Cllr Jack Rowland, Portfolio Holder for Finance, presented his Annual Report and thanked the officers involved for their assistance with its preparation, namely Simon Davey, Libby Jarrett, John Symes and Richard Easthope.
The report highlighted the following:
· The General Fund position was looking favourable in the current forecast.
· It was noted that a number of requests for considerable sums had come through, following recent decisions, which totalled in excess of £500,000 and which would come out of the General Fund.
· The funds shown in the Treasury Management report included monies collected on behalf of other precepting authorities and a high level of liquidity was required due to the need to draw on these funds.
· Regarding budgeted income from car parking, the income projected for the whole year is £3,720,000 and as at the end of September, income received for the year to date was £3,108,190. It should be borne in mind that the remaining budgeted income of £616,810 would be collected over the next six months, when the car parking winter rate would apply.
In response to questions from Members, the following points were noted:
· The figure of 980 more council tax collections included new build homes, empty homes brought back into use and homes which had been sub-divided.
· Regarding investment strategy, Members were referred to the Treasury Strategy which sets out where and how investments are made and the associated risks.
· The Medium Term Financial Plan sets out the financial modelling for the next 10 years including projected deficits. It was noted that the projected deficit of approximately £3.8m in 2025/26 is due to the Government re-basing of business rate income. The Medium Term Financial Plan must address how the deficit will be made up in the following years, and this is set out in full in the Plan and its appendices.
· There is a need to keep a healthy General Reserve balance to mitigate against future unanticipated costs.
· With regard to EV charging points in car parks, it had been very difficult dealing with the providers, and although charging points were in situ they were not necessarily connected. A number of charging points were about to become operational. An EV policy review report would be brought to Cabinet later in the year setting out the position and what more could be done.
· Regarding card payment facilities in car parks, it was noted that the majority of car parks would take card payments, with all using the Ringo system, subject to an adequate phone signal.
· Figures for car parks were based on the number of transactions, and it was therefore difficult to know how many people were actually using car parks and how successful the charging system had been.
· It was noted that staff in the Revenues, Benefits, Corporate Customer Service, Fraud and Compliance service had been redirected to work on dealing with the delivery of various Government support schemes. Recruitment was also an issue. The team worked in an agile manner which enabled staff to be redeployed within the service and conversations were ongoing to ensure that the service was properly resourced going into the winter months.
The Committee wished to record its thanks to Libby Jarrett and her team for its excellent work in supporting local residents experiencing hardship.
The Portfolio Holder was thanked for his report which was noted and accepted.