Agenda and minutes

Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 30th June, 2020 10.30 am

Venue: Virtual meeting - This meeting is being held remotely using Skype for Business. View directions

Note: Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, this meeting will be held remotely. Joining details are included on the agenda cover sheet 

No. Item

Remarks from the Chair

The Chair requested a written response from the Chief Executive regarding late distribution of meeting agendas, including solutions for how Councillors can receive reports in a timelier manner in future.


(Note: Due to technical issues the Chief Executive was not able to answer the Chair’s questions at the opening of the meeting, but later responded to the Committee’s questions on the timeliness of the agenda)


The Chief Executive replied that going forward timely information needed to go out to members and understood that large reports take time to examine. The Corporate Management Team would take on board comments from the committee. Electronically, the agenda pack was available from 22 June for members to access. Hard copies did not arrive on 23 June as expected, due to late reports and Covid-19 causing closure of council offices on Tuesdays, so the hard copies could not be printed until 24 June, for arrival with Members on 25 June.




A written response from the Chief Executive would be provided, outlining steps taken to ensure agenda packs were received in a timely manner.




Comments from members of the public

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    To receive comments or views from members of the public at the Committee’s discretion.


    No comments were received from members of the public.



Register of attendance, membership and apologies for absence

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    Apologies were received from Councillor David Bellamy and Councillor Charmaine Morgan was not present.



Disclosure of interests

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    No interests were disclosed.



Action notes of the meeting held on 26 May 2020 pdf icon PDF 147 KB

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    The action notes of the meeting held on 26 May 2020 were agreed as a correct record.



Updates from previous meeting

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    A member questioned the membership of leisure centre working groups and asked for an update on the working groups or if they had been abandoned since the last meeting. He went on to ask if the list of recreation grounds assets requested at the February meeting could be circulated to other Councillors, as well as to Committee members.




    A written response on the status of the leisure centre working groups to be provided


    A list of the location of SKDC recreation facilities within the district to be provided to committee members and Councillor Baxter


Outturn Report 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 510 KB

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    Report detailing the Council’s provisional outturn position for the financial year 2019/20

    Additional documents:


    The Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources introduced the outturn report and asked the committee to review the outturn and to recommend to the Governance and Audit Committee that the position be approved.

    The Interim Director of Finance gave additional detail on the report. He reminded members that the report was the fourth and final report in respect of the financial year 2019/20 that had been presented to the Committee. Members had been notified at the September meeting that a £465,000 deficit was forecast and the Council had instigated interventions that have been undertaken for the period covered by the report. Members and officers had made great efforts to ensure that a balanced outturn for the General Fund had been achieved and all the information in the report would be subject to audit and incorporated into the statement of accounts. The committee were notified that the report would be subject to this committee’s approval would be presented to Cabinet on the 7th July and then to the Governance and Audit Committee on the 13th August. Members were asked to review the proposed budget carry forwards as unrequired ones could be used to reduce the financial impact of Covid-19.

    Members were informed that some areas had fared better than others but overall most directorates had kept within budgets. Going into the financial year 2020/21 the Council were in a good position without relying on reserves.  The Director of Finance referred to a one-off financial windfall from renewable energy receipts from business rates. This is because the council is eligible to receive 100% of any receipt of renewable energy and there had been an increase in renewable energy in the district. He gave a summary of what had happened at the directorate level and that since the last report presented in February the Council was in a relatively good position with a few minor variances. He outlined some of the factors that can cause a variance such as non-cash items, which were also detailed further in the appendices to the report.

    Members heard that the General Fund income streams had performed well and that there had been limited impact of Covid-19 in the 2019/20 financial year.  The impact is largely in the current financial year. The committee were asked to note that in respect of significant income streams, there was a 4.4% variance compared to budget which was positive considering the volatility of the areas represented. In terms of capital, both capital programmes had significant lower outturn expenditure compared to budget but the relevant explanations were detailed in the report. In terms of the General Fund there was postponement on the Commercial investment plans in order to allocate the budget towards the funding of the emerging leisure investment programme. The Capital Reserves are insufficient to fully fund capital expenditure so the revenue local priorities reserve is also being utilised to fund capital schemes. This will be needed to be kept under review as the revenue reserves will become more important to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 74.


Financial Impact Report pdf icon PDF 417 KB

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    Report summarising the latest position on the 2020/21 Budget framework as a result of the financial impact of the Covid-19 crisis

    Additional documents:


    The Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources introduced the latest monthly figures, including the risk register and reserves in appendix D. He asked for the committee to review the Councils position and give comments. The Interim Director of Finance gave an overview of the report which built on the report seen in the previous meeting in May. The report focused on spend for 2019/20 and how this had implications on 2020/21 and beyond. He spoke of the Impact of Covid-19 on collection of revenue through the year and how this could be modelled going forward. He forecast a £900,000 loss against budgets, which would rise to £2 million by the middle of the year, before peaking at £3 million at year end. There were assumptions made around recovery and as those assumptions changed the forecast would be updated. New forecasts would return to committee as more information was gathered.

    The Interim Director of Finance informed the committee that grants from government had resulted in many businesses being taken out of rating for business rates. Remaining rate payers may also face difficulties with payments, and this could affect collection rates throughout the financial year. Work was being conducted on modelling how much of a fall in collection would result in difficulties for the rate pool. Constant modelling on the pool was necessary to give an up to date indication on how it was performing.

    Analysis on classification of business had split business into various risk profiles. These profiles identify sectors that are more at risk of Covid-19 related volatility. South Kesteven contained a spread of profiles that mainly centred on the low risk businesses which meant that the district may well be less affected by a sectoral recession. As the furlough scheme wound down this could result in difficulties later in the year, however costs were largely the same from 26 May.

    Councillor Knowles re-joined 12:05

    Members commended the quality of the report that gave important information and thanked the officers and cabinet member for the overview. A Member commented that Government funding appeared to only cover a third of the shortfall and that other District Councils also seemed to had received around a third, whilst County Councils appeared to have received 84% of their shortfall, demonstrating an apparent disparity in funding from Government. The Councillor also noted that all risks on the risk register had been classed as high and asked if there were any risks not on the report that were medium or low.

    The Interim Director of Finance explained that as government funding had reduced in the past this caused a greater reliance on fees and charges for District Councils to fund their services. It was these fees and charges which were impacted most by Covid-19. Various associations representing Councils and Finance Officers were in contact with Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Director remained hopeful that further grants would be received.  As the risk register would be further refined as the Covid-19 situation progressed,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 75.


Performance Report pdf icon PDF 374 KB

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    Report detailing South Kesteven’s performance during the Covid-19 pandemic and performance reporting for the financial year 2019/20

    Additional documents:


    The Strategic Director Transformation and Change introduced the report and gave an overview of the Council’s Covid-19 response. He also outlined the additional responsibilities which the Council managed during lockdown. He asked members to note the number of redeployments of staff that took place during this time to allow for critical services to be delivered. The Committee heard of the work of the response teams during Covid-19. He went on to inform the committee of the increased demand on the Revenues and Benefits teams. Recent changes in the way that staff work and feedback received from the staff survey had resulted in increased wellbeing activities to help manage stress, and an increase in all staff emails to keep them informed. There had been increased demand on computer and telephone equipment to allow for home working and lockdown resulted in uplifted engagement on social media with the Council. He reported that the Council was found to be 24th in country for distribution of business grants and £27 million had been paid to local businesses in the district. He stressed that a lot of positive work was completed in a short period of time. There was positive performance news with regards to new homes being completed and an improved response to planning enquiries across the year. 

    The Chair mentioned the objective of the dashboards that would increase the transparency of the council and questioned when these dashboards would be put into the public domain. The Strategic Director replied that the dashboards were published quarterly via the committee agenda, however the Chair noted a desire for performance dashboards to be published on the main SKDC website, in a separate performance section which would be more readily accessible than via agenda packs. Members agreed that the dashboards should be online to allow for comparison of performance over time and with neighbouring authorities.

    A Member requested further detail on bonus payments to the refuse collectors. Confirmation was given that these payments were made only to waste services as a critical service with increased demand during lockdown. Officers noted that they were the lowest paid service in the Council and below the national average. The committee heard that assessments on pay and rewards were made on a regular basis to determine how staff can be appropriately compensated to meet national averages. A Member noted that they believed the bonus payments were appropriate, and money well spent, as the District enjoyed an excellent waste service. The committee gave their congratulations to the team for their positive attitude and noted that they were proud to be representatives of the Council and to work alongside the Community hub and local volunteers.

    The Chief Executive added that the bonus system had been extended until the end of September 2020 and also expressed her gratitude to the waste team.


    The Chair to write a letter of thanks to the waste team on behalf of the Committee to thank them for their service.

    Members commented on the complaints by month  ...  view the full minutes text for item 76.


Future High Streets Fund pdf icon PDF 362 KB

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    Report detailing proposals for submission of a bid for the Future High Streets Fund for Grantham Town Centre


    Appendix 6 to this report, the draft full business case is exempt under paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended) because it contains information relating to the financial or business affairs of an individual or organisation. If members of the Committee wish to discuss the contents of this appendix, members of the press and public will be excluded. Any exclusion will be during discussion of exempt information only.

    Additional documents:


    The Deputy Leader introduced the report and gave background information on Grantham’s strategic economic advantages as a transport hub and sub-regional centre. He spoke of the poor connection between the railway station and the town centre. The committee heard of the need to enhance first impressions of the town and improve pedestrian movement between the station and town centre as critical for Grantham’s future. The Deputy Leader spoke of the unique opportunity to develop Grantham through the Future High Streets fund. The Head of Regeneration and Visitor Economy at InvestSK informed the Committee of the extended deadline of the end of July for the final submission due to Covid-19. She spoke of the great opportunity for Grantham and the once in a generation chance to invest in the infrastructure of the town centre. The plan would diversify the town’s offer, supporting retail but increasing other uses such as residential and office space.

    The Chair thanked the officers for the quality of the report and the bid. A Member spoke of their concern of the development of an out-of-town shopping village that could drive people away from the town centre. Other Members disagreed that the out of town shopping centre could negatively impact the town as it offered a different service and a different type of shopping experience.

    Committee Members expressed concern that the report had not come to a Scrutiny Committee earlier. It was explained that it had been difficult to know when to engage the Scrutiny Committee owing to the structure of the bid, and it was noted that all members had been invited to the consultation workshops. A Member spoke of their concern that they were unaware of who was on the project board and requested a list of members. InvestSK’s Head of Regeneration & Visitor Economy outlined that it was formed of Cabinet members and senior officers at SKDC and InvestSK. The Chair echoed his concern that the committee had been included at the end of the process and believed they should had been involved sooner.

    The Deputy Leader added that a lot of work had been completed in a short period of time, and this had left little time to involve the Committee any earlier. The Chair commented that there had also been a missed opportunity to involve the Grantham charter trustees. It was noted that they too had been invited to the consultation workshops.

    A Member expressed concerns regarding the proposed Town Team to oversee the work and questioned the structure, the democratic oversight, and who would oversee the team. It was explained that the team would exist to demonstrate partnership working with stakeholders as a requirement of funding, and that the Council would take a leadership role in the team but not dictate the membership. The Team would be there to inform decisions and proactively engage locally. The Chair clarified that the committee would like to the see the governance arrangements for the team when it was created.


    Governance arrangements for the Town Team  ...  view the full minutes text for item 77.


Work programme pdf icon PDF 211 KB

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    2020/21 Work Programme and Cabinet Forward Plan, for information

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    Pending the addition of additional items as agreed earlier in the meeting, the Work Programme was agreed and the contents noted.



Any other business, which the Chairman, by reason of special circumstance decides is urgent

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    There was no urgent business.

    Close of meeting

    The meeting closed at 13:17.