43.1 The Cabinet considered a report by the Chief Executive together with further information received following the publication of the Cabinet agenda including a summary of the consultation meeting held with Trade Unions
43.2 It was RESOLVED to:
1) i) agree the proposals recommended for implementation in Appendix 3a and 3b, subject to Council agreeing the budget limit for that particular item in Appendix 3; and
ii) delegate authority to the relevant Chief Officers to take any actions necessary to give effect to or in consequence of the above recommendation.
2) approve the fees and charges set out in Appendix 4 and delegate authority to the Chief Finance Officer to approve an increase to all other fees and charges by up to 2%;
3) recommend County Council to:
i) Approve in principle the draft Council Plan at Appendix 1 and authorise the Chief Executive to finalise the Plan in consultation with the relevant Lead Members;
ii) Increase the Council Tax, in line with the current Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) by 3.99% (2% of which relates to the Adult Social Care precept), and then issue precepts accordingly to be paid by Borough and District Councils in accordance with the agreed schedule of instalments at Appendix 5;
iii) Approve the net Revenue Budget estimates for 2016/17 set out in Appendix 2a;
iv) Approve the fees and charges set out in Appendix 4 and delegate authority to the Chief Finance Officer to approve an increase to all other fees and charges by up to 2%;
v) Approve the draft Capital Programme (see Appendix 2a) including further investment in essential programme need 2016/17 to 2017/18 as set out in Appendix 2a;
vi) Authorise the Chief Operating Officer, in consultation with the Chief Finance Officer, Leader and Deputy Leader, to make adjustments to the presentation of the budget to reflect the final settlement;
vii) Note the MTFP forecast for the period 2016/17 to 2018/19 as set out in Appendix 2a; and
viii) Note the comments from engagement exercises set out in Appendix 7.
4) endorse the letter to the Prime Minister set out in Appendix 8
43.3 The County Council is still projecting an overall deficit of at least £70m over 3 years. The proposed Medium Term Financial Plan provides a proposed budget which will give residents, businesses and partners a sustainable service offer during a period of significant change and uncertainty in local government and its financing. Identifying sustainable savings proposals for 2016/17 in order to deliver a balanced budget has been very challenging. The remaining two years of the current plan will be even more difficult as we need to bring forward significant additional savings in 2017/18, at the same time as demand will continue to grow. The County Council continues to be on track to deliver balanced budgets for the remaining two years of the MTFP. However, the significant policy changes that will take place over this period, particularly within Adult Social Care/Health integration and the removal of the County Council’s role in relation to schools, will mean that the current savings target of £70.2m is subject to uncertainty. The Council will continue to lobby the Government to ensure it both fully understands and recognises the impact of the financial constraints on residents and is persuaded to revisit the grant and National Non-Domestic Rate distribution for future years so they reflect local needs especially to more fairly recognise the real pressure on social care authorities. The Council will seek to ensure that the new financing arrangements reflect its needs, are accompanied by the flexibilities and freedoms that councils should have in order to manage their income sources; and to ensure that changes to policy and resourcing in areas such as schools apprentices are developed using a sound evidence base.
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.
22.1 The Committee considered a report by the Chief Executive which invited the Committee to begin its involvement in the Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources (RPPR) process. A revised Appendix 3 had been circulated. The Lead Member for Resources confirmed that no budget was exempt from investigation for potential savings.
22.2 The Committee discussed:
22.3 The Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer confirmed that the matter of what could be capitalised was subject to a set of technical accounting issues. The tenders for the Highways maintenance contract are being examined and assessed, and the process had been overseen by a Review Board of the Economy, Transport and Environment Scrutiny Committee. The Lead Member for Resources set out that the Asset Management Strategy was under review, including the use of community asset transfers, and would be presented to Scrutiny at a future meeting.
22.4 The Leader and Lead Member for Strategic Management and Economic Development emphasised the need for the Council to take a business-like approach, to improve opportunities to generate income. He stressed the need to exploit available resources fully, which could include community uses for Council-owned property, but that a flexibility of approach should be retained, to allow for disposal if necessary.
22.5 The Chief Operating Officer explained the impacts of digitisation in several modernisation programmes, such as Agile and the Social Care Information System (SCIS) update, and the links to the Information Management Strategy. The Chief Executive set out that there were significant demands on senior management as a result of the various transformation programmes that were under way and planned. A briefing on the street lighting project was offered, and it was confirmed that the Economy, Transport and Environment Scrutiny Committee were keeping the matter under review.
22.6 RESOLVED to (1) note the report;
(2) convene meetings of the standing RPPR Board in October and December 2015, and note that Review Boards had been established to examine the Library Service and Communications;
(3) focus on (a) the Property Strategy, (b) the shape and structure of the Council in the medium term, and (c) capital programme levels and funding sources.
23.1The Cabinet considered a report by the Chief Executive
23.2 It was RESOLVED to:
1) note the revised Medium Term Financial Plan including the movements within the forecast funding gap for 2016/17 - 2018/19 and pressures (Appendix 1 of the report);
2) note the uncertainty that will remain until the Comprehensive Spending Review on 25 November 2015 and the Local Government settlement announcement;
3) agree a savings requirement of £23m as a planning assumption for 2016/17;
4) note the Scrutiny Committees’ initial comments on areas of search (Appendix 4 of the report);
5) agree the proposed “One Council” framework for planning at paragraph 3.6 -3.19 of the report and savings proposals (Appendix 6 of the report); and
6) agree that more detailed work is done on all the above to develop the detailed draft plan for 2016/17 and the following two years
24.3 To note the progress in relation to savings proposals, agree a ‘One Council’ framework for planning and savings proposals and agree that more detailed work be undertaken to develop the detailed draft plan for 2016/17 and beyond
5.1 The Cabinet considered a report by the Chief Executive.
5.2 It was RESOLVED to:
1) agree to the development of a three year business and financial plan based on existing priority outcomes and operating principles;
2) note the anticipated financial context for the period 2016/17 to 2018/19 is a savings requirement of £70m - £90m, subject to any announcements which affect financial plans in the budget on 8 July 2015, with plans to be developed for savings of £20m - £25m in 2016/17 for initial consideration by Cabinet in October;
3) note the evidence base on demographics and the policy and resources outlook set out in the report and in Appendix 2 and 3;
4) agree the proposed areas of search for savings proposals for consideration by Cabinet in October, as set out in paragraphs 4.12 – 4.16 and 6.4 of the report;
5) note the developing proposals for lobbying communications and engagement as set out in paragraph 7 of the report;
6) agree the revised capital programme in Appendix 4;
7) note the progress made in identifying capital pressures and potential resources in Appendix 4; and
8) recommend the County Council to agree the amendments to the Treasury management Strategy set out in Appendix 5 to facilitate investment in a wholly local government owned municipal bond agency
5.3 The report begins our Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources process for 2016/17 and beyond