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Agenda item

Quarter Two 2023/24 Performance Report

(Report of the Leader of the Council)


The chair noted that apologies had been received from the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council and handed over to the Chief Executive to introduce the report of the Leader of the Council to provide the Committee with an overview of Council performance for the second quarter of the 2023-24 financial year (July to September 2023). It reports the position in relation to progress with strategic projects and updates on the financial position, corporate risk, audit, information governance and complaints. Cabinet will consider the report on 30th November 2023.


The Chief Executive introduced the new Executive Director for Finance, and Section 151 Officer,  Rebecca Smeathers and thanked Pardeep Kateria for the work on producing the new format of the report before highlighting the following information from the reported –


Ø  Section 2 – The Future High Street Fund is showing as Amber due to extreme cost pressures on the programme and will be address via a report going to Full Council in December to look at the project.

Ø  Section 3 – looks at the general spend in quarter 2.

Ø  Section 3.2 – looks at a Universal Credit summary at a point in time and shows a small increase in trends.

Ø  Section 3.3 – looks at the impact of welfare benefit reform included at members request. This shows things are broadly the same.

NNDR figures are broadly similar to previous years however some distorted figures are shown due to a reduction in retail relief and the additional post-Covid grant.

Council Tax collection rates were slightly above target.

The Assistant Direct, neighbourhoods clarified the housing figures – the numbers on Universal credit had increased due to continued migration on to the new system. Collection rates on current arrears have improved from this time last year.

Write Offs – whilst amounts are written off, the Council will continue to try to recover these.

Live caseload of Universal Credit has remained stable.

Ø  Section 3.4 – the Medium Term Financial Strategy was introduced by Rebecca Smeathers who highlighted that that the general fund monitoring position is showing a £1.4m underspend against the approved budget which is attributed to interest rates on balances.

Housing revenue account currently has an underspend however is predicted to be in line with budget by the end of the year. Capital expenditure is also showing an underspend.

Ø  Section 4 - The Corporate Risk Management register remains largely unchanged however uncertainty over local Government finance has impacted.

Ø  Section 5 – Audit update, it was highlighted that figures do not match with the Audit and Governance report that was shared at Committee in October, and that the Council has achieved 25% (not 0%) of the Audit plan which includes three audits deferred from 2022/2023, it is expected that we will achieve audit plan by year end.

Ø  Section 6 – Information Governance data. This is the second quarter of the new processes, so it is difficult to read trends from this until there is twelve months of data.


The committee made the following comments/observations and asked the following questions:


1.     Clarification around where target figures came from? Are they benchmarking of comparing with figures from previous years?

Officers confirmed that where areas are within the corporate plan then targets are based on milestones set within this, however benchmarking is used within finance and housing, however, it was highlighted by the Chair that previous Council experience has shown that benchmarking can be subjective.

2.     Where the improvement in corporate risk has come from?

Officers confirmed that the current risk has remained as a 4, it is the risk likelihood that has improved from a 4 to a 3.

The monitoring in place would impact on the likelihood and the current underspend would impact on their position, however it was noted that whilst the risk is improved it is still in the red status and very much on the radar and being monitored and that there are still long term challenges.

The committee asked then how this improvement was sensitive to interest rate changes as there is still uncertainty over this?

Officers confirmed that this was based on interest rates already received on reserve balances. Interest rate projections and sensitivity will be considered when setting the upcoming budget.

The chair highlighted that the Council have a history of over performing on interest rates which is a credit to Council Officers.

3.     Clarification over the ‘General Fund Main Variances table’ as the table is difficult to interpret the figures as red usually represents a negative figure and why, if red is a positive figure, do the catering sales appear to show a loss of £130k and what the position around the assembly rooms was. Officers advised that this was being looked into and agreed to provide a briefing note to explain the table and understanding around these figure.

4.     Clarification around the charts on tenants arrears as we seem to be showing an increasing level of arrears whilst evictions are low, but you would expect evictions to start increasing and what plan is in place?

Officer confirmed that the graph relates to current tenant arrears but the figure that is being referred to as increasing is across all areas including former tenant, garage, court costs and garages. However, although evictions remain low work is ongoing around tenancy sustainment.

5.     Clarification around Council tax collection rates of 58%.

The chair confirmed that the collection rate is current collection for the year so far, officers added that the figure was the collection rate at the end of quarter two and a collection rate of over 50% is considered good at this stage.

6.     Clarification around the medium term financial strategy central case which suggests that the Council would be 3.3 million pound short after 3 years.

Officers confirmed that these shortfall figures are from when the budget was set in February however this has improved due to the underspend and that these would be revised.

7.     Clarification around the enabling works at the Peel Café and why this historic building was demolished?

Officers confirmed that when the report was written enabling works were to remove the frontage and the rear extension. The original planning permission was to remove the rear elevation and the shop front, it also included the removal of the first floor to improve ceiling heights, and removal of the second, whilst removing the rotten windows at the front and back and removal of the staircase.

Once the building was surveyed it was identified that the roof sub structure was rotten and needed to be removed which led to an amendment of the planning permission which left a front and rear façade which was to be maintained by inserting steel across them.

The condition of the brickwork was very poor and the most feasible option was to remove and reinstate the front and rear elevations.

The Chief Executive clarified that a meeting took place in August to discuss the technical appraisal and the additional costs of propping the building it was agreed that a further planning amendment was necessary to remove the two façade walls.

The chair, whilst highlighting that he did not hold Officers responsible for this action, acknowledged that questions needs to be answered on the issue as this has upset residents, the Civic Society and Councillors over the lack of consultation on this matter.

Members of the committee confirmed that they would be happy to hold the political leadership to account on this matter.

The committee agreed not to endorse the item until the Leader or Deputy leader were able to attend to discuss this item.

The committee accepted that the deputy leader was not present as not invited to attend.



that Committee did not endorse the report




(Moved by Councillor D Cook and seconded by Councillor S Doyle)






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