Venue: Conference Room, Civic Centre, Silver Street, Enfield, EN1 3XA. View directions
WELCOME AND APOLOGIES
Attendees and residents were welcomed to the meeting.
Apologies were received from Simon Goulden, Anthony Murphy, Alicia Meniru, Bindi Nagra and Jenny Tosh. Apologies for lateness were received from Ray James.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Members of the Council are invited to identify any disclosable pecuniary other pecuniary or non pecuniary interests relevant to items on the agenda.
No declarations of interest were received.
Enfield’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee has set up a Budget Meeting to consider the proposals within the Council’s 2016/17 Budget Consultation.
The purpose of the Committee Meeting is to:
(a) Seek comments on and consider the Budget Consultation proposals,
(b) To prepare a response on the Budget Consultation proposals for consideration by Cabinet and Council as part of the budget setting process.
A Programme for the Budget Meeting is attached. Also attached are:
(i) The Budget Consultation document;
(ii) Focus Group Presentation.
Members of the Committee are asked to note:
· the public have been invited to attend the meeting to participate in the budget consultation process;
· that Cabinet is due to consider the response from the budget consultation process at its meeting on 10 February 2016. The final response agreed by the Committee will be referred onto Cabinet for consideration as part of this process. The Council’s final 2016/17 budget proposals are due to be considered and approved at the Council meeting on 24 February 2016.
The Chair outlined the structure and process for the meeting, in line with the Budget Programme, as follows:
Introduction to Budget Consultation, Findings and the Council’s Options
James Rolfe, Director of Finance, Resources and Customer Services, gave a presentation, the key points of which were as follows:
· The Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan set out the Council’s financial planning for the next four years.
· Pressures and risks on the Council’s financial position included:
o the Government’s Spending Review announced late last year, which changed levels of Government funding;
o An increasing population and an increased birth rate;
o An ageing population;
o Increased costs associated with developing new housing;
o Rising costs associated with inflation and pay (for example, the National Living Wage);
o An upturn in the property market which in particular impacted upon the costs of providing temporary accommodation.
· Government funding had fallen from £190m in 10/11 to £91m in 19/20. This represented therefore a drop of over £100m, which in real terms, was closer to £120m.
· A number of savings proposals had already been agreed at the Cabinet Meeting in November, leaving a budget gap of between £4.5 and £5m, for which further savings proposals had been put forward which were still subject to Cabinet and Council agreement.
· The Budget would therefore be balanced in Year 1 of the Medium Term Financial Plan, with a rising deficit of £133,000 in Year 2, £20m in Year 3 and £13m in Year 4.
· Much work would therefore need to be undertaken in future years to bridge these deficits.
The following questions and comments were then taken:
Cllr Smith felt that the presentation gave a false impression of the situation, and that the cuts in Government Grant were only one part of the whole picture. Referring to a recent comment by Greg Clark (Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government), it was the Government’s intention that more finance should be raised locally through initiatives such as the Better Care Fund and increased taxation. He added that it was also the Government’s intention that the ‘books would be balanced’ by 2020.
James Rolfe acknowledged this point but responded that there was not yet enough information regarding devolving, for example, Business Rates, to anticipate or analyse the full effect these would have. Central Government funding had decreased dramatically and there was no guaranteed replacement finance.
Cllr Taylor added that the recent Spending Review had outlined more significant funding decreases than anticipated. Outer London boroughs had been particularly badly affected and grant damping continued to be an issue. Enfield’s needs assessment had been artificially restricted over time leading to £100m in lost income. Enfield’s per capita funding amount was significantly lower than many other London Boroughs; for example, Westminster had a per capita spend of £916, Hammersmith & Fulham £900 and Kensington & Chelsea £815. Cllr Taylor argued that this was not an acceptable situation; Enfield was experiencing rises in population but this was not properly reflected in funding levels.