Issue - meetings


Meeting: 22/03/2023 - Policy and Resources Committee (Item 117)

117 Edsential pdf icon PDF 322 KB

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The Director of Finance introduced the report which provided an update on Edsential and the proposed Annual Business Plan for 2023-2024. The report detailed that Edsential was a jointly owned Community Interest Company with Cheshire West and Chester Council providing a range of services to the education sector. The Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council and the Company were parties to a Shareholders Agreement dated 1 December 2015 which provided that the Company shall provide each shareholder a Business Plan for each financial year for approval.


It was reported to the Committee that following the financial impact of the closure of schools during the Pandemic on Edsential, Policy and Resources on 10th November 2021 authorised a Covid related funding support grant of £643,000 and an interest-bearing loan of £857,000, with the 2022/23 business plan devised to allow the company to reset its activities post Covid and make agreed repayments against the loan. The Committee was further advised that the autumn’s inflationary spike in respect of food ingredient prices, energy and wage costs had impacted levels of return, and therefore the proposed 2023/24 Annual Business Plan set out a number of measures which the company believed would enable it to trade at a level to recover its position.


Officers and members had reviewed the business plan and felt that further analysis was required to gain a better understanding of the assumptions and therefore the outcome of the further work should be reported back to Policy and Resources or Shareholder Board before the agreement of the 2023/24 Annual Business Plan.


The Committee debated the contents of the report and the proposed Annual Business Plan in detail.


Councillor Pat Cleary suggested an addition to the officer recommendations, so that the second recommendation included an additional sentence: ‘This report to include a list of and details around the options available to the council regarding the future provision of services provided by Edsential.’


Councillor Jenny Johnson suggested an alteration to the officer recommendation, to delete reference to Shareholder Board as she felt the matter warranted further consideration by Policy and Resources Committee.


The Chair confirmed that she had no objection to either suggestion. Therefore, on a motion by the Chair, seconded by Councillor Jean Robinson, it was –


Resolved – That


(1)  the draft annual business plan for 2023-2024 submitted by Edsential CIC in accordance with the requirements of the Shareholders Agreement be noted.

(2)  the Director of Finance, in consultation with the Director of Law and Governance, be requested to engage with the company to establish a deeper understanding of the company’s functioning with a view to suggesting revisions to the Annual Business Plan for 2023 – 2024 and to report back to a future meeting of this committee with recommendations relating to such a revised annual business plan. This report to include a list of and details around the options available to the council regarding the future provision of services provided by Edsential.