Agenda and draft minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 19th January, 2023 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room Frog Lane Lichfield

Contact: Christine Lewis 

Items
No. Item

29.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.  Councillor Eagland arrived late at 7pm.

30.

Declarations of Interests

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interests.

 

 

31.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 97 KB

Minutes:

The Minutes of the previous meeting held on 15 December 2022 were agreed as a correct record.

32.

Health Matters pdf icon PDF 28 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair, Councillor Wilcox, emphasised the notes following the previous Staffordshire County Council’sHealth & Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 28 November 2022 in the agenda pack.  It was also noted that the next meeting on Monday 13 February did have agenda items – Draft Mental Health Strategy and Mental Health Support Teams in Schools Update which this committee had pushed to see on their agenda.  He said he would ask the Chair beforehand for specific data on the Lichfield district and report back.  Members were extremely glad that this item was, at last, being heard as it was very important for all ages now not just children.

 

It was noted that looking ahead at the Work Programme for 2023/24 an agenda item had been suggested on Social Prescribing.  It was known that a couple of groups in the district were receiving referrals for social prescribing but with no funding.  The Chair was asked if he could achieve more detail at the necessary time to see if there was any way the funding options could be explored.

 

The Chair, Councillor Wilcox, advised members that he had also attended the Corporate Overview & Scrutiny County Council meeting recently on behalf of this committee where a presentation from the Stoke and Staffordshire LEP had been received together with their annual report.  He said it was quite apparent from that meeting that there was an emphasis on the north of Staffordshire projects being funded so those on the south had asked whether the SSLEP would consider doing a presentation to members of Local Authorities in the south of the area (Stafford, Cannock, East Staffs, Lichfield &Tamworth) which they have said they would be happy to do.  He said he would arrange this for after the Elections in May as following the LEP review by Government, those Authorities who are presently in two LEP's will need to move into one single LEP in the spring which in our case will be Staffordshire, and therefore we will remain in Stoke & Staffordshire LEP.

 

RESOLVED: That the information given be noted.

 

 

 

 

 

33.

Medium Term Financial Strategy pdf icon PDF 3 MB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Strachan, Cabinet Member for Finance & Commissioning advised the committee that following the health matters notes previously discussed on health benefits and planning for healthy communities carried out at shire district level, this element had been alluded to in our consultation response to the provisional government finance settlement as it supplements the direct provision made by Staffordshire County Council.  It had been highlighted what good work we at shire district level do and that the Council could do more if there was a little bit more provision, funding, and a little more space to work in that sector.

 

He introduced the Medium Term Financial Strategy report and appendices for the final time to overview and scrutiny before Cabinet and Full Council (substantive document) and Audit & Member Standards (treasury management) next. 

 

The Assistant Director - Finance & Commissioning, Mr Thomas, gave a presentation on the provisional local government settlement key points as there was quite a change in approach on a positive side.  He said the Government now recognised the pressures local government were facing and wanted to provide stability and increase funding to provide services in communities and had therefore introduced a new Funding Guarantee which ensured every local authority would see a minimum 3% increase in their core spending power in 2023/24 before taking any decisions to increase council tax rates.

 

The government priorities, the change in core spending power, the change in settlement funding assessment and band d increases were illustrated and it was agreed to forward the presentation to all members for further examination.

 

In summary Mr Thomas advised:-

 

       Better-than-expected settlement (big increases in funding announced in the Autumn Statement 2022);

       Increases focused on social care (both grant increases and Adult Social Care precept);

       Some attempt to balance grant allocations for non-social care authorities (3% Funding Guarantee, £5 fire authority increase);

       Distribution is still very short term (no numbers for 2024-25, cliff-edge in 2025-26).

 

Councillor Strachan agreed that having to plan a 4 year MTFS with only very short-term certainty for 2023/24 and the principles only known for 2024/25 was not helpful for financial planning purposes.  The remaining 2 years of MTFS after the guideline figures will remain uncertain until central government can come up with a multi-year settlement which we have constantly been asking for.  However, the provisional settlement had some considerable benefits for Lichfield District Council, particularly re: the windfalls/retained business rate income as there was £2.1m unforeseen income for 2023&24 and projected £1.8m the following year.  It was noted that it was proposed to use this for the wider strategic projects and place in the strategic priority reserve pending approval for its allocations.

Councillor Strachan advised members that Lichfield District Council will freeze its element of Council Tax in the forthcoming financial year recognising the unprecedented financial difficulty for our residents and due to our own better than expected situation.  This was welcomed by members that cabinet have listened and was the caring thing to do.

It was noted under  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.

34.

Elections Act including Voter Identity pdf icon PDF 135 KB

Minutes:

Christie Tims, Assistant Director of Operations, Regulation & Enforcement and Deputy Returning Officer delivered a presentation further to the recent briefing note delivered to members on the changes to the Elections Act including Voter Identity.  She said that information and updated guidance was being received daily from the Government Change team, the Association of Electoral Administrators and the Electoral Commission and processes were being written and updated on a regular basis.  Ms Tims explained that there were a number of actions within the Elections Act to be undertaken in the next 18 months but the most immediate activity concerns the District and Parish Election on 4 May 2023 which required all voters to show photo ID at polling stations before a ballot paper can be issued and to extend election accessibility to support voters with a disability in the polling stations. The acceptable forms of ID were discussed and if the voter does not have a photo ID that looks like them, they could apply for a free voter identification document from the government portal which went live on Monday 16 January.  She confirmed that postal vote handling was not included in this phase and had been delayed after the May elections, until August 2023.  She said even a proxy voter must provide a photo ID of themselves even though they were voting for another. 

 

The process of getting the voter identification document from the government portal was explained and it was noted it did need to include an up to date photograph as well as a NI number.  Ms Tims explained that if residents did not have a NI number and/or photograph, they could come into the council office and the customer services team would be able to assist with the process and take a suitable photograph on their service I-pads.  It was clarified that all applications had to be made by 25 April 2023 as this would allow for the government office to post it on in time for the election day.  Specimens were illustrated and the presentation would be forwarded on to all with the deadline dates and links within for information purposes.

 

Ms Tims said the national campaign had begun with television adverts and so had our local awareness campaign from today.  She said there were scheduled posts to be delivered on social media/through newsletters and posters and all the poll cards would be marked very clearly with the need for photo ID when attending to vote. 

Concerns were made about getting the message out to older people and those who did not have computers and Ms Tims appealed for any ideas to increase the publicity.  An idea of a tag on the bin had already been received which would be explored and members were asked to assist in any way at all.  The local communications plan was in compliment with the national campaign and would be ongoing now until late April.  It was confirmed that all Elections staff would be fully trained to observe the documents  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.

35.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 78 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee asked that the Work Programme be updated as some Officer Leads specified had now left Lichfield District Council.  This was noted and would be amended.

 

Additional items for discussion in March were:-

 

Update on Election changes;

Outcomes of the Procurement process;

Communications – how does this Council engage and how could it be improved?;

LEP membership discussion.

 

RESOLVED:   That the work programme be noted.  The Chair advised that the next meeting for this committee was 16 March 2023 before the Elections were held in May.

 

 

 

36.

Exclusion of Press and Public

RESOLVED: “That as publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted, the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business, which would involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972”

 

IN PRIVATE

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That as publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted, the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business, which would involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972

 

IN PRIVATE

37.

Notes from Task Groups

Minutes:

The Chair from the Masterplan Task Group, Councillor Ball, and the Chair from the New Leisure Centre Task Group, Councillor Baker, updated the committee on the progress made to date.

 

RESOLVED:   That the notes be received.