Agenda item

Budget Preparations 2019/20


LRoberts delivered her presentation for the People, Performance & Innovation Service, which she advised also includes Community Partnership, Neighbourhood Action, Old Town Hall, Community Safety and Children Services.  A copy of the presentation is attached as Appendix A.




Cllr Imarni queried re. Community Grants and asked; has the criteria changed in the last 12 months, stating that it has come to attention that religious groups are not permitted to apply; referring specifically to The Salvation Army not being able to provide a Christmas lunch to this year due to their grant application being refused.


MRawdon confirmed that there has been no change to the criteria and welcomed a separate discussion outside of the meeting.


Cllr Harden added that the grants cannot fund religious organisations, however, it is possible to fund projects being run by religious groups for the benefit of the community.


Cllr Imarni reiterated that The Salvation Army were denied for that reason.  Cllr Harden responded that it would not have been owing to the religious criteria advising that there would have been another criteria not met.


Cllr England referred to CSU and suggested the proposed savings appear to be quite small, he referred to the £10k saving and asked; is this a net saving after purchase of equipment?


LRoberts confirmed and advised that in the longer term it would generate further savings.

MRawdon added that the investment in equipment will enable customers to access greater self-service routes which it is hoped will result in reduced queues and a cultural change in how people interact with us. 


Cllr England suggested some people might be affected by the alignment of hours with office hours and asked; will there be consideration for one late night a week?


MRawdon advised the decision is based on call profiling which demonstrates the level of calls received early morning and late at night are at a low percentage and often the CSU cannot answer queries as no one is in the back office to refer to for an answer. 


Cllr Adeleke referred to the Old Town Hall food refreshment provision, observing that the Old Town is already littered with restaurants and asking; how will you complete?


MRawdon advised the intention for the Old Town Hall is to be bar refreshments available when show are on, with a possibility of linking with restaurant meals also available around timings of the shows.


Cllr Adeleke then referred to Adventure Playgrounds and asked; will the insurance cost not mitigate the additional income that will be generated through private hire?


Cllr Harden advised there is no change in circumstances; we already hire the facilities for parties and already have public liability for this.  This will be about a push to advertise the availability of the facilities for private hire.


Cllr England referred to the cost of hiring Adventure Playgrounds for a party and asked, how are we sure this is affordable and for tenants in the area?


MRawdon advised benchmarking will be carried out against other providers, but confirmed that the intention is to provide a low cost model.


Cllr Griffiths confirmed that the income from private hire should generate income; it is not a subsidised service provision.


LRoberts, MRawdon & Cllr Harden left the meeting at 8.45pm


FWilliamson delivered her presentation, advising that Housing is split between Housing Revenue Account & General Fund.  A copy of the presentation is attached as Appendix B.




Cllr Adeleke referred to the number of new appointments and asked; are those new appointments not going to increase expenditure? 


Cllr Williamson referred to the growth items and advised they are on a ‘spend to save’ basis; each role with either generate income, or increase the revenue we are able to receive.  The only post that is an exception is the Project Development role, explaining that we will need this resource to deliver the programme so as not to rely on consultants.


Cllr Harden re-joined the meeting at 9pm


Cllr Imarni asked FWilliamson to run through the role of the Universal Credit Officer.


FWilliamson handed over to LWarden as the role will sit within her group area.  LWarden advised that predominantly this will be a triage role;  Housing have made arrangements with local job centre that they will refer new applicants over to us so we can make an assessment and highlight to applicants what they need to be doing, what they need to be paying.  The role will also offer support to people where payments might not have been made or are late; to help them sustain their tenancy.  LWarden added that initially the role will also provide some digital support; helping people make a Universal Credit claims. 


Cllr Imarni thanked the officer and commended the work of the team.


Cllr Hearn asked; will this be a full time post?


LWarden confirmed it would be.


Cllr Bassadone asked; when will the post be advertised? 


LWarden advised that will not be in a position to recruit until full budgets are approved in February, adding that she will be looking to see if there is a need to have some interim resource in place in the meantime.


Cllr Griffiths expressed the concerns she has in relation to the Private Housing Service; commenting that she understood an additional post would be included for that service?


FWilliamson confirmed the post is not in the presentation as it has not yet gone to Budget Review Group for challenge so cannot be included at this time.  She handed to NBeresford to provide more detail on the post.


NBeresford referred to regulation change to HMO (Homes of Multiple Occupancy) which she explained is the primary function currently causing concerns, highlighting that the changes will significantly increase the number of HMOs that will need to be licenced in the Borough. She explained that there is a6 month grace period in place for HMOs to make themselves known to us, after that period there is an expectation that we will have to carry out some enforcement work.


NBeresford confirmed that she will be requesting a post, which is to be grant funded and reiterated that it will need to be considered by Budget Review Group before it can be presented to scrutiny.


The Chairman commented regarding new builds; we seem to have a very ambitious plan, which will come with risks.  He asked, are we fully prepared for this?


FWilliamson advised the development team have been doing a lot of work to appoint architects etc to ensure we are able to deliver against the ambitious plans.  Currently looking at 10 garage sites to be submitted simultaneously as a single application and confirmed they are looking at how to structure delivery to meet those ambitions and advised she is confident that the Council will be able to deliver against proposals submitted.


The Chairman referred to the proposals for people to be able to purchase land next to their properties and commented that this is a positive move.



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