Hounslow Council


Agenda item

Budget Saving Proposals 2017/19

The attached report is a late item.

Minutes:

The Committee consider the report and its appendices section by section, with the key points as follows:

 

2. Scale of the savings we have made to date and new proposals

 

The Committee noted the scale of savings at very nearly £140m in total by 2018/9, including a reduction in the Revenue Support Grant from Government from £90m to £14m.

 

In developing the savings for the 2017-9 period, each division had been asked to develop proposals for savings of 3% and 12% in the first instance. A corporate view was then taken, taking into account that achieving this level of savings was more challenging in certain areas.

 

Proposals set out earlier in the process could be made available to the Committee.

 

3. Social Care Precept and other corporate adjustments

 

Clarification was provided that within an earlier paper to Cabinet, the increase in Council Tax was set out as 2%. This was a rounding up of the 1.99% presented in this paper which would be carried forward through the budget.

 

Within the 3.3 Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) the £135k per year covers the costs of administrating the fund, which by legislation can be up to 5% of the total raised.

 

The rise in the Social Care Precept sought to both meet the costs of increasing demand and to improve the way in which services are provided. Adult Social Care and Children’s Services had taken on significant cuts in previous rounds of savings and were now at the point where further reductions will impact on front line services. Hounslow spend on Adult Social Care, at 28%, is the lowest in London and it is a similar position with Children’s Services.

 

4. Increased fees and charges

 

The Fees & Charges appendix was still being finalised. For instance there was reference to two different reviews in relation to parking, which will need to be brought together. The document will be shared with all councillors in the coming weeks and comments were very much welcomed prior to finalisation.

 

The intention of fees and charges is not simply about raising funds. In some cases it was around levels of subsidy and in others about encouraging people to do the right things.

 

The Committee raised a concern about the level of charges for preventative services (for example Telecare) that might act as a disincentive to behaviours that we would want to promote. Another concern raised was in relation to CPZ charges, given that there was an 18% increase last year.

 

A final point raised that the unit involved for each line of the Fees & Charges document needed to be clearer in the final version.

 

Resolved: The Fees & Charges paper will come back to the Committee for its meeting on 2 February 2017 prior to its finalisation. The Committee was asked to send any questions through in advance.

 

5. Savings arising from cuts to services

 

The Committee questioned why Enforcement was experiencing a further round of cuts, and whether this would be affect ability to maintained required enforcement activity. It heard that this was a continuation of work to create a single enforcement team, and improve efficiency by removing duplicate functions, whilst maintaining the service.

 

Action: Detail to be provided about the structure of the Enforcement Team post cuts.

 

Within reference to paragraph 5.1.3 the Committee raised its concern about the removal of the Out of Hours Noise service at weekends, when figures show this is when noise issues were at their greatest. Cllr Dennison agreed with this concern. The issue had been raised previously and the paper did not show the latest position. A re-rostering will take place to ensure coverage on evenings and weekends.

 

Action: Confirmation of final arrangements with regards to the Out of Hours Noise Service to be provided to the Committee.

 

In relation to the deletion of the remainder of the Pest Control Team, the Committee asked how the Council would meet its statutory obligations in this area. Cllr Dennison undertook to respond to this.

 

Action: Details to be provided on statutory obligations and how these will be met in future.

 

The Committee raised a number of points with regard to the cut to spending on Hounslow Highways. It heard:

 

  • That the reduction of spend on surveys and monitoring was preferred to cutting street-cleaning activity. It was felt that residents would directly report drops in cleanliness and there was a commitment to retaining the responsive service.
  • The removal of £650,000 (in 2018/9) through negotiation will not lead to a position whereby the PFI is not fully funded. The belief is that within the existing contract there are savings to be found and further detail will be provided in due course.
  • There was some regret about cancelling the ‘Whole Street Environment’ scheme, but there remained the hope that where a need arises in the future, there may be the opportunity to draw down monies from contingency funds.

 

Cllrs Ellar, Chaudhary and Green left the meeting at 8.14.

 

A general comment was made about references to Member Working Groups. There were many such groups, in different forms, but there needs to be clarity about which form was being referenced in the document.

 

The Committee asked about the review of the Regeneration, Economic Development & Environment Directorate. It was confirmed that this would be a structural review with the aim of making the directorate more agile.

 

The Council was currently looking at the Carillion Parks contract with a view to saving £0.8m. This savings is based upon the difference with similar contracts elsewhere. There would be more to come on this in coming months but it was not possible to share plans at this stage.

 

Supporting documents: