Steve Kenyon, Interim Executive Director of Resources and Regulation submitted a report from the Cabinet Member for Finance and Housing.
The report provided Members with the details of:
· The revenue outturn figures in respect of the last financial year (2016/2017).
· Major variances between the revised estimate and the outturn;
· The level of school balances;
· HRA outturn for the year;
· The minimum level of balances in the light of risk assessments
Those present were given the opportunity to make comments and ask questions and the following points were raised:-
· Councillor James referred to schools’ overspending and the requirement for them to repay the deficit to the DSG Control Account. Councillor James asked how schools’ would be able to repay this if they didn’t have the funds available?
Steve explained that it had been noted that the pressure on schools was now greater than their surpluses but the plan is to recover the deficit after 2 years. Steve suggested that there would have to be discussions into how this would be achieved.
· Councillor Harris referred to the number of children that were sent to out of borough placements at special schools and the cost implications that this had on the Council. Councillor Harris asked what could be done to rectify this situation.
Steve explained that the Council were working with clients earlier in order to prevent the need to send them out of borough.
· Councillor Smith referred to the capacity within the Council’s SEN service with regards to places for 6th form students and asked whether the Council was any closer to agreeing a joint provision option with neighbouring local authorities.
Steve stated that he would pass on the issues raised to the Assistant Director (Learning & Culture).
· A member of the Committee referred to the one-off spend relating to ACS set out in Appendix 1 to the report. The spend was just short of £1.4m and it was asked what this related to.
Steve explained that this was in relation to the preparation work for the bid for the GM Transformation fund which was set up to enable integrating health and social care services across Greater Manchester.
· Councillor Wright referred to the academisation of schools and whether more schools becoming academies would affect schools’ funding. What impact this would have in relation to Council finances.
Steve explained that the Council currently trades with schools in areas such as cleaning services, catering and grounds maintenance. The Council was working to retain these contracts to provide services.
· Councillor Harris asked about the disposal of assets and asked what happened when an asset was sold.
Steve explained that when an asset was sold the money realised from the sale had to be reinvested.
· Councillor Hankey asked why the figures in relation to fixed assets had fallen.
Steve explained that this was the valuation of stock which was a 5 yr rolling exercise where 20% of the Council stock was valued each year. The decrease in value that Councillor Hankey was referring to was in relation to the Council’s housing stock.
· Councillor Caserta referred to the Council diversifying into property and asked for more information.
Steve reported that the Cabinet had given its approval for the Council to invest in property. It had been agreed that £10m could be invested and £8.5m had been invested to date. The Council had set out strict guidelines in relation to this and were currently receiving an annual yield of 6% on the properties that it had invested in. These included a car park and two city centre offices. It was also explained that the investments could be liquidated at any time.
It was agreed:
1.That the final outturn for 2016/17, and explanations for major variances (Appendix A, B and C) be noted;
2. That the recommendations of the Interim Executive Director of Resources & Regulation for the minimum level of balances in light of the review of the corporate risk assessments and departmental risk assessments (Section 4) be endorsed