Venue: The Auditorium - Harrow Council Hub, Kenmore Avenue, Harrow, HA3 8LU. View directions
Contact: Mwim Chellah, Senior Democratic & Electoral Services Officer Tel: 07761 405966 E-mail: email@example.com
Attendance by Reserve Members
To note the attendance at this meeting of any duly appointed Reserve Members.
RESOLVED: To note the attendance at this meeting of the following duly appointed Reserve Members:
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary or non pecuniary interests, arising from business to be transacted at this meeting, from all Members present.
RESOLVED: To note that the Leader of the Council, Councillor Paul Osborn, declared a non-pecuniary interest in that he was a Trustee of the Harrow Cycle Hub on behalf of the Council.
Question and Answer Session with the Leader of the Council and the Managing Director of the Council
The Chair welcomed the Leader of the Council, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Human Resources, as well as the Managing Director to the meeting. This would be a Question and Answer session in accordance with Committee Procedure Rules 43 and 44.
Questions on the Draft Revenue Budget 2024/25 and draft Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) to 2026/27 could be asked as well as on other issues.
The Leader explained that the draft revenue budget for 2024/25 and draft Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) to 2026/27 would be submitted to Cabinet again in February 2024 for final approval and recommendation to Council.
Members asked if the uncertainty of not having a multi-year financial funding commitment for adult social care from central Government made planning challenging, and whether longer term funding from Government had been requested.
The Committee were advised that it would be preferable to have a 3-4 year commitment for adult social care to be certain that it would continue to receive funding for that time-frame. Other Councils in London were equally concerned. Furthermore, there was a need to balance funding for inner-London and outer-London boroughs.
Members inquired about the funding formula, whether Harrow was getting an appropriate amount to match its needs and what discussions were being held with central Government on revising the funding formula.
The Committee were advised that there was need to revise the funding formula to consider actual needs in Harrow, as the current model was outdated and did not reflect the needs in the borough. Furthermore, as far back as 15 years ago, discussions had been held with central Government but nothing much had changed. Harrow remained one of the lowest funded Councils both within London and nationally. The Council did not benefit from large reserves compared with the rest of London and was in the lower end of the lower quartile for reserve balances held. The Leader and senior Council officers continued to hold discussions with ministers and civil servants on revising the funding formula.
Members wanted to know what the biggest risks were to the Draft Revenue Budget 2024/25 and draft Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) to 2026/27, and how any unexpected expenditure would affect the budget.
The Committee were advised that the three biggest risks were: adult social care; children’s care; and homelessness. All were demand-led and therefore it was difficult to predict what changes would occur in the future. Moreover, the borough was likely to have an Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) inspection during the year, which could have a further impact on the Council if there was an adverse change in the Council’s judgement. Furthermore, the Council did not receive specific funding to meet demographic growth and demand-led pressures. In addition, inflation had increased substantially and this created unfunded budget pressures.
Members wanted to know what discussions had been held with central Government to protect statutory services if there were more demands on finances and some services were to be cut.
The Committee ... view the full minutes text for item 69.