Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny of the Budget, Growth, Infrastructure and Resources Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 28th January, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: https://zoom.us/j/91012923157

Contact: Joanna Morley  01572 758271

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES

Minutes:

No apologies were received.

2.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

In accordance with the Regulations, Members are invited to declare any personal or prejudicial interests they may have and the nature of those interests in respect of items on this Agenda and/or indicate if Section 106 of the Local Government Act 1992 applies to them.

Minutes:

Councillor Oxley declared a personal interest in respect of the fees and charges report as he was a funeral celebrant. He advised councillors that he would not take part in any debate on that item.

 

3.

PETITIONS, DEPUTATIONS AND QUESTIONS

To receive any petitions, deputations and questions received from Members of the Public in accordance with the Virtual Meetings Regulations (s1 2020 392) and the subsequent RCC Procedure Rules agreed at Council on 20 May 2020 and revised by Council on 14 September 2020. (Please see link: Revision to Virtual Meetings Protocol.)

 

The total time allowed for this is 30 minutes.  Petitions, deputations and questions will be dealt with in the order in which they are received and any which are not considered within the time limit shall receive a written response after the meeting.

Minutes:

No petitions, deputations or questions had been received.

 

4.

QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE FROM MEMBERS

To consider any questions with notice from Members received in accordance with the provisions of Procedure rule No. 218 and No. 218A.

Minutes:

No questions with notice had been received.

 

5.

REVENUE AND CAPITAL BUDGET 2021/22 AND MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL PLAN pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To receive Cabinet Report No.08/2021 from the Strategic Director for Resources.

 

·       The above report was presented to Cabinet on 12 January 2021 and the recommendations within the report were approved.

·       Cabinet has requested that Scrutiny review and comment on proposals before the Cabinet meeting on 16 February 2021 so as to inform the decision making process.

·       The report and its proposals may be amended following the outcome of the Scrutiny Committee meeting. Scrutiny is therefore asked to consider the report and provide feedback to the Portfolio Holder and Director.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report No.08/2021 was received from the Strategic Director for Resources.

 

Mr Della Rocca, Strategic Director for Resources, introduced the draft budget report which had been agreed by Cabinet for consultation prior to the budget being formally set by Council in February 2021.

 

During the discussion the following points were noted:

 

·         Councillors Waller and Powell had submitted questions directly to the section 151 officer before the meeting and it was agreed with the Chair that these questions and their answers would be appended to the minutes.

·         Mr Della Rocca outlined the key points of the report in his presentation (appended to the minutes) and emphasised that using reserves to relieve the funding gap of circa £2.6million was not good financial practice and something he would have preferred not to do. The reserves should be used for unforeseen pressures and not to balance core expenditure.

·         Although the Section 151 Officer understood the financial pressures that residents were facing, his advice to Members was to apply the maximum 3% raise for the Adult Social Care (ASC) precept in the first year as this would maximize yield and have the most impact on the 21/22 proposed deficit.

·         Finding savings of £2.6million would not be an easy task and Mr Della Rocca argued that the financial challenge, alongside work on Covid 19 should be prioritised over all other matters.

·         The amount of savings that needed to be made meant that fundamentally the Council would have to do things less, rather than just find efficiencies and work ‘smarter’.

·         Business rates were projected to go up by £200k because of new businesses such as McDonalds and this would contribute towards plugging the £2.6m gap. However the Council could not rely on this increase continuing because of uncertainties around the future economy.

·         The underspend of c£1million shown in Quarter 3 20/21 was not an underspend on our core budget and arose primarily from additional Government funding.  However, the underspend may be needed in 21/22 to cover additional costs arising from the pandemic.  Any residual underspends should be treated as a “windfall”.

·         Councillor Brown, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Deputy Leader, together with the Leader of the Council, Cllr Hemsley, and the Rutland MP, Alicia Kearns had met with Luke Hall, Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government to highlight the unacceptable funding disparity between Rutland and other councils. 80% of Rutland’s spending came from Council Tax revenue as opposed to Government funding, whereas for most other councils this figure was c60%.

·         Councillor Brown explained that the Minister was surprised how much of an impact the reduction in the New Homes Bonus had on small councils such as Rutland.

·         The additional business rates tariff of £1million that the Council had to pay to the Government had a greater impact on a small authority such as Rutland, as the £1m equated to 20% of business rates whereas in many other areas the £1m equated to, for example, only 10% of rates.

·         Councillor Brown was frustrated by the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

TREASURY MANAGEMENT STRATEGY AND CAPITAL INVESTMENT STRATEGY pdf icon PDF 1008 KB

To receive Report No.161/2020 from the Strategic Director for Resources.

 

·       The above report was presented to Cabinet on 12 January 2021 and the recommendations within the report were approved.

·       Cabinet has requested that Scrutiny review and comment on the proposals. The report will be presented to Full Council for approval on 22 February 2021.

Minutes:

Report No.161/2020 was received from the Strategic Director for Resources, the purpose of which was to set out the statutory reports expected in relation to treasury and capital investment operations for 2021/22, linked to the Council’s Budget, Medium Term Financial Strategy and Capital Programme.

 

During discussion the following points were noted:

 

·         There was a charge on the Council’s £22m of borrowing so the Section 151 officer always looked for opportunities to repay this earlier however an opportunity had not presented itself so far.

·         Further borrowing was not recommended unless it improved the Council’s income stream.

 

7.

FEES AND CHARGES pdf icon PDF 456 KB

To receive Report No. 05/2021 from the Strategic Director for Resources.

 

·       The above report was presented to Cabinet on 12 January 2021 and the recommendations within the report were approved.

·       Cabinet has requested that Scrutiny review and comment on the proposals. The report will be presented to Full Council for approval on 22 February 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report No.05/2021 was received from the Strategic Director for Resources, the purpose of which was to set out the proposals for fees and charges for services provided by the Council for the financial year 2021/22.

 

During discussion the following points were noted:

 

·         The fees set for Green Waste were set to recover actual costs and not subsidise it in any way.

·         2 years ago fees comparisons with local councils, particularly Peterborough, were made and this resulted in a number of increases to reflect real costs.