Agenda and minutes

Venue: County Hall, Usk - Remote Attendance

Contact: Democratic Services 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

2.

Public Open Forum

Select Committee Public Open Forum ~ Guidance

 

Our Select Committee meetings are live streamed and a link to the live stream will be available on the meeting page of the Monmouthshire County Council website

 

If you would like to share your thoughts on any proposals being discussed by Select Committees, you can submit your representation via this form

 

·      Please share your views by uploading a video or audio file (maximum of 4 minutes) or;

·      Please submit a written representation (via Microsoft Word, maximum of 500 words)

 

You will need to register for a My Monmouthshire account in order to submit the representation or use your log in, if you have registered previously.

 

The deadline for submitting representations to the Council is 5pm three clear working days in advance of the meeting.

 

If representations received exceed 30 minutes, a selection of these based on theme will be shared at the Select Committee meeting.  All representations received will be made available to councillors prior to the meeting.


If you would like to suggest future topics for scrutiny by one of our Select Committees, please do so by emailing
Scrutiny@monmouthshire.gov.uk

 

Minutes:

No public submissions were received.

3.

Gypsy and Travellers Needs Assessment - To consider the way forward following a review of needs pdf icon PDF 251 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Ian Bakewell presented the report and answered the members’ questions with Mark Hand.

Challenge:

How important is it that we meet every one of the criteria set out by Welsh Government? How does determining a site work in relation to, for example, available school places?

I don’t think the process would consider school quotas, but access to schools is a criterion. At this stage we haven’t considered where schools are at capacity, but it would make sense for the matter to enter the debate.

Will the government therefore be flexible on the criteria, especially as there’s a cost implication for transport to school?

Access to schools is not set out definitively in the legislation – the obligation is more about the actual provision. We are expected to consider certain criteria, and we would aim to get as close to meeting all of those as possible. It would probably be difficult to meet every criterion definitively.

How would you rank those criteria i.e. schooling being one of the most important aspects?

We’ve not really done so, and it would be hard to do so, but it is certainly a consideration. Again, we won’t ‘tick every box’ with the sites. The criteria aren’t weighed against each other, it will be a carefully balanced decision as we progress. As we are considering families who are already in the county, their children should already be in the schooling system, though that isn’t to say that successful sites will necessarily be in those areas – so there could be the implication of a different catchment. Home-to-school transport policies would then apply, as for any other residents.

Appendix 2 mentions guidance; there’s a lot concerning public sites, but not much for private sites. There isn’t a section on licensing either.

Welsh Government have produced the public site criteria, which they would expect us to meet, if we go down that road. We expect that we will need to, but the need can be met by private arrangement. Including licensing as part of the working group’s conversation is appropriate – it hasn’t factored into the discussions previously.

Will Appendix 2 be submitted to Welsh Government?

We wouldn’t be compelled to submit it per se, but it would be appropriate to be available as background information to explain how we came to our decision.

The revised criteria mention phosphates and drainage but, quite often, these sites are in rural locations, so this presumably wouldn’t be relevant?

Yes, sites often aren’t on mains drainage, but have private treatment plants. The phosphates requirement on planning decisions is that for anything in sensitive areas (i.e. the northern two-thirds of the county, due to the Usk and Wye rivers), we have to go through a screening process with the habitat regulations, looking at betterment or neutrality in phosphates. It could be that a private treatment plant addresses that, and there is no phosphate impact – that is the position we will need to get to for a site to progress. There isn’t  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Affordable Housing - To scrutinise the Local Authority Prospectus, which summarises the demand for affordable housing within Monmouthshire prior to submission to Welsh Government pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Minutes:

Sally Meyrick presented the report and answered the members’ questions with Ian Bakewell and Mark Hand.

Challenge:

Regarding the priorities highlighted in the strategic housing development: first, to seek to respond to increased levels of homelessness – what is that rate?

It is hard to answer definitively because the overall number of households that we are dealing with hasn’t changed significantly from previous years. What has changed is the type of household – because Welsh Government’s requirements have changed (ending rough sleeping and youth homelessness), we are dealing with more single people, often with significant support needs. Because of the change in profile, we are having difficulty moving those people on. As a result, we have significant numbers of people in temporary accommodation – an increase from pre-pandemic. the team is focused on ramping up our preventative work and trying to increase our permanent accommodation.

The other priority to progress ambitions to set up an in-house development company – could that be elaborated on, given that it is a subject that has been discussed for several years now?

Debra Hill-Howells is leading on this, and would be best placed to provide an update, but she is on leave this week. Our latest understanding is that there is still an appetite for the development company but there is consideration as to what the land supply pipeline looks like, which is a factor of the replacement local development plan, and therefore still a work in progress. We will arrange for an email update to be sent to the committee.

What is the effect of the high house prices on the population, specifically young people, and how can this be addressed?

From the perspective of housing need, the house prices compound the situation in Monmouthshire. We are trying to work up solutions to meet these needs but face the same problems: land is expensive, properties are expensive to buy, and rents are high too. The need for affordable housing is a key part of the local development plan, and those demographic changes are considerations of planning colleagues in relation to the review of the development plan.

Affordable housing is one of the huge challenges for this county, and for our young people to remain in the county, if they wish to do so. It is a huge driving force behind the RLDP. There is the discussion about what happens if we build more homes and more people from outside the county move in, to which there are two answers: first, our natural population is declining, so people moving in is vital. In terms of how we ensure that housing is there for local people – meeting its intended purpose – affordable housing is very clearly and carefully governed so that people from the waiting list are given the housing (according to criteria concerning a local connection). Second, we continue to review for deposit plan stage any other policy tools or legal mechanisms to look at how we help, for example, care workers that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Revenue and Capital Monitoring 2021/22 Forecast Outturn Statement Month 2 - Scrutiny of the budgetary position for services falling within the Committee's remit at Month 2 pdf icon PDF 677 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Tyrone Stokes presented the report and answered the members’ questions with Jonathan Davies.

Challenge:

Overall, there’s a shortfall but a lot should be covered by Covid money – is it more like £2.5m?

Yes. the Covid-related element is about two-thirds of our predicted overspend which should be met by Welsh Government funding. In terms of social care in general, the main overspend pertains to children’s services, as already delivered to CYP Select. The major pressure we have in Adults services is meeting the demand, and the difficulty of the external marketplace, in terms of domiciliary care. That means we have had to bolster our in-house provision and employ more carers, above budget. There are particular pressures in the south of the county with hospital discharge. We are preparing for the next forecast; unfortunately, the overspend is only increasing.

Concerning the homelessness budget, a significant overspend is forecast (£1.04m), mainly due to expensive B&Bs and hostels. We are eligible to claim all that cost from the Welsh Government Hardship Fund. The government has produced new guidelines for claiming for the last 6 months of the year that are more stringent, so we need to work through that detail. This is also relevant to Adult Care, for which the Hardship Fund is going to taper off by the end of the year. We will liaise with budget holders and look to mitigate our additional costs as far as possible.

Presumably, the advantage of employing more in-house means less reliance on the market?

It is a double-edged sword. When we employ more in-house, there is that element of control but it costs more to employ. For example, for the local authority there is the 23% employer’s contribution to the pension scheme, which the external market doesn’t need to pay.

Is it not easier to recruit carers because some of the retail occupations were losing staff?

As the pandemic and restrictions are easing, it has become attractive for people to go into other areas such as hospitality, particularly as there might be a better hourly rate. Retention is perhaps more difficult than the initial recruitment.

Where have the savings of £874k been made and how can we ensure that they don’t affect service users?

The major saving has been from us moving away from the pandemic, in conjunction with more place-based care and market intelligence. Covid has sometimes brought opportunities but also created more challenges. The Hardship Fund props up the external marketplace a lot e.g. Care Homes with voids that they wouldn’t necessarily have had. Now we need to look at how we rebuild the market and gain more confidence in the market. We need to be proactive in a different way, which has given us the opportunity to offer £548k of savings back to the authority.

Chair’s Summary:

Thank you to officers for the comprehensive report. The recommendations were agreed.

 

6.

Adults Select Committee Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 503 KB

Minutes:

Homelessness will be considered in more detail at the next meeting. In the pre-meeting, Tony Crowhurst proposed a discussion over disability related to transport, with a suggestion of inviting the Cabinet Member – this could be included on 9th November. The Gypsy & Travellers workshop will take place in October.

 

7.

Cabinet and Council Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 180 KB

8.

To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 453 KB

Minutes:

The minutes were confirmed and signed as an accurate record, proposed by Councillor Groucott and seconded by Councillor Powell.

 

9.

Next Meeting

Minutes:

Tuesday 9th November 2021 at 10.00am.