A report from the Interim Executive Director of Resources and Regulation is attached.
· Directorate Budget Reports
· 2019/2010 Capital Strategy & Capital Programme 2019/2020
· 2019/2020 Dedicated Schools Grant
Councillor O’Brien, Cabinet Member for Finance and Housing presented a report providing Members with details of the 2019/2020 revenue budget and outlined;
· Local Government Finance Settlement for 2019/20
· Forecast Outturn for 2018/2019
· Budget Strategy for 2019/2010 and the approach to balancing the budget in future years
The report also examines the robustness of the assumptions behind the budget forecast and contains an assessment on the adequacy of the Council’s balances.
Councillor O’Brien explained that the Council had had to change the way that it functions and make a number of short term decisions in the lead up to the roll out of the transformation work.
The Council will be working differently than it has in the past and will incorporate health and social care and the CCG.
Geoff Little, Chief Executive explained that the papers provided to the Committee were a lot more in depth than in previous years’ and contained more depth and detail on how savings will be delivered. Each Directorate had provided an individual report including audit trails, details of achievements made or not, new delivery models and partnership working.
Geoff explained that the Council would face a challenging year to deliver what it needs to and to build up reserves for the future in order that a 3 year rolling budget can be set from 2021 onwards. A Corporate Plan will be produced which will promote stronger Corporate Governance. Each Directorate will be required to produce their own 3 year plans which will include business plans.
Those present were given the opportunity to ask questions and make comments and the following points were raised:-
· Councillor Harris referred to the use of dormant Earmarked Reserves which was set out in the report and asked what these related to.
Councillor O’Brien explained that there had recently been a review undertaken of all of the Earmarked Reserves, the 5 that were included within the budget were identified as no longer being needed and could therefore be used as a one off.
· Councillor Bayley referred to the austerity measures that had been introduced by Central Government and asked what the cumulative effects to the Council were.
Councillor O’Brien stated that the Council had lost 650 staff members and had financial cuts of £97m, demand has increased across most services which had meant that difficult decisions had to be made.
· Councillor N Jones referred to the figures in the report regarding 200 – 300 new houses being built on brownfield sites and asked how this would be funded.
Councillor O’Brien explained that the Council could use borrowing to fund house building and grants would also be applied for through Homes England.
· Councillor N Jones referred to the 4000 houses that were mentioned further on in the report and asked how these would be funded?
Councillor O’Brien explained that business cases would be drawn up for each scheme. It was anticipated that there would be 200 to 300 houses built to start with and the money made going back into the pot to support the next round.
Councillor O’Brien explained that sites had not been allocated as yet but it was more than likely that the Council would look to build on town centre sites across the borough.
· Councillor Hankey referred to the underperformance of the Civic Halls and asked if this issue was ever going to be resolved. This had been an issue for a number of years and nothing had been done. He asked whether anything would be resolved in relation to this.
Councillor O’Brien stated that there had been long running issues in relation to Civic Venues and suggested that a separate report be brought to a future meeting of Overview and Scrutiny in relation to this.
· Councillor Hankey referred to the staff vacancies that were highlighted in the report and the substantial savings around these and asked whether the vacancies would be permanent.
Councillor O’Brien stated that workforce remodelling would be taking place which would provide more clarity in this area.
· Councillor Caserta referred to the use of dormant Earmarked Reserves and asked why these pots of money had become available now. Councillor Caserta asked what the criteria was for using them.
Steve Kenyon explained that the money had been there for a purpose which had since ceased. A review of the Earmarked Reserves had highlighted that the identified ones were no longer needed.
· Councillor Harris referred a future redevelopment of the Town Hall and asked what the plans were.
Steve Kenyon explained that there were no specific proposals for the Town Hall.
· Councillor L Smith referred to the reserves held by the Council and asked how Bury compared to other local authorities.
Steve Kenyon reported that when comparing to the other GM authorities Bury reserves were low. Work would be done which would allow the Council to bolster its reserves for the future.
It was agreed:
That the contents of the report be noted.