Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Committee for Leader, Finance and Performance - Wednesday, 17th June, 2020 4.00 pm

New regulations came into effect on 4 April 2020 to allow Councils to hold meetings remotely via electronic means. As such, Council and Committee meetings will occur with appropriate Councillors participating via a remote video link. Public access to the meetings is via a live stream video through the Council’s official YouTube channel

Venue: via Remote Video Link

Contact: Email: committees@midsussex.gov.uk 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Roll Call and Virtual Meetings Explanation.

Minutes:

The Chairman carried out a roll call to establish attendance at the meeting. The Solicitor to the Council provided information on the format of the virtual meeting.

2.

To note Substitutes in Accordance with Council Procedure Rule 4 - Substitutes at Meetings of Committees etc.

Minutes:

None.

3.

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

None.

4.

To receive Declarations of Interests from Members in respect of any matter on the Agenda.

Minutes:

In relation to item 7 on the agenda, Councillor Andrew Lea and Councillor Brunsdon declared an interest as they are both West Sussex County Councillors.

5.

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 15 January 2020. pdf icon PDF 207 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 15 January 2019 were agreed as a correct record and electronically signed by the Chairman.

6.

To consider any items that the Chairman agrees to take as urgent business.

Minutes:

None.

7.

Financial Impact of Coronavirus on the Council. pdf icon PDF 149 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Kathryn Hall, Chief Executive introduced the report and acknowledged that the impact of the Covid 19 crisis is unprecedented, both economically and socially and acknowledged the impact it has had on residents of Mid Sussex.

 

As the Council has been required by Government to focus all available resources to respond to the crisis, the Chief Executive noted that work in the Corporate Plan has not progressed as intended.  As such as revised Corporate Plan is required and the purpose of the report is to provide the Committee with an early opportunity to consider the underlying financial context that will be so important to both the revised Plan, and preparations for the 2021/22 financial year. The Committee will have the opportunity to review things further in August, prior to it being considered by the Cabinet and Full Council in September.

 

The Leader of the Council noted that the pandemic is not a party-political issue and considering the significant financial impact that is faced from a loss of income, Members need to plan proactively to support the District as a whole. He acknowledged that no organisation can adequately support people unless it has a strong financial position and urged Members to focus on key principles and effective use of resources to prioritise key services that can be provided for local residents.  

 

It was noted by Members that reviving the local economy needs to take high priority.

Discussion was held on support that has been provided to businesses and the Head of Corporate Resources confirmed that the Council is using every means possible to contact businesses who are not yet claiming the basic Government grant.  Whilst it is too early to assess the impact on unemployment in the District, the Council is seeing an increase in the take-up of support offered to families and households in terms of Council Tax support and benefits.

 

Discussion was held on shielding numbers which fluctuate during the pandemic, and the impact on housing and homelessness.  The Assistant Chief Executive confirmed that the Council is working with the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government to find longer term solutions for rough sleepers. Work is also continuing with Housing Associations who have mobilised quickly to provide properties to use for temporary accommodation. The Council is also seeking to continue and extend its own initiative to directly provide temporary accommodation. The Cabinet have agreed in principle to make the relevant funds available and a report is being presented to Council in June.

           

A number of Members sought clarity on the tax base and the Head of Corporate Resources confirmed that both the increase in council tax support claims and the extent to which new building has been halted all contributes to the reduction in the tax base. This affects the District Council and the Town and Parish Councils. He also noted that there is lobbying within the sector for the Government to remove the cap on a Council Tax raise.

 

The subject of Leisure Centres was discussed in detail.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Scrutiny Committee for Leader, Finance and Performance Work Programme 2020-21. pdf icon PDF 193 KB

Minutes:

Tom Clark, Solicitor to the Council introduced the report, informing Members that there will be a special meeting convened in August to discuss the Corporate Plan in further detail.  He also corrected an error regarding the date of the March meeting which should read ‘3 March 2021’.

 

The Chairman took Members to the recommendation which was agreed unanimously.

 

RESOLVED

 

The Committee:

 

(i)         Agreed the Committee’s Work Programme as set out at paragraph 5 of the report.

9.

Questions pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 10.2 due notice of which has been given.

Minutes:

None.