Agenda Item No. 5
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
CORPORATE PERFORMANCE AND RESOURCES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE: 14TH DECEMBER, 2017
REFERENCE FROM ENVIRONMENT AND REGENERATION SCRUTINY COMMITTEE: 30TH NOVEMBER, 2017
“ INITIAL REVENUE BUDGET PROPOSALS 2018/19 (DEH) –
The report provided Committee with details on the initial revenue budget proposals for 2018/19 and the amended original budget for 2017/18 for services which formed part of the Committee’s remit.
The Council’s budget was determined largely by the Revenue Support Grant (RSG) settlement set by the Welsh Government (WG). The provisional RSG settlement was received from WG on 10th October, 2017. The final settlement was likely to be received in December 2017.
The Council was required under statute to fix the level of Council Tax for 2018/19 by 11th March, 2018 and in order to do so, would have to agree a balanced revenue budget by the same date. To be in a position to meet the statutory deadlines and the requirements for consultation set out in the Council’s Constitution, much of the work on quantifying the resource requirements of individual services needed to be carried out before the final RSG settlement was notified to the Council.
Appendix 1 to the report set out the Amended Budget for 2017/18 for the Committee, together with the necessary adjustments to be made to the original budget.
In referring to various aspects of the Department, the Principal Accountant advised of the following service areas:
Highways and Engineering – There was currently a favourable variance against the profiled budget. The main reason was due to vacant posts currently within the department, however key posts had recently been filled on a temporary basis by agency staff therefore it was currently projected that the budget would outturn on target.
Waste Management – There was currently an adverse variance to the profiled budget. The variance to date was due to overspends on staffing and transportation costs. The Waste Management budget had been reduced in 2017/18 for further vehicle savings however the department was unlikely to be able to make these in the short term due to the increased distance that had to be travelled as all waste disposal points were now situated in Cardiff. Due to this, £200k had been set aside in the Visible Services Reserve from the underspend in 2016/17 to offset any pressures in 2017/18 within Waste Management. It was currently anticipated that the budget will outturn on target.
Transportation – There was currently a favourable variance against the profiled budget. Staffing costs within the division were lower than budgeted to date. There was also a slight underspend within the supported buses budget which was assisting the current favourable position. At this stage of the year it was currently anticipated that this service would outturn within budget.
Visible Services Reshaping Services Savings Target – In 2017/18 there was a savings target of £525k allocated to Visible Services from the current Reshaping Services programme and the proposed means of achieving this saving were approved by Cabinet on 24th April, 2017. The savings target had yet to be allocated to specific services and was being held centrally within the Visible Services directorate. Staff consultation ended on 31st July, 2017 and a number of changes were currently being considered as a result of the consultation. It was anticipated that the structure would start to be populated from late November 2017. It was envisaged that the shortfall in savings for 2017/18 would be met from the Visible Services Reserve.
Regeneration – The budget covered the Countryside, Economic Development and Tourism and Events functions. There was currently an adverse variance against the profiled budget, as income due to be generated from commercial opportunities at Country Parks and car parking at Cosmeston had not yet been implemented. All non-urgent repair works at the Council’s Countryside sites were on hold as a consequence in order to mitigate the position.
Development Management – There was currently a favourable variance against the profiled budget, due mainly to higher than anticipated building regulation and planning fees to date which it was reported was levelling off going into the winter period so at this time it was forecast that the service would outturn on target
With regard to savings for 2017/18, the savings target of £834k had been set for the Committee and attached at Appendix 2 was a statement detailing each savings target with an update of progress. However, it was currently projected that there would be a shortfall of £584k in the achievement of this year’s target.
It was anticipated that the £244k Transport Review saving for Visible Services would not be achieved in the year. As detailed earlier in the report, funding had been ringfenced in the Visible Service Fund to cover part of the projected shortfall for the year. Part of the saving was to be achieved when the Waste Transfer Station was established, however, other means of achieving any shortfall would need to be identified within the Reshaping Services programme. Visible Services also had a savings target of £525k under the current Reshaping Services programme which would be achieved by the introduction of a new target operating model.
Directors had been requested to prepare initial revenue budgets in accordance with the timetable agreed by the Head of Finance of the 2018/19 budget process. Committee was informed that the Medium Term Financial Plan that had been presented to Cabinet on 18th September, 2017 had assumed a reduction in WG funding of 3% for the years 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 which had resulted in the requirement to find savings of £20.941m with £9.326m currently having been identified. The latest Plan factored in a managed level of cost pressures, a notional increase in Council Tax of 2.6% each year, price inflation of 0.5% and annual pay awards of 1.6% each year from 2018/19.
WG advised the Council that its provisional Standards Spending Assessment (SSA) for 2018/19 was £221.296m. Committee was advised that as part of the initial proposals it had been necessary to revisit the cost pressures facing services in order to build up a complete and up to date picture of the financial position and an updated list for the Committee was shown at Appendix 3 to the report. As had been highlighted in discussions on the Capital Budget Proposals earlier in the meeting, reference was made to the £350k that had been put in for the 2018/19 budget for resurfacing, with it being noted that the Public Opinion Survey the Council had received had placed high importance on resurfacing around the Vale and that further monies should, in the Committee’s view, be put in place for resurfacing.
With regard to the adverse variance on the Waste Management budget and the pressures within that service area, a Member raised concern in relation to the number of new developments that were being established in and around the Vale and that Section 106 funding should be made available for services such as Waste Management due to the number of new houses that were coming into the area and the requirement for them to be serviced by the department.
With reference to the Reshaping Services savings target and the need to work with Town and Community Councils, a Member raised the issue of the possibility of public conveniences being transferred to or working in conjunction with Town and Community Councils, with the suggestion that a further report in relation to the provision for the Vale of Glamorgan be presented to a future meeting of the Committee.
Following Members concerns in respect of the cost pressures for the service area, reference was made to a recent report which had been presented to the Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee in relation to income generation. Although it was accepted that some of the issues contained within that report were not with in the remit of this Committee, it was subsequently
(1) T H A T a future meeting of the Committee consider the service area’s cost pressures and savings targets with a view to Members considering ideas for savings.
(2) T H A T a report in relation to the provision of public conveniences in and around the Vale and their cost pressures be presented to a future meeting of the Committee.
(3) T HAT Corporate Performance and Resources be apprised of the comments made at the meeting, as outlined above, together with the Committee’s recommendations.
Reason for decisions
(1-3) To apprise Members and to consider options.”