Agenda and minutes

Corporate Budget, County Council
Wednesday, 21st February, 2018 10.00 am

Venue: Chamber, County Hall, Carmarthen, SA31 1JP. View directions

Contact: Martin S. Davies  01267 224059

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

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Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors C. Campbell, A. Davies, R. Evans, S. Matthews, S. Najmi, D. Price and E. Schiavone.

2.

DECLARATIONS OF PERSONAL INTERESTS

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Minutes:

Councillor

Minute number

Nature of Interest

H.A.L. Evans

 

8.            8 - Housing Revenue Account Budget 2018/19 to 2020/21 and Housing Rent Setting for 2018/19;

Sister is Chief Executive of Bro Myrddin Housing Association;

K. Madge

6 - Revenue Budget Strategy 2018/19 to 2020/21;

His daughter works in social care;

A.   McPherson

9.            6 - Revenue Budget Strategy 2018/19 to 2020/21;

Chair of Mental Health Charity.

 

3.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

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Minutes:

The Chief Executive referred to the impending retirement of Mr. Ken Evans, County Hall Gateman, and added that a presentation would be made to Mr. Evans later that day to mark the occasion.

 

4.

PUBLIC QUESTIONS

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Minutes:

The Chair advised that no public questions had been received.

 

5.

QUESTIONS BY MEMBERS

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Minutes:

The Chair advised that no questions by members had been received.

 

6.

EXECUTIVE BOARD RECOMMENDATION - REVENUE BUDGET STRATEGY 2018/19 TO 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 198 KB

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Minutes:

Council was informed that the Executive Board, at its meeting held on the 5th February, 2018 (minute 5 refers) had considered the Revenue Budget Strategy 2018/19 to 2020/21 and had made a number of recommendations, as detailed within the report of the Director of Corporate Services, for consideration by Council.

 

Council received a presentation by the Executive Board Member for Resources, on behalf of the Executive Board, in which he set out the background to the budget proposals being presented for Council’s consideration. 

He advised that the final settlement received from Welsh Government on the 20th December 2017 had been more favourable and supportive of Local Government than originally anticipated which meant that it had been possible to revisit some of the proposals within the original Budget and consider further options, including taking account of the latest pay offer. However, Welsh Government had only been able to provide figures at Authority level for one year, which was a restriction in terms of medium term forecasting within the Medium Term Financial plan.

He highlighted some of the salient points of the settlement the full details of which were referred to in the circulated report. On an all Wales basis the funding for Local Government had increased by 0.2%, with Carmarthenshire in line with the average. The final settlement had given the Authority a further £1.48m on the provisional settlement. This had come with extra responsibility, however, which included the increasing of capital limits for residential care and targeted relief support for small businesses, and these would be pass ported to those services. The settlement had also included an additional £399k for homelessness prevention. 

He advised that one of the most significant validations on the budget this year related to the pay award offer made by the negotiating body for employers, which gave a 2% pay award plus the bottom loading of the lower pay scales. For Carmarthenshire County Council, this resulted in a bottom pay point of £8.68 from April 2018, an increase of 8.98%, increasing to £9.18 in April 2019 a further increase of 5.76%. The pay offer did not apply to teachers who were covered by separate national pay arrangements which had been provided at 2% from September 2018.

Reference was made to the Authority’s politically balanced Pay Policy Advisory Panel and one of the recommendations of that panel, which would be presented to County Council for consideration on the 7th March 2018, would be to pay a low pay supplement to staff currently on spinal point 9 and 10, so that these staff received the equivalent of £8.75, which was the recommended Foundation Living Wage (outside of London). In addition, although the pay negotiations were still ongoing, it was being recommended that the 2% pay increase to all non-teaching staff from 1 April 2018 be implemented in advance of final agreement being reached.

The Executive Board Member commented that although the three year budget strategy proposals adopted in February 2017 had assumed no schools protection  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

EXECUTIVE BOARD RECOMMENDATION - FIVE YEAR CAPITAL PROGRAMME (COUNCIL FUND) - 2018/19 TO 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 127 KB

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Minutes:

Council was informed that the Executive Board, at its meeting held on the 5th February, 2018 (minute 7 refers), had considered the Five Year Capital Programme 2018/19 to 2022/23 and had made a number of recommendations, as detailed within the report of the Director of Corporate Services, for consideration by Council.

 

Council received a presentation by the Executive Board Member for Resources, on behalf of the Executive Board, on the Five Year Capital Programme which was aligned to the current Corporate Strategy and supported the Authority’s strategic priorities and aspirations. He advised that the capital programme anticipated an estimated spend in excess of £200m over the 5 years and was aimed at delivering against strategic priorities and aspirations for the County.

 

He informed Council that funding for this programme was currently estimated at £143m with a further £55m coming from external grant funding bodies. Whilst the Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary had provided an indication of future year’s revenue settlements, this was not available for capital beyond 2018/19, and therefore the programme, in line with other councils’ assumptions, was based on future years supported borrowing and general grant being of the same level as 2018/19. He added that many of the investments, such as 21st Century Schools programme, Highways, Regeneration and Housing, would be familiar to Councillors, but it had been possible to add investment into schemes which were considered to be important for the County. New funding had been allocated within the Communities Department for Pembrey Country Park, Carmarthen Museums Collections and Parc Howard and the continuation of support for the private Sector Housing in 2022/23. Within the Environment Department there was continued support for Highways Improvements, Bridge maintenance and Road safety schemes into 2022/23 and, as a consequence of additional Welsh Government Funding, spend on ‘roads refurbishment’ next year had been increased by a further £2.2m.

 

Members were informed that officers would continue to monitor individual schemes and funding availability. Whilst both would need to be closely managed to ensure the schemes were delivered in full, the current programme was fully funded with the exception of a £1.5million shortfall in year 4. He thereupon moved the recommendations of the Executive Board in respect of the Five Year Capital Programme (Council Fund) and its proposed funding, as detailed in the report. The proposal was duly seconded.

 

Following a debate it was

 

UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the following recommendations of the Executive Board be adopted:-

7.1  that the Five Year Capital Programme and funding, as detailed in

Appendix B to the  report, with 2018/19 being a hard budget and

2019/20 to 2022/23 soft/indicative budgets be approved;

 

 

7.2  the 2021/22 budget be reviewed over the coming year in order to

address the Funding shortfall;

 

 

  7.3 that the programme be reviewed, as usual, if anticipated External or, County Council funding did not materialise.

8.

EXECUTIVE BOARD RECOMMENDATION - HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT BUDGET 2018/19 TO 2020/21 AND HOUSING RENT SETTING FOR 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 181 KB

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Minutes:

[NOTE:  Councillor H.A.L. Evans had previously declared an interest in this item.]

 

Council was informed that the Executive Board, at its meeting held on the 5th February, 2018 (minute 8 refers), had considered the Housing Revenue Account Budget 2018/19 to 2020/21 and Housing Rent Setting for 2018/19 and had made a number of recommendations, as detailed within the report of the Group Accountant, for consideration by Council.

 

Council received a presentation by the Executive Board Member for Resources, on behalf of the Executive Board, on the Revenue and Capital Budget proposals for the Housing Revenue Account for 2018 to 2021 reflecting the Authority’s aims within the 30 year Business Plan which was the primary financial planning tool for delivery of the Carmarthenshire Homes Standard Plus (CHS+) and the Affordable Housing Strategy.

 

The Executive Board Member advised that the capital investment of £231m within the current business plan had delivered the CHS+ for tenants and the further budget going forward had been developed to ensure appropriate funding was allocated to maintain the CHS+ standard for all the Council’s properties into the future. Over the next 3 years it was anticipated that in the region of £30m would be spent maintaining and upgrading housing stock. The budget also provided funding of some £26m over the next 3 years to support the Affordable Housing Strategy which would see an increase in the supply of affordable housing throughout the county through various solutions including the new build programme and the buyback scheme.

 

The Executive Board Member explained that since 2015 the Authority had been required to adopt the Welsh Government Social Housing Rent Harmonisation Policy, which effectively meant the proposed rent increase before members was prescribed by Welsh Government guidance. Whilst the policy had not changed, Welsh Government had indicated that, due to CPI being relatively high at 3%, Local Authorities may wish to consider using a lower option this year. It was considered that applying the policy as in previous years for 2018/19 at 4.5% rent increase plus £2 progression would produce an average rent of £86.21, an increase of 5.49%, which would be unacceptable and unfair for tenants. Accordingly it was proposed to set the rent at the lowest allowable level. 

The Executive Board Member commented that the proposed rent increase sought, as far as possible, to recognise the squeeze on household budgets as wage increases had not kept pace with rising price inflation. The above principles would reduce the burden on all tenants from 4.5% to 3.5% average increase and limit the progression towards target rent to £1.62 compared with the maximum permissible of £2.This was the lowest permissible average increase compliant with the current Welsh Government policy. Based on applying the above, for 2018/19 at 3.5% rent increase plus £1.62 progression this would produce an average rent of £85.27 which was an increase of 4.34% or £3.55. The Executive Board Member stated that it was difficult to balance the impact of the rent increase on the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

EXECUTIVE BOARD RECOMMENDATION -THE CARMARTHENSHIRE HOMES STANDARD PLUS (CHS+) BUSINESS PLAN 2018-21 pdf icon PDF 250 KB

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Minutes:

Council was informed that the Executive Board, at its meeting held on the 5th February, 2018 (minute 9 refers) considered the Carmarthenshire Homes Standard Plus (CHS+) Business Plan 2018-21, the purpose of which was to:-   

 

• explain the vision and detail of the Carmarthenshire Homes Standard Plus over the next three years and what it meant for tenants;

• confirm the financial profile, based on current assumptions, for the delivery of CHS+ over the next three years; and

• produce a business plan for the annual application to Welsh Government for Major Repairs Allowance (MRA) for 2018/19++ equating to £6.1m.

 

The Executive Board Member for Housing presented the report and advised that if the report and its recommendations were to be adopted, it would result in some £56m being spent over the next three years in maintaining and further improving the CHS+ (£30M) and delivering the Affordable Homes Plan (£26m) through a range of solutions including, new build. 

RESOLVED that the following recommendations of the Executive Board be adopted:-

 

9.1

That the vision of the Carmarthenshire Homes Standard

Plus (CHS+) and the financial and delivery programme over the

next three years be confirmed;

 9.2

That the submission of the Plan to the Welsh Government be

confirmed.

 

10.

EXECUTIVE BOARD RECOMMENDATION -TREASURY MANAGEMENT POLICY AND STRATEGY 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 129 KB

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Minutes:

Council was informed that the Executive Board, at its meeting held on 5th February, 2018 (minute 10 refers) considered the Treasury Management Policy and Strategy 2018/19.

 

The Executive Board Member advised Council that in line with the requirements of the revised CIPFA Code of Practice on Treasury Management, the Council must maintain a Treasury Management Policy detailing the policies and objectives of the Authority’s treasury management activities and also approve a Treasury Management Strategy annually before the start of the financial year to which it relates. In addition, under the Local Government Act 2003, the Council was required to approve the Treasury Management Indicators for the coming year.

 

In accordance with the above requirements, Council considered the Treasury Management Policy and Strategy for the 2018/19 financial. 

 

UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the following recommendations of the Executive Board be adopted:-

 

10.1

That the Treasury Management Policy and Strategy for 2018-19

and the recommendations contained therein be approved;

 10.2

That the Treasury Management Indicators, Prudential

Indicators, the Minimum Revenue Provision Statement and

recommendations therein be approved.

 

11.

EXECUTIVE BOARD- 5TH FEBRUARY 2018 pdf icon PDF 244 KB

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Minutes:

UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the report of the above meeting be received.