Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room THB-06, Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton Hill, London SW2 1RW

Contact: Jacqueline Pennycook, Tel: 020 7926 2167, Email:  jpennycook@lambeth.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

Introductions and Declaration of Pecuniary Interests

    Under Standing Order 4.4, where any councillor 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.

     

     

    Minutes:

    Councillor Donatus Anyanwu, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) welcomed everyone to the meeting.

     

    Councillor David Amos declared that he was a member on the Homes for Lambeth Group Limited.

     

    Councillor Mary Kay declared that her husband was a Director for Housing at  Transport for London.

     

2.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 135 KB

    To agree the minutes of the meeting of 1 November 2018 as an accurate record of the meeting.

     

    Minutes:

    In response to questions from the Sub-Committee regarding fees and charges, Christina Thompson, Director for Finance and Property confirmed that:

    ·         Details were available regarding the service areas, budgets and income raised for the past three years.  In terms of recovering costs from service providers, the Council considered this when looking at charges.  Statutory charges applied for some service areas.  She would be willing to share further information to members.

    ·         The budget report to Cabinet in February 2019 would include the current and new fee rates.

     

    RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 1 November 2018 be approved and signed by the Chair as an accurate record of the proceedings.

     

4.

December Financial Planning and Medium Term Strategy Report 2018-2023 pdf icon PDF 199 KB

    Special Circumstances Justifying Urgent Consideration

     

    The Chair is of the opinion that although these reports had not been available for at least five clear days before the meeting, nonetheless it should be considered at the meeting on the 13 December, 2018.

     

    (All Wards)

     

    Contact for information:Hamant Bharadia, Assistant Director Strategic Finance;

    Tele: 0207 926 9153, hbharadia@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Special Circumstances Justifying Urgent Consideration

     

    The Chair is of the opinion that although this report had not been available for at least five clear days before the meeting, nonetheless it should be considered at the meeting on the 13 December 2018.

     

    Councillor Lib Peck, Leader of the Council introduced the item by making the following points:

    ·         She worked with the cross-party Local Government Association (LGA) which noted the problems that existed within children’s and adult social care which had effected all councils across the United Kingdom.

    ·         The Council and LGA had continuously lobbied Parliament to increase funding for local government to invest in children’s services and adult social care to preserve those services. 

    ·         As well as the budget, local government had pressures of Brexit which had implications for employees across the UK.  A paper would be going to Cabinet on 17 December on this.

    ·         Despite numerous campaigns not enough money existed within the Council to support vital services.  Since 2010 the Council’s funding had been reduced by over £250m, with a further funding gap of £43.2m to be found over the next four year planning period 2019/20 to 2022/23, at a time when demand continued to increase. 

    ·         Since 2010 the Council worked hard by continuing to consider where cuts can be made and minimise impact on frontline and vulnerable services.  The Council looked at reducing bureaucracy; making efficiencies for contracts and procurement and continued to reduce services.

    ·         The report also addressed how the Council could raise income and where there were frontline impacts, an Equalities Impact Assessment had also been completed.

    ·         The Council recognised further cuts were required for some service areas but prioritisation would be given to Children’s Services.  Also, £500k had been provided to help address serious youth violence.  Although a difficult time existed for the Council, it had done very well to cope with the limited resources available within the Council.

     

    Councillor Andy Wilson, Cabinet Member for Finance, highlighted that:

    ·         The report sets out the financial planning and medium term strategy which aimed to balance the budget for the next four years.  Cuts from government funding had reduced the Council’s budget by over £250m since 2010 and this was considered one of the highest cuts made within the country.

    ·         Over the next four years further cuts of £43m needed to be achieved.  However despite that challenge, the Council endeavoured to protect the most vulnerable services; invest in further housing; continue to work with vulnerable families to prevent children going into care; working with NHS and local care services to achieve better outcomes and savings.

    ·         The impending issues with Brexit, the government’s inability to address domestic issues, an increased ageing population and increased demand for children services, particularly special educational needs, remained a challenge for the Council and also across the country.

    ·         The Council’s budget proposals for the next four years were currently being consulted on until 14 January 2019 seeking residents’ views and a vast number of response had so far been received.

     

    The Chair then invited  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Impact of the removal of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) borrowing cap pdf icon PDF 303 KB

    Special Circumstances Justifying Urgent Consideration

     

    The Chair is of the opinion that although these reports had not been available for at least five clear days before the meeting, nonetheless it should be considered at the meeting on the 13 December, 2018.

     

    (All Wards)

     

    Contact for Information: Tom Tyson, Strategy and Intelligence Manager, 0207 926 3544, ttyson@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Minutes:

    Special Circumstances Justifying Urgent Consideration

     

    The Chair is of the opinion that although this report had not been available for at least five clear days before the meeting, nonetheless it should be considered at the meeting on the 13 December 2018.

     

    Councillor Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes, introduced the report by highlighting the following:

    ·         He was pleased that a cap on borrowing within the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) no longer existed.  However, this was only part of the picture and issues existed pertaining to grants, capacity and land. 

    ·         He intended to focus on three main areas which he felt would be of interest to the Committee:

    1.      Whether lifting of the borrowing cap changed the assumptions on affordability of refurbishment on estate regeneration that had been put forward by the Council?

     

    The Council had borrowed significant money through the HRA to fund refurbishment with a peak debt of £398.5m and before the HRA borrowing cap was abolished the figure stood at £408m.  The funding enabled the Council to invest £500m+ into Lambeth’s housing standard over the past few years that improved the quality of housing within the borough despite the significant reduction in grant funding.

     

    The Council had anticipated a Decent Homes Grant (DHG) of £205m but this had been reduced to £123m.  It was noted that Lambeth had not received a grant for housing to fund the Decent Homes Programme, which resulted in the high deficit.  Although a 1% annual reduction in council rents had been introduced in 2015, it had been made to reduce the government’s housing benefit system.  Therefore, £28m had been taken out of the HRA over four years which could have been invested into carrying out further housing repairs and would have enabled the Council to borrow more money.

     

    Additional demands on the HRA had occurred pertaining to the additional fire safety works carried out on estates as a result of the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017. 

     

    The Council, as a result of the funding gap, had limited funds available which left the Council in a difficult position pertaining to the HRA.

     

    2.      As a consequence would that have changed the fundamental decisions that were made to rebuild those estates?

     

    The decisions would remain the same as it did not address the fundamental point that the Council could not no longer afford to carry out refurbishments on the estates included in the regeneration programme. 

     

     

     

    It was noted that in 2013/14 18,000 households were on the Council’s housing waiting list.  During the past four years, it had increased to 28,000.  Also, 2,000 residents were homeless, including 5,000 children that remained in temporary accommodation provided by Lambeth, which was costly.   Therefore, permanent homes for those families were required.  As a result of the Lollard Street regeneration scheme provided by Homes for Lambeth, 70 new homes in Kennington were expected to be completed in early 2019.  

     

    3.      With the estate regeneration going ahead what would be the consequences for Homes for Lambeth a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

3.

2018-19 Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 186 KB