Agenda and minutes

Contact: Philippa Gibbs  020 8461 7638

Items
No. Item

9.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND NOTIFICATION OF SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

10.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

There were no additional declarations of interest.

11.

PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY OF EXECUTIVE REPORTS

Minutes:

The Committee considered the following reports which were due to be presented to the Leader for decision

11a

DISCRETIONARY BUSINESS GRANTS pdf icon PDF 319 KB

Minutes:

Report HPR2020/011

 

The report sought approval for officers to distribute the government grant funding for businesses in line with locally defined government criteria in addition to the local eligibility criteria. Council officers had spoken to members of the business community and other London local authorities during the development of the criteria.

 

Central Government (through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) had confirmed further grant funding for businesses, to be distributed by Local Authorities at their discretion. Guidance had been provided and at the time of writing the report a further technical note to inform local decision making was expected which had been received by the time the Committee considered the report.  The amount of funding for distribution in the Borough of Bromley would be £2.4m. The Government had identified a set of business types that should benefit from the scheme, which largely recognised those that would have missed out on the previous Business Rate grant funding:

 

·  Small businesses in shared offices or flexible workspaces, including units in larger complexes.

·  Regular market traders with fixed property costs.

·  Bed and breakfasts that pay Council tax instead of business rates

·  Charity properties in receipt of charitable rate relief.

 

In addition Bromley Council would specifically include park cafes within its advertised list of eligible business types as quality green spaces was a Council priority. Park cafes normally did not pay business rates and therefore would have been excluded from the previous grant funding available.

 

The Committee noted that the Government had placed a cap on the level of funding available and as such the Council had to work within the financial envelop of £2.4m.

 

In opening the debate, with reference to the local eligibility criteria, the Vice-Chairman suggested that the criteria should refer to “salaried” internships to ensure that interns and apprentices were paid the national minimum wage or more, not simply expenses.  It was agreed that the Committee would make this recommendation to the Leader.

 

Members noted that in order to be eligible for the grant, businesses would have to meet at least two out of the five local eligibility criteria.  The local eligibility criteria that were proposed were to ensure that the businesses who contributed the most to the Borough would benefit from the grant finding that was available.

 

In response to a question concerning whether the Council would be able to reclaim administration costs from the Government, the Assistant Director for Culture and Regeneration confirmed that the guidance that had recently been received indicated that new burdens placed on local authorities would be funded however the details of this and the level of any funding was as yet unclear.  The £2.4m grant funding would go in its entirety to businesses operating in the Borough.  Members noted that Discretionary Business Grants would largely be administered by Liberata on behalf of the Council.  Bromley staff would be providing support to businesses applying for the grant.

 

Members noted that a number of businesses across the Borough were already aware of the grant.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11a

11b

PROVISIONAL FINAL ACCOUNTS 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 242 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD20046

 

The report considered the 2019/20 provisional outturn at portfolio level and Council wide as well as the potential implications for the Council’s financial position in 2020/21. The purpose of the report was to give a broad overview of the financial outturn.  The 2019/20 provisional outturn provided for no variation in general fund balances, subject to the recommendations in the report being agreed.  More detailed reports would be submitted to individual PDS Committees in due course. Details of the carry forward requests and a summary of the Council’s capital programme were also considered in the report.

 

In response to enquiries from a Member concerning further detail around income from investment properties, the Director of Finance confirmed that reports on Treasury Management were produced twice a year and the Committee had also previously agreed that Income from Investment Properties monitoring reports were presented with the same frequency. The Chairman advised that the income from investment properties report was due in September 2020 and Members suggested that it would be helpful to have the Income from Investment properties report at the July 2020 meeting if this were possible.

 

The Director of Finance confirmed that through being a part of the Business Rate Pool the Council was estimated to have received an additional £2.3m in 2019/20.  Members noted that there could be potential losses in 2020/21 as a result of the impact of the COIVD-19 pandemic on business but it was not yet possible to quantify the overall financial impact.

 

In response to a question, the Director of Finance explained that the majority of business rates collected was passed onto the Government and the GLA.  There is a part retained by the Council which forms part of the Council’s overall funding assessment by Government. 

 

Turing to the issue of underspends on staffing within the Finance Division, the Director of Finance confirmed that the vacancies had impacted on the Team and that the work required of the Team had only been delivered as a result of the commitment and dedication of staff.  The Director of Finance explained that there was difficulty recruiting good finance staff, stressing the importance of ensuring that a skilled workforce was in place to manage the large council budgets.  However, the ongoing staff vacancies were not sustainable going forward and the position would be reviewed over the coming year.

 

In response to a question, the Director of Finance explained that across the Council as a whole there were growth pressures which the Transformation Programme was seeking to address.  Departments were continually looking at value for money and were seeking to keep costs low but there were a number of challenges.  Members noted that there were two key issues for 2020/21 – the impact of COVID-19 and what the Government would do about local authority funding.  In light of these challenges, the Director of Finance stressed the importance of maintaining rigor in the budgetary process by considering mitigation before approving growth and containing cost pressures where possible.

 

In response  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11b

11c

CAPITAL PROGRAMME OUTTURN 2019/2020 pdf icon PDF 176 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD20044

 

The report set out the final outturn on capital expenditure and receipts for 2019/20. Capital expenditure in the year was £23.4m, compared to the final approved budget of £30.9m, resulting in a total net variation of Cr £7.5m. For funding purposes, £5.0m slippage was assumed in the Quarter 3 capital monitoring report, so there was an overall variation of Cr £2.5m in the use of capital receipts and external and revenue contributions.

 

The Committee unanimously

RESOLVED: That the Leader be recommended to

 

1.  Note the report;

2.  Approve the following amendments to the Capital Programme for 2020/21:

a)  Increase of £800k to the Bromley Town Centre Improvements capital scheme, as agreed by the Executive on April 1st, as detailed in paragraph 3.2.1;

b)  Addition of £250k to the capital programme for Children’s Centres, as agreed by the Executive on April 1st, as detailed in paragraph 3.2.2;

c)  Approve the increase of £2,153k to the Disabled Facilities Grant scheme to reflect the 2020/21 allocation as detailed in paragraph 3.2.3; and

d)  Approve the increase of £1,442k to the Capital Maintenance in Schools capital scheme to reflect the allocations for 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 as detailed in paragraph 3.2.4.

 

 

 

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