Agenda and minutes

Corporate Overview Select Committee
Thursday, 25 October 2018 10.00 am

Venue: Ashcombe Suite, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN. View directions

Contact: Huma Younis or Joss Butler 

Note: Budget Meeting 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence and Substitutions

2.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting: 20 September 2018 pdf icon PDF 93 KB

3.

Declarations of Interest

    All Members present are required to declare, at this point in the meeting or

    as soon as possible thereafter:

     

    i.       any disclosable pecuniary interests and / or;

     

    ii.      other interests arising under the Code of Conduct in respect of any item(s) of business being considered at this meeting

     

    NOTES:

     

    ·        Members are reminded that they must not participate in any item where they have a disclosable pecuniary interest;

     

    ·        as well as an interest of the Member, this includes any interest, of which the Member is aware, that relates to the Member’s spouse or civil partner (or any person with whom the Member is living as a spouse or civil partner); and

     

    ·        Members with a significant personal interest may participate in the discussion and vote on that matter unless that interest could be reasonably regarded as prejudicial.

     

    Minutes:

    There were no declarations of interest made.

4.

Questions & Petitions

    To receive any questions or petitions

     

    Notes:

     

    1.     The deadline for Member’s questions is 12.00pm four working days before the meeting (19 October 2018).

     

    2.     The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting (18 October 2018).

     

    3.     The deadline for petitions was 14 days before the meeting, and no petitions have been received.

    Minutes:

    There were no questions and petitions submitted to the Committee.

5.

Surrey County Council Organisation Strategy 2019 - 2023 and 'Our People 2021' Strategy pdf icon PDF 80 KB

    To update the Corporate Overview Select Committee on the new Surrey County Council Organisation Strategy 2019 – 2023 and ‘Our People 2021’ Strategy.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Tim Oliver, Lead Cabinet Member for People

    Charlotte Morley, Cabinet Member for Corporate Support

    Michael Coughlin, Executive Director for Customers, Digital and Transformation

    Jackie Foglietta, Interim Head of HR & OD

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.     Members were informed that the Organisational Strategy 2019 - 2023 would set out how the Council would support the delivery of the new ‘Community Vision for Surrey in 2030’. The ‘Our People 2021’ Strategy was noted to be a plan for the Council’s workforce which set out how it would develop the capacity to contribute to the Community Vision and achieve the Council’s Strategic outcomes. Officers further explained that the strategies laid out the initial changes to the authority to create a different type of council to better suit the needs of the residents. Both strategies would be considered at the Cabinet meeting on 30 October 2018 and then to County Council on 13 November 2018.

     

    2.     Members highlighted that some residents were concerned that the new organisational strategy was just a retreat from current service standards. Officers explained that the Council would need to explore new ways of providing services as there had been significant changes to demand. It was further stated that there were examples from across the country where similar strategies had proven to be very effective.

     

    3.     The Committee highlighted the cynicism of residents when transforming services and the importance of building trust in the Council. Following discussion, the Cabinet Lead Member for People explained that the Council no longer had the resource to deliver services in an improved way without partnership with other organisations. He further stated that work was ongoing to find the best way to deliver services and to explore how they can be funded.

     

    4.     The Committee highlighted that there had historically been other transformation projects in the Council that were never bought to a satisfactory completion.

     

    5.     Members sought clarification on how services would continue to be delivered if partners equally did not have the resource available to provide a high service standard. Officers explained the a key change of approach was to look at prevention and early intervention to deal with situations before they become issues. Along with this, It was noted that there had been some positive conversations with Chief Executive Officers and Leaders of district and borough councils to discuss future partnerships with the Council.

     

    6.     Members of the Committee were concerned as there were various examples of contradictions between the standards of services and partnerships outlined in the Vision and the actions planned to be taken to make savings. The Cabinet Member for Corporate Services noted that resident feedback had shown a transformation of services was need to deliver the service standard expected which would take time to come into place.

     

    7.     Officers noted Members comments relating to the consequences of over reliance on digital media to communicate messages of transformation to residents. It was felt that a significant portion of service users did not have the appropriate access  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Preliminary Financial Strategy pdf icon PDF 110 KB

    Purpose of the Report: In advance of the publication of the Council’s Preliminary Financial Strategy, this report sets out the scale of the challenge facing the Council and its approach to setting a balanced budget for 2019/20.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Leigh Whitehouse, Interim Executive Director of Finance 

    Tim Oliver, Lead Cabinet Member for People

    Charlotte Morley, Cabinet Member for Corporate Support

    Michael Coughlin, Executive Director for Customers, Digital and Transformation

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

     

    1.     The Interim Executive Director of Finance introduced the item and provided Members with a brief summary. Officers noted that the Preliminary Financial Strategy (PFS) was being considered earlier in the year than expected to ensure that there was a robust engagement for consultations. It was further stated that, due to the uncertainty of funding for the next financial year, the PFS focused on producing a balanced budget for 2019/20. More detail would be provided on the medium term position up to budget setting at the beginning of 2019.

     

    2.     Members sought confirmation on how the budget envelopes for each service had been calculated. It was explained that officers initially conducted a series of deep dives into services to review the extend in which they built demand pressures into their budgets which had shown that they were higher than those of other comparable local authorities. These budgets were then further reviewed for inclusion in the budget envelopes.

     

    3.     The Chairman of the Audit & Governance Committee provided Members with an update on Recommendation C of the Budget Sub-Group Report July-October 2018. He stated that he had so far identified some initial details on the service-run audit but that he would be later meeting with the appropriate officer for a full response.

     

    4.     The Committee asked for details on what safeguards were in place in the event that a service was unable to meet the targets within their relevant budget envelope. Officers stated that they were in the process of validating budget proposals submitted by Executive Directors and if, following this, the services were seen to be off-track, the relevant Executive Director would be supported to find additional savings within their service. Members further noted that, due to services working with the finance team to generate budget envelopes, services now had greater responsibility and accountability to stay within them.

     

    5.     It was highlighted that on 25 September 2018 Cabinet accepted a finance improvement plan to address some of the concerns raised following a review of the Council’s finances.

     

    6.     A Member of the Committee felt that it would be appropriate to appoint a Cabinet Member with a portfolio specifically responsible for the Council’s finances.

     

    1. The Committee request that transformation plans be mapped against the 2019/20 budget envelope proposals by directorate and provided to Members.

     

    Resolved:

     

    The Committee:

     

             endorse the strategic activity taking place to ensure the Council achieves financial sustainability and a balanced budget in 2019/20.

             recognised there will be greater budget accountability processes in place with sign off being required from relevant Cabinet Members and Officers.

             recommend risks and RAG statuses to be included alongside all budgetary information produced by the finance team (including forecast revenue budgetary information and proposed in year savings plans).

             agree that at least two meetings  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Forward Work Programmes and Corporate Overview Select Committee Recommendations Tracker pdf icon PDF 96 KB

8.

Date of the Next Meeting