Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 14 October 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: virtual meeting

Contact: Candida Mckelvey, Democratic Services Officer 

Note: watch live on our youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTj2pCic8vzucpzIaSWE3UQ  

Items
No. Item

Sc71

Apologies for absence

To record apologies for absence and the attendance of substitute members. 

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

Sc72

Minutes

To adopt and sign as a correct record the Scrutiny Committee minutes of the meeting held on 28 September 2020 (to follow).

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 28 September 2020 were not ready for sign off yet and the committee agreed to review them at the next meeting.

Sc73

Declarations of interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting.  

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

Sc74

Urgent business and chairman's announcements

To receive notification of any matters which the chairman determines should be considered as urgent business and the special circumstances which have made the matters urgent, and to receive any announcements from the chairman. 

Minutes:

None.

Sc75

Public participation

To receive any questions or statements from members of the public that have registered to speak. 

Minutes:

None.

Sc76

Financial outturn 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 194 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Finance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cabinet member for finance and corporate assets, Councillor Andrew Crawford, introduced the report.

 

Officers Simon Hewings, Interim Head of finance, and Richard Spraggett, Finance business partner, were present to answer questions.

 

This report outlines the revenue and capital outturn for 2019-20.

 

On revenue, there is an underspend of £1.5 million on net service expenditure. Half of this underspend is for one-off schemes which have been carried over to 2020-21. Details are in the report.

Capital: underspend of £3.5 million, details and significant variances are detailed in the report.

 

Chair welcomed the committee to ask questions. The discussions are outlined below:

 

  • Item 12: variance due to empty commercial properties. This was queried and finance officers will prepare a written response.
  • Planning fees – they were below target due to a market slowdown. Finance officers will provide a written response. Officers did add that there was some uncertainty and a slow down due to leaving the EU.
  • Page five – officers clarified the contingency figure. This figure is broken down in table three.
  • Table three – £1.6 million for grants and contributions – finance officers explained that this figure is for housing benefit payment and housing subsidy – see table two.
  • Page eight, table four – the last two years variance is around £700,000, it was asked if officers could add some previous year’s values to see the trends? Officers responded that they’ve tended to see that the number was bigger previously. In recent years, officers have worked to tackle excess budgets and reduce the variance. Written answer to follow.
  • Housing benefits and rent allowances – table two, page five – it was asked what a rent allowance overpayment is? Officer responded that if a recipient of the benefit doesn’t notify of a change in circumstances, the council is entitled to claim back the overpayment and we will get a government subsidy for part of that overpayment. It is a difficult debt to collect. Universal credit is lowering this – there are no new customers and this also impacts rent allowance income. There was a Department for Work and Pensions issue regarding getting information. There is now more real-time reporting, so there are less overpayments.
  • When is the audit taking place? What variance is being expected? Officers replied that the audit is expected at the end of 2020 or early 2021. There is not normally an issue with revenue outturn. These are not the biggest numbers in the accounts. Unlikely to see a significant change. If there is a material change (unlikely) it may come back to scrutiny then, if requested.
  • Page nine – slippage: These are capital items, and these are listed in appendix four. There is not that many of them – Faringdon Leisure pitch is one – there were technical issues and this project will move into 2020-21. Affordable housing is the largest – this has gone to Council and the budget will be used but waiting to be attached to projects. Some of the affordable housing is linked  ...  view the full minutes text for item Sc76

Sc77

Work schedule and dates for all South and Vale scrutiny meetings pdf icon PDF 147 KB

To review the attached scrutiny work schedule. Please note, although the dates are confirmed, the items under consideration are subject to being withdrawn, added to or rearranged without further notice.

 

Minutes:

The office accommodation item has been moved into the new year. A34 diversion routing has been requested as a report in January 2021. Budget will be in February 2021.

Some have asked for a report on Oxfordshire growth deal, and the district council role in that. Chair will follow up with scrutiny lead officer.

 

At a later date we may see a confidential item for GLL.

 

Public consultations item – this is to be confirmed. We need to define what is wanted for the report and considering timescales, this will be in the new year. Chair will email the committee to gather feedback.

 

Meeting closed at 19:32pm.