Venue: Bromley Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley, BR1 3UH
Contact: Philippa Gibbs 020 8461 7638
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND NOTIFICATION OF SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS
Apologies were received from Councillor Brock and Councillor Owen. Councillor Andrews and Councillor Tunnicliffe attended as their respective substitutes. Apologies were also received from Councillor Mark Smith.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no additional declarations of interest.
QUESTIONS FROM COUNCILLORS AND MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ATTENDING THE MEETING
In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, members of the public may submit one question each on matters relating to the work of the Committee. Questions must have been received in writing 10 working days before the date of the meeting - by 5pm on Monday 22 January 2024.
Questions seeking clarification of the details of a report on the agenda may be accepted within two working days of the normal publication date of the agenda – by 5pm on Tuesday 30 January 2024.
There were no questions.
The minutes of the Executive, Resources and Contracts PDS Committee meeting held on 16 January 2024 (excluding exempt information), were agreed and signed as a correct record.
The report dealt with the Committee’s business management including matters outstanding from previous meetings and the proposed work plan for the remainder of the year.
The Chairman requested that the Expenditure on Consultants report be reinstated on the Committee’s Work Programme and presented to the next meeting of the Committee.
RESOLVED: That the report be noted.
The Committee noted the Forward Plan of Key Decisions covering the period January 2024 to April 2024.
RESOURCES, COMMISSIONING AND CONTRACTS MANAGEMENT PORTFOLIO - PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY
Portfolio Holder decisions for pre-decision scrutiny.
The Committee considered the following reports where the Resources, Contracts and Commissioning Portfolio Holder was recommended to take a decision.
The report proposed that a public consultation exercise was undertaken in which it was recommended that a Second Home Premium was introduced from April 2025.
In response to a question, the Revenues and Benefits Manager explained that it would be for the property owner to provide evidence regarding whether or not the property had a permanent resident. Evidence that could be provided included details of where residents voted, registration at a doctor’s surgery etc. If evidence was not provided the property would be deemed a second home.
Turning to the issue of the Equalities Impact Assessment, the Revenues and Benefits Manager confirmed that at this stage it was difficult to identify any equalities impact however it was hoped that further information could be gathered as part of any request for comments/consultation process. As a more general point around Equalities Impact Assessments, the Chairman suggested in future there was no need to include assessments as part of reports presented to Members. Instead, a link to the Equalities Impact Assessment could be provided for Member’s reference if required. Another Member suggested that in considering and taking decisions Members should be provided with all relevant information in the agenda papers for the meeting, including any Equality Impact Assessment.
A Member highlighted that there was no statutory requirement to undertake a consultation and suggested that in this instance, the consultation did not represent value for money as any consultation was unlikely to change the outcome. In response to the comments, the Legal Advisor to the Committee explained that it was good practice to undertake a consultation/request for comments, and making people aware of any changes in advance would support the Council’s defence of any judicial review in the future. The Committee also noted the requirement that any request for comments/consultation had to be meaningful.
Councillor Jeal proposed that the Portfolio Holder be recommended to not agree that a public consultation exercise is undertaken in relation to the introduction of a 100% second homes premium in April 2025. The motion was seconded by Councillor Julie Ireland, put to the vote and CARRIED.
4 in favour
RESOLVED: That the Portfolio Holder be recommended to not agree that a public consultation exercise is undertaken in relation to the introduction of a 100% second homes premium in April 2025.
At its meeting on 7th February 2024, the Executive would receive a report summarising the current position on capital expenditure and receipts following the third quarter of 2023/24 and would be asked to agree a revised capital programme for the five-year period 2023/24 to 2027/28. This report highlighted changes to be considered by the Executive in respect of the capital programme for the Resources, Commissioning and Contract Management portfolio. The revised programme for this portfolio was set out in Appendix A and detailed comments on individual schemes were shown in Appendix B.
RESOLVED: That the Portfolio Holder be recommended to note and acknowledge the changes to be considered by the Executive on 7th February 2024.
The report summarised treasury management activity during the third quarter of 2023/24. Investments as at 31st December 2023 totalled £370.1m (£388.7m at 31st December 2022) and there was no outstanding external borrowing.
The report also included the Treasury Management Strategy and the Annual Investment Strategy for 2024/25, which were required by the CIPFA Code of Practice for Treasury Management in the Public Services to be approved by the Council.
The report also included Prudential Indicators (Annex 3 of Appendix 4) and the MRP (Minimum Revenue Provision) Policy Statement (paragraph 2.4 of Appendix 4), both of which required the approval of Council. For clarification, the Council was required by statute to agree and publish prudential indicators, primarily to confirm that the Council’s capital expenditure plans were affordable and sustainable.
The report ensured that the Council was implementing best practice and complying with the requirements of the CIPFA Code of Practice for Treasury Management.
During discussion, the Committee discussed the advantages and disadvantages of investing in other Local Authorities. The Chairman noted that Councils were not permitted to default on loans and Bromley could therefore expect a return on its investment. The Director of Finance explained that, through a capitalisation direction, Councils could be given permission to borrow to service loans through the public works loan board. The Director highlighted that careful consideration was given to whether or not to invest in other local authorities and often investments were short term with a cautious approach being taken.
RESOLVED: That the Portfolio Holder be recommended to
1) Note the Treasury Management performance for the third quarter of 2023/24;
2) Recommend that Council agrees to adopt the Treasury Management Statement and the Annual Investment Strategy for 2024/25 including:
the Prudential Indicators for the period 2024/25
to 2026/27 (Annex 3 of Appendix
(ii) the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) Policy Statement (paragraph 2.4 of Appendix 4).
SCRUTINY OF THE LEADER OF THE COUNCIL
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Colin Smith, attended the meeting to respond to questions from the Committee. Councillor Smith had previously circulated a written report to the Committee in November 2023 and noted the following updates since that time:
The Leader then responded to questions, making the following comments:
The Committee thanked the Leader for his update.
PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY OF EXECUTIVE REPORTS
Members of the Committee are requested to bring their copy of the agenda for the Executive meeting on 7 February 2024.
The Executive, Resources and Contracts PDS Committee will be looking at the following items on the Executive Agenda:
· Council Tax Report 2024/25
· Capital Programme Monitoring Q3 And Capital Strategy
· Operational Building Repair and Maintenance Budget 2024/25
The Committee considered the following reports on the Part 1 agenda for the meeting of the Executive on 7th February 2024:
A key part of the financial strategy was to highlight the budget issues that would need to be addressed by the Council over the coming financial years, by forecasting the level of available resources from all sources and budget pressures relating to revenue spending. This was reported to previous meeting of Executive. Details of the capital programme were reported elsewhere on this agenda.
The Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement 2024/25 only covered 2024/25, with no indication of future years funding. The settlement included continuation of the ASC precept, increase in new homes bonus, increase of repurposed social care funding (children’s and adults) and market sustainability improvement fund (adult social care). However, there were significant reductions in the Services Grant.
There remained uncertainty around the level of Government funding for 2025/26 and beyond, particularly as the Government would need to address the significant increase in public debt due to the pandemic. The longer-term Spending Review together with the awaited Fair Funding Review and Devolution of Business Rates (or any revised funding proposals) was not expected until 2026/27 but could be delayed even further.
This report identified the final issues affecting the 2024/25 revenue budget and sought recommendations to the Council on the level of the Bromley element of the 2024/25 Council Tax and Adult Social Care precept.
Confirmation of the final GLA precept would be reported to the Council meeting on 26th February 2024. The report also sought final approval of the ‘schools budget’. The approach reflected in this report was for the Council to not only achieve a legal and financially balanced budget in 2024/25 but to have measures in place to deal with the medium-term financial position (2025/26 to 2027/28).
Following the Government reductions in funding since austerity measures began there have been some recent improvements in funding. However, the burden of financing increasing service demands falls primarily on the level of council tax and share of business rate income. The financial forecast assumes that the level of core grant funding will remain unchanged, in real terms, from 2025/26.
In introducing the report, the Director of Finance provided an update noting the following:
- Earlier in the day the final settlement had been received which had included further one-off funding for 2023/24 of £411k;
- In addition to the funding announced on 26th January 2024, a further ongoing £24k had been received;
- A supplementary paper had been circulated to the committee providing details of the consultation responses and the minutes from the PDS Committees’ consideration of the budget;
- Councils were required to produce productivity plans by July 2024;
- Details of some grants remained outstanding;
- Questions remained around the future of the Household Support Grant and further details were expected in the Spring Budget on 6th March 2024;
- Further technical ... view the full minutes text for item 82.
POLICY DEVELOPMENT AND OTHER ITEMS
The report provided Members of the Executive, Resources and Contracts Policy, Development and Scrutiny Committee with the net ‘High’ (Red) risks extracted from the Corporate Services, Finance and the Human Resources and Customer Services Risk Registers.
A Member highlighted the growing risk of electric powered personal vehicles and was pleased to note that the risks were being considered.
Another Member asked that the Director of Corporate Services and Governance review the risk matrices for Information Compliance and Cyber Crime. It was suggested that it may be helpful to provide a more detailed commentary regarding why these were both deemed carry the same weight in terms of impact.
It was noted that the Audit and Risk Management Committee regularly reviewed the risk registers.
RESOLVED: That the report be noted.
The items comprise:
· Contracts Register
Members have been provided with advance copies of the briefing via e-mail. The briefing is also available on the Council's Website at the following link: http://cds.bromley.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CId=559&Year=0
Information Items will not be debated at Executive, Resources and Contracts PDS Committee unless a member of the Committee requests a discussion be held. 24 hours’ notice must be given to the Clerk.
The items comprised:
· Contracts Register
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 AS AMENDED BY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT (ACCESS TO INFORMATION) (VARIATION) ORDER 2006, AND THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
The Chairman to move that the Press and public be excluded during consideration of the items of business listed below as it is likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings that if members of the Press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.
RESOLVED that the Press and public be excluded during consideration of the items of business referred to below as it is likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings that if members of the Press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.
The following summaries
refer to matters involving exempt information
EXEMPT MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 16 JANUARY 2024
The Part 2 (exempt) minutes of the meeting held on 16 January 2024, were agreed and signed as a correct record.