Issue - meetings

Portfolio Holder Briefing - Organisation Portfolios

Meeting: 09/12/2020 - Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Item 48)

48 Portfolio Holder Briefing - Organisation Portfolios pdf icon PDF 165 KB

To receive briefings from the three Portfolio Holders – Organisation – Executive Members for Finance & Governance, Investment and Companies and Corporate Policy and Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the Portfolio Holder Briefings – Organisation Portfolios from the Portfolio Holders for Finance and Governance (Councillor T. Schofield), Corporate Policy and Resources (Councillor V. Lewanski) and Investment and Companies (Councillor T. Archer). It was noted that the three Executive Members had received Advance questions which included their two or three most important  objectives in their portfolios for the year and what they regard as the biggest risks and challenges.

Councillor T. Schofield said that the main priorities in the Finance and Governance area were to maintain effective financial programmes and controls that support the long-term financial sustainability of the Council. It would continue to provide and improve clear and transparent financial information. He was working with his three Heads of Service to ensure high standards of professionalism in the provision of services and support both to the organisation and to residents.

Finance priorities included continuing to develop MTFP budget forecasts taking into account new pressures and opportunities and uncertainties and ensure borrowing and investments are in line within the Treasury Management Strategy limits and continue to develop year-end closedown processes that have been affected this year. Challenges included continuing to manage the financial impacts of COVID-19 pandemic and planning for implementation of the Relative Needs & Resources (Fair Funding) review and other proposed changes to Government funding streams.

On Revenues, Benefits & Fraud the priority was working towards a commercial trading company and further developing external work to provide further new income streams. The ongoing adverse impacts of COVID-19 on collection rates for council tax and business rates was a risk.

Governance priorities included planning and delivery of elections in May 2021 which now included three concurrent elections including the PCC election with pressure to count and deliver the results. Also, a refresh and review of the standards protocol and the meetings cycle to enhance effective working relations between councillors and officers. The impact of COVID-19 on staffing and management of elections was a risk mitigated by detailed planning and risk assessments. Legal priorities included recruitment of a budgeted Property and Planning Lawyer and training and development of the trainee Solicitor and Paralegal. Risks included recruitment and retention of skilled and qualified lawyers.

Members asked questions and discussed the following areas:

·         Local elections – Members asked what would happen if the local elections in May were postponed again and what the financial implications would be if this happened. Officers confirmed that the government had been very clear that it did not want to postpone the elections again. There were financial implications to run three elections in a covid-secure way and keep residents and staff safe. The Council was lobbying for additional money from Government for this purpose. It was not known yet what the exact figure would be for running the three elections, but officers would keep councillors informed. There may be savings for running three elections on one day and the budget from 2020 had been carried forward. It needed the right PPE and Perspex screens to protect staff  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48