Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

To improve accessibility individual documents published after 1 May 2020 are available as HTML pages where their original format supports this

Speaking at a Council or Committee meeting

Venue: Remote: Zoom meeting

Contact: Tom Hudson, Scrutiny Officer 

Note: Meeting moved from 30/06/20 @open parts of this meeting will be held by Zoom and streamed to the Council's YouTube channel when the meeting starts,https://www.youtube.com/oxfordcitycouncil 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Substitutes are not allowed.

Minutes:

None

 

Councillor Munkonge arrived during this item

2.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

None

3.

Work plan pdf icon PDF 261 KB

For the Panel to note and agree its work plan, which can be adjusted to reflect the wishes of the Panel. Panel members are, however, reminder that at the present time Scrutiny has agreed to limit its consideration of reports to those going to Cabinet.

 

Minutes:

The work plan to September was NOTED by the Panel.

 

4.

Notes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 401 KB

For the Panel to approve the record of the meeting held on 25 February 2020.

 

Minutes:

The notes of the meeting of 25 February 2020 were agreed as an accurrate record.

The Panel was informed that the draft paper to Cabinet regarding the Panel’s response to the report it considered on Monitoring Social Value had been delayed and would also be considered at the next meeting. This information was NOTED.

 

5.

April Budget Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 802 KB

Nigel Kennedy, Head of Financial Services, will be available to present the April Financial monitoring report, which will be going to Cabinet, showing the financial impact on the council of coronavirus together with mitigations taken to date. The Panel is asked to consider the report and agree any recommendations to Cabinet accordingly.

 

NB This report will be issued as a late paper in a supplement.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel was introduced to the Cabinet report by Head of Financial Services, Nigel Kennedy. Facing what is reported to be the worst recession since the 18th century, deficits in the Council’s budget were estimated to be approximately £9.4m over the current financial year, and with Covid-19 related measures having a continued impact, a further £14m for the remainder of the Medium Term Financial Plan. It was sensible, therefore, to provide an unusually early update report, even if there was considerable uncertainty around the figures.

 

The majority of the deficit reflected income losses from a variety of sources, including commercial rents, Council company dividends, and car parking in particular. In addition, however, Council expenditure had increased: providing all rough sleepers with accommodation, establishing locality hubs, and equipping the Council to work remotely were all areas of expenditure for which budget provision had not been made. Government grants of £1.6m had been received, but were far short of the predicted deficit for the year. Decisions of further support by central government were not expected until the autumn, and it was unclear whether this would be forthcoming. 

 

The recommended response to the situation was put forward as advising that the Council make use of earmarked reserves, with the consequent impact on the projects for which they were earmarked, to close the current year’s budget deficit and to accept the loss of interest and increased borrowing costs arising from reduced reserve levels. Identification of the reserves chosen to use would be a future decision. In conjunction, newly agreed expenditure would be paused and existing spending likewise unless it sat within set criteria for the good-running of the Council or improving its financial position. Some capital spending would also be delayed. The purpose of the strategy was explained to give the Council as many options and give it the maximum flexibility on when considering how to close the predicted deficits of future years. This would be undertaken in December as part of the budget-setting process. The impact of the coronavirus on the HRA was relatively minor, and it was recommended that its existing strategy be maintained.

 

Whilst the financial position was financially challenging, the view of the Head of Financial Services was that the Council, if it implemented the recommendations in the report, was not facing the need to make a s. 114 notice, a requirement where Councils cannot bring expenditure and income into balance.

 

Whilst it was uncertain whether additional funds would be made available from government, the Council was also being proactive in lobbying government for the right to capitalise losses and write them off over a longer period. No agreement from government had been received to date in regards to this. The costs of doing so would not be negligible – borrowing costs of around 2.5% and the need for a minimum revenue provision. However, a long period over which to close the deficits in the Medium Term Financial Plan would ease the current financial burden on the revenue account.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Future Meeting Dates

Meetings are scheduled as follows:

 

07 July 2020 2020

29 September 2020

 

All meetings start at 6.00pm and will be held remotely unless notified otherwise.

Minutes:

The dates of future meetings were NOTED.