Agenda, decisions and minutes

Cabinet - Wednesday, 8th September, 2021 4.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1 - Civic Centre

Contact: Anne Jenkins, Governance Team Leader  Email:

No. Item


Declarations of Interest


None received.


Minutes of the previous meeting: 7 July 2021 pdf icon PDF 322 KB


The Minutes of 7 July 2021 were recorded as a true and accurate record.


Revenue Budget Monitor - July 2021 pdf icon PDF 4 MB


The Leader presented the report to Cabinet.


This was the first revenue monitor presented to Cabinet this financial year and it explained the current forecast position of the Authority as at July 2021.


Against a net budget of £316million, the July revenue position currently forecasted an underspend of £5.3million, representing a 1.6% variance against budget. This position was inclusive of the continued financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and assumes full reimbursement of additional expenditure and lost income for the remainder of the year. This followed confirmation from Welsh Government that the Hardship Fund would remain available until March 2022.  This was a welcomed addition to this years forecast position as although the rollout of the vaccination programme enabled a lifting of restrictions and reopening of the economy, it was evident that the financial impact on the Council’s budget continued to be felt during this financial year.


As shown in the report and its Appendixes, the position could be explained in the following way:


-         Overall, service area spend was more or less on budget

-         Then, the underspend came from savings against the (i) capital financing budget (ii) the revenue contingency budget which was currently not needed and (iii) some other non-service budgets which were not committed currently. These together produced the £5m underspend.


Although budgets were balanced overall in service areas, some individual areas continued to overspend against specific activities. As in previous years, these overspends related to demand-led activity areas, such as Social Services, and therefore there was an inherent risk that they may change should demand levels change from current forecasts.


In addition to this, there remained several unknowns in terms of the longer-term impacts of the pandemic, such as the impact upon unemployment levels as and when the support for employees who were furloughed began to be withdrawn. This monitoring position did not make any assumptions in terms of that longer term impact and would require to be closely monitored as the pandemic situation continued to evolve.


The key areas contributing to the £5.3million forecast position included:


(i)                Increased demand across key social care areas including children’s out of area placements, independent fostering agencies and adult community care.  These three areas alone contributed an overspend of almost £350k to the overall service position.


(ii)               In addition to these continued risks, there were also issues that emerged during the year and would continue to be closely monitored.  These included, but were not restricted to, inter agency adoption, children’s emergency placements and the increase costs in respect of dealing with ‘ash die-back’.  The anticipated overspend in areas of emerging risk was expected to be more than £700k by the end of the financial year.


(iii)              There was an anticipated shortfall against the delivery of 2021/22 and prior year savings of over £600k, which was largely due to delays in progressing the necessary actions, some of which was a result of the pandemic. Whilst the level of unachieved savings in relation to the current financial year  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Capital Programme Monitoring and Additions - July 2021 pdf icon PDF 1 MB


The Leader presented the report to Cabinet.


This report provided the capital monitoring position as at July 2021.


The Council set an extensive capital programme that reflected seven years commitments.


Table one in the reports showed how that had changed over the financial year and showed the Councils capital commitments and spend in the city now totals £282m over the life of the programme, across all service areas.


Cabinet was also being asked to approve, as usual, new capital projects to be added to the overall programme.


Table two within the report detailed these new capital projects and how each of the projects were funded.


Table three in the report showed the forecast position as at July 21 which was the focus of this report. The current position showed a small expected underspend of £159k and appendix C within report showed the details of those.


The table also highlighted that there had been reprofiling undertaken to date of £30.2m. Details of where this reprofiling occurred was also contained within the report.  This however still left a capital programme of £70.4m for 21/22, which was still extremely high. Further work on forecasting and reprofiling would need to continue to ensure that the capital programme reflected a more realistic timescale for the projects to be delivered and officers were asked to continuously review projects and update the project profile as the schemes progressed.


In terms of monitoring spend, the report confirmed low spending of just under £11 million on a budget of £70.4m. This pattern was not uncommon, as usual a lot of the cost was predicted in the last half of the year.  This however, brought with it the risk of slippage, but further work, as outlined would help in that respect.  In saying this, progress was being made on a number of projects, in particular the Band B School programme, details of which were noted in the report.


The reported capital headroom (budget for which there was currently no committed expenditure), was £7.6m, which included £1.2m of unallocated Joint Venture monies. The demand for capital expenditure in Newport exceeded the level of resource and the Council needed to prioritise carefully where it spent this capital resource accordingly


Whilst not addressed in this report, it was helpful to note that the Leader requested some work on the financial and delivery risks on the capital programme resulting from volatility in raw materials/labour costs and supply issues. Mainly as a result of Covid and Brexit, these are clearly having an impact across the UK and officers will assess this for the Councils programme and report back in due course. The work is on-going. 


As a cabinet, the report asks us to note and approve

-         the re-profiling which has been undertaken so far this financial year of £30.2m into future years.

-         Approve the new capital projects and amendments to the Council’s Capital Programme, including the use of reserves and capital receipts

-         To note the current available capital resources (‘headroom’),  


Comments of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Quarter 1 2021/22 Corporate Risk Register Update pdf icon PDF 363 KB

Additional documents:


The Leader presented the report to Cabinet.


The next item was an update of the Council’s Corporate Risk Register for the end of Quarter One (1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021).


Members were asked to consider the contents of this report and note the changes to the Council’s Corporate Risks.


The Council’s Risk Management Policy and Corporate Risk Register enabled this administration and officers to effectively identify, manage and monitor those risks which could prevent the Council from achieving its objectives in the Corporate Plan (2017-22) and to undertake its statutory duties as a local authority.


The Quarter one risk report would also be presented to the Council’s Governance and Audit Committee on 30 September to review the Council’s risk management process and governance arrangements.


At the end of quarter one the Council had 46 risks recorded across the Council’s eight service areas.


Those risks that were deemed to pose the most significant risk in the delivery of the Council’s Corporate Plan and services are escalated to the Council’s Corporate Risk Register for monitoring. 


At the end of quarter one 18 risks were recorded in the Corporate Risk Register.

·        Eleven Severe Risks (15 to 25);

·        Four Major Risks (seven to 14);

·        Two Moderate Risks (four to six); and

·        One Low Risk (one to three).


In relation to change in Direction of Risk Scores, in quarter one the Corporate Risk Register had seen one risk score decrease, with the remaining 17 risks remaining at the same score.


The Covid-19 Pandemic Outbreak (Decreased 20 to 15) risk score decreased to 15 due to the successful roll out of the vaccination programme and easing of lock down restrictions which made it possible to reopen services to face to face contact.


This risk score was a reflection of the Covid risk in quarter one and since this period Newport and Wales saw an increase in the infection rate.  This would be considered as part of the Council’s Quarter two update.


Front line Council services continued to operate normally and Council staff where they could were still being advised to work from home. 


Comments of Cabinet Members:


Councillor Mayer added that the Council was always under threat of cyber attacks and that we had robust systems in place which were continually checked by staff.  Newport City Council did everything to secure back up data was in place.



Cabinet considered the contents of the quarter one update of the Corporate Risk Register.


Corporate Safeguarding Annual Report 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 594 KB

Additional documents:


The Leader presented the report to Cabinet.


The Annual Safeguarding report 2020/21 provided assurance to the Council that all departments across the Council had clear standards in place to address safeguarding. The introduction of the safeguarding self- assessment audit in 2020 was completed by all departments and evidenced an understanding of safeguarding involves us all with regard to policy and practice, environment and the culture of the council.


The safeguarding team continued to work with each department across the council to further develop key actions identified within the audit.


Throughout the very difficult year of the pandemic and its impact on service delivery and on the workforce, Cabinet were assured that the immediate safeguarding practice for children and adults continued to be delivered across all social services statutory functions. Face to face assessments with families and citizens for immediate safeguarding practice was delivered using PPE where required and adherence to all restrictions. The pressure on front line services required resourceful management to ensure the Council continued to protect and safeguard our most vulnerable citizens and ensured early intervention was available to prevent escalation within families and communities.


The council recognised the impact of the pandemic on the workforce resources and the continued pressure within front-line services to deliver safe and accessible services. It was therefore crucial that the whole Council was an informed workforce that recognised safeguarding issues in the community and act accordingly.


The assurance evidenced within the safe-guarding audit provided a base-line for the Council on how it discharged its ‘safeguarding involves us all’ commitment across the Council. This therefore reduced the level of risk for the Council, but it was proposed not to reduce the level of risk on the risk register currently due to the impacts of the pandemic on the workforce and the possible impacts across council services.


Preparations for change in legislation on target as the Council continued to prepare for the change in legislation and practice from Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards to Liberty Protection Safeguards (Mental Capacity Act amendments).  This would now occur in 2022, as part of the on-going identified training strategy, both in-house and as part of the wider regional consortium.  More training on the new legislation/ practice to increase knowledge and skill would be on-going and was clearly identified both within the Annual Corporate Work plan (2021/2022) and in the specific adult and children’s social services priority plans regarding training on new regulations/ legislation.


Skill scanning: safeguarding training appropriate for every role within the Council as Member/employee or volunteer meant that every post would be reviewed by safeguarding and the training department to ensure that the correct level of safeguarding training and checks required for that role is “assigned” and would be reviewed by the responsible line manager at the correct intervals.  This work was identified on the Work Plan (2021/ 2022).


As highlighted to Members, there was an area of risk to the Council in relation to the performance for mandatory training where fines/ regulatory action may be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Covid Update Report pdf icon PDF 479 KB


The Leader presented the report to Cabinet.


This Cabinet Report was an update on the Council’s and its partners’ response to the Covid-19 crisis supporting the City (Residents and Businesses) to comply with the current restrictions and progress in the Council’s Strategic Recovery Aims and Corporate Plan. 


Since the last Cabinet meeting in July, the Delta variant was the most dominant strain across Wales and the UK. 


Case rates for Newport and other areas in Wales remained high as restrictions have been eased allowing people to socialise more and undertake more normal routines.


It however remained important for people to continue to adhere to the Welsh Government guidelines wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing (where possible) and being aware of people whether that was friends or family, that there were still vulnerable people who are susceptible to the virus.


Hospitals were continuing to see people being treated for Covid and as the summer break ended, people returned back to work, schools and universities the next few months would remain precarious as we saw what impact this would have.  As the Welsh Government stated, restrictions could be reimposed if the case rate, hospitalisations increased or new variants emerge. 


The vaccination programme continued to be very successful in Newport and across Wales.  The last month  focused on young people and those who had yet to receive their vaccine.   Cabinet could not stress enough the importance for all people eligible to have the vaccine to do so.  Not only did it protect but it also protected others around you.   


Many Council services continued to deliver to residents and communities across Newport.  And a significant proportion of Council staff continued to deliver face to face services.


The Council (staff and Members) would continue to work from home where they could.  Risk assessments were being undertaken in compliance with the Welsh Government guidelines to ensure that buildings, staff and the public could work safely.


Over the next few weeks, work would continue to deliver a New Normal business model and further updates would be provided in October.   


Throughout the summer break Community teams, schools, education and Newport Live have been supporting young people and their families providing various programmes and supermarket vouchers for free school meal pupils.


It was encouraging to see businesses and the hospitality sector return including the Riverfront Theatre.  The Council continued to offer grants to businesses to help them recover and Cabinet would encourage businesses to take up this offer. 


Many Council services had fully returned to normal operations offering face to face services (in line with Welsh Government Guidance).


The Leader was pleased to see the city centre revive such as the Riverfront theatre being opened.


The Council was also allocated £500k over the next two years to support community groups and projects.  The Council would be announcing further details in due course on how communities could apply and access this funding.  


The Leader reiterated the importance of adhering to the Welsh Government guidance, encouraging people from all communities to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Brexit Update Report pdf icon PDF 406 KB


The Leader presented the report to Cabinet.


The next Cabinet Report was an update on the post Brexit / trade arrangements.


Since the previous report in July, it was two months since the deadline (30 June 2021) for EU/EEA citizens to apply for EU Settled Status.


The UK Government (Home Office) reported that over 98,000 applications were received from EU/EEA citizens living in Wales.


The UK Government statistics indicated that a significant majority of applications had outcomes that either resulted in full settled status or pre-settled status being granted.


However, there remained many people that either had not received an outcome of their application or were unsuccessful in being granted their status.


It was not clear how many people in Newport missed the application deadline or failed to secure their status. 


The Council was expecting to see an increase in the number of people and their families presenting as needing support as they would no longer have access to public funds.  This would be in addition to the people and families that the Council would be supporting as part of the Home Office asylum seeker and refugee programmes.   


The Council’s services would be continuing to support those affected and ensuring that they had access to the services and support they needed. 


Since the UK left the single market in December 2020, some sectors in the economy saw significant impacts in the supply and demand of commodities alongside increases in the price of goods and services.  This was also impacted by the Covid crisis as the economy recovers from the Covid pandemic.


Many businesses in Wales reported issues with labour supply such as HGV drivers, construction and farming labourers.


The Council’s Finance, service areas and project teams were monitoring closely these issues and assessing their impacts on the delivery and cost to the Council.  These would be reported in the Cabinet’s Finance updates.


With prices also set to increase in the autumn it was likely that many households would be impacted by these changes making it difficult for low-income households.  It was important for those households to contact the Council and other organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau who could provide advice and support. 


The leader mentioned the support provided to asylum seekers and refugees, Newport was a city of sanctuary and welcomed people from other nations who wished to settle here.


Taking part ina scheme to support vulnerable people from Afghanistan over past five years and was taking further families during the crisis and npt would do all it could to provide accommodation for refugees.  Housing was also made available and provision of support in place.  Information on website for those who wanted to support in some way or another, or make a donation/provide support.


Comments of Cabinet Members:


Councillor Jeavons echoed the Leader’s comments and mentioned the HGV driver shortage.  HGV licences were not easy to pass and the Council was not immune to this, such as refuse lorries.  Councillor Jeavons  recognised this and these drivers had not failed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


PSB Summary of Business

Please click on the link to the PSB Summary of Business here


Cabinet noted the PSB Summary of Business.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 393 KB

Additional documents:


The Leader presented the report to Cabinet.


This is your regular monthly report on the work programme. 


Please move acceptance of the updated programme.



Cabinet agreed the Cabinet Work Programme.