A number of council meetings are live-streamed.
All meetings are also uploaded after the event onto the our webcasting site.
Venue: Council Chamber - Council Offices/Virtually via Zoom
Contact: Ann Holmes 01248 752518
Declaration of Interest
To receive any declaration of interest by any Member or Officer in respect of any item of business.
No declaration of interest was received.
To present the minutes of the previous meetings of the Corporate Scrutiny Committee held on the following date and times –
· 19 January, 2023 (morning)
· 19 January, 2023 (afternoon)
The minutes of the previous meetings of the Corporate Scrutiny Committee held on the following date and times were presented and were confirmed as correct –
· 19 January, 2023 (morning meeting)
· 19 January 2023 (afternoon meeting)
To present the report of the Scrutiny Manager and the Director of Function (Resources)/Section 151 Officer.
The report of the Scrutiny Manager was presented for the Committee’s consideration. The report outlined the context to the 2023/24 Budget setting process along with the key issues and questions for Scrutiny in evaluating the Executive’s final revenue budget proposals. The report of the Director of Function (Resources)/Section 151 Officer to be presented to the 2 March, 2023 meeting of the Executive setting out the detailed revenue budget proposals for 2023/24 for final review and agreement ahead of the 9 March meeting of Full Council was attached at Appendix 1.
Councillor Robin Williams, Portfolio Member for Finance, Corporate Business and Customer Experience presented the report saying that it follows on from the initial draft revenue budget proposals presented to this Committee at its meeting on 19 January which comprised of a proposed budget for 2023/24 of £172.438m which in light of the provisional AEF of £123.555m required an increase of 5% in Council Tax and the use of £1.758m of the Council’s general balances to balance the budget. The Council is facing a number of risks going forward in the form of inflation, high energy costs, pay settlements, the demand for services and a potential reduction in the amount of income generated by fee charging services such as leisure, planning and car parking as the cost of living crisis continues to affect households. The public consultation undertaken on the Council’s strategic aims showed a positive response to the proposed budget approach of combining a Council Tax increase with implementing savings and using Council reserves to produce a balanced budget and this approach was also endorsed by Scrutiny. Apart from the changes detailed in section 4 of the report and the minor adjustments to the budget which these have required, the one significant change impacting on the budget since the presentation of the initial draft proposals arises from the announcement late last week of an initial pay offer to the Council’s non-teaching staff for 2023/24 which amounts to an average increase of in the region of 7%; this has been put forward by the employer as a “full and final offer.” Given that the 2023/24 draft budget allows for a pay increase of 3.5%, this places an additional £2m as a pressure on the budget. The Executive has considered how this additional cost can be funded and proposes that it be met through the use of reserves deeming the identification of £2m of unplanned for savings at this late stage unrealistic and a higher increase in Council Tax as unacceptable in the current economic climate. The Portfolio Member whilst he highlighted the importance of having sufficient reserves in hand to meet such additional costs emphasised that reserves should not however be used on a random basis; they should be regarded as rainy-day money to be drawn upon to deal with unexpected events and/or emergencies. The prudent management of the Council’s finances in recent years has allowed reserves to be built up and those resources are now available to help support both ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
To present the report of the Scrutiny Manager and the Director of Function (Resources)/Section 151 Officer.
The report of the Scrutiny Manager was presented for the Committee’s consideration. The report outlined the context to the 2023/24 Capital Budget setting process including the key role of the Council’s Capital Strategy the principles of which underpin the Council’s capital programme. The report of the Director of Function (Resources)/Section 151 Officer to be presented to the 2 March 2023 meeting of the Executive setting out the final draft capital budget proposals for 2023/24 for recommendation to the 9 March meeting of Full Council was attached at Appendix 1.
Councillor Robin Williams, Portfolio Member for Finance, Corporate Business and Customer Experience reported that capital investment is becoming more difficult as the resources to support capital expenditure specifically the General Capital Funding received from Welsh Government have not increased by any great amount over a number of years and the value of the funding has been significantly eroded in the past twelve months due to inflation. The Executive proposes a capital budget for 2023/24 of £37.962m comprising of 2022/23 schemes brought forward; refurbishment and/or replacement of assets; new one-off capital projects; 21st century school programme and the Housing Revenue Account which is to be funded by a combination of the General Capital Grant, Supported Borrowing and Capital Receipts and in the case of the HRA, the HRA reserve.
The Director of Function (Resources)/Resources advised that additional grants are likely to be received during the year and these will be incorporated within the capital budget. Welsh Government capital funding including the General Capital Grant and supported borrowing has remained largely unchanged over a number of years and additional grant funding has become an increasingly important element of capital resourcing. The scope to use capital receipts is also very limited as any unsold assets are already earmarked for existing plans. The Council is therefore increasingly reliant upon additional capital grants in the year to fund any investments beyond the upkeep of its existing assets.
In considering the capital budget proposals the following issues were raised by the Committee -
· Whether the 2023/24 capital proposals enable the delivery of the Council’s medium-term priorities whilst balancing short term pressures and whether the principles of the Council’s Capital Strategy allow the Council to meet its corporate objectives.
The Committee was advised that the core capital funding received from Welsh Government is only sufficient to cover the costs of repairing and refurbishing the Council’s existing assets with grant funding being relied upon to undertake any new investment. The Housing Revenue Account position is different in that the HRA has a healthy level of reserves that are used to fund the development of new housing. The HRA will undertake borrowing once its reserves have reduced to the minimum level set out in the HRA Business Plan in order to continue with that development work; the HRA generates enough revenue from rental income to meet future borrowing costs. The HRA position is therefore such that it allows a much greater level of capital investment and expenditure on the ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Finance Scrutiny Panel Progress Report
Chair of the Finance Scrutiny Panel to report.
Councillor Dafydd Roberts, Chair of the Finance Scrutiny Panel reported on the outcome of the Panel’s 15 January, 2023 meeting as referred to in the narrative on items 3 and 4 above.
To present the report of the Head of Profession (HR) and Transformation.
The report of the Head of Profession (HR) and Transformation incorporating the Council Plan for the period 2023 to 2028 was presented for the Committee’s consideration.
Councillor Robin Williams, Portfolio Member for Finance, Corporate Business and Customer Experience presented the Council Plan as the culmination of 12 months of preparatory work including extensive consultation with the Council’s staff, elected members and the residents of Anglesey regarding the Council’s strategic objectives for the next five-year period. The Portfolio Member referred to the conduct of the consultation and its outcome which were addressed in the Developing the Council’s Strategic Aims 2023-28 report presented to this Committee’s 19 January 2023 meeting. As a result of this work and previous considerations, the draft Council Plan is presented to the Corporate Scrutiny Committee and includes the corporate wellbeing aims along with the strategic objectives and associated work streams.
The Chief Executive advised that regardless of the current challenging circumstances the Council has a responsibility to plan for a more prosperous future for the residents of Anglesey and to maximise the opportunities that come its way. The Council Plan therefore seeks to create ambition with being realistic about what can be achieved in the next five-year period based on actual data and taking into account the resources available. It identifies the Council’s statutory responsibilities as well as the outcomes the Council wishes to achieve for the people and communities of Anglesey in terms of creating a better future. An annual delivery document will be produced which will formally report on progress, success, and outcomes. Subject to the Executive’s endorsement and the County Council’s approval a finalised version of the Council Plan will be issued, and its contents will be used and publicised widely. The Chief Executive thanked all those who had been involved in developing the Plan as well as those who had provided input along the process.
In discussing the Plan, the Committee raised questions regarding the challenges to its successful delivery; the extent to which it addresses statutory duties; the role of partners and the Plan’s alignment with the expectations of the Well-being of Future Generations Act (Wales). The Committee also enquired about the arrangements for reporting and monitoring progress and how the public response may have influenced the Plan. The Officers and Portfolio Member further advised –
· That the Plan is the result of extensive consultation and seeks to cover what the Council is required to do by statute and what it wants to do by choice; an exercise to scope all the relevant legislation was undertaken at the outset of the development work to ensure that statutory duties are addressed by the Plan. However, the Plan is being issued in a period of uncertainty and it may have to be adapted to respond to challenges and/or opportunities as the Council moves through the period. The Plan is considered to be a robust document and the direction which it sets for the Council for the next five years should not change even if ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To present the report of the Scrutiny Manager.
The report of the Scrutiny Manager incorporating the Committee’s Forward Work Programme to the end of April 2023 was presented for consideration and review.
It was queried whether the single item scheduled for consideration at the April 2023 meeting might be brought forward to March and some of the outstanding items as yet to be scheduled be programmed for the April meeting.
The Scrutiny Manager advised that the matter would be raised with the Senior Leadership Team and discussed with the Chair.
It was resolved –
· To agree the current version of the forward work programme for 2022/23.
· To note progress thus far in implementing the forward work programme.