Agenda and minutes

Special, Joint Scrutiny Committee (Budget Monitoring)
Tuesday, 28th January, 2020 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

Contact: Democratic Services  7788

Items
No. Item

1.

Simultaneous Translation

You are welcome to use Welsh at the meeting, a minimum notice period of 3 working days is required should you wish to do so.  A simultaneous translation will be provided if requested.

Minutes:

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

 

2.

Apologies

To receive.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from: -

 

Councillors M. Cross, J.C. Morgan, S. Thomas, T. Smith, M. Cook

 

3.

Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

To receive.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest or dispensations were reported.

 

4.

Joint Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 244 KB

To consider the minutes of the meeting held on 18th November, 2019.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the Joint Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 18th November, 2019 were submitted.

 

The Committee AGREED, subject to the foregoing, that the Minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

 

5.

Revenue Budget 2020/2021 to 2024/2025 pdf icon PDF 899 KB

To consider the of the Chief Officer Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

 

The Chief Officer Resources presented the report which provided an update on the positive provisional local government settlement for 2020/21 and its impact upon the Council’s budget.  The report also proposed the detailed budget for 2020/21 and indicative budget for 2021/22; and proposed the level of Council Tax increase for the 2020/21 financial year, in line with the Medium Term Financial Strategy assumptions.

 

The Officer went through the report and highlighted points contained therein.  She said the positive provisional settlement and the opportunities identified in the Bridging the Gap programme meant the Council would be able to invest in key priorities, avoid cuts to services and enhance its financial resilience moving forward.  However, further details of the specific grants for Local Government would be published alongside the final RSG settlement in February 2020.

 

A Member commended Officers on the positive report.  He said this was a very important part of the budget setting process and expressed concern that no Labour members were in attendance.

 

In response to a question raised by a Member regarding the cost pressure for the review of the LDP, the Corporate Director Regeneration & Community Services explained that whilst the LDP Review strategy had been agreed, there were various other stages to be undertaken and these were likely to continue for a further 2 years.

 

The Co-opted Member said the positive settlement for Blaenau Gwent was very good news, in particular the increase in education funding, and the fact that primary pupil numbers had increased.  He said the report seemed to indicate that Blaenau Gwent was recovering from its economic decline. 

 

However, whilst the increase in pupil population was positive, he hoped that this would be supported financially.  He also referred to the shortfall in teachers’ pay and pensions and the potential impact on individual school budgets (ISB).  He also said that a list of schools showing those in a surplus/deficit position would be beneficial for Members to scrutinise. 

 

The Co-opted Member then referred to the complexity of school funding, and said it was difficult to plan for the year ahead and set accurate budgets with a number of grants being distributed throughout the year. 

 

The Chief Officer Resource confirmed that the comments in relation to the teachers’ pay and pensions would be noted.  However, if Members of the Council agree to fund the cost pressure for teachers’ pay and pensions for the remaining 5 months, this would result in an increase to the ISB of approximately 5%. 

 

The Corporate Director for Education also confirmed that the unpredictable allocation of grant funding had been raised with Welsh Government by the Local Authority and the EAS.

 

A brief discussion ensued regarding the Bridging the Gap Programme when the Managing Director confirmed that keeping up the pace of the workstreams was a clear incentive for CLT.  However, it would be sensible to utilise any achievement exceeding the budget requirement in a more business-like way, rather than having to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.