Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 8th November, 2022 2.00 pm

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

Contact: Charlotte Lynch 

Media

Items
No. Item

47.

[14.00-14.05] Minutes pdf icon PDF 140 KB

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

Minutes:

Decision:

 

That the minutes of the previous meeting, held on Tuesday, 11 October 2022, be approved as a correct record.

48.

[14.05-14.50] Workforce Equality Strategy Implementation Update pdf icon PDF 176 KB

Report of the Director of Human Resources, Organisation Development and Transformation.

 

This report provides members with an update on progress to date to increase diversity, ensure we are an inclusive employer and to challenge discrimination.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Director of Human Resources, Organisation Development and Transformation which provided an update on progress to date to increase diversity, to ensure the Council is an inclusive employer and to challenge discrimination.

 

Key points and themes in the report included:

 

·         The context and background to the development of the Workforce Equality Strategy;

·         How the Council had created a more diverse workforce at all levels by developing existing staff and opening opportunities out to Manchester residents through:

o   The Leadership Pathway Programme

o   Apprenticeships

o   Work experience

o   Involvement in career fairs across schools, colleges, universities and within the community;

·         Engagement and communications on the Strategy;

·         The development and embedding of the Our Manchester fifth behaviour (OM5B), which reinforces the Council’s commitment to being an equal, inclusive, and fair organisation;

·         Staff attendance at Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)-related training;

·         Works to transform the ways in which the Council recruits and selects, including:

o   Procuring and implementing a new Applicant Tracking System, which will be more intuitive and easier for managers and applicants to use and will provide the data needed to plan improvements;

o   Improvements to recruitment processes;

o   Requesting that all selection panels are diverse in terms of gender and race; and

o   Creating a new website and developing a more compelling and appealing brand for the City Council as an employer.

·         Progress and feedback from staff networks, equality champions and allies;

·         Setting and monitoring targets across a range of measures;

·         Workplace adjustments and trans inclusion; and

·         New and existing policies and the Policy Forward Plan for the next 12 months.

 

A number of guests from the Council’s Leadership Pathways Programme, Diverse Panels, Women’s Equality Network, Pregnancy & Parenting Group, Neurodiverse Employees Group and the Race Equality Network Assurance Working Party attended the meeting and shared their experiences and achievements.

 

Key points and queries which arose from the Committee’s discussion included:

 

·         Expressing thanks to the guests who attended to share their experiences;

·         Acknowledging potential implications from the Retained EU Law Bill, where EU derived law will expire on 31/12/2023 unless the government retains it;

·         Whether some of the rights and protections identified in staff contracts would be revoked upon the expiry of the Retained EU Law Bill;

·         Concern over some testimonials, particularly from female employees who felt they needed to take annual leave rather than sick leave for women’s health reasons;

·         Inconsistencies in managers’ approaches to and understanding of equalities and how this could be resolved;

·         Requesting that a future update report includes reference to the work and progress made by senior and middle managers to implement the Strategy;

·         Noting the progress made on diverse interview panels, and querying what could be done to increase the number of these;

·         Whether staff still self-define their equalities information;

·         Recognising an increase in the number of disabled employees, and querying whether this was due to the Council proactively hiring more disabled people or current employees receiving a disability diagnosis during their employment;

·         The need to raise understanding  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.

49.

[14.50-15.20] Update on Health and Wellbeing Strategy pdf icon PDF 179 KB

Report of the Director of Human Resources, Organisation Development and Transformation.

 

This report sets out the progress the Council has made on delivering the Health & Wellbeing Strategy, the impact of the pandemic on our workforce and to the delivery of the strategy, sets out a plan to review the strategy and provides an insight into the Council’s sickness absence rates.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Director of Human Resources, Organisation Development and Transformation which outlined the Council’s progress on delivering the Health and Wellbeing Strategy, the impact of the pandemic on the workforce and to the delivery of the strategy. The report also set out a plan to review the strategy and provided an insight into the Council’s sickness absence rates.

 

Key points and themes within the report included:

 

·         Promoting and supporting employee wellbeing is a key workforce priority for the Council;

·         The Strategy is split into two thematic areas; ‘high quality working life’ and ‘mentally and physically healthy people’;

·         The impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of the Strategy, and how the Council protected the health and safety of the workforce whilst continuing to deliver services to Manchester residents;

·         The achievements of the Strategy to date;

·         Improving the financial wellbeing offer for staff is a key priority in the context of the cost-of-living crisis with the Council providing access to financial education programmes, counselling, debt management, affordable borrowing, salary advances and a meaningful staff benefit package;

·         How the Strategy will be reviewed through a model of best practice, staff engagement and workforce intelligence;

·         93,296 days were lost due to sickness absence in 2022, 27.4% of which were due to stress/depression and 13.5% due to Covid-19;

·         Adults, Neighbourhoods and Children’s Services have the highest levels of sickness;

·         Mixed/multiple ethnic employees have the highest sickness absence rates of all ethnicities and employees aged over 50 have the highest sickness absence rates.

·         Female staff also have higher sickness absence rates than males; and

·         The Management Attendance Policy and role of HR in managing attendance.

 

Key points and queries that arose from the Committee’s discussion included:

 

·         Whether remote working had improved employees work-life balances;

·         How many employees worked fully remotely and whether the Council would ever offer fully-remote working contracts;

·         The Council’s expectation that staff work from the office for half of the week, and whether this was operationally-led;

·         The process for employees reapplying for flexible working if their initial request is denied;

·         How consistency on flexible and remote working requests is managed between services;

·         Whether the staff survey included sections on health and wellbeing and flexible working; and

·         The significance of disability on absence and sickness rates; and

·         A lack of statistics within the report related to the number of sickness days caused by disability; and

·         What data the Council had on Return-to-Work meetings and the impact these had on recurrent sickness absence.

 

The Head of Workforce Strategy explained that the Health and Wellbeing Strategy was developed in 2018 based on the Council’s understanding of the challenges faced by the workforce at that time. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the workforce and delivery of the Strategy was highlighted and this was reflected in some of the sickness absence rates.

 

Some key achievements arising from the delivery of the Strategy to date included membership of the Good Employment Charter, the development of a Menopause Policy,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.

50.

[15.20-15.50] Revenue Budget Update pdf icon PDF 214 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer.

 

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:

In introducing the item, the Chair proposed to take items 7 and 8 together.

 

The Committee considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer, which outlined the priorities for the services in the remit of the Committee and detailed the initial revenue budget changes proposed by officers.

 

Key points and themes within the Revenue Budget Update report included:

 

·         The Council is forecasting an estimated budget shortfall of £44 million in 2023/24, £85 million in 2024/25, and £112 million by 2025/26;

·         After the use of circa £16 million smoothing reserves in each of the three years, the estimated budget shortfall reduces to £28 million in 2023/24, £69 million in 2024/25 and £96 million by 2025/26;

·         There remained a budget gap of £7 million to close to get to a balanced budget in 2023/24 despite proposals outlined in the report;

·         The Council’s 2023/24 funding from central government will be confirmed in the provisional finance settlement, expected late in December 2022;

·         Increases in interest rates will have a significant impact on the cost of borrowing and the ability to support the future capital programme;

·         The Council’s robust reserves strategy has proven successful in managing risk and timing differences to deliver balanced and sustainable budgets and provide the time necessary to deliver on its planned savings

·         The anticipated reduction in usable earmarked reserves over the next four years to under £100 million;

·         Resources required as a result of inflationary pressures, service pressures and the reversal of the 1.25% National Insurance increase;

·         Investment in anti-poverty measures, amounting to £1.8m in 2022/23 and £3.55m in 2023/24;

·         Progress on identifying savings and cuts options;

·         Public consultation on proposed Council Tax levels and the savings and cuts measures put forward by officers will take place between November 2022 and January 2023; and

·         Next steps for the budget process.

 

Key points and queries which arose from the Committee’s discussion included:

 

·         Acknowledging that £24 million had been reincorporated into the budget position from business rates, and queried why this was not reflected for subsequent years;

·         Whether there was any indication that the business rates pilot scheme was to continue;

·         If the staff pay award had been agreed and whether this was more than budgeted for;

·         The financial position of the Council if the period of austerity between 2010 and 2019 had not occurred;

·         Whether it could be assumed that there would be no budget gap around gas inflation from 2024/25 onwards, given the volatility of energy prices;

·         The cumulative effect of budget cuts year-on-year was powerful;

·         The need to make more assumptions due to delays from government and the instability this causes;

·         How the government’s mini budget in October 2022 impacted the Council’s borrowing costs; and

·         Commending the Council on continuing to fund and support the welfare support budget and the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCSE).

 

The Deputy City Treasurer explained that the business rates pilot was due to end and had been removed from forward budget assumptions. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.

51.

[15.20-15.50] Corporate Core Budget Proposal 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 182 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer, City Solicitor and Assistant Chief Executive.

 

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 a report of the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer, the City Solicitor and the Assistant Chief Executive, which outlined 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 within the report included:

 

·         The Council needed to identify savings/cuts/cost avoidance of over £100 million over the next three years;

·         The Corporate Core is made up of Chief Executives and Corporate Services and has a gross budget of circa £329 million and a net budget of circa £79.8 million and employs over 2,000 Full-Time Employees (FTE);

·         Traded services within Operations and Commissioning are also within the remit of the Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee, and have a  gross budget of £22.2 million, a net credit budget of £14.4 million and 126 employees;

·         Core budget savings will be delivered through a combination of:

o   Transformation delivered through the Future Shape Programme.

o   Review of workforce structures and capacity

o   Good housekeeping and delivery of efficiencies.

o   Delivering a corporate programme of work on ensuring the basics are right, sound and competitive procurement, approach to managing inflation, ensuring income budgets are maximised and charges appropriate.

·         Further budget savings and efficiencies made up £300k additional income generation and £3.29 million efficiencies;

·         Budget pressures and workforce implications; and

·         Future opportunities and risks.

 

The Committee discussed this report with item 7 – Revenue Budget Update.

52.

[15.50-16.00] Overview Report pdf icon PDF 219 KB

Report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit.

 

This report provides the Committee with details of key decisions that fall within the Committee’s remit and an update on actions resulting from the Committee’s recommendations. The report also includes the Committee’s work programme, which the Committee is asked to amend as appropriate and agree.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report by the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit which provided details of key decisions that fell within the Committee’s remit and the Committee’s work programme, which was to be amended as appropriate and agreed.

 

An update was requested on the progress of a previous recommendation that a Major Contracts Oversight Board be established. It was confirmed that the Board was due to hold its first meeting at the end of November 2022.

 

The Chair also requested that a report on the Council’s Complaints Policy be added to the Committee’s work programme.

 

Decision:

 

That the report be noted and the work programme agreed and amended to include a report on the Complaints Policy.