Agenda and draft minutes

Finance & Performance Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 22nd June, 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: the Preston Room, Woodgate Chambers, Woodgate, Loughborough. View directions

Contact: Nicky Conway 

Items
No. Item

1.

DISCLOSURES OF PECUNIARY AND PERSONAL INTERESTS

Minutes:

No disclosures were made.

 

Prior to item 8, Councillor Fryer declared a personal interest as the Chair of the Outwoods Management Committee.

2.

DECLARATIONS - THE PARTY WHIP

Minutes:

No declarations were made.

3.

QUESTIONS UNDER SCRUTINY COMMITTEE PROCEDURE 11.16

No questions were submitted.

Minutes:

No questions had been submitted.

4.

2020-21 ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REPORT pdf icon PDF 12 MB

A report of the Strategic Director of Environmental and Corporate Services to provide annual monitoring information and results for 2021.

Minutes:

Considered a report of the Strategic Director, Environmental and Corporate Services providing annual performance monitoring information and results for 2020-21 (item 5 on the agenda filed with these minutes).  The Chair confirmed with Heads of Service and Cabinet Lead Members attending the meeting virtually that they could hear the proceedings before considering this item.

 

Assisting with the consideration of the report: Leader of the Council, Cabinet Lead Member for Community Support and Equalities, Cabinet Lead Member for Finance and Property Services, Cabinet Lead Member for Planning, Cabinet Lead Member for Private Housing, Strategic Director, Environmental and Corporate Services, Head of Cleansing and Open Spaces, Head of Customer Experience, Head of Planning and Regeneration, Head of Strategic and Private Sector Housing, and the Organisational Change Officer.

 

Summary, key points of discussion:

 

·         format of the report slightly amended due to the pandemic, with the KPIs divided into those which the Council directly impacted and those which the Council indirectly impacted, with a total of 28 being recorded.

·         the Vaccination centre was expected to be leased to the NHS until March 2022.

·         the impact of the pandemic on reletting of properties.  Prior to the pandemic 361 properties were let, the 297 relets during the pandemics was comparable.  The letting process had been adapted to cope with changes to work patterns and requirement for social distancing and sanitisation. There were a number of properties unsuccessfully advertised with no bids being placed.  A review was underway to improve the process and possible re-designation of the age related hard to let properties.

·         the Biodiversity net gain plan was being progressed and once drafted would be submitted to the Cabinet.

·         30 empty homes being brought back into use in the private rented sector this year was noted.  The impact of the pandemic limiting face to face interaction had made reaching the target of 50 challenging.

·         staff engagement through JMTUM, Staff Forum and with the Unions had been extensive prior to implementing changes to the staff working policy.  This would continue as staff returned to working more in the office.

·         reference was made to enforcement resources and its potential impact on prioritisation of cases.  One vacant post had been deleted, as the responsibilities of the post could be funded using other revenue streams in future.  All cases were investigated, and case prioritisation and service pressures were managed in accordance with enforcement policies.  Cases judged to cause irreparable harm would be progressed as a priority.

·         noted the 60% payments declined for Track and Trace as reported in the press was comparable to figures for the Council; the criteria set by the Government had been extended to 30th September.

·         the key performance indicator for number of void properties indicator noted as red before and during the pandemic  with approx. 10% of the Council’s housing stock void.  The reasons for properties being void was complex; some were in the process of being renovated, some under major works, properties unsuccessfully advertised, repeat adverts, no bis placed or short lists exhausted.  The Charnwood  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

NEW SCRUTINY COMMITTEE - TERMS OF REFERENCE pdf icon PDF 265 KB

A report of the Head of Strategic Support outlining the Committee’s terms of reference.

Minutes:

Considered a report of the Head of Strategic Support providing the Committee with information regarding its own remit and terms of reference, (item 6 on the agenda filed with these minutes).

 

Assisting with consideration of the report: Cabinet Lead Member for Finance and Property Services, Strategic Director, Environmental and Corporate Services, Democratic Services Officer.

 

The Committee considered the process for scrutinising the Council’s 2022-23 Budget.  The Strategic Director, Environmental and Corporate Services noted that to ensure a focused and detailed consideration a separate scrutiny panel was likely to be more effective, and membership could be comprised of members from this Committee and the Scrutiny Commission.  The Cabinet Lead Member for Finance and Property Services supported this.

 

As the Committee’s remit included scrutinising financial performance it was suggested that this Committee oversaw any recommendations made by the Panel before submission to Cabinet, although it was noted that due to the timing for scrutinising the budget and this Committee’s scheduled meetings this could be challenging.

 

RESOLVED

 

1.    that it be recommended to the Scrutiny Commission that a separate Budget Scrutiny Panel be established to scrutinise the Council’s 2022-23 budget;

 

2.    that membership be decided in accordance with the Council’s Constitution, but that the Committee wished the above scrutiny panel membership to be between 4-6 members and comprise of members from this Committee and the Scrutiny Commission, with an emphasis on continuity of members from previous Budget Scrutiny panels;

 

3.    that advice be sought from the Democratic Services Manager in respect of the required reporting of the recommendations of the above scrutiny panel via Scrutiny Commission and to Cabinet.

 

4.    that the report be noted

 

Reasons

 

1.    The Committee considered this to be the most suitable and effective approach to budget scrutiny.

 

2.    The Committee believed that a smaller number of members comprising of previous Panel members and councillors experienced in scrutiny would ensure the most effective outcomes.

 

3.    The Committee considered budget scrutiny to be within its remit and wished to see the Panel’s outcomes before submission to Cabinet but understood that it might also be a requirement that Scrutiny Commission did so.

           

4.    to assist the effective working of the Committee as part of the Council’s new scrutiny committee structure.

6.

REVENUE MONITORING (GENERAL FUND AND HRA REVENUE OUTTURN 2020/21) pdf icon PDF 373 KB

A Cabinet report of the Head of Financial Services setting out the revenue outturn position of the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account (HRA) for 2020/21.

 

TO FOLLOW

Minutes:

Considered a Cabinet report of the Head of Financial Services setting out the revenue outturn position of the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account (HRA) for 2020/21 (item 7 on the agenda supplement filed with these minutes).

 

Assisting with the consideration of the report: Cabinet Lead Member for Finance and Property Services, Strategic Director, Environmental and Corporate Services, Head of Financial Services.

 

Summary, key points of discussion:

·         noted that it was a revised budget in light of the pandemic, the position was healthier than expected although the structural deficit was unlikely to change, and income, expenditure and funding had been variable.

·         reasons for the Loughborough Special Expenses spend for November fair (p18 refers) considering the event had not taken place.  This was due to Loss of Income on the fair due to COVID and officer time required to plan the event.  The variances had been fully explained at the Loughborough Area Committee meeting.

·         reference was made to the transfer of £3,396k to the HRA Financing Fund giving a balance of £11,631k and its impact on the Council’s preferred minimum level of balances of £110 per property.  Noted despite healthy balance of £11m, the first part of the  loan to be paid back following the self-financing settlement was in 2024.  The development of a 3-year HRA Business Plan was being prepared for Autumn.

·         clarification sought on General Fund Revenue reserves totalling £18m; comprising of £7m NDR government financing for rates on hospitality sector, underspend in Capital Plan reserves and other reserves during this year and commercial properties rentals.  Commercial Property Reserves of £408k had been set up to cover void periods and potential impact of end of leases.  Additional S106 monies would also go out as expenses when required.

 

The Head of Financial Services agreed to check whether the spend for the November fair had included upfront contract costs.

 

The Cabinet Lead Member for Finance and Property Services before leaving due to another appointment stated that the Capital Plan slippage of £25m was mainly comprised of the Town Deal, Enterprise Zone, Shepshed Scheme and other third-party schemes.  The Council was monitoring the situation closely.

 

RESOLVED

 

1.    that future financial monitoring reports submitted to this Committee included detailed explanations for variances within the Loughborough Special Expenses as previously reported to the Loughborough Area Committee;

 

2.    that the Cabinet report setting out the revenue outturn position of the general Fund and Housing revenue Account (HRA) for 2020/21 be noted

 

Reason

 

1.    to provide further detail to support the Committee in its consideration of financial monitoring at future meetings.

 

2.    The Committee’s remit included receiving regular financial monitoring reports and having noted matters of concern it was content to note the revenue outturn position.

7.

CAPITAL MONITORING (CAPITAL OUTTURN 2020/21) pdf icon PDF 240 KB

A Cabinet report of the Head of Financial Services setting out the capital outturn position for 2020/21.

 

TO FOLLOW

Minutes:

Considered a Cabinet report of the Head of Financial Services setting out the capital outturn position for 2020/21 (item 8 on the agenda supplement filed with these minutes).

 

Assisting with the consideration of the report:  Strategic Director, Environmental and Corporate Services, Head of Financial Services

 

Summary, key points of discussion:

·         the underspends were mainly due to the pandemic, Cabinet would be asked to carry forward the slippage and it would be closely monitored.

·         Concerns raised regarding carry forward of £2.8m in the HRA fund and impact on residents.  Some operational challenges were noted in delivery of the housing programme; where the programme had not delivered, this would not be carried over but placed in reserve.  The development of a 3-year Business Plan would set out where investments could be made and that the funds in the Capital reserve could be realised for future investment.

 

As the Housing contract had been terminated members expressed concern that the slippage would occur in the following year and considered that the Committee should closely review Quarter 1 Monitoring report in respect of this matter.

 

RESOLVED that the Cabinet report setting out the capital outturn position for 2020/21 be noted.

 

Reason

 

The Committee’s remit included receiving regular financial monitoring reports and having noted their concerns it was content to note the capital outturn position.

8.

WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 173 KB

A report of the Head of Strategic Support to assist the Committee in determining its work programme.

Minutes:

Considered a report of the Head of Strategic Support to assist the Committee in determining its work programme (item 9 on the agenda filed with these minutes).

 

Assisting with the consideration of the report: Strategic Director, Environmental and Corporate Services, Democratic Services Officer.

 

It was noted that the review of the Community Safety Partnership should occur with a minimum of a six-month gap.

 

Members considered whether additional meetings would be required within the terms of the Council’s Constitution as three items required scheduling and it wished to ensure the work of the Committee was not such that it impacted effective scrutiny being performed at each of its meetings.

 

RESOLVED

 

1.    that reviews of the Community Safety Partnership, Climate Change Strategy Action Plan and Decent Homes Contract Update be provisionally scheduled for its meeting on 7th September 2021;

 

2.    that further to resolution 1 above, the Democratic Services Officer in consultation with the Chair, Vice-chair and relevant officers determine the benefit of scheduling these three items for scrutiny at its meeting in September;

 

3.    that the Work programme as attached in the report be noted

 

Reasons

 

1.    To ensure scrutiny occurred in a timely manner.

 

2.    To ensure that its consideration of these matters was appropriately scheduled for the Committee to scrutinise effectively in conjunction with  Service Plan timelines and other reporting deadlines.

 

3.    To enable the Council’s scrutiny arrangements to operate efficiently and effectively.