Finance and Governance Cabinet Advisory Board - Tuesday 7 March 2023, 6:30pm - Start video at 0:50:09 - Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Webcasting

Finance and Governance Cabinet Advisory Board
Tuesday, 7th March 2023 at 6:30pm 









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  1. Webcast Finished

as Cabinet Advisory Board welcome to this evening's meeting before we start the meeting, there are a number of procedural issues to go through, for which I be very grateful for your attention, I'll now pass over to the Clerk Caroline Brits.
thank you Chair good evening everybody. In the event of the fire alarm ringing continuously, you must immediately evacuate the building at walking. Pace officers will direct you via the most direct available route, and no one is to use the lift. We will make our way to the fire assembly point by the entrance to the Town Hall Yard, car park, on Munson, Way, once outside, a check will be made to ensure everyone has safely left and no one is to re-enter the building until advised. It is safe to do so. This is a public meeting and proceedings are being webcast live online recording will also be available for playback on the council's website shortly afterwards. Can I remind everyone to use the microphones when speaking the red light indicates that the microphone is on any comments that are not recorded for the webcast will not be included in the minutes of the meeting.
it's very important that the outcome of the meeting are clear at the end of each substantive item, the Chair will ask whether the matter is agreed in the absence of a clear majority, or if the Chairman decides a full vote is desirable and a vote will be taken by a show of hands. Members should raise their hand to indicate their vote when called and keep their hand up until the count has been announced. Members requesting a recorded vote must do so before the vote is taken. Thank you Chair,
thank you, Caroline sorry, for the benefit of the recording going to take a roll call, the clock local, your name and her present, please introduce yourself, thank you Chair, Councillor Brice, yeah, thank you, Councillor Dorling's present gets a fair weather present.
councillor good ship.
present. Thank you, Councillor Hickey, present, thank you, Councillor Knight present, Councillor Morton present, thank you, Councillor LB present, thank you, Councillor Rogers present. Thank you, Councillor Sankey present Councillor Hall, present and officers this evening are Lee Collier present. Thank you. Jane Fineman present, thank you and Pamela Grover Morecambe present. Thank you. Thank you Chair
thank you, I'm sure you're all aware of this already, but members of the committee should be familiar with the process but for the benefit of any members of the public who may be watching, I'd like to explain a couple of things committee members have had their agendas for over a week.
westerns are the officers ahead of the meeting.
when we come to the substantive items on the agenda this evening, members or members of the public have registered to speak will be asked to read their statements, they will have a maximum of three minutes each. The relevant officer will then set out their report will then move into member discussion at the end of the discussion, I will remind members that without prejudice to any other comments that may be raised, the Committee is asked to come to one of the following positions, one that the recommendations to Cabinet are supported by the Committee to
that the recommendations to Cabinet would be supported, subject to a particular issue being addressed or 3, that the recommendations to Cabinet are not supported and if this is the case reasons should be stated.

1 Apologies

so I think first of all we have from any apologies for absence.
apologies have been received Chair.

2 Declarations of Interests

thank you very much, and second item is declarations of interest, although any declarations of interest to be made.
I don't see any.

3 Notification of Persons Wishing to Speak

notification of visiting persons wishing to speak it, I don't see anyone wishing to speak the same persons registered to speak.

4 Minutes of the meeting dated 24 January 2023

and in that case we'll move on to Item 4, which is minutes of the meeting of our last meeting dated the 24th of January.
are there any amendments to these minutes?
don't see anyone shaking her head, so okay, are we all agreed excellent?

5 Forward Plan as at 15 February 2023

so next is the for plan, as of the 15th of February.
do Members have any comments they would like to raise?
batting, yes, wandering about on one of the items here, it's got consideration for a new lease or freehold, and in that lovely word disposal.
that has brought us such pain in the last few weeks I took time to go through the previous asset register, as I know we're not discussing asset registers here, but I'm not going to read this out.
but I have a, there is about eight paragraphs of explanation on the previous asset register when the word disposal was used, and on our one previously there was one line, some just can we make a note to cabinet that when we are discussing disposals that we
include an explanation that is as thorough as this.
and I can e-mail that to Cabinet if they wish.
yeah yeah, we should definitely take a note of that and if you, if you could send us the draft of the document that you're looking at, we'll certainly take a look at it.
thank you.
Tom, I think that the support that the Mayor made at the full Council meeting as well, so I just like to endorse that yeah.
thank you Tom.
any other comments from anybody.
OK in that case.
I think we can.
just move on to agreeing on that one if we all agree, do we agree yet?

6 Capital Management Report Quarter 3

it is straightforward, so the next item is the Capital Management report for Quarter 3, and the officer presenting this evening will be Jane Fineman, head of Simon's procurement and parking over to you, J.
thank you Chair.
cabinet originally approved capital expenditure of 10.4 8 2 million for 22 23 since then, a net 154,000 pounds of projects have been rescheduled from 21 22 approved into the capital programme or deferred into 23 24, bringing the revised forecast outturn to 10.5 5 6 million.
approvals requested in this report bring the total spend for 22 23 to 8.3 7 4 million, which is a net decrease of 2.1 8 2 million, this consists of a decrease of 1.8 4 4 in spending rescheduled into 23 24 and a net decrease in forecast projected spend of 338,000.
the net decrease in forecast spend for which approval is sought, mainly consists of 292,000, a reduction for affordable housing grants or 109,000, which is a reduction in costs for the Town Hall and the Assembly Hall roof refurbishments, and this is partially offset by 115,000 which is needed as an increase for the Warwick Road car park.
the rescheduling of 1.8 for 4,000 into 23 24 mainly consists of 730 30,000 for the RVP Royal Victoria Place, car park refurbishment.
500,000 for the Town Hall conversion 211,004 9, stroke 10 Calverley Terrace and 177,000 for the Benholm Mill Dépôt.
New capital schemes totalling 593,000 for 23 24 and 1.6 3 5 million in 24 25 were approved by Full Council on the 1st of March 23 and are included in this report, the main project was repairing the cladding on the Crescent Road car park.
a capital receipt of 40,000 pounds was received this quarter.
for landed bonnets way.
I know it's a small amount, but it nonetheless will be transferred to the capital receipts reserve and used to finance some of the capital programme, thank you.
thank you very much for sharing.
do Members have any questions for Jane?
give you a moment nothing.
thank you, I just want to ask some questions about the was as working the capital programme application form specifically the one about computers.
it says 168 devices.
that that's the appears to me to be a lot of devices, I'm not an expert in IT or an employee's we have here, but I'm sure we don't have 168 people who do do it, although OK, that's fine I will be quiet then the other thing on this was.
it says here to find it does the purchasing the hardware, and we are not able to roll out the new kit due to staffing constraints or we would go into another lockdown.
as far as I can see, lockdown isn't on our risk register, so is it should that not be so the wording of that not be other ways of working
I think the point that we're trying to make is that, because of lockdown, we didn't actually refresh the kit that we should have perhaps done at that stage, there are actually Roundabout 340 350 of us, and so 168 only does half of them now we have trickled through putting new computers out there when people have broken and but obviously there's a refresh that needs to go on now because it hasn't been happening as it should have.
give us a good question about the Warwick Road car park, it was a budget put in a couple of years ago, 50,000 pounds, which I asked a question of this committee about, because I I walk past it most days and it is a small retaining wall I can now see that it's going to it's got a forecast outturn of 156,000 pounds as an enormous amount of money for fixing a retaining wall.
I must you know the answer to why it's there, but I think somebody needs to look at it because it doesn't feel right to me unless we've discovered some Roman ruins or something underneath.
Christmas you could have somebody trace it down and get an explanation of the
who variant?
my my understanding is that when they did a survey they were going to need to take down the whole war and they were actually going to have to dig down a little bit in order to provide sufficient foundations to build upon in order to hold back the
the soil, etc that was there, I think, on top of that we've had inflation on building works as well, and I understand this was the information that they got from some quotes that they went out for.
I can go back to them and I can ask them the question, but this was my understanding of the situation.
and it doesn't come back on a desert satisfying, well, I'm not really I mean 156,000 pounds buys a lot of built-in work, even in these inflated times.
you can build a small house without actually so, I'm a bit, I'm still a bit surprised, I think it would be good to understand a little bit more if you looked at it, you know why I'm asking the question.
perhaps we can now look into that in a bit more detail, but thank you for raising it.
yeah, I'm very happy to go back to our property team and ask them to send us the specification, and we can we can certainly forward the the quote so that at least you can understand, and I I can send them to be information to Caroline, to pop into the minutes so that everybody can see them if you're happy with that.
thank you, John.
much appreciated and any other comments or questions or questions before we go into discussion.
don't see any further questions, so we have to move into discussion and you will want to make any comments.
I just like to make a quick general point. In my four or five years on the council, I'd been watching the council defer capital programmes to the next year to the next year to the next year. It seems that our capacity to actually deliver capital programmes in any given year is a lot less than we put in the budget by a considerable amount, which means that we're not been realistic about our forecasting or our available headcount or skills to deliver our capital budget. I think it would be good to get a little bit more realistic about that moving forward and and really really inspect in a lot more detail. The ability to deliver the forecast capital budget
comments are noted, thank you, and did you want to comment on that Jane?
it's actually a comment that I am coming to in my Revenue report actually regarding the staff.
costs underspend that we've got in the fact that we've got so many vacancies, you're right.
I notice you are looking my way, so I wondered if he wanted to seize from me on that point, thank you Jane.
are there any other comments members would like to make?
no, I think I think that's probably it, but thank you thank you Andy, so in that case we'll move to the the recommendations then so there are four of them 1, the Cabinet note the actual gross and net expenditure for the year and the sources of finance are shown in Appendices B to D.
the cabinet cabinet approved the proposed variations to the capital programme set out in notes 4.3 to 4.9.
the cabinet note the inclusion of new schemes into the capital programme, as set out in Note 4.10 to 4.11 and, finally, that Cabinet approve the proposed movement between years, set out in Note 4.12 are we agreed members,
agreed agreed, thank you.

7 Revenue Management Report Quarter 3

so that's Karen, we'll move on to agenda item 7, which is the revenue management report Quarter 3, I'll ask Jane again to introduce this report, thank you Jane, thank you.
actual expenditure to the end of December was 10.3 6 1.741 million under budget.
and I'm very pleased to be able to report to you that we are now forecasting a small forecast outturn surplus on services of 144,000, this is mainly due to reductions in forecast staff costs of 1.0 4 4 million.
260,000 of this is needed to meet the budgeted contribution to the vacancy factor, but the remainder is close to offsetting the increase in energy costs of 840,000 following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
whilst this has been very positive for the Councils finances, the current shortfall of 34 full-time equivalent staff is putting pressure on the delivery of services, and capital projects are needing to be deferred.
exactly the point that Councillor Hickey was making.
there have been some notable rises in income forecasts, this quarter there is an additional 220,000 in waste recycling performance payments and 180,000 of additional parking income, some of which is due to the increase in prices on the 1st of December last year.
planning income is forecast to increase by another 95,000 and crematorium income by another 65,000.
this has been offset, though, by additional financial assistance and bank holiday payments for waste collection of 215,000 and the hundred hundred thousand cost to finance the community support fund.
there has also been another hundred thousand reduction in the court, cost income from council tax and an 80,000 reduction in income from garden waste.
as detailed in the Treasury Management report, which I'll speak to you about in a moment, it's projected that there will be an increase of 1.1 5 million in investment interest.
this can be used to finance the 944,000 budget deficit with which we started the year overall, therefore we are now forecasting a budget surplus of 350,000 which can be added to the General Fund at the end of the year.
as can be seen in Appendix D, the council had 32.4 9 3 million of usable reserves, as at the 1st of April 22 when we started the year, however, 6.9 million of this held in the grant volatility reserve will be used to fund the collection fund deficit so cannot be used for other purposes another 4 million will be used to fund the capital programme in 22 23, it can also be seen
the Council forecasts a total of 5.9 million of internal borrowing by the end of 22 23, which means that it's using its working capital to finance debt rather than using its reserves or borrowing from the public Works Loan Board.
so our finances are in good order now until the end of 22 23.
but this has been through good fortune, with interest rates and the fact that we're carrying significant staff staff vacancies which are affecting the ability of the council to deliver services, and the capital programme in 23 24, the increases in interest are already included in the budget and vacancies will need to be filled, so the current 943,000 revenue budget deficit will need to be addressed along with the sale of capital assets to fund the capital programme.
and finally, approval is sought for a change in the fees and charges for parking bays suspensions, and this is following a review of the service which was instigated by the retirement of castle officer who carried out the role, thank you very much.
thank you very much for joining, does anyone have any questions they might ask?
not one of the joint you say that in good order now, if we hadn't done what we've already done, where would we be?
well, we budgeted for a 944,000 pound deficit at the beginning of the year and we're now budgeting again for a 943,000 pound deficit for next year and, as I've explained, we've been quite fortuitous with the interest rate increases completely out of our control but we've taken advantage of the situation and we've been very fortunate that we have had quite a bit of government grant money that we have been able to use to make interest.
income from as well.
however, we've we've got staff vacancies and whilst that has been very, very good for our finances, it's been quite difficult for the staff working at the council, who have tried their very, very best to fill the gaps and undertake the work of the people who are not there but it has had an impact and we can't keep doing it so.
we would be at the 943,000, which is where we've got to be next year and where we've budgeted to be without without those two major things I mean, as I've explained, there are lots of ups and downs that go on throughout the year, but the main things have been the interest improvement, the vacancies that we've got offset by the energy increases that we suffered from the fuel costs price increases, those are that those are the three main things that have affected this year.
you want to ask a further question.
thank you, Chairman, yes, joined us, it's good, thank you are just going to ask about the staffing forecasts, obviously when we did our original forecast.
did we what percentage of the 34 staff that we don't have now do we assume that by now we would have to fill those vacancies or did we think would still have a third or half where what was our thinking, could you enlarge me please?
it's difficult for every single role and we will go through with the budget managers and we will look at every single post and we will make a judgement as to whether we will have filled it by the end of the year.
or it may well be that somebody is due to turn up and fill it in the next week because we've already recruited and they're on their way, so the 34 is very, very much a snapshot in time and we have an attrition rate and we have new people starting all of the time so we look at each post as an individual post and we will forecast accordingly.
thank you, James, what I'm trying to understand is this time next year, where do we think we're going to be, do we think we would have fulfilled all those vacancies, or do we hope we would have done or that's what I'm trying to get out, we know what's happened, obviously what's happened in the past is the necessary or for customers in the future as we know, but I just like to try and understand what we hope is going to happen for 23 24.
so we budget for a full complement of staff, but then we also budget for a vacancy rate, so we we have got a forecast in there for a turnover of staff, so we will make an assumption that a certain number of staff will be in transition and we will have a vacancy factor as we call it in the budget which should budget for the times when we've had somebody leave, but we haven't yet been able to fill their posts, so it's that gap in between.
OK, thank you, Julia, so I think I understand that so we're forecasting that the vacancies will be filled, but we have a fracture of turnover and decide that it might not, but we are planning on having no vacancies over the 12 months time that's what we're where we're aiming at.
you've understood it absolutely correctly, and this year we've had a forecast to the vacancy of of vacancy factor of 260,000, at least very helpfully just shown me from his figures, and the 23 24 budget assumes a vacancy factor of 340, so we've actually assumed that we'll have a higher vacancy factor next year than this year.
that's most clear, thank you very much indeed, thank you.
thank you Chair, and thank you David.
looking who was next, I'm going to go to shadow, you want to cut.
thank you, I know we've talked about this before, but just wondered if there's any sort of changing strategy for recruitment or for any things change to help with filling some of the vacancies so that the workload of you and your staff can be eased.
thank you so as part of setting next year's budget, we actually included a new post called HR change manager to refresh all the council's HR policies post pandemic and try to address the loss of staff we're having, which is our attention, is pretty much in crisis mode in some parts, however ironically that particular post we have failed to recruit to we've gone out to the market on two occasions.
and that the level of salary needed to be paid is quite astounding for many of our post, now the market is extremely competitive for professionally qualified staff.
you've heard me, say we're fortunate to live in a process of the country, but that makes recruiting staff very, very difficult, very expensive, not just for us about contractors as well, and we desperately need a new HR policy to try to set out the foundations of how this Council can retain the staff it needs we can't really produce that until we get resources to do so it is difficult we are, we are exploring all.
one of avenues that would normally be expected. HR and many, many innovative ones, being quite aggressive direct approaches. The people do the tactics being used upon us. We are equally trying to to get over the skill staff that we come across to join Tunbridge Wells. Unfortunately, local government is not perceived as attractive place for employment. At the moment, we are doing our best to change that. We we we we, we go out, we we represent, we educate the public about the whole variety of services we provide
the fantastic things councils do for, for residents and for the economy. You will see the benefits of what this Council does, and it is a good place to work. It's just that we need to get people in the door, so we're we're we're reducing those requirements of what can be quite daunting for some people filling in application forms. We just want to see people we want to meet and therefore we can. We can work with them to help them, and it's, or is it used to be the employer choosing the employee? It's not any more when I'm interviewing and facing more questions than I'm putting it's that changing the environment, but that's the way it is, and we're going to continue working hardest to to get our staff up to establish if it's not fair on existing staff who can't take their annual leave or work excessive hours, because the work has to be done. Many statutory services have to be resourced and done properly
thank you very much for that Lee and Charlie does, and your question you.
there are three hands, I think I am no smug Rita also would like to ask a question noted, I'm gonna go to Tom next and then Matthew sort in the Margaret.
thanks, Chris, I mean, I really just want to underscore what Leys actually said I mean when it comes to budget savings, staff vacancies is the is a worse saving that you can actually achieve.
and of course, there's been an element of comment already this evening on the impact on the property team, but I mean the you know, the impact also goes much wider in Democratic Services, with a large turnover of staff and also in the in the in the planning in the planning area.
thank you to.
I'm gonna go to Madonna, thank you, I've to back Lee up on that.
I have friends who do that job and their salary stopped with a two and not the two, at the bottom of the scale, the two at the top.
Wallace, get across to his, we're all seeing recruitment issues in the in every industry and in my business I'm able to shut two days a week, I don't want to, but I can the council can't do that we can't just shut services off, but what I'm interested on Stan is where do we compare to other authorities around the country?
in a performance of our retention and recruitment, because that's probably quite important to understand that we might be in crisis mode here, but if every, if every authorities in crisis mood, then there's a wider problem and is not necessarily this council's particular problem, although obviously it is,
so clearly we do benchmark ourselves, other councils are fortunate a depressing situation, particularly in west Kent, where other councils are similar having 20 25%.
turnover in staff because we're all in the same market for qualified accountants, qualified planners qualified about have offices, and there's very few barriers, and where we have had a strategy trying to grow our own, we've taken staff through training up to be a qualified accountant, but invariably when they get their qualification, we fear the next conversation we have and local government has many, many qualities, but we do have quite a rigid pay structure. People can see the maximum they can go to before it starts bouncing into their managers. Other other sectors don't operate that way, it can be quite open-ended. You pay for what you need to for the talent in you need for your your your business, but
we will do our best to try to reverse that and and carry on trying to encourage new recruits, and we're trying different things.
in planning enforcement, very difficult to recruit to, but we've had some success in that. Some of the skills required for that piece of work are very similar to the police service. The police would fire earlier than in local government, so we've made direct approaches and we got some new members of staff starting, so there are. There are talent out there that can have some skill set and we can train them up to do the rest of the work to fit in, so we were trying a number of different approaches.
thank you, and I think I don't have a question, but perhaps in discussion we can make a note to Cabinet about some ideas we I have certainly can.
thank you,
actually, nothing's asked for the question I wanted to ask so.
but it's just an observation, but the public sector.
its level of pay has fallen quite a long way behind private sector. I believe, because the the latest figures that I saw was something like you know. A private sector has increased by about 6.7%, whereas public, private sorry public sector has increased by about 2.7 something like that, so there's a huge gap between the two. So if you were a graduate coming out of university, I think you would know you know where to go. Actually I mean we're in a which sector you would prefer to go to as regards pay anyway, but there are lots of other benefits of working for the public sector.
maybe there was ought to be, you know, advertised a bit more.
thank you my greeter.
thank you, I just wanted to ask because I had it somewhere in a comment, but where that there was a proposal that we should have some sort of agreement with neighbouring authorities or at least were immediately neighbouring authorities, and perhaps to perhaps a wider group that we won't rob from each other in other words that we won't approach them if they don't approach us which seems to happen quite a lot.
that we have movement, particularly in planning and housing services and other other parts of the council, and I'm just wondering whether that's ever been formalised or whether it might be in some way.
that all sounds very sensible and very noble, but in reality organisations will do whatever is necessary to get the right staff and equally there is such a thing as free movement of staff, so staff should be free to move and it's not uncommon planners for example they need a variety of different geographical areas to learn their trade due to to move round, but certainly direct poaching between authorities is not helpful for the sector.
but that's not the only way we can really a guide, as I dress, but we do have the conversations to try to promote local government overall with, I think, as a good place to work and a good place to turn to learn your trade because the training is very good in local government we have, we have many benefits of seeing the output of all of your work, we are very a caring organisation we provide training investment investment, our people is that is is the best way to to retain them to stop them looking out elsewhere.
thankfully, on there anyway and the question, not you go.
sorry, one minor point in Appendix G and page 2.
everybody rushes away and has looked at the very bottom. There's 3.2 9 full time equivalents more on the Ukrainian projects support posts, and I think I'd like us to send a signal to Cabinet that we think this is an entirely laudable thing to do as admitting it. It mitigates the risk that the Ukrainian who are currently being hosted when they come to the end of the six months. They will not then become homeless, because these these people are employed to try and find of the host for them elsewhere in the borough, and I'm aware that this is the but cost of somebody becoming homeless. Poaching Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is far greater than the cost of the 3.2 9 posts, and I think that this is entirely be totally laudable. But appointments to make, because I think in the long term it will save this Council quite a lot of money
so if you could take that to cabinet, I'd be very pleased, thank you very much and Martin for raising it, and the comments will definitely be noted, thank you.
are there any other questions,
I don't see any.
is there any while I think that EU integration points in the debate or move to the sort of debate and discussion and are used, he said he wanted to raise some ideas, do want to raise those points now, thank you, yeah, I
just on the regarding recruitment, and it's interesting that we've not been on a recruit, this HR person, and I think we need to start thinking outside of the box for recruitment, I'm not saying that the people haven't been doing that but we need to probably get a little bit more creative likely said there are numerous benefits or working for a council, I'm not sure that that is public knowledge as wide as we think it should be.
there are some people who have worked here for an awful long time and there's a reason for that, there are some amazing people who work here, people are coming here and then there working at the scale on leaving that one thing we need to identify, but surely we need to be massively promoting the benefits that you get by working for a local authority specifically this one and we need to find a way of of marketing that so perhaps Cabinet could invest time into in into how we market that,
thank you H, and is also fall under my portfolio as long as I knew that, so I I concern the take that forward yeah look into that, then thank you.
thank you Chair, yes, I'm just wondering whether we should try and sort a wide, narrow net. I don't know what proportion of people we look at a home working or we expecting people to come into Tunbridge Wells, and but and obviously we sort of we are living now in a global environment do weeks or are we looking for people to actually come in and work in the offices of be based here or can members of staff work remotely? If so, they do not have to be in the UK, they can be working anywhere. I have lots of colleagues and companies
in fact, my daughters and fiance at the moment and runs an IT company employs people across the whole world, and so I think perhaps we should rethink this, as Matthew said, perhaps think outside the box a bit they don't have to be living in terms rose for certain roles or to certain roles they will have to be, but I just think we should possibly push that forward to Cabinet as well as a suggestion that so,
thank you Chair,
would anyone like to comment on remote working? I absolutely concur with that. So one of the things that came out of the pandemic it tested for real our IT systems, staff are able to continue to perform their role as the Council functioned whilst nearly all staff were at home using devices, we do have a very flexible working policy, it's based around around the operational requirements of a particular role, whether staff need to come in or where they can work from from home. Certainly IT systems are there and many staff do work from home. We're very flexible, and when I started as a requirement to live within 10 miles of the Town Hall outdated, we don't need that anymore. If staff can do the job remotely, then we're happy to do so bleakly. There is a benefit of coming into the tunnel to meet your colleagues, to try to build that culture, so we're we're we're we're flexible and no cocktail of both approaches
thank you.
I think I'm just wondering on that note, how many people are there working in Tunbridge Wells?
for authorities in London and getting a higher wage because of London weighting.
just as it's not quite as wide a question, it's a question to really consider.
I can I can't answer that yet, but you know it's a, it's a good challenge, you're absolutely right there, though, in doubt Hadley will be nodding over there.
well, it's just that one quarter of my procurement team left to do exactly that.
and thanks for raising.
you go your next step, thank you.
I suppose I just wanted to bring this back to the other the other balancing part of a view report chain staff shortages, we focused upon a lot and it is obviously a concern for people and the fact that we're 34 full-time equivalents down, I think we all feel it and officers probably much more than Members clearly but the other part is the, as you described at the good fortune with interest rates and that probably isn't going to happen again either.
but hopefully it won't happen in quite the way that it did earlier in the year, sorry, I think we need to recognise that there were two components behind the surplus that were currently.
appreciative of.
and it's not a question I just I just think we need to recognise that fact, second thing I just wanted to share, because one or two members possibly feel that it's different here to elsewhere, I was on a Local government Association and housing programme with 13 other portfolio holders for housing about six weeks ago.
from all over the country and of of all all different political administrations, and every single one was saying that they have churn of between 20 and 25% and they named particularly interestingly enforcement and planning and finance as the job that they found most difficult to fill. I think it is a national problem. I don't think it's a Tunbridge Wells issue, particularly now, when we are the same as everywhere else. I don't think we should take comfort from that, but I do think we need to recognise that we're probably no different to elsewhere. Other than perhaps our proximity to London makes it quite attractive for people to stay at home and work for a London borough
which is what I would have done if I was still in local government, I suspect.
thank you very much, you go looking at members to see if there are any other points that anyone would like to make.
I don't think so, so thank you for all the points raised. Members, I thought some excellent ideas raised and points, especially around HR and recruitment. So if you're happy, I'll move on to the recommendations to go forward to Cabinet, which are as follows number 1 that Cabinet note the quarter 3 net expenditure on services year to date was 10.361 million. She's 740 1,000 less than budget to the Cabinet note that by year end the Council anticipates net expenditure of 15.278 million and Services. This forecast is 144,000 under budget, an improvement of 656,000 on quarter 2 3. That Cabinet note that by year end the Council anticipates receiving an increase in funding of 1.150 million due to additional investment interest and improvement of 400,000 since quarter 2. Overall, this means an underspend compared to budget of 1.294 million. An improvement of 1.056 million since court to this will fund the budget deficit of 944,000 there was to be met from reserves, with the additional 350,000
being available to be transferred to reserves, 4, that Cabinet approve a new charge for Base suspensions to be implemented from 1st of April 2023.
are we agreed?
greed and seems to be unanimous and it carries, thank you very much.

8 Treasury and Prudential Indicator Management Report Quarter 3

so on to item number 8, which is Treasury and Prudential indicator management report for Quarter 3, and I'm again going to hand over to the presenting officer Jane Fineman for this one, thank you Jane.
the it explained that the key element of this, but the forecast interest from investments and bank interest for 22 23 is now 1.5 9 5 million an increase of 1.1 5 million from the approved budget of 445,000 and a further 400,000 from the quarter 2 position this is due to an increase in funds available to invest and, very importantly, an increase in the interest rates available.
the bank interest rate was cut, 2.1% in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic, and the Bank of England has been increasing the bank base rates again to manage inflation, resulting in a base rate of 3.5% by December 22.
the council has forecast an average interest rate of 2 point to 9%, compared to the budget of 1.0 9, and where we're looking for short term low risk opportunities in which to invest our available cash.
the Monetary Policy Committee has now raised interest rates again to 4%, so this will be reflected in the actual interest received next quarter, while actually the quarter that we're in now, but in terms of this report, next quarter.
the property bust fund investment has paid net dividends for the three quarters to December a 4.81%, the 9 million investment in the property Van Fund is now valued at 10.00.4 2 4 million as at the 31st of December 22.
the value has decreased by 1.8 million this financial year, the value does fluctuate from time to time, but is clearly still in surplus and is making a good net dividend rate.
this is held in a reserve until it's withdrawn, so it doesn't impact the overall cost of services and finally just confirm that none of the prudential indicators were breached in quarter three, thank you.
thank you very much join all or any questions Jane on this report.
anyone does want to ask a question no, I don't think so so well, in that case, we can move to any comments anyone wants to make in the discussion.
again, well done to the Treasury team.
we go second net.
phone number.
any any other comments.
Jane would you like to come in?
I'd just like to to say that we don't actually have a Treasury team, this is something that is part and parcel of what the finance team do.
and when there is nothing that we can do in terms of treasury, then of course we do very little, but when we get the opportunity that's when again we turn our skills to something different and we find a really good way to invest our moneys so yeah I'm just trying to explain that I've got a really multi-skilled team and I don't have a resource that just looks after treasury we do all sorts.
thanks to him.
margarita is, so you will you team managers the the Treasury function for tomatoes itself, the Bar Council, so it's not meant managed by Mid Kent services in any in any way, no OK I just wanted.
so so your policy, you know, Treasury policy is set by yourselves, isn't it's not no?
now we write to treasury management strategy every year and it's just been approved by Full Council.
you approve it, it's this Council's.
thank you.
any further comments for discussion, or are we ready to move on, I think, looking around the room, think we ready to move on, so a move to the recommendations to go forward to Cabinet in that case, which are 1, that Cabinet note the treasury management and prudential indicator position for 2022 23 and to that Cabinet note, the forecast for investment bank interest is 1,000,500 and 95,000, an increase of 1.150 million from the approved budget of 445,000 and a further improvement for 100,000 from the quarter 2 projection. Are we agreed
the motion is carried.
thank you very much.

9 Performance Summary Quarter 3

the next report is the performance summary for Quarter 3 and presenting this will be our Pamela Gregor, Morgan, performance and governor governance manager over to them.
in terms of projects, the big change to note in this report is on the development of the Paddock Wood Community Centre, which at the time of the report's writing, was due to be handed over, there are more details appendix A to the report.
in terms of the indicators, there were nine underperforming indicators in Q3 that's up from seven in Q2 these are listed in the report.
for one and two dropped off and four more were added, and those were the number of homelessness acceptances.
the percentage of recycled and composted household waste waste working days lost to sickness in the council, this was very slight and it coincided with cold and flu sous season, as Q3 always does so dot yeah, I'm not intending to talk about that much and the percentage of council tax collected.
so turning to Appendix B, the highlights of the quarter 3 indicators are as follows. In terms of housing, there has been a national increase of both homelessness, acceptance and households in temporary accommodation, whereas the number of households in temporary accommodation is at by 8% from 72 to 78 households. 15 of these 78 were rough sleepers house centre discretionary rather than a step toward powers, and these have been included in the this indicator only since 2020. So if you remove those then for tempo 12 Q3 is figures of a quick those from 2018 to 2020
number of homeless acceptances has increased from 16 to 19 in the last quarter that just missed its target, which is 18, this is traceable and part to some targeted casework which yielded an increase in homelessness relief duties coming to an end and that had the knock-on effect of increasing the number of applicants who were accepted.
as being owed the main statutory housing duty in quarter three as compared to previous quarters, then there's more detail available at the recovery plans in Appendices C or D.
terms of the environment, both environment indicators are measured on the previous quarter's figures, so these are Q2 figures.
the kilograms of waste collected per household indicator was within target, the percentage for the indicator of household waste reused, recycled and composted in Q2 was 47.84% which fell just below the 48% target, however, performance over the first half of 2022 23 was 49.08% were traced overall above target target and higher than the average figure for this for the second half of 2021 22, which is 46.93% more details available at Appendix C.
in terms of economic development, the number of contacts from businesses to the council has doubled to 182 in the last quarter, and this is due largely to a bigger team giving capacity to organise more business events, it does include contacts to the business contact portal and the website,
terms of finance, both finance indicators look strong.
with respect to planning with the planning team has been meeting its targets on most of its indicators, despite ongoing staff shortages, performance has gone up in Q3 with respect to major planning applications with extensions, minor ones with extensions, other planning applications with extensions.
Major planning applications and performance on pearls for majors, but the staff shortages are still impacting the planning teams in two ways, first, the positive effects of the three new hires in November 2023 November is halfway through a quarter, 3 won't start to be sweet scene until Q Q for
and second, there are four vacancies remaining in the parts of the tender process and register applications, so the result is several indicators for shore, but even so all of them saw increases in performance over Q2.
finally, the committee will have noted that the collection of council tax is slightly below target point 3 8%, below target of 83.5 2, and that's directly attributable to the increased cost of living, so the council is bouncing carrying out recovery actions and assisting residents on low incomes as appropriate, thank you.
thank you very much, although any questions.
I don't soon.
the moment just in case, no OK, we can move on to any comments or discussion.
Matthew is Licensing.
yeah, I was hoping or wondering how we can make a suggestion that the one of our Friday updates that we get can be based on an economy performance one I won.
how you get to this, how you do your job and how these wonderful jobs are put together, because it's lovely in a grey and and the information is there, but sometimes a knowledge of how that's put together.
is it will help us understand further?
we are, then, that reviewing the methodology statements in the indicators now in preparation for the new year, so that's a timely suggestion to make.
thank you, but I think you'd like to suggest, as a member briefing is that when you like suggest yes, that'll amount, so I know that's what they called member briefings, not the thing on a Friday morning when it is the only thing on a Friday morning that's why I prefer your description.
yeah, we'll take that forward, maybe that could be something that Pam May might be able to do.
is there anything else anyone wants to say?
I don't think so, so let's move to the recommendations to Cabinet, then, which are one that the Cabinet notes the summary project performance over quarter 3 2022 to 23 at Appendix A
that Cabinet notes the summary of service performance over quarter 3 22 23 Appendix B and 3, that the Cabinet notes a recovery plans for Quarter 3 22 23 at Appendices.
see today.
while we agree.

10 Urgent Business

that was unanimous, so the motion is carried so we moved to.

11 Date of the Next Meeting

ITEM 10 urgent business, I can confirm there's no such business and finally, the date of the next meeting, but before we get to that, I think I would just like to personally thank officers.
Caroline in Democratic Services and also you are members for your participation in the finance and governance Cabinet Advisory Board meetings over this last financial year, it's been extremely valuable to have your input, so thank you again and hope we'll see many more of you next time next meeting will be on the 6th of June.
at 6.30 p.m. Thank you very much,