Issue - meetings
Meeting: 02/03/2021 - Cabinet (Item 11)
- Appendix 1 for Financial Sustainability – comparison to London Borough of Croydon, item 11 PDF 437 KB
- Appendix 2 for Financial Sustainability – comparison to London Borough of Croydon, item 11 PDF 340 KB
- Webcast for Financial Sustainability – comparison to London Borough of Croydon
Following the issuing of a Section 114 notice by Croydon LBC, the Cabinet received a report which reviewed the findings of the recent public interest report over Croydon’s financial failures, together with other reported issues around financial sustainability in local government, which has been exacerbated as a result of Covid-19.
1. the contents of the report, including appendix 1, which sets out the Buckinghamshire Council position compared to the key finding from the LB Croydon public interest report be noted; and
2. the proposed actions in Appendix 2 to further strengthen financial management arrangements across the Council be agreed.
M Tett, Leader of the Council introduced the report and stated that following the issuing of a Section 114 notice by Croydon LBC, Cabinet had asked the Council’s Section 151 Officer to provide a report reviewing the findings of the recent public interest report over Croydon’s financial failures, together with other reported issues around financial sustainability in local government, which had been exacerbated as a result of Covid-19. In addition, report also compared Buckinghamshire Council with the findings from the public interest report.
In conclusion, it was evident that Buckinghamshire was in a very different place to LB Croydon and no concerns have been raised by the external auditor. The authority compared well with others and there was a good record in terms of the legacy authorities managing spend within their overall budgets. Furthermore, there were sufficient levels of reserves (unallocated and earmarked), there was high Member involvement in the budget setting process and a strong Audit and Governance Committee existed.
However, national pressures in relation to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic as well as demand and supplier failure pressures, particularly within children’s and adults services, were still pertinent and there was no room for complacency. In the medium term there was huge uncertainty around future funding following the increased government debt as a result of Covid-19.
A number of potential enhancements to financial management were highlighted in section 4 of the report, including a review of the Council’s strategy around commercial acquisitions, more regular reporting and transparency around subsidiary interests of the Council, regular reviews of all external loans provided, the reviewing and strengthening of the finance model / relationships with directorates, the establishment of budget boards across all directorates and a more regular review of the Council’s reserves. Appendix 2 sets out a proposed Action Plan.
The report set out further details of the national context about the financial sustainability of local government, on Croydon LBC, and on the position with Buckinghamshire Council.
Members commented on the report, and on the proposed Action Plan as follows:
· Members were very supportive of the report findings and of the proposed actions in Appendix 2 to further strengthen financial management arrangements across the Council.
· That the Council’s commercial property portfolio and associated investments were prudent and were delivering annual returns of 6%. There was good governance and Member oversight of decision making and provisions had been made for any future losses that might occur.
· Thanks were expressed to R Ambrose (Section 151 Officer) and to the finance team for the support / guidance they had provided to the Council and Members over many years.
· That the Council would be happy to share the report on the good governance practices in Buckinghamshire with the LGA, CIPFA or other interested parties.
1. That the contents of the report, including Appendix 1, which sets out the Buckinghamshire Council position compared to the key finding from the LB Croydon public interest report, be noted.
2. That the proposed actions in Appendix 2 ... view the full minutes text for item 11