Agenda and minutes

Strategy and Resources Executive Advisory Board - Monday, 11th October, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: This meeting will be held via MSTeams

Contact: Andrea Carr, Committee Officer Tel no: 01483 444058  Email: andrea.carr@guildford.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

SR25

Apologies for Absence and Notification of Substitute Members

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Diana Jones and Steven Lee.

 

SR26

Local Code of Conduct and Declaration of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

In accordance with the local Code of Conduct, a councillor is required to disclose at the meeting any Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (DPI) that they may have in respect of any matter for consideration on this agenda.  Any councillor with a DPI must not participate in any discussion or vote regarding that matter and they must withdraw from the meeting immediately before consideration of the matter.

 

If that DPI has not been registered, the councillor must notify the Monitoring Officer of the details of the DPI within 28 days of the date of the meeting.

 

Councillors are further invited to disclose any non-pecuniary interest which may be relevant to any matter on this agenda, in the interests of transparency, and to confirm that it will not affect their objectivity in relation to that matter.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Fiona White declared a non-pecuniary interest as a trustee of CHIPS.  Councillor Julia McShane declared a non-pecuniary interest as a Council outside bodies representative on the Board of Guildford Action and as a trustee of CHIPS.  Councillor Graham Eyre declared a non-pecuniary interest as a member of the Board of Ash Citizens Advice Bureau.  Councillor Will Salmon declared a non-pecuniary interest as a spouse of a volunteer with Homestart.

SR27

Minutes pdf icon PDF 233 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Executive Advisory Board meeting held on 9 August 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Executive Advisory Board held on 9 August 2021 were confirmed as a correct record, and would be signed by the Chairman at the earliest opportunity.

SR28

Citizens' Advice Funding pdf icon PDF 190 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Advisory Board (EAB) received an introductory presentation from the Strategy and Communications Manager concerning the mandate in respect of the funding of Guildford and Ash Citizens Advice (CAs) by the Council.  The mandate addressed the following areas:

 

·             Introduction

·             Strategy

·             Strategic options to deliver a solution

·             Considerations

·             Resources

·             Risks, assumptions and issues

·             Dependencies, constraints and opportunities

·             Internal stakeholders

·             Appendix 1 – Citizens Advice Bureaux Funding

 

The presentation highlighted that the Council was the principal funder of Guildford and Ash CAs and that neither organisation would be viable without substantial funding from the authority.  In 2021/22 the core grant support totalled £300,000 (£225,000 to Guildford and £75,000 to Ash).  Separately, the Council had a funding agreement with Ash CA of £63,000 per annum to provide a money advice service for homelessness prevention, which was funded through government grant and outside the scope of this mandate.

 

CA was a network of independent charities that provided free confidential information and advice to assist people with money, legal, consumer and other problems.  Primary issues included debt management, welfare benefits, housing, immigration and asylum, employment, consumer complaints and landlord-tenant disputes.  Services provided by CAs could help address issues such as social exclusion and child poverty, mental health, homelessness and housing conditions, older people and those with long term illnesses and disabilities accessing welfare benefits and care advice.

 

Guildford and Ash CAs provided support to 4-5,000 clients each year.  A significant proportion of those were referrals from the Council, many of whom were also its tenants.  Although the Council had no statutory obligation to fund CAs, which provided significant benefits to residents and contributed to the Council’s corporate priorities, demand for Council services would increase without the advice and support they provided.

 

Whilst all Surrey district and borough councils provided financial support to CAs, Guildford’s funding was significantly higher than elsewhere.  Although direct comparisons were not straightforward, e.g. some councils may provide free accommodation in addition to financial support, total funding of £250,000 would be more in line with that provided by other local authorities.

 

With the Council’s support, the CAs (including Waverley CA) were discussing closer joint working and mergers to reduce costs and pursue new service delivery options by adopting a more outreach-based approach.  Such changes could deliver savings in terms of staffing and accommodation.  Without significant change, the ongoing viability of Guildford and Ash CAs in their current form was questioned.  Guildford CA currently occupied Council owned premises for which it paid an annual rent of £41,400 and a service charge of £10,941, which was covered by the grant.  The market rental of the property was estimated at £53,000 per annum.

 

The mandate set out the five options for future funding of the CAs in the context of the Council’s challenging financial position and corporate priorities.  The options consisted of (a) do nothing, (b) do something, (c) do more [1], (d) do more [2] or (e) do most.  The mandate was considered by the Executive / Management Team Liaison Group at its  ...  view the full minutes text for item SR28

SR29

Voluntary Grants Schemes pdf icon PDF 220 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Strategy and Communications Manager gave an introductory presentation in respect of the mandate relating to grants to voluntary organisations.  The mandate consisted of:

 

·             Introduction

·             Strategy

·             Strategic options to deliver a solution

·             Considerations

·             Resources

·             Risks, assumptions and issues

·             Dependencies, constraints and opportunities

·             Internal stakeholders

·             Appendix 1 – new service level agreements

·             Appendix 2 – previous review of grants

·             Appendix 3 – voluntary grants scheme 2021/22

 

By way of background, the Executive Advisory Board (EAB) was advised that following a review of grants in January 2020, the existing grants schemes had been discontinued in their previous forms and replaced by rolling agreements to provide greater certainty over future funding to organisations delivering against the Council’s strategic priorities (homelessness, mental health services, vulnerable families and services for the elderly).

 

At that time, the Executive also agreed to establish a new smaller Aspire Grants Scheme (£30,000 per annum) to support small scale local community projects and also to retain a reduced Voluntary Grants Scheme (£50,000 per annum) to provide some funding for other organisations delivering services for priority groups.  The establishment of a new crowdfunding platform for a two year trial period with an annual budget of £80,000 was also approved.

 

The original Voluntary Grants Scheme had been established as a tri-partite funding body along with Surrey County Council (SCC) and the NHS.  However, as both SCC and the NHS withdrew funding in recent years, the Borough Council remained as the only contributor. Whilst the scheme continued to provide support to organisations working with vulnerable residents, as a legacy of its former composition, grant funding did not necessarily closely support this Council’s priorities or core client groups and many grants were more health service focused.

 

With priority groups and services now being supported through funding agreements, the new crowdfunding platform being established to support voluntary and community organisations and the Council’s increased financial challenges, the mandate considered options for future grant funding.  The four options consisted of (a) do nothing, (b) discontinue the Voluntary Grants Scheme, (c) discontinue the Aspire Community Grants Scheme or (d) do most.  The Executive / Management Team Liaison Group had considered this mandate at its meeting held on 30 June 2021 and expressed support for Option (b).

 

The following points arose from related questions, comments and discussion:

 

1.           Councillor Fiona White addressed the EAB as a Trustee of CHIPS, an organisation which offered valued school holiday play provision to support vulnerable children and families in north Guildford and in Ash.  CHIPS met some of the Council’s strategic priorities and was in receipt of a voluntary grant of £5,000 in 2021/22 which formed an integral part of its funding.  Although it was difficult to calculate the return on the Council’s investment, it was felt that CHIPS provided valuable intervention work without which there may be greater need of Council services and expenditure in the future.  Accordingly, the EAB was invited to support CHIPS and other voluntary organisations by protecting their grant funding and seeking alternative savings elsewhere.

2.           The  ...  view the full minutes text for item SR29

SR30

Executive Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 661 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Forward Plan was noted.

 

SR31

EAB Work Programme pdf icon PDF 196 KB

To consider and approve the EAB’s work programme with reference to the Executive Forward Plan. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The EAB Work Programme was noted without comment.