Report by the Chief Executive.
16.1 The Chief Executive introduced the report. The purpose of the report is to provide the Committee with information on the expenditure and performance plans for services within its remit, the Core Offer, and the current savings plan. Cabinet discussed the State of the County report at the meeting on 16 July 2019 which sets out the financial position for the Council. Subsequent to this, the new Chancellor has announced a spending round, the details of which have been circulated in a briefing note to all Councillors. The additional funding that has been announced in the headline figures is very welcome, but Officers do not know yet how much of this additional funding East Sussex County Council (ESCC) will receive. The announcement also includes the ability set a Council Tax precept for Adult Social Care above the current cap on general Council Tax increases. As the settlement is for the next financial year only, all additional funding announced will be one-off in nature.
16.2 The Scrutiny Committee will be updated when there is more certainty on the funding settlement for ESCC for 2020/21. There is also a commitment to ensure Scrutiny will remain involved in the draft budget proposals.
16.3 The Lead Member for Resources welcomed Scrutiny’s involvement in the RPPR process and looks forward to hearing Scrutiny’s ideas, as there are significant stresses across the services and budget. There is a degree of variability due to changes announced in the financial settlement for Local Government. The next steps for the Council will be to plan the budget in detail once further information is available.
Discussion by the Committee
16.4 The Committee discussed the report and commented that there are a lot of unknowns regarding the budget. The Committee agreed to defer a detailed discussion of the budget until the more detailed figures from the financial settlement are known. It observed that if the more detailed financial information is not available until close to the budget setting meetings, it is more difficult to work up alternatives especially with one-off funding for another year. The Committee also raised the question of how the Council is going to apply the one-off funding and the impact on current savings plans.
16.5 The Chief Executive reassured the Committee that the Council is used to dealing with one-off funding and is careful not to create a continuing revenue commitment from the use of one-off monies. The Committee were invited to contribute any suggestions for areas that may be worth exploring for further savings or investment.
16.6 The Committee discussed forming an RPPR Board to consider the budget proposals in more detail. The Committee agreed to form an RPPR Board comprised of Councillors Bob Bowdler, Godfrey Daniel, John Barnes, Chris Dowling, Pat Rodohan and Stephen Shing. The Democratic Services Adviser is to contact Councillors Martin Clarke and Nigel Enever to see if they wish to take part in the RPPR Board.
16.7 The Committee RESOLVED to agree to:
1) Request further information on how the one-funding, announced in the financial settlement, will be applied when more detailed information is available; and
2) Establish an RPPR scrutiny review board comprised of the Committee members listed in paragraph 16.6 (above) to consider the developing Portfolio Plans, Core Offer, and savings proposals as they emerge in December and to submit Scrutiny’s final comments on them to Cabinet in January 2020.