Agenda and decisions

Venue: Hollinsworth Hall, Canalside Conference Centre, Marsh Lane, Huntworth, Bridgwater TA6 6LQ. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services Email: democraticservicesteam@somerset.gov.uk 

Note: Please note: For the budget meetings taking place in February 2024, there is amended guidance on Public Question Time. Please see the guidance notes contained within each agenda for the amended details. 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

2.

Minutes from the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 155 KB

To approve the minutes from the previous meeting.

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 483 KB

To receive and note any declarations of interests in respect of any matters included on the agenda for consideration at this meeting.

(The other registrable interests of Councillors of Somerset Council, arising from membership of City, Town or Parish Councils and other Local Authorities will automatically be recorded in the minutes: City, Town & Parish Twin Hatters - Somerset Councillors 2023 )

4.

Public Question Time pdf icon PDF 273 KB

Amended procedures for the budget meetings:-

 

Due to the high volume of submissions anticipated for the budget meetings of Scrutiny (Corporate and Resources), Executive and Full Council, the Monitoring Officer in consultation with the Chair of each meeting, has allocated up to 60 minutes at the meeting for Public Question Time meeting (with a maximum of 10 speakers permitted to speak at the meeting). Generally this will be set aside near the beginning of the meeting or the Chair may invite speakers at the specific agenda item their questions relate to.

 

Based on the time to be set aside for PQT, we anticipate up to ten speakers will be invited by the Chair to individually address the meeting. Each speaker will have for up to 3 minutes and will be allowed a maximum of 3 questions.  The ten speakers will receive a verbal response at the meeting.

 

Each speaker must direct their questions and comments through the Chair. You may not take a direct part in the members’ debate at the meeting. The Chair will have the discretion to conclude or extend the time permitted for public participation.

 

Any submissions that are received over the ten speakers allowed at the meeting, will receive a written response after the meeting. However, all questions and statements received will be published on the Council’s website and circulated to all members at least 1 working day before the meeting.

 

If you wish to speak or ask a question about any matter on the agenda, please contact Democratic Services by 5pm providing 3 clear working days before the meeting. (for example, for a meeting being held on a Wednesday, the deadline will be 5pm on the Thursday prior to the meeting) Email democraticservicesteam@somerset.gov.uk or telephone 01823 357628. You will need to include your full name, address and contact details.

 

Anyone wishing to speak, make a statement or ask a question will need to attend in person or alternatively can join the meeting remotely. If you are unable to do either of these then your question or statement could be read out at the meeting if time permits.

 

If an item on the agenda is contentious, with many people wishing to attend the meeting or if multiple speakers wish to ask questions that are similar to others, a representative will need to be nominated to present the views of the group.  Democratic Services will assist in the process of nominating a representative if this occurs.

Additional documents:

5.

Chair's Announcements pdf icon PDF 81 KB

6.

Report of the Section 151 Officer pdf icon PDF 6 MB

To consider the Section 25 Report.

Decision:

Councillor Liz Leyshon proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Bill Revans.

 

Having been duly proposed and seconded, the Council RESOLVED to:

a)    Consider and note the assurance provided by the Section 151 Officer in respect of the robustness of the 2024/25 budget proposals.

b)    Consider and note the assurance provided by the Section 151 Officer on the adequacy of reserves for 2024/25.

c)     Approve that the Level of General Reserves were maintained within the range £30m (5% of net budget) to £60m (10% of net budget).

d)    Note the Section 151 Officers significant concerns over the 2025/26 financial year and the ability to balance the budget.

e)    Note that the Section 151 would provide members with regular updates concerning the council's finances and the risks of a Section 114 notice.

7.

Report of the Leader and Executive - Capital Strategy 2024/25 to 2026/27 pdf icon PDF 94 KB

To consider the Capital Strategy 2024-25 to 2026-27.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Councillor Liz Leyshon proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Bill Revans.

 

Having been duly proposed and seconded, the Council RESOLVED to approve:

a)    The Capital Strategy including the key prudential indicators for 2024/25  

b)    The Flexible Use of Capital Receipts Policy for 2024/25 

c)     The Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) Policy for 2024/25 

d)    That the administration would review the MRP Strategy over the next six months to ensure the MRP was calculated in a consistent manner.

8.

Report of the Leader and Executive - Treasury Management Strategy 2024-25 pdf icon PDF 196 KB

To consider the Treasury Management Strategy 2024-25.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Councillor Liz Leyshon proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Bill Revans.

 

Having been duly proposed and seconded, the Council RESOLVED to:

·       Adopt the Treasury Borrowing Strategy and Treasury Investment Strategy for 2024-25 as set out in this report,

·       Adopt the Prudential Treasury Indicators set out in this report, and

·       Adopt Appendix A as part of the Councils Financial regulations.

9.

Report of the Leader and Executive - 2024/25 General Fund Capital Budget pdf icon PDF 215 KB

To consider the 2024-25 General Fund Capital Budget.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Councillor Liz Leyshon proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Bill Revans.

 

Having been duly proposed and seconded, the Council RESOLVED to:

a)    Approve the removal of the already approved schemes as detailed in Appendix A,

b)    Approve the revised capital programme for 2024/25 as detailed in Appendix B,

c)     Approve the inclusion of the new capital bids for 2024/25 onwards as detailed in Appendix C for inclusion in the programme.

10.

Report of the Leader and Executive - Housing Revenue Account 2024-25 pdf icon PDF 98 KB

To consider the Housing Revenue Account 2024-25.

 

Note - A recorded vote on these recommendations will be required as per the legislation.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Councillor Federica Smith-Roberts proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Liz Leyshon.

 

Having been duly proposed and seconded, the Council RESOLVED to approve:

1)    Revenue Budget for 2024/25 (see section 8) 

·       The HRA Annual Revenue Budget for 2024/25 as shown in Appendix A.  

2)    Rent Setting for 2024/25 (see section 10) 

·       An increase of 7.7% to Dwelling Rents in line with the Governments 2019 (and updated 2023) Rent Standard. 

·       An increase of 7.7% for Sheltered and Extra Care housing rents in line with the dwelling rents increase. 

·       An increase of 7.7% for Shared Ownership properties.  

·       An increase of 7.7% on affordable rental tenures, with the rent being reviewed at relet based on 80% of open market rent capped at the LHA rate. 

·       The continuation of rent flex at relet for new tenants within the West of the Council for tenants part of the in-house service (dwelling stock inherited from the legacy Somerset West and Taunton Council) as included in the Rent Charging Policy. This would be levied at basic rent plus 5% for general needs tenants and 10% for sheltered and extra care tenants. 

·       The introduction of rent flex at relet for new tenants within the North of the Council for tenants part of Homes In Sedgemoor (dwelling stock inherited from the legacy Sedgemoor District Council) as included in the Rent Charging Policy. This would be levied at basic rent plus 5% for general needs tenants and 10% for sheltered and extra care tenants. 

3)    Fees & Charges for 2024/25 (see section 11) 

·       An increase in Service Charges for tenants in the North, managed by Homes In Sedgemoor, based on predicted costs in line with the service charging policy. The introduction of a transparent 10% service charge management fee. The service charges were contained in Appendix B.  

·       An increase in Service Charges for tenants in the West, managed by the In-House Service, of (a) 7.7% for Grounds Maintenance and the Support / Sheltered Housing and Extra Care accommodation services, (b) 6.8% for the Piper Lifeline service, (c) other charges based on actual costs incurred for laundry, heating, communal areas, communal door entry systems, (d) no change to the communal utilities charge, (e) a new charge for exceptional street cleaning, (f) sewerage would increase in line with the Wessex Water increases for 2024/25 once known. The service charges were contained in Appendix C. 

·       An increase of 7.7% for garage rents. 

·       An increase of 6.7% on temporary accommodation daily rates.  

·       An increase of 6.7% for Meeting Hall hourly rental rates.  

·       An increase of 6.7% for Guest Room charges. 

4)    Capital Programme from 2024/25 (see section 12) 

·       The HRA Major Works and Improvement Capital Programme for 2024/25 of £8,834,500 for HiS and £19,189,200 for the In-House Service.   

·       To approve a capital budget of £940,000 for the delivery of the Bespoke Homes Phase 2 scheme (North of Somerset). This scheme would deliver 2 large and fully adapted new homes that would be built to low carbon standards in excess of building regulations and extend  ...  view the full decision text for item 10.

11.

Report of the Leader and Executive - General Fund Revenue Budget and Medium Term Financial Plan 2024-25 including Council Tax Setting 2024-25 pdf icon PDF 8 MB

To consider the following reports:-

·       General Fund Revenue Budget and Medium-Term Financial Plan 2024-25

·       Council Tax Setting 2024-25

 

To view all the supporting documents, including the Savings Proposals, the Cumulative Impact Assessment and the relevant Equality Impact Assessment forms, please access the web library by using this link – Supporting Documents

 

Please note: The Monitoring Officer has agreed a dispensation for all 110 councillors to enable them to fully participate Full Council in debating, setting and agreeing the Council’s budget 2024/25 (including setting council tax), Housing Revenue Account budget and the Members Allowances Scheme 2024/25.

 

Note - A recorded vote on these recommendations will be required as per the legislation.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Councillor Liz Leyshon proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Bill Revans.

 

Having been duly proposed and seconded, the Council RESOLVED to:

Revenue Budget

a)    Note the conclusions of the Council’s Section 151 Officer (Chief Finance Officer) in his Section 25 report confirming the robustness of the budget estimates and the adequacy of the level of reserves for 2024/25 and his warning about the 2025/26 financial year.

b)    Approve the additional funding for pressures requirements set out in Appendix 6.

c)     Approve the savings and income generation plans outlined in Appendix 7, considering the detailed Equalities Impact Assessments

d)    Note the MTFP Cumulative Impact Assessment in Appendix 15

e)    Approve the General Fund net revenue budget for 2024/25 of £601.775m and the individual service budgets for 2024/25 as outlined in Appendix 2.

f)      Note that in order to balance the 2024/25 budget, that revenue spend would be capitalised in accordance with the Capitalisation Directive from DLUHC of £36.9m

g)    Delegate of any amendments within the final Government Financial Settlement and the final Business Rates amendments to the Executive Director of Resources and Corporate Services (Section 151 Officer) in consultation with the Leader of the Council. 

Reserves

h)    Note that the level of General Reserves was maintained within the risk-based assessment range of £30m minimum to £60m maximum level.

i)      Approve that £36.8m from the Medium-Term Financial Plan Support Reserve was used to help balance the 2024/25 budget.

j)      Note the overall estimated position of Earmarked Reserves outlined in Table 14 and the proposed use of reserves detailed in Appendix 10 which included the estimated use of Earmarked Reserves during the year.

Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG)

k)     Note the forecast spending on the Dedicated Schools Grant was forecast to exceed the funding provided by government by £23.4m in 2024/25 and was projected to reach a cumulative deficit of £96.2m by 31 March 2026.

l)      Note the overall Dedicated Schools Grant allocation of £533.3m for 2024/25 and breakdown by block as set out in Appendix 12.

Transformation Business Case

m)   Note the outline Business Case for transformation presented to the Executive on 7 February 2024 and that transformation was referenced in the DLUHC letter shown in Appendix 13. Transformationproposed to re-size the council so that it focused only on the unique value the council could provide and to reduce the workforce by over 1,000 (20-26%).

n)    Express concern about the ability to deliver, implications and potential outcomes of the changes planned from transformation.

o)    Called for the Executive to consider feedback on transformation from the Corporate and Resources Scrutiny Committee at the earliest opportunity.

Council Tax

p)    Approve the calculations for determining the Council Tax requirement for the year 2024/25 in accordance with the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as set out in the Council Tax Resolution in Appendix 16.

q)    Agree to continue the Council Tax precept of £14.65, included in the overall band D Council Tax for the shadow Somerset Rivers Authority  ...  view the full decision text for item 11.

12.

Report of the Human Resources Committee pdf icon PDF 49 KB

To consider the Pay Policy Statement 2024-25.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Councillor Theo Butt Philip proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Bill Revans.

 

Having been duly proposed and seconded, the Council RESOLVED to approve the Pay Policy Statement (PPS) for 2024/25.

13.

Report of the Independent Remuneration Panel pdf icon PDF 104 KB

To consider the Member Scheme of Allowances 2024-25.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Councillor Bill Revans proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Theo Butt Philip.

 

Having been duly proposed and seconded, the Council RESOLVED to:

      i.         Thank the Panel for its report and recommendations set out in Appendix 1;

     ii.         Consider the Panel’s recommendations prior to determining the Scheme of Members’ Allowances 2024/25 and the draft Scheme of Members’ Allowances 2024/25 (set out in Appendix 2);

   iii.         Authorise the Monitoring Officer to finalise and publish the Scheme of Members’ Allowances 2024/25 to reflect the Council’s decision. 

14.

Report of the Chief Executive pdf icon PDF 63 KB

To consider the report for Service Director Appointment.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Councillor Bill Revans proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Richard Wilkins.

 

Having been duly proposed and seconded, the Council RESOLVED to approve the temporary appointment of Mike O’Dowd-Jones, Head of Service, Highways and Transport, to provide emergency cover to the post of Service Director Infrastructure and Transport, with effect from 15 December 2023 for a temporary period until 30 June 2024.

15.

Report of the Monitoring Officer pdf icon PDF 61 KB

To consider the following reports:-

a)    Appointment of Vice Chair of the Scrutiny Committee for Corporate and Resources

b)    Appointment of Independent Person

Additional documents:

Decision:

Councillor Bill Revans proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Liz Leyshon.

 

Having been duly proposed and seconded, the Council RESOLVED to:

Paper A:

Approve the appointment of Councillor Henry Hobhouse as the Vice-Chair of Scrutiny Committee – Corporate and Resources 

Paper B:

      i.         Appoint Lorraine Davey as an Independent Person with effect from 21 February 2024 and

     ii.         Agree that the two Reserve Independent Person roles remained vacant until such time as the Monitoring Officer decides that recruitment was needed.

16.

Report of the Audit Committee pdf icon PDF 62 KB

To consider the Somerset Joint Auditors Annual Report.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Councillor Mike Hewitson proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Andy Sully.

 

Having been duly proposed and seconded, the Council RESOLVED to:

a)    Note the Auditors’ Annual Report (Paper A – Appendix A) and all recommendations: and

b)    Note and endorse management’s proposed responses and action to the improvement recommendations.

17.

Report of the Leader and Executive - For Information pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To note the report.

17a

Annual Report of the Lead Member for Adult Services pdf icon PDF 3 MB

To note the annual report of the Lead Member for Adult Services.

Additional documents:

17b

Annual Report of the Lead Member for Transformation and HR pdf icon PDF 852 KB

To note the annual report of the Lead Member for Transformation and HR.

18.

Report of the Five Scrutiny Committees pdf icon PDF 115 KB

To note the report of the five Scrutiny Committees.

19.

Annual Report of the Pensions Fund Committee pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To note the annual report of the Pensions Fund Committee.

Additional documents: