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  • Agenda, decisions and minutes

    Cabinet
    Wednesday, 12th February, 2020 4.00 pm

    Venue: Committee Room 1 - Civic Centre

    Contact: Tracy Richards , Cabinet Office Manager  Email: Cabinet@newport.gov.uk

    Items
    No. Item

    1.

    Apologies for Absence

    Minutes:

    No apologies received.

     

    2.

    Declarations of Interest

    Minutes:

    There were no Declarations of Interest. 

     

     

    3.

    Minutes of the Last Meeting pdf icon PDF 119 KB

    Minutes:

    The minutes of the meeting held on 15 January 2020 were confirmed as a true record. 

     

     

    4.

    Capital Strategy and Treasury Management Strategy pdf icon PDF 4 MB

    Minutes:

    The Leader presented the report and confirmed it contained the Capital Strategy and Treasury Management Strategy and that both strategies require approval by full Council.  The report confirmed:

     

    (i)                    the capital programme, as part of the Capital Strategy and,

    (ii)                   the various borrowing limits and other indicators as part of the Treasury Management Strategy.

    The Capital Strategy sets out the long-term context (10 years) in which capital decisions are made and demonstrates that the local authority:

     

    -       takes capital/investment decisions in line with service objectives;

    -       gives consideration to both risk/reward and impact;

    -       takes account of stewardship, value for money, prudence, sustainability and affordability. 

    The capital plans of the Authority are inherently linked with treasury management activities it undertakes, hence the Treasury Management Strategy is included alongside the Capital Strategy report.  The report notes that the revenue impact of both strategies is included within the associated revenue budget report.  Appendices to the report included:

     

    ·         Appendix 1 – details of the current capital programme;

    ·         Appendix 2 - the longer-term Capital Strategy, and,

    ·         Appendix 3 - the Treasury Strategy and Management.

    The Leader focused firstly on the Capital Strategy 2019/20 to 2028/29 that provides an update of the Council’s Capital Strategy and is in line with the requirement placed on Local Authorities by the Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities (2017) to determine a Capital Strategy. 

     

    The Leader reported that the CIPFA Code requires local authorities to determine their Treasury Management Strategy Statement (TMSS) and Prudential Indicators (PIs) on an annual basis; this requires approval by full Council following a recommendation from Cabinet.  The Leader confirmed this will be kept under review and updated and brought to Council as necessary.

     

    Key areas include:

     

    (i)                    current 5-year capital programme to 2022/23 extended to 2024/25 for those approved projects that span beyond the current programme and its cost of financing;

    (ii)                   the longer-term projection for capital financing costs.

    In terms of the 5 year capital programme – the Leader confirmed that in February 2018 Cabinet approved a new 5-year capital programme from 2018/19 to 2022/23 – paragraph 13 of the report refers.  The Leader explained the Capital Strategy outlines the process by which projects are approved onto the capital programme, ensuring they meet key service priorities and, in overall terms, keep within the affordability headroom. 

     

    In 2020/21, the Council has capital schemes of £44.6m.  Over the 5 year programme ending 2024/25, the programme is ambitious with:

     

    ·         c£186m of already approved projects;

    ·         c£16m of further capital headroom for further projects, totalling £202m.

    ·         The Council is investing over c£70m in its schools, in its historical and cultural assets such as the Transporter Bridge, supporting city centre redevelopment, providing modern, fit for the future ‘neighbourhood hubs’ and creating capacity in its recycling and waste facilities.  Progress is being made in the delivery of these.

     

    The capital financing costs are shown in table 2 of the report; the costs are included in the Council’s MTFP, which the Leader confirmed in the current funding climate/uncertainty and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

    5.

    Revenue Budget and MTFP: Final Proposals pdf icon PDF 196 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Leader presented the report to Cabinet and confirmed it included the consultation results from the draft budget set out in the December 2019 meeting and the current position on the Council’s funding envelope following receipt of the draft Revenue Support Grant for 2020/21.

     

    In light of the above, Cabinet needs to agree the final budget proposals, including a recommended Council Tax level.  The Council Tax level will be reviewed and agreed at full Council at its meeting on Thursday 27 February 2020.

     

    The draft budget was based on a number of assumptions, the key one being the Revenue Support Grant Settlement but also, for example, on such things as provision levels for pay increases and contract price increases.

     

    The Leader confirmed that since the draft budget was published the Authority has had:

     

    ·         confirmation of the Revenue Support Grant;

    ·         confirmation of levy amounts;

    ·         confirmation of the UK minimum wage increase (which affects a number of  key social care contract prices);

    ·         national pay negotiations for Local Government staff have continued;

    ·         a couple of new budget savings proposals have also been confirmed which do not require wider public consultation and are being implemented under Head of Service delegations.

    The position at today’s date and how the position has changed since the draft budget reported in December 2019 is shown in Table 2 of the report.  In summary:

    ·         there was a budget gap of c£5.6m at that time;

    ·         the better than expected Revenue Support Grant gave c£7.3m more funding than initially assumed;

    ·         savings of c£5.2m already identified in December 2019 and a further two proposals amounting to £300k have been identified;

    ·         consideration and approval by Cabinet of further cost pressures of £1.8m (shown in Table 1) and taken the opportunity to stop the reliance on reserves to balance the budget.

     

    The cost pressures and new savings are detailed within the cost pressures and savings appendices of the report which has resulted in today’s position of a balance in hand of £3.9m

    In considering what to do with the balance in hand, Cabinet considered the budget consultation feedback – both on the draft proposals themselves and the associated draft fairness and equalities impact assessments (FEIA’s).  Where needed, the FEIA’s have been updated and Cabinet have considered these in coming to its final decision.

     

    The Leader was pleased to see the work that the Fairness Commission had done on developing a new matrix to aid their response to the consultation.

     

     

    The Leader thanked her Cabinet colleagues for the attention paid to the consultation process and the diligence given to the responses received; the Leader also thanked all those who responded to the consultation.  Details of the exercise and the volume of responses received are included in section 6 of the report; the Leader noted the following: 

     

    ·         3,800 public responses, the highest received to date;

    ·         A successful public event held in the Newport Centre;

    ·         Feedback from a number of organisations representing user groups and interested parties as well as internal Council groups such as Scrutiny Committees  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

    6.

    Key Stage 4 Outcomes: Summer 2019 pdf icon PDF 782 KB

    Minutes:

    The Leader introduced the report and confirmed that a Key Stage 4 outcome report is reported to Cabinet each year. 2019 marks the first set of data released in line with the interim performance measures, therefore, it has not been possible to make comparisons to previous attainment.  The Leader outlined the interim performance measures:

    The Capped Nine measure:

    §  Literacy

    §  Numeracy

    §  Science

    §  6 GCSEs or equivalent

    o   Literacy

    o   Numeracy

    o   Science

    o   Welsh Baccalaureate Skills Challenge Certificate

    The Leader confirmed the interim performance measures are based on a points score:

    ·         In the Capped Nine score the equivalent of 9 Grade C GCSEs is 360 points

     

    ·         A line of best fit in terms of individual schools with the region has been produced based on attainment and Free School Meals percentage of each school.

    The Leader introduced the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills to speak in more detail to the report.

    Councillor Giles confirmed the report is for information only and details the summer 2019 outcomes of Key Stage 4 learners in Newport’s schools.

    The interim performance measures work on a point score system, rather than reporting the percentage of learners who attained a particular standard, and focus on the individual schools rather than aggregating data to a local authority level.

     

    The report includes a line of best fit based on the performance of all schools across the South East Wales Consortium.  Based on the line of best fit, there are a number of Newport schools that performed in line with, or better than, the modelled expectation in summer 2019.  These include St Joseph’s RC High, Llanwern High, Bassaleg School, St Julian’s School and Newport High.  The Cabinet Member said it is important to consider that some Newport schools serve diverse populations, including a significant number of learners who may speak English as an additional language or have high rates of mobility in and out of the city, so direct comparison of performance between schools is not always appropriate.

     

    The report includes a table that demonstrates the difference in performance of learners who are eligible for free school meals against those who are not eligible.  It is a priority of the Council’s Education Service to reduce the gap in the performance of these two groups of learners.  However, when analysing this table it is important to note the cohort sizes of the two groups of learners.  Some schools have a much smaller percentage of learners who are eligible for free school meals compared to others.  Again, this difference in cohort size means that it is not appropriate to compare the gap in performance between schools.

     

    The Cabinet Member stressed it is important to note that this performance data is only one measure that is used to assess how well a school is doing.

     

    National categorisation informs the amount of external support a school needs to improve:

     

    §  Red categorisation schools receive up to 25 days of support;

    §  Amber categorisation schools receive up to 15 days of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

    7.

    Brexit Update pdf icon PDF 132 KB

    Minutes:

    The Leader presented the report that provided Cabinet with an update on the Brexit preparations being undertaken by the Council and confirmed it is a follow up to the report that was presented to Cabinet in October 2019.

    The report confirmed that on 31st January the UK formally left the European Union and has entered into an 11-month Transition Period.

    It is anticipated that there will be no significant changes to how businesses in Newport/UK trade with the EU or in relation to the movement of people between the EU and the UK and the way in which services are delivered in the Council.

    It will be important that the Welsh Government, Welsh Local Government Association and councils have their voices heard on the potential opportunities, risks and impacts to businesses and residents living in Newport and Wales.

    The UK has until 1st July 2020 to extend the transition period beyond the 31st December 2020 (there is the potential to extend this up to 31st December 2022).  However, at this stage the UK Government have stated that they will not look to extend the deadline beyond this year.

    If no trade deal is agreed and in place by the end of 2020, the UK will have to fall back on World Trade Organisation terms and will result in a No-deal Brexit.  

    The Leader confirmed the Council’s officers continue to monitor the potential risks and impacts on the delivery of services in Newport through the Officer Brexit Task & Finish Group led by the Director of Place.

    Cabinet Members and Officers from the Task & Finish Group are also representing the Council at Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), Welsh Government (WG) and other pan-Wales/regional meetings on Brexit.

    The Council’s Brexit risk continues to be monitored through the Council’s Corporate Risk Register which is reported to Cabinet and Audit Committee every quarter.  

    Since the last report, the following activities have been undertaken by the Council:

    The Council’s Registrar Service has launched an ID verification service to support EU Settled Status (EUSS) applications.

    o  Home Office figures (September 2019) show that 2,290 EUSS applications had been concluded for EU residents in Newport.

    o  The Council are co-ordinating a weekly drop in provision for EU Nationals in partnership with all voluntary sector services funded to support applications to the EUSS.

     

    In December 2019 the Council received £80k Food Poverty Grant from the WLGA/Welsh Governmentto help tackle food related poverty that may be caused as a result of Brexit. 

    o  This funding will be used to target areas of need through the Council’s Hubs and will also be available to local charities, third sector organisations and community groups to make bids for funding to enable them to deliver their initiatives and provide long term benefits to the city.

     

    The Council received £45k through the WLGA for the Homelessness Prevention Grant Programmewhich will enable the Council to develop a Welcome to Newport App for migrants wishing to access information about Newport,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

    8.

    Economic Growth Strategy pdf icon PDF 120 KB

    Minutes:

    The Leader presented the report and confirmed the Newport Economic Growth Strategy was adopted in 2015.  The Strategy gave commitment to a 10-year vision and framework for building Newport’s economy through:

    a.    Delivering shared prosperity;

    b.    Creating an excellent economic environment, and,

    c.     Moving Newport up the value chain.

    A number of outcomes and aims were agreed to ensure that people in Newport can achieve their potential; Newport has a competitive environment; Newport is a better place to live, and, Businesses in Newport have the opportunity to prosper.

    The Leader confirmed that whilst these outcomes and aims remain relevant, after five years there is a need to revisit the Strategy and ensure it remains fit for purpose and aligns with the Council’s wider strategic objectives.

    Newport as a City has changed since 2015 and is now a more competitive city; has growing influence in high value sectors; benefits from a rapidly expanding tourist sector and is home to the brand new International Convention Centre for Wales; provides greater training and development opportunities for future workers, and, is embracing new regional partnerships and the Council’s commitments in the Newport Well-being Plan.

    The report confirms that the 2015 Strategy has had a number of successes in delivering economic growth including:

    o   An 11.7% increase in FTE gross weekly wages;

    o   A 14.9% increase in business start-up rates;

    o   A 1.7m increase in visitor numbers, and,

    o   A £405m increase in Newport GVA.

    However, the report recognises that there is still some work to do on, reducing the gender pay gap; improving the public perception of Newport, and, encouraging and supporting self-employed residents.

    The Leader confirmed the updated Strategy acknowledges the city’s strengths and challenges and proposes new aims to support the original outcomes.  These include, but are not limited to things such as: increasing the percentage of Newport residents with NVQ level 4 and above; addressing skill shortages in key sectors, including digital, hospitality and construction; supporting the delivery of more Grade A office space and co-working accommodation as well as delivering sustainable and good quality homes; developing a carbon reduction programme for the organisation with a carbon neutral vision, and, sustaining the City Centre as an attractive place to live, work and visit.

    All of these intended aims are captured within the detailed delivery plan which is contained within the updated Strategy document.

    The Leader welcomed comments from her Cabinet colleagues. 

    Cabinet colleagues agreed that:

    §  Newport is the Gateway to Wales and has everything required to provide a good quality of life for its citizens and visitors. 

    §  Positivity rather than negativity is now required to build on Newport’s reputation and to instil greater local and civic pride;

    §  Increase in house prices is an indicator of people wanting to live in Newport;

    §  Tourism is on the increase as evidenced in a presentation made at the Caerleon Ward Meeting held on 11th February.  An exhibition is also currently running focusing on the historic Living Levels and the people  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

    9.

    Work Programme pdf icon PDF 85 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    9      Cabinet Work Programme

     

    The Leader presented the Cabinet Work Programme.

     

    Decision:

     

    Cabinet agreed the updated programme.

     

     

    10.

    Date of Next Meeting

    Minutes:

    The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 18th March 2020, at 4.00 pm in Committee Room 1, at the Civic Centre, Newport.