Venue: Conference Room 1 - The Forum. View directions
Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support 01442 228209
To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting
Minutes to follow
The Chair advised that the minutes from 11 January 2023 had not yet been published or sent round for approval.
Apologies for absence
To receive any apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Durrant
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.
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
N Howcutt presented the revised draft budget, noting that all the budgets were presented on 1st December and that they are now looking at a second scrutiny with the focus to look at changes that came out as a result of the Local Government Finance Settlement that came out on 19th December 2022 and to also highlight minor changes from a service perspective. The impact of the pensions review will also be considered as well as changes to treasury management.
The Local Authority Fair Funding Review has been delayed until the next parliament in 2025. It was assumed that council tax would be retained at the higher rate of 2.99% or £5, and DBC has proposed an increase of 2.9%, an equivalent of £6.27, for every resident on average at a Band D level. Several decisions were made as part of the Local Government Finance Settlement, firstly that the council tax referendum level has been extended to 2024-25. For negative RSG, this is the money that the government expected the Council to return as the level of funding required was exceeded by other income streams. This was set in place 2019-20 and the government have suspended negative RSG and therefore the payment will not be made, though no certainty has been provided regarding 2024-25. This additional budget will now be allocated to reserves to support overall corporate objectives. The government has also implemented a new Minimum Funding Guarantee, meaning that each authority has had an increase in funding of at least 3% year on year. This additional funding will be allocated to reserves. The Services Grant, originally implemented to cover the cost of the National Insurance increase and social care payment, has been higher than expected.
N Howcutt referenced the change to the New Homes Bonus, noting that they are receiving more than previously projected, meaning that the planning moratorium has had less of an impact on the bonus. It is assumed that the New Homes Bonus will not continue after 2023-24, and whilst there will be another vehicle to fund housing, it is not yet known what this will be.
Looking at reserves for 2023-24, N Howcutt noted that reserves have been used over recent years to support some service areas. One-off payments in 2023-24 are helping to bolster reservers back up to closer to pre-COVID levels. For 2021, reserves were high due to the number of one-off grants that covered multiple years and were therefore held in reserves.
There have been three key areas for changes to the General Fund regarding business rates, pensions and treasury. On business rates, there is a revaluation that has taken place nationally for 2023-24, resulting in significant increases across the country. Whilst the national average increase has been 7.3%, Dacorum has an increase of over 25% and Hertfordshire has 8 of the highest 26 increases nationally in business rates. DBC will continue to receive the same level of funding that was expected and more business rates will instead go to central government ... view the full minutes text for item 17.
F Jump presented the report. There is 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 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.
F Jump was happy to take questions on the report.
Cllr 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 be purchased. N Howcutt agreed that capital investments bring a revenue return and confirmed that this is an area of focus.
The Committee approved the recommendations as stated in the report.
F Jump to circulate capital slippage percentage compared to overall capital spend.
Hannah 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.
Hannah was happy to take questions on the report.
N Howcutt reminded members that removed KPIs are either picked up elsewhere or have been replaced with more appropriate KPIs.
The Chair commented that all KPIs will be reflected in individual committees and that there will be an opportunity to interrogate why they have been removed.
N Beresford looked to the comment on the KPI regarding tenant satisfaction measures, noting the consolidation and removal of measures is in response to the new introduction of regulation of social housing and tenant satisfaction that has been brought in.
The Committee noted the report.
Report was presented by Diane Southam who thought Members might welcome the report as an alternative to the refurbishment report identified in the forward plan as it was too soon to bring this report forward.
This paper provides members with an update on the program between 22-23 and performance.
She stated, I won't take members time by reading it out to you in detail, but Section 2.3 identifies that we're currently looking at and working towards objectives that look to maximize income, therefore reducing the subsidy that's currently going into the old town hall. This includes utilizing technology to improve the customer experience and doing that in an inclusive and accessible way and ensuring greater use of the venue in terms of the High Street vision and the old town vision. There is an additional objective to conclude the full service and building review and we will bring that report back to you in due course.
Section three sets out the performance in terms of ticket sales over recent years, and members will note that from 2021 to 2022 to 2023 to date, which is around the christmas period, maybe the first week in January, there was a 60 percent increase on ticket sales year on year, 2187, increase on ticket numbers, which is encouraging. Since that point there is at least a further 800 ticket sales to add to that figure. The second part of that table in 3.1 identifies where those ticket sales are in terms of the activity within the Old Town hall and you will see the majority is clearly still within the theatre facility.
The table identified how we're targeting clients and the approach we're taking with that in terms of the types of offer.
Diane drew Members attention to 4.2 that we've got a 105% increase since the 1st of January in terms of our mailing list, which is really encouraging and that does continue to increase.
We are also used to utilizing a number of social media platforms and 4.3 identifies the numbers and the levels of increase that we've seen in that activity as well over that period. We have a new website that's been developed as well and that has had 187% increase in terms of session duration and usage of that website and we will continue to enhance the use of the website. Coupled with that there is a supplement to the online presence, with a ‘What’s On’ guide.
Copies of that are available for members to have. If you would like that, I can arrange for us to be to, to be delivered.
Section 5 just sets out the program of activity to date and the proposals for future, just to note though we did start the programme earlier in January than it has traditionally happened, and we can see that the ticket sales that happened after January that I just mentioned, the additional 800 tickets.
Diane was happy to take questions from members.
Councillor Adeleke thanked ... view the full minutes text for item 20.
The work programme was noted.
The Chair introduced the new Chief Housing Officer, Darren Welsh to the committee.
The action plan was noted.