Agenda and minutes

Finance, Budget & Performance Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 23rd October, 2018 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, Cecil Street, Margate, Kent. View directions

Contact: Charles Hungwe 

Items
No. Item

16.

Apologies for Absence

17.

Declaration of Interests

    To receive any declarations of interest.  Members are advised to consider the advice contained within the Declaration of Interest form attached at the back of this agenda.  If a Member declares an interest, they should complete that form and hand it to the officer clerking the meeting and then take the prescribed course of action.

    Minutes:

    There were no declarations made at the meeting.

18.

Minutes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 77 KB

19.

Cabinet Member Presentation - The Leader of Council

    The Panel to receive a presentation on “the financial and operational performance of the Ramsgate Port and Harbour.”

    Minutes:

    During the first part of his presentation, Councillor Bayford, Leader of the Council explained that the deficit affecting the Ramsgate Port and Harbour had accumulated over a number of years and across three Council Administrations. It was worth noting that the total deficit figure of £2.637 million included noncash items that included depreciation and employee pension revaluation. If the figure excluded these non-cash items the figure would go down to £1.4 million.

     

    1.  The income and expenditure statement for the Port 2017/18 there is a £500k Direct Grant/ Contribution expenditure. What is it and who were the recipients and what for?

     

    This amount represented contribution to provisions and as set aside at year end after an assessment of outstanding claims compared to the amount that had been set aside for that expenditure item. Due to the nature of the item there was no named recipient. This amount was set aside for prudency purposes.

     

    2.  What is the breakdown of the £750k to Central Support Services?

     

    The Panel was given a detailed breakdown of the £721k (the correct figure in the financial accounts instead of £750k). It was explained that some of the expenditure that contributed to the £721k could be treated as direct costs to the Port and Harbour and if that was done the central support cost charges would go down to £252k.

     

    However this did not make any difference to the overall outcome.

     

    3.  We lease the Port from Crown Estates is the total of this lease £246k?

     

    The area of the sea bed leased by Crown Estates attracted a lease charge of £246k.

     

    4.  How was the depreciation figure of £309k arrived at?

     

    The actual depreciation was £1.052 million. This was initially worked out at £309k, which only looked at a three month period as opposed to a twelve month period which made it £1.052 million.

     

    5.  To whom was £51.7k in consultancy fees paid and for what? What procurement process was followed to engage this consultant?

     

    This was paid to pilot consultancy to carry out market engagement, to produce business plans for interested parties, provide on-going market intelligence and to support officers as part of the negotiations with interested parties.

     

    As part of the consultancy brief, it was hoped that this would lead to a ferry business coming to Ramsgate Port and Harbour.

     

    Council Contract Standing Orders were followed for amounts of up to £74,999 in that three quotes were sought and full consideration was taken in assessing the preferred supplier.

     

    6.  What is the breakdown for the £200k for security?

     

    The 2017/18 costs for security was £194k. This allows for 24/7 cover with two staff and ad hoc cover as required. This presents good value as this 52 weeks of 24/7 cover.

     

    The Port was under Maritime Law obligation to provide cover 24/7.

     

    7.  Why are the employees superannuation contributions £55k on a salary bill of £177k?

     

    There were adjustments due to revaluation of £35k with the other figure being the normal employer  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

Temporary Accommodation for Homeless Households pdf icon PDF 697 KB

    Minutes:

    Bob Porter, Head of Housing and Planning introduced the report and made the following points:

     

    • There has been a steady increase for homelessness support;
    • This had been driven largely by an increase in private rental costs in the private sector;
    • There had also been a serious shortfall over the last four years in affordable homes in the district. This was also a reflection of the national trend;
    • The number of lettings had been reducing year on year;
    • Increases in private rented costs, had made it difficult for the Council’s  Housing team to find rented accommodation in the private sector that match local housing allowances;
    • There had been an increase in the number of households that had been served Section 21 notices to vacant their private rented accommodation where the tenant could be asked to vacant the tenancy even when not at fault;
    • 2017 was a particularly challenging year, as the team attended to 968 households seeking assistance;
    • The Homelessness Reduction Act, that came into operation on 3 April 2018, has provided an increased timeframe within which to support households to prevent homelessness (i.e. from 28 days to 112 days);
    • The Council has recruited new housing advisors and Landlord Liaison Officers;
    • The team had so far this year prevented 213 households from homelessness (as at end of September) as opposed to 92 households during the same period in the previous year. The new posts have been a significant factor in this improvement.
    • In a period of six months between April and September 2018, the team had attended to 994 referrals, a figure that is already higher than for the whole of 2017;
    • The pressures on the team were still quite intense;
    • The team had set itself a challenging target of reducing the council’s use of temporary accommodation by 50% from a baseline average of  180 households at the end of 2017 to 90 by March 2019;
    • The team has initially focused on hotel accommodation and successfully reduced the number of households temporarily accommodated in hotels from around 60 at the beginning of the year to just 2 cases in September; a tremendous achievement for the team.

     

    In response Members made comments and asked questions as follows:

     

    • Members praised the housing teams for the exceptional work they had done under difficult circumstances;
    • Why did it look like PIP was being paid nearly a third more by ratio than was paid to other providers?
    • How much of temporary accommodation is outside Thanet District?
    • On average what would be the number of nights a household spends in temporary accommodation? This might create additional understanding of the unit cost of £5,600 used to support each household?
    • Will the budget of £750k be enough for 2018/19?
    • Referrals have gone up about 200% but the acceptances by Council were at less that figure. Why was it the case?
    • Was there a relationship between more households approaching the Council regarding housing support and the roll-out of Universal Credit?
    • Would it not be better to tackle the root  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

Review the Finance Scrutiny Panel Work Programme for 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 77 KB

22.

Forward Plan and Exempt Cabinet Report List for period 10 October 2018 - 31 March 2019 pdf icon PDF 75 KB