Venue: Committee Room 1 - Epsom Town Hall
Contact: Democratic Services, tel: 01372 732122 Email: Democraticservices@epsom-ewell.gov.uk
Declarations of Interest
Members are asked to declare the existence and nature of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests in respect of any item of business to be considered at the meeting
No declarations of interest were made by councillors regarding items on the
agenda for the meeting.
The Panel is asked to confirm the Minutes of the Meeting of the Panel held on 3 December 2019 (attached) and to authorise the Chairman to sign them.
The Minutes of the Meeting of the Financial Policy Panel held on 3 December 2019 were agreed as a true record and signed by the Chairman.
This report provides an update on the preparation of the budget for 2020/21. The report seeks any final guidance from the Panel prior to the preparation of the Budget and Council Tax report for the Council on 13 February 2020. The report also seeks final guidance on the Medium Term Financial Plan for 2020-2024, including assumptions on future government funding.
The Panel received the report on the proposed budget for 2020/21 and Medium Term Financial Plan 2020-2024.
In reply to a question on whether the Medium Term Financial Plan could include financial provision to deliver the Council’s Climate Change Action Plan, the Chief Finance Officer responded that the Council had already earmarked funding for a Climate Change Officer for a period of two years to deliver the plan.
Furthermore, the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) included the development of a new criteria for assessing capital schemes, in order to further facilitate capital projects that positively impact the environment.
Beyond these measures, the Chief Finance Officer explained that given the Council’s projected deficit of £443,000 by the end of the four year period, there were no further surplus revenue funds to be allocated. However, as future proposals arise from the Climate Change Action Plan, the proposals will be costed, assessed on their merits, and funding options considered at the time.
In response to a comment that it is important for the car park service to be given the flexibility to achieve an average 3% annual increase in income over the four year period, rather than being bound to a rigid 6% increase in fees and charges every other year, Officers referred to page 71 of the MTFS, which supported increasing fees and charges by an average of 3% per annum.
In reply to a comment on whether the council had specific plans for achieving the income targets set-out on in the MTFS on page 28, particularly those that relate to increasing income form the Council’s assets, Officers responded that it was important for the income criteria to be included in the MTFS, as this provided them with a mandate to ask Heads of Service and Managers to deliver additional income. Officers had already presented, in the recent past, reports to Policy Committees with the aim of improving the financial sustainability of Bourne Hall and Ewell Court House. Officers are also currently producing an Asset Management Plan, which will set-out how the Council can optimise the management and use of its assets.
Members asked which asset(s) were sold in 2015/16 to generate £1.6m capital receipts in that year.
Officers responded that they thought the receipts related to the disposal of Downs House, however, this would be confirmed post-meeting*.
*Post meeting note – in 2015/16, the Council received £1.0m for Downs House, £0.4m from Right to Buy sales and £0.2m for the release of restrictive covenants over land.
In reply to a question on whether it was appropriate to close the remaining balance of £240m on the Council’s out-of-Borough Commercial Property Acquisition Fund, Officers responded that the fund has already been suspended in 2018 by S&R Committee, after statutory guidance from MHCLG was introduced to restrict Council from borrowing to invest purely for profit. As there had been no change in the regulatory environment since then, officers now considered it appropriate to formally close the fund. However, should there be a future ... view the full minutes text for item 11.