PDF 123 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (People)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (People), which set out proposals in relation arrangements for the provision of accommodation based support for older people, predominantly in residential and nursing home placements.

 

The report indicated that The Care Act 2014 placed a duty on the Council to ensure that the care and support needs of people in the City who meet the eligibility criteria for care and support are met.  Although the Council’s overall objective was to support people to live at home, there were a number of people whose care and support needs were such that this was not feasible.  In these cases, accommodation based support was required.  In many cases where accommodation based support was required, Housing with Care, where people have their own flat with care and support was provided on site, was used but for some the level of need is such that residential care, which provided a more intensive model of support was required.

 

The Cabinet noted that the majority of residential placements within the City were purchased through a contract that enabled the Council to purchase placements from providers as required, with no guarantee of availability and with the cost being variable based on the needs of the individual and available supply at the point a placement was required.  Some residential placements were available to the Council on a block basis (through the Anchor Trust PFI) and the Council still operated one residential home for older people with dementia at Eric Williams House.

 

Approximately 600 older people were supported by Coventry City Council to reside in independent / private residential or nursing care homes at any point in time, at an estimated cost of £16m gross per year.  An estimated 500 of these placements were within the city costing approximately £13.5m per year.

 

Although the existing purchasing arrangements enabled the Council to provide residential placements where required, the variable costs resulted in a position where the costs to the Council were not known with any degree of certainty until a placement was required.  This degree of variable pricing did not support the Council with overall market management as there was no benchmark for care home prices purchased within the City. 

 

In addition to ongoing residential placements, the City Council, in conjunction with the Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning Group (CRCCG) also provided 32 short term reablement beds on a block contract basis within three residential care providers at a cost of £1.026m per annum.  This provision provided a period of rehabilitation, supported with occupational and physical health therapists so as to maximise independence over a period of up to six weeks, supporting people to regain independence lost following an acute episode or other incident.  The objective of this provision was to support people to reach a level of functioning so that they can return home. 

 

In respect of ongoing residential care placements the Council was seeking as a result of a procurement process, to establish a number of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.

55.

Coombe Abbey Park - Commercialisation and Sustainable Development of Children's Play Facilities and Car Park Remodelling pdf icon PDF 102 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place), which set out proposals for the commercialisation and sustainable development of children’s play facilities at Coombe Abbey Park and the remodelling of the car park.

 

In October 2018 the City Council resolved to fund a tree top, high wire experience at Coombe Abbey Park in partnership with Coombe Abbey Hotel and Go Ape. The Go Ape facility had been operational since April 2019 and exceed expectations in both visitor numbers and financial performance, providing an enhancement to the visitor experience at the park.

 

The report submitted outlined proposals to further improve the visitor experience at Coombe Abbey Park by investing £800k.  £650k would be used to replace and update two existing play areas, one adjacent to the park’s visitors centre and the second in the wooded area near Top Pool Lodge, replacing the current outdated, free to use play area. It was intended that the play area near Top Pool Lodge would be a pay and play facility with a proposed charge of £2 per session.  The proposed location of the pay and play facility was provided at appendix 1 of the report.  An example of the type of play facility proposed for the charged area was also provided in appendix 2.

 

 

In addition it was proposed to use £150k for the remodelling of the existing car park to create an additional 300 parking spaces to handle the expected increase in numbers.

 

It was proposed that the total capital investment of £800k would be paid back over a period of twenty years for the play areas, and ten years for the car park. In addition, the business case projected a surplus of c100k from year three of operation that could contribute to the City Council’s medium-term financial strategy.

 

The report indicated that, subject to planning consent being obtained from Rugby Borough Council, it was proposed to have these new facilities operational by the summer of 2021.

 

RESOLVED that the Cabinet:

 

1.  Approve the removal of the existing play equipment and to replace it with a unique and modern adventure play experience.

 

2.  Approve the commencement of a procurement process to appoint a contractor to design and build the Adventure Play Facility at a capital cost of up to £650k.

 

3.  Approve works to reconfigure the car parking arrangements at the existing facility to create an additional 300 car parking spaces at a capital cost of up to £150k

 

4.  Delegate authority to the Director of Streetscene and Regulatory Services following consultation with the Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities, following the completion of the procurement process to approve the award of the contract to the preferred bidder.

 

5.  Approve expenditure of up to £800,000 to be funded from Corporate Capital Resources during 2019/2020 to complete the project as described in section 1 of this report.

56.

Authority for Attendance at Conference pdf icon PDF 278 KB

To authorise the attendance of the Director of Business Investment and Culture (Andy Williams) and the Director of Project Management and Property Services (Richard Moon) to attend the West Midlands Regional Asia Visit to Hong Kong and Mainland China between 24th and 30th November 2019.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that, the Cabinet authorise the attendance of the Director of Business Investment and Culture (Andy Williams) and the Director of Project Management and Property Services (Richard Moon) to attend the West Midlands Regional Asia Visit to Hong Kong and Mainland China between 24th and 30th November 2019.

57.

Authority for Attendance at Conference pdf icon PDF 673 KB

To authorise the attendance of the Deputy Leader of the Council (Councillor AS Khan) and the Head of Sport, Culture and Destination (Val Birchall) to attend the Annual General Meeting – Cities at a Crossroads conference being held in Prague on 20th to 22nd November 2019

Minutes:

RESOLVED that, the Cabinet authorise the attendance of the Deputy Leader of the Council (Councillor AS Khan) and the Head of Sport, Culture and Destination (Val Birchall) to attend the Annual General Meeting – Cities at a Crossroads conference being held in Prague on 20th to 22nd November 2019.

58.

Outstanding Issues

There are no outstanding issues.

Minutes:

There were no outstanding issues.

59.

Any other items of public business which the Chair decides to take as a matter of urgency because of the special circumstances involved.