Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 9 February 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: This will be a virtual meeting. Details below.

Contact: Candida Mckelvey, Democratic Services Officer  07895213820

Note: Watch the meeting live here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTj2pCic8vzucpzIaSWE3UQ The recording will remain on the channel adfter the meeting. 

Items
No. Item

82.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Councillor Badcock sent her apologies. Her substitute who attended the meeting was Councillor Murphy.

83.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 119 KB

To adopt and sign as a correct record the committee minutes of the meeting held on 7 December 2020.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 7 December 2020 was agreed as a correct record and will be signed as such by the chair.

84.

Declarations of interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting. 

 

Minutes:

None.

85.

Urgent business and chair's announcements

To receive notification of any matters which the chair determines should be considered as urgent business and the special circumstances which have made the matters urgent, and to receive any announcements from the chair.

Minutes:

The chair announced that he will have an announcement on the work programme item.

86.

Public participation

To receive any questions or statements from members of the public that have registered to speak. 

Minutes:

None.

87.

Work schedule and dates for all South and Vale scrutiny meetings pdf icon PDF 138 KB

To review the attached scrutiny work schedule. Please note, although the dates are confirmed, the items under consideration are subject to being withdrawn, added to or rearranged without further notice.

 

Minutes:

The chair noted that a lot of items on the work programme had no dates. He explained that the reason for this was changes to officer workload due to Covid-19 related work, meaning that reports cannot come forward as anticipated. The chair will meet with the vice-chair and officers to review the dates in early March.

 

There was a call-in of the scrutiny committee on the car parking fees and charges Cabinet decision. This will be held on 1 March 2021.

 

There was a task and finish group regarding the government green home grants. Councillors on the group hope to invite other interested parties across the district and county, to discuss retrofitting skills and industries. The green grants scheme had been extended. Councillors had developed a Terms of Reference and scope, and discussed having a joint scrutiny approach to this, with Vale of White Horse. Examples of interested parties include OxLEP, local colleges. Councillor Levy had registered interest in getting involved.

 

 

88.

Budget 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 158 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Head of Finance (to follow).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The chair explained that there was one appendix that is confidential (A6). It contained officer estimates of costs of the pandemic. If this needed further discussion it would need to be in closed session at the end of the public meeting.

 

Councillor Rawlins, Cabinet member for Finance, introduced the report.

The budget was constrained by less officer time being available and was very much a Covid-19 budget.  That said, bringing together a budget was a major task and the officers were thanked for their work. The Interim Head of finance had set the scene in the paper.

 

The Cabinet report presented for scrutiny brought together all relevant information to allow Cabinet to recommend to Council a revenue budget for 2021/22 and a capital programme for 2021/22 to 2025/26. It recommended the prudential indicators to be set by the council in accordance with ‘the Prudential Code’ introduced as part of the Local Government Act 2003.

 

It also contained the opinion of the council’s chief financial officer on the robustness of estimates and adequacy of the council’s financial reserves and contained the Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP) which provided details of the forward budget model for the next five years.

 

In last year’s budget, there was a £2.2 million deficit. This climbed to £6.5 million deficit by 2024/25, leaving £7.7 million of unallocated revenue reserves remaining.

This year’s budget assumed that the unallocated revenue reserves at the end of 2024/25 would be £17 million, and £11 million at the end of 2025/26. The burning of reserves was an existential threat long-term. We projected that £21 million of reserves will be used up over the five-year MTFP period.

 

We will be seeking a long-term sustainable framework from Government to provide understandable security to councils. Addressing these shortfalls was a priority.

There was a corporate plan in place now to guide the future. There was progress on a number of projects despite the limit on resources, and some projects needed to be scoped.

 

Other points:

 

  • £5 increase in council tax was proposed - maximum increase allowed.
  • Commercial property income has fallen due to Covid-19.
  • There had been a slightly better settlement from government than was anticipated, leading to a more positive outlook.
  • Base budget net expenditure grew by £2.6 million from 2019/20 base to 2021/22. Much of this will be tied down directly to Covid-19 costs. We had taken account of funding that had already been committed to by government.
  • Paragraph 53 – revenue per resident is £131 per resident – we can apply 2.5 residents to each home = £328 cost per home. Last year was £126 per resident. Costs for South Oxfordshire are very low.

There was some positive progress:

  • New office progress
  • 5Cs negotiations progress and repatriating of staff
  • Sales fees and charges items do feed beneficially into the budget.
  • Proper stewardship of council properties
  • Grounds maintenance brought in-house

 

 

Total net cost of Covid-19 to the council in this budget was £1.9 million.

 

The Interim Head of Finance reminded the committee that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 88.

89.

Budget 21/22 - Appendix A6