Agenda and minutes

Finance and Resources Overview and Scrutiny - Tuesday, 3rd November, 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Microsoft Teams - Microsoft Teams. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 260 KB

To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting


The minutes of the meeting held on 13 October 2020 were agreed by the members present and will be signed by the Chairman at the next available opportunity.


Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillors Barrett, Chapman, Elliot and Sinha


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]



There were no declarations of interest.


Public Participation

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


There was no public participation.


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





Action points from the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 177 KB


Quarter 2 Budget Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 338 KB

Additional documents:


Nigel Howcutt introduced the report to members and ran through the report highlights.


Headline figures


The general fund for this year as of period 6 is showing revenue pressure of £3.1 million of which £3 million is linked to Covid over and above the funding received to date or believe we will receive. In terms of HRA, they are showing a surplus of £0.1 million in year with a few variances particularly around maintenance which they will talk about in more detail. He said the high level position on the capital perspective, the general fund is showing a small overspend of £100k which is less than 1% of the capital budget and is showing slippage in year of less than 10% which considering Covid has slowed or stopped projects entirely he said it’s a fairly good performance to date. The HRA capital is showing a £1 million slippage which is about 5% of the HRA capital program which is within the realms of what they would expect, he said they don’t like to see any slippage greater than 10% so at present they are performing well under difficult circumstances. There is an underspend in the HRA capital program, this is predominantly due to the maintenance they do in the properties, of £1.65 million as they’ve not been able to access peoples properties. He said, to be able to engage with that in terms of high level figures from a government funding perspective, the government income scheme is reimbursement for the income losses, they will be receiving a projected £1.3 million for expenditure incurred throughout the year. In terms of overall expenditure incurred there are now four tranches that have been announced and in total Dacorum will be receiving £2 million of government funding to cover those expenses. So net £3 million is made up of various expenditure areas that is over and above the £2 million that is being funded by central government. He said there is under the very large income stream of investment property which isn’t covered by the government income reimbursement scheme which they are absorbing also the 30% of other income streams. He concluded that that’s a high level summary, however this was produced prior to the new lockdown measures, the new lockdown will impact the projections. He said they will update them and feed in assumptions into the Cabinet report which is due for publication next week.


Councillor Tindall referred to page 13 item 4.1 which mentions £60k pressure within neighbourhood delivery due to interim resource to support delivery of new initiatives within the service and asked what it was.


Nigel Howcutt explained that was for the short term cover of Officer Bill Buckley to support neighbourhood services.


Councillor Tindall asked, on page 16 point 5.1 on waste service, the 1st paragraph states this is due to over 20 staff having to self-isolate for 12 week, he said he assumed we didn’t have 20 staff off for the full 12 weeks and could anyone explain  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Quarter 2 Performance Report - Finance and Resources pdf icon PDF 228 KB

Additional documents:


Nigel Howcutt said there are 2 main elements to this report and this is the overall financing resource is direct to a performance and KPI management and then also the operational risk register for the service.


They key aspects to this report are there are 5 red KPI’s at present, down from 6 in the previous month, He explained these correlated with Covid.


Nigel Howcutt went through each KPI and welcomed questions from the committee



Councillor Tindall referred to RBF01 page 29 and then to page 43 FRR02 delays and errors in the process of benefit claims he asked if these were the same subject.


Nigel Howcutt confirmed that FRR02 is a larger subject and not just housing benefit, and it includes council tax support and other areas.


Councillor Tindall referred to an impact that’s said, Customers could suffer hardship as a result from delays or errors in processing the claim, he asked if there was a way of monitoring this hardship, he said there are a lot of people out there who’s employment is in question and he would not like to feel that we are not doing all everything we can to mitigate the hardship.


Nigel Howcutt responded and said that there are 2 aspects to this, he said in terms of benefits, the only one they administer now is universal credit. He said any existing housing benefit claimants will have been with them for a period of time would be change in circumstance and we’re performing in green in this area so any impact to them would be minimal. He said what the KPI is showing is with new housing benefit claims and they were not achieving the turnaround time they would like as they are predominantly in temporary accommodation and are residents that have been taken off the streets during Covid so they have to claim through DBC. Nigel Howcutt said that DBC are leaders in the turnaround time of updating claims and rarely receive complaints about this and if residents are facing hardship we will often give them information on agencies which can help.


Councillor Adeleke referred to page 29 and the point it mentions council investments and that some of them are returning zero returns. He asked how confident we were moving into the future with the reserve we have with the current Covid situation.


Nigel Howcutt explained that that section refers to the treasury management function and that they invest our cash in a very safe and secure investment agencies, he said these are normally British banks and other local authorities, as a result of interest rates collapsing and the availability of people being able to borrow at a lower rate although investment returns are being driven down. He said he is confident that in the long term that the rates will go up and now that they are more aware of the medium term fiscal impact that they can better plan for the next couple of years, he said he is confident  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Quarter 2 Performance Report - Corporate and Contracted Services pdf icon PDF 643 KB

Additional documents:


Mark Brookes introduced the report and picked out some key achievements.


He said they have prosecuted for the first time for a breach of the town centre public space protection order, this was for cycling through the town centre which he hoped would serve as an example not to do that.


He said that section 13 and 15 highlight the impact that Covid has had on the service, particularly car parks and leisure... He also said that members will note in the report that the multi-story car park in Berkhamstead is now complete and thanked Ben Hosier for his work on this.


Mark Brookes opened up for any questions.


Councillor Townsend referred to the case of DBC vs WE Black LTD he said this was a large development and there was a number of attempts to protect the trees in that area. He said looking at page 47 of the report he asked to what extent we’d made a choice to settle at that level of fine because from the perspective of a developer that’s a great many houses meaning a multimillion pound project. He said he had heard that although its hearsay that the developer would remove the trees and pay the £5k fine for doing so. He asked could we have gone higher with the fine and what sort of control we have, also was this a judgement that we made.


Farida Hussain responded this is prosecuted in the magistrate’s court so it is up to the court to decide the fine. She said they are able to submit witness statements and facts then it’s up to the magistrate to decide.


Councillor Townsend asked if the magistrate would be aware of the miniscule amount of the fine in comparison to the profit and loss of the development.


Mark Brookes said that they would usually present a statement of aggravating factors and things that made the offence worse so this information would be before the court. He said the magistrate would be aware of the benefit to the developer for their action and this would be taken into account, he said there are also national guidelines which the court would have to follow in terms of sentences.


Councillor Townsend asked if it was correct in law that W E Black LTD have committed a criminal act.


Mark Brookes confirmed that they will have a criminal record against them which will cause issues in various areas. He said unfortunately some developers will take view they will take the fine as they will benefit more going forward, all they can do is put the information before the court.


Councillor Tindall referred to page 50 item 11 and that the CCG have stopped their planned return. He asked if this has any financial implications for us or are they just doing this for the Covid situation.


Mark Brookes responded that they still committed to their lease terms and still have to pay the rent.


Councillor Guest said we don’t have a KPI  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


Quarter 2 Performance Report - Performance People and Innovation pdf icon PDF 225 KB

Additional documents:


Linda Roberts introduced the report for members and went through some key points and KPI’s and welcomed questions from the committee.


Councillor Adeleke referred to the sickness scrutiny committee and asked how this was made up and if there is any medical opinion in this committee.


Linda Roberts explained that when they are going through particular investigations they request occupational health and any medical assessments and those reports would be presented to those to review, she said they don’t actually have the medical people in there as they wouldn’t require that level of detail, the reports are sufficient to understand where things started, where they are finishing.


Councillor Mahmood referred to the risks with the ICT, computing and internet these days to carry out our function. He said he had looked at the risk of things going wrong and the mitigating risk going down to amber, he asked if they’ll be putting anything in place to guard against a big IT failure.


Ben Trueman explained that they take every opportunity to make the systems as resilient as possible, he said for example we have diverse phone lines so if one gets cut between one of the primary sites and the data centres we have a secondary line, he said they have also build into the data centres virtualizes servers rather than dozens of individual servers so if one of them fails it immediate will fall to another virtualized server. He said at every layer of technology they have built in resilience as much as possible and that as a final sanctuary they have disaster recovery and they have a separate disaster recovery data centre which is quite a lot of work to bring that up so not something we want to do unnecessarily so as much as we can we frontload resilience into our system. He added they are looking more at cloud technology which lifts a lot of dependency from the systems and we make use of the resilience that our suppliers, and especially people like Microsoft have got built in to their offerings.


Nigel Howcutt added that we also have an audit for cyber security, business continuity and disaster recovery. He said they give us an independent viewpoint on how well things are working or any areas for improvement, this ensures they are doing things the right way.


Councillor Mahmood noted that there doesn’t seem to be pressures & budgets for ICT and that he could see.


Nigel Howcutt responded that they are looking at budgets for both lockdown and normal times, the budget setting for next year makes sure the capital programme supports the need for ICT and that the revenue support provided is enough for new licences and they have new licences, as Ben Trueman mentioned for the cloud technology and that is increasing the ICT budget. He said that they will also add the reserve to cover any short term instances.


Councillor Mahmood asked if as we are all at home could we have a ticker  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.


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.



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.


Leisure Contract Operational & Financial Implications of Covid-19


Details can be found in the Part II minutes


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 203 KB


There were no changes to the work programme




The Committee will reconvene to discuss the leisure contract once the figures have been re-done to reflect the latest Covid situation, Mark Brookes to email the committee once he understands from Everyone Active when they may have the revised figures.


Councillor Symington asked if there was a chance Everyone Active could provide a financial status of the business and the sense of the financial backing Everyone Active has so they can get a sense of overall performance.


Nigel Howcutt said they have been trying to do risk assessments from independent risk assessors on Everyone Active and other leisure business providers, however he said this data is often based on historical data.


Councillor Adeleke asked if Everyone Active got any government support.


Nigel Howcutt responded other than Furlough, no they didn’t.