Venue: Council Chamber, Third Floor, Southwater One, Telford, TF3 4JG
Contact: Jayne Clarke / Paige Starkey 01952 383205 / 380110
Declarations of Interest
RESOLVED - that the minutes of the meeting held on 4 January 2024 be confirmed and signed by the Chair.
To receive the Financial Monitoring Report for 2023/24.
The Cabinet Member: Finance, Customer Services & Governance presented the report of the Interim Director: Finance & Human Resources. The report outlined the latest financial monitoring position relating to the revenue budget, capital programme and income collection. It highlighted the continued changeable economic climate with high inflation, high energy costs, increases in interest rates and the rising demand for services fuelled by the cost of living emergency facing local residents, businesses and the Council.
The latest projections for 2023/24 were set out in relation to the outturn position and how the net revenue spend compared to the budget set for the year; progress against the approved 2023/24 capital programme; the key issues to be highlighted; together with a summary of collection information in relation to Council Tax, Business Rates and Sales Ledger income.
Children’s safeguarding and adult social care had continued to require further additional investment in order to meet high demand and manage market challenges. Before application of the remaining contingencies included in the revenue budget, the projected outturn was expected to be over budget by 9.438m at year end, an increase of £1.813m since the last report. Using the remaining budget contingency and one-off reserves identified it was expected that the overall position was that an additional investment of £0.080m would be required.
The Council had an excellent track record of strong financial management and work would continue to manage budgets as effectively as possible during the remainder of 2023/24 to address in-year financial pressures. Work already identified such as accelerating savings proposals, review of reserves and balances, review of vacancies and strict control of spend would continue to be actioned.
The funding outlook for the medium term remained uncertain and would be challenging due to current inflationary pressures, the increasing costs of placements in children’s safeguarding and high demand in adult social care.
Cabinet Members commented on the financial pressures that local authorities were under, particularly in relation to the increasing demands on children’s and adult’s services. It was possible that 20% of Councils may need to issue s114 Notices or go bankrupt.
The Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group welcomed the report but noted that the Council would have to use £6.7m of reserves and increase Council Tax in order to meet the increased demand in children’s services but that this would have an impact on other council services.
The Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group noted the report and the effort the Council was making despite the increased demand for adult social care and children’s services. This was a national situation which required national government to review how local government was funded.
The Leader commented that one in four councils across the country of all political persuasions faced significant pressures due to the demand for adult social care, children’s services, temporary accommodation, homelessness and housing need and stressed the importance of a stable, safe home.
RESOLVED – that:
a) the 2023/24 revenue budget position be noted;
b) the position in relation to capital spend be noted; and ... view the full minutes text for item CAB-50
To receive the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2024/25 – 2027/28.
The Cabinet Member: Finance, Customer Services & Governance
presented the report of the Interim Director: Finance & Human Resources.
The report sought approval of the Council’s Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for the four years 2024/25 – 2027/28 and contained details of the Capital Strategy; Medium-Term Capital Programme; Investment Strategy; Treasury Management Strategy and the Prudential Indicators. This combined information formed the Council’s overall Medium-Term Financial Strategy and the budget framework for 2024/25.
Key points from the report were the 2% adult social care precept for next year meaning a 4.99% overall increase in Council Tax would be required. This increase would support the most vulnerable members of the community and despite the increase council tax remained the lowest in the region.
A public consultation had taken place together with scrutiny by members of the Council’s cross-party Business and Finance Scrutiny Committee on the MTFS. The report remained consistent with the strategy and set out a prudent financial management throughout an unprecedented and protracted period of sever financial constraint.
The report set out the proposed medium-term capital investment programme which totalled £420m and highlighted the financial benefits such as high-quality homes for rent and jobs for local people.
The Council were currently below the national average in relation to financing costs and net revenue streams and this was expected to remain the same for the remainder of the financial year. Borrowing was proportionate for the size of the authority with a 60% planned return on investment which helped to protect front line services.
Cabinet Members commented on the difficult circumstances that the Council were facing along with the long-term degradation of services. The Council would continue to invest so as to benefit the local community and work hard to find efficiencies and investment opportunities in order to provide services and for the local community to live well and be protected.
The Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group applauded the return on the investments and the creation of jobs and partnerships which brought in additional tax. The focus had to be on the government funding local councils in order to prevent the issuing of s114 Notices.
The Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group noted the report and welcomed the opportunity for debate at Full Council.
The Leader thanked the cross-party Scrutiny Committee who had unanimously agreed a robust budget. It was regrettable that Council Tax would be increased, the first time in 2 years, but every penny of the increase would go to protecting adult social care and children’s safeguarding. Careful financial management and efficiencies would be required to meet the increased cost and demand for services.
RECOMMENDED TO FULL COUNCIL that:
a) the Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for 2024/25 – 2027/28 and the budget framework for 2024/25 set out in this suite of reports;
b) council tax increase of 4.99% for 2024/25 including the Government’s 2% Adult Social Care precept, which will be fully invested in the provision of social care services for the most vulnerable members of our community;
c) the net ... view the full minutes text for item CAB-51
To approve the creation of Telford & Wrekin’s Housing Management Board.
The Cabinet Member: Homes & Enforcement presented the report of the Director: Housing, Employment & Infrastructure.
The report sought the agreement of Cabinet for the creation of a Housing Management Board to provide oversight and compliance for properties owned by Telford and Wrekin Council under their Registered Provider (RP) status and to have responsibility for all aspects of the Council’s role as a Local Housing Authority. It set out the make up of the Board membership and its strategic oversight and governance and would ensure the Council complied fully with regulatory requirements as both a Registered Provider and Local Housing Authority.
It was intended that the Housing Management Board would operate separately but in parallel with the existing Housing Investment Programme Board which gave oversight to the investments made through the Council wholly owned Housing Company.
The Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group asked that reassurance be given that democratic oversight would not be reduced.
The Cabinet Member: Homes & Enforcement confirmed that any changes to policy would be brought back to Cabinet for scrutinisation and recommended for consideration at Full Council.
RESOLVED – that
a) the creation of a Housing Management Board with responsibility for all aspects of the management, operation and oversight of the Council’s responsibilities as Local Housing Authority, including the approval and adoption of any and all associated policies be approved;
b) delegated authority be granted to the Housing Management Board to confirm and adopt suitable Terms of Reference; Telford & Wrekin Council Registered Provider Housing Management Board;
c) the work which has been undertaken so far in respect of the Council’s responsibilities as a Registered Provider of housing and Local Housing Authority be noted; and
d) the Housing Management Board provide an annual update of its work and decisions to Cabinet.
To approve the Air Quality Strategy.
The Cabinet Member: Homes & Enforcement presented the report of the Director: Neighbourhood & Enforcement Services.
The report gave an update on how the Council would continue to build safer, stronger & healthier communities through better air quality to prevent poor health through cardiovascular and respiratory disease. It asked for approval of the Air Quality Strategy and gave details of the framework for managing and improving air quality which linked to the Council’s carbon neutral action plan.
Air quality within the borough was very good with monitoring undertaken demonstrating that it was compliant with national thresholds. Unlike many other areas across the country, there was no Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) within the borough.
The Strategy set out measures and priorities that the Council would undertake to further enhance air quality within the borough to ensure that Government targets were met.
Following a successful bid to DEFRA, further Electrical Vehicle Charging Points (EVCP) would be installed on council owned car parks bringing the total of publicly available EVCPs in the borough to 150 during 2024.
In addition, investment into the Silkin Way of £800,000 would provide residents and businesses with greater sustainable travel choices while decarbonising transport and connecting communities.
Cabinet Members welcomed the report and the benefits it brought in relation to the reduction of respiratory conditions. Further benefits were the increase in EVCPs and the active travel network which reduced carbon emissions on roads. The Council were unable to make any changes to agriculture within the rural area.
The Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group welcomed the report but asked Cabinet to consider the concentration of vehicles and pollution around schools.
The Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group welcomed the report and commented on the anti-idling measures, the management of the cycling network and what could be done to improve this. In relation to agriculture, he asked if partnership work could be undertaken with Harper Adams University.
The Cabinet Member: Homes & Enforcement confirmed that enforcement officers from the Community Action Team (CAT) worked in conjunction with the parish and town council and did speak to parents outside schools which had a positive impact.
The Leader confirmed that work had been undertaken on safer streets outside schools, however this was not something that could be imposed and that more work was required on pavement parking enforcement. Work was already undertaken with Harper Adams University as part of the Council’s partnership working.
RESOLVED – that:
a) the Air Quality Strategy be approved;
b) delegated authority to the Director Neighbourhood & Enforcement Services, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing & Enforcement, to make ongoing changes to the strategy as required be approved;
c) the development of an Action Plan which will provide the framework for monitoring and managing air quality within the Borough; Building Safer, Stronger & Healthier Communities Through Better Air Quality be endorsed;
d) an update being provided to the Health and Wellbeing board be approved; and
e) the success of external funding bid and actions that have been completed in respect of ... view the full minutes text for item CAB-53