Agenda and minutes

Finance and Resources Overview and Scrutiny
Tuesday, 11th June, 2019 7.30 pm

Venue: Conference Room 2 - The Forum. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 26 March 2019 were agreed and then signed by the Chairman.

 

2.

Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Arslan, Barrett and Guest.

 

Councillor Johnson substituted for Councillor Barrett.

 

3.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest

 

A member with a disclosable pecuniary interest or a personal interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered -

 

(i)            must disclose the interest at the start of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent

 

and, if the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest, or a personal interest which is also prejudicial

 

(ii)           may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter (and must withdraw to the public seating area) unless they have been granted a dispensation.

 

A member who discloses at a meeting a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not registered in the Members’ Register of Interests, or is not the subject of a pending notification, must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest within 28 days of the disclosure.

 

Disclosable pecuniary interests, personal and prejudicial interests are defined in Part 2 of the Code of Conduct For Members

 

[If a member is in any doubt as to whether they have an interest which should be declared they should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer before the start of the meeting]

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

4.

Public Participation

An opportunity for members of the public to make statements or ask questions in accordance with the rules as to public participation

Minutes:

There was no public participation.

 

5.

Consideration of any matter referred to the committee in relation to call-in

Minutes:

None.

6.

Action points from the previous meeting

There are no outstanding actions from the previous meeting.

Minutes:

There were no actions to be followed up from the previous meeting.

 

7.

Provisional Financial Outturn 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 290 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Elliot introduced the financial outturn report for 2018/19. It is provisional as the financial outturn report is yet to be finalised and scrutinised by Audit. The final outturn with audit opinion will be reviewed and approved by the Audit Committee on the 18 July.

 

In summary, the financial outturn report details that DBC has on the revenue finances delivered: a balanced outturn position against the approved budget for the general fund and that the HRA has delivered an operating underspend of £235k.

 

In regards to the capital budget, the general fund capital programme has slipped £4m in the final quarter 4 and this relates predominantly to small timing differences in 3 major capital projects such: Housing Grant payments to Housing Associations for the delivery of affordable homes, £2.1m. Berkhamsted multi storey car park £15m and Tring swimming pool completion £0.3m - This project is now completed.

The HRA capital programme has slipped by £1.5m predominantly due to; slight delays in Stationers Place project, and a reduction in commissioned capital works of £0.9m. This is as a result of a £465k gain share payment form Osbornes and a well targeted replacement programme reducing the need for additional works.

 

This week External Audit conducted their review for the outturn and there were no new issues.

 

Councillor Tindall referred to paragraph 6.1 on page 16 and asked for a likely timescale of the garage stock condition survey. N Howcutt advised that it had now been procured but wasn’t sure of the timescale so he would find out and let him know.                                                                                            Action: N Howcutt

 

Councillor Tindall noted that there was a difference of £57k on premises and asked what it referred to. N Howcutt advised it was small amounts across different premise areas on Housing and Community and he said it was difficult to highlight every variance. He offered to circulate a breakdown but Councillor Tindall suggested it was only necessary if it was a significant amount.

 

Councillor Claughton referred to paragraph 5.4 regarding recyclable materials and asked if we anticipated how much bigger this problem could become. N Howcutt advised we didn’t anticipate as much of an impact in 19/20 but it was susceptible to fluctuations. He said we were fortunate though to work as a group with Hertfordshire waste services.

 

Councillor Adeleke referred to paragraph 4.1 regarding recruitment and asked what level of vacancies we had now. N Howcutt advised that finance were now fully staffed at present. In terms of the internal audit plan for 18/19, all finance reports received a full commendation from internal audit which gives him the full confidence that staff are performing to the top of the market. In terms of reports they produce there isn’t huge variations quarter on quarter which proves that financially they’re monitoring in an effective and suitable manor. Equally the comments received from internal and external audit were very positive. The other difficulty was recruiting for senior positions, however all posts have been filled in the last year.

 

Councillor Chapman  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Quarter 4 Finance & Resources Performance Report pdf icon PDF 318 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Elliot introduced the finance and resources performance report for quarter 4. He advised that the operational risk register had no score changes. 12 out of 14 KPI’s were all green and the overall performance was strong.

 

Councillor Tindall referred to paragraph 5 on page 27. He said we’re going to be seeing the gradual roll out of Universal Credit in the coming months and asked if there had been any estimate as to the effect of Universal Credit on our targets. C Baker advised that so far we had seen a reduction in the overall case load since December, but what that means is there are fewer cases for us to process and so doesn’t cause us any difficulty. He explained that a lot of how we pay for the administration of Housing Benefit is through admin subsidy from the DWP and that will be significantly reduced as our workload reduces so that will need to be monitored in the future.

 

Councillor Tindall referred to page 35 relating to council tax collection and said he was concerned about the comment ‘drops slightly year on year.’ C Baker said it wasn’t phrased well and explained that last year we were a percentage point down (0.1%) on the previous year but the year before that was a couple of percentage points up. He said we were consistently between 98.3-98.5 as an in-year collection level.

 

The Chairman referred to item 4 on page 27.and asked for more information on the technical accounting changes that have delivered a balanced budget. N Howcutt explained that there were technical accounting changes between when this performance indicator was completed in March and the provisional outturn which has assisted to deliver a balanced budget. He said we always need to make sure we monitor our budgets closely and have set an approved budget that we can deliver in 19/20. He added that we highlight the risks every month and every quarter but there are things out of their control so there are always risks involved but it’s how you deal with those risks and turn some of them in to opportunities.

 

Outcome

The report was noted.

 

9.

Quarter 4 Corporate & Contracted Services Performance Report pdf icon PDF 113 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

M Brookes introduced the report and welcomed questions from the committee.

 

Councillor Tindall referred to paragraph 15 on page 46. He asked what assurances we had that residents will still have use of Tring swimming pool now that it is managed by Tring School. M Brookes advised they had a new school use agreement and funding agreement which closely mirrors the previous commitments to community use so there should be no significant changes.  Councillor Tindall asked what minor adjustments could be made by Tring School. M Brookes explained they could change the operating hours slight but the overall aim is to maximise community use. He highlighted that we wouldn’t have control over every operational decision anymore, it is down to them how they run it but there was no aim to stop community use as it is key to them generating income. 

 

Councillor Tindall referred to paragraph 16 and asked if the multi-storey car park was on target for May/June. B Hosier said the enabling works were due to be completed in June but they were waiting for one more statutory utility company certificate and they cannot commence further works until that has been completed.

 

Councillor Chapman referred to paragraph 4 regarding the Prosecution for breach of Health and Safety at Tesco and queried why the Sentencing was adjourned, and for how long. F Hussain explained that it had been to a case management hearing where they had produced 2000 pages of evidence to try to reduce any sentencing and that hearing is due to be scheduled for a couple of months’ time. M Brookes added that although they pled guilty to the offences but they still had an opportunity to put forward the facts to mitigate the fine.

 

Councillor Adeleke said the team had done very well to carry out two elections in a short space of time. He asked if we were prepared if another election was called. M Brookes explained the challenge with the European Election was the timetable was overlapping with the Local Elections and also it was called at short notice. He said getting all the staffing into place was the biggest challenge. Now that those Elections are all complete he said he felt satisfied that we had everything in place should another Election be called.

 

Councillor Adeleke asked if there was any progress on generating income from our CCTV as he believed it had been mentioned before. B Hosier said there were some ongoing discussions on this but he couldn’t expand on it further at the moment.

 

Councillor Symington referred to the 32 week construction period for Berkhamsted car park and asked what date this had commenced.  She also asked if there was a budget for the overall programme. B Hosier confirmed there was a budget for the overall project. He then explained that contractor took possession of the site on 2 January but cannot commence with the construction until certain planning conditions are discharged – one of those being the diversion of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Quarter 4 Performance People & Innovation Performance Report pdf icon PDF 107 KB

Minutes:

B Trueman introduced the report on behalf of Linda Roberts.

 

Councillor Tindall referred to page 52 paragraph 3 and said he was concerned to see a rise in musculoskeletal injuries. He asked if this was caused by working practices.  B Trueman said he would investigate the matter and come back to him with more detailed information.                                             Action: B Trueman

 

Councillor Chapman referred to the long/short term sickness figures. He said JNC had been working with the Unions for mentoring the individuals that are off work and was disappointed to see that the figures were still increasing. B Trueman said there were some initiatives in place such as wellness days and stress awareness courses that are proactively being put in place to try and address both short and long term sickness.

 

Councillor Townsend referred to page 53, performance indicator PPR017 and suggested that as the move to The Forum had occurred it was no longer relevant. B Trueman said he would make that amendment.                 Action: B Trueman

 

Councillor Adeleke referred to page 53 regarding the leadership course for aspiring and middle managers and sought more information. N Howcutt explained it was part of the new normal programme which is currently being put together and there is a provisional project in there which is looking at leadership training but starting with Team Leaders and working upwards to Director level. This is as a result from the Peer Review and members will be updated as the programme progresses.

 

Outcome:

The report was noted.

 

 

11.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 104 KB

Minutes:

The following changes were made to the work programme:

 

July - Add Medium Term Financial Strategy (J Deane)

October – Review of Commissioning Procurement Standing Orders and Commissioning Procurement Strategy (B Hosier)

 

12.

Exclusion of the public

To consider passing a resolution in the following terms:

 

That, under s.100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972 Schedule 12A Part 1 as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006 the public be excluded during the items in Part 2 of the Agenda for this meeting, because it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted, that, if members of the public were present during those items, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information relating to the financial and business affairs of the Council and third party companies/organisations.

 

Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 12A, Part 1, paragraph 3.

 

13.

Performance of the Leisure Contract

Minutes:

Councillor Tindall asked why the report was considered Part 2. B Hosier advised that there was some financial information within the report that Everyone Active didn’t want published. He said they would try to ensure that future reports were Part 1.

 

Full details are in the Part 2 Minutes.