The Democratic Services Officer said that Appendices A and B had inadvertently been omitted from the Agenda pack. However, they had been circulated to Members via email shortly before the meeting and the Agenda would be re-published for the benefit of the public.
The Chairman said that the Head of Strategic Finance and Property had previously suggested that the Committee take part in a joint meeting with the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to review the finer details of the budget and medium term financial plan in January 2021. This was agreed.
The Head of Service presented the report and explained the main proposals to make savings, as well as the transformation programme to move towards more agile working solutions.
Councillor Ward-Booth said some services within the Council were to be commended for their proposals to make significant savings from their budgets. Others, such as Human Resources, had proposed relatively small changes. He said he was surprised payroll had not been outsourced, which was common practise in other similar-sized organisations. He asked if each service’s spending would be subject to further scrutiny and added that the cost of training apprentices should be attributed to the service for which they would ultimately work.
The Head of Service said outsourcing payroll was not always beneficial for local authorities as their pay structures and processes differed from limited companies, and this could often result in difficulties with third party contractors. It was anticipated that training costs would eventually fall, but currently external trainers were still charging the same rate for remote training as previous in-person events. He assured Members that all services within the Council would be scrutinised. A benchmarking exercise with similar Councils in the region and a five year revue of budgets were to be carried out and would help establish in which areas the Council could potentially make savings.
Councillor Ward-Booth said that measures such as sharing payroll services with another Council could be considered. There was still greater scope for internal cuts which should be considered.
The Head of Service said these kinds of measures would be considered as part of the agile working proposals. The aspiration was to make savings without reducing the service offered to residents.
The Chairman said there were some difficult decisions to be taken due to the scale of savings needed. He thanked the Head of Strategic Finance and Property and his team for their work. He also asked whether the allowance for the pay award was realistic.
The Head of Service thanked his colleagues on the Leadership Team, including the Head of Communications, Strategy and Policy, for their assistance with this matter. He said he believed the allowance for pay award was realistic.
It was moved by Councillor Fernando and seconded by Councillor Alder that the recommendations, as detailed, be approved. After being put to the meeting and a vote taken, the motion was declared CARRIED.
RESOLVED – that (A) the report be received;
(B) the budget proposals be endorsed;
(C) the production of a phased capital programme be endorsed;
(D) the additional programme of work be endorsed; and
(E) a joint meeting of Audit and Governance and Overview and Scrutiny Committee be held in January 2021.