Agenda and minutes

Resources & Delivering Value Scrutiny Board
Monday 8th February 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: PLEASE NOTE that any member of the press and public may view the proceedings at this virtual meeting via this weblink https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7DDSVoAIgTnwgp0Ku8iFLQ

Contact: Paul Rogers 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Present:

 

 

 

Councillors: K Wild (Chairman), T Dicicco (Vice Chairman),  W Qais, M Gough, M Parker, M Allen, B Groom, J Fairburn and M Brain

Officers:

Nick Page, Chief Executive, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council

Paul Johnson, Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive

Sam Gilbert, Assistant Director (Finance and Property Services)

Jenny Wood, Director for Adult Care and Support

Sangeeta Leahy, Assistant Director, Public Health

Linda Wilson, Head of Corporate Property Services

Tracey Ellis, HR Business Manager

Julie Cooper, Head of Financial Operations

Adam Paterson, Finance Manager

Stuart McHale, Children’s Services Finance Manager

Andrea Santer, Senior Accountant (Partnerships)

Karen Cranley, Finance Manager Resources SCH & Commercial Manager

Lauren Beach, Managed Growth Finance Manager

Frank McSheffrey, Service Director, Children, Young People and Families

Alan Brown, Assistant Director, Highways and Environment

Tim Browne, Assistant Director, Inclusion and SEND

John Robinson, Treasury and Corporate Accountant

Paul Rogers, Democratic Services

 

 

 

1.  Apologies for absence

 

No apologies for absence were received.

 

2.

Declarations of Pecuniary or Conflicts of Interest

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were received.

 

3.

Questions and Deputations

Minutes:

No questions or deputations were received.

 

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 214 KB

To consider for approval the Minutes arising from the Resources and Delivering Value Scrutiny Board meeting held on 11 January 2021.

Minutes:

The Resources and Delivering Value Scrutiny Board:

 

RESOLVED:

 

(i)  To agree the Minutes arising from the Resources and Delivering Value Scrutiny Board meeting held on 11 January 2021 as an accurate record.

 

5.

Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2021/22-2023/24 pdf icon PDF 220 KB

1.1 To provide an update on the budget position for 2021/22 and subsequent years and to seek feedback on the budget proposals for Full Cabinet.
1.2 To update the Medium Term Financial Strategy and the Capital Strategy, and to recommend any amendments for approval by Full Cabinet.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report before the Scrutiny Board provided an update on the budget position for 2021/22 and subsequent years and updated Members regarding the Medium Term Financial Strategy and the Capital Strategy.

 

The Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive presented the report for Members and advised that comments were sought from the Scrutiny Board prior to the Full Cabinet meeting scheduled for 11 February 2021, which would receive the Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2021/22 – 2023/24 proposals. All comments received on the Cabinet Portfolio Holders budget proposals as considered by all the Scrutiny Boards were detailed in Appendix B to the report. Trade Unions, local businesses and the Solihull Chamber of Commerce had also been consulted.

Having received the presentation from the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive, Members of the Scrutiny Board raised a number of questions pertaining to the report.  In response, Members were advised that:

·  Business Rates were set by the District Valuer on the rateable value of the business concerned.  Local Authorities had no influence over the process. A Business Rates review had been deferred due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but was expected to be rescheduled after the Chancellors budget on 3 March 2021. The Council continued to support local businesses via appropriate grant funding, which was open to all businesses on application. Members were advised the Council would issue a formal response to the Business Rates consultation at the appropriate time through the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Resources.

·  The Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive confirmed that he was satisfied with the budget proposals under the current circumstances arising from the Covid-19 pandemic as signified through the Section 25 Statement. Members were advised that with regard to the MTFS, the final year 3 budget proposals for the MTFS showed that it was a balanced MTFS, founded on an on-going, sustainable basis with no recourse to Council Reserves.

·  To continue to mitigate risks, the Council would retain some funding in the Business Rates windfall, although the MTFS was recognised as the best tool to continue to successfully manage and deliver the Council’s budget arrangements. There were no significant risks that had not been budgeted for.

·  All Budget Reserves were reviewed via the Budget setting process, which involved internal challenge and review of on-going budget pressures.

·  Members were advised that in respect of the Multi-Council Material Recycling Facility project, which included approval for prudential borrowing of up to £8.000 million, a further £1.000 million of prudential borrowing to ensure the project delivers its outcomes was being requested. Members were informed that this was attributable to the original project costs having been based on estimates, whereas the latest estimate of funding was more informed having gained project maturity. Members were further advised that the Council would receive a commercial rate of interest on the £9M funding concerned.

·  It was confirmed that going forward in future years there would be a dedicated annual Carbon Reduction budget. The current 2025 target figures were established a number  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

UPDATE ON CORPORATE APPROACH TO DELIVERING AN ASSET MASTERPLAN pdf icon PDF 407 KB

The purpose of this report is to update Members on progress with the Council’s key programme, ‘a Corporate Approach to Delivering an Asset Masterplan’ and the key priorities for implementation of the Strategy.

Minutes:

The report before the Scrutiny Board updated Members on progress with the Council’s key programme, ‘a Corporate Approach to Delivering an Asset Masterplan’ and the key priorities for implementation of the Strategy.  The report was presented by the Assistant Director, (Finance and Property Services).

 

Members of the Scrutiny Board raised a number of questions pertaining to the report.  In response, Members were advised that:

  • Approval and viability testing of the Strategy had been secured and first phase implementation had commenced with the Council’s office accommodation phase, before proceeding to phase 2.  Members were informed that it was very likely that Solihull was the only Council in the West Midlands region to be operating at this time on a service model, rather than a corporate landlord model. The Corporate Landlord Model was expected to support in the delivery of savings from the Council’s property portfolio, health and safety arrangements and relevant data sharing.

 

  • It was expected that the Corporate Landlord Model would lead to greater dialogue with service areas through the Strategic Asset Management Plans (SAMPS) as to how the design of the property portfolio could support service delivery to residents in the borough and to ensure that the available property could serve residents and businesses needs in the best way possible via the SAMPS process.

 

  • The Corporate Landlord Model will ensure the co-ordination and review of health and safety requirements is undertaken, maintenance schedules are observed, that building maintenance budgets are spent and relevant legislation observed and implemented in a timely fashion to ensure on-going legal compliance.

 

  • Members were advised that new Property Information Manager’s post was currently being worked up in respect of the duties, responsibilities and demarcation across service areas.  It was expected that the role would also entail supporting information and data analysis for future strategy development.

 

  • Regarding the property portfolio’s refurbishment and upgrades in relation to supporting the Council’s carbon reduction agenda, Members were informed that the Council’s corporate approach to managing the property Portfolio entailed assessing longer term viability. Accordingly, planned maintenance works took into account Net Zero objectives and whole life costing issues and life cycles of buildings. For example, work was undertaken to review gas supply arrangements and how alternative energy sources could continue to be made use of.  A similar outlook was taken when planning for new development e.g. school expansions. Wherever possible, buildings within the Property Portfolio were fitted with light / motion sensors to ensure light sources were switched off in unoccupied rooms and buildings.

 

  • It was confirmed that review of the Property Portfolio was part of the Corporate Landlord Model, which in effect entailed review of the property performance matrix, carbon footprint, utility costs, building purposes and functions, all of which would go towards determining whether the property asset was to be retained or disposed of.

 

  • In respect of the flexibility of the Corporate Landlord Model and accompanying SAMPS, Members were advised that SAMPS would be produced for each property within the Portfolio and would be kept updated for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.