To receive Report No. 4/2019 from the Strategic Director for Resources.
Members are requested to bring their copy, distributed under separate cover.
· The above report was presented to Cabinet on 15 January 2019 and the recommendations within the report were approved.
· Cabinet has requested that Scrutiny review and comment on proposals before the Cabinet on 19 February 2019 so as to inform the decision-making process.
· The report and its proposals may be amended following the outcome of the Scrutiny Panel. Scrutiny is therefore asked to consider the report and provide feedback to the Portfolio Holder and Director.
Report No.4/2019 was received from the Strategic Director for Resources.
Mr Della Rocca, Strategic Director for Resources delivered a presentation (appended to the minutes) which provided Members with a context to the report.
During discussion the following points were noted:
· Government funding had reduced substantially since 2015/16 and although this was a national problem, Rutland received significantly less funding per head than other Local Authorities. The reason for this was because RCC was able to generate a lot of money through Council Tax compared to others, and also because of the practice of ‘damping’, a process adopted by Government whereby some authorities were given additional funding at the expense of others.
· Overall funding was insufficient to meet the rising costs of services including inflationary demands.
· The Council had delivered significant savings in order to compensate for funding cuts and was continuing to work on savings and income options to allow it to set balanced budgets in the future.
· The future however was challenging as the Government position on funding was still unknown and likely to remain so until December 2019.
· Officers and the Portfolio Holder had written to the Rutland MP, Sir Alan Duncan, urging Government to let authorities have a decision on funding sooner rather than later.
· The earliest the Council would see Council tax revenue from the St George’s Barracks project was 2024/25. This funding would support delivery of services to new residents. Typically, the Council would expect an increase in demands on Council services e.g. Adult Social Care or Children’s Services.
· Members had had feedback from residents who felt that Council Tax should not be increased as the Council was receiving extra funds due to the amount of new housing developments in Rutland. However council tax revenue growth from new homes was needed to maintain services and was insufficient, in any event, to meet inflation and other costs.
· The Council’s main expenditure was on Adult Social Care and because of the County’s demographic, demand for services was likely to increase going forward. However continued focus on early prevention and intervention had delivered savings and had distinguished Rutland from other authorities as one of the best performing Adult Social Care teams in the Country, delivering excellent value for money.
· It was noted that Cllr Waller had submitted questions to the Director of Resources, in particular on the challenge of meeting Special Educational Needs (SEN) requirements. Cllr Waller’s questions and the responses to them would be appended to the minutes.
· Children services were working hard with parents and the Courts to keep children out of care and this has had had a positive impact on finances and resulted in savings.
· The Portfolio Holder for Safeguarding – Children and Young people noted that work with the Changing Lives and Troubled Families programme, including working with RALS to increase employability and Citizens Advice to maximise benefits, had also helped to keep children out of care.
· £700k would be invested in Special Education Needs so that children requiring this service could be catered for within the County.
· Cllr Brown, Portfolio Holder for Finance, made comment on the uncertainty surrounding Government finance by highlighting the following:
- The green paper on Adult Social Care had been expected in December of last year and then again in the New Year but had still not appeared and there was now no expected date .
- The Council was still awaiting the Fairer Funding Review which was not expected to conclude until the end of the year.
- There was a distinct lack of clarity on Business Rates and how much the Council might receive under 75% business rates retention
- The Better Care Fund was uncertain beyond 19/20.
- Due to the amount of uncertainty the Council was taking a very prudent approach to the Budget.
· The funding split pie chart shown at 2.2.6 of the report highlighted that 72% of funding came from Council tax compared to the 28% from Government funding and Members felt that this needed to be emphasised to residents.
· If the Council tax increase was reduced by 1% to 3.99%, the Council would lose £250k in income in the first year but cumulatively this would rise to £1.4m over five years. A complete freeze would result in a £6.95m loss over five years.
· Mr Oxley congratulated officers on the work that had been undertaken to produce a very comprehensive budget, despite the uncertainties, and this was endorsed by the Chairman, Mr Conde
1. The Joint Adults and Health and Children and Young People Scrutiny Panels NOTED the Revenue and Capital Budget 2019/20 and Medium Term Financial Plan