Agenda and minutes
Venue: Priory Street Centre - Denham Room
Contact: Jayne Carr Democracy Officer
Declarations of Interest
At this point Members are asked to declare any personal or prejudicial interests they may have in the business on this agenda.
Members were invited to declare at this point in the meeting any personal or prejudicial interests they might have in the business on the agenda. Councillor Jeffries declared a personal interest in items on the agenda as Co-Chair of York Independent Living Network. David McCormick declared a personal interest in items on the agenda as an employee of City of York Council and Chair of the Staff Equalities Reference Group.
At this point in the meeting members of the public who have registered their wish to speak regarding an item on the agenda or an issue within the Group’s remit can do so. Anyone who wishes to register or requires further information is requested to contact the Democracy Officer on the contact details listed at the foot of this agenda. The deadline for registering is Friday 17 February 2012 at 5.00pm.
There was one registration to speak under the council’s Public Participation Scheme.
Carolyn Suckling expressed concerns regarding the taxi card scheme. She stated that the scheme in York was much less generous than in other areas and that provision in York was inadequate. She suggested that the Council may be failing in its statutory requirement to provide both a bus pass and a taxi card.
The Chair stated that she would look into the issues raised and provide a response to Mrs Suckling. She would also report back to the Group at the next meeting.
To approve and sign the minutes of the last meeting of the Group held on Thursday 24 November 2011. An “easy read” version of the minutes is also attached.
Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 24 November 2011 be approved and signed as a correct record.
Update on actions agreed at last meeting
Information will be provided as to what actions have been taken in response to issues raised at the last meeting.
Information was tabled that provided an update on the action that had been taken to address issues raised at the previous meeting:
(i) Council Management Team meeting with EAG
The meeting with the City of York Council management team had taken place on 19 December 2011. The group requested that the notes from the meeting be circulated to them.
(ii) Older People’s Champion
Members of the group commented that information had been circulated in the community that named Councillor Simpson-Laing as the Older People’s Champion. Clarification was sought as to whether this was an official appointment by the Council. The Chair explained that the Council had not appointed an Older People’s Champion but, as Councillor Simpson-Laing was the Cabinet Member for Health, Housing and Adult Social Services, she was likely to be the most appropriate contact for many of the issues that had been previously been referred to the Older People’s Champion.
(iii) Training for Taxi Drivers
The group reiterated their concerns that the disability awareness training for taxi drivers was too basic. It was agreed that this would be an item for a future meeting.
(iv) Resources for YREN
Clarification was sought as to whether the comments made by YREN in respect of their need for additional resources to increase capacity and meet the growing demand for their services had been taken into account by Cabinet. The Chair confirmed that Cabinet had taken this issue into account.
(v) Choice Based Lettings
Officers confirmed that they had forwarded the group’s concerns to the relevant Assistant Director. An item would be included on the agenda for a future EAG meeting to consider the issues raised in more detail.
Presentations on Council Budget
Presentations will given on:
· The council budget process
· The Equality Impact Assessment process
· Key areas of growth and savings
The Group heard presentations about the council’s budget, including the main growth and savings proposals.
The Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Social Inclusion and the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services would ensure that the Group’s comments on the proposals would be taken into account when the budget decisions were implemented. It was noted that the Council would set the budget at a meeting on 23 February 2012.
The presentations focussed on the following issues:
(i) The Current Budget
An update was given on the current budget. There were some significant financial issues including:
· Increased cost of pensions
· Increased cost of waste
· Demands on adult social care
· Demands on children’s social care
These pressures were being faced within the context of a Government reduction in formula grant funding and specific grant reductions.
(ii) Budget for 2012/2013
· There would be a £5m cut in the formula grant.
· Pressures remained in respect of social care and the costs of waste.
· It was intended to set a 2-year budget framework.
· The two priorities were to protect vulnerable people and to promote growth in the economy.
· £20m savings were required over the 2-year period. There would be £11m in savings next year.
· There would be a 5-year planning framework.
· Details were given of some of the implications of the Localism Bill, including changes around benefit support. From 1 April 2013, Authorities would set their own criteria for council tax benefits. There would be a 10% reduction in funding for this. The existing level of support for pensioners and vulnerable people had to be retained.
· The Council would be able to retain any growth in business rates.
· It was proposed that there would be an increase in council tax. Although the Government had stated that it would give a 2 ½ % grant if the Council did not increase council tax, this would only be guaranteed for one year and hence Cabinet was not recommending this option.
Officers responded to questions that the Group raised regarding the proposed budget.
Details were given of the consultation that had taken place on the budget and the feedback that had been received including:
· Two meetings with the voluntary sector
· A meeting with business leaders
· A meeting with the Youth Council
· On-line budget tool
· CMT meeting with EAG
· The work of the Fairness Commission
(iv) The Budget EIA Process
The Group was informed of the consideration that had been given to the impact of the budget proposals. The aim had been to protect the most vulnerable people and the protected characteristics and also those with limited financial means. The aim had been to protect their health, safety and general well-being.
An equality impact assessment (EIA) had been completed on the overall impact of the budget proposals. This had taken into account the information gathered at consultative and engagement events with equality groups.
The Group was informed that each proposal also had its own EIA.
Group Work on the Impacts
Following on from the presentations, there will be group work on the impacts.
It was noted that the Cabinet agenda papers for the meeting of 14 February 2012 had included a detailed list of proposed savings and areas of growth. Several of these proposals had been identified as being likely to have a significant impact for some people. The group was asked to
· Consider the impact as assessed by council officers
· Identify any issues that council officers may have missed
· Work together to consider how to lessen any negative effects
The feedback from the Group would be taken into account when decisions were implemented.
Workshops were held around the following proposals:
· Communities and Neighbourhoods proposed savings
· Fair Access to Care Services
· Future of sheltered employment
The feedback from the workshops is attached as an annex to the minutes.
The Chair stated that there would be ongoing communication with voluntary groups to seek to address the issues that had been raised.
Urgent Business - Fairness Commission
Any other business which the Chair considers urgent under the Local Government Act 1972.
Rita Sanderson stated that YREN had welcomed the opportunity to meet with the Fairness Commission and to contribute to consultation events on behalf of its members and associates, but had been concerned that some of the issues that they had put forward had not been reflected in the Fairness Commission’s Interim Report. This was of particular concern as the report was to be used as an evidence base for the City of York Council when considering the budget. Whilst it was appreciated that YREN had been reassured that there would be further opportunities, in the second round of consultation, to contribute, it was felt that an opportunity may have been missed.