Agenda, decisions and minutes

Cabinet
Tuesday 8th January 2019 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE

Contact: Graham Seal 

Items
No. Item

91.

MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 4 December 2018 (previously circulated).

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 4 December 2018 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

92.

ACTIONS STATUS REPORT pdf icon PDF 48 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) on the status of actions agreed at the last Cabinet meeting.

Minutes:

The status of actions agreed at the Cabinet meeting on 4 December 2018 in the report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) was noted.

93.

ITEMS REQUIRING KEY DECISION

To consider the following items for decision in the current Forward Plan:-

Minutes:

The following items for decision in the current Forward Plan were considered:-

93a

Council Tax Base 2019/20 (Forward Plan Reference FP880) pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) on approval of the Council’s taxbase for the year 2019/20 and collection rate.

Additional documents:

Decision:

(1)     The Council's taxbase for the year 2019/2020 was approved, incorporating a collection rate of 99.40%. 

 

(2)     In accordance with the Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) Regulations 2012, the amount calculated by the Borough Council as its taxbase for the year 2019/2020 shall be 41,889.6 and its constituent elements shall be:

 

 

100% TAXBASE

99.40% TAXBASE

 

 

 

Welwyn Garden City

17,197.3

17,094.1

Hatfield

11,663.4

11,593.4

Welwyn

4,645.0

4,617.1

Ayot St Lawrence

70.5

70.1

Ayot St Peter

115.8

115.1

North Mymms

4,409.9

4,383.4

Essendon

433.2

430.6

Northaw & Cuffley

3,075.6

3,057.1

Woolmer Green

531.9

528.7

 

 

 

Total

42,142.6

41,889.6

 

Minutes:

Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) on approval of the Council’s tax base for the year 2019/20 and collection rate.

 

(1)        The Decision Taken

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)       That the Council's tax base for the year 2019/20 be approved, incorporating a collection rate of 99.40%. 

 

(2)       That in accordance with the Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) Regulations 2012, the amount calculated by the Borough Council as its tax base for the year 2019/20 shall be 41,889.6 and its constituent elements shall be:

 

 

100% TAXBASE

99.40% TAXBASE

 

 

 

Welwyn Garden City

17,197.3

17,094.1

Hatfield

11,663.4

11,593.4

Welwyn

4,645.0

4,617.1

Ayot St Lawrence

70.5

70.1

Ayot St Peter

115.8

115.1

North Mymms

4,409.9

4,383.4

Essendon

433.2

430.6

Northaw & Cuffley

3,075.6

3,057.1

Woolmer Green

531.9

528.7

 

 

 

Total

42,142.6

41,889.6

 

 

 

 

(2)        Reasons for the Decision

 

All tax collecting local authorities had to estimate a Council Tax Base for the forthcoming financial year and the methods of estimation were largely prescribed by regulation.

 

The estimated tax base was the number of taxable homes in the Borough, expressed in Band D equivalent terms, with generally, the higher the tax base for any given level of Council General Fund expenditure, the lower the required Council Tax rate so that a growing tax base was a good thing.

 

In estimating the tax base for 2019/20, two key assumptions needed to be made, the collection rate which for 2019/20 was assumed to be 99.4% and the growth in the number of Band D equivalent homes which was estimated to be 405 for 2019/20.

 

To the extent that the actual collection rate or the growth in the number of homes for 2019/20 was different from the estimates this adjusted through the Collection Fund in 2020/21 and any financial impact was borne proportionally by all precepting authorities.

 

The estimated Band D equivalent tax base for Welwyn Hatfield for 2019/20 was 41,889.6 split between the various settlements.

93b

Budget Proposals and Medium Term Forecasts 2019/20 (Forward Plan Reference FP881) pdf icon PDF 314 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) presenting the budget proposals for 2019/20.

 

(Note:  This report will be considered at the Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 14 January 2019).

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Cabinet approved the following budget proposals and noted that any comments from the Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 14 January will be returned to the Special Cabinet on 22 January for consideration before final recommendations were made to the Council meeting on 4 February 2019.

 

General Fund

 

The proposed General Fund Budget as summarised in Appendix A, and detailed in appendix B.

 

The inclusion of the savings and growth proposals into the budget as detailed in appendices C and D.

 

The approval of the 2019/20 fees and charges which have been incorporated into the budget proposals, as set out in appendix E.

 

The increase in the Council’s Band D Tax of £5.16 (2.5%), taking the average Band D Tax to £211.77 for 2019/20.

 

Housing Revenue Account

 

That dwelling rents are reduced by 1% in accordance with Government legislation, resulting in an average rent of £103.37 per week.

 

The continuation of the policy charge formula rent minus 1% when vacant properties are re-let.

 

The approval of the Housing Revenue Account budget for 2019/20 as shown in appendix F.

 

The approval of the 2019/20 fees and charges which have been incorporated into the budget proposals, as set out in appendix H.

 

The Medium Term Financial Strategy to maintain Housing Revenue Account working balances to around 5% of rental income.

 

Capital Programme

 

The approval of the Capital Programme for 2019/20 to 2023/24 as set out in Appendix I.

 

The approval of the Capital Financing for the Capital Programme, for 2019/20 to 2023/24 as set out in Appendix J.

 

Medium Term Financial Strategy

 

The approval of the Medium Term Financial Strategy for 2019/20 – 2021/22 as set out in appendix L.

 

Other Strategies

 

The approval of the Treasury Management Strategy for 2019/20 as set out in appendix M.

 

The approval of the Investment Strategy for 2019/20 as set out in appendix N

 

The approval of the Capital Strategy for 2019/20 as set out in appendix O.

 

Minutes:

Report of the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) presenting the budget proposals for 2019/20.

 

(1)        The Decision Taken

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Cabinet approves the following budget proposals and notes that any comments from the Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 14 January will be returned to the Special Cabinet on 22 January for consideration before final recommendations were made to the Council meeting on 4 February 2019.

 

General Fund

 

The proposed General Fund Budget as summarised in appendix A, and detailed in appendix B.

 

The inclusion of the savings and growth proposals into the budget as detailed in appendices C and D.

 

The approval of the 2019/20 fees and charges which have been incorporated into the budget proposals, as set out in appendix E.

 

The increase in the Council’s Band D Tax of £5.16 (2.5%), taking the average Band D Tax to £211.77 for 2019/20.

 

Housing Revenue Account

 

That dwelling rents are reduced by 1% in accordance with Government legislation, resulting in an average rent of £103.37 per week.

 

The continuation of the policy charge formula rent minus 1% when vacant properties are re-let.

 

The approval of the Housing Revenue Account budget for 2019/20 as shown in appendix F.

 

The approval of the 2019/20 fees and charges which have been incorporated into the budget proposals, as set out in appendix H.

 

The Medium Term Financial Strategy to maintain Housing Revenue Account working balances to around 5% of rental income.

 

Capital Programme

 

The approval of the Capital Programme for 2019/20 to 2023/24 as set out in appendix I.

 

The approval of the Capital Financing for the Capital Programme for 2019/20 to 2023/24 as set out in appendix J.

 

Medium Term Financial Strategy

 

The approval of the Medium Term Financial Strategy for 2019/20 – 2021/22 as set out in appendix L.

 

Other Strategies

 

The approval of the Treasury Management Strategy for 2019/20 as set out in appendix M.

 

The approval of the Investment Strategy for 2019/20 as set out in appendix N.

 

The approval of the Capital Strategy for 2019/20 as set out in appendix O.

 

(2)        Reasons for the Decision

 

Despite a challenging financial environment with a continued reduction in Government financial support the Council had been able to produce a General Fund budget that protected and invested in services.

 

The impact of salary changes and contract inflation had been offset through a combination of further savings and income generation, together with a rise in Council Tax and a small drawdown from balances.

 

Having regard to savings and additional income generation for 2019/20, notable items included £600,000 from commercial property investment, a greater than predicted take up of the garden waste service and a reduction in the fee paid to GLL to manage leisure facilities.  However, no income from the bereavement services development was now likely until 2020/21.

 

£235,000 of fixed term growth items would be funded from earmarked reserves previously established for this purpose.

 

It was proposed to increase Council Tax by 2.5% or £5.00 per Band D  ...  view the full minutes text for item 93b

93c

Former Tenant Arrears Policy (Forward Plan Reference FP889) pdf icon PDF 31 KB

Recommendation from the meeting of the Cabinet Housing Panel on 10 December 2018 on the adoption of this new policy.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Former Tenant Arrears Policy was adopted, as recommended by the Cabinet Housing Panel.

Minutes:

Recommendation from the meeting of the Cabinet Housing Panel on 10 December 2018 on the adoption of this new policy.

 

(1)        The Decision Taken

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Former Tenant Arrears Policy be adopted, as recommended by the Cabinet Housing Panel.

 

(2)        Reasons for the Decision

 

The Policy set out the Council’s approach to recovering former tenant arrears on both Council (housing) tenancy and garage rent accounts and applied to all tenants who had or have had a Secure Tenancy, Flexible Tenancy or Non Secure Tenancy with the Council.

 

A new dedicated staff member was in place to prioritise former tenant debts with this new post being created as part of the wider Housing Operations Transformation Programme.

 

The Council would be proactive in collecting former Tenant Arrears using a range of methods in a flexible, but fair and consistent way and using the methods which were considered to be the most effective on a case by case basis that delivered value for money.

 

It was important to effectively recover former tenant debts to ensure that the Council was maximising income to continue to deliver services.

 

The Tenants’ Panel had already been consulted and provided comments which had been incorporated into the policy.

93d

Rent Arrears Policy - Council Tenants (Forward Plan Reference FP890) pdf icon PDF 30 KB

Recommendation from the meeting of the Cabinet Housing Panel on 10 December 2018 on the adoption of this new policy.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Rent Arrears Policy was adopted, as recommended by the Cabinet Housing Panel.

Minutes:

Recommendation from the meeting of the Cabinet Housing Panel on 10 December 2018 on the adoption of this new policy.

 

(1)        The Decision Taken

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Rent Arrears Policy be adopted, as recommended by the Cabinet Housing Panel.

 

(2)        Reasons for the Decision

 

The Rent Arrears Policy applied to all tenants who had or who have had a Secure Tenancy, Flexible Tenancy or Non Secure Tenancy with Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council.

 

The policy did not apply to leaseholders (including equity share properties).

 

The policy set out the Council’s approach to recovering rent arrears, taking into account best practice and legislative guidance but adopting a firm but fair approach to maximising Council housing rental income.

 

The total annual rent debit for Council tenancies was approximately £49 million.

 

The policy would be applied in a firm, but fair way, underpinned with early contact and support through the whole recovery process in order to prevent arrears from accruing and to ensure that a tenant could receive the right advice at the earliest opportunity.

94.

RISK MANAGEMENT pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) on the current strategic and top operational risks facing the Council.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The current Strategic Risk Register and top operational risks and comments in respect of each risk where shown was noted.

Minutes:

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) on the current strategic and top operational risks facing the Council as determined by the Corporate Management Team and Heads of Service which had been reviewed at the performance clinic in November 2018 and reflected the assessments in place for the quarter October 2018 to January 2019. 

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the current Strategic Risk Register and top operational risks and comments in respect of each risk where shown be noted.

95.

EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC

The Cabinet is asked to resolve:

 

That under Section 100(A)(2) and (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be now excluded from the meeting for items 11 and 12 (if any) on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of confidential or exempt information as defined in Section 100(A)(3) and Paragraphs 3 (private financial or business information) and 5 (legal and professional privilege) of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the said Act (as amended).

 

In resolving to exclude the public in respect of the exempt information, it is considered that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That under Section 100(A)(2) and (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be now excluded from the meeting for Agenda item 11 (Minute 96 refers) on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of confidential or exempt information as defined in Section 100A(3) and paragraphs 3 (private financial or business information) and 5 (legal and professional privilege) of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the said Act (as amended).

 

In resolving to exclude the public in respect of the exempt information, it was considered that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information.

96.

ITEMS OF AN EXEMPT NATURE REQUIRING KEY DECISION

To consider the following items of an exempt nature for decision in the current Forward Plan:-

Minutes:

The following items of an exempt nature for decision in the current Forward Plan were considered:-

96a

Gas Maintenance - Contract Award (Forward Plan Reference FP893)

Exempt report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) on the award of contract for this service.

Decision:

(1)     Lot 1 was awarded to Aaron Services Limited and Lot 2 was awarded to British Gas Social Housing Limited for an initial period of five years with an option to extend by up to a further four years in annual increments on the basis that these two Contractors submitted the best overall bids in terms of experience, price and quality.

 

(2)     The Third Party Gas Audit Contract was awarded to Gas Advisory Services Limited (trading as Phoenix Compliancy Management) which was co-terminus with the Gas Maintenance Contracts.

Minutes:

Exempt report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) setting out the recommendation of the Member Procurement Board on the award of contract for this service.

 

(1)        The Decision Taken

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)     That Lot 1 be awarded to Aaron Services Limited and Lot 2 be awarded to British Gas Social Housing Limited for an initial period of five years with an option to extend by up to a further four years in annual increments on the basis that these two Contractors submitted the best overall bids in terms of experience, price and quality.

 

(2)     That the Third Party Gas Audit Contract be awarded to Gas Advisory Services Limited (trading as Phoenix Compliancy Management) which was co-terminus with the Gas Maintenance Contracts.

 

(2)        Reasons for the Decision

 

The Council’s contract for annual domestic gas safety certificates/maintenance/new system installations was due to expire on 31 March 2019 and the Cabinet had established a Member Procurement Board to oversee the new procurement and make a recommendation on the award of contract.

 

The Contract was based on a three star service (where the Contractor provided a price for undertaking an annual test, service and maintenance).

 

The Procurement Board had agreed that the Contract be let as two Lots with the ability to move work between Lots.

96b

Purchase of Property (Forward Plan Reference FP894)

Exempt report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) on the purchase of property as part of the Council’s Affordable Housing Programme.

Decision:

Subject to the Council’s approval of the Affordable Housing capital programme in February 2019 and to confirmation of the valuation by the independent valuer, the Cabinet approved the purchase of the development identified in the exempt report for the agreed price which would also be subject to satisfactory due diligence. 

Minutes:

Exempt report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) on the purchase of property as part of the Council’s Affordable Housing Programme.

 

(1)        The Decision Taken

 

RESOLVED:

 

That subject to the Council’s approval of the Affordable Housing capital programme in February 2019 and to confirmation of the valuation by the independent valuer, the Cabinet approves the purchase of the development identified in the exempt report for the agreed price which would also be subject to satisfactory due diligence. 

 

(2)        Reasons for the Decision

 

The opportunity had arisen to purchase a development of new build apartments as part of the Council’s Affordable Housing Programme.

 

The Council was facing a rise in homelessness and demand for housing was on the increase, for social rented homes and intermediate (sub-market) housing products. This had been the finding of a specialist report commissioned by the Council on affordability and demand in the Borough. The Council therefore needed to secure additional housing.