Agenda and draft minutes

Cabinet - Thursday 1 February 2024 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber

Contact: Committee Services 

Items
No. Item

80.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 91 KB

The minutes of the meeting held on 4 January 2024 are attached for confirmation and signature as a current record.

Minutes:

The minutes of 4 January 2024 were confirmed and signed as a correct record.

 

Proposed by Cllr Neighbour; Seconded by Cllr Bailey.  Agreed unanimously by those present at the January meeting.

81.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence from Members*.

 

*Note: Members are asked to email Committee services in advance of the meeting as soon as they become aware they will be absent.

Minutes:

Apologies had been received from Cllr Radley.

82.

Declarations of Interest

To declare disclosable pecuniary, and any other interests*.

 

*Note: Members are asked to email Committee Services in advance of the meeting as soon as they become aware they may have an interest to declare.

Minutes:

Cllr Oliver declared a non-prejudicial interest in Agenda Item 9, UKSPF, as he was a member of Fleet Town and one of the bids was from the Town Council.  However, he had not worked on the bid.

 

Cllr Bailey declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 9, UKSPF, as a close family member had been involved in writing one of the bids.  He also declared a non-prejudicial interest as he was a member of Yateley Town Council although he had not been involved in the team working on the bid.  Due to the personal interest, Cllr Bailey declared that he would leave the meeting at the end of agenda item 8.  Cllr Bailey also wished it to be noted that he had previously declared an interest when discussions on UKSPF had taken place.

 

Cllr Cockarill declared a non-prejudicial interest in Agenda Item 9, UKSPF, as he was a member of Yateley Town Council, although he had not worked on the bid.  

 

Cllr Quarterman declared a non-prejudicial interest in Agenda Item 9, UKSPF, as he was a Member of St Peter’s Church which had submitted a bid for funding.  Cllr Quarterman’s wife had been part of the bid submission team, but he felt that this would not prejudice his decision.  

 

Cllr Dorn declared a non-prejudicial interest in Agenda Item 9, UKSPF, as he sat on the District Executive for the Scout Groups, although they had no operational control of the individual scout groups. 

 

It was queried whether those organisations that might benefit through either an individual or a member of their family should be declared as part of the declarations of interest process.  It was confirmed by the Chief Executive that so long as the individual was not personally involved in the bid and had come to the meeting with an open mind, then that was acceptable.  However, it was for the individual members to determine themselves. 

83.

Chairman's Announcements

Minutes:

The Chairman had no announcements.

84.

Public Participation (Items Pertaining to the Agenda)

Anyone wishing to make a statement to the Committee should contact Committee Services at least two clear working days prior to the meeting. Further information can be found online.

Minutes:

There were no items of public participation.

85.

Q3 Forecast Outturn Report 2023-24 pdf icon PDF 863 KB

This report sets out the 2023/24 budget outturn latest forecast.

 

Recommendation

 

Cabinet is asked to:

 

i.               Note the projected outturn

ii.              Note the capital overview

iii.             Note the project overview

iv.            Note the treasury management position

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report set out the 2023/24 budget outturn latest forecast.

 

Members heard:

         the headline figures were similar to those presented in Q2

         employee costs were now showing a surplus of £480k since the last forecast, primarily due to the pay settlement, pension payments and current vacancies

         service suppliers had shown some movement following Cabinet decisions made at the December meeting

         Planning income was showing an increase of £100k

         Interest rates on reserves continued to be over 5%

 

Members queried:

         Whether the movement updates were against the original budget

         Whether the figures were the most up to date available

 

Cabinet:

 

i.         Noted the projected outturn

ii.        Noted the capital overview

iii.       Noted the project overview

iv.       Noted the treasury management position

86.

Draft Budget 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 133 KB

The Council must set a balanced budget for 2024/2025. The draft revenue and capital budget proposals are summarised in this report.

 

Recommendation

 

That Cabinet recommend to Council:

 

      i.         a 2.99% increase in Hart District Council’s Band D Council Tax Charge for 2024/25,

     ii.         changes to fees and charges for 2024/25 in line with the principles set out in this report, with full details being reported to full Council,

   iii.         approval of the draft Revenue Budget for 2024/25 as summarised in paragraph 15 and Appendix 1, incorporating the baseline net service cost variations included at paragraph 17 and Appendix 1,

   iv.         approval of Capital Bids as detailed in Appendix 2,

    v.         approval of the Medium-Term Financial Strategy as set out in Appendix 3,

   vi.         noting the emerging pressures and risks set out in the report and the S151 Officer’s intention to undertake a mid-year review of detailed budgets

  vii.         approval of the continuation of the capital receipt flexibility strategy detailed in the report under the Direction issued by the Government early in 2022

viii.         agreeing not to change the Council’s existing Council Tax Support Scheme other than the required statutory uprating

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report summarised the draft revenue and capital budget proposals, for a balanced budget for 2024/25 together with the revised medium term financial strategy for the following three years. 

 

Members heard:

       That a reserves review had been completed during the summer 2023

       The review of the detailed budgets had been completed, and the S151 Officer gave his thanks to those involved in the exercise

       That effective monitoring was in place and quarterly reports were presented to both Overview and Scrutiny and Cabinet

       A mid year medium term strategy forecast had last been brought to Cabinet in the autumn of 2023

       There was a balanced budget for 2024/25 being presented together with a plan on how the Council was aiming to address the projected shortfall in future years

       The Government grant bundle had been increased slightly, although there was no certainty around future increases

       Variations from the current year’s budget were set out in the appendices to the report, including some growth proposals in targeted high priority areas where there was increased demand

       Capital investment across the district had also been set out in the report appendices

 

Members queried:

       Whether potential lower interest rates in future would have a detrimental effect on future budgets.

       The Heathlands Court project was included in the capital programme being proposed.  The S151 Officer confirmed that it was not and that funding would need to be agreed for this project once the options appraisals were received and approved by Cabinet.

       Whether the suggestion of Overview and Scrutiny that additional “health checks” on the budget be undertaken had been actioned.  The S151 Officer advised that this suggestion would be taken up from Q1 2024/25, and that a discussion would be held to determine how additional monitoring would be undertaken until then.

 

Members noted:

       That several fixed-term investments had been secured which paid a higher rate of interest that was locked in for at least 2024/25

       That a funding bid for climate change had been submitted on a matched funding basis, and a decision should be heard soon.

 

It was agreed to move the recommendations in one block.

 

Proposed by:  Cllr Neighbour; Seconded by:  Cllr Bailey

 

Members debated:

       This was an encouraging budget, particularly as several other local authorities were finding it difficult to produce a balanced budget in the current economic situation.

       The proposals for growth items in some of the high-priority areas such as housing and community safety were very much welcomed

 

Thanks were given to the Portfolio Holder for Finance, the S151 Officer, and the finance team for all their work on producing a balanced budget for 2024/25.

 

Decision

 

Cabinet unanimously recommended to Council:

 

i.      a 2.99% increase in Hart District Council’s Band D Council Tax Charge for 2024/25,

ii.      changes to fees and charges for 2024/25 in line with the principles set out in this report, with full details being reported to the full Council,

iii.     approval of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 86.

87.

Treasury Management Policy and Capital Strategy Annual Statutory Review pdf icon PDF 465 KB

To present the draft Treasury Management Strategy Statement for 2024/25 which incorporates the Annual Investment Strategy, Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) Policy and Prudential and Treasury Indicators.

 

It is a legal obligation to set a Capital Strategy, which is also presented for review. This strategy provides the strategic framework for the treasury activity.

 

The 2024/25 draft documents do not suggest any major changes as compared to the approved ones for the current year.

 

Recommendation

 

That Cabinet recommends that Council:

 

i.         approves the Treasury Management Strategy Statement 2024/25 and the revised Minimum Revenue Provision policy contained within it,

ii.        approves the Annual Investment Strategy for 2024/25 and;

iii.       Approves the Capital Strategy 2024/25.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

To present the draft Treasury Management Strategy Statement for 2024/25 which incorporates the Annual Investment Strategy, Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) Policy and Prudential and Treasury Indicators.

 

Members were reminded that it was a legal obligation to set a Capital Strategy, which was also presented for review. This strategy provided the strategic framework for the treasury activity.

 

The 2024/25 draft documents did not suggest any major changes as compared to the approved ones for the current year.

 

Members noted:

       there had previously been significant changes to the policy statements to update ESG assessment and credential-checking requirements

       Policy and practice had been robust in year, with quarterly reports to Overview and Scrutiny on treasury

 

Members questioned:

       Whether requiring ESG for our investments had any impact on fund managers to move money into best details.  It was confirmed that this was not the case as highly rated institutions on the whole had good ESGs.

 

Proposed by:  Cllr Neighbour; Seconded by:  Cllr Collins

 

Decision

 

Cabinet unanimously recommended that Council:

 

i.        approves the Treasury Management Strategy Statement 2024/25 and the revised Minimum Revenue Provision policy contained within it,

ii.        approves the Annual Investment Strategy for 2024/25 and;

iii.       approves the Capital Strategy 2024/25.

 

(Cllr Bailey left at 7.36pm)

88.

UKSPF Projects Update pdf icon PDF 113 KB

Hart District Council (HDC) has been granted £1million through the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to fund projects identified in HDC’s Local Investment Plan (LIP). This report provides details of the Community Hub and Young Persons projects to be delivered in 2024 and provides an update on the programme to date.

Recommendation

 

That Cabinet agrees:

 

i.            To approve the Community Hub and Young Persons Engagement applications recommended to be delivered in 2024

ii.          To approve the revised financial plan in Appendix 1 which includes all changes since Cabinet last approved the plan in March 2023 and reflects the officer recommended grant amounts in this report

iii.         To approve the revised Programme Plan in Appendix 2

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Forster declared a non-prejudicial interest as Hampshire County Councillor Cabinet Member with responsibility for Schools.  Some of the projects on the list were from schools across the district.

 

Members were reminded that Hart District Council (HDC) had been granted £1million through the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to fund projects identified in HDC’s Local Investment Plan (LIP).

 

This report provided details of the Community Hub and Young Persons projects to be delivered in 2024 and provided an update on the programme to date.

 

Members heard:

         UKSPF was part of the levelling up programme

         A major data mining exercise had been undertaken to help inform spending plans and the criteria for the two funding rounds

         There had been a good response and both funding rounds had been oversubscribed

         An Officer evaluation group had marked the bids against pre-determined criteria – all projects had to be completed by 31 March 2025

         In the light of questions raised at Overview and Scrutiny, the officer recommendations and the financial summary had been updated

         Stakeholder engagement and communications had been through a wide variety of methods

 

Members questioned:

         Whether any of the recommendations had been updated since they had been presented to Overview and Scrutiny.  It was noted that both the paper and some of the recommendations had been updated

         Who had been the senior officer who had reviewed the process

         Whether there had been any weighting applied to the scoring criteria as suggested in the Cabinet Office guidance

         How was the reach of each bid analysed in the scoring process

         Was reach part of any of the scoring criteria in the bid process

         Whether any minority groups were involved in the bid at any point, and if any were likely to benefit

         Whether any consideration had been given to making sure that there was a fair geographical spread of funding being allocated

 

Members noted:

       That the applicants provided an answer as to how the reach was used and that if there was any clarity required from a bidding organisation then further information had been sought

       That reach formed part of the value-for-money criteria for all bids

       The main criteria in the scoring each had an equal rating 

       Any funding not committed by the end of March 2025 would likely be clawed back by the Government

       That if an organisation was unable to deliver a scheme within the timescale then it would be possible to return to Cabinet with alternative projects to use the funding for

       That no financial assessment of any of the applying organisations had been undertaken

       Overview and Scrutiny would receive a half year review to monitor spending on these projects

       There was an anomaly in that two projects had scored the same, with one being accepted and one not

       Whilst there were some minor concerns regarding the criteria used, it would not be feasible to ask organisations  ...  view the full minutes text for item 88.

89.

Cabinet Work Programme pdf icon PDF 113 KB

To consider and amend the Cabinet Work Programme.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Work Programme was considered, but no amendments were made.