To consider this report.
The Committee considered this report that set out the proposed capital programme for 2019/20. Members noted that the programme primarily related to the assets which were held or used by the Council to operate or support the services provided to Somerset residents and included such assets as Schools and Highways. It was noted that capital expenditure involved the acquisition, creation or enhancement of fixed assets with a long-term value to the Council. It did not therefore support the day-to-day running costs of Council services which were met from the Revenue Budget.
It was reported that previously capital programme approvals had been given on an annual basis with only consideration given to future years. However, some larger projects, lasting more than one year, would require further approvals to complete them. It was now proposed to set out the approvals for the anticipated Capital Programme up to 2022/23 and this would allow for better project planning of whole schemes and enable commissioners to procure under best value frameworks.
Attention turned to the ‘Schools basic need programme’ and it was noted that in 2018/19, the Council approved a programme to provide additional schools basic need places over four years. This was in part funded by up to £120m of borrowing. A further investment programme was proposed for 2019/20 and the subsequent three years, but this has now been reviewed in the light of the financial pressures on the Council.
It was noted that the proposed schools programme for 2019/20 and beyond would be based on available grant, S106 contributions and the existing borrowing approval given in February and May 2018. The programme had been designed to meet the identified needs up to 2021 and appendix B of the report showed the basic need requirements that funding sought to fulfil.
In response to a question it was stated that the schools and number of places and where they would be needed in Somerset between now and 2021 had been estimated having taken account a wide range of information and would be subject to change as the programme developed over the next few years. Looking ahead Members heard that the Council would continue to seek further funding to support the addition of school places and avoid the requirement for borrowing.
The Committee agreed to note the report.