Agenda and minutes

Policy, Finance and Development Committee
Tuesday, 25th September, 2012 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Offices Station Road, Wigston

Contact: Gary Waterfield  Email: gary.waterfield@oadby-wigton.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

19.

Apologies for absence

20.

Appointment of Substitutes

Minutes:

None

21.

Declarations of Interests

Minutes:

None

22.

Petitions and Deputations

Minutes:

None

23.

Minutes of the last meeting

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 10 July  2012 be taken as read, confirmed and signed

 

24.

ISA260 Annual Governance Report pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Ms Page reported on behalf of the Audit Commission, Mr Bellamy being unable to attend. She proceeded to lead Members through the report page by page resulting in the conclusion that the Audit Commission is satisfied that the Council has put in place proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources for the year ended 31 March 2012. The Commission therefore planned to issue an unqualified opinion on the financial statements of the Council.

 

Members noted that the work of the Commission would be transferred to KPMG accountants from this year and therefore, the existing staff would transfer also.

 

In response to a request from the Leader of the Council, (Councillor Boyce), the Director of Resources (Mr Kohli) confirmed that the second bullet point on page 6 of the report would be put into layman’s terms before publication in the Council’s Letterbox newsletter.

 

 RESOLVED: That the report be noted

 

25.

Internal Audit Progress Report 2012/13 pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members noted the progress to date, the two completed reviews and that there was a separate report on this agenda regarding Disabled Facilities Grants.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted

 

26.

Internal Audit Report 2012/13 - Disabled Facilities Grant pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Boyce entered the meeting at 7.06 p.m.

 

An internal audit review of Disabled Facilities Grants was recently completed, as part of the agreed 2012-13 internal audit plan.

 

No material weaknesses were found and therefore significant assurance can be given on the design and operation of the system’s control functions.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted

 

27.

Internal Audit 2011/2012 Follow Up Report pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Minutes:

The Director of Services, Mrs Court, confirmed that the strategy for the future of Brocks Hill Environmental Visitors Centre referred to on page 52 of the report would be brought before a future meeting of the committee for consideration.

 

Members noted that the Internal Audit Opinion for the year 2011-12 stated that the Council demonstrated strong internal control mechanisms in order to mitigate and control risks that the Council faces on a day to day basis.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted

 

28.

European Regional Development Fund pdf icon PDF 695 KB

Minutes:

The purpose this report was to seek committee approval to progress an application for ERDF to purchase and refurbish 41 Canal Street, South Wigston in order to create an Enterprise Centre. There was no commitment of the Council beyond the submission of the application, at this stage.

 

During discussion, it was agreed that this project should be revenue neutral and therefore this should be added to the recommendations. Members were also advised that an agenda item appearing later would consider the approval of a funding proposal.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

  • The emerging outline proposals be endorsed
  • The submission of an ERDF funding application be supported
  • A Council funding contribution of £300 - £350,000 be acknowledged
  • There is no formal commitment to this project at this stage
  • This project should be revenue neutral

 

29.

Annual Governance Statement/Statement of Accounts pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was agreed to take consideration of this item along with that of Agenda Item No.12 – Statement of Accounts 2011-12.

 

RESOLVED: That the Annual Governance Statement for 2011-12 be approved.

 

During discussion on the Statement of Accounts, following clarification of the capitalization threshold for Heritage Assets, these were also agreed.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

  • The statement of accounts for 2011-12 be approved
  • The Letter of Representation  to be signed by the Chief Executive also be approved

 

30.

Quarter 1 - Budget Position pdf icon PDF 130 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

During discussion, the Chair called for a report to be brought to a future meeting regarding Asset Management and Brocks Hill.

 

RESOLVED: That

·        The budget position on the General Fund, HRA and Capital Programme be noted

·        The requests for supplementary budgets be approved

·        The requests for virements be approved

The requests for carry forwards from 2011-12 be approved

31.

Review of Council Reserves pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Minutes:

During discussion, it was agreed that an additional recommendation was required to deal with the two new reserves set up for 2012-13.

 

RESOLVED: That

  • The recommended transfers to reserves from balances be approved
  • The additional earmarked reserves to fund future spend be approved

Authority be delegated to the Chief Executive, Director of Resources and Director of Services in conjunction with the Chair to allow Service Improvement Reserve and Software Implementation Reserve requests to be considered individually without the necessity to refer such requests to Committee

32.

Budget Strategy For Financial Year 2013/14 pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Minutes:

This budget strategy is presented within an overall national scene of reduced central government funding and the drive towards greater localism with the associated financial uncertainties that this presents, particularly with regard to the localisation of business rates and council tax reform.

 

The key issues that impact on the MTFS and therefore the setting of the 2013/14 budget are:

 

·          Current Financial Position including Working

       Balances/Level of Reserves

·          Local Government Finance Settlement

·          Outcomes of consultations on Business Rates

      Retention

·          Implementation of a Local Council Tax Benefit

      Scheme

·          Further advancements in Welfare Reform (i.e.

      Universal Credit)

·          Limits on availability of New Homes Funding

·          Availability of capital resources and prudential

      indicators

·          HRA Budget and the impact of Self Financing and

      rent convergence

·          Transformation of services

 

The Council has historically adopted a budget process that derives its base budget each year from the previous year’s original budget. The method for the 2013/14 budget will continue with this process but acknowledge the need for further savings.

 

The target for the 2013/14 budget will be the base budget plus adjustments as follows:

 

·               For contracts it is anticipated that the average rate of RPI will be added to the Council’s payments.  As such a rate of 3.2% (July 2012) will be applied to 2013/14 contractual costs which is slightly higher than the 3% factored into the MTFS. Where budget holders have knowledge of price rises that differ, adjustments can be made to these budgets to reflect actual price changes.

 

·               For non-contractual Supplies and Services a rate of minus 2.0% will be applied to the 2012/13 budgets. This reflects the needs for savings

 

·               For pay costs, inflation will be provided at 1% as outlined in the MTFS after adjusting the establishment for those staff who have left the organisation during the restructure.

 

·        A target of up to £750,000 of savings or additional income has been set and will be established through the budget setting process and sessions with members.

 

The Local Government Finance Settlement is the main source of funding but this will not be known until 30 November. A timetable has therefore been issued for the budgetary process to be determined and Members will be kept informed of relevant dates.

 

Councillor Boyce spoke of the need for a strategic review of the objectives for assets including financial targets, differentiating between income/non-income areas and called for the drawing up of such strategic objectives.

 

RESOLVED: That the principles set out in the report to form the basis of a budget strategy for the financial year 2013-14 be approved together with the carrying out of a review of the strategic objectives of the Council’s assets.

33.

Resident Forums Budget Positions pdf icon PDF 46 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the budgetary position of the Residents’ Forums be noted

 

34.

Risk Register Update pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

During discussion, in response to concerns raised, it was confirmed that a report containing an update on the software issues, was next on the agenda.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

·        The review of the Strategic Risk Register be noted

Progress on the roll out of the Risk Management Strategy at an operational level and those high and critical risks identified in operational risk registers be noted

35.

Update on Council Tax Localisation pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Minutes:

Members noted the progress to date and the planned Member briefing sessions with the final delivery date, subject to any change in the proposed legislation. Once the new policy is finalised, the IT specification and build can be commenced.

 

During discussion, it was noted that co-operation between the District Councils of Leicestershire was the best example in the country.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

36.

Update on Council Tax Discount Scheme pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report introduced a new scheme for which provision exists under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 section 13A. The scheme is designed to provide additional help and support to persons experiencing hardship in paying their Council Tax and will be essential in managing hardship following welfare reforms from April 2013

 

Operating in accordance with section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, will permit local discretion on a case by case basis to provide additional financial support to persons experiencing difficulty in paying their Council Tax.

 

This policy is being proposed as part of a county-wide strategy towards dealing with the adverse impacts of the welfare reforms particularly in relation to vulnerable people.

 

Where a section 13A discount is granted, this amount is usually fully met by the billing authority. However, the Council is working closely with the precepting authorities in Leicestershire to negotiate a collective pot which will be jointly funded according to each authority’s share of the Council Tax overall charge.

 

A final agreement in relation to Oadby and Wigston Borough Councils budget provision will be made within the budget setting process each year.

 

RESOLVED: That the draft of the proposed scheme be approved and adopted

 

37.

Pooling of Business Rates pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Minutes:

Business rates are collected by local authorities from businesses, but they are currently paid into a central pool to be redistributed as part of the formula grant. This current system means that local authorities do not have any financial incentive to promote business growth in their area, as they will not receive any of the business rates receipts from new development.

 

The Government plans to change the current system by enabling councils to retain a share of the growth in business rates in their area.

 

Councils will potentially be able to retain 50% of the real term growth in business rates. Conversely, Councils face the risk of having to absorb 50% of potential real term decreases.  The proposed system includes a levy on disproportionate increases and a safety net to provide support to limit the impact of significant decreases.

 

The proposals have not yet received Royal Assent but a decision by Councils on this matter is required by 19 October 2012. Hence, Recommendation 2.2.

 

The Local Government Finance Bill allows local authorities to form pools for the purposes of business rate retention. The modelling undertaken indicates that in periods of real term rising business rates it is beneficial for the sub region to pool business rates as this means that the levy paid by the District Councils will be reduced or eradicated and so these resources can be retained in the sub region.

 

The model contained within the report produced an additional £740,000 retained within the County, based upon a 1% increase in business rates. A safety net would operate in the event of negative growth, for example, if a large business ceased to exist within the District Council responsibility. With the pooling of business rates, there would have to be a very large reduction (for example, 10%) before the safety net was required. This is extremely unlikely. Notice to leave the pool would need to be made in line with national guidelines.  Members cannot leave mid-year and notice must be given by December in the preceding year.

A legal partnership agreement would need to be drawn up and agreed between all partners. The County Council would act as the accountable body, receiving and distributing payments. It was not expected that there would be any hidden charges for this.

 

The rates and spending baselines will not be published until December, with the financial settlement. Following the publication of the draft finance settlement authorities will have until the end of the consultation period in which to withdraw, however if any partner wished to withdraw, the pool in its entirety would cease to exist. Re-application is permitted on an annual basis, in December.

 

For the purpose of a decision this year, in view of the imminent deadline, delegated authority is sought. In future years, Council would make the decision whether to remain in the pool. However, an extraordinary Council meeting would be held in October to consider this matter. The recommendations needed to be amended to reflect this

 

During discussion, it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

38.

Housing Revenue Account Business Plan pdf icon PDF 142 KB

Minutes:

Ms Bennett introduced this item by referring to the changes in the system highlighted in paragraph 3.2 of the report, relating this to the capital expenditure plans graphically portrayed in paragraph 3.6 with paragraphs 3.7 outlining the proposed HRA reserves over the next 10 years and paragraph 3.8, the debt profile related to the borrowing cap.

 

The Head of Communities (Ms Pathak-Mould) continued by reference to the Right To Buy scheme which had been upgraded by central government to relate retained receipts from sales to the provision of new affordable housing.

 

A current Letterbox edition carries details of the HRA business planning group as discussed at an earlier meeting. The Council is currently in Year 8 of the 10 year Plan and is confident that it will deliver with Fire Safety work progressing well. Examples of collaborative working are detailed at paragraph 5.12 of the report. Paragraph 5.16 presented various options for the planning of new build investment. Evidence-based demand was required to realise the eventual form of supply.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

  • Progress on implementing the HRA Business Plan and the finance updates made in respect of the loan mix and right to buy receipts be noted
  • The proposed options for future stock investment also be noted.

 

39.

Policies

Minutes:

Mrs Court led Members through the individual policies itemised as Agenda Item 22 (a) – (e) and Members considered and voted on each policy individually.

 

RESOLVED: That each of the draft policies as outlined below be approved and adopted:

 

·        Corporate Debt Policy

·        Customer Care Policy

·        Recruitment and Selection Policy

·        Job Evaluation Policy

·        Volunteer Policy

 

39a

Corporate Debt Policy pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Additional documents:

39b

Customer Care Policy pdf icon PDF 58 KB

Additional documents:

39c

Recruitment and Selection Policy pdf icon PDF 54 KB

Additional documents:

39d

Job Evaluation Policy pdf icon PDF 55 KB

Additional documents:

39e

Volunteer Policy pdf icon PDF 43 KB

Additional documents:

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