Appendix 3 (Capital Strategy) and Appendix 4 (Treasury Management) will follow.
The Interim Executive Director (Corporate Services) and Lead Cabinet Member for Finance, presented the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budgets 2019-20. The committee was informed that the £3 million savings target over the life of the Medium Term Financial Strategy was felt to be achievable and lower than most other councils.
The committee was informed that:
· Investment had previously been focussed on Ermine Street Housing. Going forward there was a need to diversify the investment portfolio.
· Member training on evaluating investment proposals, was being arranged with the East of England Local Government Association.
· It had been possible to finance additional Ermine Street Housing funding through existing cash reserves.
· The Council had not needed to borrow money to fund the ice rink.
· The committee was assured that the Council’s borrowing was not excessive. Any borrowing was for investments and the ownership of assets.
· The audit of last year’s accounts was in progress.
The committee discussed the report and made the following points:
· Disappointment was expressed that the pay policy increase would be a percentage increase. Rather than a percentage increase it was suggested that this should be a sum of money paid to all staff, as a percentage increase simply made high paid staff richer and gave those at the bottom of the pay structure a percentage of very little. The committee was informed that this would be taken on board for future negotiations with the unions.
· Concern was raised that staff were not necessarily trained to manage investment accounts. Assurance was sought that the organisation had this expertise and sufficient staffing. The committee was informed that the council would be looking at setting up an investment board serviced by officers with relevant experience.
The committee moved to confidential session to discuss the Ermine Street Housing Business Plan, which contained commercially sensitive information. The committee was informed that as Ermine Street Housing was approaching its purchase target of 500 properties, a thorough review would be undertaken.
The Scrutiny and Overview Committee ENDORSED the recommendations to Cabinet, as detailed in the report.