The Committee considered a
report by the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive
(circulated previously) regarding the Performance and Financial
Management for Quarter 1 of 2023/24 together with Minute Extract of
Strategy and Resources on 4th September 2023 (circulated
The Director of Resources and
Deputy Chief Executive highlighted the following:
- The revenue budget
for 2023/24 was approved at Council on 22 February 2023 at
- As at 30 June 2023,
the latest forecast net budget was £14,749,450, which
produced a budget surplus of £17,000. Details were shown in
“Appendix A – Variations in the Revenue
- The original budget
for 2023/24 included a forecast to achieve £250,000 worth of
salary vacancy savings. The current position forecasts we will
achieve £93,000 based on known vacancies to date, but it was
anticipated that the budget of £250,000 will be achieved by
the end of the financial year.
- The National pay
award was currently being considered by the Unions; however if the
2023-24 pay award exceeded the budgeted 4% included in the original
budget then we would look to fund any shortfall from the Budget
Management reserve, which currently had a balance of
- As at 1 April 2023
the Collection Fund reserve balance held is £1,340,177. This
earmarked reserve was created to deal with the timing impacts of
the Collection Fund (Business Rates), which ensured the revenue
budget was not unduly affected in the year the taxes were
collected. Collection Fund deficits/surpluses were reversed out to
bring the revenue account back to the budgeted figure for the year;
the deficits/surpluses were recovered/distributed in the following
financial years. This reserve included a £912,563 balance
that will be utilised in 2023/24 and 2024/25 to mitigate timing
differences of business rate reliefs awarded in 2022/23 that from
an accounting perspective impact over the next two financial years;
thus leaving the fund reserve with a residue balance of
£427,614 protection against future volatility.
- The Valuation Office
Agency (VOA) have notified the Council that they were to reduce the
Rateable Value of the Museum from £146,000 to £1, this
change had been back dated to 2019 and a refund in rates payable
had resulted in a net positive impact to the council of
£184,000. It was recommended this refund amount be
contributed to the Regeneration Reserve for future
- At the 30 June 2023
total external borrowing was £3,000,000. The timing of any
future borrowing was dependent on how the authority managed its
treasury activity. Due to on-going higher interest rates the
Council was reporting a £90,000 net increase in Interest
- “Appendix B
– Movement in reserves and Balances” detailed the
movements to and from earmarked reserves in 2023/24.
- The 2023/24 Capital
Programme was detailed in “Appendix D – Capital
- The Budget and
Financial Framework report to Full Council on 22 February 2023
outlined the Capital Programme for the 2023/24 financial year of
£21,247,098. Project underspend and further variations of
£6,921,154 were approved as part of the performance and
financial management report to Strategy and Resources Committee, to
produce a revised 2023/24 Capital Programme of
- Overall variations of
(£5,648,600) were proposed to the 2023/24 Capital programme
and £30,000 to 2024/25 Programme as detailed in paragraph
4.4.3 of the report.
- The overall revised
Capital Programme for 2023/24 to 2025/26 taking into account the
budget variations was £35,119,588 and details of how it was
broken down was detailed in paragraph 4.4.4 of the
- The Programme of
£35,119,588 was funded by Capital Receipts / Borrowing
(£13,528,650), External Grants and Contributions
(£18,609,678) and Reserves (£2,981,260).
- The Council also have
authority to borrow from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) as outlined in the Treasury Management Annual
Investment Strategy and currently had external borrowing of
- Capital Programme
release of funds as detailed in paragraph 4.4.8 of the
In response to questions from
the Committee, the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive
advised the following:
- That the National
Employers decided upon any salary increase proposals.
- The Wilko’s
store in the Green Lanes shopping centre was due to close the
following week and the Council had raised the majority of rental
income up to the point of the company going into
- There had been a
request from the administrators to write off the remaining rental.
However, the Council had refused this request given that the store
was still currently trading.
- The rental income on
the unit was around £180K per annum.
- To mitigate the risk
of any reduction of rental income within the Centre in a situation
of that nature, the Council had placed £75K per year through
2021/22 and 2022/23 into a specific income volatility reserve
reserves; which now totalled £150K to meet some of the rental
shortfall for the remainder of the financial year.
- Asset Managers
(Praxis) were speaking with the administrators and there had been
some interest from major retail stores for empty units within the
- The Council would
need to liaise with the administrators to ascertain when they get
control of the unit back and would be able to market the unit to
potential new retailers.
- The company
Poundland were interested in some of
the Wilko stores nationally but not the Barnstaple
- The interest rates
from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB)
were fixed rates for different loans.
- With regards to a
return on investments, the Council had seen a return of £75K
in the first quarter and a slightly higher return forecast for the
- Internal borrowing
was a more cost effective way of borrowing for the
- The increase in costs
for the Ringo car parking payment system should be offset by a
reduction in lower bank charges due to reduced handling of
- There had been a
reduction in income for the Building Control Partnership, for which
there was a shortfall of £15K for North Devon Council and a
shortfall of £49K for Mid Devon District Council. The costs
of the partnership were shared proportionately based upon income
received, with North Devon Council picking up a higher percentage
of the costs.
- Officers from both
Councils were currently reviewing the agreement to determine
whether or not the current arrangement was functioning in the best
interests of both Councils.
- The Building Control
team had seen a higher than average number of vacancies over the
last couple of years with difficulties attracting potential
employees to the roles and having to compete with higher salaries
offered in the private sector.
- The business plan
that was developed and agreed prior to purchase of the Green Lanes
Shopping Centre in 2021 looked at the medium 5-10 year period
forecast with cash flow and assumed the economic position at the
- The Council had
assumed that future cash flow would be lower on rental income due
to economic climate and market conditions. However, at the current
time cash flow still showed a positive net income to the Council.
Part of the business plan was to review alternative types of
business and other ways to increase footfall within the
- There was an internal
audit report due for consideration at the Governance Committee on
25th September 2023, which outlined that the Council
held overall £300K of reserves specifically in relation to
the Green Lanes Shopping Centre. Other points to highlight was that
since the Council had taken on ownership of the centre that an
additional 5-6 retail units had been filled and rented out to
businesses. The Council was also exploring alternative uses for the
units other than retail and the strategy for the centre was
The Head of Programme Management and
Performance outlined the supplementary document, which was
attached as Appendix E “Corporate Plan Delivery Highlight
report with key results and performance indicators” to the
Committee and highlighted the following:
- Appendix E set out the new performance management
- This was the first quarter to bring forward the results to the
Committee for consideration.
was a live suite of measures which could be added to or reduced at
performance indicators showed the health of the organisation at a
- Devon Audit Partnership had recently commenced an Internal Audit
review of performance management.
next report for quarter 2 would have an update on projects, capital
costs and mid-year measures and would give confidence on the
delivery of the Corporate Plan.
In response to questions, the
Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive and the Head of
Programme Management and Performance advised the
- That a performance indicator could be added to the appendix for
a short period of time to monitor the rural missed collections, it
was agreed that that Councillor Patrinos speak with the Head of
Environmental Enhancement (EE).
summer had been a very busy time for the waste and recycling
service, which had also been impacted by driver sickness and a
minor change to a route, which had impacted about 50
- There was a national shortage of drivers combined with a heavy
volume of material and lessons learnt from this summer would ensure
that the service was better resourced next year.
- There had been on occasion the requirement to employ agency
staff to address the shortfall within the workforce. However, this
created additional issues as they were not familiar with the rounds
and as a result, the Council were looking to employ permanent
- There would be 12 new recycling vehicles within the fleet
towards the end of the financial year.
- Task and finish shifts would cease after September 2023, which
would then ensure that crews returned to Brynsworthy to assist with
other crews and leave at their allotted finish time.
- Overtime was only paid in exceptional circumstances, as
frontline services did not have Time Off in Lieu
- There were three Performance Indicators (PIs) that were issued
by the government, two were already monitored by the Council and
there was a third PI in relation to contamination. There were
additional PIs, which could be shared with Members, again
Councillor Patrinos to be provided with these and also talk to the
Head of EE.
- Complaints per ward would be recorded via the Council’s
Feedback team where complaints were escalated through the various
stages of the process and this information could be shared with the
Committee if requested.
pyramid on page 46 of the agenda referred to the high-level key
results. The Council were focussing on the types of calls based on
value calls or failure demand calls and whilst the categorisation
might not be perfect at the current time improvements would be
Council will be required to report on its performance to the Office
of Local Government set three waste indicators:
Proportion of household waste sent for
Residual (i.e. non-recycling) waste per household
Contamination rate of recycling – calculated
as estimated proportion this is rejected of total amount of
household waste sent for recycling.
Used to have Best Value Performance Indicators and
seem to be going back down that route with the three stringent
targets put in place.
There will be another suite of indicators around
financial reporting, which consisted of six indicators on which all
Councils would need to report, which would represent figures in a
The planning figures on page 49 of the report had
previously reported a 95% success rate. However, officers felt that
it was important to show Members the true picture of the current
situation for the planning service to include the extension of
times requested and approved by applicants / agents.
There was a backlog of work within the development
management team in terms of planning skills and the Council had
applied for a grant to address the resource and recruitment issues
for which the service was having to rely on agency employees. The
aim of the new detailed figures were contained within the report to
ensure transparency with performance figures.
There had been difficulties recruiting staff across
all Council services and there were currently agency staff working
within the development management team to address the backlog of
There was a request for two additional PI’s to
be added, which were:
Staff turnover by department.
Planning applications: Percentage of applications
that had requested extensions.
Head of Programme
Management and Performance advised that the software should be able
to pull out the information required and added that she would speak
to the Development Manager.
that the decisions and recommendations of the
Strategy and Resources Committee be endorsed; and
that missed collections feedback at operational level be circulated
to Councillor Patrinos.
The Committee discussed the
poor attendance rate at the Committee meetings and questioned why
Members were not attending as they should be.
The Chair agreed to write to
Group Leaders to request clarification from their Members as to why
they were not attending the Committee meetings.
The Chair thanked Members and
Officers for their attendance.