Executive Commitee Meeting 9 September 2016 

 

Society of District Council Treasurers
 

Society of District Council Treasurers
Minutes of the Executive Committee held on 9th September 2016
At The Goring Hotel, Beeston Place, London

In Attendance: Norma Atlay (President), Rob Bridge, Angela George (Secretary), Kevin Jaquest, Jill Penn, Frank Wilson, Bob Palmer, Peter Stuart, Jason Vaughan, Alan Peach, Steve Richardson, Chris Brewer, Sal Khan, William Jacob, Simone Hines.

Also in attendance: Nicola Morton (LGA), Joanne Pitt and Neil Vincent (CIPFA), Aileen Murphy (NAO), Sally Marshall (DCEN), Guy Clifton (Grant Thornton).

1. Apologies/ Welcome:
Apologies were received from – Sandra Cowley, Helen Seechurn, Shirlene Adam, Jo Wagstaffe, Nick Eveleigh.
Also: Lisa Quinn (Capita), David Aldous (NAO), Jon Hayes (PSAA)

The Executive extended their very best wishes to Sandra Cowley who is absent due to illness.

2. Minutes of Previous Meeting and actions arising
The draft minutes of the previous meeting of 20th May 2016 were agreed with minor amendment under the NAO item (5.1) and will now be published.
Actions have either been completed or picked up elsewhere on the agenda.

3. Business Rate Retention:
NB: All papers from the various working groups have previously been circulated to SDCT members and all papers are available on the LGA website (www.local.gov.uk/business-rates ; e- mail: businessrates@local.gov.uk)

3.1 Steering Group (Norma Atlay lead)
Norma Atlay advised that the joint letter from SDCT / SCT had been sent to DCLG setting out the case for the ‘shire’ areas. It has been widely published and is on the SDCT Website.

As agreed by the Executive, LG Futures had been commissioned to provide a draft response to both the Business Rates and Fair Funding consultation documents. This would aid individual authorities in responding to the consultation and would also provide the basis of the SDCT response. Both papers were considered and agreed and would be immediately circulated to the membership and form the basis for the SDCT response to the consultation

The LGA and DCN are also working to finalise their responses.

Action – Norma to provide the SDCT response by the consultation deadline of 26th September. Angela to arrange notification of the responses to the wider SDCT Membership which would be available on the website.

3.2 Systems Design (Rob Bridge lead)
Rob advised that there was a need for further number crunching on potential winners and losers from the new system and what the implications might be. Alan Peach reported on a meeting he had attended, hosted by Westminster Council. In general terms it appeared the various tiers were in general agreement on the principles of the scheme (albeit the devil is always in the detail).

3.3 Needs and Redistribution (Nick Eveleigh lead)
A note from Nick had been circulated. The conclusion was that this element of the work would be ‘challenging’ to get agreement on.

3.4 New Service Responsibilities (Steve Richardson lead)
Steve reported that there was a difference of opinion forming on the new service responsibilities allocation.

3.5 Accounting and Accountability (Simone Hines lead)
There is nothing substantive to report at this stage. Meetings will continue to be held and Simone will be the SDCT representative for future.

There was a wide ranging discussion on the various strands of BR work programmes and it was generally agreed that the workload was such that it was difficult to keep abreast of the various meetings and different views being expressed. It was stressed that it was important to continue to support the work streams and to ensure the different tiers continue to work together to get the best deal overall for Local Government, whilst ensuring the District voice was heard.

It was noted that information on the forthcoming Business Rates revaluation was due later this month.

4. CIPFA Presentation – New Financial Management Model V4
Neil Vincent from CIPFA attended for this item and gave a presentation (attached) to update the Executive on the new version of the CIPFA FM Model V4.
There were a number of questions from the Executive particularly around the resources required to implement the model as this had been an issue for District Councils in the past. Neil advised that the latest version was designed as a self-diagnosis tool and that it was less resource intensive than previous versions. Further information can be found at the website at: http://www.cipfa.org/services/advisory-and-consultancy/financial-management-model
Neil also advised that he would be more than happy to meet with anyone who would be interested in seeing the tool in more detail and receiving a demo to understand the developments in more detail and the potential application.

5. Audit Update
A Paper from Bob Palmer was considered (attached) with the key issues as follows:

5.1 National Audit Office
A note of the work of the NAO was given in Bob’s note.
Bob reminded the Executive that responses to Public Audit Forums consultation on revisions to PN10 would be required by 23rd September and he undertook to feed any comments back to David Aldous.
Aileen Murphy advised that the reports on Business Rates retention and Transition grant were underway.

5.2 PSAA Ltd
A note of the work of the PSAA was given in Bob’s note.
PSAA has recently been specified by the Secretary of State to take on the role of appointing person under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014. An advisory panel has been formed comprising representative s of stakeholders and Bob Palmer will be the SDCT representative.
It was further noted that a separate procurement of audit services will need to take place for the certification of the HB subsidy claims. This can be the same auditor appointed for the opinion work or another auditor. There is nothing in the LAAA 2014 that allows anyone to make certification arrangement s on behalf of the DWP and DWP will need to design its own scheme for certification. PSAA and DWP are working together to progress this.
Bob further advised that at the recent PSAA Advisory Board the need for authorities to get a Full Council decision scheduled in to their democratic processes was stressed and he urged members to check their democratic timetables. Bob offered to share his draft report and background papers with the wider membership and these will be uploaded onto the website and circulated to the membership.

There did not appear to be any specific issues arising from members present on the completion of the audit of the 2015/16 Statement of Accounts.

Action – Bob Palmer to continue to update on audit issues.

6. Advisor Reports
6.1 None

7. Reports from External Bodies / Sponsors:
7.1 LGA
Nicola updated on some of the issues currently being dealt with by the LGA not covered on the agenda including:
• The Autumn statement would be on 23rd November and submissions were required by 7th October.
• Off Payroll Working (IR35) consultation – the LGA have submitted a response against the proposals.
• Credit Card Charges – an e mail has been sent to all LA’s
• There was no further news on New Homes Bonus
• Salary Sacrifice Schemes – changes mean that from April 2017 the tax situation will change.
• Multi Year Settlement – A wide ranging discussion took place on the benefits or otherwise of signing up to the deal. The deadline was 14th October.

7.2 DCEN
Sally Marshall gave updates in particular on the New Housing Bill and would circulate a note of the key issues from the DCEN Housing Task and Finish Group.

7.3 Capita
Lisa Quinn had sent apologies but had sent updates on a new Business Rates service which Capita and Pixel, are looking to make available from October. It spins off from the main Business Rates Modelling Service.

7.4 Grant Thornton
Guy Clifton updated members on the suggested work programme for the rest of the year. It was suggested (and agreed) that Income Generation would be the subject for the next meeting of the Executive.
8 Any Other Business: None
9 Date of Next Meeting – 21st October – CIPFA Offices, Mansell Street, London
10 Part B – Private Executive Business: None