Note: If any Member seeks further clarity, or wishes to raise issues regarding any future Executive agenda item, please contact Democratic Services before 5.00pm on Monday 14 October 2019 to ensure that the lead Executive Member(s) and lead officer(s) are aware of this request in advance of the meeting.
(a) Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2020/21
The Panel was presented with the most recently published Executive Forward Plan. In accordance with Procedure Rules, formal requests had been made for two future Executive agenda items to be first considered by the Panel. These items were as follows:
(a) Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2020/21
A report was presented that recommended continuation of the existing Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2020/21 with no proposed amendments.
In the subsequent discussion, reference was made to:-
(i) the effectiveness of the Scheme. The majority of Members were very supportive of the Scheme and acknowledged that Devon County Council recommended it as best practice to other District Councils;
(ii) the four official complaints. Officers confirmed that they had been working with the four official complainants following the introduction of the banding scheme and they had each been offered help, assistance and support;
(iii) some concerns over the scheme. A Member expressed some specific concerns that he had on the scheme that included:
o the absence of a cap;
o the website requiring a review to ensure that critical information was in the most prominent part of the webpage; and
o the need to define the Minimum Income Floor.
In light of the specific nature of some of these points, it was agreed that the Member would meet with lead officers and the lead Executive Member outside of this meeting to discuss in greater detail.
It was then:
(b) Draft Capital Programme Proposals 2020/21
In connection with this future agenda item, a Member had given advanced notice of her wish to raise the following question:
‘I would like to ask the Leader if she would be able to brief the Overview and Scrutiny Panel on the implications of the unexpected rise in the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) for Council Assets Projects including the proposed Kingsbridge Hotel and the Batson Quay/Whitestrand proposals at Salcombe.’
In response, the Deputy Leader informed that:
‘Council officers were assessing the impact of the increase of 1% on the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) Interest Rate currently being offered on loans, on all of the business cases that involve external borrowing. The increase in Interest Rates of 1% only affected any new borrowing and did not affect loans already taken out in the past (e.g. for leisure),
The increase would affect the Council’s Commercial Investment Strategy in as much as the Council would need to factor in a higher Interest Rate into future Business Cases. The Commercial Investment Strategy itself still remained relevant.
The Council’s Treasury Management Advisors had indicated that other lenders (banks) and Pension Funds were now looking to come into the lending market. Previously, such lenders could not compete with the PWLB rates being offered, but their rates now had a chance of being competitive. Any lending from banks was likely to have longer lead in times.
Consultation on the Kingsbridge and Ivybridge schemes would be taking place and stakeholders (e.g. Members, residents and businesses) would be made aware of how to engage in the consultation process.
The Whitestrand project (replacement of toilets / showers and the Harbour Office) was not affected by an increase in borrowing rates as this project was being funded by the Council’s own capital resources (capital receipts) and there was no external borrowing involved.
Similarly, the Batson Quay project would be funded by internal borrowing (borrowing from the Council’s own resources) and not external borrowing from a third provider, due to the smaller amount of borrowing involved. However, the project was undergoing a review of the specification and design to see where the tendered cost could be reduced to bring the scheme within the Budget envelope approved by Members.’
With no further issues raised, the meeting proceeded to consider the next agenda item.