Venue: Committee Room 2 - Civic Centre, St Peter's Square, Wolverhampton WV1 1SH
Contact: Earl Piggott-Smith Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or 01902 551251
Welcome and Introductions
[The Chair to welcome everyone to the meeting. The Scrutiny Officer will then read out a list of those invited to the meeting to confirm who is in attendance.]
Cllr Bhupinder Gakhal, Chair, welcomed everyone to the virtual meeting and advised it was being live streamed to the press and public. A recording of the meeting would be available for viewing on the Council’s website at a future date
Meeting procedures to be followed
[The Chair will explain how the meeting will proceed, how questions are to be asked and any matters of meeting etiquette.]
Cllr Gakhal explained the protocol to be followed during the meeting for asking questions and reminded everyone that microphones should be muted and cameras off, unless they have been invited to speak.
Earl Piggott-Smith, Scrutiny Officer, confirmed the list of attendees at the meeting.
Cllr Bhupinder Gakhal
Cllr Udey Singh
Cllr Alan Bolshaw
Cllr Roger Lawrence
Please note the following officers are also in attendance:
Apologies for Absence
There were no apologies for abscence
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest recorded.
[Earl Piggott-Smith, Scrutiny Officer, to present terms of reference]
Earl Piggott-Smith, Scrutiny Officer, presented the terms of reference which detailed the remit of the working group.
The panel agreed to note the report.
[Alison Shannon, Chief Accountant, to present report]
Alison Shannon, Chief Accountant, introduced the report. The Chief Accountant advised the group that Michelle Howell, Finance Business Partner,was also in attendance to provide further information, if needed.
The Chief Account outlined the background to the report and explained the role of working group in reviewing the appropriateness of the specific reserves held by the Council as part of the budget review process.
The working group were asked to comment on any changes or further information that would help them to more effectively meet their responsibilities as detailed in the terms of reference.
The Chief Accountant explained the difference between the two appendices and that those listed in Appendix 2 have a specific criteria which limits their use.
The following is a summary of the comments and discussion on the specific reserves working group listed in Appendix 1.
Alison Shannon, Chief Accountant, advised the working group that as part of the annual budget setting process this report is being presented for comments and feedback on the appropriateness of the specific reserves held by the Council. The report lists all the reserves that the Council is holding as at 31 March 2020 and the planned usage for this financial year ending March 2021.
The findings and recommendations from the working group will be presented to Our Council Scrutiny Panel meeting on 17 March 2021. Under the Council’s financial procedure rules the specific reserves balances must be reviewed at least twice per financial year, as part of the outturn and budget preparation processes. The last such review was reflected in the ‘Reserves, Provisions and Balances 2019-2020’ report to Cabinet on 8 July 2020.
The Chief Accountant advised the group that Council’s current specific reserves balances is detailed at Appendix 1. The reserves in Appendix 2 can only be used in accordance with the specific criteria they were set up for.
The panel asked for clarification about the use of the Council reserves and confirmation that it is to be used for internal purposes to meet borrowing needs if required. The panel commented that it was important to understand that money held in reserves is not kept in a savings account earning interest and it is used by the Council for internal borrowing purposes, which brings revenue savings over borrowing costs. The reserves can be increased using external borrowing.
The Chief Accountant confirmed that the Council uses reserves are used to meet the Council’s internal borrowing first before undertaking any external borrowing as it reduces the amount of interest charged. The cash balances from the reserves can be moved to support the capital programme during the financial year.
During this financial year the Council has not had to borrow funds externally to fund its capital programme and instead has used its cash balances to support this expenditure.
The Chief Accountant suggested that each of the specific reserves listed should be considered in turn and then the group will have the chance to comment after a brief explanation.
The following is a summary ... view the full minutes text for item 6.