Agenda and minutes

Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 21st February, 2023 10.30 am

Venue: Council Chamber - South Kesteven House, St. Peter's Hill, Grantham. NG31 6PZ. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services 

Note: *Unfortunately, due to a technical problem the meeting of FEDCO cannot be live streamed today. A recording will be available following the meeting. 


No. Item


Public Speaking

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    The Council welcomes engagement from members of the public. To speak at this meeting please register no later than 24 hours prior to the date of the meeting via

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    There were no public speakers.


Apologies for absence

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    Apologies for absence were received from Councillors’ Helen Crawford, Susan Sandall and Jane Wood.


    Councillor Paul Wood substituted for Councillor Jane Wood.


    Councillor Phil Dilks filled the Alliance SK Vacancy at the meeting. 


    Councillor Ben Green acted as Chairman for this meeting only, substituting for Councillor Helen Crawford.




Disclosure of interests

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    There were none.


Minutes of the meeting held on 22 November 2022 pdf icon PDF 452 KB

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    The Chairman noted the discussion on the Draft Economic Development Strategy at the meeting on 22 November 2022 and requested that the item be added to the Work Programme to return to a future meeting, ideally before the third quarter of 2023.


    A Member queried that there had been no notification of the consultation period for Members or the local business community.


    The Leader of the Council confirmed that the draft strategy may be amended by the next administration and it was right that the opportunity was given for such additional amendments as necessary.  The Strategy would then go through a consultation process before being heard at the next Finance Committee meeting and agreeing an adoption date as appropriate. 


    The minutes of the meeting held on 22 November 2022 were proposed, seconded and AGREED as a correct record.



Updates from previous meeting pdf icon PDF 58 KB

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    To consider updates on actions agreed at the meeting held on 22 November 2022.

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    Members noted the updates from the previous meeting.


Announcements or updates from the Leader of the Council, Cabinet Members or the Head of Paid Service

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    There were none.


Grantham Future High Streets Fund - February 2023 Update pdf icon PDF 308 KB

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    To update the Committee on progress in delivering Grantham’s transformational scheme being funded via central Government’s Future High Streets Fund. 


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    The report was presented by the Leader of the Council who asked that Members consider a six-monthly update at future meetings rather than annual updates as the project gathered pace and there was a lot of information to consider.


    The Council worked hard to secure this funding and ensure the most is made of this once in a lifetime opportunity for residents.  South Kesteven District Council was awarded £5.56 million (administered by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities - DLUHC) and was to provide a total match contribution of £379,092 revenue funding to develop town centre leadership and promotional activities over the programme period.  The capital programme was to run until 31 March 2024, by which time all projects needed to be completed and spend defrayed.  The Council’s funding covered up to 31 March 2025.


    The FHSF programme, including the Council’s match, enabled the delivery of five individual projects, four specific infrastructure projects, programme management and the creation of a Town Team supported by an Engagement Manager.  The Grantham Town Team was being established to:


           Act as the Champions of Grantham, promoting the town internally and externally.

           Provide new ideas and concepts of how Grantham can develop in the future    Support the development of a continuous programme of events and   promotional activities.

           Provide a sounding board for new policy and strategy to develop and regenerate Grantham.

           Assist with generating funding and sponsorship for events and promotional activities.


    For the Market Place project, Lincolnshire County Council’s (LCC) decision to reverse the proposed closure of the Conduit Lane to through traffic meant aspects of the scheme had been redesigned to allow for vehicular traffic.


    For Station Approach, a significant part of Station Road was managed and maintained by London North-Eastern Railways (LNER).  The comprehensive regeneration of the station approach area had been a long-standing ambition of the Council.  Officers had formed a close partnership with LCR, the development delivery arm of the Department for Transport, to consider a wider regeneration area incorporating the strategic site and wider station area.


    Significant progress had been made with the delivery of the FHSF in the preceding nine months since Members were last updated.  Whilst there are future challenges anticipated such as cost pressures within construction, it remained key for the development and promotion of Grantham that the programme was delivered, to help unlock the potential of Grantham and assist in the promotion of the town as a place to live, work and visit.


    The Leader informed Members that in reference to the externally funded programmes, including FHSF and High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ), Grantham was receiving national recognition.  Grantham was a finalist in the ‘Great towns and small cities’ category at the Academy of Urbanism Awards 2022 and shortlisted as a finalist in the ‘Rising Star’ category of the Visa Card ‘Lets Celebrate Town’ Awards.  The eventual winner was to receive £10,000 in funding.


    The Leader thanked the team for their hard work, particularly Alex Ward, Programme  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.


ICT Cyber-Security Action Plan -Verbal Update

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    To provide the Committee with a verbal update of the updated ICT Cyber-Security Action Plan.


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    The Assistant Director of Finance provided an update relating on the ICT Cyber-Security Action Plan.


    South Kesteven District Council had been allocated £150,000 earlier this year, to complete actions identified in a Cyber-Security Plan produced by Government.


    It was highlighted that 32 actions were identified as part of the Cyber-Security Plan.  28 of the 32 actions had been completed, the remaining four actions were due to will be completed by April/May 2023.


    Positive feedback had been received on progress from Government, more progress had been made than many other Councils.


    The Officer confirmed that the plan was produced by Government and was regularly reviewed by the Council.  Mitigations were put in place if any risks were identified.  Examples given by the Officer included two-factor authentication for office IT applications, access to web services blocked for ‘red’ listed countries.  Firewalls to block attacks to our systems and to also block access to any suspicious websites from within the network.  Actions to be implanted include two factor authentication on new devices for Councillors in May and implementing crypted emails for sensitive data.


    Once completed, the cyber action plan was to be brought back to Committee from June onwards. 


    During discussion, Members made the following comments:


    ·            The plan was extremely important and a priority for the security of the Council.

    ·                              Had the work been carried out within budget?

    ·                              Was the funding ring-fenced for cyber-security?

    ·                              Were f off-site back-up systems part of the plan?


    The Assistant Director of Finance confirmed that the funding was ring-fenced for cyber-security and some monies were used to implement security within the new office accommodation IT system.  The Officer confirmed that all backups were secure and were stored within the UK. 


    It was proposed, seconded, and AGREED that:


    a)         An updated report was to be considered by the Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s successor in June 2023.



Budget Monitoring Report - Quarter 3 (October - December 2022) pdf icon PDF 304 KB

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    To inform Finance, Economic Development & Corporate Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee of the Council’s forecast 2022/23 financial position as at the end of December 2022. The report covers the following areas:                                     


    ·                            General Fund Revenue Budget

    ·                            Housing Revenue Account Budget

    ·                            Capital Programmes – General Fund and Housing Revenue Account



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    The Chief Finance Officer presented the report which followed the budget report that was agreed in November 2022.


    During the current financial year, Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee were provided with regular finance reports that monitor and forecast the budget against the current economic conditions that are facing the Council.  The latest report showed a more stable position after recent cost pressures on utilities and fuel.


    The budget set by Council on 3 March 2022 was £18.247m.


    The budget adjustments approved by Council on 24 November 2022 together with forecast changes since the amended budget was approved resulted in a reduction in the previously forecast overspend.  The reduction in the forecast spend, additional projected investment interest and Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) reduction resulted in a forecasted balanced position as at 31 December 2022.  These changes may lead to a reduction in the use of reserves for 2022/23 by £765k.  However, given the uncertainty surrounding the Council’s exposure to external cost changes, this position was to remain under a monthly review.  Members were reminded that the net cost of the budget included an efficiency saving of £500k for the corporate restructure which was to be achieved in 2022/23.


    The budget set by Council on 3 March 2022 for the 2022/23 General Fund Capital programme was £19.608m which was significantly reduced by the decision not to proceed with the refurbishment of Deepings Leisure Centre.


    The budget set by Council on 3 March 2022 for the 2022/23 HRA Revenue Budget was £6.116m. The budgeted surplus was fully utilised to fund future investment in stock growth and property maintenance.


    There was an increased surplus for the HRA of £4.298m compared to a budgeted surplus of £3.986m.  This was due to an increase in interest rates receivable on investments which was to be used to partially offset the forecasted inflationary increases (£600k) and additional budget following the Pay Award (£163k).  This was offset by increased repairs and maintenance costs (£260k) and removal of the salary vacancy factor forecasts (£136k) which would be monitored throughout the remainder of the financial year and additional costs of completing a second Tenant Satisfaction survey (£24k).


    The budget set by Council on 3 March 2022 for the 2022/23 HRA Capital programme was £16.353m.  This budget was impacted by the delays to the New-Build programme and Stock Condition work following the results of the recent survey.


    Council Tax collection was slightly less than originally expected as during the national mourning period in September, there was a cessation of recovery activity where reminders or summonses were not issued.  The current cost of living pressures were resulting in an increased number of Direct Debit cancellations causing delays to receipt of payments.  Business Rates were difficult to measure due to variances in the business rates collectable debit over the last 3 years.


    The risk register showed the high risk of borrowing in a financial climate as red, where interest are currently at the higher end of the Council’s affordability.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.


Disabled Facilities Grant Report 2022/2023 pdf icon PDF 158 KB

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    This report provides a summary of the activity relating to Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) during quarters 1 to 3 of 2022/23.


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    The Council had a statutory duty to provide financial assistance to those who qualified for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) to contribute towards adaptations which help them to safely access their home and the facilities within it.  Examples of adaptations included the installation of stair-lifts, ramps, through floor lifts, level access showers, wash and dry toilets and door widening.  In some instances, funding contributed towards extensions or conversions of existing dwellings. All applications were required to be supported by a Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) Occupational Therapist. 


    The funding was provided as a capital grant from government via the Better Care Fund and could fund adaptations for owner occupiers, private tenants, or tenants of private registered providers (housing associations).  Adaptations for council tenants were required to be funded through the Housing Revenue Account.


    The service was provided within Public Protection, with installations procured using a Lincolnshire Framework used by all Lincolnshire district councils. The current framework provided the Council with access to 18 contractors.  Stairlifts and modular access ramps were procured under separate arrangements.  Applicants could also choose to engage their own contractor and project manage the works themselves.


    The government allocation for DFGs for 2022/23 was £975,298, actual and committed spend at the end of quarter 3 against budget was £597,453.  Recommendations had increased during 2022/23 as LCC has focused additional resource in South Kesteven.

    The maximum entitlement of a mandatory DFG was set in legislation at £30,000.  The average value of individual grants awarded in 2022/23 was £4,818, however, in recent years increased building costs had led to some schemes such as extensions substantially exceeding the maximum limit. Whilst these form a small proportion of adaptations, the time taken to support these cases was considerable.  To further assist, the Council’s discretionary policy allowed for up to a ‘top up’ of £10,000 to be awarded, subject to a means test.  Nearly 76% of applications approved in 2022/23 were made by owner-occupiers, with the average age being 66 years old.  To increase capacity within the team to meet demand, the surveyor resource was increased and the role was now fully embedded into the team.  An apprentice had also been appointed and would commence in February 2023.  As the Social Care Authority, LCC had powers and duties under the Care Act relating to the provision of aids and equipment.  These included a duty to provide minor adaptations up to the value of £1,000 as well as other equipment to any value.

    During discussion, Members raised the following points:

    ·            The report was welcomed

    ·            Was the scheme working well?  There had been delays in the past.

    ·            A Member requested a breakdown by area of the number of applications received.

    ·            Was a fixed proportion of the cost awarded or was the scheme means-tested?

    ·            As the HRA was a separate system for tenants, could statistics be provided?

    ·            Was the total amount of funding allocated likely to be spent by the year end?

    The Cabinet Member for Housing and Property confirmed that past delays had improved through  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.


Housing Stock Condition Update pdf icon PDF 144 KB

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    To provide Committee with an update on how the data from the recent stock condition surveys is informing our future budget, grant application and asset management of Housing Revenue Account assets.


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    The report was presented by the Cabinet Member for Housing and Property.


    The Council had a clear commitment in its Corporate Plan 2020-2023 to provide “Housing that meets the needs of all residents” and the timely delivery of improvements to its social housing stock was key to achieving this.  To enable effective planning and delivery of investment programmes data-led decisions were to be made. The programmes were identified by examining stock condition data from our properties and understanding the serviceable life of key components.


    In the financial year 2021-22 the Council committed to revising their Stock Condition data through the completion of individual surveys to each of their HRA owned properties.  A contractor was sourced, and the surveys were undertaken by Faithorn, Farrell and Timms (FFT).  This was required due to the historic data held within the APEX asset management system.  The contract was a one-year contract with payment made on a per-property basis.


    The stock condition surveys were undertaken across all asset types including communal blocks and shared areas, residential units were also commissioned with the completion of an Energy Efficiency Certificate (EPC).  Assurance was be given that surveys were undertaken on all property types and streets across the District.


    It was important for the service to proactively plan to refresh its stock condition data in a planned manner, to that end the Council would be undertaking stock condition surveys on circa 20% of the stock each year to ensure that our data set is refreshed every five years.  The Council was to also expand the survey specification to include elevated walkways, car parks and any emerging risks in the future.  This year’s surveys were to focus on those properties that were not completed within the original contract.


    230 fields of data had been used to formulate the capital budget setting process for the coming years and was to be used to inform the HRA business plan and ongoing affordability.


    The completion of EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) information during the stock condition completion enabled the Council to compile an evidence-based bid to the SHDF (Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund).  This bid aimed to address the energy efficiency requirements of the stock aiding the Council to meet our climate change promise by reducing the carbon footprint of these homes alongside aiding to reduce fuel poverty to some of our most needy households.  The ability to draw upon this data aided the Council greatly in the bid compilation and resulted in a bid that if successful will aid the Council to address 333 properties at a total value of £7,265,997 with 47% £3,418,480 of this total to be forthcoming from the grant application. It was anticipated the bid outcome would be prior to the commencement of the financial year 2023/24.


    Members raised the following points during discussion:

    ·            Members welcomed the completion of a substantial survey.

    ·            What elements in particular had been surveyed?

    ·            What criteria had been used to inform the Housing Programme?  Had a realistic life-span of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 63.


S106 Agreement Monitoring Update Report pdf icon PDF 173 KB

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    To provide an overview of the Section 106 (planning obligation) process, an update on recruitment and the recent Infrastructure Funding Statement.


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    The planning system played a key role in the delivery of outcomes to support economic growth and sustainable neighbourhood across South Kesteven.   This included housing and commercial development as identified in the Council’s Local Plan.  This, along with the delivery of environments and development that respond to the Councils climate change and quality agenda were key to achieving the priorities in the Council’s Corporate Plan (2020-2023). 


    Planning Obligations, also known as Section 106 Agreements (s106), could be requested under the Town and County Planning Act (1990) (as amended) and were legal agreements used to mitigate the impact of a proposed development where it was not possible to do so by condition.  Such agreements were legally binding and entered between a local planning authority and the owner and developers of land on which planning permission was sought.  Such agreements may include obligations to undertake work and obligations to make a payment.  Typically, they were used to secure infrastructure such as affordable housing, highways improvements, education contributions and leisure facilities such as open space and play parks.  The obligations were focused on site specific mitigation of the impact of the development.


    Since the last report to the Governance and Audit Committee, a restructure of the Planning Service had taken place. A new Infrastructure Delivery Officer post had been created through the restructure and a recruitment process was currently underway to fill the role. Once recruited to, a review of the processes from negotiation through to monitoring and collection, and spending and delivery of obligations was to take place. The post holder will engage with the Parish and Town Councils around infrastructure needed at a local level.


    An Officer Working Group was set up in 2021 following an audit into s106 agreements.  However, on review, further work was required around the governance and role of that Officer Working Group. 


    The Council was able charge fees for the work undertaken to monitor s106 agreements.  Once the Infrastructure Delivery Officer post had been recruited to, work will be carried out to create a charging scheme.  This would need to be on a cost recovery basis.  New Fees and Charges will need to be agreed in the usual way and this Committee was to be involved in establishment of a new fee setting structure.


    The Chairman requested clarification of the expected timeline for completion of the review of the Local Plan.


    The Assistant Director of Planning confirmed that there was a published Local Development Scheme that sets out the timetable for the Local Plan review.  The Council was currently aiming to submit the new Plan for examination to the Secretary of State in March 2024.  The supplementary planning document can then to be updated.


    A Member asked if there were any time constraints and whether any monies were returned.


    The Assistant Director of Planning informed Members that there were timely triggers within the planning obligations and that no monies had been returned in the last 18 months.


    A record of outstanding monies was kept on a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 64.


Work Programme 2022 - 2023 pdf icon PDF 164 KB

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    To consider the Committee’s Work Programme for 2022 – 2023.

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    Members noted the Work Programme 2022-2023 and agreed:


                 The Future High Street Fund (FHSF) report was to come back by September 2023, with an invitation to be sent for a Grantham walkaround, for new Members, as part of their inductions.


                 The Risk Register, relating to the FHSF project, was to be circulated to Members as necessary.     


    ·            Meetings of the FHSF Grantham Town Team would be made accessible to Charter Trustees and local businesses as well as Members.


                 Return of ICT Cyber- Security Action Plan within the Work Programme.


                 Draft Economic Development Strategy update to be heard at a future committee meeting not later than the third quarter of 2023.



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

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    There was no other business.


Close of meeting

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    The Chairman closed the meeting at 12:38.