Agenda and draft minutes
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Contact: Tom Hudson, Scrutiny Officer
Substitutes are not allowed.
Councillor Simmons sent apologies.
Declarations of interest
For the Panel to note and agree its work plan, which can be adjusted to reflect the wishes of the Panel.
The Panel noted that no further meetings of the Finance Panel are scheduled for the 2019/20 civic year. It was AGREED that at its first meeting of the new civic year, 30 June 2020, a report would be taken on assessing the Council’s options for borrowing, including the strengths and weaknesses of the PWLB, social impact bonds, municipal bonds and establishing the Council’s own bond.
For the Panel to approve the record of the meeting held on 29 January 2020.
The Panel approved the record of the meeting held on 29 January 2020.
Nigel Kennedy, Head of Financial Services, Anette Osborne, Procurement Manager (ODS) and Kay Allsop, Contracts and Procurement Specialist will be available to present a report on The Social Value Act 2012 and Social Responsibility in Procurement. The Panel is asked to consider the report and make any recommendations accordingly.
Nigel Kennedy, Head of Financial Services, Annette Osborne, Procurement Manager and Kay Allsop, Contracts and Procurement Specialist addressed the Panel in regards to the report on Monitoring Social Value.
The Council agreed to implement a 5% weighting on social value within contracts above £25,000 in May 2019. The requirements of the Social Value Act for local authorities is simply that service contracts above c. £590k are required to include consideration of social value; the Council was shown therefore to be committed to embedding the principle more deeply.
Having implemented the concept less than a year previously the Council was still having to learn and manage a number of issues. In particular, one of the aims of considering Social Value was to provide support for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). However, it was proving to be challenging to find a balance between a meaningful monitoring of social value and one which did not overburden SMEs with bureaucracy, thereby precluding them from contracts through the very things which were brought in to support them. The Council was working hard to bring SMEs alongside and ensure a level playing field, but work with SMEs is often best at a personal level, which is very resource intensive.
Owing to the need not to be overly-bureaucratic the Council also faced challenges relating to issues reliant on a level of bureaucracy: measuring the impact of various social value interventions, being able to evaluate the relative value of different interventions, and tracking that promised undertakings were indeed acted upon. Whilst the Council had some measure of the first, it was subjective and certainly would not allow for a comparison between the benefit of two different types of intervention. Monitoring of the latter required embedding through training and systems in contract management relationships. The Council was currently looking to the leaders on implementing social value – Manchester, Croydon, Bristol and Portsmouth - for ways to manage these challenges.
Despite the challenges recognised, it was also recognised that the Council is a long way ahead of many, many Councils both nationally and locally in terms of its grappling with the challenges and implementation of the requirement.
A number of issues were raised in relation to the report presented. In particular:
- The suggestion that the social value weighting was only applied to non-OJEU contracts rather than bigger contracts. It was confirmed that this had taken place at the very commencement of implementation, but the social value weighting had been extended shortly after.
- The recognition that not all responses to questions on social value are recorded in a central location. Whilst desirable for data purposes, it was not possible to record all offers of social value due to an alternative process, purchase orders, being available for contracts of less than £25k, which would not have records made centrally.
- How to be more exacting in ensuring social value benefits are realised when assessing tender documents. In light of the challenges faced by SMEs and the need to maintain ... view the full minutes text for item 13.
Nigel Kennedy, Head of Financial Services and Anna Winship, Management Accountancy Manager, will be attending to present the Integrated Performance Report for Quarter 3. The Panel is asked to consider the report and make any recommendations to Cabinet accordingly.
This report will be issued as a supplement.
Nigel Kennedy, Head of Financial Services, and Anna Winship, Management Accountancy Manager, presented the Integrated Q3 Performance report to the Panel.
Regarding the financial position of the General Fund the outturn position was forecast to be a favourable variance of £0.039 million against the latest net budget of £23.205 million (0.17%). The key variances were identified as
- Housing Services - £0.485 million – £335k of this adverse variance is due to unbudgeted expenditure relating to surveys for the Town Hall, Asbestos and Health and Safety and works to the Town hall ceilings, with £150k of the adverse variance relating to a pressure on the reactive maintenance budget
- Business Improvement – whilst no overall variance, ICT was identified as having a c£100k favourable variance, in the main due to a refund on telephony charges and establishment savings, partially offset by an adverse variance of a similar level due to additional spend on equalities and additional consultancy work
- Law & Governance - £0.064 million - adverse variance due to a pressure in the Directors salary budget and within Electoral registration budget these are offset by unbudgeted SLA income due to be received from work undertaken for the Housing Company.
- Oxford Direct Services - £0.060 million – adverse variance due to savings predicated on the development of the Recycling Transfer Station not materialising in year due to the scheme not yet being implemented which is partly offset by additional car parking income. It was clarified that the Recycling Transfer Station would be subsumed into the wider depot rationalisation plans which would not come forward until next year. This action will result in savings from the transfer station project not being realised until next year. The level of additional car parking income was anticipated to be approximately £100k, largely based on penalty income.
- Transfer to /from Earmarked Reserves - £0.335 million – use of the General Fund Repairs and Maintenance reserve to cover the expenditure relating to Town Hall surveys and works.
- Interest Payable/Receivable - £0.393 million – favourable variance due to increased returns on investments and less interest payable on external borrowing arising from slippage in the Councils capital programme. It was clarified that this meant an interest saving had been made due to delays to projects meaning budgeted external borrowing was not, therefore, required.
The Housing Revenue Account was reported as having a surplus of £1.205 million and the outturn position forecasting a favourable variance of £280k against this. The key variances were identified as follows:
· Dwelling Rent - £340k favourable variance due to lower than expected RTB sales and more properties than expected moving to formulae rents since the budget was set;
· Service Charges - £650k favourable variance due to tenant service charge income continuing to be higher than that budgeted (£270k), and leaseholder service charge income which is due to more leaseholders and recharges for major works, which are a one off increase in income (£380k);
· Garage income - £30k favourable variance due to ... view the full minutes text for item 14.
Future Meeting Dates
Meetings are scheduled as follows:
30 June 2020
29 September 2020
03 December 2020
All meetings start at 6.00pm.
The Panel noted the absence of meeting dates for the current civic year and noted the dates of meetings in the upcoming civic year.
Particular thanks were extended to the officers presenting reports at the meeting for their work.