Meeting documents

Joint Scrutiny Committee (Budget Monitoring)
Monday, 5th September, 2016 2.00 pm

Date: Monday 5th September 2016 Time: 2.00 p.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

PresentWithReport toReport of
COUNCILLOR M. CROSS (CHAIR)
Item
No
Item/Resolution Status Action
PUBLIC
1. APOLOGIES

Apologies for absence were received from:-

Councillors M. Bartlett, P. Baldwin, K. Brown, B. Clements, M. Holland, J. Mason, Mrs. J. Morgan, J.P.

Noted
2. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS

There were no declarations of interests or dispensations reported.

Noted
3. TIME OF COMMITTEE MEETINGS

Consideration was given to the time of future meetings of the Joint Budget Monitoring Scrutiny Committee; upon a vote being taken, it was

RESOLVED that future meetings of the Joint Scrutiny Committee commence at 10.00 a.m.

Agreed
4. FINANCIAL EFFICIENCY PROJECTS - A REVIEW OF PERFORMANCE 2015-2016
Report (105K/bytes)
Appendix A (333K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Organisational Development and Transformation which was presented to provide Members with an overview of the performance of the Council's Financial Efficiency Projects 2015/16 and end of year position as at 31st March 2016.

The Head of Organisational Development and Transformation spoke to the report and highlighted the key points contained therein.

In response to a Member's question, the Head of Policy and Performance said that the Financial Efficiency Programme looked to make Blaenau Gwent Council sustainable in the future and develop proposals on what services could be delivered to the community.

In response to a question on reserve funding the Chief Finance Officer commented that due to the significant financial targets set, a number of reserve funds were created to assist projects that might identify shortfalls in achieving the agreed targets.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and the information contained therein be noted.

Agreed
5. TRANSFORMING BLAENAU GWENT PROGRAMME - UPDATE ON FINANCIAL EFFICIENCY AND MAJOR PROJECTS - QUARTER 1 - JUNE 2016
Report (111K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (80K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (57K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Strategic Transformation Team which was presented to provide Members with an update on the Financial Efficiency and Major Projects programme as at 30th June 2016.

The Head of Organisational Development and Transformation spoke to the report and highlighted the key points contained therein.

In response to a Member's question regarding funding for the Callio project, the Corporate Director of Education clarified that savings associated with the project had been identified.

Officers clarified points raised by Members in relation to the BRAG status applied to projects. The Head of Organisational Development and Transformation commented that a review of the BRAG ratings in future would include a BRAG for the project and a separate BRAG for the financial savings achievement.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and the information contained therein be noted.

Agreed
6. TRANSFORMING BLAENAU GWENT PROGRAMME - FINANCIAL EFFICIENCY PROJECTS - PROCESS REVIEW 2015/16
Report (133K/bytes)
Appendix A (434K/bytes)
Appendix B (163K/bytes)
Appendix C (180K/bytes)
Appendix D (199K/bytes)
Appendix E (519K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Strategic Transformation Team which was presented to provide Members with the outcome of the review of the Financial Efficiency Projects process, incorporating the 2015/16 agreed projects and those projects that are being monitored for 2016/17.

The Head of Organisational Development and Transformation spoke to the report and highlighted the key points therein.

The Lead Corporate Director/Head of Paid Service clarified points raised by Members in relation to the Options for consideration.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and the information contained therein be acknowledged.

Agreed
7. REVENUE BUDGET MONITORING 2015/2016, PROVISIONAL OUTTURN
Report (109K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (51K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (352K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (63K/bytes)
Appendix 4 (72K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Accountant Revenue Services which was presented to provide Members with the provisional outturn against budget for the financial year 2015/16 across all portfolios.

The Chief Finance Officer spoke to the report and highlighted the key points contained therein, whereupon:-

Looked After Children - Cost Pressure

In response to Members questions on the overspend within the Looked After Children's budget, the Chief Finance Officer said that this was due to an increase in the number of Looked After Children including an increase in the number of residential placements. Discussions had been held with the Minister for Local Government and Finance and the Leader of the Council and amongst other matters, the significant cost pressure was discussed. It was noted that other Local Authorities were experiencing the same cost pressures.

Cwmcrachen Caravan Site

A Member asked for clarification on the overspend for the Cwmcrachen Caravan Site. The Head of Public Services explained that the overspend was due to additional utility costs at the site.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and

  • the information contained therein be noted; and
  • budget holders be supported to operate within approved budgetary control procedures for the 2016/2017 financial year.
Agreed
8. CAPITAL EXPENDITURE OUTTURN 2015/2016
Report (115K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (436K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (41K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (63K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Senior Accounting Technician which was presented to provide Members with an overview of each Portfolio's actual capital expenditure against funding approvals for the 2015/16 financial year.

The Chief Finance Officer spoke to the report and highlighted the key points contained therein.

In response to a Member's question, the Head of Technical Services said that the overspend in relation to the Company Shop, Tredegar related to the ongoing cost of the hire of scaffolding to secure the premises in Tredegar and had been funded by surplus slippage from other underspent schemes. An independent survey to check the condition of the building was being discussed.

Councillor Mrs Ann Lewis left the meeting at this juncture.

Another Member expressed concern at the length of time this matter had been ongoing and requested a written response from the Head of Technical Services on progress made to date.

In respect of further questions raised by Members the Head of Technical Services clarified the points raised and explained that Officers were liaising with CADW on this issue.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and

  • the appropriate financial control procedures agreed by Council continued to be supported; and
  • the budgetary control and monitoring procedures in place within the Capital Team, to safeguard Authority funding be noted.
Agreed
9. REVENUE BUDGET MONITORING 2016/2017, FORECAST TO 31 MARCH 2017 (AS AT 30 JUNE 2016)
Report (115K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (51K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (307K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (82K/bytes)
Appendix 4 (76K/bytes)
Appendix 5 (735K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Accountant Revenue Services, which was presented to provide Members with a forecast of the end of year financial position across all portfolios for the financial year 2016/17 (as forecast at 30th June 2016).

The Chief Finance Officer spoke to the report and highlighted the key points contained therein; whereupon:-

Children's Services

A Member expressed concern in respect of ongoing issues in respect of cost pressures, such as Looked After Children, administration subsidy grants and CCTV. The Temporary Corporate Director of Social Services advised that a number of actions had been instigated in order to try and reduce the forecast overspend in LAC and all placements were regularly reviewed.

Housing Benefit

In relation to the Housing Benefit administration subsidy grant, the Chief Finance Officer explained that the forecast overspend was due to an increase in the audit fees and a reduction in the administration subsidy grant the Council would receive from the DWP to operate the service.

CCTV

Another Member supported these concerns and enquired why the CCTV cameras were monitored in Newport as they had originally been operated via the Monusk Depot.

The Temporary Lead Corporate Director/Head of Paid Service said that monitoring of the CCTV cameras at Newport was due to budget savings and he would make enquiries with the Communications, Marketing and Customer Access Manager into the Members comment that the CCTV camera in Cwm had not been in operation for the last 12 months to ascertain if any alternatives could be pursued.

A Member requested a site visit be arranged to view the CCTV system in Newport.

Waste

A Member expressed concern that Blaenau Gwent's recycling figures were the lowest in Wales. The Head of Public Services said that the Household Waste Recycling Centre at Waun-y-Pound had seen an increase in black bag waste and recycling figures had fallen from 68% to 58%.

Councillor Derrick Bevan left the meeting at this juncture.

The Chief Finance Officer commented that the overall forecast position was an adverse variance of 2.19m and a third of general reserves would be utilised to address the overspend, if further budget savings did not materialise.

A Member expressed concern at the level of absenteeism figures within the Council. The Chief Finance Officer said that this issue would normally be covered by the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted, and

  • budget holders be supported to operate within approved budgetary control procedures for the 2016/2017 financial year; and
  • the Action Plans for forecast adverse variances, produced as at the end of June 2016, be noted.
Agreed
10. 2016/17 FORECAST CAPITAL EXPENDITURE (AS AT 30 JUNE 2016)
Report (118K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (418K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (51K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Senior Accounting Technician which was presented to provide Members with an overview of each Portfolio's forecast capital expenditure against funding approvals for the 2016/17 financial year.

The Chief Finance Officer spoke to the report and highlighted the key points contained therein.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and

  • the appropriate financial control procedures agreed by Council be continued to be supported; and
  • the budgetary control and monitoring procedures in place to safeguard Authority funding be noted.
Agreed
11. USE OF GENERAL AND EARMARKED RESERVES - 2015/16 OUTTURN & 2016/17 FORECAST (AS AT 30 JUNE 2016)
Report (134K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (105K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (102K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Accountant Corporate Services, which presented quarterly reports detailing the actual and forecast use of general and earmarked reserves, including anticipated changes in requirements / amounts and risk assessments during the financial year.

The Chief Finance Officer spoke to the report and highlighted the key points contained therein.

A Member congratulated the Officer on the report and said that more information in relation to where the reserves were allocated should be provided to Members in order that a detailed understanding of the reasons behind the decision could be provided.

The Chief Finance Officer explained that an audit trail was maintained which clearly indicated where reserves were allocated. He agreed with the Members comment that a clearer explanation on details should be provided to Members.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and the report of actual use of general and earmarked reserves for 2015/16 and 2016/17 forecast position be noted.

Agreed
12. AGENDA ITEMS FOR THE NEXT MEETING OF THE JOINT (BUDGET) SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Agenda Items (53K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the list of draft agenda items for the next meeting to be held on 31st October, 2016.

RESOLVED that the items be agreed, namely:-

  • „ Revenue Budget Monitoring 2016/17
  • „ Capital Monitoring Expenditure
  • „ Forecast of General and Earmarked Reserves
  • „ Revenue Budget 2017/18
Agreed