Meeting documents

Joint Scrutiny Committee (Budget Monitoring)
Monday, 22nd January, 2018 2.00 pm

Date: Monday 22nd January 2018 Time: 2.00 p.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

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

PresentAndReport toReport of
COUNCILLOR M. COOK (IN THE CHAIR)
Item
No
Item/Resolution Status Action
PUBLIC
1. TUDALEN GLAWR AGENDA GYMRAEG/WELSH VERSION OF AGENDA COVERSHEET
TUDALEN GLAWR AGENDA GYMRAEG/WELSH VERSION OF AGENDA COVERSHEET (172K/bytes)
Noted
2. SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATION

It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.

Noted
3. APOLOGIES

Apologies for absence were received from: -

Councillors L. Elias (Chair), P. Baldwin, G.A. Davies, P. Edwards, D. Hancock, K. Hayden, M. Holland, J. Millard,

T. Sharrem, T. Smith, G. Thomas, S. Thomas, H. Trollope, J. Wilkins, D. Wilkshire and B. Willis.

Noted
4. DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS AND DISPENSATIONS

There were no declarations of interest or dispensations reported.

Noted
5. JOINT SCRUTINY BUDGET MONITORING COMMITTEE
Minutes (167K/bytes)
Cofnodion (47K/bytes)

The Minutes of the Joint Scrutiny Committee (Budget Monitoring) Meeting held on 6th November, 2017 were submitted.

RESOLVED that the Minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

Agreed
6. ACTION SHEET

There were no actions arising from the Joint Scrutiny Committee (Budget Monitoring) Meeting held on 6th November, 2017.

Noted
7. REVENUE BUDGET 2018/2019
Report (258K/bytes)
Appex 1 & 1a (134K/bytes)
Appex 2 - Social Services (2M/bytes)
Appex 2 - Corporate Services (2M/bytes)
Appex 2 - Financial Management (2M/bytes)
Appex 2 - Environment & Regeneration (4M/bytes)
Education (591K/bytes)
Appex 2 - Cross Cutting (939K/bytes)
Appex 3 & 4 (75K/bytes)
Appex 5 (506K/bytes)
Appex 6 (24K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Finance Officer and Chief Accountant Capital Services, which was presented for Members to consider the saving proposals for 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 Revenue Budget.

The Chief Finance Officer spoke to the report and updated Members with the latest financial position regarding the 2018/19 budget setting process.

In response to a Member's question regarding the criteria for additional 'top up' funding, the Chief Finance Officer said that the "floor mechanism" or top up funding had only been allocated to three Authorities; Conwy, Monmouthshire and Blaenau Gwent. It was allocated to ensure that no Authority would see a reduction of greater than 0.5% compared to its previous years settlement and provided Council's with more flexibility on distributing funding to services. Blaenau Gwent had received 0.717m the highest amount of the three Authorities.

A Member enquired regarding the final pay offer made to the Trade Unions. The Chief Finance Officer said that the two year offer equated to a 2% increase in the overall pay bill for 2018/19 and the final offer had not yet been accepted by the Trade Unions.

In response to a Member's question regarding the proposed 4.2% Council Tax increase and how this compared with other Local Authorities, the Chief Finance Officer said that the Council would seek to agree the level of Council Tax at its meeting on the 20th February, 2018. At this stage only indicative information was available and this increase was comparable to other Local Authorities proposals.

A Member raised concerns in relation to the indicative school budget and cost pressures within schools, i.e. the staff pay award; the proposed 1% budget increase although the Welsh Government had allocated 2.2% and the drop in free school meal numbers. The Chief Finance Officer said that Authorities collectively anticipate inflation at 2.2% based on the Office of Budget Responsibility predictions. In 2017/18 schools had received no increase and a 1% budget increase was proposed for 2018/19. Any further increase would result in budget cuts elsewhere within the Authority.

Another Member raised concerns in relation to the changes in the Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) funding formula being unfair in relation to allocated funding. The Chief Finance Officer said that reduction in indicators did not directly reflect correlation of statistics. He agreed that there would be an impact for specific grants and the number of Universal Credit / not in employment claimants had fallen in Blaenau Gwent which had contributed to an SSA decrease.

A request was made by a member of the public to address the Committee. The Chair agreed to the request and invited the member of the public to address the Committee. She asked Members if they were aware of the impact budget cuts would have on pupils and schools.

The Chief Finance Officer said that he believed that Members were aware of the implications of the proposed budget cuts. Appendix 2 detailed the outline business cases which included Risk and Service Implications.

A Member said he understood that budget cuts would impact services but taking everything into account he believed this was the best way forward for the Authority to achieve savings.

The Chair agreed with his colleague and said that this had been the fairest way to meet the challenges for the 2018/19 financial year.

Councillors J.C. Morgan and D. Bevan both abstained from voting on this matter.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the Joint Scrutiny Committee supports the following recommendations:-

- that Members note the national and Blaenau Gwent settlement information;


- the Council considers and agrees the 2018/19 and 2019/20 savings proposals summarised in Appendix 1 and 1a (detailed in Appendix 2), except OBC CC007(increase in Council Tax);


- the Council considers setting the Council Tax increase for 2018/19 at 4.2%;


- the Council consider the in-year cost pressures detailed in Appendix 3, with a view to agree proposals up to the level of 2.41m for 2018/19 and 0.45m for 2019/20. This recommendation also includes a decision to fund the Foundation Living Wage;


- the Council considers the growth items detailed in Appendix 4, with a view to agree proposals up to the level of 0.04m for 2018/19 and 0.511m for 2019/20;


- the Council agrees to consult on the restriction of Home to School Transport to statutory limits and the termination of the Home to College subsidy and to conduct reviews/consultations on a range of other proposals (as highlighted in section 6.5 of the report);


- Members consider passporting the former specific grant and new responsibility funding transferred into the settlement (as per the table in paragraph 6.4) in order to continue to fund the activities formerly funded by the specific grant;


- Members note the detailed analysis of the Blaenau Gwent Budget Challenge engagement programme and the Clean Borough survey;


- Members endorse the assumptions in the MTFS 2018/19 to 2021/22 and note that a further review will take place in the spring of 2018.

Agreed