Agenda and draft minutes

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Contact: Leslie Ashton 

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Items
No. Item

1.

Chairman's Welcome and Introduction

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed all those in attendance and those members of the public watching the webcast. Committee Members were invited to introduce themselves.

2.

Appointment of Vice-Chairman

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman appointed Councillor K Wood as Vice-Chairman of the Finance and Resources Select Committee for the 2021-22 municipal year.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That Councillor K Wood be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Finance and Resources Select Committee for the ensuing year.

3.

Apologies for absence / Changes in membership

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies had been received from Councillors M Ayub, D Antony, D Goss, J Ng and W Raja. Councillor N Hussain attended as a substitute for Councillor W Raja.

4.

Declarations of Interest

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were none.

5.

Minutes of the Previous Meetings pdf icon PDF 555 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Select Committee meetings held on 25 March 2021 and 26 May 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meetings held on 25 March 2021 and 26 May 2021 were agreed as an accurate record.

6.

Priorities for the Year Ahead pdf icon PDF 719 KB

The Committee will hear from the Leader of the Council, and the Cabinet Member for Resources.

 

Contributors:

Cllr Martin Tett, Leader

Cllr John Chilver, Cabinet Member for Resources

 

Senior Officers will also be in attendance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed Councillor Martin Tett, Leader of the Council and Councillor John Chilver, Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources to the meeting to present their priorities for the year ahead. The presentation slides can be seen attached to the agenda pack.

 

Councillor M Tett, Leader, provided an oversight of the Council’s burdget commitments and highlighted his priorities:

 

·         Usually the Council would develop a medium term financial plan over a four year period, however when the Government abandoned its normal comprehensive spending review, a one year revenue budget for 2021-22 had been adopted by the Council. The Council did however have a four year capital programme of £570m in place to give some certainty to longer term projects building assets.

·         From the £1.2bn budget last year, there had been a £400,000 underspend which was a significant achievement.

·         After Q1 of 2021/22, an overspend of £500,000 had been forecast for this year.

·         A £105m overall road programme had been agreed by the Council and a committment had already been made to spend an additional £4m on drainage (totalling £8m). An additional £400,000 had been included in the budget this year to tackle street cleaning and litter and more investment was made into planning enforcement, as this service was valued by residents.

·         Members wanted to support the development of housing that was affordable in Buckinghamshire and the potential to utilise sites in the Council’s own estate was being investigated.

·         The Council had a statutory duty to continue support for vulnerable children and adults. The pandemic had seen a noticeable increase in demand and complexity on these services, which could lead to budget pressures this year.

·         The impact of infrastructure projects, such as HS2 and East-West Rail, would be monitored despite limited funding from the contruction organisations. £500,000 had been committed by the Council to help residents engage with these projects.

·         £172m had been obtained for Aylesbury from the Housing Infrastructure Fund.

·         Risks to the outlined priorities included the level of national Government debt, the levelling up agenda, the fair funding review, changes to the adult social precept and the tapering of new homes bonus. These significant unknowns made it challenging for the Council to plan its finances effectively.

 

In response to members‘ questions and during the subsequent discussions, the following main points were noted:

 

·         The Council had already delivered £2.5m two years ago through senior management restructure and a further £13m savings were included in this year’s budget. Some of these would be dfficult to deliver due to the impact of Covid 19, but savings would be realised over the longer term.

·         Service reviews were ongoing as part of the Better Buckinghamshire programme. 

·         The Council may adopt a policy of agile working whereby homeworking arrangements would depend on the service and job role. This would develop over time.

·         £166m had been distributed by the Council to businesses across Buckinghamshire. The Council had shaped its £21m Additional Restrictions Grant to help businesses that had not been elligible for central Government funding (e.g. sole traders).  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Budget Performance Monitoring Q1 pdf icon PDF 685 KB

The Quarter 1 Budget Monitoring Report as presented to Cabinet at its meeting on 20 July is attached for the Committee to consider.

 

Contributors:

Mr John Chilver, Cabinet Member for Resources

Mr Richard Ambrose, Service Director for Corporate Finance (Section 151 Officer)

 

Paper:

Q1 Budget Monitoring Report

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor John Chilver, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources presented the Q1 Budget Monitoring Report which had been presented to Cabinet at its meeting on 20 July. Councillor J Chilver summarised the report which reflected the business as usual and Covid pressures faced during that period.

 

After allowing for £4.9m of mitigations laid out in the report, the forecast was a £0.5m overspend. This was made up of £1.4m adverse variance on Covid related spend and £0.9m favourable variation on business as usual. By portfolios, the largest overspends were on Culture & Leisure and Transport. The Capital Forecast report showed £3m slippage, which was 1.6% of the total capital budget, with main areas of slippage being flood defence schemes and work on Marlow Bridge.

 

The following key points were raised by the Select Committee members during discussion:

 

·         One Member was concerned that slippage on ICT projects would impact service delivery and the Customer First programme.

·         There was a £2m corporate contingency built into the budget, which Scrutiny had previously recommended, that had the potential to offset increased demand in Children’s Services due to Covid. This would become clearer in the Autumn.

·         The Council had not lost any food and beverage tenancies during the pandemic. It was hoped that these sectors would recover following the removal of restrictions.

 

The Chairman thanked the Cabinet Member for the report and the officers for their contributions.

8.

Work Programme

An opportunity for Members to discuss possible topics for the future committee work programme.

 

Contributors:

All Committee Members

Mrs Kelly Sutherland, Scrutiny Manager

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee was invited to put forward suggestions for the 2021/22 work programme. The Committee was advised that suggestions made would be developed in to a work programme in consultation with the Chairman and Cabinet Members. The work programme would be presented to the Committee at its next meeting for agreement.

 

Suggestions made by the Committee included:

 

·         Future updates on the customer service and customer first projects as well as IT infrastructure behind these projects.

·         Better Buckinghamshire programme.

·         The amalgamation of contracts and procurements.

·         Property strategy and its link with the home working policy.

o   Two Members added that working from home had added environmental benefits which would assist in the council’s climate change targets.

·         The council’s overall strategy on home working.

·         The council’s external property management companies.

·         The administrative efficiencies of Community Boards.

·         Considering the effective use of Council Access Points on a ‘cost per transaction’ basis.

·         Re-consider key planning assumptions and base data, such as demographics, that informs policies such as the Local Plan and those linked with adult social care.

9.

Date and time of the next meeting

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 14 October at 2 p.m.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The next meeting would be on Thursday 14 October 2021 at 2pm. The Chairman also advised that the Budget Scrutiny Inquiry was scheduled to take place from 10 – 14 January 2022.