Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Communities and Equalities Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 8th November, 2022 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Level 2, Town Hall Extension. View directions

Contact: Rachel McKeon 

Media

Items
No. Item

42.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 105 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 11 October 2022.

Minutes:

Decision

 

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 11 October 2022as a correct record.

43.

Crime and Policing pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Report of the Police, Crime and Fire team, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

 

To provide Committee Members with a highlight report of crime and policing issues for discussion with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Police, Crime and Fire team, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) which was a highlight report of crime and policing issues for discussion with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester.

 

Key points and themes in the report included:

 

  • Lifting GMP out of special measures;
  • Resources;
  • Progress with IT systems;
  • Reducing crime and anti-social behaviour in neighbourhoods;
  • Operation Vulcan in Cheetham Hill and Strangeways;
  • Roads policing and safe travel;
  • Violence reduction and county lines; and
  • Equality and diversity.

 

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, outlined the journey of change that GMP had been through, leading to His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) taking GMP out of special measures recently, and the speed with which this improvement had been achieved.  He highlighted the progress made across a range of areas including handling of calls from the public, time taken to respond to incidents, the quality of the response and an increase in prosecutions.  He also highlighted that there had been an increased use of stop and search powers while also having a reduction in the number of complaints.  He reported that a significant amount of the frontline officer posts that had been lost due to austerity had been restored and highlighted further funding from the Home Office for police officer recruitment, advising that increasingly people wanted to join GMP.  He emphasised the importance of making roads policing a priority.  He highlighted Operation Vulcan, which had been launched the previous week, and Operation Avro, which he advised was visible, positive policing which made an impact in communities and increased their confidence in GMP; however, he recognised that still much more needed to be done and also that, while it was not the subject of today’s meeting, there were major learnings to be taken from the Manchester Arena Inquiry report.

 

Baroness Bev Hughes, Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester outlined how GMP had been able to make the progress it had made so far and how it would continue to do so.  She informed Members that those involved in the recruitment of the new Chief Constable had been very clear about the criteria they were looking for, including a genuine commitment to a public service ethos, the ability to build leadership capability in GMP and transparency and willingness to work in partnership and she outlined how Chief Constable Stephen Watson met those requirements.

 

The Committee also received a presentation from Chief Superintendent Richard Timson of GMP.  The key points and themes in the presentation included:

 

  • The journey to improvement;
  • Restructures;
  • The force-wide approach to reduce demand on public services;
  • Police operations; and
  • Public and Elected Member engagement.

 

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

 

  • Work to address violence against women and girls, including the impact so far and plans to continue this work;
  • The confidence of communities in reporting crimes such as speeding and anti-social behaviour, including problems getting through on the 101 non-emergency number and residents who are not able  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.

44.

Revenue Budget Update - Cover Report pdf icon PDF 115 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer

 

This report sets out the financial challenge facing the Council, the latest forecast position, and the next steps. The Council is forecasting an estimated budget shortfall of £44m in 2023/24, £85m in 2024/25, and £112m by 2025/26. After the use of c£16m smoothing reserves in each of the three years, this gap reduces to £28m in 2023/24, £69m in 2024/25 and £96m by 2025/26.

 

This report sets out the high-level position. Officers have identified potential savings options to reduce the budget gap totalling £42.3m over three years.

 

Even after these proposals there remains a budget gap of £7m to close to get to a balanced budget in 2023/24 and further savings options will be developed between now and January 2023 and be reported back to Scrutiny committees in February. Each scrutiny committee is invited to consider the current proposed changes which are within its remit and to make recommendations to the Executive before it agrees to the final budget proposals in February 2023.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer that set out the financial challenge facing the Council, the latest forecast position, and the next steps.

 

Key points and themes in the report included:

 

·         The Council was forecasting an estimated budget shortfall of £44m in 2023/24, £85m in 2024/25, and £112m by 2025/26. After the use of c£16m smoothing reserves in each of the three years, this gap reduced to £28m in 2023/24, £69m in 2024/25 and £96m by 2025/26;

·         Setting out the high-level position;

·         Describing the officer-identified potential savings options to reduce the budget gap totalling £42.3m over three years;

·         Noting that even after these proposals there remained a budget gap of £7m to close to get to a balanced budget in 2023/24 and further savings options would be developed between now and January 2023 and be reported back to scrutiny committees in February; and

·         Each scrutiny committee was invited to consider the current proposed changes which were within its remit and to make recommendations to the Executive before it agreed to the final budget proposals in February 2023.

 

Decision

 

To note the report.

45.

Neighbourhood Directorate 2023/24 Budget pdf icon PDF 144 KB

Report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhood Services)

 

The Council is forecasting an estimated budget shortfall of £44m in 2023/24, £85m in 2024/25, and £112m by 2025/26. After the use of c£16m smoothing reserves in each of the three years, this reduces to £28m in 2023/24, £69m in 2024/25 and £96m by 2025/26. Officers have identified potential savings options to reduce the budget gap totalling £42.3m over three years.

 

This report sets out the priorities for the services in the remit of this committee and details the initial revenue budget changes proposed by officers.

 

Even after these proposals there remains a budget gap of £7m to close to get to a balanced budget in 2023/24 and further savings and cuts options will be required to be worked between now and January and be reported back to Scrutiny committees in February. Each scrutiny committee is invited to consider the current proposed changes which are within its remit and to make recommendations to the Executive before it agrees to the final budget proposals in February 2023.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhood Services) which was the first in the cycle for the budget programme 2023-26. It set out an overview of the services within the remit of this scrutiny committee and their key priorities. The budget growth assumptions in the Medium-Term Financial Plan were set out. The report provided a draft set of officer proposals for further savings for 2023-26, developed in the context of the financial challenge facing the Council.

 

Key points and themes in the report included:

 

·         Providing an overview of the service and priorities;

·         A description of the service budget and the proposed changes;

·         Describing the proposed savings programme;

·         Workforce implications;

·         Equality and anti-poverty impact; and

·         Future opportunities and risk.

 

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

 

  • That the Council had been put in the difficult position of having to identify cuts this year and in previous years, through no fault of its own;
  • Concern about the impact of job losses in this economic climate;
  • Proposals for reducing the hours that the Art Gallery was open;
  • The importance of libraries, galleries and culture to the well-being of Manchester residents, in particular recognising the role that libraries played in supporting people, and the impact of the cuts that the Council was being forced to make;
  • The impact on local community groups of the proposal to reduce the Neighbourhood Investment Fund (NIF) for each ward;
  • Staff turnover in Community Safety and Compliance; and
  • The proposed withdrawal of the Central Library digital media lounge.

 

The Strategic Director (Neighbourhood Services) recognised the vital role that libraries played and advised that officers had been very careful to ensure that the cuts proposed did not result in libraries closing or reducing their opening hours.  In response to a Member’s question, he reported that it was not envisaged that there would be a significant environmental impact of the proposed savings but that there could be a reduced capacity to increase the work to tackle climate change, for example, reducing the capacity for the NIF to support community projects could mean that some local environmental projects did not receive this funding.

 

In response to a question about the vacancy factor referred to in the report, the Head of Finance explained that this was a way of taking into account that not all staff would be at the top point of their salary grade, that there would be a natural turnover of staff, with posts vacant for a short period, and that not all staff would be in the pension fund, which the Council contributed to.  In response to a question about inflationary pressures, he advised that the figures in table one in the cover report included elements of inflation, where they tended to be held corporately rather than under individual directorates.

 

The Senior Operational Lead (Galleries) reported that the savings proposal related to reducing gallery opening hours would be achieved through removing vacant posts in the visitor engagement team.  She advised  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.

46.

Homelessness Directorate 2023/24 Budget pdf icon PDF 221 KB

Report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods)

 

The Council is forecasting an estimated budget shortfall of £44m in 2023/24, £85m in 2024/25, and £112m by 2025/26. After the use of c£16m smoothing reserves in each of the three years, this reduces to £28m in 2023/24, £69m in 2024/25 and £96m by 2025/26. Officers have identified potential savings options to reduce the budget gap totalling £42.3m over three years.

 

This report sets out the priorities for the services in the remit of this committee and details the initial revenue budget changes proposed by officers.

 

Even after these proposals there remains a budget gap of £7m to close to get to a balanced budget in 2023/24 and further savings and cuts options will be required to be worked between now and January and be reported back to Scrutiny committees in February. Each scrutiny committee is invited to consider the current proposed changes which are within its remit and to make recommendations to the Executive before it agrees to the final budget proposals in February 2023.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhood Services) which set out the priorities for the services in the remit of this Committee and detailed the initial revenue budget changes proposed by officers.

 

Key points and themes in the report included:

  • Service overview and priorities;
  • Service budget and proposed changes;
  • Workforce; and
  • Future opportunities and risks.

The Deputy Leader expressed concern at the cuts that the Council had been faced with over 12 years and the cumulative effect of this, and the factors which were contributing towards people becoming homeless.  She highlighted that it was not proposed to reduce the gross homelessness budget as this was an important area; however, it was proposed that, by investing in work to prevent homelessness, savings could be made over the next few years on the amount of money spent on housing people in bed-and-breakfast accommodation and other temporary accommodation.

 

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

 

  • To support investment in work to prevent homelessness;
  • How much certainty there was about the potential saving from a change in the Allocations Procedure to allow people to be classified as Homeless at Home at the Prevention stage, as referred to in Appendix 1;
  • How much certainty there was that savings to bed-and-breakfast costs could be made through investing in prevention, given the complexity of the issues relating to homelessness and the cost-of-living crisis; and
  • To request that the report on Homelessness which was scheduled for the Committee’s January 2023 meeting include information about the work being done to factor in the additional challenges associated with the cost-of-living crisis.

 

The Chair recognised the hard work of those working in the Homelessness Service and asked that the Committee’s thanks be passed on to the frontline staff.

 

The Executive Member for Finance and Resources stated that the reports presented were currently officer proposals only. He stated that the Government’s Autumn Statement and final financial settlement were still to be announced.  He stated that the public consultation on the Council’s Budget had commenced and would run until 7 January 2023, adding that difficult decisions would need to be taken and it was important to hear the views of Manchester residents.  He commented that the financial situation the Council found itself in was not the fault of the Council, adding that the Council was a well-managed and financially responsible organisation and this could be evidenced.  He stated that the fault was the direct result of ideological decisions taken by the government over the previous decade.  He stated that the budget cuts imposed on Manchester had been unfair.  He stated that, if Manchester had received the average cuts to funding, the Council budget would be £77m per year better off.  He stated that it was calculated that the gap in Local Authority funding nationally was in excess of £3bn, adding that it was estimated that one in six councils could run out of money next year.  He called upon the government to protect councils  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.

47.

Overview Report pdf icon PDF 134 KB

Report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit

 

The monthly report includes the recommendations monitor, relevant key decisions, the Committee’s work programme and any items for information.

Minutes:

A report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit was submitted. The overview report contained a list of key decisions yet to be taken within the Committee’s remit, responses to previous recommendations and the Committee’s work programme, which the Committee was asked to approve.

 

Decision

 

To note the report and agree the work programme.