Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE
Contact: Gurdip Paddan
To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 21 November 2018 (previously circulated).
The Minutes of the meeting held on 21 November 2018 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) which lists the actions from previous meetings and their current status.
The status of actions agreed at the Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 21 November 2018 in the report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) was noted.
THE MEETING WAS ADJOURNED FOR 15 MINUTES AND RECONVENED AT 7.30PM
Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) presenting the budget proposals for 2019/20 on the General Fund Budget, Capital Programme, Housing Revenue Account Budget, medium Term Financial Strategy and Treasury Management Strategy as considered by the Cabinet on 8 January 2019.
Note: The above report was considered by Cabinet on 9 January 2019. Members are requested to retain their copies of the report for Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Documents can be viewed on the following link: Cabinet Documents 8 January 2019.
The Committee considered a report of Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services), which advised that the Cabinet at its meeting held on 8 January 2019 had considered the details for the proposed Capital Programme, Housing Revenue Account Budget, Medium Term Financial Strategy and the Treasury Management, Capital and Investment Strategies for financial year 2019/20.
In accordance with the Council’s budget and policy framework rules, the Resources and Overview Scrutiny Committee was formally invited to consider the proposals as part of the budget setting process and make comments to the Special Cabinet meeting on 22 January 2019.
Officers summarised the Budget 2019/20 proposals and advised that the Budget briefings held for Members in November/December were well attended and useful.
During discussion the following points were raised and addressed:-
· The proposed increase in the Council’s average Band D Tax is 2.5% for 2019/20 – an increase of £5.16. Members were asked by the Chairman of their views on the proposal. Members agreed that it was a reasonable increase given the Council’s financial circumstances.
· Hertfordshire had been selected as one of the fifteen areas to take part in the 75% business rates retention pilot scheme in 2019/20. There was a predicated budget gap of £1.5m in 2020/21, which needs to be closed. There are a lot of uncertainties regarding the Spending Review 2019, Fair Funding Review, New Homes Bonus review, Business Rates Retention system reset. The budget setting process will start a lot earlier, in preparation of additional work that would need to be carried out to help reduce the deficit.
· Clarification was sought on the Medium Term Plan in respect of spending review. Officers advised that no one knows any details and that the LGA knows very little detail about it at this stage.
· The Council will receive £1.3m from the New Homes Bonus grant for the financial year 2019/20 all of the income would be used to support base budget expenditure. Members were advised that the Government would be carrying out a further reform of the New Homes Bonus grant by 2020/21.
· Levels of reserves were considered and it was clarified that a further £1.5m of savings on the General Fund by 2020/21 would be required. Further clarification was sought on the contribution to/from earmarked reserves in relation to collection fund surplus.
· Gambling charges had been reduced; as the cost to deliver the service has reduced and that it is not possible to make a profit via licensing.
· It was noted that the 2019/20 budget proposals include management fee savings from the GLL/Finesse merger.
· Empty properties and exemption for small business premises. Officers advised that there was a certain criteria that had to be met and a briefing note would be provided to Committee Members. Members suggested that the fees and charges should be faced with incremental increases, otherwise users/residents would be faced with large increases every few years.
· Sufficient funds to be allocated to combat anti-social behaviour (ASB) within Woodall area and Town Centre. A discussion ensued on the ... view the full minutes text for item 71.
The pro-forma which sets out the Committee’s overview work programme has been updated since the last meeting to enable forward planning of items to be considered to take place. Items which the Committee agrees it would like to consider will be scheduled into the work programme.
The work programme for 2018/19 be noted.