Agenda and minutes
Venue: Darent Room, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions
Contact: Joel Cook/Anna Taylor 03000 416892/416478
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Declarations of Interests by Members in items on the Agenda for this Meeting
1. Dr Sullivan declared an interest as her husband was employed by the County Council in the Early Help and Prevention Team.
1. Mr Love reported that he had given his apologies to the previous meeting but that these were not recorded in the minutes of the meeting. The Scrutiny Research Officer confirmed that apologies were recorded on the Council’s Committee Management System but it had been previously agreed that these would not appear on the printed minutes.
2. Mrs Dean stated that at the previous meeting she had requested information on the number of school places reserved for Pupil Premium children. The Scrutiny Research Officer would follow this up.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 29 November were an accurate record and that they be signed by the Chairman.
1. Members received a presentation from Andy Wood on the Draft 2018/19 Budget. This presentation can be viewed online via this link.
2. At its early stages the 2018/19 budget had a budget gap of £18million. In the Autumn Budget, presented in October, the gap had been reduced to £8million (assuming a £7million draw down from reserves). Members were now presented with a balanced budget proposal with a draw down of around £5million.
3. The budget contained pressures of almost £67million and Mr Wood explained the unavoidable and avoidable pressures on the budget. Avoidable pressures included pay and negotiating price increases for social care contracts and to some degree waste contracts.
4. There had been a large loss of Government funding, including the Revenue Support Grant. Mr Wood referred to the Budget Equation slide within the presentation.
5. Each year a risk assessment of the proposed savings was undertaken, it was vital that the authority was confident that the savings were deliverable. If there was a large proportion of red and amber in the BRAG ratings summary there would be cause for concern and the robustness of the budget would need to be questioned. However, it was considered that the proposed savings represented an acceptable level of risk.
6. Referring to reserves and debt the median point of reserves in authorities across the Country was 29% and the median point of borrowing was 88%. KCC would need to add £80million to reserves to get to median point and to repay £160million of debt to get to median debt figure. This did not mean that KCC was at risk.
7. Mr Wood referred to the risks contained within the budget, Asylum was a huge risk and money was still outstanding from the Home Office. There was a huge basic need issue and this was being continually discussed with the Government.
8. Mr Simmonds gave some history to the budget, since 2010 £300million had been lost in grants and £600million savings had been made. He reffered to the borrowing figure for KCC, there was a Government scheme of supported borrowing which was suddenly withdrawn leaving the Council open to risk.
9. Members then asked the following questions:
10. Referring to the Transition Grant and Social Care Support Grant – was it a case of all or nothing? Mr Wood confirmed that it was not all or nothing, Local Government was demonstrating that more money was required in the system.
11. A large element of any budget was price assumptions, how comfortable was the council with the price assumptions built in in terms of inflation rates? Officers were comfortable with the inflation figures provided and it was considered that they had built in sensible assumptions around CPI and reasonable contract negotiations.
12. Was there a policy to roll over debt or repay? Some authorities had re-profiled their principle debt repayments, however KCC had agreed not to stack up debt, a sensible approach was required, and the Council was taking a prudent judgement ... view the full minutes text for item 12.