Agenda and minutes

Finance and Resources Overview and Scrutiny - Wednesday, 1st February, 2023 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, The Forum. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 135 KB

To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting

Additional documents:


The minutes of the Finance and Resources OSC meeting held on 6 December 2022 were approved as an accurate record and signed by the Chairman.



Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Adeleke.



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]



Councillor Douris declared an interest as the company he owns rents two commercial garages from DBC.



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

There were no actions from the previous meeting.




Draft Budget Preparation 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 511 KB

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This item was presented collectively in the joint Budget OSC meeting by Nigel Howcutt, Chief Finance Officer. Following his presentation, he welcomed questions from the committees.


Councillor Guest referred to page 18 of the report regarding the repayment of £10m, noting that they are no longer paying interest of around £200k per year. Councillor Guest noted that they would be looking to repay further debt, where appropriate, and that the slides suggest a heavy financial penalty for the early repayment of public works loans. She asked if the Council would be saving money by repaying loans.


N Howcutt advises that there are typically penalties in repaying PWLB loans early, though on this occasion, the government wanted to reduce debt levels and offered to reduce the principal capital owed from £10m to £9.6m and not charge the interest that would be paid over the life of the loan. N Howcutt noted that this was a one-off opportunity, noting that it would not typically be cost effective to make an early repayment. When a repayment is made, the total cost of making the repayment is calculated against the cost of continuing with the loan. The process was approved by the Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder and Leader of the Council to ensure it was financially beneficial.


Councillor Mahmood commented on increasing business rates and asked if there was any action they could take to help local businesses.


N Howcutt advised that they are following government protocol in terms of what they charge, however they have an active Economic Recovery Team and Board, which many businesses sit on, and that they look at the support that businesses require. N Howcutt noted that businesses and smaller units have done well from business rates compared to larger industrial units and the filming sectors.


Councillor Symington commented on the PWLB and asked what the Council is missing out on investing in by repaying £10m of debt. N Howcutt advised that they have around £100m in cash balances and that they can consider any investments that will at least bring in the cost of financing them. N Howcutt stated that they currently have enough internal cash to invest. When the loan was repaid, it was ensured that the full medium-term capital programme and investment strategy were full funded.


Councillor Symington referred to page 20 in the report, noting the employee costs and that in December, they anticipated growth of £5.1m in December, which has reduced to £2.7m. Councillor Symington queried what has changed in the wage bill since December.


N Howcutt confirmed that they will not need to make a contribution to the pensions fund as a result of the pension’s triennial review.


Councillor Chapman commented on page 18 of the report, item 13, regarding the ongoing staffing resource to support work on damp and mould issues and council housing stock. Councillor Chapman asked if they will check all housing with this additional money or if they would only use this to respond to complaints.


N Howcutt  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Quarter 3 Financial Monitoring Report 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 559 KB

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F Jump presented the report. She advised there was a pressure of around £0.8m, driven entirely by inflationary costs around fuel and the pay award, and a request will be taken to Cabinet to fund these particular pressures via the use of reserves. For housing, a deficit of £1.4m is forecast, driven almost entirely by inflationary measures around repairs and maintenance costs, as well as utilities, and the use of HRA (Housing Revenue Account) reserves and reducing the revenue contribution to the capital programme will be proposed to support these costs. For the capital programme, slippage of around £2m on the general fund is forecast and a further £10.6m on the HRA. Part of the slippage on HRA is driven by the planning moratorium and other issues around timing of particular schemes.


Councillor Tindall noted page 26 of the report and the explanation of £4m to the HRA being due to the increased repairs and maintenance work being undertaken and the increasing costs to deliver these services. He asked if the increased repairs and maintenance costs were unexpected or if they are part of the planned service.


F Jump advised that the increases were being driven by increasing costs.


Councillor Tindall clarified that it is therefore an increase in costs rather than an increase in repairs and maintenance taking place.


F Jump took the comments on board and said she would amend that.


Councillor Townsend asked how much the capital slippage is of a percentage of the overall expected capital spend.


F Jump confirmed that these percentages would be circulated after the meeting.


N Howcutt added that the HRA slippage is almost entirely driven by the planning moratorium and that the slippage is a considerable percentage of the overall plan.


Councillor Guest commented on the planning moratorium and asked if there is a forecasted figure of how much would be brought in as a result of backlogged applications now that a mitigation strategy has been agreed.


A Robinson confirmed a report was taken to SPAE in November, to set out the total costs of the mitigation strategy. The contribution that Dacorum is expected to pay towards its own SANG (suitable alternative natural greenspaces) sites, Chipperfield and Bunkers Park is £16m, and the Dacorum contribution to improving Ashridge is around £18m. Much of this money is expected to be phased over the next 2-3 years and there are currently around 2,500 units in the backlog at present.


Councillor Hollinghurst noted the possibility of capital expenditure with regards to generating income and asked if officers would agree that expenditure for projects such as the installation of solar panels would help generate income or mitigate expense and could therefore be considered over the coming years.


N Howcutt advised that there is an evolving commercial programme, including the Light Industrial Programme that looks to get revenue return and part of this will focus on asset maximisation through the use of existing assets as well as any further assets that can  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


New Performance Management Framework & Proposed Revisions to Key Performance Indicators pdf icon PDF 558 KB

Additional documents:


H Peacock presented the report, noting that developing a strong performance management culture is one of the key transformation foundations along with the development of a project management office and implementation of the Digital, People and Communication strategies. The paper outlines the key elements of the new performance management framework and steps that will be taken to implement it with the intention that this will deliver enhanced reporting, accountability and opportunity for detailed scrutiny of council performance. The paper also brings proposed changes to the KPIs to adapt to changes in council focus and priorities. Key drivers for changes to KPIs are technical refinements, removing duplicated KPIs, and amalgamating duplicate KPIs to ensure succinct and meaningful reporting.


Councillor Symington asked if the KPIs have been peer reviewed or compared with other councils.


H Peacock advised that the performance functionality within the transformation service benchmarked KPIs against other local authorities and that this was brought into the directorate managing session that formed the shape of the overall service plan. Other authorities with similar demographics were benchmarked as well as other organisations, such as the LGA (Local Government Association).


Councillor Symington asked how our KPIs compared to other authorities.


N Howcutt advised that DBC had more KPIs than the average council and that it was felt that the new suite of KPIs was warranted, and whilst the amount is significant, it is justified if they provide members with the level of transparency they require. N Howcutt confirmed that the KPIs will be monitored and that feedback will be taken from scrutiny groups.


N Howcutt reminded members that removed KPIs are either picked up elsewhere or have been replaced with more appropriate KPIs.




The new KPI’s for the Finance and Resources OSC were noted.



Market Forces Supplements Policy and Procedure pdf icon PDF 271 KB

Additional documents:


M Rawdon presented the report, noting that during autumn 2022 a project wasundertaken to explore recruitment difficulties and high areas of agency spend. A key finding identified some recruitment retention issues across parts of the Council and that some roles across the Council would benefit from a market forces payment to overcome some of these issues. The project also highlighted the need for the Council to revise its existing market forces policy as there needs to be a stronger focus on governance and the application of market forces payments.


M Rawdon noted the revised policy under appendix 1, advising that they would be following steps to ensure a robust business as (1) why the market forces payment is required, (2) the correct market forces payment, (3) actions already taken to ensure recruitment and retention issues are not there in the first place, and (4) a revised approval route via HR (Human Resources) and the leadership team. Other key amendments look at how to change, reduce or terminate the market forces payments and the required timeline for each payment to be reviewed. The revised policy will provide the Council a more robust procedure to apply market forces payments in a more consistent manner.


Councillor Townsend asked if the market forces payment is a one-off payment or is an increment to the salary on offer.


M Rawdon advised that the payment is a supplement paid annually until it is removed or changed.


Councillor Townsend noted that new employees would therefore accept the risk of that salary being removed after 2 years.


M Rawdon agreed and confirmed that all documentation stipulates that it is a supplement for a period of time that will be reviewed.


Councillor Townsend asked if there is an internal estimate on how much it will cost the Council to pay these supplements.


M Rawdon confirmed that an assessment was undertaken and they have budgeted £200k for next year to cover the cost.


Councillor Mahmood asked what market is assessed for the supplements and whether most staff are lost to London.


M Rawdon stated that analysis would principally be across Hertfordshire, though it is suggested that they look wider given that people can work more flexibly.


Councillor Mahmood asked how holistic the whole process is and if they are looking at other areas to help with retention.


M Rawdon noted that market forces payments are a relatively short-term fix and that the business case does request for managers to look for other methods to ensure that these payments don't need to continue. M Rawdon added that they are also looking how to keep people motivated and engaged, as well as looking at how they recognise and reward staff. M Rawdon noted that the latest turnover report is 6%, which is particularly low, and that they typically run at around 10-15%.


The Chairman noted the flexibility and to adapt to short-term market trends.


M Rawdon agreed, noting that the new policy is clearer on this and is written in a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 109 KB


Councillor Symington proposed to bring forward a paper on CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) payments.


Councillor Williams advised that the Strategic Planning and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee had a report on this matter on the agenda for this evening. The report would be due to go to Cabinet next.


The work programme was noted.



Commercial Strategy Update


Full details can be found in the Part 2 Minutes.