Agenda item

To receive the report of the Finance Manager and S.151 Officer


The purpose of the report was to update members on the financial position as at the end of June 2021.    Slide presentations were received from the Service Improvement Officer and the Finance Manager & 151 Officer.


The Service Improvement Officer introduced the QBR in its new format, highlighting the objectives of the Task and Finish Group, the key features of the new format and the next steps.   He presented the Performance Highlights, summarising the positives and negatives on each of the following four Themes:


·         Theme 1 – Local Economy

·         Theme 2 – Communities, Health & Housing

·         Theme 3 – Our Environment, Our Future

·         Theme 4 – Our Council


Councillor Hames raised concerns regarding the rise in house prices and the effect the reduction of universal credit would have on many families.    The Chief Executive responded as follows:


·         Member Housing Workshops have been held.


·         The housing market has changed – properties are being converted into holiday lets and being sold to cash buyers.


·         There has been a high uptake on Universal Credit, but also there is a high number of vacant jobs on the market - employers are struggling to recruit.


·         Discussions are being held with relevant Devon Groups, including Devon County Council, to determine what is happening in the different sectors and to establish what the links between them are. 


The Chief Executive confirmed the situation would be kept under review.


The Committee endorsed that the Public Health & Housing Manager be invited to the next meeting, 28 September 2021, to update the Committee on the current position and level of provision now and forward plans for Homelessness and Temporary Accommodation and to discuss options going forward.


Councillor Hodson referred to the work of the CAB in dealing with money and debt management and emphasised the need for this Council to actively market money and debt management advice.   Although in agreement with the proposal, the Committee said it is a matter for External Overview & Scrutiny Committee.


The Finance Manager & S151 Officer presented the financial elements of the QBR 1 – all income was essentially above budget with a forecast underspend of £685,000.


Councillor Laws referred to the £157,000 for Burrows Estuary work and asked what this was for.    The Finance Manager & S151 Officer to look at the capital PID and report back to the Committee.


It was proposed by Councillor Newton, seconded by Mr S Dengate and –




1.    That the QBR be noted.


2.    That a decision on the utilisation of the projected surplus is deferred until after the spending review be agreed.


(Vote:  For – Unanimous)



Questions regarding the QBR are asked for in writing prior to the meeting to allow Officers time to formulate a response.


The Chair presented the Q&A supplement during which the following additional comments/questions were raised:


Question – How many units are empty?


Mr Harper referred to bullet point ‘f’ and asked if the units are going to be left empty.   The Chief Executive said it is a project plan to look at using for potential development – this work had been identified.


There was confusion over the response to the questions re Theme 1 – Local Economy (page 3 of the supplement).  The Strategy, Performance and IT Manager explained that the Service Improvement Officer had gone back to the Head of Communities & Place and the Economic Development Officer to ascertain where the figure of 18 had come from.   This is being looked at in order to ascertain a more accurate figure.   Ongoing.


Page 3 of the supplement – Attracting Inward Investment –


Mr Harper referred to Sean Kearney’s comments and suggested looking at other inducements.  He suggested perhaps looking to do something with the Council’s empty offices.  It is a competitive market, attracting new businesses into the area and unless the jobs are out there people cannot afford rents etc. 


The Chief Executive stated that we are all acutely aware businesses are not developing because of the increased house prices, they cannot attract staff to resource additional growth.  This is a problem that needs to be resolved.  It is a matter being discussed across Devon in the Recovery Coordination Groups who are looking at options to see what can be done.  There is Government funding available, and the Head of Communities and Place and the Economic Development Officer are looking at projects that will encourage people into the area in the hope of attracting regular jobs. 

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