Agenda and draft minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Board - Tuesday, 16th February, 2021 7.30 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Anthony Clements 01708 433065  Email: anthony.clements@onesource.co.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

44.

DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS

Members are invited to disclose any interest in any of the items on the agenda at this point of the meeting.

 

Members may still disclose any interest in an item at any time prior to the consideration of the matter.

 

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest.

45.

PROTOCOL FOR MEETING pdf icon PDF 333 KB

Attached for noting.

Minutes:

The protocol for the meeting being held during the Covid-19 pandemic was noted by the Board.

46.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 297 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meetings of the Board held on 24 November 2020 and 2 December 2020 (attached) and to authorise the Chairman to sign them.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meetings of the Board held on 24 November 2020 and 2 December 2020 were agreed as a correct record and would be signed by the Chairman at a later date.

47.

2021/22 BUDGET SETTING CYCLE pdf icon PDF 275 KB

Reports attached for scrutiny by the Board.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Board was invited to consider the reports on the budget and associated matters and agree any comments to be considered by Cabinet at its meeting on 17 February.

 

Introducing the reports, the relevant Cabinet Members stated that the Council was facing a challenging financial situation and that a total Council Tax increase of 4.5% was being recommended. This included a 3% increase to address higher social care costs for the Council. Most capital programmes were continuing such as investment in highways and the new Rainham Leisure Centre.

 

The HRA budget enabled investment in Council homes and estates. Rent increases were based on the rate of inflation and rents levels in Havering remained one of the lowest in London and considerably lower than the private sector. Some 35 former Council properties had been bought back to be used for lettings and it was anticipated around 70 such properties would be purchased next year. A homelessness centre was also developed in Harold Hill.

 

The Chief Operating Officer agreed that there was a  lot of uncertainty around financial matters due to issues such as the pandemic, concerns over the economy and uncertainty over the future of local government funding itself. The Council was already an efficient, low cost Authority and the it was proposed that the Council Tax Support Scheme would be unchanged. Budget savings of £17.1m were still however required.

 

It was emphasised that the Council had a legal requirement to balance its accounts. Delays in the capital programme had taken some pressure off the budget. The outcomes of a number of business rates appeals were currently being awaited. Some £6.5m had recently been allocated by the Government for Covid pressures in the coming year. It was felt that the biggest risks to the budget proposals would be from the impact of the pandemic and rising demand for adult social care.

 

Some 205 responses had been received to the budget consultation. The most important issues for respondents were considered to be the pandemic and the position with the economy. The majority of respondents were in favour of the main budget proposals with the only proposal not finding overall support being the delay in the extension of library opening hours. Most respondents were in favour of rebuilding Council reserves and there was also some support for the proposed Council Tax increase.

 

There would be a need to borrow funds to finance some capital projects but interest rates had fallen which would make this cheaper. The low interest rates were also reflected in the Treasury Management Strategy Statements which detailed the Council’s borrowings and investments. The HRA report detailed income and expenditure for housing and was also not allowed to be in deficit.

 

Officers would supply written responses on why charges for crossovers had risen and on the position with contributions to the Lea Valley Recreation Park. It was confirmed that there had been no update from the Government as yet as regards public health funding.

 

The Havering Music School was self-financing and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.

48.

TOPIC GROUPS UPDATE pdf icon PDF 335 KB

Report attached.

Minutes:

The Board noted the following updates as regards the work of its topic groups:

 

Pandemic Command Response – It was planned for the Group’s report to be presented to the Board at its meeting of 10 March.

 

Impact of the Pandemic on Care Homes and the Third Sector – The Group had held positive discussions with representatives of the management of local care homes as well as with Third Sector organisations commissioned to supply services on behalf of the Council. The Group would shortly be meeting with a director of Healthwatch Havering prior to considering its recommendations.

 

Debt Recovery – Discussions had been held with senior officers and the Group would meet  again early in the new financial year in order to ascertain the impact of pandemic restrictions on debt levels at that point.