Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Council Chamber - The Shire Hall, St. Peter's Square, Hereford, HR1 2HX. View directions

Contact: Sarah Buffrey 

No. Item




In the absence of the leader and deputy leader of the council, Councillor P Rone was elected to chair the meeting.



To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies were received from cabinet members JG Lester and NE Shaw.



To receive declarations of interests in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.




MINUTES pdf icon PDF 169 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 17 January 2019.


Resolved:       That the minutes of the meeting held on 17 January 2019 be approved as a correct record and signed by the chair of the meeting.




Questions from members of the public pdf icon PDF 227 KB

To receive questions from members of the public.

Deadline for receipt of questions is 5:00pm on Friday 25 January.

Accepted questions will be published as a supplement prior to the meeting.

Please see for information on how to submit a question.

Additional documents:


Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 1 to the minutes.


Questions from councillors pdf icon PDF 53 KB

To receive questions from councillors.

Deadline for receipt of questions is 5:00pm on Friday 25 January.

Accepted questions will be published as a supplement prior to the meeting.

Additional documents:


Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 2 to the minutes.


2019/20 Council Tax Reduction Scheme pdf icon PDF 83 KB

To approve the continuation of the 2018/19 local council tax reduction scheme (CTR) for 2019/20. The current scheme was initially approved by Council on 18 December 2015.

Additional documents:


In discussion of the item cabinet members noted that:

·         with regard to the council tax discount for care leavers aged 18-25, in most cases the discount would be 100% and only in very exceptional circumstances would a lower discount be applied;

·         a range of options existed where council tax payers were experiencing hardship and there had been no major changes in take up rates;

·         engagement with those struggling to pay their council tax sought to understand their individual circumstances and ability to pay, the council was also able to make particular arrangements with those transitioning to and in receipt of universal credit;

·         there was a local scheme for people of working age and a national scheme for pensions, there were different criteria for the two schemes;

·         the council worked closely with partners such as charities and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to signpost those experiencing difficulty to all the help available, councillors could also play a role by directing ward residents to the information available on the council website.

Group Leaders were invited to give the views of their group. Comments noted were:

·         the council should take care that summoning those who were in arrears did not exacerbate problems within the household and check if those being pursued were known to the council in other capacities;

·         it was important that those who needed support received it but also that those who could pay did so in order to be fair to all tax payers;

·         there had been an increase in the number of people in arrears but no increase in the take up of the hardship scheme, it was important that the scheme was property advertised.


Resolved that:


(a)   The council tax reduction scheme for 2019/20, attached at appendix 2, be approved.


Capital programme 2019/20 onwards and Capital Strategy pdf icon PDF 152 KB

To recommend to Council for approval the capital investment budget and capital strategy for 2019/20 onwards.

Additional documents:


In discussion of the item, cabinet members noted and welcomed planned capital investment in key areas such as:

·         school maintenance;

·         broadband infrastructure;

·         software for school transport planning;

·         solar photovoltaic installations and energy efficient lighting;

·         delivery of ross enterprise park;

·         CCTV in Hereford city centre and market towns, making people feel safe would encourage increased footfall;

·         development of Waverley House and Hillside for adult care needs to look after vulnerable residents

Cabinet members also noted that:

·         used council IT equipment was recycled in a number of ways, those items still functional were cascaded through the organisation and to schools, items that were beyond repair were used for spare parts and when no longer of any use items were securely disposed of;

·         it was important that projects which were drawing on European funding be delivered on time as access to the same level of funding might not be available in the future;

·         it was important to be clear on the reasons for investing in economic projects and show that not only would they produce a financial return, they would result in increased business rate income for the council, generate external investment and increase the number of skilled and well-paid jobs in the county;

·         Hereford Enterprise Zone had been very successful and was expected to be built out in two to three years’ time;

·         It was clarified that the forecast spend on the Hereford City Centre Transport Package (HCCTP) was slightly under the budget allocated in the capital programme and that figures were shown rounded to the nearest thousand.

Each of the three scrutiny committees (general, adults and wellbeing, and children and families) had considered the report. The chair of each committee provided feedback of their discussion. Key points noted were:

·         investment into the road network was welcomed and should result in lower ongoing maintenance costs;

·         it was also important to invest in the smaller roads which were vital connections between villages;

·         investment into gypsy and travellers pitches was welcomed, both to improve the condition of existing pitches and to create new pitches;

·         investment in schools was welcomed;

·         the planned investment in Waverley House and Hillside were welcomed and it was hoped that having in house options would save money on places in independent care homes while providing a good standard of care.

Group leaders were invited to present the views of their group. The following concerns were expressed:

·         that the majority of companies that had moved into new or refurbished premises on the enterprise zone had already been based in Herefordshire, with only six moving in from outside the county, it was suggested that a wider spread of investment across the county market towns might allow businesses to grow in the locality they began in;

·         as to whether the proposed property acquisition in college ward was included in the capital programme;

·         that previous year’s accounts had not yet been signed off and reassurance was sought that this was not related to the way in which the council managed its capital projects;

·         that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.


Setting the 2019/20 budget and updating the medium term financial strategy and treasury management strategy pdf icon PDF 185 KB

To agree the draft 2019/20 budget and associated medium term financial strategy and treasury management strategy for recommendation to Council on 15 February.

Additional documents:


The chair of the meeting introduced the 2019/20 budget, medium term financial strategy and treasury management strategy. The council’s gross annual revenue expenditure of around £340m was funded by a combination of council tax, business rates, specific grants and other sources. Approximately £80m was ring-fenced to schools. There had been a reduction in central government Revenue Support Grant of 99% since 2011. An increase in council tax was proposed of 2.9% plus a further 2% ring fenced social care precept. The council was felt to be in an improved financial position.

In discussion of the proposed budget cabinet members noted the following key points:

·         the investment referenced in paragraph 17 of the report had since been returned to the council and was available to be reinvested;

·         the S151 officer reported that the pension scheme was currently fully funded and had insurance measures in place against a short or medium term drop in investment returns, the council was expecting a modest improvement in its position at the next tri-annual valuation;

·         the cost pressures arising from the restructure of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards were complex and covered a number of threads, the funding would allow the council to change how it dealt with individuals in these circumstances;

·         the significant reduction in the central grant had been met by savings, cuts in services and by generating more local income;

·         the additional sparsity funding was welcomed and it was important to give a clear narrative regarding why that money was needed and what was done with it, for example highlighting the higher than average number of c and u classified roads and additional costs of providing services such as domiciliary care and refuse collections in sparsely populated areas;

·         the council had seen an increase in demand for support for children with special educational needs but had a strong track record of working with schools through the schools forum to manage these pressures, the council was in a better position on this than many other councils;

·         the confirmed settlement from government included an unexpected EU exit preparation grant of £105k for both 2018/19 and 2019/20;

·         the council did provide some IT equipment for looked after children and care leavers, depending on what was most appropriate for their needs, and this could include consideration of reuse of council equipment when it was no longer needed.

Each of the three scrutiny committees had considered the draft budget. All of the recommendations made had been supported. The chairs of the committees highlighted the following points from their discussion:

·         the additional funding planned for the children and families directorate was welcomed and responded to the feedback from the public consultation in which 78% agreed that employing more social workers and providing more support for children and families at an early stage was a priority;

·         consideration should be given to putting a percentage of s106 funding towards providing housing for older people;

·         the council should lobby government to ensure that funding settlements were fair on rural authorities. 

Group leaders  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.