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Declarations of Pecuniary Interest
Under Cabinet Rule 1.5.2, where any Cabinet Member has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (as defined in the Members’ Code of Conduct (para. 4)) in any matter to be considered at a meeting of the Council, a committee, sub-committee or joint committee, they must withdraw from the meeting room during the whole of the consideration of that matter and must not participate in any vote on that matter unless a dispensation has been obtained from the Monitoring Officer.
There were none.
RESOLVED: That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 14 December 2020 be approved as a correct record of proceedings.
Report was introduced by the Deputy Leader of the Council (Housing and Homelessness), Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite, She highlighted that:
· The HRA’s current 2020/21 financial position was stable following the changes made in the budget setting process to manage the ongoing impact of rent reduction.
· There were good levels of reserves, and the HRA was forecasted to break even.
· There were some pressures on the HRA account which were set out in para 2.3 of report, relating to outstanding repair jobs and income losses from estate parking.
· The Council was creating a Direct Labour Organisation, this being directly employed council staff especially for communal and minor repairs and would deliver substantial savings, better value and more importantly a better service for residents.
· The HRA budget setting focused on three main areas for 2021/22:
a. expected income and proposals on rent and service charge levels;
b. expenditure plans that reflect local priorities, the impact of the self-financing business model on service delivery and the end of enforced rent reductions;
c. the reserves and provisions needed to ensure that the HRA was delivering strong financial performance over a longer period of time.
The Deputy Leader of the Council (Housing and Homelessness), Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite advised that it was financially irresponsible not to increase rents and needed to ensure a balanced HRA account.
Councillor Pete Elliott addressed Cabinet and advised that:
· The report was unclear, there were no comparisons and would have been useful if a cash flow statement was included.
· There was concerns about the depreciation on the HRA and felt it would result in a loss of 1900 homes.
· The Equality Impact Assessment indicated that women and non white residents would be affected and not enough had been done to address this.
· He advised that more clarity was needed on the transaction’s capital and revenue between the HRA and the Councils other funds (HfL and general fund).
· In Para 2.2 of the report the figure of £35 million to the Lambeth housing standard work was not analysed in nor was it clear how it would be funded.
· He was pleased to hear that a community centre was being put onto central hill estate
· He also advised that he would like to explore how his group could work with officers and Cabinet Members to see how they could collaborate better.
The Deputy Cabinet Member for Resident Services, Councillor Jackie Meldrum made the following points:
· She welcomed the continuation of personalised service charges that were initiated by Adult Social Care in 19/20 and asked Cabinet to investigate extending a wider range of personalised service charges for individual tenants such as window cleaning, handyman service, gardening etc
· Our ICT systems would minimise bureaucracy and help deliver personalised service charges. Some examples of the personalised services could include indoor window cleaning, handyman service, gardening etc.
· The report was crisp and clear and this standing item had improved over time but could always be better.
In response to some of the questions raised by Cabinet ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
The report was introduced by the Director of Education and Learning, Cathy Twist who advised that:
· There was significant population change in London and Lambeth and that would have impact on pupil place planning.
· An oversupply of places at a school can lead to financial and organisational inefficiency and can be challenging for individual schools to manage.
· The number of vacancies in schools varies across the borough. The highest number were in the schools in wards in the centre of the borough.
· Normally alongside this report, approval was usually sought for capital approval for new schools or to increase school places but not needed at this time.
Councillor Nicole Griffiths thanked officers on their work and highlighted that the report was clear, concise and provided detailed information, she went on to make the following comments and observations:
· There were concerns on the drop in population of families within the north of the borough which only has two or three schools and was concerned that if these schools were to close or reduce in capacity then there would be less places in the north of the borough.
· She acknowledged that 30 years ago school sites were sold and redeveloped and suggested a policy should be in place to allow school sites to be safe and reused for educational purposes.
· She was keen to explore reduction in class sizes to the 20 to 30 pupils as felt this would improve the quality of education for pupils.
In response to questions from Cabinet and other Councillors, officers advised that:
· Good schools were needed in all areas of the borough and that was always the aspiration of Lambeth.
· Equalities Impact Assessment was completed and attached to the report.
· Secondary schools were finding that the anticipated bulge in numbers had already passed and applications were now falling. As smaller groups come through from primary, this would continue.
· Need to manage pupil place planning incrementally so we could maintain service levels in all schools. There had been huge investment in Lambeth schools estates and needed to look how we can use differently.
· It was not feasible to reduce class sizes to 20, it had been considered in the past but was not workable as funding was per pupil and reducing class sizes the system would not be able to be financially viable.
· It was difficult to determine the rate of people moving out of borough – but it was possible to track the net rate of those who were taking up new places.
1) To note changes to the resident population of Lambeth and London.
2) To note the impact of the population changes on the school population of Lambeth.
3) To note the amendments proposed to reduce surplus places at Lambeth primary schools.
The Chair and rest of Cabinet thanked Cathy Twist for her contribution to Lambeth and its residents, as this was her last meeting of Cabinet before she retired.