Agenda and minutes

The Economy, Housing and the Arts Policy and Accountability Committee - Tuesday, 17th January, 2017 7.00 pm

Venue: Courtyard Room - Hammersmith Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Ainsley Gilbert  Tel: 020 8753 2088 / Email  ainsley.gilbert@lbhf.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

33.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for Absence had been received from Councillor Ivimy.

34.

Declarations of Interest

* See note below.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

35.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 244 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 13 December 2016 were agreed to be accurate.

 

Referring to his request for a regular report to the PAC on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the Housing Department, Councillor Phibbs explained that he had been told that the council was considering publishing performance data on its website. He asked that officers let him know if this was happening, and asked that data about scaffolding use be included.

36.

2017 Medium Term Financial Strategy pdf icon PDF 253 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Hitesh Jolapara, Strategic Finance Director, gave a presentation on the Council’s budget. He explained that some forecasters had predicted that the economy would grow less strongly than previously expected. The outlook for public finances was also weaker, with borrowing already exceeding targets. Public sector spending had risen slightly, but funding for Local Government in London had fallen significantly.

 

Hammersmith and Fulham faced growth, including unfunded growth from government, of £2.9m and inflation of £5.6m, as well as reduced income, with government grant falling by 20%. These would be balanced by savings of £14.4m, and a balanced budget of £154.5m was proposed. Developer contributions of £2 million would again be used to fund services. A general reserve of £19m was expected to be retained whilst 20% of the £86m earmarked reserves would continue to be used to fund specific projects such as invest to save projects.

 

No increase in council tax was proposed, nor was the Social Care Precept to be applied. Fees and charges in Adult Social Care, Children’s Services, Adult Learning & Skills, Parking, Libraries and Housing would be frozen. An inflationary increase of 1.8% would be applied to some environmental services fees, whilst charges for commercial services would be reviewed on a case by case basis.

 

Hitesh Jolapara concluded his presentation by noting that if the council took no action it was predicted that the gap between resources and expenditure would grow significantly; pressure on budgets was expected for the foreseeable future.

 

Kath Corbett, Director for Finance and Resources – Housing, explained that the Housing department had a very relatively small general fund budget as most of its activities were funded through the Housing Revenue Account. Most income was from rent charged for temporary accommodation, and much of the expenditure was related to procuring this accommodation.

 

Savings were proposed in the Temporary Accommodation service with a full review to take place and a greater emphasis on both preventing homelessness and acquiring properties on longer term leases to minimize rent increases charged to the council. A small saving was also proposed in the Adult Learning and Skills Service, although much of the saving was expected to be funded through increased income. Growth of £0.23m was proposed to fund the H&F Link team which worked to assist residents and reduce the number of people being made homeless. It was estimated that the service would reduce demand by £0.662m in 2017/18 and so the growth was well justified. The Housing department faced a number of risks, which totalled £10m in 2017/18. Many of these related to welfare reform, as well as increased rent for temporary accommodation.

 

The Chair thanked officers for their presentations and invited questions.

 

Councillor Phibbs asked where funding for the Arts Officer had been found. Mark Jones explained that the half of the post was being funded by Hammersmith BID with the remaining half funded by S.106 money. The main purpose of the post was to deliver the council’s Arts Strategy.

 

Councillor Phibbs asked whether the council would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 36.

37.

Date of the Next Meeting and Work Programme pdf icon PDF 148 KB

The next meeting will be held on 7 March 2017 in the Courtyard Room at Hammersmith Town Hall. The meeting will start at 7:00pm.

Members and residents are invited to submit suggestions for the work programme, either at the meeting or by email to ainsley.gilbert@lbhf.gov.uk

Minutes:

Councillor Phibbs asked that an item be brought to the PAC regarding garages on HRA land as he was concerned that there were too many vacant garages. Councillor Homan said that a review of the issue was currently being undertaken and that a report could be brought to the PAC in due course. Kath Corbett noted that the 2017/18 budget included a significant increase in the income from garages as it was anticipated that more would soon be let.  

 

Councillor Phibbs asked that an item be brought on communal heating charges as the current charging system allowed residents to be wasteful. Kath Corbett said that new communal heating meter regulations were anticipated and that a report could be brought after they had been released by the government.