Agenda and minutes

Finance, Commercial Revenue and Contracts Policy & Accountability Committee - Wednesday, 18th November, 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Online - Virtual Meeting. View directions

Contact: Kayode Adewumi  Email: kayode.adewumi@lbhf.gov.uk

Link: Watch the meeting on YouTube

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

 

2.

Roll Call and Declarations of Interest

The Chair will carry out a roll call to confirm attendance and members will have the opportunity to declare any interests.

 

If a Councillor has a disclosable pecuniary interest in a particular item, whether or not it is entered in the Authority’s register of interests, or any other significant interest which they consider should be declared in the public interest, they should declare the existence and, unless it is a sensitive interest as defined in the Member Code of Conduct, the nature of the interest at the commencement of the consideration of that item or as soon as it becomes apparent.

 

At meetings where members of the public are allowed to be in attendance and speak, any Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest or other significant interest may also make representations, give evidence or answer questions about the matter. The Councillor must then withdraw immediately from the meeting before the matter is discussed and any vote taken.

 

Where Members of the public are not allowed to be in attendance and speak, then the Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest should withdraw from the meeting whilst the matter is under consideration. Councillors who have declared other significant interests should also withdraw from the meeting if they consider their continued participation in the matter would not be reasonable in the circumstances and may give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest.

 

Councillors are not obliged to withdraw from the meeting where a dispensation to that effect has been obtained from the Standards Committee.

Minutes:

The Chair carried out a roll call to confirm attendance. There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 344 KB

To approve as an accurate record, and the Chairman to sign the minutes of the meeting held on 5 October 2020.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 5 October 2020 were approved and signed by the Chair subject to the following amendments: -

 

Page 6 - should read Erik Hohenstein was of the view that the Council needs to be more innovative in raising alternative revenue so that the council can continue to support the less fortunate.

 

Page 7: (last para) add to the end of the statement “what did the future hold for the residents on the estates” and whether the council had and would continually invest in the estate so that it was not a victim of the setbacks through this development and hiatus.

 

·         Financial Impact of Covid-19 on the Council

 

Councilor Vincent asked for a budget update position. Emily Hill (Director of Finance) reported that some more government grants had been announced since the last meeting. The forecast has again been reviewed. There is a total impact of £13.7 million on the budget consisting of £2.5m on the general fund for this fiscal year, £3.3m on the housing revenue account and £7.9m on the collection fund which would be spread over the next 3 years. The Government will also take this shortfall into account during our annual grants settlement, but we are not sure whether it would be fully funded. These figures do not include significant 2nd lockdown additional costs and as a result the position is expected to get worse.

 

For example, parking and traffic enforcement income was modelled for a 4 – 6 weeks lockdown resulting in a £11 million deficit. However, the impact of the 2nd lockdown on parking income has not been as severe as people are still travelling. We will monitor the changing position as conditions changes or additional government funding is announced.

 

Tony Boys requested for a report on the relationship between traffic and income in respect of potential changes to the congestion zone, emission zone, the government’s direction towards electric vehicles and impact on the continued closure of the Bridge. He asked for the report to also explore how to make the best use of traffic income across the borough.

 

Chris Littmoden asked for clarification on how much COVID 19 funding had been received from the government to date. Emily noted that £18m had been received in 4 tranches of ring-fenced government grants.

 

Action - Report on the relationship between traffic and income in respect of potential changes to the congestion zone, emission zone, the government’s direction towards electric vehicles and impact on the continued closure of the Bridge.

 

Kalsi Sukvinder - Head of Finance (Environment)

 

·         Review of Termination of The Conditional Land Sale Agreement

 

Councillor Murphy recalled that ex Council Leaders - Lord Greenhalgh and Mr Botterill did not attend the last meeting to contribute to the discussion on the termination of the land sale agreement. He had subsequently heard from Lord Greenhalgh. The exchange of correspondence will be circulated.

 

Action – Exchange of emails to be circulated to Members.

 

Councillor PJ Murphy

 

·         Civic Campus Programme

 

Councillor  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Public Participation

This meeting is being held remotely via Microsoft Teams. If you would like to ask a question about any of the items on the agenda, either via Teams or in writing, please contact: Kayode.Adewumi@lbhf.gov.uk

 

 You can watch the meeting live on YouTube: https://youtu.be/enNccQ7pH4Y

 

Minutes:

No public questions were received.

 

5.

Managing Adult Social Care services and finances during Covid-19 pdf icon PDF 212 KB

To receive a presentation on how Adult Social Care is managing its services and finances during Covid-19.

Minutes:

Lisa Redfern, (strategic director of social care), gave a presentation on how Adult Social Care is managing its services and finances during Covid-19.

 

The department has a net budget of £55 million with circa 205 full time equivalent staff. Adult social care supports around 2,400 people with 525 living in care homes. Most residents live in the community with the support they need. Social care has one of the biggest budgets in the Council which is volatile and difficult to manage under the best of circumstances, made even more so, during this pandemic. A large amount of funding received by the government was spent on PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), over £2 million, supporting residents living in the community, living in care homes, and given directly to care home providers.

 

She noted the good news, that the Pfizer, Covid-19 vaccination programme, will commence in December 2020, for care home residents, care staff, and extra care and supported living residents. In January 2021, the AstraZeneca vaccination, which is more portable, will target people over 80 and people with disabilities, their support staff, and key workers in the community.

 

Prakash Daryanani, (Head of Finance - Social Care and Public Health), clarified that the department’s gross budget is £92.7 million with an income of £38 million obtained from government grants and contribution from the NHS. Social care is on track to balance its budget with just over £300,000 overspend at present and is on target to meet its £2.4 million savings target.

 

The Chair thanked Lisa and her staff for what they had delivered under intense pressure.

 

Tony Boys asked whether the Council was able to leverage local networks like Nextdoor to deliver services to the vulnerable. Lisa reported how over the last few months local residents and council staff have worked together much more closely. Social care staff have been based in the H&F CAN (Community Action Network) for months now, which has worked very well and streamlined delivery. By working together with volunteers and community groups, we will be able to continue to improve service delivery, build upon the excellent work and provide a more collaborative and cost-effective service. Tony was of the view that COVID had brought about a more tolerant and helpful society.

 

Councillor Quigley thanked the officers for all their hard work and asked if Lisa had a wish list with no expense spared what would she do? The Committee was informed that the reform of social care would be the top priority. Social care is about providing support to people to enable them to live at home. She would like to improve care support, increase the quality and standard of support for people and have a higher quality workforce. A workforce with parity with NHS staff.

 

Councillor Vincent congratulated the team for all the wonderful things they had done for the community.

 

Eric Hohenstein asked whether the savings made had led to a reduction in services and what reductions had been introduced due to COVID. Lisa responded  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Hammersmith Bridge - Verbal Update

To receive a verbal update on Hammersmith Bridge.

Minutes:

Emily Hill (Director of Finance) gave a verbal update on the Hammersmith Bridge. She noted that Hammersmith Bridge is an essential element of the London-wide and national strategic transport infrastructure. It is a strategic and historical asset which provides economic and social benefits across West London and more widely. Most of the Thames road bridges are not the responsibility of London Boroughs. Bridges across London have historically been funded by TfL (Transport for London). The precedent is for national funding of bridges as key infrastructure assets.

 

The Council itself faces significant financial pressures considering funding reductions and the impact of Covid-19 with significant uncertainty over future government funding due to increased demand and pressures on services. The bridge’s repair costs will be significant. The stabilization repairs will cost £46 million which will allow the bridge to be reopened to pedestrian and cycle traffic and allow river traffic to pass under it but not motor vehicle traffic. It will cost £143 million for motor vehicle traffic to cross over.

 

Several formal requests/bids have been submitted to the government for funding. The Council continues to press for confirmation of funding through the Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce.

 

Ongoing expenditure is required for safety inspections, monitoring systems and necessary minor maintenance. All expenditure from 2010/11 to 2018/19 was funded by TfL. The Council spent £1.2 million last year which is an outstanding TfL debt. For 2020/21, £2.7m has been incurred in 20/21 (full year impact) at risk. We expect at least part of this to be reimbursed by TfL and Port of London Authority. There was an urgent Leader’s decision on 1 September for the purchase of a temperature control system requiring £420,000 capital investment and annual maintenance costs of £417,000.

 

The Council is facing immense pressure with a 54% decrease in grants over the past 10 years. With significant uncertainty over future spending review of social care funding and business rates, and not knowing what our 2021/22 grant settlement would be, the Council cannot commit to such a significant capital investment especially with our levels of reserves. In the current climate, it is important to have a level of reserves to manage financial shocks and meet any unforeseen expenditure.

Councillor Murphy noted that the running cost would be £2.7m and asked despite several announcements made by the Government and politicians that the money would be released or in place why are things not moving forward as well we would like? The Leader responded that the Government had stated to the Richmond Park MP that Shaun Bailey will receive the money and the bridge would be fixed. He was surprised that the Government had ignored the Council’s submitted plan and bids. He noted that an ex-Leader of the Council had tweeted that the Council should borrow and use our reserves to fund the bridge. It would cost the Council £7m a year to finance such borrowing. With the current pressures on Children’s services and Social Care budgets it would not be prudent to use our  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Committee Work Programme

The Committee is asked to suggest topics for future consideration.

Minutes:

The work programme was noted.

8.

Dates of future meetings

The following dates are proposed:

 

·         Thursday 28 January 2021

·         Tuesday 31 March 2021

Minutes:

· Thursday 28 January 2021

· Tuesday 31 March 2021