Declarations of Interest
Members of the committee are invited to declare any pecuniary or personal interests relating to specific matters on the agenda.
Please see note (a) at the end of the agenda.
No declarations of interest were received.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting on 15 September 2021.
The minutes of the meeting held on 15 September 2021 were approved.
The Chair took this opportunity to formally welcome the Vice-Chair of this Committee, Cllr Paul Baker, who was appointed via Gloucestershire County Council’s full council meeting.
To receive presentations from the following:
1. Mike Craggs, Development & Asset Management Innovation Lead at Bromford (Introduction)
2. Dave Sheridan, CEO of Ilke Homes
3. Ken Mercer, National Sales Manager at Beattie Passive
4. Andrew Darke & Mark Power, Directors at Forest Homes
Presentations to follow
Members are advised that this topic was considered at a meeting of this Committee in the previous council term. The item focused specifically on the point of view of registered housing providers and the affordable housing sector on MMC. The papers and minutes of this meeting can be found here: https://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=731&MId=9541&Ver=4
7.1 Mike Dawson, CEO of Tewkesbury Borough Council and Chair of the Senior Officer Group, introduced the item and explained that this was the second of three sessions looking at Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). Members were reminded of the previous session (January 2021) which looked at the use of MMC for social housing, and the final session would be a discussion with private developers. Following the conclusion of all three sessions, there would be a summary report produced for the Chair to present to GEGJC.
7.2 The first presenter was an introduction from Michael Craggs, Development & Asset Management Innovation Lead at Bromford, and members noted the following points:
· The mind-set change and journey surrounding a move to using MMC as an alternative to traditional build continued. Bromford had experienced hesitation around securing money (funding and mortgages e.g.) and obtaining energy certificates etc. for these builds.
· Slide 3 explained the available categories of MCC, Bromford mainly used categories 1 and 2 which came ready made in a number of section, delivered onto site and constructed.
· The sector update on slide 4 highlighted the funding partnership with Homes England to commit around £5.2b to the social housing sector (£239m funding to Bromford) between 2021-26, incorporating a percentage use of MMC. Additional funding had been requested to help integrate the use of MMC into its building portfolio.
· Bromford had a big focus on reducing their impact on carbon emissions. Challenges remained on how PLC’s would deliver changes made at a nation level, such as, the no gas approach from 2025 and EPC improvements by 2030.
· There needed to be a partnership approach in this sector to enable PLCs to deliver carbon neutral housing in the county (local authorities, land owners etc.), as well as bringing the use of MMC into the sector. Bromford had a target to be net zero by 2030.
7.3 The second presenter was Dave Sheridan, CEO of Ilke Homes, members noted the following points:
· Slide 9 outlined a brief context of Ilke Homes
· They stated that they could not deliver on housing needs without the use of new building methods. Therefore, they had brought new employees from different industries, creating 500 new engineering jobs. This was expected to increase by three times in two years.
· Ilke Homes, within Slide 10 explained that they wanted to ensure they created a home that was future proof. This slide showcased a Category 1 metric house. Their aim was to make houses where people wanted to live, not where they had to live. To date they had delivered 650 homes using this new method.
· Slide 11 listed the advantages of MMC which included;
o Quality Time and Cost
o Delivery at pace
o UK industry
o Political landscape
o Skills Shortage
o Future homes as standard
· Slide 12 outlined the benefits of volumetric, which included;
o Carbon footprint
o Local environment
· Slide 14 outlined an MMC case study in Drybrook, Gloucester. Here they had ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
To receive a presentation on the Gloucestershire Infrastructure Investment Fund (report attached, PowerPoint to follow) and on the Employment and Skills agenda (two report documents and slides attached).
8.1 Due to the overrunning of the previous item, the Gloucestershire Infrastructure Investment Fund presentation and report was postponed until January’s meeting.
8.2 Pete Carr, Director of Employment and Skills for GFirst LEP, presented the second item. Members noted the following points:
· Slide 1 outlined the skills landscape and emerging policy changes which focussed on the following categories:
o DfE skills for Jobs White Paper
o Climate Change
o Employer Investment
o Collaboration sub-regional & Regional Working
o Possible implications for Gloucestershire
o Autumn 2021 Budget
o New Ministers
· Slide 2 outlined the Central Skills Portal which provided a platform for residents who were made redundant or furloughed to explore upskilling or reskilling, looking for jobs and providing careers advice. The Employment and Skills Hub (run by the GFirst LEP & GCC) would provide skills for those furthest from the labour market.
· It was noted that 39% of employers nationally did not offer training for staff, which really emphasised that without external funding and support, some businesses would not invest in their staff development. The one benefit for employees of the changing economic landscape may be that employers, who cannot afford to pay their staff a higher wage, may decide to invest in training to retain and attract employees.
· There was a pilot at the moment where 10 employers were working with students in Gloucestershire to look at opportunities for work placements and explore how best to support their staff in terms of development. The challenge with something like this was scale, in Gloucestershire 80% of business were SMEs and may not have the spare finance to invest in skills.
· Slide 3 outlined the GFirst Careers Hub which included 50 schools and 1 college. They had worked with schools and colleges alongside the Gatsby Benchmarks to ensure standards were suitable.
8.3 It was questioned whether every secondary school in Gloucestershire was involved in the work of the Careers Hub, and whether it possible to see how different schools were performing as a result of their involvement. Members noted that this was an optional scheme and tried to encourage as many schools as possible to sign up, not all had unfortunately. The support enabled those schools involved to see whether they met the requirements in what they were offering to their students, and if not, what they could do to improve.
ACTION: To provide more information on the Careers Hub, the schools that are involved and data – Pete Carr
GLOUCESTERSHIRE ECONOMIC GROWTH JOINT COMMITTEE UPDATE
To receive a verbal update on the GEGJC meeting held earlier the same
day from the Vice-Chair, Cllr Philip Robinson.
Please refer to the published forward plan of the GEGJC to suggest any
items you may want to consider at a future meeting of the Scrutiny Committee.
Scrutiny members are invited to attend the GEGJC meeting in an observer
capacity. Please refer to the following link to view the agenda and
supporting documents for the GEGJC meeting:
The Chair invited Cllr Philip Robinson, Vice-Chair of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee (GEGJC), to give the Committee an update on the morning’s meeting. Members noted the following points:
· There was an update presentation on the Employment and Skills agenda, similar to that received at today’s scrutiny meeting.
· The Committee were updated on GCC’s Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan. All the bids submitted to the Levelling Up Fund were successful, and thisequalled £52.8m worth of investment for Gloucestershire. This success would also help towards Gloucestershire’s fusion bid as it continued the levelling up theme.
· The Employment and Skills Hub was now live.
· GCC had approved 45 Build Back Better bids from Councillors which had resulted in £385,000 of investment so far.
· Funded by Arts Council England and FoDDC, the Forest Economic Partnership were currently leading an exercise to understand public opinion on a Forest of Dean Biosphere Reserve.
· There was an annual update on Strategic Planning in Gloucestershire, particularly M5 J10 where further developments had come to a standstill as waiting for planning white paper.
· Several of the projects funded through the Government’s Getting Building Fund [£11.3m] had reached or were reaching completion.
· The LEP were working with GCC to consider launching a ‘Made in Gloucestershire’ initiative which would enable businesses and traders to certify that they were providing locally sourced products.
· There had been no update on the planned Government’s LEP review.
· The estimated gains from the Business Rate Pool were £4.027m for 2021/22, which was slightly reduced from the period before.
On the issue of HGV driver shortages, it was acknowledged that the closure of the test centre in Gloucester had not helped and contact had been made with the DVLA to consider reinstating a test centre in the county. There was also recent news that a private training arm of Gloucestershire college had been successful in its bid to provide a 15-day training course of HGV qualifications. A member urged that GCC needed to take more of a pressured stance on this issue. It was agreed that the officer would look into this further.
ACTION: Pete Carr