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Agenda Item No.

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES): 20TH DECEMBER, 2011

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION): 1ST DECEMBER, 2011

 

 

“           INITIAL REVENUE BUDGET PROPOSALS 2012/13 (DLPPHS) -

 

The Council was required, under statute, to fix the level of Council Tax for 2012/13 by 11th March 2012 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 requirements for consultation as set out within the Council’s Constitution, much of the work on quantifying the resource requirements of individual services needed to be carried out before the final Revenue Support Grant (RSG) settlement was notified to the Council.  The Council’s Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) represented the Welsh Government’s (WG) view of the relative resources required to provide a standard level of service in each local authority in Wales and its primary use was to allocate RSG to these authorities.  For 2012/13 the Council’s provisional SSA was £204.895m.  

 

The Council had also been provisionally advised by the WG of its 2012/13 allocation in relation to RSG (£114.128m) and NNDR (£36.744m).  Together, these sums constituted the Council’s Aggregate External Finance (AEF). 

 

The Council would also receive a sum provisionally set at £1.253m via the Outcome Agreement Grant (OAG) for 2012/13.  This grant was an unhypothecated grant (i.e. not earmarked for particular services).  It was noted that the Council was not necessarily guaranteed to receive the full amount of the OAG.  The amount for 2012/13 would be determined by a rating score of the Council’s performance in achieving its 2011/12 Outcome Agreement targets.

 

With regard to the revised budget for 2011/12, Appendix 1 to the report set out the necessary transfers to the original estimate for this period which were required to be made as follows (there was no overall effect on the net budget of the Council):

 

·                    Asset Rents, International Accounting Standard (IAS) 19, and Recharges etc. - these relate to accounting items and expenditure outside the control of Services. They reflect charges to Services for the use of capital assets, changes to inter service recharges, superannuation increases not required and adjustments in respect of pensions to comply with accounting standards.

·                    Transfers - to reflect mainly transfers of functions and responsibilities between services. This related to

-           savings made by Public Protection of £30,000 and Finance ICT and Property of £150,000 transferred to Private Sector Housing.

 

The following table compared the amended budget with the projected outturn for 2011/12 and took account of the necessary transfers to the original estimate for the same period as detailed in Appendix 1:

 

 

2011/12

2011/12

Variance

 

Amended

Original

Projected

 (+)Favourable

Service

Budget

Outturn

 (-) Adverse

 

£’000

£’000

     £’000

Public Protection

2,390

2,390

0

Private Sector Housing/Community Safety

2,771

2,771

0

Total

5,161

5,161

 0

 

It was noted that the above services were projected to outturn on target.

 

The Budget Strategy for 2012/13 as in previous years required all Directors to make the following provisions:

 

·                    Supplementary estimates would only increase the base budget if Council had given specific approval to this effect. Increases met by virement within a year would not be treated as committed growth.

·                    Directors should find the cost of increments and staff changes from their base budget unless the relevant specific approval had been given for additional funding.

·                    The effect of replacing grant from outside bodies that had discontinued would not be treated as committed growth. In addition, before any project or initiative that was to be met either wholly or partly by way of grant may proceed, the exit strategy must be approved.

·                    Certain items of unavoidable committed growth would continue and these include the effect of interest changes and the financing cost of the Capital Programme, increases in taxes, increases in levies and precepts charged by outside bodies and changes to housing benefits net expenditure.

·                    Services would be expected to identify and achieve recurrent efficiency and other savings, including (but not restricted to) those identified in the Medium Term Financial Plan.

·                    It was envisaged that the costs of service development would need to be met from within the respective Directorates.

 

A summary of the overall base budget for 2012/13 was set out in Appendix 2 of the report and this had been arrived at by adjusting the 2011/12 budget for items such as inflation and unavoidable growth. 

 

Asset Rents, IAS 19 and Recharges etc. related to accounting items and expenditure outside the control of the relevant Services.  These reflected charges to Services for the use of capital assets, changes to inter service recharges, superannuation increases not required and adjustments in respect of pensions to comply with accounting standards.

 

Transfers - to reflect mainly transfers of functions and responsibilities between services.  These related to

 

·                    savings made by Public Protection of £30,000 and Finance, ICT and Property of £150,000 transferred to Private Sector Housing.

 

In addition to the above matters, an adjustment to the 2011/12 base budget related to the following:

 

·                    to remove the estimated April 2011 pay award for employees earning less than £21,000.

 

The Medium Term Financial Plan included savings targets for Services for 2012/13 to 2014/15 as set out below

 

Annual Efficiency Savings Targets

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

2014/15

TOTAL

 

     £000

     £000

     £000

     £000

     £000

Legal, Public Protection & Private Housing

      590

         69

         18

         83

       760

 

The savings of £69,000 for 2012/13 as shown above were included in the estimates. The initial savings were approved by Council on 28th February 2011 (Minute 957).

 

A list of this Committee's 2012/13 cost pressures as identified by Services was attached at Appendix 3.  These were not shown in any order of priority.

 

Attached at Appendix 4 were the proposed 2014/15 savings shown for this Directorate.  More detail was required on these savings and their impact would be considered as part of the budget review following the elections in May 2012.

 

The Scrutiny Committees were now being consulted on the proposals with any comments / recommendations being submitted to the Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee as the lead Scrutiny Committee.  The response of all the Scrutiny Committees must be made by no later than 20th December 2011.

 

It was noted that it was also proposed to consult on the Council’s initial budget proposals with the Local Service Board partners. 

 

In terms of the role of the Cabinet Budget Working Group, this Group would be holding a series of meetings with the relevant Cabinet Members and officers to consider the budget proposals.  Any recommendations from this Group would be submitted so that the Cabinet could make its final budget proposal by no later than 29th February 2012; before making its recommendation the Cabinet Budget Working Group would consider the comments made by all the Council’s Scrutiny Committees.

 

The Cabinet’s final budget proposals would be considered by Council on 7th March 2012. 

 

Having regard to the above and related issued it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the amended budget for 2011/12 as set out in Appendix 1 to the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the initial revenue budget proposals for 2012/13 be noted subject to the cost pressures set out in Appendix 3 of the report being prioritised as indicated below and referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) for consideration:

 

·                    Priority 1 – LPPH2 - Public Protection - Food Safety:  2.5 full time equivalent Environmental Health Officers to address the current shortfall which had been identified in the Council’s Food Law Enforcement Plan 2011/12.  This additional resource is required to ensure the Council is able to deliver its statutory responsibilities in respect of food safety and infectious disease control.

Addressing the shortfall at this time is important for the following:

-                       Currently we are unable to meet the level of enforcement specified in the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Code of Practice and therefore vulnerable to severe criticism in the event of an e.coli outbreak

-                       The Welsh Government through FSA Wales is looking to band local authorities in Wales on their performance in delivering food law enforcement.  (Currently we do not have sufficient resources in our revenue budget to meet the FSA Code of Practice.)

-                       Currently we are significantly under resourced in comparison to Bridgend Council who have fewer food premises than the Vale.

·                    Priority 2 – LPPH3 - Trading Standards:  DEFRA funding for animal health reduced for 2011/12.  This Section is at present funding the shortfall for the current financial year.  However the Section has been required to make additional savings to its budget and DEFRA indicate that a further cut of a similar amount would be made in the next financial year.  Consequently this post which was originally funded by DEFRA will be funded mainly by the Authority.  It is anticipated that the external contribution for 2012/3 towards the post will be approximately £6,000.  Furthermore the skill set for this post is unique and it has taken two years to train the officer to the appropriate standard.  Training is ongoing.  If the funding is lost and the post cut, no one could take up the duties for at least 18 months.  In addition the shortfall would not leave sufficient revenue for outsourcing the function.

·                    Priority 3 – LPPH4 - Coroners: The Cardiff and Vale University Health Board have reviewed the provision of Mortuary Support Services and Post Mortem fees charges.  The additional cost of providing the service will be approximately £70,000.  Cardiff Council will bear the majority of the costs - £50,000, the increase accruing to the Vale of Glamorgan will be £20,000.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of the Scrutiny Committee’s responsibility for monitoring the budget.

 

(2)       In order that the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) is informed of the comments of the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) prior to making a final proposal on the budget.”