Agenda and minutes
Venue: Wilfred Owen Room, Shirehall, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY2 6ND. View directions
Contact: Amanda Holyoak Committee Services Supervisor
Apologies were received from Councillors Alan Mosley, Dan Thomas, Kevin Turley, and David Vasmer. Councillor Rosemary Dartnall substituted for Alan Mosley, Councillor Roy Aldcroft for Dan Thomas and Councillor Heather Kidd for David Vasmer.
Disclosable Pecuniary Interests
None were declared
To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Performance Management Scrutiny Committee held on 1 March 2023 and the Transformation and Improvement Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 11 May 2023
The minutes of the Performance Management Scrutiny Committee held on 1 March 2023 and minutes of the Transformation and Improvement Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 11 May 2023 were both approved as a correct record of those meetings.
Public Question Time
To receive any questions from members of the public. Deadline for notification of questions is 5.00 pm on Thursday 6 July 2023
There were no public questions.
Member Question Time
To receive any questions of which members of the Council have give notice. Deadline for notification is 5.00 pm on Thursday 6 July 2023.
There were no member questions.
To consider issues emerging in delivering the Medium Term Financial Strategy and how review points and triggers for action are identified. Report to follow
Ben Jay, Assistant Director Finance and Technology, gave a presentation on proposals for the management and control of the Council’s finances through the course of the year, asking the committee to comment whether it was satisfied with the proposed arrangements or if it wished to suggest other measures that might be helpful.
The presentation covered details of the particular challenges of this year; the control environment; current reserves position, risks and in year balance; monitoring timetable; current headlines; timing of in year updates; intervention timing; and timings and triggers.
A number of members were unhappy that the presentation made at the meeting contained detail and included figures which had not been circulated with the agenda. The Assistant Director explained that detail added in was not new, and not presented for scrutinising. Rather, it had been included to pull together a summary of the most important figures related to financial position, help set the larger strategic context and demonstrate how different items of information came together throughout the course of the year to create an overview of the financial position as a whole.
During discussion, members observed that they felt they understood the control environment but asked a number of questions including:
· How would the committee gain an insight into proposals for changes to services and related changes to the risk environment?
· Why did audit and scrutiny committees see financial and performance reports after cabinet?
· What were the risks around rising interest rates and why was this not recognised in the budget?
· What was the impact of level of demand for social care and availability of the work force?
· Why the in-year callable reserves were shown as at £37m when the outturn report contained a figure of just £7.1m to be taken forward into the general fund balance?
· Why had feedback from period 1 not been made available to members, and when would feedback from periods 2 and 3 be made available. Committee members required evidence to provide reassurance that risks were being mitigated as early as possible.
· Were officers satisfied with the way the new monitoring system was bedding in.
· Could future presentations referring to previous financial reports made please include links to the relevant parts of these reports.
A member also questioned the timing of the LGA Peer Challenge progress review report and publication of it as it made reference to the required efficiencies of £51m as extremely challenging with very little remaining in general reserves to cushion the impact of under delivery. He asked why it did not refer to the £19.9m identified for general fund balance within the MTFS approved by Council on 2 March 2023 and it was observed that savings were costed on the basis of delivery from the start of the financial year.
In answering these questions and addressing questions about transparency and availability of information, officers explained that the proposals under consideration related only to the control environment around finances – which set the environment for individual spending reductions for services which would ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
To identify the timeline, issues, constraints and work needed to identify timetables for the budget and alternative budgets process. Report to follow
Members considered the Green Paper setting out the reasons for and suggested process for a mid-year review of the Capital Strategy previously approved by Council in March 2023. The Committee was asked to comment on the proposed scope of the review and the timeline for it and the relationship with alternative budget proposals.
During the discussion, officers answered questions around the need to borrow money; whether preferential rates were available; minimum revenue provision (MRP);
Members emphasised the importance of early scrutiny involvement with the review and it was agreed that once an initial briefing had been provided to all members on the capital strategy that a Task and Finish Group on the Capital Strategy be set up for this purpose.
The Chair thanked the Executive Director and Assistant Director for the report.
To consider proposals for the Committee’s work programme 2023 – 2024
Members were reminded that the work programme was a live document, discussed where performance reports would be scrutinised and where outturn reports might be presented. It was confirmed that formal quarterly reports would be made to the Transformation and Improvement Scrutiny Committee but information would be available in real time and issues could be suggested for the work programme at any time there was no need to wait to receive a quarterly exception report at a formal meeting.
It was noted that an additional meeting had been added for Monday 4 September at 2.00 pm in order to receive the Q1 financial monitor and performance reports ahead of Cabinet.