Agenda and minutes

Corporate Services, Commerce and Communities Policy Overview Committee - Tuesday, 14th January, 2020 7.30 pm

Venue: Committee Room 5 - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Luke Taylor - Email:; Telephone: 01895 250 693  Please enter via main reception and visit the security desk to sign-in and collect a visitors pass. You will then be directed to the Committee Room.

Link: Watch the LIVE or archived broadcast of this meeting here

No. Item


Apologies for absence


There were no apologies for absence.


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of the meeting held on 5 November 2019 pdf icon PDF 121 KB


RESOLVED: That the minutes from the meeting held on 5 November 2019 be agreed as a correct record.


Exclusion of Press and Public


It was confirmed that all items were marked as Part I and would be considered in public.


2020/21 Budget Proposals for Services within the remit of Corporate Services, Commerce and Communities Policy Overview Committee pdf icon PDF 102 KB


Officers introduced the 2020 / 21 budget proposals for services within the remit of the Corporate Services, Commerce and Communities Policy Overview Committee.


Members were informed that Cabinet will consider the budget proposals in February, including budget comments from all Policy Overview Committees, and Council will meet to agree the 2020 / 21 budgets and Council tax levels on 20 February 2020.


Officers noted that funding from the Chancellor’s review was in keeping with what the Council expected, and the Social Care grant funding was off-set by the loss of London business rates retention.


The Committee noted that the budget gap of £27.7m remained consistent with previous years and other local authorities, and there was a planned Council Tax rise of 1.8%, alongside a 2% increase relating to the Adult Social Care Precept. Officers commented that this equated to £43.31 per annum, or £0.83 per week, for a Band D household.


Responding to Councillors’ questioning, officers noted that the investment in youth infrastructure was built into the capital programme, and further details will be provided in the budget proposals report that is to be presented to the Residents, Education and Environmental Services Policy Overview Committee.


Members sought clarification regarding the Exchequer and Business Assurance Services service review savings, and were informed that the Council reviewed each areas for efficiency, including the way services were delivered, staffing and the use of digital technology. The Deputy Director of Exchequer and Business Assurance Services confirmed that the review considered what was needed now and what the Council required in the future, including the impact on Universal Credit on the way the Council operates.


RESOLVED: That the Committee note the budget projections and the combined budget proposals put forward by the Chief Executive’s Office and Finance Group and the relevant services areas within the Residents Services Group, within the context of the corporate budgetary position.


Counter Fraud Enforcement Actions pdf icon PDF 79 KB

Additional documents:


Officers introduced the report which contained information on how the Council is meeting its statutory duty to safeguard public finances by implementing effective arrangements for the prevention and detection of fraud and corruption within the Council and its services.


The Deputy Director of Exchequer and Business Assurance Services noted that the Council took a risk-based approach to fraud in every case, and directed the majority of its resources to the areas at the highest risk; most notably, Housing, Social Care and Revenues.


Members heard that the Counter Fraud Team was on track to meet its target of a 99% Business Rates collection rate and an overall loss prevention target of £2m across Council services, with current savings at the end of Quarter 3 being £1.46m. Officers noted that one key component in the Council’s ability to tackle fraud has been the presence of a Home Office Immigration Enforcement Officer working within the team. This has allowed direct access to Home Office data, which has helped the Council quickly check the immigration status of those applying for Council services where recourse to public funds is required.


Officers noted that one of the best sources of intelligence gathering for the Council remains Councillors, as they are out in the Borough a lot and know their local areas well, so are able to flag up any potential irregularities they see.


The Head of Counter Fraud confirmed that, while the Council did enforce in certain cases, it focuses on using a prevention strategy. Members heard that the Counter Fraud Team were focused on looking at where risk was and verifying information before allocating any resources, as acting after the fact was a lot more expensive. The Committee were informed that 21 Council properties had been recovered by the team to date this year, with another five cases ongoing. Prosecution cases only took place where appropriate; it must be proportionate, reasonable, and necessary to act as a deterrent against further fraud.


Responding to Councillors’ questioning, officers confirmed that generally, recovered properties were usually those that had been sub-let or abandoned, and did not result in residents being evicted from their homes. Furthermore, property mutual exchanges were facilitated in some cases instead of the recovery of the property where it was appropriate to do so.


The Committee commended officers for being on target to meet its £2m loss prevention target, and asked what direction the Council’s targets would likely go in. Officers confirmed that targets will likely increase. Whilst the team was working hard on areas of highest risk of loss to the Council, officers were also focused on areas of less financial value but still of great importance, for example, blue badge fraud is investigated and action taken (potentially including a fine of £100) to assure residents that the Council is tackling fraud of this kind.


Members heard that, with regards to the 99% business rate collection target, the Council implemented an ethical collection policy which focused on those who will not pay business rates,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.


Review C: Local Commerce, Employment, Skills & Job Creation pdf icon PDF 72 KB


The Chairman introduced the proposed draft recommendations for the Committee’s review into Local Commerce, Employment, Skills and Job Creation, and noted that the recommendations reflected the comments received throughout the review.


The Committee commented on draft recommendation 4, and noted that it may be helpful to include some wording to support Hillingdon residents who wish to access opportunities at the Institute of Technology.


Members agreed to explore the possibility of altering recommendation 4, and noted that the final wording of the recommendations could be agreed under delegated authority by the Chairman and Labour Lead.


RESOLVED: That the Committee agreed the draft recommendations of the review on Local Commerce, Employment, Skills and Job Creation, subject to:


1.    Reconsidering recommendation 4 to potentially include wording to support Hillingdon residents who wish to access opportunities at the Institute of Technology; and,


2.    Delegated authority to the Chairman and Labour Lead Member to agree the final wording of the draft recommendations, following discussions with officers.


Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 48 KB

Additional documents:


Members sought further details on the property transaction at 1 Whiteheath Avenue, Ruislip, which would be provided by officers.


RESOLVED: That the forward plan be noted.


Work Programme 2018/2020 pdf icon PDF 55 KB

Additional documents:


RESOLVED: That the work programme be noted, subject to the following changes:


1.    The report regarding the monitoring of the “Homophobic, Biphobic and Transphobic Bullying” review be moved to a later date in 2020, following discussions with officers for an appropriate timeframe;


2.    The report regarding the monitoring of the “Broadcasting of Overview & Scrutiny Committees on YouTube” be moved to the meeting in February 2020, subject to officers’ agreement; and,


3.    The final recommendations for the current Committee review into “Local Commerce, Employment, Skills and Job Creation” be added to the work programme in February 2020.