Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 5th August, 2020 2.00 pm

Venue: Remote - To be held remotely via Zoom - https://www.youtube.com/user/NottCityCouncil. View directions

Contact: Laura Wilson  Senior Governance Officer

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Councillor Cate Woodward – Personal Reasons

Councillor Georgia Power – Work Commitments

2.

Declarations of interests

Minutes:

None

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 340 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 4 March 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 4 March 2020 were agreed as a correct record and were signed by the chair.

4.

Membership Change

To note the resignation of Cllr Azad Choudhry from the Committee and the addition of Cllr AJ Matsiko.

Minutes:

Resolved to note the resignation of Cllr Azad Choudhry from the Committee and the addition of Cllr AJ Matsiko.

5.

Committee Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 261 KB

For Noting

Minutes:

The Terms of Reference for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee were noted.

6.

Council Budget 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 124 KB

Report of the Head of Legal and Governance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Laura Pattman, Strategic Director of Finance gave a presentation to the Committee on the Council’s financial position and budget process. The presentation covered the following points:

(a)  The interim budget has been through a detailed process of development involving senior officers and Executive and majority group Councillors. The Financial position was reported to Executive Board on 29 June 2020 and budget proposals were agreed for consultation on 21 July 2020.

(b)  The budget was in a challenging position prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. A balanced budget was set in March 2020 containing a significant proportion of one off measures and with significant projected gaps for future years. The budget has been in an overspend position since 2016/17.

(c)  The impact of Covid-19 has made this position even more challenging with a gross impact of £87.957m. Government funding of £23.546m has been received. With other overspends the budget gap amounts to £74.777m. £12.505m savings have been proposed in the budget consultation leaving a remaining gap of £62.272m.

(d)  Government has also announced a phased repayment of Collection Fund deficits over the next three years and further compensation for loss of income though there is still little detail about what Nottingham might be eligible for. Compensation levels have been set at 75p for every pound of lost income above the first five percent of lost budgeted income however, it is unlikely that all income streams will be eligible for compensation.

(e)  Consultation on the proposals began on 21 July and will run until the end of September with public feedback being reported to Executive Board on 22 September. The final proposals will be taken to Full Council on 5 October. The consultation process will involve press, staff and Union briefings, public communications via the Arrow and social media, feedback via the consultation webpages, two public Zoom events and engagement with specific stakeholders. Once agreed by Full Council, all 2020/21 budgets will be reset.

(f)  The Council has asked the following of government:

·  Provide for the full cost incurred by local authorities in relation to Covid?19

·  Compensate for all reduced income from fees and charges that have been impacted by Covid?19

·  Underwrite the shortfall in Business Rates resulting from Covid?19 in full

·  Compensate the Council for any shortfall against budget regarding the level of Council Tax collected as a result of Covid?19 in full

·  Fund 100% of the Local Council Tax Support (LCTS) scheme to protect authorities against loss of council tax income due to an increase in claimants

·  Increased flexibility and reduced interest rates for Public Works Loans Board (PWLB) debt.

(g)  Options to balance the budget are: further Government funding or financial flexibilities, use of Earmarked Reserves and savings from the currently open Voluntary Redundancy scheme.

 

Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and the City Centre then made the following points in relation to the budget and the budget process:

(h)  Austerity has impacted upon local authorities with the Revenue Support Grant Nottingham receives from the government reducing from £127m per year in 2010 to £25m in 2020. While other capital grants have been provided to enable investment, in for example highways and cycling infrastructure, the amount of funding available for statutory services is significantly reduced and savings have had to be made from discretionary services.

(i)  Many other councils are struggling to balance their budgets this year as the lack of resilience in finances has been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.

(j)  The use of Earmarked Reserves to balance the budget will have a revenue impact on future budgets.

 

During the discussion that followed the following points were raised:

(k)  There is very little guidance yet available in relation to the arrangements for the Government’s income loss compensation funding. It is hoped that there will be further guidance within the next two weeks.

(l)  Information regarding the budget can be shared with Opposition Groups. The situation is fluid and changes frequently.

(m)A strategic review of Robin Hood Energy is underway.

(n)  The Chief Finance Officer will review any use of reserves and will make a professional judgement about that use.

(o)  The public will be invited to engage with one of two consultation events being held via Zoom rather than the usual face to face events. Successful consultation events have already been held this way with businesses in relation to Business Grants.

(p)  Learning will be applied to the budget process for next year.

 

Resolved to request feedback on the effectiveness of the remote consultation events.

7.

Draft Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 104 KB

Report of the Head of Legal and Governance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Anne Peach, Chair of Overview and Scrutiny, presented a report on the draft work programme detailing issues for scrutiny by the Committee for the 2020/21 Municipal Year.

 

Resolved to agree the work programme, noting that it will be subject to further discussion and amendment to ensure it is manageable.

8.

Provisional Dates of Future Meetings

To provisionally agree to meet at 2:00pm on the following dates:

2020 – 9 September, 7 October, 4 November, 9 December

2021 – 6 January, 3 February, 3 March, 7 April.

 

Minutes:

Resolved, to provisionally agree to meet at 2:00pm on the following dates:

2020 – 9 September, 7 October, 4 November, 9 December

2021 – 6 January, 3 February, 3 March, 7 April.