Agenda and minutes

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Items
No. Item

49.

Members' Code of Conduct - Declarations of Interest

Members of the Cabinet are asked to consider whether they have any disclosable pecuniary and/or any other relevant interest, in connection with any item(s) on this agenda and, if so, to declare them and state the nature of the interest.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members of the Cabinet were asked to consider whether they had any disposable pecuniary and/or any other relevant interest, in connection with any item(s) on the agenda and, if so, to declare them and state the nature of the interest. 

 

Non Pecuniary - All Cabinet Members who were also School Governors declared non-pecuniary interests in Item No. 6B – Schools Budget and Funding Formula Changes 2019/20 by virtue of being School Governors.  

50.

Minutes

The minutes of the last meeting have been printed and published.  Any matters called in will be reported at the meeting.

 

RECOMMENDATION:  That the minutes be approved and adopted.

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Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the Minutes of the meetings on 26 November, 2018 and 17 December, 2018 be approved as a correct record.

51.

Revenue Monitoring 2018/19 Quarter 3 (To December 2018) pdf icon PDF 127 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

JanetteWilliamson UPDATED - To be used in minutes

Councillor Janette Williamson, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said:

The Council set a balanced, sustainable and fair budget in March 2018, despite significant government cuts and increasing demand for costly, specialist children’s social care services.

“Setting the budget under such difficult circumstances was tough but we continued to protect those services most important to our most vulnerable and target our resources to the areas that matters most to our communities.

“While keeping within our budget remains a challenge, as demand continues to rise, we

are confident we have the plans and expertise in place to deliver a balanced budget for the current year, as we have consistently done.”

 

The Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources introduced a report which set out the projected revenue position for 2018/19 as at the end of Quarter 3

(31 December 2018).

 

The forecast outturn position as at the end of Quarter 3 was a potential overspend of £0.720m. This was an improvement on Quarter 2 (£0.907m). All services were actioning mitigating savings to offset the potential overspend so that a balanced position could be reported at the end of the year.

 

Since the 2018/19 budget was set in March 2018, several areas of pressure across the Council had arisen as a result of increasing demand.  To ensure these pressures did not materialise a robust programme of mitigation had been actioned, but in the current economic climate it was increasingly difficult to contain these pressures without impacting on service delivery.

 

The report provided an update on the achievement of savings proposals for 2018/19. Some of these proposals were not being realised, but areas to offset these via other means were being identified and implemented so that the total savings target could be met by the end of the year.

 

In addition to formal Quarterly reporting to Cabinet, the budget position was reported monthly at Directorate Management Team meetings and the Strategic Leadership Team. This was to ensure any early warning highlighting pressures could be collectively resolved. The outcome of quarterly monitoring and any medium to long term effects was fed into the Medium Term Financial Strategy to ensure that impacts could be assessed against the council’s future financial sustainability.

 

This was a key decision which affected all Wards within the Borough.

 

RESOLVED: That:

 

(1)  The Quarter 3 forecast to the year-end of a £0.720m overspend which incorporates a number of adverse variances be noted.

 

(2)  Officers continue to identify actions and take measures to effectively manage the overall budget and reduce the impact of any adverse projected pressures that may result in overspends.

52.

Capital Monitoring 2018/19 Quarter 3 (To December 2018) pdf icon PDF 323 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

JanetteWilliamson UPDATED - To be used in minutes

Councillor Janette Williamson (Cabinet Member for Finance and Income Generation) said:

 

This year we have an ambitious capital programme that supports our objective of making major investments in Wirral. We are improving infrastructure, the public realm and the local environment which residents are rightly proud of.

 

This report demonstrates this investment and provides our progress in some of the main areas to evidence to our residents that we are making the best use of resources available to us to help improve services for local people.

 

In continued times of austerity we need to take opportunity from utilising capital funding to invest in our borough – we are not allowed to use capital funding to pay for day to day services, but we can use it to ensure our assets are the most up to date and digitally equipped as they can be as this will result in reduced day to day costs in the future.”

 

The Cabinet Member for Finance and Income Generation provided an update on the Capital Programme 2018/19 as at the end of December 2018. It recommended that Cabinet agreed the 2018/19 Capital Programme of £53.5 million which took account of re-profiling, additional funding requirements and additional grants identified since September 2018. Expenditure to date was £33.3 million.

 

This matter was a key decision which affects all Wards within the Borough.

 

RESOLVED: That Cabinet:

 

(1)  Notes the expenditure at Quarter 3 of £33.3 million.

 

(2)  Notes the additional grant allocations referred to in paragraph 3.10 of the report.

 

(3)  Approves additional funding for the schemes referred to in paragraph 3.8 of the report.

 

(4)  Approves funding brought forward from 2019/20 referred to in paragraph 3.9 of the report.

 

(5)  Recommends that Council approves the revised Capital Programme of £53.5 million for 2018/19.

53.

2019/20 Budget Proposals Scrutiny Report pdf icon PDF 125 KB

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Minutes:

Cllr Phil Davies

Councillor Phil Davies, Leader of the Council, said:

Making sure Members of all parties have the chance to properly scrutinise the council budget and the proposals to save money is vital. It brings the expertise and experience of all Members into the process, and always generates helpful debates and constructive feedback. The Cabinet places on record its thanks to every Member who participated in this process.”

 

The Leader of the Council introduced a report which set out the feedback from the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committees in relation to the Budget Proposals for 2019/20. This followed a series of budget scrutiny workshops held during December and January. A report from each committee was included as an appendix to this report, and captured the issues raised and general feedback from Overview and Scrutiny Committee Members at the workshop sessions.

 

The Leader stated that Cabinet had studied the feedback from the Scrutiny Workshops in detail and had incorporated ideas where appropriate.  He added that Cabinet wished to record its appreciation and thanks to all Members who took part in the process.

 

As the report addressed the proposals for the 2019/20 budget, it related to all Wirral Plan pledges and all wards in the borough.

 

The report was not a key decision.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the content of the reports be noted.

54.

COUNCIL BUDGET 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 223 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Phil Davies

Councillor Phil Davies (Leader of the Council) said:

 

“We have a responsibility to set a fair, sustainable and balanced budget. This is a challenge which gets more difficult every year, as austerity policies continue to bite.

 

Despite the continued reductions in our budget, we are determined we will deliver on what we promised. This budget, despite the ongoing reductions to our funding, is balanced, it protects key services, and ensures investment in the areas most important to residents. It also protects our workforce, and ensures once again we are able to deliver a fair, sustainable budget without making compulsory redundancies.”

 

Councillors Phil Davies, Janette Williamson and Bernie Mooney introduced reports on the following budgetary matters:

 

(A)Revenue Budget 2019/20 and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2019/20 to 2022/23 (Councillor Davies) – the report provided a technical update on the proposals to balance the budget for 2019/20 and the Medium Term Financial Strategy previously reported to Cabinet on 26 November 2018. It described the background to balancing the budget gap and the key elements contributing to the preparation of the budget, and set out the formal recommendations on the 2019/20 budget and council tax for Full Council. The report included the updated Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) and Resilience Plan for 2019/20 – 2022/23. This also included the publication of the Corporate Risk Register for 2019/20. These documents were dynamic and subject to change. In light of the Government fair funding review and recent funding consultations there was no certainty of funding past April 2020.  However, the MTFS had been prepared on the best of knowledge available at the time including known future pressures and plans already underway to change the way the Council provided its services.

 

(B)Schools Budget and Funding Formula Changes 2019/20 (Councillor Mooney) - the report set out the Schools Budget for 2019/20 having been previously considered by the Schools Forum at their meeting on 16th January 2019. The Schools Budget covered education provision for all Wirral Pupils aged up to 18 in Early Years, Primary, Secondary and academy schools and for some pupils up to the age of 25 in Special Schools and High Needs providers. Most budgets were delegated to schools with some central provision for support services including school admissions and High Needs. The report proposed a number of changes to the local funding formula for Schools to allow a transitional transfer to the National Funding Formula. There were also changes proposed to High Needs. The Schools Budget provided resources to support all children and young people pledges, and the proposals within result in an in-year deficit of £2,343,200 on the DSG budget.

 

(C)Capital Programme and Financing 2019/23 (Councillor Phil Davies) – the report provided Cabinet with the draft Capital Programme 2019/23 for consideration and referral to Council for approval.  It also included information regarding the revenue implications of this Programme and an update on the latest forecast for capital receipts. The 2019/23 Capital Programme represented a combination of schemes originally approved as part  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.

55.

Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme pdf icon PDF 356 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

JanetteWilliamson UPDATED - To be used in minutes

Councillor Janette Williamson (Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources) said:

In 2013, the Conservative-led Coalition Government abolished Council Tax Benefit for hundreds of thousands of low-income households across the county. They replaced this support with the Local Council Tax Support Scheme, cutting the funding by 10% at the same time.

 

“This decision disadvantaged thousands of vulnerable, low-income Wirral families. Since its implementation, Wirral has tried its best to retain protection for these households, giving them the support that has been sadly lacking in national policy.

 

“I am delighted we have now developed a proposal to help us go further. This report provides a proposal for a new scheme of Council Tax reduction, an investment of more than £800,000 which will see more than 9,000 low income households get a better deal on their Council Tax.

 

“The proposals in this policy increase the level of support currently provided to thousands of the most financially vulnerable in Wirral by reducing their Council Tax liability, and to simplify the system for many residents including those on Universal Credit, zero hours contracts and irregular and incomes.

 

“We have always promised to put the most vulnerable first. This proposal is that promise in action”.

 

The Cabinet Member for Finance and Income Generation introduced a report which outlined the process and content of proposed potential changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme operated by Wirral Council.

 

The report sought approval in principle for the revised scheme, outlined in Appendix 1 of the report, to allow timely consultation to be carried out.

 

An Equality Impact Assessment was to be carried out on the proposals for consultation.

 

The findings of the consultation and the Equality Impact Assessment would inform the final Council Tax Reduction Scheme which would be put to Members to consider no later than September 2019.

 

The revised scheme, if adopted, would have an implementation date of 1st April 2020.

 

This was a key decision and affected all wards within the borough.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)  Cabinet approves the continuation of the existing Council tax Reduction Scheme for 2019/2020/

 

(2)  Cabinet is asked to agree for a period of consultation to be carried out on the proposal outlined in Appendix 1 of the report for a new Council Tax Reduction Scheme which potentially would replace the existing scheme from 1st April 2020.

 

(3)  Agrees to an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) being carried out on the proposals.

 

(4)  A new Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which would have taken into account the EIA and consultation findings, be put before Members for approval no later than September 2019.