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Contact: Nick Pountney
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations made at the meeting.
The Committee was informed that there were no Cabinet members at the meeting as the Committee was considering the report of the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) Working Group which was set up to work alongside the Cabinet with their deliberations on the budget.
The Working Group had challenged the major risk assumptions within the MTFS. The key risk areas continue to be around:
· Looked after children
· High needs blocks in schools (SEND)
· Care home prices
· Public health grants
· Delivery capacity
The Working Group met over a number of months and interviewed Cabinet members covering the greatest risk areas. The final report made recommendations that fell into 5 categories covering Health and Care; Digital and Community First: Children and Young People; Environmental Maintenance: and General.
A question was asked on the length of time Local Government could sustain the budgets allocated by Central Government and what effect this had on the council services. Also, what pressure did the put on delivering the range of services we have to provide. In response, it was agreed that the one-year financial settlement approach was more problematic than a multiyear settlement which offered some stability.
The MTFS plan was for five years and assumed both financial and demand levels. Members requested the figures on social care demand and the financial expenditure now as compared to 10 years ago and how has this changed what the council does/provides compared to the past. An example was given that two thirds of the budget was now taken up by social care as opposed to half the budget 10 years ago.
There was a discussion on the proposals and the timescales contained in the document and if there was confidence that these could be met in order to achieve the invest to save targets. In response, it was felt that they were challenging and some may be delayed but even with some slippage in some of the projects, the financial targets should still be met without undermining the councils financial integrity.
It was explained that the report was the work of the Working Group but it was necessary for this committee to consider, question, amend, and ratify the report prior to it being considered by Cabinet.
The following points were raised by members of the Committee:
· In relation to paragraph 9 of the findings – It was reported that it had been confirmed that the Shared Prosperity Fund would be devolved through the Growth Board and Local Enterprise Partnerships and there was a lack of clarity on how this would work.
· In relation to paragraph 1 of the conclusions and recommendations section - It was felt that it was not the job of scrutiny to be agreeing that the MTFS was a “good and balanced budget” only that it acknowledged that the Cabinet felt that it was.
· In relation to paragraph 21 of the conclusions and recommendations section - the arrangements with Parish councils should be in bold as it was important for the delivery of services. ... view the full minutes text for item 33.