Agenda and minutes

Budget, Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 6th February, 2024 7.00 pm

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Venue: Council Chamber, Bury Town Hall

Contact: Chloe Ashworth  Democratic Services

No. Item




Apologies were received from Councillor Arif, Councillor Haroon attended as a substitute.





Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee are asked to consider whether they have an interest in any matters on the agenda and, if so, to formally declare that interest.


There were no declarations of interest.




A period of 30 minutes has been set aside for members of the public to ask questions on matters considered at the last meeting and set out in the minutes or on the agenda for tonight’s meeting.


There were no public questions.




Questions are invited from Elected Members about items on the agenda. 15 minutes will be set aside for Member Question Time, if required.


There were no Member questions.



MINUTES pdf icon PDF 236 KB

Minutes from the meeting held on 09th January 2024 are attached.


That the minutes of the meeting held on 09.01.2024 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


Housing Revenue Account Budget Report pdf icon PDF 418 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Comunities is attached.


Councillor Gold Cabinet Member for Finance and Communities attended the meeting supported by Officers, to provide an update on the Council’s Housing Revenue Account Budget Report. An accompanying report had been circulated in advance of the meeting and provided the following information:


·         The budget for the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) for 2024/25 and forms part of the Council’s budget setting process for 2024/25.

·         It proposed the rent level and proposed increase for Council Housing, Dwelling and Garage rents, Sheltered Support, Management, Service and Heating charges and Furnished Tenancy charges.

·         The HRA will transfer back to the Council management with effect from 1st February 2024. The report set out the budget assumptions and has been prepared based on the management costs being the same as the fee paid to Six Town Housing.


In discussing the report the following issues and questions were raised:


Members discussed the increase in rent increases and the effects this could have on individuals and Council arrears. Members were informed that Social housing rents are not pegged to the Local Housing Allowance and there is no requirement to do so as LHA is for private renters.


Social Rents are calculated by reference to a formula rent for each property as set out in the RSH Rent Std in accordance with the Government’s Policy Statement on Rents for Social Housing 2022.  The average 50- week rent in 23/24 is £86.95 (£83.60 for a 52-week equivalent) across all property groupings.  For 24/25 that will increase to £90.04 (52 week).


Members requested a breakdown of type of property and what the increase in rent will be to be circulated following the meeting.


Members raised concerns regarding any impacts the raise may have on vulnerable residents and the impact of the debt that may be incurred. Members were advised the Council is mindful of the impact on residents, provision has been increased for bad debt, rent arrears are tracked to monitor impact and we aim to work closely with residents to provide support.


Discussions took place regarding the rent increase for residents in social housing. Members were informed that around one third of the claimants would have their rent covered by housing benefit.  


Members requested that the local housing allowance indicative figure is circulated following the meeting.


Members requester further information be provided following the meeting regarding more properties being returned to the Council needing work following tenants leaving and if the 1% target is from Six Town Housing or set by the Council.


Kate Waterhouse, Executive Director advised that there is a current stock condition survey  of council housing taking place and due to be complete by the end of March 2024.


Members sought assurances that the rent increase will provide improved repairs and services for residents.


It was agreed:


1.    The Overview and Scrutiny Committee note the report.

2.    Members note the rent increase proposed.


The Council's Revenue Budget and The Medium Term Financial Strategy pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Report and appendices of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Comunities is attached.

Additional documents:


Councillor Gold Cabinet Member for Finance and Communities attended the meeting supported by Officers, to provide an update on the Council’s revenue budget and the medium term financial strategy. An accompanying report had been circulated in advance of the meeting and provided details of the following:


1.    The key elements of the 2024/25 budget proposals and the framework for the longer-term Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 2024/2027

2.    The latest financial information that will underpin the 2024/25 budget and the Medium Term Financial Strategy.

3.    The process that will lead to the agreement of the budget and the setting of the 2024/25 Council Tax at Full Council on the 21 February 2024.


The report is part of a suite of financial reports including:


  • Council Tax Setting
  • Capital strategy 2024/25 to 2026/27
  • Treasury Management Strategy 2024/25
  • The Dedicated Schools Grant and the schools’ budget 2024/25


Members were informed that on the 05th February 2024 more funds were announced by the government but the council is awaiting formal notification and the terms of the funding.


In discussing the report the following issues and questions were raised:


Members raised questions regarding the justification of some of the key assumptions within the report. In response members were advised that the assumptions are based on inflation projections based on information provided by our financial advisors. The Childrens budget has been constructed this year using a zero based budgeting approach and reflects the spend profile of the Directorate.  A brief discussion took place regarding the Children and Young People pressures and plans to support the directorate with the budget.


Discussions took place regarding the NHS deficit and impacts this could have on the Councils budget. Members were informed that we are operating as a system and connect NHS pressures with the Councils budget. Work to support the system is surrounding innovation, reform and the transformation of elective care. Members also discussed the impact of budget deficits with relation to children and adolescent mental health services.


Discussions took place regarding Project Safety Valve monies, members noted that this runs out in 2025. Members were informed that we have placed a submission for the funds to be renewed and the budget is based on this being accepted. If the submission is not accepted it will be a financial risk for the Council. 


Discussions took place regarding the allocation of funds towards road improvements. Members were advised that this is made up within the capital programme and there will be an increase on last year’s figure. This figure will be for road improvements and highway maintenance such as active travel, additional highways resurfacing and micro asphalt surfacing.


Members requested confirmation following the meeting of the figure for energy assumptions.


Members held discussions regarding council tax banding and the addition of large extensions. Members were advised that council tax of enhanced properties is not reviewed until if/when the property is sold. If a property makes significant changes to the dwelling such as a complete rebuild or split into multiple  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC.7



Any other business which by reason of special circumstances the Chair agrees may be considered as a matter of urgency.


There was no urgent business.