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Contact: Earl Piggott-Smith Email: email@example.com or 01902 551251
Apologies for Absence
There were no apologies received.
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations recorded.
[Earl Piggott-Smith, Scrutiny Officer, to present terms of reference]
Earl Piggott-Smith, Scrutiny Officer, presented the terms of reference for the working group.
The panel agreed to note the terms of reference.
[Alison Shannon, Chief Accountant, to present report]
Alison Shannon, Chief Accountant, introduced the report and invited the specific reserves working group to comment on the appropriateness of the specific reserves held by the Council. The Chief Accountant highlighted that in response to the discussion at the previous meeting on 8 December 2018 an extra column titled ‘Areas of anticipated expenditure 2018-2019’ had been added to Appendix 1 and 2 to provide further context.
The Chief Accountant outlined the purpose of maintaining specific reserves and reassured the working group that any specific reserves considered no longer required, would be transferred to the Council’s Efficiency or Transformation reserve. The Chief Accountant added that the working group comments on the report would be reported back to Cabinet for consideration.
The working group discussed the summary of specific reserves analysed by directorate. The Chief Accountant advised that the forecast balance figure is what the Council expects the financial position on each reserve to be as at 31 March 2019.
The working group queried the liability for the Council with regards to school budget balances, and the situation if a school were to go into deficit.
The Chief Accountant advised the working group that information regarding school deficit budget balances and the financial implications of any directed academy conversions for the Council is included in the revenue monitoring report to Cabinet (Resources) Panel on a quarterly basis.
The following is a summary of the working group comments about the specific reserves by directorate detailed in Appendix 1 of the report.
Budget Strategy Reserve
The working group queried the appropriateness of the reserves and the consideration given to future redundancy costs. The Chief Accountant commented it was difficult to forecast the cost of redundancies, but it was currently estimated to be in the region of £3-4 million for 2018-2019.
Business Rates Equalisation Reserves
The working group requested details of the number of times this fund had been used. The Finance Business Partner stated that this reserve had been established to equalise the impact of the fluctuation in business rates arising as a result of revaluations and appeals, and that it had last been used in 2017-2018. However, the Council is not anticipating that the reserve would be required during 2018-2019. The working group queried if the level of reserve was required. The Chief Accountant explained that it is difficult to predict the number of successful appeals, however the level of this reserve seemed prudent.
The working group queried the reason for maintaining the reserve which is forecast to remain unused. Alison Shannon, Chief Accountant, agreed to query with colleagues if the reserve is still appropriate and transfer the balance into the Efficiency or Transformation Reserve as part of the 2018-2019 closedown process, if this reserve is no longer required.
No working group comments.
Enterprise Zone Business Rates Equalisation Reserve
The working group queried when this fund was used previously. The Chief Accountant commented that the fund is needed to equalise the impact of fluctuations in business rates receipts within ... view the full minutes text for item 4.