Draft Medium Term Financial Strategy 2018-2023 - Proposals for Closing the Revenue Funding Gap
- Meeting of Strategic (Overview and Scrutiny) Committee, Thursday, 22nd November, 2018 6.00 pm (Item 23.)
- View the declarations of interest for item 23.
The Committee received a report on the approved Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS), Draft Capital Programme and its Revenue implications and finally proposals for closing the Revenue Budget funding gaps.
It was reported that the MTFS would be approved in as approved in February and due to emerging cost pressures such as pay awards and changes to funding from grants and local taxpayers, the Approved MTFS identified funding gaps from 2019/20 onwards. It was reported that a review had been conducted earlier than in previous years to allow for Members views on proposals to reduce this gap before the MTFS came forward for approval. It was noted that the proposals did not include fundamental reviews including waste management. It was also noted that there were reserves to close the gap but only on a short term basis.
It was also reported that the Capital Programme was reviewed annually and 10 capital investment bids had been identified with 2 of them, invest to save projects.
Regarding Capital projects, it was felt by some Members that there was not equity across the district especially in Burntwood. It was asked if there was a lack of opportunity or drive to deliver projects in Burntwood and it was reported that progress had been made with increased activity with landowners of the area. It was also reported that many of the projects benefitted the district as a whole. When asked for proposals, it was requested that a review of equipment in parks including Burntwood parks as investment was needed and it was agreed to look at this further.
It was asked if the recent letter from CIPFA regarding commercial properties had been received and what the thoughts were regarding its advice on borrowing for commercial use and associated risks. It was reported that the advice had been given following some local authorities borrowing high amounts however the district council had robust plans in place and there would be a rigorous system in place when deciding investments. It was agreed that a copy of the CIPFA Statement would be circulated to the Committee.
It was asked if there was any pending investment opportunities and it was reported that a team to consider due diligence was required be any investment was considered. It was also asked if the assumptions used to calculate the Funding Gap proposal figures for the Property Investment Strategy could be sent to the Committee and this was agreed.
Members then asked what lobbying was taking place to Government regarding the reduction of funding to Local Government and it was reported that as Chairman of the West Midlands Local Government Association, the Leader of Council was making them aware of the impact of the cuts and a paper had been produced to this effect. It was reported that MP’s were being approached as well. When asked, it was noted that the WMLGA did believe that the Council Tax cap should be removed with the final decision the amount of council tax paid made at the ballot box by residents however it was felt that central Government did not share this view.
It was asked what affect losing two Heads of Service could have in delivering savings and it was reported that interim arrangements would be put in place whilst a review of the structure took place. Staffing number were then discussed further and it was noted that although a reduction in headcount could mean a saving, it could also result in loss of services that can be delivered. It was also noted that all opportunities including shared services were and would continue to be considered.
Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) were discussed and it was noted that the Council no longer had to match what was received from Government and that figure was not expected to fall. It was noted that need was increasing and the importance of DFGs was still high as it allowed residents to remain in their own homes. It was suggested that renovation of care equipment be considered as it could result in a saving from purchasing new.
It was asked if proposals around public conveniences and shopmobility be reconsidered as they are beneficial to visitors of the district not just residents.
When asked, it was confirmed that no acceptable bids had been received for S106 monies to provide affordable housing and a report with further proposals will be considered by the Community, Housing and Health (Overview & Scrutiny) Committee.
Officers were thanked for the report and proposals given.
RESOLVED: That the views given on the Capital Bids and Funding Gap proposals be noted and the additional areas as discussed be considered as part of the development of the new Medium Term Financial Strategy.