Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Management Board - Wednesday, 12th February, 2020 11.00 a.m.

Venue: Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham.

Contact: James McLaughlin, Head of Democratic Services  The webcast can be viewed at http://www.rotherham.public-i.tv

Items
No. Item

131.

Minutes of the previous meeting held on 15 January 2020 pdf icon PDF 67 KB

 

To consider the minutes of the previous meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board and approve them as a true and correct record of the proceedings.

Minutes:

Resolved: -

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board held on 15 January 2020 be approved as a true and correct record of the proceedings.

132.

Declarations of Interest

 

To receive declarations of interest from Members in respect of items listed on the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest from members of the Board.

133.

Questions from Members of the Public and the Press

 

To receive questions relating to items of business on the agenda from members of the public or press who are present at the meeting.

Minutes:

There were no questions from members of the press or public.

134.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any part of the agenda.

Minutes:

The Chair advised that there were no items of business on the agenda which would require the exclusion of the press and public from the meeting.

135.

Budget and Council Tax 2020-21 and Medium Term Financial Strategy pdf icon PDF 326 KB

 

Cabinet Portfolio:               Corporate Services and Finance

Strategic Directorate:         Finance and Customer Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 17 February 2020 in respect of the Budget and Council Tax 2020-21 and Medium-Term Financial Strategy.

 

The report provided information on the Council’s Budget and Council Tax for 2020/21 based on the Council’s Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for 2020/21, budget consultation and the consideration of Directorate budget proposals through the Council’s formal Budget process, alongside a review of the financial planning assumptions contained within the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy. 

 

In setting the proposed 2020/21 budget, increases of 0.99% in the Council’s basic Council Tax and of 2.0% in the Adult Social Care precept were being recommended. The revenue budget for 2020/21 was the second year of a two-year budget for 2019/20 and 2020/21 that had been approved by Council on 27 February 2019. It was noted that since the introduction of austerity measures in 2010, the Council had made savings in excess of £200 million in response to the significant reductions in Central Government funding, and that this figure included savings of £16 million that would need to be delivered during 2020/21.

 

The Leader of the Council and the Strategic Director, Finance and Customer Services attended the meeting to respond to specific queries from Members in respect of report.

 

The Leader advised that while the setting of a two year budget had been effective in addressing some of the difficulties that Government austerity measures had created for the Council and had ensured that no further job losses or service reductions were required in 2020/21, there still remained much financial uncertainty for the Council that made budget planning for future years very difficult. The Leader noted that the continuing uncertainty around changes to Business Rates retention was a particular area of difficulty for future years. In view of this continued uncertainty the Leader noted the importance of the Council being able to increase its level of reserves in 2020/21 to help mitigate against the risk of future financial uncertainties

 

Members sought clarification that increases to the Real Living Wage had been incorporated into the budget with regard to independent sector home care service provision contracts. The Strategic Director, Finance and Customer Services confirmed that this assumption had been included. The Leader noted that the budget for 2020/21 enabled the Council to pay the Real Living Wage to all homecare staff who were employed both directly and indirectly by the Council, contributing to the  delivery of the Council’s  Social Value Policy.

 

Members asked several specific questions on the financial planning activities around the delivery of both Adult Services and Children’s and Young People’s Services and welcomed the greatly improved situation of the position of the Adult Services budget compared to previous years. The Leader advised that detailed service planning around anticipated service demand had enabled the effective budget management for Adult Services. The Leader noted that even with the most effective planning and budgetary control there would always be more uncertainty  ...  view the full minutes text for item 135.

136.

December Financial Monitoring pdf icon PDF 218 KB

 

Cabinet Portfolio:               Corporate Services and Finance

Strategic Directorate:         Finance and Customer Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 17 February 2020 in respect of December 2019 Financial Monitoring.

 

The report detailed out the financial position of the Council as at the end of December 2019, with the figures included in the repot being based on actual costs and income for the first nine months of 2019/20 and forecasted figures for the remainder of the financial year. It was noted that as at December 2019, the Council had a forecast year-end overspend of £4.0m on the General Fund.

 

The report included figures on each Directorate’s projected budget outturn for the financial year 2019/20 as well as the reasons for both positive and negative variances from the 2019/20 budget. Information was also included detailing the actions that were being taken in each directorate in order to reduce and remove negative variances.

 

It was noted that the Council had £3.2m of the budget contingency reserve available to support the 2019/20 financial outturn, but it was emphasised that if planned savings and spending reductions were not delivered to an extent where they could be wholly contained within the budget contingency reserve, there would be a further negative impact on the Council’s other reserves if they were required to be called on to support the 2019/20 budget.

 

The Leader of the Council and the Strategic Director, Finance and Customer Services attended the meeting to respond to specific queries from members in respect of report.

 

The Leader noted that since the publication of the report actions had been implemented across Directorates to reduce, and if possible, remove the £800,000 adverse variance against the Council budget, and that these actions were now starting to have a positive impact. The Leader advised that he had confidence that the £800,000 of required savings could be realised before the end of the financial year. Members sought further information on how capitalisation was being used in managing Council expenditure. The Strategic Director, Finance and Customer Services provided further information on how capitalisation was used in managing budgets and expenditure but noted that it was important that any capitalisation was done in a way that would not cause problems with the budget being stored up for future years.

 

Members noted the above inflationary cost pressures with regard to residential placements for children and welcomed the revitalised foster care recruitment activity being carried out by Brightsparks for the Council that would positively impact on the number on in-Borough placements. The Leader concurred with members that more in-Borough placements would not only provide better outcomes for the children involved but would also relive pressure in that budget area. The Chair asked with regard to the forecast overspend on home to school transport of £1.3 million, what action was being taken to address the underlying issues around consistent overspending in this budget area that had been highlighted in numerous financial monitoring reports. The Leader noted that this budget area had long been a challenging  ...  view the full minutes text for item 136.

137.

Urgent Business

 

To determine any item which the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency.

Minutes:

The Chair reported that there were no urgent items of business requiring the consideration of the Board.

138.

Date and time of next meeting

 

The next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board will be held on Wednesday 4 March 2020 at 11am at Rotherham Town Hall.

Minutes:

Resolved:-

 

That the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board be held on Wednesday 4 March 2020 commencing at 11.00 a.m. in Rotherham Town Hall.