Agenda item

The Corporate Finance Manager (and S151 Officer) will provide a presentation to the committee.


The Corporate Finance Manager (and Section 151 Officer) attended the meeting to provide a presentation on the 2020/21 Annual Budget and an update on the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS).


Members were advised of the General Fund corporate, service related and other savings being made during 2020/21 and 2021/22 to endeavour to close the funding gap and balance the budgets accordingly.


Highlighted areas of saving were as follows:-



·         a base budget review had been undertaken with all Service Managers to consider their particular budgets on a line-by-line basis to highlight any over or under-spending;

·         the contribution charged to the Housing Revenue Fund (HRA) for finance work undertaken by officers had been increased by £100,000;

·         the ‘vacancy factor’ had been increased by 1% over the two years;

·         a stationary saving of £10,000 had been achieved;

·         the sale of Ashfield Business Centre and its associated maintenance costs;

·         a reduced ICT revenue budget due to capitalisation of various hardware assets;



Service Related

·         a terminated Trade Waste agreement;

·         outsourcing of the Building Control Function;

·         Regeneration Service being brought back in-house;

·         completion of the Transport Review;

·         transfer of the Lifeline Service to Notts City Homes;

·         completion of the HR/Payroll Review;

·         accrual of additional income in the Pest Control Section;

·         changes in the Depot canteen targets;

·         completion of the Democratic Services restructure;

·         completion of the Environmental Health restructure;

·         completion of the Finance Team Service Review;



·         a change in Community Foundation Grant contribution;

·         new car parking facilities at Kings Mill Reservoir;

·         additional rental income from the Police.


The Committee were guided through the Council’s proposed investments in Corporate Communications, an ‘Office 365’ rollout programme and Lone Worker Devices.


Members were asked to consider the Council’s increasing property investment portfolio and acknowledged that the rental being achieved was a key income stream with a net total of over two million being achievable year on year.  Investments has equated to £58 million thus far with an anticipation of a further spend of 26 million and 20 million over the next two years.


The current commercial property investment by sector was advised as follows:-


Leisure – 11%

Retail – 12%

Industrial – 36%

Office – 41%.


An update on the Medium Term Financial Strategy was further presented and Members considered options for closing the funding gap beyond 2020/21 which included:-


·         Further Investment Property Acquisitions

·         Service Reviews

·         Annual review of Fees and Charges

·         Review of Council Tax Reduction Scheme

·         Procurement Savings

·         Council Tax Base / Inflation increases

·         Rationalisation of Council owned Properties

·         Digital Service Transformation (DST) efficiencies.


In relation to the Digital Service Transformation Programme, the outcomes from the recent Peer Review had indicated that the programme was ambitious and would need expediting without any undue delay.  Work had now commenced to determine what could be done earlier and to revise the timetable accordingly whilst identifying all costs associated with this acceleration of project implementation  


To conclude the Corporate Finance Manager (and S151 Officer) outlined the current Housing Revenue Account (HRA) position as follows:-


·         Cabinet had recently approved a rent increase at CPI plus 1%;

·         the 30 year HRA Business Plan was currently sustainable to 2036/37;

·         budget savings for 2020/21 of £98,000;

·         HRA investment to engage Housing Management Advisors on fixed term contracts to assist with the full roll-out of Universal Credit.


Following the presentations, Members discussed the Council’s budget and in particular, the potential impact of the Universal Credit roll-out on the Council’s finances and the escalating levels of fraud surrounding the ‘Single Persons Council Tax Discount’ scheme.



a)    the presentation of the Corporate Finance Manager on the 2020/21 Annual Budget and the update on the Medium Term Financial Strategy, be received and noted;


b)    as a result of (a) above, the following Member comments/suggestions be forwarded to Cabinet for consideration as part of their budget deliberations at the meeting scheduled for 24 February 2020:-


·         a thank you be extended to the Corporate Finance Manager and Finance Team for the production of an excellent budget and the associated medium term planning strategy;


·         concerns raised regarding the levels of fraud surrounding ‘Single Person Council Tax Discount’ with acknowledgement that a county-wide group has been established to tackle the problem;


·         a desire to raise awareness and more fully advertise the commercial services offered by the Council’s (i.e. pest control) through the Council’s media platforms;


·         a further review should be undertaken to consider further savings around printing requirements including the use of paper copy committee agendas;


·         the importance of the Council recognising the impact (i.e. wellbeing and work/life balance) on existing staff being required to cover gaps in staffing as part of the ‘vacancy factor’.