Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
To consider the draft Council Plan 2016/17, the Revenue Budget and Capital Programme and to consider whether to implement the savings proposals set out in the report.
16.1 The Committee considered a report by the Chief Executive. The Lead Member for Resources confirmed that no budget was exempt from investigation for potential savings. The Chief Executive highlighted changes to the financial landscape that had occurred since the Whole Council Forum, namely the delay in the implementation of aspects of the Care Act, and the announcement of the National Living Wage commitment, with its potential impacts on construction and care contracts.
16.2 The Committee noted the areas of search for savings and recommended that the diagram in appendix 1 of the report should contain a reference to Business Growth as part of the Council’s One Council Plans. The Committee further recommended that Income Generation is added for the Communities, Economy and Transport (CET) Department. It was acknowledged that other Scrutiny Committees had expressed similar views for portfolios within their area of responsibility. There was a discussion as to what sectors the County Council can most effectively focus on, given the constraints on local authorities trading for profit, and the areas in which the County Council is the principal provider. The Committee felt it was important to highlight that funds raised would be spent for the benefit of the local community.
16.3 The Committee commented that it will be difficult to review the savings plans for the CET Department as a whole, without some indication of the contribution being made by the Libraries and Information Service as part of the areas of search. The work of the Audit, Best Value and Community Services Scrutiny Committee was highlighted, as was the report to the Cabinet due later in the year.
16.4 The Committee expressed concern that the combined Council revenue expenditure in regard to Governance Services, Business Services, Contingencies and Corporate Services is in excess of the entire budget for CET (including Libraries). While it was noted that the preceding concern did not take account of substantive capital expenditure, the fact remains that the impending budget reductions will very severely affect future revenue expenditure.
16.5 The Committee commented on the premises and business services costs for CET and asked if these costs will be reduced as the Spaces Programme, Agile, Orbis and other initiatives are implemented. It was confirmed that the whole Council estate was under review.
16.6 The Committee discussed the Road Safety section of the Transport and Environment portfolio plan. In particular the Committee noted the Killed and Seriously Injured (KSI) reduction target and work done with partners, such as the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, to address the root causes of KSIs. Investigation of KSI accidents has shown 90% are attributable to driver error. The effectiveness of proposed safety measures was discussed, to ensure schemes provide a measurable impact on the KSI figures even in the potential absence of enforcement by the Police, given their prioritisation of resources. The importance of evidence-based prioritisation was stressed. The proposed joint scrutiny work with the Audit, Best Value and Community Services Scrutiny Committee, to review the Public Health investment in Road Safety, was highlighted.
16.7 The Waste PFI Contract was recognised as a major area of expenditure for the Department. The Committee questioned whether sufficient savings or efficiencies could be delivered by the Waste Contract, given that recycling rates were falling. It was recognised that under performance in recycling rates represents a risk to the Council and the CET revenue budget. The different approaches of the County’s collection authorities were commented on as was income generation through treating waste as a resource, including use as refuse derived fuel, together with the markets available for recyclables.
16.8 The Committee discussed the Economy portfolio plan and welcomed the positive performance indicators on Job Seekers’ Allowance claimants and the speed at which average income per household is rising. The success of the You’re Hired campaign, and its appropriation by other local authorities was commented on.
16.9 The success of the Broadband project was welcomed, by the Committee, as was news of further investment secured for engineering and the development of an approach to the SELEP regarding 4G and covering existing mobile black spots. The crucial part that reliable internet access plays in supporting businesses, addressing health inequalities and reducing the need for travel was stressed by the Committee.
16.10 RESOLVED (1) to note the report; and
(2) to establish an RPPR Board consisting of all available Committee Members to consider the developing portfolio plans and savings proposals.
Report author: Becky Shaw
Publication date: 09/11/2015
Date of decision: 30/09/2015
Decided at meeting: 30/09/2015 - Economy, Transport and Environment Scrutiny Committee