The Chairperson of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee presented Cabinet with the findings and recommendations of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee (COSC) on the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) proposals.
She advised that for ease of reference the COSC had considered the findings of the Budget Research and Evaluation Panel and all Overview and Scrutiny Committees on 1 February 2022 to determine whether the recommendations should be forwarded to Cabinet, as part of the budget consultation process. She stated that the COSC had accepted the recommendations and comments from both the BREP and the Overview and Scrutiny Committees on the MTFS proposals and had agreed to submit them to Cabinet.
The Deputy Leader expressed his thanks to the Chairperson of the COSC for presenting the recommendations to Cabinet and added that Cabinet would consider and respond to the recommendations it had received. He stated that some of the recommendations proposed had already been implemented, while other recommendations will require a more detailed piece of work.
The Cabinet Member Wellbeing and Future Generations thanked the members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees, which is cross party for their participation in scrutinising the MTFS. The Leader also expressed his appreciation for the work of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees and that of the Budget Research and Evaluation Panel.
The Cabinet Member Social Services and Early Help reassured the Chairperson of the COSC that in relation to Recommendation 6, Cabinet is already lobbying the Welsh Government to ensure that the additional responsibilities placed on the Council through the Additional Learning Needs Bill comes with consequential funding. In relation to Recommendation 8, the Cabinet Member Social Services and Early Help stated that Cabinet is very aware of the impact of Covid and long Covid on social care costs, and that the duplication of back-office functions is being looked that to free up social workers’ time. In relation to recommendation 9, a motion to the Welsh Government and Westminster to fund wholesale reform of the social care system with the strategic aim to fund social care fit for the future is being done. In relation to recommendation 10, the Cabinet Member Social Services and Early Help stated that re-balancing the market between commissioned and in-house services is being looked at, having regard to younger people being housed by the Council over the long term.
The Leader referred to recommendation 5 and asked whether the review it was recommending related to the cost of the providing full time nursery education. The Chairperson of the COSC stated there was no cross-party consensus on this recommendation and the wording of the recommendation had been left vague.
The Leader referred to recommendation 11, which related to the Cabinet exploring the potential for increasing charges in Social Services and stated that most of the charges levied are regulated and fixed by the Welsh Government, such as the cap for domiciliary care. The Chairperson of the COSC informed Cabinet that she would ask the Chairperson of the Subject Overview and Scrutiny Committee 2 to respond more fully on that recommendation.
The Leader referred to recommendation 14, which recommended that Cabinet explore the potential for charging in relation to the administration fee for the issuing and reissuing of Blue Badges and commented that the Council does not have powers to do so as it administers the scheme.
The Cabinet Member Communities requested further clarification as to the intention of recommendation 18 which recommended that Cabinet review and simplify the charging structure for car parking and taper the free parking facility. The Chairperson of the COSC stated that she would seek further clarification on this recommendation with the Chairperson of the Budget Research and Evaluation Panel.
The Cabinet Member Communities referred to recommendation 21 which related to the renegotiation of access to 25% of the housing stock and stated that he did not believe this would be possible to do due to the offer document in place with V2C, but this matter could be picked up by the Cabinet Member Wellbeing and Future Generations.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet agreed to consider the Recommendations of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee, in response to the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2022-23 to 2025-26 and the Draft Budget Consultation Process.