Agenda and minutes
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Items No. Item
Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Councillors Levane, Charman and Cox. Councillor Roberts substituted for Councillor Cox
Declarations of Interest
Personal- has had previous experience of dealing with Disabled Facilities Grant
Councillors raised issue that part of their discussion was missing. It was to do with inviting someone in to talk about the committee systems. It was advised that this discussion was recorded in the Scrutiny Steering Group minutes and was part of the work programme that would be later discussed.
RESOLVED – that the minutes of the meeting held on 13th June 2019 be
approved by the Chair as a true record.
The Chair presented the report and asked the committee for any issues arising from it.
Councillors raised issues concerning Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG). The DFG is a form of financial assistance that enables people to make adaptions to their homes. The DFG budget is underspent. Hastings Borough Councils scheme currently means tests applicants. Some councils do not do this as part of their process. Councillors were also concerned about the time it can take for an applicant to be successful and what could be potential delays in the process. Councillors questioned if this was the potential cause of the underspend. Councillors are keen to find the root cause of the delays to DFGs underspend and other services especially in times of austerity
ACTION: To ask housing about DFG’s means testing and potential delays. To ask for a DFG process map for the Q2 meeting and to continue to monitor it.
Councillors have recently received updated Section 106 (S106) information. S106 are conditions on planning applications that mean developers make financial contributions to improve the local area such as playgrounds or widening pavements. Councillors thanked officers for providing S106 information. Councillors are still keen to monitor this and would like the new information explained to them. Councillors would also like clarified what funds could be rolled forward to the next municipal year and which ones disappeared if they were not spent.
ACTION: To invite the Chief Auditor to the next Scrutiny Steering group meeting
The Councillors looked at last year’s work programme and discussed the remaining items that needed finalising for the year. They were still waiting on a response to the Overview and Scrutiny submission for the Bohemia area consultation, a management response to the Regeneration Funding Review report (this should be submitted to the September Cabinet meeting) and continued S106 information.
ACTION: Democratic Service Officers to chase outstanding actions on last year’s work programme
Councillors spoke about the new work programme. They spoke about wanting to start working with Cabinet members such as starting the corporate plan early and trying to close the gap with Homelessness. They wanted to work with Cabinet as part of critical collective collaboration. It was suggested that they look to working collaboratively with ESCC which could help with an enhanced scrutiny review. It was suggested that scrutiny could collect questions and put them in formally to get a formal answer.
The next steps for the work programme will be setting up the meetings and using the government’s statutory guidance scoping each thing properly.
Councillors felt that the mid-term finance strategy was missing from the work programme. The Assistant Director Financial Services and Revenues will be holding a briefing session for Councillors in September.
During this discussion Councillors raised concerns about the impact of funding if we leave the European Union (EU). A large proportion of the money the council receives is grants for specific projects from the EU. Councillors were concerned that there was no contingency in place. Councillors were told that officers ... view the full minutes text for item 16.
Invitation to Lead Members 2019/20
Overview and Scrutiny are keen to build their relationship with Cabinet members. When they are planning the work programme they will look to ways of actively engaging with them on this.
The Chair of the committee wanted to give thanks to the great work programme the committee had put together. It was good to see political differences being put aside so they can work together to make a positive impact for local people. This committee is about the people of Hastings and making sure that this organisation meets and thinks about their needs.