For scrutiny committee to consider the report of the Head of Finance and make any recommendations to Cabinet (papers to follow).
Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Assets introduced the paper. The revenue picture for this year was balanced, including the effects of the economy. Cabinet member explained that government funding normally was more certain over five years, and now we only had two years, so this could not be reflected with as much certainty as previous budgets.
Chair welcomed cabinet members to help answer in-depth portfolio questions if asked to, to support the Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Assets.
Questions and comments:
· How do we ensure we keep Community Hub, beyond the two-year funding? Cabinet member explained that a decision would need to be made to reflect it in future budgets.
· Capital spending on housing was discussed, and the permanent local housing stock being increased to deal with refugee crisis.
· Data centre rent – Head of Finance to check if this is a misrepresentation in the papers
· £5 million one off contribution to OCC pension fund. How much will this one-off payment save us long term? It was confirmed that this was not a specific sum agreed yet. Decision was due 31 March 2023. It was suggested by a member that this helped save money previously.
· Salary figures queried – it was explained that the figures were cumulative.
· Appendix D2: local authority housing fund – what will the government give us - £500 million was the national figure. The scheme was at an early stage. Cabinet member for Development explained that funding for 21 properties, approximately £150,000. Roughly a 40% contribution from central government. Leader added that the housing would alleviate stress on the current housing list. The council will own the properties and manage them.
· A query raised about cemetery refurbishment being budgeted
· Didcot Gateway – it was explained that the budget envelope was £25 million, including a wide range of schemes as part of a larger regeneration programme to improve the gateway area (such as public spaces), and this included the new council office. The building itself had not gone to tender yet so the cost of that individually was not known yet. Best value at the tendering process would be ensured.
· A discussion was had around election costs, which was explained by Cabinet member as an uncertainty for all councils at present, no definitive figure yet.
The committee reviewed and discussed the cabinet paper and budget appendices, and asked questions to Head of Finance and Cabinet members as outlined above.