Agenda and draft minutes

Audit & Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 25th November, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, The Arc, Clowne

Contact: Alison Bluff  Governance Officer

Items
No. Item

ACO30-21/22

Apologies For Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillor Chris Kane and the Chairs and Vice Chairs of Scrutiny Committees: Councillors Rose Bowler and Rita Turner (Customer Services Scrutiny), Nick Clarke and Anne Clarke (Climate Change & Communities Scrutiny) and Jenny Wilson and Paul Cooper (Local Growth Scrutiny).

 

ACO31-21/22

Urgent Items of Business

To note any urgent items of business which the Chairman has consented to being considered under the provisions of Section 100(B) 4(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items of business to consider.

 

ACO32-21/22

Declarations of Interest

Members should declare the existence and nature of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interest and Non Statutory Interest as defined by the Members’ Code of Conduct in respect of:

 

a)  any business on the agenda

b)  any urgent additional items to be considered

c)  any matters arising out of those items

and if appropriate, withdraw from the meeting at the relevant time.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made.

ACO33-21/22

Minutes of a Meeting held on 14th September 2021 pdf icon PDF 4 MB

Minutes:

Moved by Councillor Graham Parkin and seconded by Councillor Peter Roberts

RESOLVED that the Minutes of an Audit & Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee held on 14th September 2021 be approved as a correct record.

 

ACO34-21/22

List of Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 299 KB

Minutes:

Committee was advised that the List of Key Decisions and items to be considered in private document was part of the agenda for Members information only.  Any queries relating to items would need to be directed to the officer whose name appeared at the side of the item.  If Members wished to discuss an exempt report, the meeting would need to move into exempt business and exclude the public in accordance with the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 and Local Government Act 1972, Part 1, Schedule 12a for that part of the meeting.

 

Moved by Councillor Tom Munro and seconded by Councillor Graham Parkin

RESOLVED that the List of Key Decisions and items to be considered in private document be noted.

 

ACO35-21/22

Procurement Strategy pdf icon PDF 149 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Committee considered a report in relation to the Council’s Procurement Strategy, which had been updated to take account of all legislative and operational changes to ensure it remained fit for purpose. 

 

The Procurement Strategy outlined how the procurement of goods, works and services was achieved and described the Council’s Contract Procurement Rules.  These provided a corporate framework for the procurement of all goods, works and services to ensure that all procurement activity was conducted with openness, honesty and accountability.

 

The policy was to comply with the requirements of the legislation, applicable to local authorities, and these were set out in the report.

 

In response to a Member’s query, the Assistant Director - Finance & Resources, noted that ‘EU Thresholds’ had to be referred to as in the report due to the UK still being in the transition period of leaving the EU.

 

Moved by Councillor Peter Roberts and seconded by Councillor Graham Parkin

RECOMMENDED that the Procurement Strategy be recommended to Executive for approval.

(Assistant Director - Finance & Resources/Governance Manager)

 

ACO36-21/22

Budget Monitoring Report - Quarter 2 - July to September 2021 pdf icon PDF 440 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Committee considered a report which provided an update on the Council’s financial position following the second quarter’s budget monitoring exercise for the General Fund, the Housing Revenue Account (HRA), Capital Programme and Treasury Management activity

 

In response to Members’ questions, the Assistant Director - Finance & Resources advised the meeting of the following;

·       the Council would not know how the Government’s reform proposals for national non domestic rates (NNDR), would affect the Council until details were released in late December 2021,

·       the Council would receive monies from the Government in relation to their proposals to halve the cost of NNDR for the hospitality industry,

·       the impact of HS2 had not been taken into the Council’s accounts due to its uncertainty.

 

Moved by Councillor Tom Munro and seconded by Councillor Graham Parkin

RESOLVED that 1) the monitoring position of the General Fund at the end of the second quarter as detailed in Appendix 1 to the report (a net favourable variance of £0.275m against the profiled budget), and the key issues highlighted in the report be noted,

 

2) the position on the Housing Revenue Account (HRA), the Capital Programme and Treasury Management, at the end of the second quarter as detailed in Appendices 3, 4 and 5 of the report,be noted.

 

ACO37-21/22

Revised Budgets 2021/22

Minutes:

Committee considered a report provided as a presentation by the Assistant Director - Finance & Resources regarding the Council’s revised budgets for 2021/22.

 

The presentation highlighted the following;

 

General Fund

 

  • Savings made between the February 2021 report and the Q2 monitoring report, i.e. the current position.

 

  • Changes to reflect the new calculations and forecasts – the revised budget

 

  • Savings made to help to prepare the Council for the future.

 

Housing Revenue Account (HRA)

 

  • HRA main changes for Revised Budgets (the main variances on the HRA).

 

Capital Programme

 

As part of the revised budget process the capital projects had been reviewed to estimate what level of spend would occur in 2021/22.

 

Where projects were unlikely to spend in 2021/22, the capital expenditure and matching financing would be moved to 2022/23 to avoid large under spends at 31st March.

 

In Summary for 2021/22, the revised budget estimate for the Housing Revenue Account was a surplus, this would be transferred to the HRA Development Reserve.  Any underspend on General Fund would be transferred to the NNDR Growth Protection Reserve.  The level of reserves was considered to be adequate to fund planned expenditure and potential issues/risks that the Council faced.  The Capital Programme for 2021/22, was fully financed and did not include any borrowing where MRP was payable.

 

In response to a Member’s query, the Assistant Director - Finance & Resources, advised Members that vacancy savings were in relation to the delay between a member of staff leaving and a new member of staff starting.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Finance advised the meeting that Housing were undertaking a piece of work in relation to getting void properties onto the market more quickly.

 

The Assistant Director - Finance & Resources advised the meeting that future years’ budgets would be presented to Members at the February 2022 meeting of this Committee.

 

Members thanked the Assistant Director - Finance & Resources for her presentation and requested their thanks be passed on to the Finance team who had carried out a lot of work to get income in to the Council.

 

Moved by Councillor Tom Munro and seconded by Councillor Graham Parkin

RESOLVED that the presentation be noted.

ACO38-21/22

Setting of Council Tax 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Minutes:

Committee considered a report provided as a slide presentation by the Assistant Director – Finance & Resources regarding the setting of Council Tax for 2022/2023.

 

Members were advised that financial information for 2022/23 – 2024/25 was currently being updated as part of the budget process and figures for 2025/26 were also being calculated for the first time.

 

Some big changes had been expected to local government finances over the last few years but these had been thrown into uncertainty by the Coronavirus pandemic.

 

With regard to changes to business rates retention, the introduction of the ‘Fair Funding Review’ and the ‘Business Rates Reset’ in particular, would affect the Council probably detrimentally, when or if they occurred. 

 

The Government would again assume the Council had increased its Council Tax by the maximum allowed when they calculated any grants or limits payable to the Council. 

 

If the Council increased Council Tax each year by the maximum allowed as per the Government assumption, the extra council tax raised by the end of the current Medium Term Financial Plan (2025/26) would be £(447,964).

 

Moved by Councillor Tom Munro and seconded by Councillor Peter Roberts

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

ACO39-21/22

Audit & Corporate Overview Committee - Self-assessment for effectiveness pdf icon PDF 386 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members agreed todefer the Self-Assessment for Effectiveness item to the next meeting.

 

ACO40-21/22

Strategic Risk Register and partnership arrangements pdf icon PDF 324 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Tom Kirkham left the meeting during the following item of business.

 

 

Committee considered a report in relation to the Council’s Strategic Risk Register.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Finance noted that the Strategic Risk Group were currently looking at cybercrime and ransom attacks.  This was important as IT was an integral part of the Authority.  He added that the Council viewed this type of crime seriously and took whatever mitigating steps possible.

 

It was noted that HS2 would be a subject for further discussion by Members given the Government’s recent announcement that some planned areas for the provision of HS2 would now be abolished.

 

Moved by Councillor Tom Munro and seconded by Councillor Peter Roberts

RESOLVED that the report and the Strategic Risk Register as set out in Appendix 1 to the report be noted.

ACO41-21/22

Corporate Ambitions Performance Update - July to September 2021 (Q2 - 2021/22) pdf icon PDF 467 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Committee considered a report which provided the Quarter 2 outturns for the Council’s Ambition targets 2020-2024.

 

Out of the 31 targets;

 

·       20 (65%) were on track

·       1 (3%) continued to be affected by Covid 19

·       3 (10%) had been placed on alert (as unlikely to meet their outturns in 21/22)

·       1 (3%) achieved (partially) this quarter, and

·       6 (19%) achieved previously

 

Out of the 46 performance indicators;

 

·       27 (59%) had a positive outturn

·       9 (20%) had a negative outturn

·       7 (15%) continued to be affected by Covid 19

·       1 (2%) was within target

·       2 (4%) did not have data available

 

Supplementary information on the following items was circulated at the meeting in relation to queries raised by the Chair and Vice Chair at the pre meeting;

 

SS03 – Undertake Local Environmental Quality Surveys Detritus

 

Q: Is there a time frame for delivery of these new road sweeping machines?

 

A: One of three new sweepers was delivered on 5th November 2021 and training was undertaken on 8th November.  Anticipated delivery of the remaining two sweepers was scheduled for the week ending 25th November.

 

Housing Management 03 – Reduce the Percentage of Current Rent Arrears by 5% by early intervention

 

Q: A comprehensive explanation provided but has the relevant Government Department been advised and approached for support?

 

A: The government has recently launched the Household Support Fund Grant.  The purpose of the grant is to “provide support to households who would otherwise struggle to buy food or pay essential utility bills or meet other essential living costs or housing costs”.  BDC is to be awarded up to £200K to be spent by 31st March 2022.  Having discussed with DCC this can be utilised to further support households facing financial hardship and/or threatened with homelessness.  We have submitted a request for this money and specified we will be using this to in part to clear arrears for households experiencing financial hardship/threatened with homelessness across the private and social rented sectors.  This can include our own housing stock and we have already done a piece of work to identify those households who qualify.  This bid was submitted on 19th November and a response due w/c 22nd November.

 

In addition we have received approval from S151 officer to look at using some of the Covid grant to be able to take some proactive steps to tackle rent arrears.  The preferred approach is some software which will help us prioritise the right tenants in terms of rent arrears payments.  This is being explored further with procurement but an indicative business case suggests the software would pay for itself and help us cut arrears significantly in the first year alone.

 

Housing Management 04 – Reduce the level of Former Tenants Arrears (FTAs) by 5% through early intervention, Monitoring and Enforcement

 

Q: At what stage will we have to consider write-offs?  What are the cost implications of write-offs and is there Central Government funding to compensate for the problem that they have created?  Do we  ...  view the full minutes text for item ACO41-21/22

ACO42-21/22

Audit & Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee Work Programme 2021/22. pdf icon PDF 311 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Committee considered their work programme for 2021/22.

 

The Chair noted that as previously mentioned, he was working with officers to develop more targeted performance analysis reports on areas not covered by the current corporate performance targets/indicators, to compare the council’s performance to our CiPFA benchmarking group and/or other East Midlands District authorities.  These were still in development but the aim was to ensure we were maintaining service performance at average or higher levels.

 

It was noted that all Members would be invited to the next meeting.

 

Moved by Councillor Tom Munro and seconded by Councillor Peter Roberts

RESOLVED that the Work Programme 2021/22 be noted.

 

 

The meeting concluded at 1151hours.