Executive Commitee Meeting 2 December 2016 


Society of District Council Treasurers

Society of District Council Treasurers
Minutes of the Executive Committee held on 21 October 2016
At the CIPFA Offices, 77 Mansell Street, London

In Attendance: Norma Atlay (President), Angela George (Secretary), Kevin Jaquest, Rob Bridge, Bob Palmer, Frank Wilson, Steve Richardson, Chris Brewer, Sal Khan.
Also in attendance: Nicola Morton (LGA), Aileen Murphie (NAO), Paul Dossett, Ibukun Olewasegun, Rebecca Lister (Grant Thornton), Lisa Quinn (Capita), Sally Marshall (DCEN).

1. Apologies:
Apologies were received from – Jill Penn, Helen Seechurn, Shirlene Adam, Jo Wagstaffe, Jason Vaughan, Peter Stuart, Alan Peach, William Jacobs, Simone Hines, Nick Eveleigh.
Also: David Aldous (NAO), Jon Hayes (PSAA).

2. Minutes of Previous Meeting and matters arising
The draft minutes of the previous meeting of 21 October 2016 were agreed and will be published on the website.
Actions have either been completed or picked up elsewhere on the agenda.

3. Autumn Statement and Settlement 2017
Nicola Morton updated the Executive on the Autumn Statement and the anticipated date of the settlement (which was still not confirmed). There was little information available and a risk of fragmentation of various announcements.
With respect to the Multi Year settlement and Efficiency Plans – most authorities had applied albeit for many it was not a ‘good deal’ and it was felt that this point should be drawn out in the Society’s response.

4. 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 email: businessrates@local.gov.uk)

4.1 Steering Group (Norma Atlay lead)
Norma updated the Executive from the Steering Group meeting held the previous day. There was little new information/ decisions, and this is causing significant concern over the ability to meet the tight timescale for implementation of the new system. There was also concern that the District voice was being ‘lost’./p>

It was noted that the NAO are undertaking a study on Planning for 100% Business Rate Retention and that a meeting with NAO officers would take place immediately following the SDCT meeting.

4.2 Systems Design (Rob Bridge lead)
4.3 Needs and Redistribution (Nick Eveleigh lead)
4.4 New Service Responsibilities (Steve Richardson lead)
4.5 Accounting and Accountability (Simone Hines lead)

There is nothing substantive to report at this stage – as previously stated, all papers are on the LGA website.

5. Grant Thornton Presentation – EU Referendum/Brexit
Paul Dossett gave a presentation on the issues and potential impact of the EU Referendum (slides on SDCT website). Following discussion it was agreed that in practice there was little of substance that could be done at this stage to start planning for the exit from the EU pending further information on the detail of the exit arrangements from the Government. However data gathering within individual authorities on potential impacts (eg EU Grants/skills audits etc) could usefully be started.

Aileen Murphy outlined some of the key concerns from the NAO perspective including:

  • Extrication process
  • EU Competencies
  • Fiscal Issues (replacing EU programmes)
  • Trade agreements

6. Audit Update
A Paper from Bob Palmer was considered (attached) with additional issues as follows:

6.1 National Audit Office
Aileen Murphie gave an update on some of the key NAO studies. As identified above a value for money study on the government’s plans to design and put in place 100% Business Rate Retention will be carried out. The study will not express views on the way in which the scheme should operate but rather on whether there are clear objectives and a good grasp of the challenges involved in delivering the project, whether it has learned lessons from similar work in the past and whether its approach, timetable and resourcing are realistic. Views on this will be sought from the SDCT immediately following this meeting.

Other reviews concern:

  • Devolution/LG Reorganisation
  • LA Capital Financing/Commercialisation of Sector

Aileen also reported that a LG Reference Panel that week had been successful and well attended.

6.2 PSAA Ltd
Jon issued a confidential update on the work of the PSAA and progress to date. (No audit firms were present at this update).

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

7. Advisor Reports

7.1 Fraud and Error Update (Jill Penn) – paper attached

7.2 DFG/BCF (Jill Penn)
Jill highlighted that the BCF policy framework and planning guidance is being revised to strengthen the wording regarding that in two tier areas the County’s should passport the DFG funding in full to the Districts. This should be issued shortly. There is also a report being drafted on the flow of funding of DFG’s in 2016/17 as the department are aware there have been issues.

8. Reports from External Bodies/Sponsors:

8.1 LGA
Nicola updated on some of the issues currently being dealt with by the LGA not covered on the agenda including:

  • NHS Trusts and claims for charitable relief. There is a conference call next week on the subject with current advice to LA’s not to settle claims.
  • NNDR1 – software suppliers are struggling to make the changes necessary to meet the deadline for submission of the NNDR1.
  • Municipal Bond Authority – it was anticipated that the first bond would be issued shortly.
  • MiFid – This is becoming an issue and the LGA response is due shortly. She advised individual authorities to also respond.

8.2 DCEN
Sally Marshall updated the Executive on current issues particularly on the issues surrounding the Housing and Growth Conference which was held last week. A White Paper was due shortly but there was some optimism that Ministers recognised the issues.

8.3 Capita
Lisa Quinn gave an update on key Capita initiatives:

  • MMF Changes – briefing paper shortly
  • MiFid
  • Issues around wholly owned companies (commercialisation and due diligence)
  • Internal Borrowing/Balance sheet reviews
  • Reserves strategy service (future financial strategy and use of)
  • Business Rates Appeal Service (flyer distributed)

9 Any Other Business: None

10 Date of Next Meeting – 6 Jan 2017 General Meeting – CIPFA Offices, Mansell St, London
– 3 March 2017 – CIPFA Offices, Mansell Street, London

11 Part B – Private Executive Business:

11.1 Treasurers report and 2017/18 subscription proposals (Frank Wilson)
The paper distributed was discussed and the proposals for the 2017/18 subscriptions to be frozen was agreed for formal approval at the AGM on 6th January 2017. The fees for 2017/18 would therefore be proposed as £200 for a single authority an £150 for an authority where the S151 is shared.

Action – Frank Wilson

11.2 DWP – Engagement with S151 Officers (Jill Penn)
Jill Penn circulated notes of a meeting she attended. A further meeting is planned and anyone who has issues arising from the paper should feed them back directly to Jill.

Action – Jill Penn

11.3 Agenda for General Meeting 6 January 2017 –
It was noted that the speakers are now all confirmed.

Action – Angela George

11.4 Executive Timetable 2017
Revisions to some of the dates were agreed and will be circulated.

Action – Angela George

11.5 Advisor Areas Update
Revised areas will be updated and circulated.

Action – Angela George

The SDCT meeting was immediately followed by a meeting with the NAO to discuss the Business Rates Study proposals details of which have previously been circulated.