Agenda and draft minutes

Combined Strategic Scrutiny and Customer Focus Scrutiny Committees - Tuesday 18th June 2024 5.30 pm

Venue: Rennes Room, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter. View directions

Contact: Pierre Doutreligne, Democratic Services Officer  Tel: 01392 265486 or email

No. Item


Appointment of Chair for the Meeting

The appointment for the meeting to be drawn from the Chair of the Strategic Scrutiny Committee or Customer Focus Scrutiny Committee.



Councillor Pole was appointed Chair of the meeting.




Minutes pdf icon PDF 182 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the Combined Strategic Scrutiny and Customer Focus Scrutiny Committee held on 7 February 2024.



The minutes of the meeting of the Combined Strategic Scrutiny and Customer Focus Scrutiny Committees held on 7 February 2024 were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chair as correct.



Declaration of Interests

Councillors are reminded of the need to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests that relate to business on the agenda and which have not already been included in the register of interests, before any discussion takes place on the item. Unless the interest is sensitive, you must also disclose the nature of the interest. In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, you must then leave the room and must not participate in any further discussion of the item. Councillors requiring clarification should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer prior to the day of the meeting.



No declarations of disclosable pecuniary interest were made.




The Medium Term Financial Plan: How It Works and Review of the Current Plan pdf icon PDF 450 KB

Presentation on the day by the Director Finance & s151 Officer.




The Director Finance & s151 Officer introduced the presentation, which included:-

·         Nature of the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP);

·         Starting Point;

·         Funding;

§  Grants, Business Rates and New Homes Bonus

§  Council Tax Calculation

·         Expenditure;

§  Spending Pressures, Assumptions and Proposed Reductions;

§  Inflation and Net Interest Position;

·         Budget Gap;

·         Risks;

·         High Level Timetable;

·         Role of Scrutiny.


 During the presentation, he explained that:-

·         the MTFP covered a period of four years;

·         LG Futures provided data which helped predict future business rates;

·         inflation for Leisure services and car parks was not included previously;

·         Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funded Liveable Exeter;

·         District Councils had the option of charging 2.99% or an additional £5 in Council tax;

·         There had been a Collection Fund surplus for a number of years;

·         the pension deficit had dropped from £90m to £16m;

·         debt repayment information was not provided in the presentation as it covered a period of 60 years,

·         a total of £3.5m was required to balance budget next February; and

·         in total, £5.4m worth of reductions was required across the MTFP.


Further reference was made to:-

·         the gap between funding and resources;

·         the Science Park and CoLab loans;

·         the Public Works Loans Board; and

·         the Leisure Complex loans;

·         the New Burdens Funding.


The Director Finance answered questions from Members as follows:-

·         the bus station lease did not cover the loan,

·         surplus from the Guildhall could not be used in the General Fund (due to timing);

·         loans were not a service cost in line with accounting standards  (CIPFA code);

·         public consultation was intended for this year;

·         one-off scrutiny may not be right;

·         LG Futures only provided updates when a major fiscal event occurred;

·         capital expenditure increases were built into the programme;

·         fleet lease projections were for the entire fleet and not individual vehicles;

·         no details had been given yet about an all-electric fleet;

·         apprenticeships should be encouraged;

·         delivery on the Capital Programme would be reviewed;

·         Microsoft 365 costs were built in for this year;

·         people of working age were by far the largest cohort among housing benefit recipients;

·         resources were expected to flatline for the next couple of years;

·         the rise in debt was due to a mixture of new debt on an annuity basis;

·         debt repayment would increase but interest would drop; and

·         Council had resolved to pay real living wage.


The Director Finance reminded Members that he was always happy to answer questions or give further detail, whether in person or via email.


A discussion on the next steps ensued, during which Members:-

·         felt that they should be given the opportunity to look at the process after options had been considered;

·         voiced concerns that there would not be sufficient time to carry out a line by line analysis of the proposed budget;

·         expressed various preferences (e.g. smaller groups, spotlight reviews) about the best way to conduct budget scrutiny.


The Interim Monitoring Officer advised that the Combined Strategic Scrutiny and Customer Focus Scrutiny Committee was not a constituted meeting and, therefore, had no decision making powers.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.