Agenda and minutes

Cabinet - Wednesday, 26th February, 2020 4.00 pm

Venue: Room 10

Contact: Joanne Griffiths MBE  Tel: 01744 673219


Note No. Item


Apologies for Absence

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An apology for absence was received from Councillor Clarke.


Declarations of Interest from Members

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No declarations of interest from Members were made.


Minutes of the meeting held on 29 January 2020 pdf icon PDF 93 KB

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*                       Resolved that the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 29 January 2020 be approved and signed.


Issues Arising from Overview and Scrutiny

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No issues from Overview and Scrutiny were reported.



Performance Report Quarter 3 - 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 113 KB

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A report was submitted which presented a summary of progress against Portfolio priorities and an overview of the performance in relation to key indicatorsfor the period of Quarter 2 2019/20.

The Council remained committed to the regular monitoring and reporting of performance information to ensure the delivery of efficient, effective and value for money services that met the needs and expectations of the customers and communities it served.

The process of performance monitoring and reporting and associated systems had been well established within the Council for many years. During this time performance reports had taken on several different presentational formats. For a number of years up to this point, a combined monthly Budget and Performance report had been produced and presented to Cabinet and Audit and Financial Overview and Scrutiny Panel.

Over the course of 2018 there was growing recognition from within the Council of the requirement to revisit the combined Budget and Performance Monitoring Report. This view was echoed within the findings of an LGA Peer Review, which took place in early 2019. Since this period the Council had engaged further with the Local Government Association (LGA) in the review of financial and performance reporting to develop and present revised reporting formats.

            Cabinet were informed that the development of future performance reporting would  be an iterative process, fully engaging both Council officers and Members.

                        Although subject to future development, the Quarter 2 Performance Report, attached at Appendix 1, focused on Tier 1 and Tier 2 performance indicators and associated targets approved by Cabinet at its meeting held on 27 March 2019. Within the report where new data had become available during the quarter for a given indicator it was reported. The report was grouped by individual Portfolio with each Portfolio section containing the following:

i)     Key Priorities;

ii)    a summary of progress in delivery against key priorities;

iii)    a performance indicator tracking table showing performance against indicators in the year to date, direction of travel and comparative performance;

iv)   a summary of progress against key performance indicators, what is going well, what is proving challenging and what is being done to improve performance; and

v)    an in-depth look at key areas of performance (Protecting Young People Portfolio only in the Quarter 1 Report).

*     Resolved that:          


(1)        Cabinet to identify anything it believes the Council needs to be taking across the Portfolios to move forward on Council priorities following assessment of the Quarter 2 Performance Report; and


(2)        the focus of the in-depth look at key performance measures at section 4 for the Quarter 2 Performance Report be agreed.




Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 124 KB

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A report was submitted which informed Cabinet that as a billing authority,

St Helens Council was required to have a Council Tax Reduction scheme which provided a Council Tax discount to residents it considered to be in financial need. 


The Council must formally review whether to revise or replace its scheme, no later than 11 March each financial year.  The Council must also consider transitional arrangements, as it sees fit, if a revision or replacement scheme has the effect of reducing or removing entitlement.  Before amending a scheme, the billing authority must consult with major precepting authorities and other interested parties.


The 2018-19 scheme was approved by Council at its meeting held on 17 January 2018.


Following a consultation exercise, it was recommended that the St Helens Council Tax Reduction Scheme (2019-20) incorporated the following changes:


(a)         revisions to the Prescribed Requirements including those contained within the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2018.  This regulation uprates the applicable amounts, premiums and non-dependant deductions for those who have attained state pension age;


(b)       applicable amounts and premiums for working-age households are uprated in accordance with other social security benefits (see Appendix 2); and


(c)      additional provision for Care Leavers within the Council

          Tax Reduction scheme.


The St Helens Council Tax Reduction Scheme (2019-20), was attached at Appendix 1 to the report and if approved would apply for the financial year commencing 1 April 2019 and would replace the existing Council Tax Reduction

Scheme (2018-19).


*           Resolved that Council be recommended to approve the St Helens Council Tax Reduction Scheme (2019-2020).


Council Tax Discount - Care Leavers pdf icon PDF 121 KB

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A report was submitted which revised the Discretionary Council Tax Discount Policy

to extend support to all care leavers living in the borough, irrespective of who the

corporate parent was.  


This change would bring the policy in line with other local authorities and a request

from the Children’s Commissioner for England.


*     Resolved that the following amendments to the Discretionary Council Tax Discount Policy be approved:


(a) to extend the scheme to include all care leavers, irrespective of which local authority is the corporate parent;


(b) to remove the three-year time limit on awards, with support ceasing on the care leavers 25th birthday;


(c) to treat care leavers as ‘disregarded’ for council tax purposes.  Care leavers living alone will be exempt, whereas a 25% discount will apply when there are two adults living in a property and one is a care leaver; and


(d)to transitionally protect, in accordance with the existing policy, any care leavers adversely affected by this change in policy at the time of implementation.




Revenue and Capital Budget 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 106 KB

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A report was submitted which provided an update on the latest

budget position and sought approval for a 2020-2021 budget

which was affordable, met the needs of the residents of

St Helens, and complied with the agreed priorities and budget

strategy of the Council.


The report also sought approval for the following:

·         capital programme and associated strategy;

·         Treasury Management Policy Statement and the Treasury Management Strategy 2020-2021 (incorporating the Annual Revenue Provision Statement) and the associated Treasury Limits and Prudential Indicators; and

·         revisions to the Council Tax premium charges in relation to long-term temporary properties.


Cabinet had approved a series of actions in support of the 2020-

2021 budget process having considered reports at a number of

meetings, the most recent being the Budget Report on 29

January 2020.  This report was consistent with the resolutions

previously made and contained proposals that took into account

both the current position and latest financial forecasts. It should

be considered with due regard to the previous reports

considered by Cabinet at its meetings held on 23 October 2019

and 29 January 2020.


* Resolved that Council be requested to approve:


1.    a 2020-2021 Band D Council Tax of £1503.75, which equates to a Council Tax increase of 3.99%, inclusive of the application of a 2% Adult Social Care Precept;

2.    the Revenue Budget for 2020-2021 as provided at Paragraph 5.3;

3.    the Capital Programme and associated strategy, summarized at Paragraph 6.1 and detailed in Appendix 6;

4.    the transfer of £1 million provision from the Insurance and Contingent Liabilities Reserve to the Growth Reserve;

5.    an increase in the Council Tax premium on long-term empty properties which have been empty for five years or more to 200% from 1 April 2020, and an increase in the premium to 300% from 1 April 2021 for properties that have been empty for ten years or more;

6.    the Treasury Management Policy Statement as detailed in Appendix 5;

7.    the Treasury Management Strategy 2020-2021 (incorporating the Annual Revenue Provision Statement) and the associated Treasury Limits and Prudential Indicators, as detailed in Appendix 5; and

8.    the delegation of authority to the Executive Director of Corporate Services to determine the profile of credit liabilities within the Prudential Indicator “Authorised Limit for External Borrowing”, and to amend the criteria by which the Council’s lending list is compiled for its internally-managed investments.



St Helens Healthy Weight Strategy pdf icon PDF 95 KB

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A report was submitted which informed Cabinet of the plan to meet the Council’s ambition to halve childhood obesity in the Borough by 2030. This long-term aim was aligned to the national target. The strategy included a one-year action plan demonstrating how the Council will reduce childhood obesity, for example, through a health in all policies approach, reviewing antenatal education.


*    Resolved that the St Helens Healthy Weight Strategy be approved.


Pay Policy Statement 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 98 KB

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A report was submitted which sought approval from Council on the Pay Policy Statement 2019/2020.


The Localism Act 2011 section 38 (1) required all Councils to prepare a pay policy statement.  These pay statements must articulate a Council’s own policy towards a range of issues relating to the pay of its workforce, particularly its senior staff (or chief officers) and its lowest paid employees.  Pay policy statements must be prepared for each financial year and must be approved by full Council.


The principles behind the pay policy were to increase accountability, transparency and fairness in the setting of local pay.  They required Councillors to take a greater role in determining pay, ensuring that decisions were taken by those who were directly accountable to local people.


In order to comply with requirements outlined in the report, the Council would publish the appropriate data along with the pay policy statement on the Council’s website.


*           Resolved that Council be recommended to:


(1)          approve the St Helens Council’s Pay Policy Statement 2019/2020; and


(2)          approve the continuation of the delegation of powers identified at paragraphs 3.5 and 3.6 within the Pay Policy Statement.


Ofsted Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services – Outcome Letter & Action Plan pdf icon PDF 118 KB

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A report was submitted which updated Cabinet on the proposed Inspection of Local

Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) Action Plan that had been developed in

response to the findings of the recent Inspection of Children’s Services that was

completed during September and October 2019.


Children’s Services received an Inspection from Ofsted under the ILACS framework from 23 September to 4 October 2019.


The outcome of the Inspection was published on 4 November 2019. A copy of the letter received from Ofsted was attached at Appendix 2 to the report.


The findings of the Inspection were that in two domain areas – the ‘Impact of Leaders on social work practice with children and families’ and the ‘Experiences and progress of children who need help & protection’, the finding was that the service Required Improvement. For the third domain – ‘Experiences and progress of Children in Care and Care Leavers’, the finding was that the service was Inadequate. Under the ILACS framework, the Inadequate finding in the third domain resulted in a judgement in ‘Overall Effectiveness’ of the service as Inadequate. As the overall judgement is ‘Inadequate’ the Department will receive regulatory oversight from both Ofsted and the Department for Education. A Ministerial Letter has been received informing the Council of the need to improve and a meeting has been held between the Department for Education and Senior Leaders within the Council, where a commitment was given by Senior Leaders to ensure that services are improved.


Ofsted have since completed an Action Planning Day in December 2019 with Senior Managers in the service and will now carry out quarterly Monitoring Visits to the Department, with the first Monitoring Visit expected in May 2020. The Department for Education has appointed a Lead Officer, who will also complete regular monitoring of progress. Support from the Department of Education includes the appointment of a Specialist Advisor, who will work alongside the service to address the issues identified and will provide regular reports on progress back to the Minister and the provision of practical support from another local authority through the Partners in Practice programme. For St Helens, the Partner identified is Cheshire West & Chester Council, who have already agreed the areas of the service for which they will provide additional support.


In order to capture this activity and provide a demonstrable indicator of the progress being made, Ofsted require all local authorities who are judged Inadequate to produce an Action Plan within a specific timeframe, setting out the areas for improvement and how the Department plans to progress in these areas. Since this judgement was reached, there has been significant activity in responding to both Ofsted and the Department for Education and to produce a draft Action Plan that meets the expected standards.


The Draft ILACS Action Plan that had been submitted to Ofsted in January 2020 was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. Ofsted will now review the Plan and provide confirmation if the Plan meets the expected standards and provides sufficient rigor to address  ...  view the full minutes text for item 101.



DfT Local Pinch Point Fund pdf icon PDF 120 KB

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A report was submitted which sought Cabinet’s approval to match funding of £0.51million towards a total scheme cost of £5.61million for A580/Carr Mill Road Junction Improvement scheme for an Expression of Interest bid for the £150million DfT highways pinch point fund. This is available over two financial years for 2021/22 to 2022/23.


The report summarised the aim of the fund and the criteria that guides the Government’s application process. It also set out the local criteria that had been proposed and applied as a means of ranking the candidate schemes by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCR CA), this being a requirement within Combined Authority areas.


The St Helens Council submission bid was to carry out a junction improvement at A580/A571 Carr Mill Road which will enable future economic growth by improving access to St Helens and supporting key regeneration activity at this location including a proposed residential development and progressing and facilitating the delivery of a new rail station at Carr Mill.


The proposed scheme solution to support wider regeneration objectives were included in the report.


* Resolved that the provision of match funding in support of a bid for Highways Pinch Point Funding be approved from the Service Investment Reserve.


Exclusion of the Public

Recommended that the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items for the reason stated:


Item                 Reason (under the Local Government Act 1972)



14                    Information which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual (Para 2 of Schedule 12A)


15 & 16            Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding the information) (Para 3 of Schedule 12A)

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*        Resolved that the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following item for the reason stated:


            Minute           Reason (under the Local Government                  

                                   Act 1972)


104                  Information which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual (Para 2 of Schedule 12A)


105 & 106       Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding the information) (Para 3 of Schedule 12A)




Licensing Enforcement Team


A report was submitted which sought approval to establish a Licensing

Enforcement Team.


Licensing was a statutory local responsibility which existed primarily to keep the

public safe.


Licensing had evolved over the last few years and had seen significant change

through central government with the introduction of legislation and guidance and

through established case law.


There had also been some nationally significant cases, for example the

investigations into Rotherham and Rochdale licensing authorities which had shaped

the current government thinking.


St Helens had not previously had a specific resource to carry out licensing



Enforcement in St Helens was largely reactive and based on information reported

to the service, rather than the proactive enforcement which it should be and are

expected to provide.


In order to meet statutory obligations a team who concentrated solely on Licensing

enforcement would need to be established.


*           Resolved that the creation and funding of the Licensing Enforcement Team be approved.









Appointment of Supplier for Website / CRM / CMS


At its meeting held on 13 November 2019, Cabinet approved the sourcing of

replacements for the current in-house developments for the Council’s core Website;

Intranet; Content Management System (CMS), Customer Relationship Management

database (CRM), Customer Portal and online forms, along with the

associated funding.


In liaison with the Council’s Procurement Team, potential providers were identified

from the Digital Marketplace. The number of suppliers identified was limited by the

fact that the Council was looking for a holistic solution, which would combine all of

the aspects of Customer and service requirements.


The Digital Marketplace is the online platform that all public sector organisations can use to find and buy cloud-based services (e.g. web hosting or site analytics). In the future, it will also become the home for services from other frameworks, including the Digital Services framework.


*         Resolved that GOSS Interactive Ltd as the preferred supplier of the replacements for the Council’s Website, Intranet, Content Management and Customer Relationship Management System be approved.



Innovate Edge of Care Proposal


A report was submitted which set out a request to use the resources allocated to the Edge of Care service differently to accelerate service development and to prevent the escalation of concerns resulting in children needing to become looked after by the local authority.


Cabinet held on 17 July 2019 sought permanent funding for an Edge of Care service and set out the need to safely reduce the requirement for statutory social work intervention in family life and reduce the need for children and young people to be taken into care. The rationale for investment was summarised in the



*         Resolved that Innovate CYPS be appointed to work alongside Council staff to support and accelerate the implementation of the Edge of Care service.