Agenda and minutes

Authority Budget Meeting
Thursday, 23rd February, 2017 1.00 pm

Venue: Liverpool Suite. View directions

Contact: Kelly Kellaway, Democratic Services Manager  Email: democraticservices@merseyfire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

10.

CHAIR'S ANNOUNCEMENTS

Minutes:

Information regarding general housekeeping was provided by the Chair to all in attendance.

 

The Chair confirmed to all present that the proceedings of the meeting would be recorded and requested that any members of the public present who objected to being filmed, make themselves known.

 

No members of the public voiced any objection therefore the meeting was declared open and recording commenced.

 

The Chair welcomed all present and informed them of the sad passing of Cllr Denise Roberts, Wirral Councillor and a previous Member of MFRA for several years.

 

The Chair paid tribute to Cllr Denise Roberts; and all present stood to join him in a one minute silence.

 

1.

Preliminary Matters

The Authority is requested to consider the identification of:

 

a)declarations of interest by individual Members in relation to any item of business on the Agenda

 

b)any additional items of business which the Chair has determined should be considered as matters of urgency; and

 

c)items of business which may require the exclusion of the press and public during consideration thereof because of the possibility of the disclosure of exempt information.

 

Minutes:

The Authority considered the identification of any declarations of interest, matters of urgency or items that would require the exclusion of the press and public due to the disclosure of exempt information.

 

Resolved that:

 

a)    no declarations of interest by individual Members in relation to any item of business on the Agenda were made

 

b)    no additional items of business were determined by the Chair to be considered as matters of urgency; and

 

c)    no items of business required the exclusion of the press and public during consideration thereof because of the possibility of the disclosure of exempt information.

 

 

2.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 63 KB

The Minutes of the previous meeting of the Authority, held on 26th January 2017, are submitted for approval as a correct record and for signature by the Chair.

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the previous meeting of the Authority, held on 26th January 2017, were approved as a correct record and signed accordingly by the Chair.

 

 

3.

arrangements for appointing external auditors pdf icon PDF 57 KB

To consider report CFO/009/17 of the Treasurer concerning Regulation 19 of the Local Audit (Appointing Person) Regulations 2015, requiring that Members of an Authority meeting, as a whole, approve the decision for a sector led arrangement for the appointment of external audit for the financial years 2018/19 onwards.

 

Minutes:

Members considered report CFO/009/17 of the Treasurer requiring that Members ofan Authority meeting, as a whole, approve the decision for a sector led arrangement for the appointment of external audit for the financial years 2018/19 onwards. 

 

Members were provided with an overview of the report, with their attention drawn to the fact that current arrangements for external audit services ends on 31st March 2018, therefore a local auditor must be appointed by 31st December 2017. 

 

Members were informed of the options available for appointing an auditor under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.  They were advised that the recommended option was to enter into a ‘sector led body’ arrangement and the benefits associated with this option were outlined.

 

Members resolved:

 

a)            That the change to the arrangements for appointing external auditors for financial year 2018/19 onwards, be noted. 

 

b)            That the options in relation to the appointment of external auditors from 1st April 2018, be noted. 

 

c)            To Sign-up to a sector led arrangement for the appointment of external auditors as advocated by the Local Government Association (LGA), be agreed. 

 

d)            To Sign-up to the LGA’s Public Sector Audit Appointments Limited (PSAA) as the Authority’s “appointing person” for the external audit appointment for 2018/19 and future years, be agreed. 

 

 

4.

FINANCIAL REVIEW 2016/17 - APRIL TO DECEMBER 2015 pdf icon PDF 4 MB

To consider report CFO/013/17 of the Treasurer, concerning a review of the financial position, revenue and capital, for the Authority for 2016/17.  The Authority receives regular comprehensive financial reviews during the year which provide a full health check on the Authority’s finances. This report covers the period April to December 2016.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered report CFO/013/17 of the Treasurer, concerning a review of the financial position, revenue and capital for the Authority for 2016/17. 

 

Members were provided with an update on the Authority’s financial position for the period April to December 2016, which highlighted the revenue position, including budget movements and budget savings that have been implemented.  It also highlighted the Authority’s position in terms of its capital programme, reserves and balances and its treasury management activities. 

 

Members resolved that:

 

a)            The potential £0.450m favourable revenue position identified within this report, be noted. 

 

b)            The utilisation of the £0.450m favourable revenue position to increase the firefighter recruitment reserve in light of the expected firefighter retirement profile and the need to recruit trainees before the establishment falls below the approved staffing level, be approved. 

 

c)            The Treasurer be instructed to continue to work with budget managers to maximise savings in 2016/17.

 

 

5.

Asset Management Plans 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 38 KB

To consider Report CFO/016/17 of the Deputy Chief Fire, concerning how the Authority plans to align its physical asset base with its corporate aims and objectives over the next 5 years (2017/18 – 2021/22).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered report CFO/016/17 of the Deputy Chief Fire Officer, concerning how the Authority plans to align its physical asset base with its corporate aims and objectives over the next 5 years (2017/18 – 2021/22). 

 

Members were provided with an overview of the report which highlights how the Authority will use its physical assets in an efficient and effective manner over the various life cycles of the assets.  The Authority’s three key asset management plans cover ICT, transport/vehicle fleet, and buildings, land and contents. 

 

In terms of the Authority’s buildings, Members were informed of the significant developments made over the last 5 years, including the building of a number of PFI stations and the refurbishments of its Headquarters building. 

 

The key objectives of each of the Asset Management Plans were also highlighted and Members were informed that the plans cover a 5 year period. 

 

Members resolved that:

 

The revised Asset Management Plans, be approved.

 

 

6.

MERSEYSIDE FIRE AND RESCUE AUTHORITY BUDGET AND FINANCIAL PLAN pdf icon PDF 7 MB

To consider Report CFO/015/17 of the Treasurer, concerning the setting of a medium term capital and revenue financial plan that allocates resources in line with the Authority’s strategic aims and ensures that the Authority delivers an efficient, value for money service. This will also allow the Authority to determine a budget for 2017/18 and a precept level, in line with statutory requirements.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered report CFO/015/17 of the Treasurer, concerning the setting of a medium term capital and revenue financial plan that allocates resources in line with the Authority’s strategic aims and ensures that the Authority delivers an efficient, value for money service.  This will also allow the Authority to determine a budget for 2017/18 and a precept level, in line with statutory requirements. 

 

The Chair confirmed that all members had been provided with a copy of the Labour Group Proposed Budget Resolution in line with statutory requirements and confirmed that no amendments had been received. 

 

Members were provided with an overview of the report, which provides the necessary financial information to set a balanced budget and precept level subject to a number of assumptions.

 

The report details the 5 year capital programme, including the capital expenditure & financing available up to 2021/22. 

 

Members were advised that the assumed £11m savings requirement identified within last year’s plan remains consistent and were advised of potential new cost pressures up to 2021/22. 

 

Members were informed of the proposed increase in Council Tax precept and possible options to deliver the required savings. 

 

The Chief Fire Officer informed Members that officers have managed to reduce the amount of savings required from operational response from £4m to £1.9m, to ensure that the Authority can continue to maintain its response standard.  However he advised that this would still require a reduction of 49 fire fighter posts and conversion of 5 appliances to 12 hour day crewing which would inevitably have an impact on operational response.  He stated the importance of understanding the structural changes which will be required, arising as a result of delivering these savings. 

 

Members commented on the need to continue lobbying the Government and promoting the excellent work of the Fire and Rescue Service.  These comments were fully supported by Cllr Rennie, who confirmed that she will continue to do all she can within her party. 

 

Members confirmed that the Authority will continue to do all that it can to avoid compulsory redundancies, however noting that in the current climate it is difficult to give any assurance.   

 

The Budget Resolution was then formally moved by Cllr Hanratty and seconded by Cllr Byrom. 

 

The Chair of the Authority commented that he was moving the Budget Resolution with a heavy heart, as no-one comes into politics to make cuts.  He explained that the perception of the public is that they expect a response as quickly as possible when required and all the Authority can do is try to ensure that this continues to occur, despite continuing cuts. 

 

Members then voted on the motion:

15 Members voted in favour of the motion (all Members in attendance)

0 Members voted against the motion

0 Members abstained.

 

The Budget Resolution for 2016/17 was therefore unanimously approved.

 

Members resolved that:

 

a)    The 2017/18 service budgets set out in the report, were noted.

 

b)    The Treasurer’s recommendation on maintaining the current level of general fund balance at £2.000m, and maintaining the reserves as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

IRMP 2017-20 POST CONSULTATION pdf icon PDF 85 KB

To consider Report CFO/012/17 of the Deputy Chief Fire Officer, concerning the outcomes of public consultation on the Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) 2017-20; and publication of the final post-consultation version.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered report CFO/012/17 of the Deputy Chief Fire Officer, concerning the outcomes of the public consultation on the Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) 2017-20; and publication of the final post-consultation version. 

 

Members were provided with an overview of the report which emphasised that the draft IRMP was approved on 20th October 2016, subject to public consultation.  The extent of the public consultation undertaken was highlighted along with the general views of the individuals who participated in the consultation, which were generally supportive.  Those who participated primarily understood that the changes required were as a direct result of the budget challenge facing the Authority. 

 

Amendments made to the IRMP document, following consultation were also highlighted. 

 

The Chief Fire Officer reiterated that the proposals within the document were necessary to set a balanced budget.  They would not improve services and were not proposals he would be recommending if it were not for the financial challenges faced by the Authority. 

 

Representatives of the relevant Representative Bodies were then invited to make comment.

 

The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) requested to do so.

 

Firstly, they expressed support for the comments made by the Chief Fire Officer. However they commented that they could not support job loses or endorse reductions in fire cover, but acknowledged that the Authority’s hands are tied.  Support was expressed for the Authority’s stance on maintaining whole time fire fighters; and for local devolution. However, the FBU believe it is vital for the Service to maintain its independence, so would therefore not support a PCC single employer model. Further comments were made regarding Government attacks on firefighter terms and conditions, stating that further reductions would not be tolerated.

 

Members expressed their thanks to all staff and officers for their hard work. 

 

Members resolved that:

 

a)    The responses to the consultation, be noted as having been adequately considered and reflected within the Integrated Risk Management Plan 2017/20, where appropriate.

 

b)    The challenging budget position facing the Authority, be noted as being adequately reflected within the IRMP.

 

c)    The Authority’s commitment to ensuring that the impact of the changes on the communities of Merseyside be minimised and firefighter safety maximised, be reaffirmed.

 

 

d)    The fact that there are areas of the IRMP that will have direct impact upon our staff, be noted.  In line with all staffing matters the IRMP has been the subject of additional staff consultation/negotiation. 

 

e)    The proposals within this IRMP, be noted as having been subject to extensive public consultation.  The outcomes of these consultations have been attached as appendices to this report.

 

f)     The IRMP 2017/20, be approved for publication on 1st April 2017.  

 

 

8.

Speech of the Policing and Fire Minister Following the Policing and Crime Act Receiving Royal Assent pdf icon PDF 48 KB

To consider Report CFO/017/17 of the Chief Fire Officer, concerning the speech delivered by the Policing and Fire Minister on 7th February on Fire Reform and to set out for Members the position of the Authority against the expectations as articulated by the Minister.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered report CFO/017/17 of the Chief Fire Officer, concerning the speech delivered by the Policing and Fire Minister on 7th February on Fire Reform and to set out for Members the position of the Authority against the expectations as articulated by the Minister. 

 

The Chief Fire Officer updated members on the speech made by Brandon Lewis, Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, at the think tank on public sector reform.   The key areas highlighted included accountability and transparency including the re-introduction of an Inspectorate, flexible deployment, diversity and collaboration. 

 

Members were provided with a summary of the report which highlighted the Authority’s performance in relation to the key areas.  Examples of collaborative working, including shared buildings and procurement activity and the different shift systems in operation, were provided. 

 

In relation to work force reform, members were advised that the most recent staff survey showed the highest improvement in engagement score observed, all of which demonstrate that the Authority is well placed to show that it is meeting requirements across all areas. 

 

The Chair of the Authority requested that the Authority write to Brandon Lewis requesting a fundamental review of the impact of cuts on Fire & Rescue Services. 

 

Members resolved that:

 

a)    The contents of this report, be noted.

 

b)    A letter be drafted on behalf of the Authority, to the Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Brandon Lewis, requesting a fundamental review of the impact of cuts on the Fire and Rescue Service. 

 

 

9.

Regulation 28 Coroners Letter: Hoarding Fire Fatality pdf icon PDF 56 KB

To consider Report CFO/018/17 of the Deputy Chief Fire Officer, concerning the Regulation 28 Letter submitted to the Home Office by the Senior Coroner from the City of Liverpool and Wirral following a double fatality at a fire in a single private dwelling where hoarding has been identified as a contributory factor.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered report CFO/018/17 of the Deputy Chief Fire Officer, concerning the Regulation 28 Letter submitted to the Home Office by the Senior Coroner from the City of Liverpool and Wirral following a double fatality at a fire in a single private dwelling where hoarding has been identified as a contributory factor. 

 

Members were informed that following an inquest, the Coroner has the ability to make recommendations on the prevention of future deaths.  As a result of this incident, the Coroner wrote to Home Secretary recommending that the Fire & Rescue Service be granted with powers of entry where there is deemed a risk.  Members were advised that the Home Secretary has 56 days to respond, stating what action they propose to take and suitable timescales, or stating why no action is proposed. 

 

It was noted that the individuals in this case were known to a number of agencies, however all were refused entry to the property and at present, there is a raft of legislation which allows individuals to refuse entry. 

 

Members were advised that officers will be writing to safeguarding boards across the country, to highlight the recommendations and encourage agencies to take a collective approach to dealing with similar future cases. 

 

Members reiterated how tragic the incident was and requested that this be highlighted to Members of Parliament. 

 

Members resolved that:

 

a)    The details of the incident attended by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (MFRA) officers resulting in a double fatality where hoarding was identified as a contributory factor in relation to the loss of life, be noted. 

 

b)    The details and matters of concern raised by the Coroner in his Regulation 28 Report in respect of the above incident and the resultant actions required by the Home Office, be noted

 

c)    The Authority’s response to the Report and the interim measures taken by the Service in consideration of the Coroners recommendations, be noted.