Venue: New Council Chamber - Town Hall, Reigate. View directions
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To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the previous meeting.
RESOLVED that the Minutes of the previous meeting on 11 July 2019 were approved as a correct record.
The Chair welcomed the Committee. He noted that the Report from the External Auditors on the 2018/19 Financial Accounts (ISA 260 Report) is now expected to be available to be discussed at the 17 October 2019 meeting of the Committee rather than this meeting.
The Interim Head of Finance and Assets explained that the draft report was presented to Executive on 18 July 2019. Subsequently it was identified that some fixed asset elements of the balance sheet required more work. This meant the External Auditors’ were not able to complete their audit by the end of July as previously planned. The audit of the revised statement is now nearly complete and it is anticipated that the final audit report would come to the next meeting. This will include looking at general year-end lessons learned and put in place arrangements next year to make sure that the specific issues relating to fixed assets were not repeated.
Apologies for absence and substitutions
To receive any apologies for absence and notification of any substitute Members in accordance with the Constitution.
Committee Members: Councillors F. Kelly, C. Neame.
Councillor J. Hudson (substituted for by Councillor D. Allcard).
Declarations of interest
To receive any Declarations of Interest (including the existence and nature of any Party Whip).
There were no declarations of interest.
To consider the Internal Audit 2019/20 Quarter 1 progress report and to make any observations.
Members considered the Internal Audit 2019/20 Quarter 1 progress report. The Chair welcomed the two representatives (Natalie Jerams and Neil Pitman) from the Council’s new Internal Auditors (Southern Internal Audit Partnership). He said he was pleased that they would be attending every meeting. Work had just started on this year’s internal audit.
Key messages – the Internal Auditors outlined the key messages in
the report. The purposes of the report was to give the status of
‘live’ internal audit reports as well as an update on
progress and to raise any significant issues that may have an
impact on their annual opinion. A performance dashboard set out the
delivery of the performance plan: six per cent were completed; one
out of 17 audits was completed. All programmed audits were underway
and delivery of the plan was therefore on schedule. There were no
‘live’ reports with management actions outstanding. The
first report on Decision Making and Accountability was reported as
‘Substantial’ which meant there was a sound framework
of internal control so there were no management actions. The
customer feedback was based on an annual survey which the Council
would be able to take part in next year.
· Work programme – Page 31 of the report onwards set out the rolling work programme for the year and the status of each review. The auditors reported that the programme was on track for year. It was noted that staff had co-operated very well and the auditors were happy with progress at the moment. It was noted that there had been some adjustments to the plan. It had brought forward the Main Accounting audit at the request of the Interim Head of Finance and Assets to provide earlier assurance on the operation of core financial systems and processes. Fraud and Irregularities and Information Security had been added this year at the request of the Committee. Supporting Families, IT Business Continuity, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard and Housing Benefits had been deferred to 2020/21 as a result.
The Chief Executive said he was pleased a good start had been made and thanked the Internal Auditors for their work so far.
There were no further questions from Members.
RESOLVED – that the Internal Audit 2019/20 Quarter 1 progress report be noted.
To consider the Draft Corporate Plan 2020-2025 in accordance with the Council’s constitution
Councillor S. Sinden and Councillor S. Walsh arrived at the meeting.
Members considered the Draft Corporate Plan 2020-25 in accordance with the Council’s constitution. The Executive Member for Housing and Benefits, Councillor G. Knight introduced the item. He thanked the work of both Members and Officers who had worked hard to develop the plan over a two-year journey so far. He also thanked the Head of Corporate Policy for her work on behalf of himself and the Leader. The plan is now in a period of consultation and as part of that the Committee were due to provide feedback on the draft plan.
Councillor Knight noted that it was an ambitious plan. It included new areas of focus on both housing and environmental sustainability. It set the direction of travel for the Council. Over the coming weeks and months, Members would start to see more detail about items set out in the plan, such as the housing delivery strategy. The plan commits the Council to delivering high quality services. The Council needs to generate more income to do this, due to the cut in government funding. It had already established the Commercial Ventures Executive Sub-Committee, and the capital strategy explained how the Council will develop its commercial approach.
He also asked for the Committee’s views on how the Plan had been developed, including Member engagement. Did it reflect the areas where the Council should be focusing its activity? The consultation started on 16 July 2019 and was due to close on Monday 16 September 2019.
Committee Members had a number of questions and comments in the discussion that followed:
Work of the Council
– Members praised the inclusive way that the
Corporate Plan had been drawn together. The plan reflected the full
width and breadth of the work and services of the Council which was
of interest to residents in the Borough. The Executive Member was
thanked for the two presentations that had been given to groups in
the north of the Borough.
– it was identified that co-ordination with
partners such as Surrey County Council was very important.
Residents wanted a one stop shop so they could access services at a
single point. Members welcomed what had been done so far.
· Housing – it was noted that Council is developing a detailed Housing Delivery Strategy to deliver the priority in the draft Plan. It has just re-confirmed its core planning strategy. It would be sensible to reflect this in the updated Corporate Plan as it set the scene. Members asked for more detail about the housing objective to deliver a minimum of 30 per cent affordable housing on all housing schemes on Council-owned land.
The Executive Member for Housing and Benefits said that the housing delivery strategy would have more detail in the next three months or so. The Council was concerned that there were many young people and those who worked in the community such as teachers, health care workers, police officers and local government officers ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To consider the Capital Investment Strategy for the 2019/20 financial period and, where appropriate, provide feedback for consideration by the Executive.
Members considered the Capital Investment Strategy for the 2019/20 financial period and provided feedback for consideration by the Executive.
The Executive Member for Finance, Councillor T. Schofield presented the latest Capital Investment Strategy. This forms a key part of the Council’s governance arrangements. It provides a mechanism by which investment and financing plans can be prioritised, ensuring that capital decisions took account of stewardship, value for money, prudence, sustainability and affordability. An Outline Capital Investment Strategy was approved by the Executive in March. This report reflects work carried out over recent months, overseen by the Commercial Ventures Executive Sub-Committee (CVESC) and Commercial Ventures Officer board. There will be further work to complete going forward. The Strategy will be used to support the 2020/21 Service and Financial Planning process when prioritising future capital investment plans and identification of new sources of income to address the forecast budget gap.
Members had a number of questions and comments on the report, relating to the following topics:
Work plan – the
Chair commented that this was still work in progress. The Strategy
had started to develop the numbers required to help meet the
Council’s financial objectives. It was expected to develop
further as priorities in the new Corporate Plan and Housing
Strategy were finalised. This was set out in a logical sequence as
the Council started to look at Budget gaps, set out its final plans
and proposed commercial investments.
Feasibility studies – Members asked about progress during recent months,
including the allocation of £25m in the Capital Programme for
investment in corporate priorities in 2019/20 onwards and the
creation of an earmarked reserve of £250k that was available
to fund feasibility studies. The report confirmed that the
Commercial Ventures Executive Sub-Committee now has delegated
authority to approve investment of these funds. It was commented
that the feasibility studies were revenue expenditure as opposed to
the £25 million which is capital investment. It was confirmed
that the wording would be amended to clarify this.
Commercial Ventures Executive Sub-Committee
(CVESC) – the Chair made the point
that there was on-going work to evaluate the risk profile and
capital investment criteria which had been overseen by the CVESC. A
lot of work had been undertaken by the CVESC at informal meetings
but so far nothing had formally come to that Committee so far. He
asked for assurances that a report would be formally put forward
and that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee would be consulted.
This was a very important area as it was looking at management
information about investment performance as well as setting
criteria for future investment. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee
would also want to comment on proposals. The Executive Member for
Finance gave those reassurances. CVESC, since its establishment in
May, worked in both a formal and informal setting. These items
would eventually come through to a formal meeting for
· Social and environmental impacts – Members asked if the Council reviewed any undue environmental impact of capital investment schemes while looking ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To consider the Performance Report for Quarter 1 (2019/20) and to make any observations.
Members considered the key service performance for the first quarter of the year (2019/20).
The Executive Member for Corporate Direction and Governance, Councillor V. Lewanski, outlined the main findings from the quarterly report. In summary, 10 of the 14 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) reported in this quarter were on target. Two of the KPIs were outside the agreed tolerance level: KPI 2 –Total number of residential completions and KPI 14 – Percentage of household waste that is recycled and composted.
One indicator (KPI 4) was contextual. This tracked the number of individuals/households that approached the Council for homelessness support and as this was a figure outside the direct control of the Council no target could be set. KPI 1 (Maintain levels of self-service transaction) could not be reported on due to a combination of factors, including a back office systems upgrade.
In the first quarter of 2019/20, KPI 2 (residential completions) showed that there were 66 completions out of a target of 115. The low completions this quarter reflected the phasing of some major developments which results in an uneven distribution of housing completions throughout the year. It also noted as a comparison that in 2018/19 as a whole, the target of 460 residential completions had been exceeded, 515 having been completed. It was further noted that KPI 3 – (Number of affordable homes) was ahead of target for this quarter out of a target of 25 affordable homes, the Council had completed 37 which was ahead of target.
On KPI 14, the percentage of household waste that had been recycled and composted was 51.6 per cent, in comparison with the new “stretch” target of 57 per cent. Performance had increased despite a reduction in garden waste resulting from dry growing conditions early in the year. Current indications showed that mixed recycling tonnages would increase due to an additional 1,900 flats now receiving enhanced kerbside recycling collections.
There were no new strategic risks identified in Quarter 1. A general risk management update is not provided in Quarter 1, however it was appropriate for an update to be provided on the strategic risk concerning Brexit. It was noted that as the 31 October exit date from Europe approached, the Council has appointed a Brexit Lead Officer who is coordinating the Council’s preparations and a Lead Member, Councillor T. Schofield.
There were a number of questions and comments on the report relating to the following areas:
· Review of KPIs and residential completions – Members asked for an update on the review of Key Performance Indicators. It was identified that a new set of indicators would be produced for the Committee in December/January. This would include reviewing indicators such as the number of residential completions which the Council could not significantly control or influence. While it was not felt to be a helpful measurement to show what the Borough itself was delivering, it was vital to monitor given the Core Strategy new homes target. In view of this, Members were surprised that permissions ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
To receive a report on the constitution of a Budget Scrutiny Panel for the year 2019/20.
Members received a report detailing the proposed membership, timetable and scope of the Budget Scrutiny Review Panel 2019/20.
The nominations for membership of the panel were confirmed at the meeting, and were as follows:
Conservative Group: Councillors S. Parnall and S. Walsh. Two more nominations would be confirmed at the next meeting.
Residents’ Association Group: Councillor N. Harrison
Green Group: Councillor J. Essex
Liberal Democrats: Councillor J. Philpott
It was noted that all Councillors were welcome to attend the meeting of the panel, even if they were not a member of the panel.
RESOLVED – that:
(i) The membership of the Budget Scrutiny Review Panel and the timetable for the preparation of the Budget for 2019/20 be agreed as set out in the report and confirmed at the meeting.
(ii) The scope of the Budget Scrutiny Review Panel work during 2019/20 be agreed as set out in the report.
To consider any updates to the Work Programme for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for 2019/20 and to consider the Action Tracker from the previous meeting.
Members considered the Future Work Programme for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for 2019/20 and the Action Tracker from the previous meeting.
It was noted that the Report from the External Auditors on 2018/19 Financial Accounts (ISA 260) would be discussed at the next Committee.
RESOLVED – that the Future Work Programme for 2019/20 be agreed and the Action Tracker from the previous meeting be noted.
To consider any items arising from the Executive which might be subject to the ‘call-in’ procedure in accordance with the provisions of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules set out in the Constitution.
It was reported that there were no items arising from the Executive that might be subject to the ‘call-in’ procedure in accordance with the provisions of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Procedure Rules.
Any other urgent business
To consider any item(s) which, in the opinion of the Chairman, should be considered as a matter of urgency - Local Government Act 1972, Section 100B(4)(b).
(NOTE: Under the Committee and Sub-Committee Procedure Rules set out in the Constitution, items of urgent business must be submitted in writing but may be supplemented by an oral report.)
There were no items of urgent business.