Agenda and minutes

(Special) Moved from 9 July 2024, Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 11 July 2024 6.30 pm, MOVED

Venue: Meeting Room 4, First Floor - Harrow Council Hub, Forward Drive, Harrow, HA3 8LU. View directions

Contact: Mwim Chellah, Senior Democratic & Electoral Services Officer  Tel: 07761 405966 E-mail:  mwimanji.chellah@harrow.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

102.

Attendance by Reserve Members

To note the attendance at this meeting of any duly appointed Reserve Members.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To that there were no Reserve Members in attendance at this meeting.

103.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary or non pecuniary interests, arising from business to be transacted at this meeting, from all Members present.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that there were no declarations of interest made by Members at this meeting.

Resolved Items

Additional documents:

104.

Question and Answer Session with the Leader of the Council and the Managing Director of the Council

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed the Leader of the Council and the Managing Director to the meeting, which would be a Question and Answer Session pursuant to Committee Procedure Rules 43 and 44.

 

The Leader informed the meeting that following the election of a new Government on 5 July 2024, it was expected that new policies would be announced that would affect local government. Harrow Council would continue to work on the challenges it faced, particularly financial ones.  There was still a significant budget gap to fill over the course of the next three years, and the Council was progressing well on addressing that.  The draft budget would be published in December 2024.  The Council was closer to a balanced budget for Year 1, at this stage, than in a number of years.

 

The Leader advised that the Council also was dealing with temporary accommodation issues, which were a significant expense.  However, there were properties that could be utilised that were cost effective.  Furthermore, there was supported living opportunities, where people could be supported to live at home, and not go into a care home, but still required care.  This was a significant cost saving to the Council.

 

The Committee were informed that since the last Question and Answer Session meeting on 13 February 2024, the Council had acquired a site for a special needs school in Harrow.  The Government were supporting the funding for it (although this was in need of clarification given the change in Government).

 

In terms of staffing, Members were advised that the Council had completed the senior management restructuring of both the People and Place directorates.  Additionally, there would now be direct reports to the Managing Director for the statutory roles of the Director of Adult Social Services (DASS) and Director of Children’s Services (DCS).

 

The Committee expressed concern about the recent benchmarking undertaken by the Local Authority Data Explorer with the Office for Local Government (Oflog).  Harrow Council had been cited as one of the fifth worst performing councils in the country, using published data across a range of services.  Members questioned to what extent funding challenges contributed to that poor performance, and how residents perceived the Council and the Administration.

 

The Committee were informed that the conclusion was misleading, and the way it was interpreted, by the particular newspaper article, was unhelpful.  The basic view taken was that if adult social care was not included in the rating, then that local authority was ranked high in the upper quartile of poor performance.  For example, there was no data for roads, which would have resulted in a better ranking.  Ultimately, Oflog added up all the strands and assigned rankings, based on old data, predominantly from 2021, before the new Administration assumed office in 2022.

 

The Committee were informed that finances had had a big impact on local authorities, and in particular Harrow Council.  However, the Leader stated it was ironic that the Oflog ranking had cited Harrow Council worse on financial management than councils  ...  view the full minutes text for item 104.