Agenda item

Report from Cabinet meeting held on 16 February 2021

To consider recommendations of the Cabinet in respect of:

 

a)    2020/21 Finance Report Quarter 3 – To provide information on the Quarter 3 (to 31 December 2020) financial position of the Council (Cabinet agenda item 8) (Cabinet minute 64);

 

b)    Welland Homes Business Plan Update – To present to the Council, as sole shareholder for Welland Homes Ltd, an updated Welland Homes Business Plan and a proposal from the Company to purchase four houses for the purposes of market rental investment (Cabinet agenda item 12 and exempt item 18) (Cabinet minutes 68 and 73, and exempt minute 73);

 

c)    Acquisition project to purchase S106 units – To set out the details of the potential for the authority to acquire seven s106 homes on a development site in the district (Cabinet agenda item 13 and exempt item 19) (Cabinet minute 69)

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of Cabinet which sought approval for the Cabinet’s recommendations:

 

a)    2020/21 Finance Report Quarter 3

 

The report was presented to the Council by the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Strategy and Partnerships. He advised that this item, and agenda item 11 were both linked, and that he intended to lay out the situation from March 2020 to 2022 and beyond, detailing budget highs and lows, and a roadmap for Covid-recovery.

 

·         The main factor affecting the Council’s finances had been the Covid-19  pandemic, resulting in increased costs for, and loss of income to the Council;

·         A General Fund overspend of £551,000 was forecast (an improvement on Quarter 2), mainly as a result of Government grants received, and an increase in Planning fees;

·         The HRA outturn was forecast to be in surplus of £2.996 million at 31 March 2021

·         The General Fund Reserves balance was forecast to be £7.285 million at 31 March 2021

·         The HRA Reserves balance was forecast at £25.436 million at 31 March 2021

·         The Capital Programme for 2021 was being reviewed and a number of schemes were being re-profiled as a result of Covid-19.  A recommendation to Council was that the Capital Programme be revised to reflect the forecast.

·         Over the past 12 months, the Council had operated remotely, and with limited staff.  It had performed well during the pandemic, and it was believed that this would result in a balanced end of year outturn.

 

DECISION:

 

1)    That the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account Capital programme be approved as set out in table 5 and 7 of Appendix A;

 

2)    The NNDR S31 grant for expanded retail relief and the nursery reliefs in 2020/21 be carried forward in reserves to cover the NNDR deficits recognised in 2021/22 (as detailed in section 5.3.1 of the report); and

 

3)    That the income received from NNDR and Council Tax income compensation scheme be carried forward in a reserve to cover the deficits recognised in future years (as detailed in section 5.3.2 of the report).

 

(Lord Porter left the meeting during discussion of the following two items).

 

b)    Welland Homes Business Plan Update

 

The report was presented to the Council by the Portfolio Holder for Assets and Planning.

 

The report set out a proposal for Welland Homes to deliver a new housing acquisition scheme.  This was the Company’s fifth housing scheme, and the first in Holbeach.  The report provided a business case proposing that the Company purchase four three-bedroom houses in an area where there was a demand.

 

The appendices, and exempt Cabinet minute 73, relating to this item were attached to the agenda as exempt items however, no discussion of the exempt information was required and the item was therefore considered in open session.

 

DECISION:

 

1)    That the updated Welland Homes Business Plan be approved and included as an amendment in the SHDC Quarterly report to members for quarter 1 2021/22; and

 

2)    That the delegated authority, granted by Council on 25 March 2015, to the Executive Director – Commercialisation (S151 Officer), to approve the final mix or use of reserves and borrowing in line with the business plan and Council Treasury Management Strategy, be reaffirmed.

 

c)    Acquisition project to purchase S106 units

 

The report was presented to the Council by the Portfolio Holder for Assets and Planning.

 

The report set out a proposal for the Council to acquire 7 additional affordable homes, funded from the HRA.  The business case had already been approved by the Cabinet, and the Council decision related to a necessary amendment to the Capital Programme. 

 

The appendix relating to this item was attached to the agenda as an exempt item however, no discussion was required on the exempt appendix and the item was therefore considered in open session.

 

Members wished to seek assurance that there was a need for the type of property in question, within the location stated. Officers confirmed that they were satisfied that there was a housing need for this type of property, and that this was borne out by the number of applicants on SHDC’s Housing Register requiring this property type within the Whaplode area.  It was also felt that there could be subsequent interest from members of the public for properties of this quality.

 

DECISION:

 

That the Capital Programme be amended, to identify this project as an approved scheme in the 2020/21 Budget.

 

(Lord Porter returned to the meeting following discussion of items (b) and (c) above).

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