Agenda and draft minutes

Cabinet
Thursday 13th February 2014 6.00 pm

Venue: Civic Suite

Contact: Jane Game  Democratic Services Officer 0121 704 6051

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllrs Meeson, Macnaughton and Richards.

2.

Declaration on Interest

To receive declarations of interest from Members.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest from Members of a disclosable pecuniary interest or conflict of interest were raised.

3.

Questions and Deputations

To answer any questions, if any asked by any resident of the Borough pursuant to Standing Orders.

Minutes:

No questions or deputations were received.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 43 KB

To receive for information only the minutes of the previous meeting held on 16 January 2014.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 16 January 2014 were received for information only.

 

RESOLVED:
That the minutes of the meeting held on 16 January 2014 be received for information only.

5.

REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING REPORT FOR QUARTER 3 (UP TO DECEMBER 2013) pdf icon PDF 48 KB

The Purpose of the report is:

 

Ø  To inform Full Cabinet of the financial position of the Council as at the end of Quarter

  3 (December 2013);

 

Ø  To summarises the reports to the individual Cabinet portfolio meetings in February; and

 

Ø  To note that usually the report provides details of any virements between Cabinet portfolios which have taken place during the last quarter. However, there have not been any such virements which need Full Cabinet approval this quarter.

Minutes:

The Members were:

 

Ø  Informed of the financial position of the Council as at the end of Quarter

  3 (December 2013).

 

Ø  Provided with summarises the of reports to the individual Cabinet portfolio meetings in February; and

 

Ø  Advised that there were no virements between Cabinet Portfolio’s which required Cabinet approval this quarter.

 

The Director of Resources advised that there was a favourable forecast variance for Core Council of (£963,000) and an adverse forecast variance of £215,000 for the DSG, and this was summarised for each Portfolio in the report.

 

With regard to the Capital Programme the total budget was currently £31,565m for 2013/14 following the re-phasing that Cabinet had agreed to in December 2013. The actual expenditure to the end of December 2013 was £18,024m, and there was a current variance forecast of (£0,051m). The report summarised the capital position per Portfolio.

 

Members noted that this report presented a positive picture to date, but were mindful that pressures remained which would need funding in the future.

 

RESOLVED:

That the current financial position be noted.

6.

HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT ESTIMATES AND RENT INCREASES 2014/15 pdf icon PDF 53 KB

To consider the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget estimates for 2014/15, the Management Fee payable to Solihull Community Housing (SCH) and the proposed changes in dwelling and garage rents and leaseholder management fees for 2014/15.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet was invited to consider:

 

Ø  the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget estimates for 2014/15;

 

Ø   the Management Fee payable to Solihull Community Housing (SCH); and

 

Ø  the proposed changes in dwelling and garage rents and leaseholder management fees for 2014/15.

 

The Director of Resources introduced the report and stated that the proposed average rent increase (excluding service charges) was 4.95% (£3.95 per week on a 50-week basis) to £83.69 from 1 April 2014.

 

 The Director advised that the budget for 2014/15 was presented in Appendix A to the report, with SCH’s Management Fee set at £19.296m, which resulted in a balance of £446,000. This would provide an additional reserve in the event that the impact of Welfare Reform was greater than anticipated. The HRA reserves position was set out in Appendix C to the report. The Director reported that SCH was currently working on future developments – which included consideration of the use of the remaining reserves to fund extra care or hostel accommodation that would contribute to the continuing demands on both Adult Social Care and the Homelessness service for appropriate accommodation.

 

The Director reminded Members that a rent increase below the proposed average level of 4.95% would take the Council further away from rent convergence and increased the gap in SCH’s capital investment plan. Members were also reminded that the HRA Business Plan was based on the capital investment needs of the HRA stock over a 30 year period (and the overall income required to meet those needs).

 

The report also reviewed garage rents, other miscellaneous charges and leaseholder management fees.

 

In considering the report Members raised a number of points which in summary included:

 

Ø  the proposed 4.95%, was too high and not in line with inflation;

 

Ø  They were concerned this proposal would adversely affect the low paid and not assist those families who were caught in the benefits trap;

 

Ø  The HRA faced a number of extra pressures such as extra administrative charges, Council Tax Voids, adaptations for disabled people and questioned whether these pressures should be removed from the HRA;

 

Ø  That SCH was now paying rent on Endeavour House £180K;

 

Ø  Questioned why tenants whose homes had not been improved should pay the same level of rent as those tenants whose homes had been improved; and

 

Ø  That any headroom in the HRA should be used to increase housing stock.

 

In responding Members commented that the rent increase had been capped at 5% and the Council was working within the formula set by central Government. A significant number of tenants would not pay the full increase, 21% would. The Council had taken action to mitigate the effect of the rent rises would have, but also had an obligation to improve the quality of housing stock and to do this money was needed. Members noted that SCH should have always paid rent on Endeavour House and this was not a new charge, and SCH had been made aware of the need to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

BUDGET FRAMEWORK 2014/15 – 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 61 KB

To provide an update on the budget position for 2014/15 and subsequent years and to seek recommendations on the budget for Full Council. The budget for 2014/15 set out in Section 4 of this report is £169.7 million, of which £27.5m relates to the tariff and levy payments the Council will be required to make to central government in respect of the business rates retention scheme. The budget does not assume any increase in council tax. The current council tax Band D figure, excluding police, fire and parish precepts, is £1,173.72.At the time of writing this report, the final local government finance settlement had not been announced. This is expected to be announced before the Cabinet meeting, so an update will be provided.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet was provided with an update on the budget position for 2014/15 and subsequent years and invited to make a number of recommendations on the budget for Full Council to consider.

 

The Cabinet was provided with a copy of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board Minutes of 5 February 2014 which set out the Boards consideration of the Budget Framework.

 

The Director of Resources advised Members that the budget for 2014/15 was set out in Section 4 of his report and was £169.7 million, at the time of writing the report, of which £27.5m related to the tariff and levy payments the Council would be required to make to central government in respect of the business rates retention scheme. The budget did not assume any increase in council tax. The current council tax Band D figure, excluding police, fire and parish precepts, was £1,173.72.

 

The Director of Resources also referred Members to the Leaders report which had been circulated as a supplement to the main agenda, which pointed out that the referendum limit for 2014/15 had been confirmed at 2%. That the Leader was recommending a freeze on Solihull’s element of the council tax, and following a series of updates referred to in his report he was recommending a budget for 2014/15 of £169.792m.

 

In considering the report some Members questioned why a council tax freeze was being proposed, when the Budget Strategy Group seemed to be supporting an increase. Concerns also remained about what would happen when the Government council tax grant came to an end. The Director of Resources advised the Council’s final settlement had been more favourable than previously reported, and the revised budget position over the three year period had improved. Other Members commented that it would have been irresponsible to put the council tax up just for the sake of it.

 

On the issue of holding a recorded vote on the level of council tax, Officers confirmed that they would try and find the most efficient way of doing this.

 

In conclusion Members agreed that Officers had worked extremely hard to avoid increasing the council tax while producing a balanced budget with a three strategy which offered a level of stability that a lot of Councils could not achieve.

 

 

RESOLVED:

 

(i)  That the updated budget position as outlined in the report and the savings proposals detailed at appendices A, B, C and D be noted;

 

(ii)  That the proposed use of working balances, as detailed in paragraph 3.5 be approved;

 

(iii)   That the £1.2 million per annum additional Pension Fund contribution for the period 2017/18 to 2019/20 that willbe required on top of the 2016 Pension Fund revaluation results, as detailed in paragraph 4.5 be noted;

 

(iv)  That the creation and use of a Development, Investment and Growth (DIG) Fund as detailed in section 7 be approved;

 

(v)  That the contribution of any positive variance from the Public Health budget position at the end of 2013/14 into a reserve, to be utilised as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL STRATEGY 2014/15 TO 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 33 KB

To outline the medium term financial strategy for consideration and to recommend that the document goes forward to Full Council for consideration alongside the detailed budget proposals for 2014/15 to 2016/17. At the time of writing this report, the final local government settlement had not been received. It is expected to be received before the Cabinet meeting and an update on the settlement figures will be provided.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet was provided with an outline of the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for consideration and to recommend that the document goes forward to Full Council for consideration alongside the detailed budget proposals for 2014/15 to 2016/17.

 

The Cabinet was provided with a copy of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board Minutes of 5 February 2014 which set out the Boards consideration of the Medium Term Financial Strategy.

 

The Director of Resources reminded Members that the MTFS was a formal document which brought together high level plans for both revenue and capital spending over the three years from 2014/15 to 2016/17. The MTFS supported the medium term policy and financial planning process at the heart of setting the Council’s revenue and capital budgets. The main principles underpinning the strategy were detailed in the report along with the main challenges which the Council faced in relation to delivering a Sustainable Community Strategy and Council Plan.

 

RESOLVED:

That Full Council be recommended to approve the 2014/15 -2016/17 Medium Term Financial Strategy as updated per Appendices *A and B*.

 

(Note * Appendix A and B as detailed in the Leaders supplementary report.)

 

9.

Economic Conditions pdf icon PDF 166 KB

 

To update Cabinet on economic conditions in Solihull, including the Local Economic Assessment update 2013/14, and seek Cabinet’s endorsement of the local response and recommendations.

 

.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet was presented with a standard item updating them on economic conditions in Solihull, including the Local Economic Assessment 2013/14.

 

In presenting the report the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Regeneration commented that the report contained a lot of positive news, and highlighted a number of these. In responding to comments around youth unemployment and long term unemployment the Cabinet Portfolio Holder acknowledged that there was work still to do and there was no room for complacency, but the Council had been making progress in these areas.

 

RESOLVED:

That the local response to economic conditions and recommendations for future activity and development consistent with the principal of “managed economic growth” be approved.

 

10.

Exclusion of the Public and Press

The meeting is likely not to be open to the public during discussion of the following items because the reports contain exempt information as defined in Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972

Minutes:

RESOLVED

That, in pursuance of Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the Press and the Public be now excluded from the meeting for the remainder of the business to be transacted, on the grounds that there would be disclosure to them of exempt information in terms of paragraph 3 of Part 9 of Schedule 12A to the said Act

 

11.

NORTH SOLIHULL PRIMARY PROGRAMME - PHASE 3 SCHOOLS TENDER ACCEPTANCE

This report outlines the final scheme proposal for the redevelopment of Fordbridge and Coleshill Heath Primary Schools, the fifth and sixth schools within the North Solihull Primary Programme.