Agenda and draft minutes

Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 7 February 2024 2.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2, Shire Hall

Contact: Nicole Conway  Democratic Services Officer


No. Item



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Councillor Jackie D’Arcy substituted for Councillor Sarah Feeney


Disclosures of Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests

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None disclosed.



Chair's Announcements

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The Chair welcomed Andy Mitchell from the press and notified all present that the meeting was being webcast.



Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 111 KB

To receive the minutes of the committee meeting held on 15 November 2023.

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The minutes of the meeting held on 15 November 2023 were confirmed as an accurate record by the Committee.



Public Speaking

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Questions to Portfolio Holder pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Up to 30 minutes of the meeting is available for members of the Committee to put questions to the Portfolio Holders on any matters relevant to the remit of this Committee.

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There were no questions put to the Portfolio Holders.


Economic Development Update pdf icon PDF 356 KB

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Isobel Woods (Head of Economy and Skills) presented the Economic Development Update and summarised the following points.


  • The economy remained flat, with some growth in the service sector. Lower inflation had boosted wages, while unemployment remained below regional and national averages.


  • Warwickshire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had experienced both incremental growth and decline. Despite these fluctuations, the overall economic situation in Warwickshire remained relatively stable compared to January 2023.


  • The service sector, particularly Information and Communication, had been replaced by Education and Social Work as the primary driver of monthly growth.


  • The unemployment rate in Warwickshire was 3.3% which was lower than the rates in the West Midlands (4.5%) and the entire UK (3.7%).


Business and Economy

  • Access to Finance, this had been the most active quarter so far for loans and grants, facilitating £2.5 million. This amount had further leveraged £2.8 million from the private sector. In addition, 55 new jobs had been created, with 160 more expected and 106 jobs safeguarded. The Apprenticeship Levy supported 98 apprenticeship opportunities. Within that funding offer, included the Local Communities Enterprise, witnessed significant loan activity. In the third quarter, 12 loans were issued, totalling nearly £900,000. This brought the years total to 42 loans with an additional 21 expected. The Digital Creative sector contributed to job creation, new product development and accelerated growth with12 applications received, resulting in a total award of £310,000. Efforts were underway to draw down on this funding before the end of the financial year.


  • In November, the Business Support team announced plans to launch the Business Growth programs in Warwickshire. These programs, which complemented the efforts of local Districts and Borough Councils, went live in December 2023, and had received over 300 engagements.  In addition,22 business assists had been provided, and the team were on track to achieve their annual target of 100 assists by the end of the financial year.


Employment and Skills

  • The Fair Chance Jobs Portal had been operational for six months and served as a dedicated space for employers to recruit inclusively. During that time, 58 employers had signed up, and approximately 28 job vacancies were posted each week with 220 people actively using the portal.


  • Supported Employment Service, worked with a range of employers, including Fair Chance to help those with learning difficulties and autism to secure paid employment. Over the last twelve months, the programme had successfully supported 44 customers in obtaining paid work, 16 of those working independently and four customers who had embarked on apprenticeships.


  • The Future Skills Fund engaged with industry which included discussions of the employment of a future skills officer as well as holding roundtable discussions which focused on construction and digital sectors. There was also the offer of salary support for those in the workforce aged 50 and over, looking at apprenticeships, with 58 entering work. ApprenticeshipLevy Support offered salary support for those who entered in apprenticeships and to assist with in-work training, with 15 apprentices progressing in their training.



Futures and State of Warwickshire pdf icon PDF 125 KB

The Committee is invited to review and comment on the Futures and State of Warwickshire report.

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Sophie Kitching (Graduate Management Trainee) presented a report outlining the Future and State of Warwickshire and summarised the following points:


·     The aim of the report was to look ahead at future trends, challenges, and opportunities from 2030 to 2040.

·     This brought together thinking, best practice and research from across the County and provided a snapshot of items which were continuously monitored and updated.

·     The report’s content was structured around five key themes which were outlined for Members.

·     Within the five key themes, five Council-wide issues had been extracted with four specific considerations identified specifically for the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

·     The overall priority issues were described as:

§  Demographic shifts, tailoring services to changing demands.

§  Global political economic and political uncertainty, whilst being adaptable, resilient, and planning for the future.

§  Climate Change, adaption, and mitigation across the workforce.

§  Artificial Intelligence (AI) – this had wide ranging impacts but was being embraced as a positive and complimented the face to face work being done.

§  Inequalities between groups and places, thinking about holistic communities and localised intervention, including the digital divide.


·     Specific Impacts within Communities OSC.

§  Environmental/climate policy, public support evolving central government policy.

§  Future skills, skill gaps, reskilling and future skilling

§  Transport, demand, autonomy, infrastructure, connectivity, energy source

§  Urban regeneration, changing footfall in town centres, town centre regeneration, shift in urban/rural living patterns, future of workspaces.


·     Going forward this would be available as a live resource for officers and members as an information tool for decision making now and in the future and ongoing feedback would be encouraged.


Members discussed the following points.


In response to a query from Councillor Jenny Fradley, Lou Richardson (Lead Commissioner – Corporate Policy and Strategy) stated that ensuring older generations were considered in decisions that would affect their ability to interact with systems or online now as well as in the future was important and this would be noted and considered when discussing with team and planning ideas. She continued by discussing electric vehicles stating that more information was becoming more widely available about alternative fuels, and this would be taken into account in the future as it became better understood. Lou Richardson made a final comment relating to Artificial Intelligence this was underexplored and would be something that to be noted and monitored as it became better understood.


The Chair stated this was a good report, noting that the world was fast changing and therefore felt there would be alternatives that the Council needed to be conscious and well informed of going forward. Councillor Fradgley added that some of these changes could happen quickly, even if they were expected and could potentially catch the Council unawares.


In response to a question from Councillor Chilvers, Lou Richardson advised that the Corporate Policy Team, as part of the Futures Work, ensured that information was filtered down by senior officers, identifying any items brought to their attention.  There were quarterly meetings with each directorate to discuss and identify  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Communities OSC Work Programme pdf icon PDF 74 KB

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As mentioned during the Economic Development Update, an item would be added to the next Chair and Spokes agenda to discuss a potential invitation to schools and students regarding the Careers Hub and the student journey.


The Committee noted its work programme, with the Chair requesting any additional items either at this meeting, or the subsequent Chair and Spokes meeting.


Urgent Items

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