The Scrutiny Panel will hear from the Cabinet Member and officers outlining priorities and areas of challenge.
Cabinet Members and Officers will be asked to leave the meeting at this point.
Councillor Demirel (Chair) invited Councillor Mary Maguire (Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement) and Fay Hammond (Executive Director - Resources) to present to the Panel the local priorities for 2021-22.
Councillor Mary Maguire (Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement) took this opportunity to outline to the Panel the challenges being currently faced by the local authority:
1. The Council is currently operating with 50% less funding going forward than was available ten years ago. With this reduction and the need to balance the books accordingly, the challenge has been to reduce risks and ensure that Adult & Children’s Social Care and Social Services are supported.
2. Rigorous control of our spending has been required to reach our priorities. The Council’s financial resilience has strengthened. However there are ongoing future risks arising from Covid 19, such as uncertainty in job security in the borough, which will have a huge impact on income from Council Tax and Business Rates collections. The likelihood is that the collection fund will be significantly lower this year.
3. It will be difficult to plan with only one-year settlements to work with, especially as the Fair Funding revenue is still awaited. The Council have done a good job although there are still challenges ahead. If comparisons are made to other Councils, Enfield is in a good resilient position.
Fay Hammond (Executive Director - Resources) followed with a detailed presentation to the Panel providing an update on the following:
· Covid 19 - ongoing impact; key area is impact on income, namely Council Tax and Business Rates: There is a need to examine how the Council is performing and steps to address any issues arising from this financial uncertainty and the pressure faced by our residents and businesses.
· External audit pressures on the external audit industry, including the recommendations from the Redmond Review: The need to identify a clear strategic reason where this can be resolved
· Fair Funding: it is not certain when the government will progress the Fair Funding of Local Government, it is envisaged that this is to be considered by next April but may not materialise. The damping arrangement equivalent to £11m estimated loss in funding each year. There is an option to bring in an independent specialist to brief the Panel on the history of damping, and the latest information on government funding and what this could mean for Enfield. CIPFA Financial Management Code: Finance Department undertaking a self-assessment on this code; in the autumn CIPFA have been asked to assess Enfield. It is suggested that this assessment and the improvement plan are reported here.
· Consultation on Prudential Code - Treasury: the Treasury Strategy is reviewed by the General Purposes Committee, however, it was suggested that the Finance Scrutiny Panel may wish to look at this as well.
· Company Business Plans – the Panel may wish to undertake a closer review of these.
· Public Interest reports - financial resilience, governance and leadership: There have been a number of Public Interest reports published, the Panel may seem to gain assurances that Enfield have reviewed these and are acting on any lessons learnt.
· Financial Risk and Governance: although the financial foundations are more resilient, however, in the context of the current pandemic, the Council continues to review our resilience, governance and risks continues to be a priority
· Customer Performance: the new website will be operational in the summer 2021, and the Panel may wish to receive an update on the impact of this on customer experience.
Councillor Demirel (Chair) thanked Councillor Mary Maguire and Fay Hammond for their comprehensive and informative presentation to the Panel. They left the meeting at this point to enable the Panel to consider the work programme.