Issue - meetings
Scrutiny Budget Review 2017/18
The Finance Panel have completed a detailed review of the draft budget and medium term financial plan proposals that were approved for consultation by the City Executive Board on 15 December 2016.
Why is it on the agenda?
For the Panel to approve the budget review report for submission to the City Executive Board on 9 February 2017. Report to follow.
Who has been invited to comment?
· Nigel Kennedy, Head of Financial Services;
· Anna Winship, Management Accounting Manager.
- Budget Report February CEB and council 2017 v8, item 39 PDF 215 KB View as DOCX (39/2) 229 KB
- Appendix 10 Budget Consultation responses 270117 FINAL, item 39 PDF 77 KB
The Head of Financial Services talked through his updated budget report. He highlighted the main adjustments to the consultation budget including:
· Changes to Business Rates tariffs and thresholds.
· Changes to New Homes Bonus income.
· Additional savings resulting from fundamental service reviews of Organisational Development & Human Resources and Procurement.
· New or additional allocations for small cycling schemes, Go Ultra Low Taxis, grants to fund ‘stay and play’ activities, etc.
· Spending £1.3m of the contingency for higher value council housing on building new bungalows in two locations.
The Panel welcomed the additional spending allocations in principle without having sight of the detail of how these allocations would be spent.
In response to a question, the Panel heard that some new build projects including the bungalows would not be done by the housing company. This was due to the volume of activity going through the company and the viability of its draft business plan. The Council was making three separate loans to the company that would be compliant with state-aid regulations. The establishment of the company meant that the council could borrow to develop sites while avoiding the debt cap. Any profits made by the company could be released as dividends (to the council) or reinvested in the company.
The Panel noted some concern that the fourth year of the budget is balanced using an £800k transfer from the General Fund working balance (which was being built up in years one and two), and questioned whether this meant that a budget gap would be built in to year 5 (outside of the plan period). The Head of Financial Services said that the budget was balanced over 4 years and that the working balance would not drop below the prudent level of £3.5m.
The Panel noted disappointment in the low response rate to the budget consultation (both generally and specific to council tenants) and the fact that the council had not advertised in the Oxford Mail as had previously been indicated.
The Panel agreed that the above points should be reflected in their budget report.
The Panel also asked to have sight of the consultation comments and a break-down of capital receipts factored into the funding of the capital programme.