Cabinet Minutes 7 Dec 2009 by HC121108072617

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									       Meeting:     Cabinet                                  (8/2008)



Date of meeting:    Monday 7 December 2009 at 7.00pm


     Attendees:    Councillors:
                   Colin Barrow (Chairman)
                   Ed Argar
                   Daniel Astaire
                   Melvyn Caplan
                   Danny Chalkley
                   Brian Connell
                   Mark Page
                   Philippa Roe

                   Also Present: Councillor Alastair Moss




                   Councillors Robert Davis and Lee Rowley
     Apologies:



                   Ron Cork
       Contact:
                   Cabinet, Committee and Scrutiny Secretariat

        Details:   020 7641 3132
                   rcork@westminster.gov.uk
1.       INTRODUCTION

1.1      Councillor Colin Barrow, the Leader of the Council, welcomed those present
         and reported that he had received apologies for absence from Councillors
         Robert Davis and Lee Rowley.

2.       DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

2.1      None declared.

3.       MINUTES

3.1      RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2009 be
         approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

4.       REVIEW OF 2010-13 BUSINESS PLAN (see report of Director of Finance
         – agenda item 4)

4.1      The report set out proposals that flowed from the business planning review
         process. The aim was to avoid any increase in Council Tax over the next three
         years whilst maintaining high quality services and having general fund
         balances in the order of £25m - £30m. In order to achieve this, further cost
         reduction and income generating proposals were needed and these are being
         worked on. The initial proposals in this report are now to be fed into the
         scrutiny process.

4.2      Councillor Melvyn Caplan, the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources,
         said that the Council was able to meet the financial challenges in the current
         financial year because of its record of sound financial planning over previous
         years. He added that robust planning processes were in place to deal with
         the anticipated challenges over the next three years.

4.3      In response to a question from the Leader of the Council, the Chief Executive
         outlined how he saw the prospects for public sector pay. The Leader
         expressed the view that the Council should budget for zero pay increases and
         he hoped that sensible decisions on pay would be taken at the national level
         given current low inflation and the trade off between job losses and pay
         increases.

4.4      Councillor Caplan said that this (ie zero pay increases) would be built in as a
         planning assumption in drawing up the Budget & Council Tax report for the
         Cabinet in February.

4.5      A number of Cabinet Members raised issues on the information in the
         appendices to the report in relation to their portfolios. In the main these were
         of a presentational nature rather than issues which affected the overall totals,
         and the Director of Finance undertook to address these prior to the proposals
         being passed to the Budget and Performance Scrutiny Task Group.




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4.6      RESOLVED:

1.      That the proposals for an overall business plan framework aimed at keeping
        general fund balances within the range of £25 - £30m over the three years to
        March 2013, be approved.

2.      That, subject to presentational changes, as referred to above, to be made by
        the Director of Finance, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Finance
        and Resources, the proposals, detailed in Appendices 2, 3 and 4 of the report,
        be presented to the Budget and Performance Scrutiny Task Group for their
        consideration and comment.

         Reason for Decision:

         To enable the initial proposals to be the subject of scrutiny prior to the
         presentation of the Budget and Council Tax Report 2010/11 to the Cabinet in
         February 2010.

5.       COUNCIL TAX – DISCRETION REGARDING COUNCIL TAX DISCOUNTS
         AND COUNCIL TAX BASE (see report of Director of Finance – agenda
         item 5)

5.1      The Director of Finance introduced this report relating to the calculation of the
         Council Tax base and the provision for a local authority to set its own “local”
         Council Tax discount categories. The same levels of discount as set in the
         current financial year were recommended for the 2010/11 financial year.

5.2      In response to a question from the Leader, the Head of Legal Services
         undertook to consider whether this particular report was required in future
         given that the Council’s policy on discretions on “local” Council Tax discounts
         was long established.

5.3      Resolved:

         1.       That the Council be recommended to approve the following
                  for the financial year 2010/11;

                  (i)      that the Council Tax discount for second homes remains at the
                           current level of 10%.

                  (ii)     that the Council Tax discount for long term empty properties
                           remains at the current level of 10%.

                  (iii)    That no “local discounts” will be introduced.

         2.       That the Council be recommended to resolve that the Council Tax Base
                  for 2010/11 for the whole City is 129,004.22 equivalent Band D
                  properties, for the whole of the City excluding Montpelier Square
                  128,913,08 equivalent Band D properties, and for Montpelier Square
                  alone 91.14 equivalent Band D properties.


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         3.       That the Council be recommended to resolve that the figures set out in
                  paragraph 2.2 above for the Council Tax Base for 2010/11 be used by
                  the Council to make a determination pursuant to the requirements of
                  the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

         Reason for Decision:

         The proposed retention of the reduction in the level of second home discount
         from 50% to the statutory minimum 10% will continue to raise additional
         income for the City Council, whilst not affecting the borough’s lower income
         groups. The proposed retention of the 10% discount for empty properties will
         not affect the Council’s Revenue Support Grant allocation for 2010/11, as the
         taxbase data used for this settlement will be determined by the government
         using projections based on historic growth data. A decision to revert to the
         50% discount level would therefore be financially disadvantageous for the
         Council, as the level of Revenue Support Grant cannot be affected for 2010/11
         and because the Council would lose the benefit of the additional Council Tax
         income generated. The level of 10% will also enable the City Council to
         maintain a record of empty properties within the borough. This data remains
         key to the Council’s Empty Property Strategy. The proposal not to create any
         local discounts is based on the fact that, to date, for 2010/11 no submissions
         have been received. The taxbase decision is sought in order that the Council
         complies with the requirements of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

6.       OTHER BUSINESS

6.1      The Leader drew attention to the fact that this was Peter Hayday’s final
         Cabinet meeting before leaving the City Council. He thanked him for his work
         for the City Council over a number of years and particularly as the Council’s
         Director of Finance since June 2008 at an extremely challenging time.

7.       CLOSE OF MEETING

7.1      The meeting ended at 7.19pm.




_________________________________                              __________________________
CHAIRMAN                                                       DATE




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