Venue: Meeting will be held in accordance with Statutory Instrument 2020/392. Link to live stream available via https://www.tendringdc.gov.uk
Contact: Keith Simmons Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone on 01255 686580
Apologies for Absence and Substitutions
The Committee is asked to note any apologies for absence and substitutions received from Members.
An apology for absence was received from Councillor Griffiths (with no substitute).
To confirm and sign as a correct record, the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee, held on 3 December 2020.
The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on Monday 3 December 2020 were approved as a correct record and were then signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Interest
Councillors are invited to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Personal Interest, and the nature of it, in relation to any item on the agenda.
Councillors Allen and Stephenson each declared an interest for the public record in regards to agenda item 5 (A.1 – Updated Financial Forecast/Budget 20221/22) as their businesses had received grant funding through the Council under the national support scheme for businesses.
Councillors Barry and Scott each declared an interest in the same item as Charities that they were associated with had likewise received financial support from the Council.
Questions on Notice pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 38
Subject to providing two working days' notice, a Member of the Committee may ask the Chairman of the Committee a question on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties which affect the Tendring District and which falls within the terms of reference of the Committee.
On this occasion no Councillor had submitted notice of a question.
To enable the Committee to review the report of the Corporate Finance and Governance portfolio holder to Cabinet in relation to the updated financial forecast and proposed budget position for 2021/22.
The Committee received the details submitted to the Cabinet on 18 December 2020 in relation to the updated financial forecast and proposed budget position for 2021/22. In particular, the Committee was advised as follows:
· A ‘live’ 10-year forecast was maintained and reported to Members throughout the year.
· The most up to date position in December each year was translated into the detailed budget for the following year for consultation with the Resources and Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
· As part of maintaining a ‘live’ forecast, this report ‘built’ on the last position that was presented to Cabinet on 13 November 2020.
· Despite the challenging financial and economic environment, confidence in the long term approach to the forecast remained, which was supported by the forecast risk fund. It is also worth highlighting that the managed position in terms of reserves continued to enable the Council to respond to exceptional events such as the COVID 19 crisis.
· At this stage of the budget process, there was a net deficit of £1.647m forecast in 2021/22, an improvement of £0.128m compared with the £1.775m deficit reported to Cabinet on 13 November 2020. Therefore, the forecast remained within the financial boundaries set out in the long-term plan.
· Although subject to potential changes over the remaining budget-setting period, the current forecasted deficit of £1.647m would be met by drawing money down from the forecast risk fund.
· At the time of finalising this report, the Local Government Finance Settlement for 2021/22 had yet to be announced. They would be included in the figures that would be presented to Cabinet in January 2021 when it considered its final budget proposals for recommending to Full Council in February 2021. The budget included a council tax levy increase of £5, with this level of increase expected to be confirmed as allowable as part of the finance settlement announcements. No revenue support grant had been included in the budget for 2021/22, but similarly to the late announcement last year, the Government could provide some funding again next year, especially when reflecting on the financial impact of COVID 19 on Local Authorities.
· Once the final position for 2021/22 was determined, the remaining years of the 10-year forecast would be revised, set against the budget position for 2021/22 and would be reported to Members later in the budget setting process.
In addition to the above, the Committee was advised of the following in respect of reserves, provisions and one-off sums for specific projects:
To enable the Committee to review the report of the Corporate Finance and Governance portfolio holder to Cabinet in relation to the Housing Revenue Account budget proposals 2021/2022.
The Committee received the report submitted to Cabinet on 18 December 2020 on the HRA Budget for 2021/22 including the movement in Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Balances, the level of fees and charges for 2021/22 and the HRA Capital Programme. In particular, the attention of Members was drawn to:
· Only limited changes to the HRA budget were proposed in 2021/22, pending a longer-term review of the HRA business plan during 2021.
· 2020/21 was the first year that the Government allowed rents to be increased following a 4-year period where they were required to be reduced by 1% each year.
· In-line with rent setting guidance issued by the Regulator for Social Housing, rents are proposed to be increased by the Consumer Price Index plus 1% in 2021/22 (a 1.5% increase) to continue the recovery from the 4 years of rent reductions mentioned above.
· The average weekly rent proposed for 2021/22 is £84.10 (£82.42 in 2020/21)
· Although the above increase in rents generates additional income of £0.193m, other changes to the budget have more than offset this position with an overall deficit of £0.012m forecast for 2021/22.
· It was proposed to fund this relatively small deficit by drawing money down from the HRA General Balance, which was estimated to total £5.257m at the end of 2021/22 after taking into account this adjustment.
· The proposed HRA Capital Programme for 2021/22 totals £3.457m and continued to provide for a range of schemes and projects.
· The Capital programme included a revenue contribution of £0.281m to support new build and acquisition projects. This on-going budget could either support the direct cost of projects within the capital programme or meet the borrowing costs that were likely to be required to deliver the 200 new properties the Cabinet had committed to provide.
· Relevant matters in respect of the potential to fund an increase in the level of borrowing required to deliver the new build projects at the speed and scale committed too.
· The HRA general balance was forecast to total £5.257m at the end of 2021/22, which retained a strong financial position against which the HRA 30 year Business Plan could be further developed.
· ‘Old’ HRA debt continued to reduce year on year as principal is repaid with a total debt position at the end of 2021/22 forecast to be £36.777m (A reduction of £1.664m compared with the figure at the end of this year).
The Committee thereupon undertook its scrutiny of the HRA Budget Proposals for 2021/22.
Prior to the meeting, questions were submitted to the Housing Portfolio Holder in respect of the HRA and these are set out in the Appendix to these Minutes together with the responses provided.
The Housing Portfolio Holder, Councillor P B Honeywood, accompanied by the appropriate Senior Officer, attended the meeting and assisted the Committee in its enquiry of the matters put to him in respect of the HRA budget position.
Having considered all of the information that had been provided and acknowledging the measures to address the costs to the ... view the full minutes text for item 117.