Manchester City Council

Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 4th November, 2020 2.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Webcast at - https://manchester.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/485366

Contact: Lee Walker 

Media

Items
No. Item

43.

Urgent Business

To consider any items which the Chair has agreed to have submitted as urgent.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Urgent Business: Household Waste and Recycling Centres during COVID-19 lockdown

 

The Chair introduced an item of urgent business by inviting the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods to provide the Committee with an update as to the operation of Household Waste and Recycling Centres following the recent announcement by the Prime Minister of national lockdown to commence 5 November 2020.  

 

The Executive Member for Neighbourhoods stated that all the Household Waste and Recycling Centres across Manchester operated by Suez would remain open during the period of lockdown.

 

Decision

 

To note the update

44.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 238 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 7 October 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair informed the Committee that she would be referring the issue of Social Value and Highways to the Chair of the Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee (see ref NESC/20/41).  She further advised that to address the specific questions raised by Members of the Committee in relation to the information that had been provided, a meeting would be convened with the Director of Highways and the Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport.

 

A Member stated that following the previous meeting he has sought further information regarding the budget arrangements and the waste levy. He stated that it was his opinion that the information reported to the previous meeting had been incorrect. He requested that the Chair take this matter up with the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods following this meeting.

 

Decision

 

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 7 October 2020 as a correct record, noting the above comments.

 

45.

Council's Medium Term Financial Plan and Strategy for 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 262 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer

 

The report will set out the impact of COVID-19 and other pressures and changes on the Council's budget for the period 2021-2025.  It will summarise the savings options under consideration from 2021/22 as well as set out the approach to Equality Impact Assessments and consultation as part of the budget setting process. It also sets out next steps in the budget process, including scrutiny of the draft budget options by this Committee.

 

Separately the report sets out the impact of COVID-19 on the capital programme and the implications for the budget.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer that set out the impact of COVID19 and other pressures and changes on the Council's budget for the period 2021-2025.  The report also set out the impact of COVID19 on the capital programme and the implications for the budget.

 

The main points and themes within the report included: -

 

·         The Medium Term Financial Plan remained challenged by uncertainty, which included the outcome of the Spending Review and post 2021/22 the potential changes to how local government funding was distributed;

·         Prior to COVID19 there was an underlying budget gap of c£20m for 2021/22 rising to c£80m by 2024/25;

·         Dealing with the impact of COVID19 had resulted in major spending pressures, particularly in social care, but also across all Directorates;

·         The forecasted budget shortfall relating to COVID19 pressures and the Budget Position 2021/22 to 2024/25;

·         Initial proposals across all Directorates to start addressing the budget gap in advance of the Spending Review and Local Government Financial Settlement;

·         The need to undertake an Equality Impact Assessment on the options put forward, particularly those that involved impacts on services for residents and reductions in the Council’s workforce;

·         Proposed consultation on budget options and timescales; and  

·         Next Steps.

 

Decision

 

The Committee notes the report.

 

46.

Neighbourhoods Directorate Budget Options 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 339 KB

Report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods)

 

As part of the planning for the 2021/22 budget, the Council is estimating a budget gap of £105m in 2021/22 increasing to c £159m in 2022/23, and all Directorates have been seeking to identify savings options for consideration by Members.

 

This report sets out the details on the initial savings options proposed by officers. The savings options will be considered by all six Scrutiny Committees for those areas within their remit. 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods) that described that as part of the planning for the 2021/22 budget, the Council was estimating a budget gap of £105m in 2021/22 increasing to c £159m in 2022/23, and all Directorates have been seeking to identify savings options for consideration by Members.

 

This report set out the details on the initial savings options proposed by officers. The savings options would be considered by all six Scrutiny Committees for those areas within their remit. The Committee was invited to comment on the report prior to its submission to the Executive on 11 November 2020.

 

Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -

 

·         Noting that the budget options were being considered in the context of the imposition of a decade of austerity and continued cuts to public services;

·         Reducing any staff posts that generated income for the Council would be counterproductive and should be rejected;

·         There should be no reduction in staff undertaken enforcement activity;

·         Rejecting any proposal to charge residents for the replacement of recycling bins, noting that this could lead to increased rates of flytipping; and

·         Rejecting any proposal to reduce the Neighbourhood Investment Fund, noting the positive contribution these made in wards, adding that in the event this had to be considered a cost benefit analysis should be undertaken prior to any final decision being taken.

 

The Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods) responded to questions from Members by clarifying that the report did not set out firm proposals but options that might require further consideration by the Committee following the announcement of the Spending  Review and Finance Settlement.

 

Decision

 

The Committee recommended that when the Executive are asked to consider the officer cuts and savings options that they take into account the feedback from this scrutiny committee.

 

[Councillor Appleby declared a personal and non-prejudicial interest as her partner is employed by Biffa.]

 

47.

Homelessness Directorate Budget and Savings Options 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 320 KB

Report of the Director of Homelessness

 

As reported to the Executive on the 14th October 2020, it is anticipated the implications of Covid-19 will have a significant impact on the Council’s finances for a number of years, the current potential budget gap for 2021/22 is £105m, after mitigations are taken account of. The report of the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer, elsewhere on the agenda provides the detailed update on the Council's MTFP focusing on the financial position and strategy from 2021/22.

 

This report provides the high level budget context and priorities for Homelessness across 2021/22 and the feedback from the budget conversation, which has been used for the development of savings options 2021/22 and investment requirements to fund population driven and other budget pressures.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Homelessness that provided the high level budget context and priorities for Homelessness across 2021/22 and the feedback from the budget conversation, which had been used for the development of savings options 2021/22 and investment requirements to fund population driven and other budget pressures. The Committee was invited to comment on the report prior to its submission to the Executive on 11 November 2020.

 

The main points and themes within the report included: -

 

·         Providing an introduction and context of the report;

·         An overview of the budget strategy for Homelessness;

·         A summary of the directorate budget;

·         Describing the savings options and proposals;

·         An overview of additional options to be considered;

·         Analysis of overall impacts; and

·         Workforce impact.

 

Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -

 

·         Noting that the budget options were being considered in the context of the imposition of a decade of austerity and cuts to public services;

·         Despite the cuts Manchester had sought to defend the most vulnerable residents in the city, and in doing so the Committee paid tribute to all of the staff working in the homelessness service, particularly during the COVID19 pandemic;

·         Unanimously reject the officer proposals, commenting that any cuts in this service would have implications on other service budgets ;

·         Noting that the cost in providing accommodation for those previously sleeping rough in response to COVID19 and Everyone In was £7m, the Committee called upon the government to meet this cost;

·         Noting the positive feedback received on the Everyone In scheme;

·         Recommending the establishment of a task force comprised of the Revenue and Benefits Unit, local charities, faith groups and VCSE partners to consider homelessness prevention;

·         The GMCA (Greater Manchester Combined Authority) should increase their financial contribution to Manchester to support the work to address homelessness;

·         Working in partnership with local registered housing providers, the Capital budget should be used to purchase properties to house homeless families;

·         Noting the significant funds paid to private Bed and Breakfast (B&B) providers the Council should commission and manage its own B&B provision;

·         Noting the importance of the need to prevent homelessness, the Section 21 team and the Private Rented Sector Team needed to be maintained; and

·         Recognising the important work of staff working in the homelessness service the Committee rejected any proposal to reduce staffing.

 

The Director of Homelessness welcomed the comments from the Members. He stated that it was recognised that the use of B&B accommodation was not always appropriate, particularly for families. He stated that the Service Transformation Programme would form the core of the approach to tackling and reducing homelessness over the next three years. It would be the framework in which reductions in temporary accommodation and rough sleeping would be achieved through a radical reorganisation of the Homelessness Service and its activities. The programme would focus on five key areas; the strategic vision, redesigning the journey through the system, prevention, accommodation and communication and development.

 

The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.

48.

Active Travel pdf icon PDF 380 KB

Report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods)

 

This report provides an overview of the activities undertaken to promote active travel and connectivity across the city.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods) that provided an overview of the activities undertaken to promote active travel and connectivity across the city.

 

The main points and themes within the report included: -

 

·         Activities undertaken with both schools and neighbourhoods; 

·         Physical infrastructure to support active travel and future plans;

·         How active travel linked into the climate change emergency to reduce carbon and improve clean air;

·         An update on Government Funding for active travel and what other avenues were being accessed;

·         Options for further pop up cycle lanes and other measures in the city; and

·         How the Council measured the objectives of Active travel.

 

The Chair invited the Neighbourhood Officer for Hulme to address the Committee on the Junior PCSO scheme that had been established in the ward. The Officer described the background to the scheme, the work and engagement undertaken with local schools, children and their parents. She described the benefits and positive outcomes of the scheme and how this contributed to the wider climate change ambitions of the Council.

 

Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -

 

·         Noting the inspiring and positive contribution that the Junior PCSO scheme had delivered and recommending that this good practice and learning should be shared across all wards;

·         Noting that the positive activities and initiatives with schools and local communities seemed to be concentrated in certain areas and there was a distinct lack of these delivered in the north of the city and in Wythenshawe;

·         Investment in infrastructure to support active travel and improve connectivity was required in North Manchester; and

·         An update was sought on the government funding to support active travel.

 

The Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport informed the Committee that all provisions, such as Play Streets were advertised and available across all areas of the city and not restricted to certain areas. She stated that schools were contacted and offered support to deliver local schemes however it was the decision of the individual schools to take up this offer. She noted that she recognised the significant challenge schools had faced this year as a result of COVID19 however the options and support of local Neighbourhood Teams still remained. The Director of Education confirmed that information was regularly shared with schools and this would be raised again via Virtual Head Teacher Meetings, with consideration given to a targeted approach.

 

The Executive Member for Neighbourhoods stated that all Ward Plans should include Climate Change and the Head of Neighbourhoods confirmed that the local team did engage with schools in the Wythenshawe area and this work and dialogue with schools would continue.

 

A Member of the Committee commented on the work undertaken by local Councillors and schools in North Manchester and she offered to share this experience and lessons learnt with other Neighbourhood Teams across the city. The Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport welcomed this and commented upon the important roles local Members had in supporting and promoting active travel  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.

49.

Monitoring and Compliance - Construction Sites pdf icon PDF 208 KB

Report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods), the Director of Planning, Building Control and Licensing and the Head of Compliance, Enforcement and Community Safety

 

The report provides information requested by Members and a range of activities relating to the monitoring and compliance of construction sites.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair announced that due to the time constraints upon the Committee having given due consideration to the the budget reports she recommended that this item of business be deferred to the next meeting of the Committee.

 

Decision

 

To defer consideration of this report to the next meeting of the Committee.

 

50.

Overview Report pdf icon PDF 967 KB

Report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit

 

This revised report includes details of the key decisions due to be taken that are relevant to the Committee’s remit as well as an update on actions resulting from the Committee’s recommendations and items for information. The report also includes the Committee’s work programme, which the Committee is asked to agree.

 

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit which contained key decisions within the Committee’s remit and responses to previous recommendations was submitted for comment. Members were also invited to agree the Committee’s future work programme.

 

Decision

 

To note the report and agree the work programme noting the decision to defer the previous agenda item.