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Attendance by Reserve Members
To note the attendance at this meeting of any duly appointed Reserve Members.
Reserve Members may attend meetings:-
(i) to take the place of an ordinary Member for whom they are a reserve;
(ii) where the ordinary Member will be absent for the whole of the meeting; and
(iii) the meeting notes at the start of the meeting at the item ‘Reserves’ that the Reserve Member is or will be attending as a reserve;
(iv) if a Reserve Member whose intention to attend has been noted arrives after the commencement of the meeting, then that Reserve Member can only act as a Member from the start of the next item of business on the agenda after his/her arrival.
RESOLVED: To note the attendance at this meeting of the following duly appointed Reserve Member:
To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary or non pecuniary interests, arising from business to be transacted at this meeting, from:
(a) all Members of the Committee;
(b) all other Members present.
RESOLVED: To note the declarations, if any, as published on the Council’s website prior to the meeting and the following additional declaration made at the meeting:
Agenda Item 193 – Question and Answer Session with the Leader of the Council and Chief Executive
Councillor Butterworth declared a non-pecuniary interest in that she was a high school teacher in Harrow and Governor at Whitmore High School. She would remain in the room whilst the matter was considered.
Councillor Lammiman declared a non-pecuniary interest in that she was Chair of Governors at Shaftesbury High School. She would remain in the room whilst the matter was considered.
Councillor Greek declared a non-pecuniary interest in that he was a Governor at Weald Rise Primary School. He would remain in the room whilst the matter was considered.
Councillor Janet Mote declared a non-pecuniary interest in that she was a Governor at St John Fisher Catholic Primary School. She would remain in the room whilst the matter was considered.
The Chair opened the Question and Answer session. He outlined the order of the session, stating that that the Committee would first receive a presentation on the Council’s strategic overview from the Chief Executive. The Committee would then move on to a question and answer session, focusing on the following priority areas:
In his opening statement, the Chief Executive provided a brief update on the Council’s strategic overview, outlining a number of key points:
· The last 20 months had been dominated by the Covid-19 Pandemic, which had presented a substantial challenge for Harrow Council which had heavily impacted: Harrow Council’s budget; the capacity of Harrow Council and finally the Government’s spending review had been delayed and had not been released until October 2021.
· It was hoped that by May 2022 Harrow Council would be less dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic and due to the Government’s spending review release and a settlement prior to Christmas there would be a greater degree of financial certainty.
· Ongoing response to Covid-19 had remained a priority for Harrow Council and how core services would be delivered as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
· Key priorities would be continued to be worked on, these included the regeneration programme, the borough plan, modernisation plans and the medium-term financial strategy with planning for 2023/24.
· Medium term plans included: Covid-19 recovery plans, borough plan activities and for the regeneration plan to be delivered.
Members thanked the Chief for his statement. In the session which followed, questions centred around several key areas as set out below.
Q1. Since 2010 there had been a large cut to the money coming into the Council from the Government, what was the impact of these cuts?
The Chief Executive explained that Harrow Council’s core grant received from the Government in 2010 was circa £50m compared to today’s core grant of £1 to £2m and that there had been a long period of austerity in the amount of resources councils had received from the Government, which had led to decisions to be made by Harrow Council in order for the budgets to be balanced, but that council funding had been more stable compared to the previous ten years.
The Leader of the Council added that since 2015 the overall revenue support grant had dropped from £52m to £1m and that small percentage annual increases of circa £50,000 limited the council on what could be done for pressures in their millions to be mitigated. In addition, over the past few years only 1-year settlements were received which had made long term planning difficult. Secondly, though core government funding had increased so had the need for council tax to be raised. It was noted that 80% of Harrow’s expenditure is now funded by council tax compared to circa 50% in other London authorities. He concluded that cuts had impacted Harrow Council.
Q2. What were our guiding principles for formulating this budget?
The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Resources explained that Harrow Council had been a low funded ... view the full minutes text for item 193.