Venue: remotely - via Microsoft Teams. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of personal and prejudicial interest from Members/Officers in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct adopted by Council from 1 September 2008.
Item 3, Corporate Plan 2023-28
Cllr H Bennett declared a personal interest as she was an employee of an organisation named as a historic partner in the report (i.e. BAVO).
Cllr E Winstanley declared a personal interest as she was an employee of Awen Cultural Trust, a partner in delivering some of the objectives of the Plan.
Item 4, Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 2023-24 to 2026-27
Cllr N Clarke declared a personal interest as she was a volunteer with Porthcawl RNLI.
Cllr J Pratt declared a personal interest as his wife was a teacher employed by BCBC and a Union Representative.
Item 5, Capital Strategy 2023-24 Onwards
Cllr JP Blundell declared a personal interest as he was a LEA Governor of Bryntirion Comprehensive.
Cllr R Smith declared a personal interest as his wife was a teacher employed by BCBC.
The Chief Executive presented a report, the purpose of which was to provide an update on the Council’s Corporate Plan and seek approval from Council for the Corporate Plan 2023-28, attached at Appendix 1 to the report.
The Chief Executive explained that there was a statutory requirement to develop and publish a Corporate Plan and it was probably one of the most important documents that they would consider and deliberate on, as it set out the direction of travel for the organisation and the priorities of the Council over the next five years. It had to align with the Medium Term Financial Strategy. He acknowledged the huge amount of work from the Corporate Policy and Public Affairs Manager and her team, including engagement and consultation, the detail of which was set out in the report and in the appendix. He added that it would potentially change before it was published in terms of infographics and format. He referred to the new well-being objectives and new ways of working that had been expanded compared to previous versions. The document focused on those things that had the most impact on the well-being of local residents. Efforts had been made to present the Corporate Plan in a way that was easier to understand in plain English and it was therefore more accessible. He added that an annual action plan would accompany the main Corporate Plan and all the detailed PIs, milestones and the smart elements would be included in the annual action plan.
The Chief Executive outlined the salient elements in the report including the alignment between the Corporate Plan and the MTFS and the explicit links between the Council’s well-being objectives and the resources that needed to be directed to support them. He explained that the Corporate Plan was the Council's main vehicle for demonstrating and communicating the priorities to local people and businesses and a really important document for regulators such as Audit Wales. He referred to engagement, and in particular, with the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee and thanked the committee for their input and feedback. In terms of the feedback given, they had taken on board the suggestion to show the cost of Council services per day via infographics which was a much more meaningful way.
The Chief Executive explained the benefits of an annual action including the greater flexibility and allowing for additional and ongoing engagement including with young people. The Equalities Impact Assessment was set out in full as Appendix 2 to the report.
The Chief Executive added that a Delivery Plan would be presented to the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, with the aim of monitoring and measuring the outcomes and objectives of the Corporate Plan’s Action Plan.
The Leader, the Cabinet Member for Future Generations, the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and the Cabinet Member for Communities thanked the Corporate Policy and Public Affairs Manager and her team for their work on the plan and welcomed the level of engagement across the Chamber resulting in changes ... view the full minutes text for item 100.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change thanked the Deputy Head of Finance and her team for their hard work in bringing this report before Members.
She explained that the purpose of the report was to present to Council the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2023-24 to 2026-27, which included a financial forecast for 2023-27, a detailed revenue budget for 2023-24 and a Capital Programme for 2022-23 to 2032-33. She added that the MTFS was aligned with the Council's new Corporate Plan and the well-being objectives that were contained within it. Those documents identified the Council service and resource priorities for the next four financial years, with particular focus on the coming financial year and the development of the MTFS had been guided by those priorities.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change explained that the Council managed an annual gross expenditure of around £485 million and was the largest employer in the county borough. As a result, the Council played a significant role in the local economy of this area. The MTFS
outlined the principles and detailed assumptions which drove the Council's budget and spending decisions. It outlined the financial context within which the Council was operating and tried to mitigate any financial risks and pressures going forward, whilst at the same time taking advantage of any opportunities that arose. She explained that the strategy focused on how the Council intended to respond to the increasing pressures on public sector services, which were exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic and immediately following that by the current cost of living crisis. It sets out the approaches and principles the Council would follow to ensure it remained financially sustainable and delivered on the corporate wellbeing objectives.
She added that it was a legal requirement under the provisions of the local Government Finance Act 92, that the Council approved a balanced budget for the coming financial year and set the council tax rates for the county borough. The report set out proposals to achieve that objective and to contribute towards a sustainable financial position going into the medium term.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change explained that the long term financial sustainability of the Council was an important issue. The quarterly reports to Cabinet on the projected revenue position for 2022-2023 had outlined in detail the impact on the budget of the additional cost pressures faced by the Council throughout the year, as a result of the worsening economic climate, rising inflation and interest rates. These had been reflected in rising prices higher than anticipated pay increases and significant tender price increases for goods and services. While some of those additional pressures were not recurrent a number would be core pressures for the Council going forward and these were reflected in the MTFS. The final settlement for local government in Wales was not due to be announced until later that month and therefore the budget was being proposed on the basis of the provisional settlement which was received in December 2022. No significant ... view the full minutes text for item 101.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change presented to Council for approval, the Capital Strategy 2023-24 to 2032-33 (Appendix A to the report), which included the Prudential Indicators, and the Annual Minimum Revenue Provision Statement 2023-24.
She explained that local authorities were required to determine a Capital Strategy which demonstrated that the authority took capital expenditure and investment decisions in line with service objectives and properly took account of stewardship, value for money, prudence, sustainability and affordability when making these decisions. The proposed Capital Strategy for 2023 - 2024 to 2032 - 2033 was attached at Appendix A of the report.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change explained that the strategy set out the Council's plan for capital expenditure, and how that was to be funded over the coming 10 years. In developing long term investment decisions, it was crucial that decisions were based on clear information, including a long term management plan. The document was presented as an integral part of the Council's budget and policy framework. It linked with the Corporate Plan, the Treasury Management Strategy, the Medium Term Financial Strategy and the Council's Asset Management Plan.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change outlined the principles which drove the budget and spending decisions of the Council as reflected in the capital strategy. The plan detailed how any proposed investments in land and buildings would require the completion of a full feasibility study to evaluate the practicality of the capital project, and to assess its deliverability before the Council invested time and money into that project.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change added that there were a number of significant areas that would need financing going forward, including economic recovery, decarbonisation and homelessness, digitalisation and coastal defences. As reported to Council throughout the year there were also other financial pressures arising as a result of the pandemic and Brexit, which were being seen in existing schemes, and it was anticipated this would continue for some time going forward. The pressures included supply chain difficulties leading to higher prices and delays in schemes being completed.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change explained that the strategy also referred to the changes with regards to the ability to borrow from the public works loan board with regards to borrowing to invest primarily for financial return. Major capital projects required careful management to mitigate the potential risks which could arise. The effective monitoring, management and mitigation of these risks was a key part of managing the capital strategy.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change explained that the report outlined the robust process in place to approve, manage and monitor capital projects and quarterly capital monitoring reports were prepared for Cabinet and Council which included details of any variances between projects as well as projections of likely year end spend.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change reported that in 2023 - 2024 the Council was planning capital expenditure of £69 million and this was summarised at table 2 ... view the full minutes text for item 102.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change presented the Treasury Management Strategy 2023-24 (Appendix A to the report), which included the Treasury Management Indicators, for 2023-24 to 2025-26.
She explained that the Treasury Management functions of the Council were regulated by the Local Government Act 2003. This provided authorities with the powers to borrow and invest as well as providing controls and limits on this activity. The Council had to approve a Treasury Management Strategy before the start of each financial year which set out the Councils and Chief Financial Officer’s responsibilities, delegations and reporting arrangements.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change explained that the Council undertook its treasury management activities in accordance with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance’s prudential code which had been updated to reflect changes in an increasingly complex environment and to complement changes to regulations. The Council had an integrated Treasury Management Strategy where borrowing and investments were managed in accordance with best professional practice. The Council would look to borrow money if needed to either meet short term cash flow needs or to fund capital schemes approved within the capital programme. Therefore, any actual loans taken were not generally associated with particular items of expenditure or assets.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change explained that the Council was exposed to financial risks including the potential loss of invested funds and the revenue effect of changing interest rates. The successful identification, monitoring and control of risk were therefore central to the Treasury Management Strategy. Should anything change significantly, a revised strategy would be presented to Council for approval. She added that the ongoing impact on the UK of the war in Ukraine, together with higher inflation, higher interest rates, uncertain government policy and a deteriorating economic outlook, would be major influences on the Council's Treasury Management Strategy for 2023-2024.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change reported that as at the 31st of December 2022, the Council held £99.8 million of borrowing and £94.05 million of investments. It was anticipated that the Council might need to borrow during the next three years however, this position could change should capital schemes not progress as anticipated, further schemes added to the capital programme that were not fully funded by grant or revenue contributions, or new schemes added which required additional debt financing. When borrowing money, the Council's primary objective was to strike an appropriately low risk balance between securing low interest costs and achieving certainty of those costs over the period for which funds were required. The strategy outlined the major objectives for the Council with regards to borrowing in 2023-24.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change explained that they had changed the strategy going forward based on comments that they had received from elected Members. The new strategy proposed that there was a reduced limit on what they could place with other local authorities and they were also proposing to reduce the time over which that money could be invested. During the coming ... view the full minutes text for item 103.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change presented a report providing Council with details of the council tax requirement for the County Borough Council, together with the requirements of the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales and Town and Community Councils, and seeking Council approval of the Band D council tax for Bridgend County Borough Council and the community areas for 2023-24.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change explained that in accordance with the Local Government Finance Act 1992, the Council had to calculate its budget requirement and formally approve the Council tax for the coming year. In addition, as a billing authority, Bridgend County Borough Council was also required to calculate the basic amount of Council tax for dwellings within the area, which related to one or more special items. This Council collected the council tax on behalf of Town and Community Councils within the area and also the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales. The Council had agreed a net budget requirement for the Council for the coming financial year of £342 million. This equated to a council tax of £1675.26 on a band D property.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change explained that the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales had notified the Council that their precept for the coming financial year had been agreed and their precept on a band D property would increase to £324.47. This was a 7.4% increase for the coming year. The Town and Community Councils budget requirement for the coming year was an average .92% increase for 2023-2024. The total average band D council tax requirement for the coming year for all areas of Bridgend, and a further breakdown of the counter tax for each area detailing the amount payable to this Council was as shown in table 7 of the report.
A Member asked if there could be a vote on this bearing in mind that the budget had already been passed and if those Members who sat on Town and Community Councils should declare an interest. The Monitoring Officer replied that in terms of the interest, there was no need to declare a prejudicial interest. The budget had been passed by Council and her advice was if the council tax wasn’t approved at this stage, they would be frustrating the will of Council.
The Member referred to the cost-of-living crisis and asked what the process was for recovering missed payments and if the authority was flexible in these circumstances. The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change replied that there were a number of processes in place to support people who were in difficulty with regards to meeting their council tax. If people wanted to pay in instalments, they could pay over 12 months as opposed to 10, which eased it for some people. They also checked to see whether or not they would be entitled to any benefits or anything that they may not be aware of. There was the Council tax reduction scheme ... view the full minutes text for item 104.
To consider any item(s) of business in respect of which notice has been given in accordance with Part 4 (paragraph 4) of the Council Procedure Rules and which the person presiding at the meeting is of the opinion should by reason of special circumstances be transacted at the meeting as a matter of urgency.