Agenda and draft minutes
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Items No. Item
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest.
It was noted that that on Page 2 Section A of the minutes that it is a national pot of funding and not a county-wide pot of funding.
In reference to the last meeting, members asked if there was any further guidance from the about UK leaving the EU.
The Director of Operational Services and Sean Dennis from the Chamber of Commerce have information regarding this and will circulate it to fellow panel members.
Councillor Peter Chowney, Leader of the Council and Finance and Property Portfolio Holder presented the Draft Budget and Corporate Plan, to inform panel members about the draft documentation and get their feedback as part of the consultation process.
The Leader explained that this year had been a difficult year for the council. The council have identified savings of £1.9m but still have a deficit of £1.2m.
The Leader ensured that the future deficit will get smaller because of the savings we are finding.
The Leader discussed the reserves, and how using these reserves doesn’t address the problem long term. After next year there aren’t many usable reserves because we find it necessary to keep the reserves above £6m, in case of exceptional circumstances with our statutory services.
The Leader discussed some of the additional costs which have put strain on the budget this year. These include:
· The reduction of income from local land charges
· Redundancy and pension strain costs as a result of shrinking council
· The Cliff Railway income has been lost due to ongoing maintenance, but this income will come back.
· Homelessness Temporary Accommodation Costs are the major issue. £2m was spent this year.
In reference to the increased spend on Temporary Accommodation, the Leader explained that the number of people hasn’t increased much but the length of time that people are having to stay in Temporary Accommodation has increased substantially. This is because of a struggle to find suitable accommodation that they can afford. To alleviate this council are looking at buying housing across Hastings. Should the crisis diminish, the housing can be sold or used as permanent accommodation.
The Leader then went on to discuss the upcoming financial year and referred to the various factors that will be significant dents in the budget. Some of the challenges in the upcoming year will be cuts in grants, volatility in income and expenditure and increased pressure on council services. In regards to income generation, the main sources in the upcoming year will be fees and charges and commercial property charges.
The Leader also discussed the main examples of how the council plan on reducing spending. The main points that are proposed in the budget that the leader discussed were:
· The senior management restructure
· Land sales, and investing the money in property funds.
· Continued reduction of revenues and benefits staff due to the introduction of Universal Credit.
· Reduction in funding for the White Rock theatre.
· Ending the monitoring of the Hastings Borough Council CCTV system. The CCTV is proposed to just be monitored by Sussex Police in the future.
· Many more can be found in Appendix K2 of the budget.
The Leader then went on to discuss the capital programme and the opportunities to progress Hastings.
The Leader summarised his presentation by stating that he knows this year has been difficult for Hastings Borough Council. The council had hoped the savings this year would help us more than it has. Hopefully these savings will bring us to stability. A lot ... view the full minutes text for item 92.