Executive Commitee Meeting 21 October 2016
Society of District Council Treasurers
Minutes of the Executive Committee held on 21st October 2016
At the CIPFA Offices, 77 Mansell Street, London
In Attendance: Norma Atlay (President), Angela George (Secretary), Kevin Jaquest, Jill Penn, Bob Palmer, Jason Vaughan, Alan Peach, Steve Richardson, Chris Brewer, William Jacob, Simone Hines, Nick Eveleigh.
Also in attendance: Aiva Statkevieius (LGA), David Aldous (NAO), Paul Dossett and Philip Monaghan (Grant Thornton for item 5), Lisa Quinn (Capita).
1. Apologies / Goodbyes:
Apologies were received from – Rob Bridge, Helen Seechurn, Shirlene Adam, Jo Wagstaffe, Frank Wilson, Peter Stuart, Sal Khan.
Also: Aileen Murphy (NAO), Jon Hayes (PSAA), Sally Marshall (DCEN)
The Executive were informed that Sandra Cowley had reluctantly decided to resign from the Executive due to continuing ill health. Members and supporting organisations wished to express their grateful thanks to Sandra for the considerable contribution she has made to the work of the SDCT over a period of 7 years; a number of which she had occupied as vice or second vice president. The Executive proposed that in recognition of this contribution, an honorary president’s badge be awarded to Sandra.
Action – Norma / Angela to arrange.
2. Minutes of Previous Meeting and matters arising
The draft minutes of the previous meeting of 9th September 2016 were agreed with minor amendments and will be published on the website.
With regards to the SDCT response to the Business Rates consultation, Norma reported that a journalist from the publication Room151 had misinterpreted one of the responses. It was agreed that the Society should send a letter of clarification to DCLG and also to the LGA and CIPFA to make it clear that we advocate continuation of the requirement to set an annual balanced budget in all but an extremely limited number of cases where very special circumstances exist as we believe that the balanced budget requirement is the foundation of sound financial governance. The letter would also be published on the SDCT website.
Action – Norma Atlay
Other actions have either been completed or picked up elsewhere on the agenda.
3. Settlement 2017
Jill Penn had drafted a response to the Technical Consultation that was due to be submitted by the end of the month. Various questions were commented on by the Executive. With respect to the Multi Year settlement and Efficiency Plans – anecdotal evidence suggests 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 response together with what other grants could be rolled up into the deal.
Action – Jill to finalise and submit the response on behalf of the SDCT.
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 (www.local.gov.uk/business-rates ; e- mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
4.1 Steering Group (Norma Atlay lead)
Jill Penn had attended the last meeting on behalf of Norma. There had been over 400 responses to the BR Consultation and over 200 to the Fair Funding review and these were currently being worked through by DCLG. The rest of the meeting had been feedback from the other BR groups.
4.2 Systems Design (Rob Bridge lead)
A paper had been circulated by Rob. In terms of the Tier splits a joint meeting would be held between SDCT and SCT on 11th November. It was agreed that it would prove difficult to agree tier splits until the tier responsibilities were known. It was also considered that Districts would have different views on this depending on their relative financial positions.
4.3 Needs and Redistribution (Nick Eveleigh lead)
A note from Nick had been circulated. Cost drivers were to be identified and Karen Sussex from DCLG would be doing some modelling. A further consultation was expected to be issued later in the year.
4.4 New Service Responsibilities (Steve Richardson lead)
Steve reported that the consultation responses were being analysed and a high level Bill was anticipated in January.
4.5 Accounting and Accountability (Simone Hines lead)
There is nothing substantive to report at this stage. The minutes of the last meeting would be posted on the LGA website.
Information on the revaluation programme had now been received and implications for each authority were being considered.
5. Grant Thornton Presentation – Income Generation opportunities
Paul Dossett and Philip Monaghan from GT gave a presentation on income generation opportunities (slide attached). Following a number of questions it was considered that a further presentation focused on property and housing companies might be useful for the January General Meeting supported by District case studies.
6. Audit Update
A Paper from Bob Palmer was considered (attached) with additional issues as follows:
6.1 National Audit Office
David Aldous gave an update on some of the key NAO studies.
6.2 PSAA Ltd
Bob requested a volunteer to attend the Panel meeting on 23rd November as he was not able to attend.
Action – Bob Palmer to continue to update on audit issues.
7. Advisor Reports
7.1 DWP / HBOP (Simone Hines)
The current plan for HB debt under UC is that it will stay with LA’s but the DWP will collect it on our behalf, although it is currently around 18th on the list for recovery from ongoing UC.
The LGA have been pushing for the DWP to actually take on the debt itself, but the DWP are arguing that as we receive an extra payment for overpayments (i.e. the 40% subsidy as well as the overpayment if we manage to collect it) the LA’s would be worse off. However - we need to balance this against the certainty we would get if we did transfer the debt.
7.2 MiFid II (Kevin Jaquest)
MiFid II categorises local authorities as retail clients by default with the ability to opt up to professional client status. Retail status will affect LA ability to access the services of certain investment services. A confidential note was circulated on the proposals from Capita who are preparing a response on the implications on Local Authorities. LGA are also doing a response. Anticipated implementation is April 2018.
8. Reports from External Bodies / Sponsors:
Aiva updated on some of the issues currently being dealt with by the LGA not covered on the agenda including:
• The LGA Autumn Statement submission.
• Off Payroll Working (IR35) consultation.
• CLIP-F Group – The LGA are looking to get a representative to support the CLIP-F (Central and Local Information Partnership – Finance) Group. This is a consultative group coordinated by DCLG, which considers the collection, presentation and analysis of data on local government finance. The wider membership would be consulted to locate a representative.
• The LGA are temporarily moving offices for the next 9 months.
Sally Marshall had circulated a note of key DCEN work, including the CN Autumn Statement submission and a draft statement regarding Internal Drainage Board and Special Levies.
Lisa Quinn gave an update on key Capita initiatives:
• Business Rates Modelling Service
• Business Rates ‘Lite’ work for Districts (Flyer to be distributed when finalised)
• CIPFA Code of Practice – Invitation to comment
• MRP / Balance Sheet Reviews
• Microsoft Contracts (flyer distributed)
9 Agenda for General Meeting 6th January 2017
Suggestions for the agenda were discussed.
Action - Angela to finalise and distribute
10 Any Other Business:
Pensions – Nick reminded members to apply for protection on the Lifetime Allowance if affected.
Exit Cap – It was reported that there may be a legal challenge to this from SOLACE
Waste Meeting – Chris Brewer had attended for the SDCT and would keep a watching brief at the quarterly meetings. The rising cost of recycling was a concern
11 Date of Next Meeting – 2nd December 2016 – CIPFA Offices, Mansell Street, London
12 Part B – Private Executive Business:
12.1 IFS Research Levy
Norma’s proposed response to CIPFA was approved. It was agreed that there would be no direct contribution from SDCT funds and it would be the decision of individual authorities whether they contributed to the project.
Action – Norma to feed back to CIPFA
12.2 SDCT Vice President / Second Vice President elections
Following Sandra’s resignation an election had been undertaken and the results were:
- Rob Bridge would become Vice President
- Jill Penn would be the Second Vice President
The Executive congratulated both Rob and Jill.
12.3 Advisor Area updates
The advisor areas would be updated following the changes in 12.2 and would be circulated to the next meeting.
Action – Angela
12.4 Executive Vacancies
There are currently 7 vacancies
12.5 SDCT Lunch 2017
It was agreed that the 2017 Lunch would be at the Goring Hotel and we would revert back to a May date.
Action - Angela
Mailchimp would be investigated as a potentially better method of communicating with the wider membership.
Action - Angela