To note the Shadow Executive response to the Budget TFG recommendations.
The Chairman of the Budget Task and Finish Group, Councillor John Gladwin, provided the Committee with the Shadow Executive responses to the 33 recommendations of the Budget TFG.
Councillor Gladwin noted that a majority of the recommendations had been accepted. However, most had been deferred to the new council and there had not been any significant changes made to the Budget. Regarding recommendation 11 and the Capital Programme it was noted that a detailed analysis of capital programme had been made and some projects were committed, some with business cases and others were aspirational. There was evidence that a significant amount of the programme was aspirational and work would be required by the new council to provide further detail and consistency. Councillor Gladwin thanked all the members of the TFG for the contributions made and thanked the officers for their time and effort.
Members discussed the responses and a number of points were noted:
· Concern was raised regarding scrutinising the progress of the recommendations to make sure these were actioned by the new council. It was confirmed that usually recommendations would be brought back to the relevant Scrutiny Select Committee to be reviewed at a 6 and then 12 month stage to track progress.
· The Chairman noted that regarding recommendations 27 and 28 funding of £2.2m had been allocated; this would also need to be monitored and the new council would need to deliver on reducing agency staffing in future years.
· Due to the development work being undertaken in the county and in establishing the new council, strong leadership would be needed.
· A member raised concern regarding the response to recommendation 9 and managing developer contributions, and balancing the budget on a long term basis. A strategic, robust approach was required and if not then this would be a huge risk. In response Mr Ambrose confirmed that the Shadow Executive had agreed the recommendation and changes were happening with a consistent approach and work would progress.
· It was noted management tools were already in place regarding development contributions at Wycombe District Council and the council had been part of a CIL pilot scheme. Money would not be lost but a harmonised approach of collection would be undertaken for developer contributions.
· Regarding the response to recommendation 32 a review was being undertaken on the taxi licensing policy. Dates regarding this and the HMO licensing policy would be confirmed. The Chairman requested that clarity be provided regarding the dates specified in the responses and a timeline of delivery be provided.
· More explanation regarding the funding of £2.2m outlined in the response to recommendation 28 was requested. It was suggested that key worker housing would help with the staffing issues regarding Children’s Services. The Chairman confirmed that the funding was to provide ‘grow your own’ qualified staff for the service. The key worker housing funding would also need to be considered as this detail not complete. Mr Ambrose confirmed that this had been supported and a business case to support this would be undertaken. It was actively being considered and information regarding key worker housing would be available in the near future. A member noted that housing was expensive in Buckinghamshire; key worker housing and staffing for the council supported each other.
The Chairman explained that clear recommendations from the TFG had been brought to the Shadow Executive which provided detail for the new council going forward.