Agenda and minutes

Executive Committee
Wednesday, 29th January, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Executive Room, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

Contact: Democratic Services  6011

Items
No. Item

1.

Simultaneous Translation

You are welcome to use Welsh at the meeting, a minimum notice period of 3 working days is required should you wish to do so.  A simultaneous translation will be provided if requested.

Minutes:

It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.

 

2.

Apologies

To receive.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received for:

 

Councillor G. Collier, Deputy Leader/Executive Member for Environment

Managing Director

Corporate Director Regeneration & Community Services

 

The Leader reported that Councillor S. Thomas had been invited to the meeting to present the views of the Social Services Scrutiny Committee in relation to Item No. 10 (Progress Report – Social Services Assisted Transport Provision).  However, he was unable to attend and Councillor K. Rowson, the Vice-Chair was in attendance on his behalf.

 

3.

Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

To receive.

Minutes:

 

No declarations of interest or dispensations were reported.

 

Minutes

4.

Executive Committee pdf icon PDF 659 KB

To consider Minutes of the Meeting held on 18th December, 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the Executive Committee held on 18th November, 2019 were submitted.

 

RESOLVED that the minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

 

General Matters

5.

Conferences and Courses pdf icon PDF 268 KB

To consider the Conferences, Courses and Invitations.

Minutes:

To consider invitations to attend the following:-

 

Reception and Briefing by The Army Engagement Team at Coleg Gwent - Thursday, 13th February, 2020

 

RESOLVED that approval be granted for Councillor B. Thomas, Armed Forces Champion, to attend.

Social Services Policy Group (SSPG) Learning Workshop and Meeting - 19th and 20th February, 2020

RESOLVED that approval be granted for Councillor J. Mason, Executive Member Social Services, to attend.

The Leader of the Council reported that since the preparation of the report, the following invitations had also been received.  He confirmed that no costs would be incurred for the events:-

 

Inaugural Concert of the British Legion Band in Wales – 9th February, 2020 – Monmouthshire

 

Lord Lieutenant of Gwent Award – 12th March, 2020 – Raglan Barracks, Newport

 

RESOLVED that approval be granted for Councillor Brian Thomas, Armed Forces Champion to attend.

 

Decision Items - Corporate Services Matters

6.

Forward Work Programme - 11th March 2020 pdf icon PDF 493 KB

To receive the report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Leader/Executive Member for Corporate Services.

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the forward work programme for 11th March, 2020 be noted.

 

7.

Revenue Budget 2020/2021 to 2024/2025 pdf icon PDF 899 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to report of the Chief Officer Resources.

 

At the invitation of the Leader the Chief Officer Resources presented the report which provided an update on the positive provisional local government settlement for 2020/21 and its impact on the Council’s budget; proposed the detailed budget for 2020/21 and indicative budget for 2021/22; and proposed the level of Council Tax increase for the 2020/21 financial year in line with the Medium Term Financial Strategy. 

 

The Officer went through the report and highlighted points contained therein.  The positive provisional settlement combined with the opportunities identified in the Bridging the Gap programme meant the Council would be able to invest in key priorities, avoid cuts to services and enhance its financial resilience.  Further details of the specific grants for Local Government would be published alongside the final RSG settlement in February 2020.

 

In response to a question raised by the Leader, the Officer said there were significant financial challenges in the latter years of the MTFS, therefore it would be prudent to establish a Transformation Budget which could be utilised to invest in projects and investigate potential options for savings in future years, and bridge the significant gaps in funding.

 

The Leader sought assurance that the grants being transferred into the RSG would become un-hypothecated, and the Officer confirmed that they would become un-hypothecated, and it would be for the Council to decide where this funding would be allocated.

 

The Leader said he was confident that the Council would make the right decision.  He thereupon recommended that the Executive note the report at this stage, and that a formal decision be made at Council on the 6th February, 2020.

 

RESOLVED accordingly.

 

Decision Items - Environment Matters

8.

Review of Blaenau Gwent Homes Allocation Policy pdf icon PDF 606 KB

To consider the report of the Team Manager, Housing Solutions and Compliance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to report of the Team Manager Housing Solutions and Compliance.

 

The Service Manager Public Protection presented the report which outlined the proposed policy and operational changes to the Blaenau Gwent Homes Allocation Scheme, following the recent review of the scheme and consultation process.  The Officer went through the report and highlighted points contained therein, the proposed changes to the Policy were detailed in Appendix 3.

 

In relation to the consultation exercise undertaken, a query was raised regarding Member engagement, and the Officer apologised that all Members had not been directly consulted on the proposals.  However, the report had been considered by the Community Services Scrutiny Committee and they fully supported the proposed changes to the Scheme.

 

The Leader confirmed that the Executive Member for Environment was also fully supportive of the proposals.

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the Executive approve the proposed policy changes to the Blaenau Gwent Homes Housing Allocation Scheme for implementation on the 1st April, 2020 (Option 1).

 

Decision Items - Regeneration & Economic Development Matters

9.

Local Housing Strategy Review pdf icon PDF 514 KB

To consider the report of the Corporate Director Regeneration and Community Services.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to report of the Corporate Director Regeneration & Community Services.

 

The Executive Member Regeneration & Economic Development presented the report which outlined the key principles and requirements of the guidance from Welsh Government in preparing a Local Housing Strategy, and also highlighted the potential opportunity for collaborative working with other Local Authorities on a regional basis.

 

The Local Housing Strategy set out the Council’s long term housing vision in terms of the type of housing we are looking to build over the next 5 years.  He said housing was currently at the top of the political agenda, impacting across all Portfolios, and the Local Housing Strategy was a very important document for the Council. Looking at the longer term there was opportunity to pursue a more regional approach and section 2.12 of the report outlined the opportunities for collaborative working.  However, in moving towards a collaborative approach, the Executive Member stressed the importance of ensuring local needs are met.

 

The Executive Member concluded that the Scrutiny Committee had considered the report and endorsed the preferred Option 2.

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the Executive endorse BGCBC to work collaboratively with Gwent wide Local Authorities to investigate the possibility of producing a Regional Housing Strategy and local (Blaenau Gwent) action plan (Option 2).

 

Decision Items - Social Services Matters

10.

Progress Report - Social Services Assisted Transport Provision pdf icon PDF 652 KB

To consider the report of the Corporate Director Social Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to report of the Corporate Director of Social Services.

 

At the invitation of the Leader, the Corporate Director of Social Services presented the report which provided an analysis of current demand, and outlined recommendations for future potential charges for citizens accessing transport based on comparable public transport costs.  The report followed the introduction of the Assisted Transport Policy from April 2019, with the undertaking of eligibility assessments for new and existing citizens.  It was agreed that following completion of these assessments, feedback would be provided to the Executive.

 

In terms of the background, he reported that in January 2019 Social Services transported 190 citizens ‘to and from’ community options venues, on average 120 citizens a day.  Historically, assisted transport was provided to citizens attending community options without any formal assessment of need to use such transport, i.e. there has been automatic entitlement regardless of an individual’s situation.

 

The Corporate Director said one of the key aims of the Directorate was to maximise citizens’ independence and minimise dependency to enable individuals to live and travel independently within their communities.  Social Services does not have a statutory duty to provide transport, but does have a duty to meet that need if the need cannot be met by an individual’s own resources or community resource.  Further, in line with the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 we adopted the principle of undertaking a strength based assessment which considered the resources of citizens, including access to their own mobility vehicle, bus pass or benefit entitlement.

 

The Corporate Director referred to sections 2.4 and 2.5 of the report which stated that in April 2019 demand had reduced, and the Department were able to relinquish 1 vehicle, making the current budget allocation for community options transport £321k.

 

He said Members will also note that 149 assessments have been undertaken by Social Workers to determine eligibility, and the details of these were outlined in section 7 of the report.  However, since the preparation of the report the figures have changed, and there were now 101 individuals accessing community options independently.  24 individuals have been deemed eligible and would have free transport; and 14 originally were deemed as exceptional circumstances, but this had unfortunately recently reduced to 11 due to three people passing away, and it was these 11 individuals we are asking to charge for the use of community options transport. 

 

The Corporate Director referred Members to section 4.3 of the report which captured some of the views of citizens currently accessing the service independently.  He confirmed that in order to accommodate this and support parents the opening hours have been extended either side of the day, to make the service more flexible.

 

He then referred to the options outlined in the report, and recommended Option 1.  This was in line with the Council’s Income Policy 2014 which recommended full cost recovery where appropriate.  He said Option 2 sought to charge a cost equivalent to public transport costs for accessing the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

Monitoring Items - Social Services

11.

Regional Partnership Board pdf icon PDF 500 KB

To consider the report of the Corporate Director Social Services.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to report of the Corporate Director of Social Services.

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the decisions of the Regional Partnership Board be supported (Option 1).