Agenda and minutes

Stronger Council Select Committee - Tuesday 24th January 2023 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices. View directions

Contact: A Hendry (01992 564246)  Email:


No. Item


Webcasting Introduction

This meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to activate their microphones before speaking. The Chairman will read the following announcement:


“The Chairman would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the internet (or filmed) and will be capable of repeated viewing (or another use by such third parties).


If you are seated in the lower public seating area it is likely that the recording cameras will capture your image and this will result in the possibility that your image will become part of the broadcast.


This may infringe your human and data protection rights and if you wish to avoid this you should move to the upper public gallery.”

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The Chairman reminded everyone present that the meeting would be broadcast live to the Internet, and that the Council had adopted a protocol for the webcasting of its meetings.



Substitute Members (Council Minute 39 - 23.7.02)

To report the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.

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The Committee noted that there were no substitute members.




Declarations of Interest

To declare interests in any item on the agenda.

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There were no declarations of interest made pursuant to the Member’s Code of Conduct.




Notes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 128 KB

To agree the notes of the meeting of the Select Committee held on 24 November 2022.


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That the notes of the meeting held 24 November 2022 were agreed as a correct record.




Terms of Reference & Work Programme pdf icon PDF 69 KB

(Chairman/Lead Officer) The Overview and Scrutiny Committee has agreed the terms of reference and work programme for the select committee. Members are invited at each meeting to review both documents. 


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The Select Committee noted their terms of reference and work programme.




Onboarding / Induction pdf icon PDF 115 KB

The report provides the Committee with an update on developments to the Onboarding/Induction process which will be showcased at the meeting.



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J Budden, Service Manager People, Culture and Wellbeing, introduced the report on Onboarding and Inductions. The report provided the Committee with an update on developments to the Onboarding/Induction process.


A live system demonstration was given by Andrew Cartwright to the committee showing the various element that went into this onboarding process. It was noted that a candidate forms an impression of an organisation throughout the recruitment process, and one element that was often overlooked was the period between job offer and start date where the offered applicant was working their notice, which could be a number of weeks or months.


Pre-start date onboarding was an opportunity for the organisation to help settle a new employee into the organisation and ensure they had everything they needed before their start date. It also supported the new employee in understanding more about the organisation’s culture and values, as well as some of the more practical aspects that might otherwise be overlooked.


Asked if could be extended to new councillors as it looked to be useful, officers responded that it could be done, and they did have plans for  a member induction via this system.


The committee noted that it went on over the internet and were concerned that it lost that personal touch. How could this be avoided. And was this training job specific. They were told that line managers would do the induction and the job specific training, this would be supplemented by this virtual process. Also, as a welcoming introduction, a member of the Senior Leadership Team would meet new entrants and answer any questions they may have.


The committee asked if this virtual information was filtered for (the then) non-staff members who would be looking at it before they got the job. They were told that this was for when they had been interviewed but before they had accepted a contract.


Asked if everyone was DBS checked the committee were told that would depend on what role they had in the council. Not everyone would have it done.


The committee noted that 11% of employees did not know where to find information, what kind of information was this and how often did they ask for feedback. They were told that they had ‘Power-hours’ where staff are invited to ask questions and give feedback. There was a lot more enhancement they could do to this system and use this feedback to improve it.




That the committee noted the work being done to utilise the HR/Payroll system iTrent regarding our Onboarding/Induction Process.


Launch of the new Employee Wellbeing Hub pdf icon PDF 1013 KB

To provide the Committee with an update on developments to our Wellbeing Hub and resources which will be showcased at the meeting.


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J Budden, Service Manager People, Culture and Wellbeing, introduced the report on the launch of the new Employee Wellbeing Hub. She provided the Committee with an update on developments to the Wellbeing Hub and resources.


S Kits took the committee through a short presentation on the wellbeing hub. EFDC took great pride in its ability to provide excellent wellbeing resources and support for all employees and had been on an ever-improving journey since COVID hit in 2020. Communicating to ensure all employees understood there were resources, support, and information available has remained a constant priority.


In the last two years in addition to a fantastic Employee Assistance Programme (Perkbox) which offered counselling sessions and support for all employees and their close family members, EFDC had focussed on developing a solid network of individuals within the organisation to help support colleagues.


In 2020 an intranet page was created which listed a host of wellbeing resources for employees including support for mental health, physical and financial wellbeing, and support for families – called the Wellbeing Hub.


In September 2020 the wellbeing provision was extended by introducing Perkbox Medical, giving employees access to GPs 24/7 online, via an app on your phone.


In November 2021 the council announced the expansion of the Perkbox platform to include wellness resources via the Perkbox Wellness Hub, a space dedicated to FREE content that covers all aspects of wellbeing including resources to help you get fit, overcome anxiety, sleep well and more.


EFDC had trained over 90 employees to become Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs), providing employees with an experienced first point of call for anyone with concerns about any aspect of their mental health or their loved ones.


The committee asked for further explanation on the MHFAs and if they were a confidential service. They were told that anything could be brought to them. They were there to offer emotional support and signpost employees in the right direction for further help. This was a confidential service unless there was a risk to individuals, then they would contact Ms Budden.


The committee asked about the people that did not engage, could they be identified and engaged. They were told that they offer a lot more than what they had just highlighted and also relied on line managers to help.


The committee wondered if, during the current financial circumstances, more use was being made of the advice on offer and with many employees now working from home, how easy was it to identify employees having problems; also, how often did we update the information we made available to the staff. They were told that officer did research all the time on the information they put out and liaised with the appropriate charities. As for engaging people working from home, they did have virtual coffee mornings and have also upskilled the managers to educate them in mental health. These services had been successfully used by staff members.


Councillor S Kane asked if we were playing catch up with other  ...  view the full minutes text for item 36.


Quarter 3 Budget Monitoring Report 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To consider the report that sets out the 2022/23 General Fund and Housing Revenue Account positions, for both revenue and capital, as at 31st December 2022 (“Quarter 3”).


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The Interim Chief Financial Officer, Chris Hartgrove introduced the quarter 3 budget monitoring report for 2022/23. This report set out the 2022/23 General Fund and Housing Revenue Account positions, for both revenue and capital, as at 31st December 2022 (“Quarter 3”).


In terms of General Fund revenue expenditure – at the Quarter 3 stage – a budget overspend of £1.313 million, with projected net expenditure of £16.944 million against an overall budget provision of £15.631 million, was forecast.


As with Quarters 1 and 2, the Q3 position is dominated by a range of substantial spending pressures.


The Council’s budget for 2022/23 (both General Fund and Housing Revenue Account) was approved by full Council on 24th February 2022. This report updated the Select Committee on how the Council’s services had performed against their budgets in the first nine months of the financial year, and projects forward to the anticipated outturn for the end of the financial year.


This was the third update for 2022/23 and includes the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account positions, for both revenue and capital, as at 31st December 2022 (“Quarter 3”).


The Committee noted the general fund reserve of £4million will reduce to £3 million, and asked that when things got better were there plans to put it back up to £4million. The Finance Portfolio Holder said there was a desire to get back to our minimum balance, but without impacting on our services.




1.         The General Fund revenue position at the end of Quarter 3 (31st December 2022) for 2022/23, including actions being undertaken or proposed to improve the position, where significant variances have been identified, be noted.


2.         The General Fund capital position at the end of Quarter 3 (31st December 2022) for 2022/23 be noted.


3.         The Housing Revenue Account revenue position at the end of Quarter 3 (31st December 2022) for 2022/23, including actions proposed to ameliorate the position, where significant variances have been identified, be noted; and


4.         The Housing Revenue Account capital position at the end of Quarter 3 (31st December 2022) for 2022/23 be noted.




Draft Budget Report for 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 104 KB

Please find attached the draft Budget report for 2023/24 for consideration and comment.


Appendix 2 and 3 will follow shortly.


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The Finance Portfolio Holder, Councillor Philip introduced the draft budget report for 2023/24. He noted that this had gone to Cabinet in December, with a final report still to come. The full report included revenue and capital proposals for both the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account as well as a schedule of suggested Fees and Charges for the forthcoming financial year. An updated Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP) covering the financial years 2023/24 through to 2027/28 was also included, which reflected both the impact of the draft Budget proposals as well as the latest available intelligence at the time.


The Cabinet had been advised by the Section 151 Officer at the December meeting that – as required by law – a balanced revenue position (eliminating a previously identified projected deficit of £4.126 million) had provisionally been reached for 2023/24 and that the medium-term financial position, although having a similar profile, had some differences compared to the position presented on 10th October 2022 (and subsequently to this Committee on 24th November 2022), with a particular challenge still anticipated in 2024/25 and 2025/26 as a consequence of the forthcoming new Waste Management Contract. However, some significant uncertainties remained.


The provisional Local Government Finance Settlement 2023/24 was eventually released just before Christmas 2022; the outcome for Epping Forest District Council was generally as expected and provided further assurance as to the underlying financial sustainability of the draft Budget proposals as currently presented.


The Committee noted the savings from vacant posts and the avoidance of redundancy costs, but it may also result in having no staff in roles that were hard to fill. Would we fill these internally or keep them vacant indefinitely. Councillor Philip noted that all savings were appropriate to the area where they came from, and they had been considered by the appropriate cabinet member. They were looking at essential posts that could be cut without affecting services.


The committee asked if the council was overstaffed before this. Councillor Philip there may have been some posts in the establishment that, if we had the same financial pressure as we do now, maybe should not have been there. But, we did not have this financial pressure at the time. As shown here overstaffing might have been in establishment but maybe not in terms in people in seats.


The committee then asked if they were planning to move forward on a more for less basis. Councillor Philip said that was a strange way to phrase it, people were generally working as hard and as smart as they could, but there were always efficiencies that we could put in place. We need to make sure that what we do in the future was better than what we did this time. We can always find things that we could do better and we must keep doing this year on year.


The committee wanted to know how many less staff were we looking at next year. They were told that it was a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.


Dates of Future Meetings

To note the next meeting date of this Committee will be held on:


21 February 2023; and

18 April 2023.


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The Committee noted their future meeting dates.