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Agenda item

Presentation Executive Member Finance and Performance

Minutes:

Councillor Gill, Executive Member Finance and Performance was present and outlined the presentation – copy interleaved

 

During consideration of the presentation the following main points were made –

·         COVID 19 has cost the Council about £52m and after Government funding this leaves a shortfall of £8m

·         The General Reserves have increased in line with forecast at £16m

·         Pension Fund is leading the way in reducing carbon footprint and performed well

·         Budget proposals include a capital programme to deliver 550 new homes, £17m to tackle the climate crisis, and other additional investment. To fund this £25m of savings are needed on 2021/22

·         Impact of COVID 19 has made this untypical year for income collection with a loss of business rates and Council Tax

·         Maintained help available through Council Tax support scheme, supporting over 26000 households, and continued approach of ensuring a claim for UC is also treated as a claim for Council Tax support when notified to DWP

·         The number of residents making a claim for UC has increased by 148% during the COVID period, and the total number of claims now totals 32339. Initiatives have been undertaken through Discretionary Grants, pension credit take up campaign, Test and Trace support payments to assist residents

·         The Corporate Asset Strategy agreed by Executive in March 2020 and a number of improvements have been implemented

·         Digital Services has been dominated by the response to COVID requiring the creation of new services to residents and to support home working

·         Human Resources – developed and rolled out COVID workforce policy and well-being hub for staff, workforce equality plan, government funding for Kickstart schemes, new grievance procedure and other intiatives

·         Legal services – completed affordable workspace projects, dealt with high profile court matters, delivery of housing new build programme, completed the new 4 year construction contracts framework agreement

·         Committee services – COVID impacted meetings in person and virtual meetings have taken place. Guidance is awaited on future planned meetings however work is taking place on a hybrid/webcasting meeting system for the future. Casework has increased and additional resource has been allocated

·         Electoral Services – successful delivery of the first annual canvas reform legislation, outreach programmes to increase registration in under registered groups. Working to ensure elections in May are delivered effectively and safely

·         Registration – working on the frontline during pandemic and sadly registered over 1700 deaths, over which 400 were COVID related. Supported families and also managed to carry out over 400 wedding ceremonies and planning for weddings demand once restrictions are lifted

·         Customer services/Assembly Hall – supported residents through We are Islington offer, supported residents during COVID period, and worked with Children’s Services to provide food vouchers and other assistance

·         Procurement – Executive adopted a new Procurement strategy in October 2020 which has a number of significant changes

·         Noted Council had received 1656 FOI requests and 251 DSAR’s and there has been a decrease since the start of the pandemic. Council has achieved an 80% compliance rate for FOI’s and 84% for DSAR’s

·         Performance – COVID has presented delays in reporting performance data to Scrutiny Committees, and changes have been made to a number of performance indicators

·         In response to a question it was stated that the customer services team and benefits team had been particularly effective during the COVID period in assisting residents. It was stated that in the next year it was anticipated that there would be problems in dealing with increased unemployment due to the end of the furlough scheme, and the increase in residents on Universal Credit and loss of collection monies for the Council

·         In response to a question it was stated that the Council had £16m in reserves, however this could not be guaranteed to protect against a ‘perfect storm’ of loss of income, Government funding reductions etc. and the Council would need to monitor the situation closely

·         It was stated that one of the main ways of funding the overspend in the current and future years was to create a vacancy factor of 5% for departments. A Member expressed the view that in future reports officers should provide more details of income and savings, and possible solutions to future budget deficits to be made, including proposed transformation programmes. The Chief Executive responded that Members did consider all the budget proposals in detail before approving the Council Budget

·         A Member expressed concern that with the ultra -low emission zone being introduced and residents disposing of older more polluting cars, there is a need to look at possible loss of revenues in future as this would have a significant effect on the Council’s budget. However care needed to be taken in order not to penalise residents who needed their cars for work or other essential purposes

 

RESOLVED:

That Councillor Gallagher be requested to contact Councillor Gill with details of additional information required on savings and Transformation programmes, as referred to above

 

 

 

 

The Chair thanked Councillor Gill for attending

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