Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny & Overview Committee - Tuesday, 16th February, 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: This meeting will be held remotely. View directions

Contact: Simon Trevaskis
0208 7266000  Email: simon.trevaskis@croydon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

17/21

Disclosure of Interests

In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to register disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) and gifts and hospitality to the value of which exceeds £50 or multiple gifts and/or instances of hospitality with a cumulative value of £50 or more when received from a single donor within a rolling twelve month period. In addition, Members and co-opted Members are reminded that unless their disclosable pecuniary interest is registered on the register of interests or is the subject of a pending notification to the Monitoring Officer, they are required to disclose those disclosable pecuniary interests at the meeting. This should be done by completing the Disclosure of Interest form and handing it to the Democratic Services representative at the start of the meeting. The Chair will then invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3. Completed disclosure forms will be provided to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion on the Register of Members’ Interests.

 

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest made at the meeting.

 

18/21

Urgent Business (if any)

To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.

 

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

 

19/21

Budget 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 119 KB

The Committee is asked to consider its views on the Budget Proposals, which will be reported to the Budget Council meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny & Overview Committee considered a report setting out the Administration’s budget proposals for 2021-22, along with the Section 25 Statement from the Interim Section 151 Officer, Chris Buss, providing his view on the proposed budget. The Committee was asked to review the information provided in order to reach a view on the soundness of the budget proposals and the methodology used to create the budget. The findings of the Committee would be fed into the consideration of the budget at the Council meeting on 8 March 2021.

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Hamida Ali, introduced the item to the Committee, emphasising that the approach taken with setting the budget had been with a full understanding of the serious nature of the budget situation and looked to start to address these challenges. The budget proposed was balanced, but predicated on the Council being successful in its request for a capitalisation directive from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). There was a degree of confidence that the Council was doing all it could do to address the budget challenges and it was the view of MHCLG’s Improvement & Assurance Panel that there was no viable alternative to capitalisation and it should be agreed.

The budget proposed included a savings programme, increased social care spending based on demand and growth, a review of assets to reduce borrowing costs and looking to reduce commercial liabilities. It was acknowledged that setting the budget was only the start of the process, particularly given the past history of budgets not being achieved by the Council. An objective of the Council living within its means and keeping to budget had been prioritised.  This would be accompanied by increased financial rigour across the organisation to allow real time analysis of the budget. There was a £79m budget gap across the life of the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS), which meant that further difficult choices would need to be taken to address the Council’s financial stability and resilience.

In addition to the introduction by the Leader, the Deputy Section 151 Officer, Matthew Davis, provided a short overview of the key areas for the Committee’s consideration. A copy of this presentation can be found on the following link:-

https://democracy.croydon.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=166&MId=2497&Ver=4

Following the introductions the Committee had the opportunity to ask questions on the proposed budget for 2021-22. The first area questioned concerned the risks presented by the Council’s external auditor, Grant Thornton, still waiting for further evidence before signing off the 2019-20 accounts and the decision of MHCLG on the capitalisation request, which was still to be confirmed. The first question asked when it was likely that the situation with the sign-off of 2019-20 accounts would be resolved. It was advised that there has been a meeting held with the auditors earlier in the day and it was hoped that the situation could be resolved quickly, although it was unlikely to be resolved by the time the Council sets the budget on 8 March and was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19/21

20/21

Housing Revenue Account 2021-22

To review the budget options for the Housing Revenue Account 2021-22. (to follow)

Minutes:

This item was withdrawn from the agenda, as the report was not available in time for the meeting. The Chair put on record the disappointment of the Committee that the report had not been prepared in time to allow for scrutiny of the Housing Revenue Account budget for 2021-22.

21/21

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The following motion is to be moved and seconded where it is proposed to exclude the press and public from the remainder of a meeting:

 

“That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information falling within those paragraphs indicated in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended.”

 

 

Minutes:

This motion was not required.