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(a) This meeting is to be webcast;
(b) Members are reminded of the need to activate their microphones before speaking; and
(c) the Chairman will read the following announcement:
“I would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the Internet and will be capable of subsequent repeated viewing, with copies of the recording being made available for those that request it.
By being present at this meeting, it is likely that the recording cameras will capture your image and this will result in your image becoming part of the broadcast.
You should be aware that this may infringe your human and data protection rights. If you have any concerns then please speak to the Webcasting Officer.
Please could I also remind Members to activate their microphones before speaking.”
The Chairman reminded everyone present that the meeting would be broadcast live to the Internet and that the Council had adopted a protocol for the webcasting of its meetings.
(Director of Governance) To report the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.
The Cabinet Committee noted that there were no substitute members for this meeting.
Declarations of Interest
(Director of Governance) To declare interests in any item on this agenda.
There were no declarations of interest pursuant to the Council’s Code of Member Conduct.
To confirm the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee held on 13 September 2018 (previously circulated).
That the minutes held on 13 September 2018 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
To consider the attached report (FPM-014-2018/19).
The Performance Improvement Officer, M. Chwiedz presented a report regarding the progress report for quarter 2, 2018/19.
The Corporate Plan 2018-2023 was the authority’s key strategic planning document which laid out the journey the Council would take to transform the organisation to be ‘Ready for the Future’. The plan linked the key external drivers influencing Council services, with a set of corporate aims and objectives, grouped under three corporate ambitions.
A Corporate Specification for each year (previously called the Key Action Plan) detailed how the Corporate Plan was being delivered through operational objectives, with these in turn linked to annual service business plans.
The success of the Corporate Plan was assessed through the achievement of a set of benefits, each measured through one or more performance indicator, focussed on what the Council achieved for customers. The Leadership Team, Cabinet and the scrutiny committees had scrutiny roles to drive improvement in performance and ensure corrective action was taken where necessary.
The Performance Improvement Officer updated members on the following performance indicators;
M1.2 Number of ‘take-away’ restaurants signed up to ‘ Tuck In’ pledge – This had not met the target and the action to be taken was targeting premises in Waltham Abbey and NHS/GP surgeries to offer healthier takeaways and healthier alternatives.
M2.2 Number of days to process benefits claims – Processes had been changed and this should be reflected in quarter 3.
M4.3 Number of new residential properties built or acquired by the Council – The framework of new contractors for phases 4 onwards had been signed and sealed on 16 October 2018.
The Cabinet Committee commented that the performance indicator for M4.1 Number of businesses who joined the ‘Buy with confidence’ scheme, may need to be reconsidered as it appeared not to be working and officers should discuss this indicator with the Environment Portfolio Holder, Councillor N. Avey. Also the target for M6.2 - Number of new jobs, was incorrect. Overall, depending on the quarter 3 positions, some of the measures may need to be reconsidered for future years.
(1) That outturn position of Quarter 2 2018/19, in relation to the achievement of the Corporate Plan for 2018-2023 be noted.
Reasons for Decision:
The combined report brings together the performance of the Council against the Corporate Plan and gave a ‘clear line of sight’ for performance across the Council via the new benefits maps and performance indicator set. The benefits maps provide an opportunity for the Council to focus attention on how specific areas for improvement would be addressed, and how opportunities would be exploited and better outcomes delivered. It was important that relevant performance management processes were in place to review and monitor performance against performance indicators to ensure their continued achievability and relevance, and to identify proposals for appropriate corrective action in areas of slippage or under performance.
Other Options Considered and Rejected:
No other options were appropriate in this respect. Failure to monitor and review performance and to consider corrective action where necessary could have ... view the full minutes text for item 36.
To consider the attached report (FPM-015-2018/19).
The Assistant Director Accountancy presented a report on the mid-year Treasury Management and Prudential Indicators 2018/19.
The mid-year treasury report was a requirement of the CIPFA Code of Practice on Treasury Management and covered the treasury activity for the first half of the financial year 2018/19. During this period, the Council had continued to finance all capital expenditure from within internal resources, the average net investment position had been approximately £19.75m and there had been no significant breaches on any of the prudential indicators.
This prudential indicator assisted the Council in controlling and monitoring the level of usable capital receipts that would be available at the end of a five-year period. The forecast Capital Programme for the four years to 2021/22 totalled £127m and was partly funded by £28m borrowing. It was predicted that at the end of this period there would still be £2.1m available in Capital Receipts and £5.9m in the Major Repairs Reserve. The Cabinet Committee were asked to note the report.
Councillor J. Philip enquired about the 13% investment to a counterparty outside of the UK. The Assistant Director Accountancy informed members that it was to Svenska Handelsbanken, which was Swedish bank.
That the management of the risks associated with Treasury Management for the first half of 2018/19 be noted.
Reasons for Decision:
The report was presented for noting as scrutiny was provided by the Audit and Governance Committee, who made recommendations to this Committee when necessary.
Other Options for Considered and Rejected:
Members could ask for additional information about the CIPFA Codes or the Prudential Indicators.
To consider the attached report (FPM-016-2018/19).
The Assistant Director Accountancy presented the second quarterly financial monitoring on key areas of income and expenditure for 2018/19, which covered the period from 1 April 2018 to 30 September 2018. The report provided details of the revenue budgets for both Continuing Services and the District Development Fund, Capital budgets and Major Capital Schemes. The reports were presented in the new directorate structure.
The salaries monitoring data was presented in the previous directorate structure, due the complexity and showed an underspend of £140,000 or 1.1%.
The Assistant Director Accountancy updated members on the following Service Areas;
· Planning Service Area - Development Control was well above expectations with fees and charges £139,000 higher than budgeted and other pre-assessment charges £23,000 higher than expected.
· Commercial and Regulatory Service Area - Building Control income was £13,000 higher than the budgeted and the opening position on the ring-fenced account had a surplus of £111,000 after a £4,000 deficit last year. The account was budgeted to show an in year deficit of £87,000, although this would be lower than expected and adjusted during the budget process. Licencing income was below expectations but there were a significant number of renewals due.
· Contracts and Technical Services Area - Income from MOT’s carried out by Fleet Operations was below expectations by around £17,000. The Car Parking income was up by £6,000 and the recycling credit income was still very slow and difficult to get the County Council to agree the figures. Income was well behind expectation at month 6 and there was an adjustment necessary to 2017/18 figures, also to be accounted for in 2018/19. The waste contract expenditure had fallen behind due to late invoicing and the leisure management contract showed a reduction in income due to some unexpected pension related expenditure.
· In the Business Services Area - The Local Land Charge income was £9,000 below expectations and had marginally improved.
· Housing and Property Service - Bed and Breakfast income and expenditure had been begun to increase again. The main underspend on the HRA related to special services and was a combination of late Biffa invoicing, reduced utility costs and caretaking and cleaning. The Housing Repairs Fund expenditure was surprisingly close to the profiled budget.
In addition the proposed retention of 75% of Business Rates within local government sector would take effect from 2020/21 and it was possible that it would be accompanied by additional responsibilities. The Council was part of the Essex authorities bid to Central Government, to become a 75% retention pilot for 2019/20 and the outcome was expected on 6December 2018.
Furthermore, the Council benefited from the cash collection requirements and held onto £1,791,216 of non-domestic rates.
There were four projects included on the Major Capital Schemes which related to the House Building packages 2 and 3, the new Hillhouse Leisure Centre and refurbishment works at Loughton Leisure Centre.
The Cabinet Committee enquired whether a recent decision from the Court of Appeal, which judged in favour of retailers seeking to avoid ATM sites ... view the full minutes text for item 38.
To consider the attached report (FPM-017-2018/19).
The Assistant Director Accountancy presented a report on the fees and charges that would be levied by the Council in 2019/20 and, if any, increases that could be made.
The Medium Term Financial Strategy had identified the need to find savings of £600,000, £300,000 in both 2020/21 and 2021/22, which was over and above the £2.5m (£1.7m General Fund) savings from the implementation of the People Strategy. The Revenue Support Grant funding was set to be phased out in 2019/20 and there had been no real information on funding levels from 2020/21 onwards with the Council having to fund all the General Fund services from the Council Tax, Retained Business Rates and Fees and Charges.
There was little scope of increasing income through fees and charges with the exception of parking charges, and increases of 2% or 3% would not have a particularly significant impact on overall income levels. Charges were to be set at a level to fully recover costs where possible and prevent the General Taxpayer subsidising those services.
The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) was at 2.7% and the Consumer Price Inflation Householders (CPIH) which included housing costs and employee related inflation were around 2.3%.
The Assistant Director Accountancy advised that the following fees and charges had been put forward as follows;
Community and Partnership Services – The charges made for the use of the Limes Centre would be increased in line with inflation, rounding to the nearest 50p and the Council’s Museum, Heritage and Culture (MHC) service levy had been increased after taking into consideration the cost of the provision provided.
Housing and Property Services - Housing-Related Fees and Charges for 2019/20 were to be increases by around 2.3%.
Planning Services - Development Control fee levels were controlled by Central Government and the Council had been able to increase the charges by 20% in January 2018, under the proviso that the additional income would be used for planning related services. The pre-application charges were to remain at the same level as 2018/19 for 2019/20 and Local Land Charges were undergoing significant change and migration to the Land Registry system. This was expected to be completed by December 2019 with a report to Cabinet due shortly and fees and charges being reviewed for the 2020/21 financial year.
Contract & Technical Services - The fees and charges relating to Car Parking Charges were being reported to the Cabinet separately. The MOT charges were subject to a maximum charge set by the Vehicle Operating Service Agency (VOSA) which was currently £54.85 and the Council had determined a fee of £45 for trade and £50 normal customers would be competitive. The cost for the collection of bulk waste was subject to an annual index linked increase in line with the Waste Management contract and the general uplift for fees and charges relating to the Leisure Centres were in line with the retail prices index within the leisure contract.
Commercial & Regulatory Services - Public Hire licence fees were set by the Local ... view the full minutes text for item 39.
To consider the attached report (FPM-018-2018/19).
The Assistant Director Accountancy presented a report on the draft Continuing Services Budget (CSB), District Development Fund (DDF) and Invest to Save (ITS) Schedules for 2019/20.
The Financial Issues Paper was considered by members on 26 July 2018 and highlighted a number of financial uncertainties and risks facing the Authority including the reductions in Central Government funding, Retention of Business Rates, Welfare Reform and Transformation.
The Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) had identified savings of £300,000 in 2020/21 above the figure previously identified on the growth/savings lists. The People Strategy implementation was underway and indications suggested that the £437,000 that had been identified in 2018/19 from the General Fund would be achieved. The Cabinet had also agreed a change to the parking tariffs, which were expected to be implemented by March 2019 and should generate additional ongoing income. In addition there was also a drive to remove or reduce budgets that traditionally had an underspend.
The DDF balanced for 2018/19, mainly due to slippage on the Local Plan budget and a number of other movements, which should stay solvent over the forecast period. The remaining balance at the end of 2017/18 on the ITS had been fully allocated and any further bids would need to be replenished from the General Fund.
The Assistant Director Accountancy advised that the emphasis in this budget cycle was on the CSB savings rather than growth and that there would inevitably be significant financial challenges ahead with the budget being revisited over the next two months.
The Cabinet Committee questioned why the additional rental income at North Weald Airfield had been reduced. The Acting Chief Executive advised that the additional income had slipped in 2019/20 because of when the National Police Air Service had signed their lease.
(1) That the draft Continuing Services Budget (CSB), District Development Fund (DDF) and Invest to Save (ITS) schedules for 2019/20 be noted; and
(2) That the savings to date, as part of the 2019/20 budget process be noted.
Reasons for Action
Members were asked to note the first draft of these schedules and make comments as appropriate.
Other Options Considered and rejected
No other options applicable.
Any Other Business
Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972, requires that the permission of the Chairman be obtained, after prior notice to the Chief Executive, before urgent business not specified in the agenda (including a supplementary agenda of which the statutory period of notice has been given) may be transacted.
It was noted that there was no other urgent business for consideration by the Cabinet Committee.