Agenda and minutes

Executive Advisory Board - Thursday, 23rd January, 2014 2.00 pm

Venue: Westminster Room, 8th Floor, 18 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3HZ. View directions

Contact: Frances Marshall 

Items
No. Item

Congratulations

The Chairman opened the meeting by noting the apologies received and congratulated Councillors Neil Clarke, Andrew Lewer and Marianne Overton who had all received MBE’s in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

1.

Local Government Finance Settlement pdf icon PDF 63 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Sharon Taylor OBE (Chair of the Finance Panel) introduced the report by summarising the key headlines from the local government finance settlement for 2014-15 and illustrative settlement for 2015-16, which had been announced on 18 December.  In doing so, she made particular reference to: the late publication of the settlement; the misleading nature of the Government’s headline spending power figure; and the lack of certainty regarding council tax referendum limits.   

 

In the discussion that followed, Members made a number of comments, including: 

 

  • Members echoed Cllr Taylor’s comments regarding the accuracy of the Government’s spending power figure and expressed disappointment at remarks made by a senior NHS England official relating to councils’ role in the Better Care Fund.    

 

  • The difficulty of budget setting without confirmation of the council tax referendum limit was highlighted, particularly with reference to the additional difficulty for precept authorities.  There was strong feeling that it would be unjust for the Government to take retrospective action taken against a local authority for previous council tax increases during the life of the Parliament, and that any attempt to do so should be robustly resisted.

 

  • Concerns were expressed regarding ability of the New Homes Bonus to incentivise growth as well as the need to financially compensate councils with a large student population for their loss in potential income through council tax and business rates. 

 

  • Several Members raised serious concerns regarding the business rates appeals system, particularly in relation to the backlog of appeals. 

 

  • Members expressed disappointment at the ending of the specific grant for local welfare support, particularly without having undertaken an annual review to help inform future funding levels.  There were concerns that this would increase financial pressure on councils as well as put vulnerable individuals at risk. 

 

Decisions

 

The Executive:

 

          i.   endorsed the response to the Local Government Finance Settlement; and

 

         ii.   asked that their comments inform the LGA’s lobbying in the run-up to the Settlement being approved by Parliament in the second week of February.

2.

Rewiring Public Services: Proposals on Finance

Verbal Update

Minutes:

Councillor Taylor provided a verbal update on the latest developments relating to the Rewiring Public Services finance proposals.  She welcomed Government’s announcement in the Autumn Statement that it was willing to explore the possibility of multi-year settlements and indicated that the Barnett Formula debate had gained significant momentum.  With reference to efforts to develop a wider coalition of support for the proposals, she noted that a joint commission on local government finance with CIPFA would be launched in the near future.    

 

In discussing the update, Members made a number of comments, including:

 

  • Members welcomed progress in developing a finance commission and asked that it include one or more independent persons.  Similarly, it was felt that any new finance system would need to include independent elements, to ensure that distribution decisions were impartial and not subject to change resulting from the national political cycle. 

 

  • Members discussed the complexity of the current funding system, its inability to sufficiently recognise local difference and the need to coherently communicate these issues to the general public.  Addressing the inequalities in the system was seen as key to enabling the sector to have a mature conversation with Government about funding levels.

 

  • In discussing the possibility of central government devolving further economic freedoms to local areas, it was felt that growth and prosperity would be best served by devolving growth levers to the sector as a whole, rather than limiting them to certain spatial groups. 

 

  • In discussing the Barnett Formula strand of the Rewiring proposals, Members emphasised the importance of building on the current position by having a clear position and lobbying programme ready for after the Scottish Referendum result. 

 

Decision

 

The Executive noted the update and asked that their views inform the on-going lobbying campaign. 

3.

LGA Equalities Work pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Katie Hall (Chair of the Community Wellbeing Board) introduced the report, which asked the Executive to consider how equalities issues should be addressed within the LGA. This report had been prompted by a discussion at a previous Community Wellbeing Board (CWB).

                                                                                                 

With reference to the importance of mainstreaming equalities though all of the LGA’s work, Members endorsed the recommendation that oversight of equalities issues reside with the LGA Executive.   

 

Decision

 

The Executive agreed that from now on, the oversight of equalities issues across the LGA be the responsibility of the Executive, rather than individual policy Boards.

4.

Health and Social Care Transformation: Update pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Katie Hall introduced the report which updated Executive on the work that the CWB has been involved in across the agendas of health, public health and social care to transform services.  In doing so, she paid particular attention to some of the key work areas, including: the Better Care Fund (BCF) and health and social care integration; health and wellbeing system improvement; and Care Bill reforms.

 

In the discussion that followed, Members made a number of comments, including:

                                                                      

  • Members shared experiences from their localities about how the joint BCF working arrangements between councils and the health service were progressing.  Feedback included: positive working between Councils and Clinical Commissioning; a disconnect between the business cycles of Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWB) and Council meeting cycles; the need for better integration between the BCF and HWBs; and the importance of advance notice regarding the release of new Guidance.

 

  • Members reiterated the importance that BCF funding be used solely for the purposes of reform and integration and not diverted to other NHS budgets. 

 

  • With reference to the 2015 general election, Members highlighted the importance that local government be at the forefront of an informed debate around health and social care funding.  This included issues around balancing funding between prevention and care focused services, as well as targeting need.   

 

Decision

 

The Executive noted the update paper.

5.

Note of the last Leadership Board meeting

Tabled.

Minutes:

The notes of the Leadership Board held on 22 January were noted subject to two amendments:

 

  • Item 2 – ‘Draft Business Plan and Budget 2014-15’

That the minutes record Cllr Taylor’s comments that the EU funding section be strengthened to include a commitment to ensure that LEPs recognise local authorities as significant partners in delivering the growth agenda.

 

  • Item 10 – ‘Notes of the Audit Committee held on 12 November 2013’

The action to read: ‘Officers to report back to the Board on the Internal Audit’s findings on how the transfer of responsibilities from the resources Panel to this Board are working’. 


6.

Note of last LGA Executive meeting pdf icon PDF 63 KB

Minutes:

The notes of the previous meeting held on 12 December were agreed as a correct record subject to an amendment to the local authority which Cllr David Simmonds represents.

7.

Local Government Pensions Committee

Minutes:

Cllr Roger Philips (Chair of the Local Government Pensions Committee) introduced the report which updated Members on significant reforms to the benefit structure, governance arrangements and cost management of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), due to be implemented over the coming year. He outlined the implications of these changes and invited the Executive to consider changes to the membership and remit of the Local Government Pensions Committee (LGPC) in order to continue to provide a strong employer voice in the reformed scheme.

 

There followed a short discussion in which Cllr Philips responded to Members’ questions relating to the role of the National Associations for the devolved nations, the political composition of the LGPC and the implications for National Insurances pension changes. 

 

Decisions

 

The Executive:

 

          i.   noted the reforms agreed for the Local Government Pensions Scheme in 2014; and

 

         ii.   agreed that the Local Government Pensions Committee (a) continue as an employer representative board for the whole of the UK; and (b) that its membership reflect the membership of the Scheme Advisory Boards to ensure a direct link to those boards.

Date and Time of Next Meeting: 20 February 2014, 2pm, Local Government House, London