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To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 23 November 2017 (previously circulated).
The Minutes of the meeting held on 23 November 2017 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Report of the Executive Director – Public Protection, Planning and Governance which lists the actions from previous meetings and their current status.
The status of action agreed at the Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 23 November 2017 in the report of the Executive Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services was noted.
The Committee were advised that the proposed tax recovery workshop would arranged between February and May and details will be emailed to all Committee Members. It was noted that no enforcement data would be available at the next meeting.
DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS BY MEMBERS
To note declarations of Members’ disclosable pecuniary interests, non-disclosable pecuniary interests and non-pecuniary interests in respect of items on the Agenda.
Councillor K. Holman declared a non-pecuniary interest in items on the agenda as appropriate by virtue of being a Member of Hatfield Town Council.
Report of the Executive Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) presenting the budget proposals for 2018/19 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 9 January 2018.
Note: The above report was considered by Cabinet on 9 January 2018. 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 9 January 2018
The Committee received a report of Executive Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) which advised that the Cabinet at its meeting held on 9 January 2018 had considered the details for the proposed General Fund Budget, Capital Programme, Housing Revenue Account Budget, Medium Term Financial Strategy and Treasury Management Strategy for financial year 2018/19.
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 23 January 2018.
During discussion the following points were raised and addressed:-
· Council Tax calculation and Universal Credit – members asked what would happen if the council tax collection rate drops by a substantial level and that it may not have sufficient income to pass on the money to major preceptors. Officers clarified that there are monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure that the Council does not find itself in such a position, also a dialogue would be opened up with other principal authorities in the event of a drop in Council Tax.
· The effects of universal credit on claimants and concerns raised included rent arrears and waiting time. Officers have already factored in potential rent arrears into the budget. Officers advised that there was a lot of work being undertaken by the Housing department in terms of housing stock and financial matters.
· Autumn Statement – new homes and the income being awarded. The proposed changes in the government consultation had not taken effect for the New Homes Bonus Grant in 2018/19 and still remained a risk for the Council.
· Why the Council had agreed to increase the Council Tax by £5 and not the full 3%. It was viewed that with the way that the 2018/19 budget is delivered, a £5 increase in council tax would enable the budget to be balanced.
· Business Rates pooling arrangements – Officers advised that the Council had been accepted for 2018/19.
· Members sought clarification on the reserves (£10m) and how the Council had maintained such a reserve. This was noted as being due to excellent financial management and funds earmarked for potential projects. Further consideration was given to utilising some funds on much needed services within the Council and the Executive Member for Resources simplified why and how the reserves had been maintained and the need for future investments and that being in a stronger position to deliver services during any impending periods of uncertainty. Putting reserves to work increased income for the Council.
· IT – Windows 10; why has the Council paid when there was an opportunity of having software for free? It was noted that unfortunately it was not free for businesses only for personal use.
· Campus West savings of £200k; Officers clarified that the savings would mainly come from staffing changes, review of marketing budget and changes in prices. The Campus West Cabinet Panel meeting have reported on the new menu and Roller City’s programme and unanimously ... view the full minutes text for item 34.
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 2017/18 be noted.
The Chairman advised that a date will be emailed to all Committee Members for the Council Tax recovery workshop with Officers.