Council services by letter

Agenda and minutes

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Venue: Committee Rooms 1 & 2, Harrow Civic Centre, Station Road, Harrow, HA1 2XY. View directions

Contact: Daksha Ghelani, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Tel: 020 8424 1881 E-mail:  daksha.ghelani@harrow.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

37.

Attendance by Reserve Members

To note the attendance at this meeting of any duly appointed Reserve Members.

 

Reserve Members may attend meetings:-

 

(i)                 to take the place of an ordinary Member for whom they are a reserve;

(ii)               where the ordinary Member will be absent for the whole of the meeting; and

(iii)             the meeting notes at the start of the meeting at the item ‘Reserves’ that the Reserve Member is or will be attending as a reserve;

(iv)              if a Reserve Member whose intention to attend has been noted arrives after the commencement of the meeting, then that Reserve Member can only act as a Member from the start of the next item of business on the agenda after his/her arrival.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that there were no Reserve Members in attendance.

38.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary or non pecuniary interests, arising from business to be transacted at this meeting, from:

 

(a)               all Members of the Committee;

(b)               all other Members present.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that the following interests were declared:

 

Agenda Item 3 – Question and Answer Session with the Leader of the Council and Interim Chief Executive

 

During the question and answer session, Councillor Chris Mote, a member of the Committee, declared a non-pecuniary interest in that he his daughter worked for the NHS.  He would remain in the room whilst the matter was considered and voted upon.

 

During the question and answer session, Councillor Jean Lammiman, a member of the Committee, declared a non-pecuniary interest in that she was Chairman of Shaftesbury School Board of Governors.  She would remain in the room whilst the matter was considered and voted upon.

 

During the question and answer session, Councillors Jeff Anderson, Jerry Miles and Chris Mote, members of the Committee, declared non-pecuniary interests in that they were in receipt of medications provided by the NHS.  They would remain in the room whilst the matter was considered and voted upon.

RESOLVED ITEMS

39.

Question and Answer Session with the Leader of the Council and Interim Chief Executive

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed the Leader of the Council, the interim Chief Executive and the Director of Finance to the meeting.  Prior to the consideration of questions from Members of the Committee, the interim Chief Executive outlined the overall funding position and underlined the severe pressures on the Council’s finances, as follows:

 

-               Revenue Support Grant (RSG) – the Council had seen its RSG reduced by 97% over a 7 year period. By 2019/20, the grant reduction would equate to £1.566m.  This had translated into funding gaps of £22.8m over the next two years.  The Council had been addressing funding gaps since 2006 and had been underspending, in comparison with other local authorities.  The Council had made transformational changes such as in its library and garden waste collection services.   Growth pressures in Children and Adult Services would continue, including in the delivery of Special Educational Needs (SEN).  The Council was finding it challenging to identify savings year on year;

 

-               Business Rates – in Harrow had been in long term decline.  Pooling arrangements would be addressed during the latter part of the question and answer session;

 

-               Reserves – the Council did not have large cash reserves and its general fund balances stood at £10m.  As a result, it had limited ability to ‘smooth out’ funding gaps or invest over a number of years and this situation would continue.

 

The interim Chief Executive added that the Council had been in discussion with the Local Government Association (LGA) to seek advice.  The Council had delivered an underspend in 2018/19 and the draft budget contained  ‘cushioning’.  The Council had started work on demographic shift and trends  in Harrow to help prepare future budgets. In Children’s Services, savings had been achieved due to actions implemented in 2018, such as early intervention.  In Adult Services, changes were at an early stage and teams were being re-organised.  Officers were also exploring joining health and social care with housing.  Significant savings had been made in the Community Directorate and work on Project Phoenix was continuing.  In the Resources Directorate, Human Resources (HR), Finance and Payroll were all operating at minimum levels.

 

Members asked a series of questions to the Leader, Chief Executive and the Director of Finance and received responses as follows:

 

What was the future direction of the Council – the big picture – referenced in paragraphs 1.61 and 1.62 of the Draft Revenue Budget report submitted to 6 December 2018 Cabinet meeting?

 

The Leader of the Council and the interim Chief Executive responded as follows:

 

-               the vision was to deliver on an effective adult social care service, reverse ‘growthout’ and tackle demand.  Amongst its other initiatives, the Council was looking to integrate health and social care but it recognised that the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) was also facing financial difficulties.  The report to December 2018 Cabinet meeting alluded on the need to focus on the Council’s future financial position to ensure that Council services could operate safely, within the law, could be afforded  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.