Meeting documents

Joint Scrutiny Committee (Budget Monitoring)
Monday, 12th November, 2018 10.00 am

Date: Monday 12th November 2018 Time: 10.00 a.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

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

PresentAndReport toReport of
COUNCILLOR J. COLLINS (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 (173K/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 P. Baldwin, G.A. Davies, G.L. Davies, M. Day, P. Edwards, J. Hill, M. Holland, J. Holt, G. Paulsen and

H. Trollope.

Co-opted Member
Mr T. Baxter

A Member enquired if non scrutiny Members could be invited to attend the Joint Scrutiny Committee meetings to give a more balanced proportionality.

Noted
4. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS

Councillor W. Hodgins expressed an interest item 6 - Revenue Budget Monitoring 2018/2019, Forecast to 31 March 2019 (as at 30 September 2018).

Noted
5. JOINT SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (BUDGET MONITORING)
Minutes (179K/bytes)
Cofnodion (115K/bytes)

The Minutes of the Joint Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 10th September, 2018 were submitted.

The Committee AGREED that the Minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

Agreed
6. ACTION SHEET
Action Sheet (47K/bytes)

The action sheet arising from the meeting of the Joint Scrutiny Committee (Budget Monitoring) held on 10th September, 2018 was considered, whereupon:-

Item 7 - Revenue Budget Monitoring - 201718, Provisional Outturn

A Member referred to the extra income the service had achieved. The Head of Community Services said that the extra income would be used to reduce the overspend in the portfolio.

The Committee AGREED, subject to the foregoing, that the action sheet be noted.

Agreed
7. REVENUE BUDGET MONITORING 2018/2019, FORECAST TO 31 MARCH 2019 (AS AT 30 SEPTEMBER 2018)
Report (126K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (66K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (276K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (72K/bytes)
Appendix 4 (370K/bytes)
Apppendix 5 (52K/bytes)
Appendix 6 (88K/bytes)

Councillor W. Hodgins declared an interest in this item and following legal advice remained in the meeting and took part in the discussion.

Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Officer Resources which provided the forecast financial year position across all portfolios for the financial year 2018/19 (as forecast at 30th September, 2018) and to review the actions taken forward to move towards a balanced outturn position.

The Chief Officer Resources spoke to the report and highlighted the main points contained therein. The report showed a slight worsening of the Council's financial position. There were three portfolios reporting adverse variances totalling 1.35m:

- Social Services - 0.38m
- Environment - 0.62m
- Education - 0.35m

In response to a Member's question regarding the 82,000 ALT Management Fee, the Chief Officer Resources said that the adverse variance was in part due to a shortfall on the financial efficiency project for Beaufort Theatre. The Council were awaiting the outcome from arbitration, should this be in the Council's favour the cost pressure would reduce by 44,000.

The Chief Officer Resources said that the adverse variance in relation to the premature redundancy cost had resulted from staff downsizing within schools and specifically related to teaching staff.

In relation to the income budget for Fees and Charges, the Chief Officer Resources clarified that Silent Valley was a separate company and the Council did not receive any income from the company.

A Member raised serious concerns in relation to Looked After Children and enquired what had been done to combat the issue throughout Wales. The Corporate Director of Social Services said that the Local Government Association and the Directors Association had prepared a briefing paper on the rationale behind the LAC issues facing all 22 local authorities in Wales. There had been significant increases in LAC cases including Court applications for the removal of children. A reduction of 22% Council funding across Wales had impacted the service and Ministers had been pressed to get a fair budget of 20m in RSG and another 30m in grants for health and social care but the criteria to apply for the grants was not yet known. Briefing Papers for LAC and Adults Services would be forwarded for Members consideration.

With regard to Legal Services in relation to LAC, the Corporate Director of Social Services commented that a long term solution needed to be identified and the Managing Director had spoken with her counterpart in Torfaen and Monmouthshire County Councils and they were keen to consider a collaborative arrangement for legal services regarding LAC.

A Member enquired regarding the "one-off" expenditure for Specialist Commercial Advice. The Chief Officer Resources said that this was for legal and financial advice regarding Silent Valley.

In response to a Member's question regarding the estimated income target for RASWA, the Head of Community Services clarified that this income target related to fines to utility companies for not reinstating works to the appropriate level. The income target was ambitious and had not been achieved as utility companies had improved their standard of reinstatement.

A Member commented on the delay in implementing the preventative services in relation to the Supporting Change Team. The Corporate Director of Social Services commented that arranging the recruitment process had taken longer than expected which led to the delay in shortlisting, interviewing and appointing to the team which had impacted on this quarter. The delay was also due to the newly appointed staff undertaking an intensive training programme and the Team started taking referrals from January 2018.

In response to a Member's question regarding Side Waste Enforcement, the Head of Community Services said that the Side Waste Enforcement had been well received with emphasis on Enforcement, Encouragement and Education. No fines had been issued to date and 100% coverage of the whole borough would be achieved by the summer. The 96,000 reduction in the forecast adverse variance was accumulative and would further increase when Side Waste Enforcement was rolled out throughout the borough. The outturn for quarter 2 showed a significant improvement.

A Member raised concern regarding the unsatisfactory length of time the review of CCTV had taken. The Chief Officer Resources confirmed that notice had been given to Newport CBC and BT and that revised arrangements would be implemented following the service review. The 26,000 adverse variance had been mitigated by an in year budget virement. CCTV had been included in the report for audit purposes.

In relation to Community Asset Transfers, a Member enquired regarding a breakdown of the spend allocation and sought assurances that the Council would continue to maintain sports grounds during the winter period. The Head of Community Services said that a breakdown of the 50,000 spend allocation would be prepared for the next meeting and confirmed that grounds maintenance would continue to be undertaken by the Council up to transfers in April 2019.

In response to a Member's question regarding the low income from companies for use of Brynmawr Bus Station, the Head of Community Services said that this figure may have been a legacy from previous years he would look into this issue and report back to Members.

Members expressed disappointment that no officers from the Education Directorate were in attendance.

The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and endorsed Option 2, namely:

i. To approve the Revenue Budget Monitoring report for 2018/2019, as at 30th September, 2018;

ii. Provide appropriate challenge to the financial outcomes in the report; and

iii. Acknowledge the action plans attached at Appendix 4 developed to address the forecast adverse variances at the end of September, 2018.

Agreed
8. CAPITAL BUDGET MONITORING 2018/2019, FORECAST TO 31 MARCH 2019 (AS AT 30 SEPTEMBER 2018)
Report (94K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (166K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (45K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (44K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Officer Resources which provided an overview of each Portfolio's forecast capital expenditure against funding approvals for the 2018/19 financial year, as at 30th September, 2018.

The Chief Officer Resources spoke to the report and highlighted the main points contained therein.

The Head of Community Services advised Members that a Members Briefing session on the Company Shop, Tredegar had been arranged for 14th November and an update would be provided for Members consideration.

A Member referred to the SRiC Brynmawr to Garnlydan scheme and sought clarification if it was the cycle trial and enquired if this was a safe route scheme. The Head of Community Services said that he would check on the details of the scheme and provide Members with the information in due course.

A Member made reference to the schools IT infrastructure. Members were advised that this related to the Education portfolio and therefore Education Officers would need to provide details of this service.

In relation to land at Blaenant Road, Nantyglo (Lewis Waste), the Chief Officer Resources informed Members that an application in relation to proceeds of crime had been made but no further update was available at this time.

A Member commented on the time limits for regeneration projects and the underspend in Tredegar Regeneration works. The Head of Community Services said that he would check the details of the projects with colleagues and provide this information for Members consideration.

A Member enquired regarding the Splash Pad Parc Bryn Bach. The Corporate Director of Social Services said that funding had come through the early years programme and a proposal had been put forward to develop a splash pad at Parc Bryn Bach but Aneurin Leisure Trust had been unable to deliver the project. The Directorate were working with alternative partners but no final decision on the use of the funding had yet been made.

Councillor S. Thomas left the meeting at this juncture.

A Member referred to demolition cost for Nantyglo Leisure Centre and sought clarification on the code as the demolition work had been completed some time ago. The Head of Community Services said that this was a closed scheme, the Chief Officer Resources would check if this was an accountancy issue.

Another Member commented on Lime Avenue Business Park and the Head of Community Services said that the hybrid units were funded by the Welsh Government and the Council were moving forward with these schemes.

With regard to the Infrastructure portfolio the Head of Community Services said that a report on Contracts over 500,000 would be presented to the next Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee and early next year a report would be presented to the Environment, Regeneration & Economic Development Scrutiny Committee in relation to highway schemes.

The Head of Community Services informed Members that the Highways Section was currently closing out committed highway improvement works and further dialogue would be carried out with Members to make effective use of the residual monies towards a second phase of highway improvements.

The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and endorsed Option 1, namely:

i. To provide appropriate challenge to the financial outcomes in the report;

ii. Continue to support appropriate financial control procedures agreed by Council; and

iii. Note the budgetary control and monitoring procedures in place within the Capital Team, to safeguard Authority funding.

Agreed
9. USE OF GENERAL AND EARMARKED RESERVES 2018/2019
Report (142K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (64K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (47K/bytes)

Consideration was given to report of the Chief Officer Resources which provided with forecast Reserves position for 2018/2019 as at Quarter 2 (30th September, 2018).

The Chief Officer Resources spoke to the report and highlighted that the agreed target level for general reserves was set at 4% the Officer further highlighted the potential impact on the level of the Council's general reserves of the 2018/19 forecast outturn which would reduce to 3.2%. The Chief Officer indicated that successful development and implementation of action plans that address the 1.175m adverse variance within the financial year would result in the forecast general reserve being closer to or exceeding the target 4% level.

The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and:-

i. Note the planning maintenance of the General Reserve at the 4% target level for 2018/2019 and future years;

ii. Consider the impact the 1.175m forecast adverse variance for 2018/2019 would have on the General Reserve target; and

iii. Continue to challenge budget overspends and implement appropriate service Action Plans, where required.

Agreed