Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Online Virtual Meeting

Contact: Rashella Rapley, Governance Officer - 020 8937 3051 

Note: The press and public are welcome to attend this as an online virtual meeting. The link to view proceedings is available via the Live Streaming section on the Democracy in Brent page on the Council's website or via the link on the agenda frontsheet. 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence and clarification of alternate members

2.

Declarations of interests

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, the nature and existence of any relevant disclosable pecuniary or personal interests in the items on this agenda and to specify the item(s) to which they relate.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interests made by Members.

 

3.

Deputations (if any)

To hear any deputations received from members of the public in accordance with Standing Order 67.

Minutes:

There were no deputations received.

 

4.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting held on Tuesday 29 September 2020 as a correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the previous meeting held on Tuesday 29 September 2020 be approved as an accurate record.

 

5.

Matters arising (if any)

To consider any matters arising from the minutes of the previous meeting.

Minutes:

There were no matters arising.

 

6.

Extra Day Leave Christmas Closure pdf icon PDF 83 KB

This report provides the Committee with a proposal to recognise 24th December

2020 as an additional bank holiday for staff.

Minutes:

Martin Williams, Head of Human Resources, introduced the report seeking the Committee’s approval to recognise 24 December 2020 as an additional day of Bank Holiday leave for staff.

 

In considering the report members were keen to recognise and acknowledge the commitment of Brent staff throughout the year in such difficult circumstances given the challenges created as a result of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Members noted the range of actions and initiatives, which had been developed and delivered across the Council in response to the pandemic, whilst also continuing to deliver business as usual, as outlined in section 4 of the report.

 

Members thanked staff for all their hard work throughout the year in the most difficult of circumstances, in order to ensure that council services continued to be delivered and residents were supported during such a challenging time.

 

In welcoming the report, it was also noted that should members be minded to agree the proposal, this would not involve any additional financial implications and arrangements would remain in place to ensure the continued provision of emergency and out of hours’ services.

 

As a result, it was therefore RESOLVED to designate the 24 December 2020 as an additional Bank Holiday leave for staff.

 

 

 

7.

Voluntary Redundancy Scheme update pdf icon PDF 128 KB

This report provides an update to the committee in respect of the council’s 2020 Voluntary Redundancy Scheme. It also outlines the impact on the scheme of a current consultation concerning changes to the Local Government Pension Scheme and some changes already in force in new Regulations concerning public sector exit payments.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Debra Norman, Director of Legal, Audit and HR Services, introduced the report providing an update in respect of the Council’s 2020 Voluntary Redundancy Scheme. The report also outlined the impact on the scheme of a current consultation concerning changes to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) and some changes already in force, in new Regulations concerning Public Sector exit payments.

 

In considering the report, Debra Norman informed members that following the Chief Executive having authorised the opening of a further Voluntary Redundancy Scheme in September 2020, 123 members of staff had submitted applications.  As a result of the applications having been assessed (on the basis of the process outlined within section 4.2 of the report) 75 had been agreed. Members were advised that in addition, a further 12 had been considered appropriate for approval, but the cost of severance for these individuals was in excess of £95,000 taking account of pension strain costs should an unreduced pension be paid.  Members’ attention was drawn to the legal uncertainties surrounding these specific severance payments, which had been set out within sections 4.7 to 4.14 of the report, as a result of recent Government guidance and consultation.  Given the uncertainty, the Committee noted that the LGPS Advisory Board had suggested that administering authorities take steps to mitigate their risk in respect of redundancies where the cost of severance was in excess of £95,000 suggesting that an actuarially reduced or deferred pension without the cash payment referred to by the Government guidance was offered.  Whilst recognising the unsatisfactory nature of this position for both the Council and affected staff, this was currently being proposed as the recommended approach.  In addition, it was also recommended that the Pension Fund adopt the new draft Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) strain factors in advance of the LGPS Regulations being updated, as expected by the time the staff taking voluntary redundancy under the scheme came to leave the council.

 

Members were advised that as a result of the current position 3 of the 12 staff affected had subsequently withdrawn their request for voluntary redundancy with members noting the impact in terms of both the organisation and staff morale.  The position and approach being adopted had also been subject to discussion with Trade Union representatives (as detailed in section 4.22 of the report).  Whilst clear about their opposition to the Government’s legislation in respect of Exit Payments and the detrimental impact on staff moving forward, they had been appreciative of the Council’s transparency in respect of the proposals outlined and felt the approach being adopted was reasonable in view of the current difficult position faced by the Council.  A request had been made for the Council to consider seeking waivers for those staff impacted by the Exit Cap, although members noted that these were unlikely to receive consent given the criteria established by Government was very restrictive.

 

Following on from the discussion and advice provided during the meeting it was RESOLVED:

 

(1)      To note the proposed approach to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Council Tax Base 2021/2022 pdf icon PDF 146 KB

This report is presented to enable the Council to fulfil its statutory role to set a council tax base for 2021/22. The Local Government Finance Act (LGFA) 1992, as amended by the LGFA 2003 & LGFA 2012, requires the Authority to formally calculate the Council Tax Base for 2021/22 and pass this information to precepting authorities by 31 January 2021. The tax base must be set between 1 December 2020 and 31 January 2021.

Minutes:

RavinderJassar (Head of Finance, Brent Council) introduced the report setting out the Council Tax base for 2021/22 in order to enable the Council to fulfil its statutory role under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (as amended).

 

Members noted that calculation of the Tax Base was based on a formula involving two elements:

 

a.         the number of taxable properties shown as “Band D equivalents”; and

 

b.         the expected collection rate for the year;

 

In presenting the report, the Committee were advised that the calculation for the number of taxable properties had included an estimate for the number of new housing developments anticipated across the borough.  The general trend was also supported by the level of new Council Tax registrations currently awaiting banding by the Valuation Office Agency.  Members noted the position would, however, continue to be monitored so that if at any time, the rate of new properties coming on stream slowed, a furtheradjustment could be made to ensure the collection fund remained in balance.

 

In terms of the expected Council Tax collection rate, members were advised that this had needed to be adjusted to reflect the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the in-year collection rate for 2020/21. Current modelling suggested that a reduction in the 2020/21 collection rate of 3% was expected. This was significant, however; collection would continue to be attempted in future years, albeit there was a risk that the long-term collection rate would not be met.  As a result of the ongoing impact of Covid-19 to the economy and the postponement of normal debt recovery action, members were advised it was too early to be able to estimate the short and long term impact on collection. It had therefore been deemed prudent to reduce the long-term collection rate to reflect the reality that there would be an impact on collection and for 2021/22 a collection level of 97.50% was considered reasonable.

 

Members recognised and supported the prudent nature of the assumptions being made and as a result, it was RESOLVED:

 

(1)      That the Band D equivalent number of properties was calculated as shown in accordance with the Government regulations.

 

(2)      That the collection rate for Council Tax for 2021/22 was set at 97.5%.

 

(3)      That subject to (1) and (2) above, a Council Tax Base for 2021/22 of 98,450 Band D equivalent properties (after collection rate allowance deduction) be approved.

 

9.

Public Sector Pay Freeze 2021/2022 pdf icon PDF 105 KB

This report provides an update to the committee in respect of the public sector pay freeze for 2021/22 announced in the spending review and the implications for remuneration for council employees.

Minutes:

Debra Norman, Director of Legal, Audit and HR Services, introduced the report providing an update in respect of the Public Sector pay freeze for 2021/22 announced in the Government’s spending review and the implications for remuneration for council employees.

 

Whilst noting the Council’s adherence to the National Pay Bargaining Framework for Local Government and need to comply with its Pay Policy and statement members were keen to consider the provision of appropriate recognition for staff in order to reflect their continuing commitment in such difficult circumstances during the Covid-19 pandemic.  As a result, the Committee was being asked to agree that a report be bought forward to Full Council in February 2021 in order to consider any amendments (should they be necessary) to the Pay Policy and Pay Policy Statement in order to enable any appropriate form of recognition to be made.

 

As a result, the Committee RESOLVED to:

 

(1)  Note the constraints on reward and remuneration for employees, which would result from the Public Sector pay freeze.

 

(2)  Agree that a report be brought to the February 2021 Council meeting to propose amendments to the council’s Pay Policy and (if necessary) to its Pay Policy Statement to enable appropriate recognition of the continuing commitment in difficult circumstances shown by council staff during the COVID crisis.

 

10.

Appointments to Sub-Committees / Outside Bodies

To consider any appointments needing to be made in relation to the Sub Committees appointed b the General Purposes Committee.

Minutes:

None

 

11.

Exclusion of Press and Public

The following items are not for publication as they relate to the following category of exempt information as specified under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, namely:

 

1. Information relating to any individual.

2. Information which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual.

3. Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

4. Information relating to any consultations or negotiations, or contemplated consultations or negotiations, in connection with any labour relations matter arising between the authority or a Minister of the Crown and employees of, or office holders under, the authority.

5. Information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings.

6. Information which reveals that the authority proposes –

(a) to give under any enactment a notice under or by virtue of which requirements

are imposed on a person; or

(b) to make an order or direction under any enactment

7. Information relating to any action taken or to be taken in connection with the prevention, investigation or prosecution of crime.

Minutes:

There were no items that required the exclusion of the press or public.

 

 

12.

Any other urgent business

Notice of items to be raised under this heading must be given in writing to the Head of Executive and Member Services or his representative before the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 60.

Minutes:

None

 

It was noted that the next meeting had been scheduled for Monday 18 January 2021