Agenda and minutes

Budget Council, Council - Wednesday, 10th February, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Millmead House, Millmead, Guildford, Surrey GU2 4BB. View directions

Contact: John Armstrong, Democratic Services Manager 


No. Item


Apologies for absence

Additional documents:


Apologies for absence were received on behalf of the Mayor, Councillor Richard Billington, and from Councillors Ruth Brothwell, and Deborah Seabrook.




Disclosures of interest

To receive and note any disclosable pecuniary interests from councillors. In accordance with the local Code of Conduct, a councillor is required to disclose at the meeting any disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) that they may have in respect of any matter for consideration on this agenda.  Any councillor with a DPI must not participate in any discussion or vote regarding that matter and they must also withdraw from the meeting immediately before consideration of the matter.


If that DPI has not been registered, the councillor must notify the Monitoring Officer of the details of the DPI within 28 days of the date of the meeting.


Councillors are further invited to disclose any non-pecuniary interest which may be relevant to any matter on this agenda, in the interests of transparency, and to confirm that it will not affect their objectivity in relation to that matter.


Additional documents:


There were no disclosures of interest.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 680 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 8 December 2020 and the extraordinary meeting held on 17 December 2020.

Additional documents:


The Council confirmed, as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting held on 8 December and the extraordinary meeting held on 17 December 2020. The Deputy Mayor signed the minutes.



Mayor's Communications

To receive any communications or announcements from the Mayor.

Additional documents:


The Deputy Mayor read out a message from the Mayor thanking her for deputising for him at this meeting.  The Mayor was still shielding and continuing his recovery from surgery but was hopeful that he would be able to chair the next Council meeting having recently received his initial Covid vaccination.  The Mayor asked councillors to encourage all residents to take up the vaccine when they are offered it.


Nominations had now closed for the Mayor’s Award for Service to the Community and the new Community Heroes Award 2021, with over 60 nominations received from across the borough.  Award recipients would be announced during an online public event, to be held in April. 



Leader's Communications

To receive any communications or announcements from the Leader of the Council.

Additional documents:


The Leader commented on the response to the Covid emergency, with encouraging figures showing a significant reduction in infections, hospital admissions, and deaths across the country.  However, he noted that, even though hospitals admissions were falling they were still 50% above where they were at the peak of the first wave.


The Leader noted that the elections scheduled for 6 May 2021 would take place and polling stations would be safe places to vote, with appropriate measures to be put in place.  There was still plenty of time for voters to apply for a postal vote if they did not wish to visit a polling station in person, with full details of how to register to vote and apply for a postal or proxy vote on the Council’s website.  Written communication will be sent to all residents as part of their council tax renewal statement confirming the measures that would be in place at polling stations and the process to apply for postal or proxy voting.


The Leader informed the Council that 10 February was Safer Internet Day, and although there was a significant focus on keeping children safe in the online environment, this year there had been a large increase in the volume of scammers trying to take advantage of the most vulnerable during the pandemic response. 


The Council had launched a new COVID hardship discretionary fund earlier in the week, details of which were on the Council’s website.  The Leader encouraged all businesses to regularly check the grants page of the website as these schemes were constantly updated.


The Leader informed councillors that the Guildford in Bloom competition for Guildford’s Schools had been launched this week.




Public participation

To receive questions or statements from the public.

Additional documents:


There were no questions or statements from the public.



Questions from Councillors

To hear questions (if any) from councillors of which due notice has been given.

Additional documents:


There were no questions from councillors.



Council Motion on Climate Change: Progress Report pdf icon PDF 379 KB

Additional documents:


The Council considered a progress report on various matters associated with the Council’s response to the petition calling for a citizens’ assembly to tackle the climate emergency considered at its meeting on 6 October 2020.


At that meeting, the Council had adopted a motion in response which declared that, given the scope and scale of the challenges the Council faced to meet its earlier climate emergency declaration in July 2019, it should explore relevant collaborative opportunities with other councils.  It also redoubled its commitment to taking urgent action to decarbonise its assets and operations.


The Council recognised that uncertainty over the borough’s recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and discussions on possible unitary local government structures in Surrey arising from the Government’s Devolution White Paper could bring about significant change to roles and responsibilities for areas and services contributing to carbon emissions. 


Consequently, the Council considered that holding a citizens' assembly to formulate a plan to tackle the climate emergency alone was not appropriate or practicable at this time.  Instead, the Council recommended that the Climate Change Board should focus on work already underway to explore possible joint working arrangements to address the climate emergency, with this Council being strongly placed to lead action on climate change locally and contribute meaningfully across the county.


The Climate Change Board had been asked to report on possible formal joint working arrangements on climate change, seeking formal agreement that climate change policies be the leading priority for any new unitary council(s) in Surrey and further consideration of using a citizens’ assembly as a means of engaging with the community and harnessing the power of local interest in the formulation of such policies.


The motion had also required the Council to commit to taking urgent action in the short term to minimise climate change and for the Climate Change Board to report to full Council within three months on actions taken including progress on the development of policies.


Upon the motion of the Lead Councillor for Climate Change, Councillor Jan Harwood, seconded by the Leader of the Council, Councillor Joss Bigmore, the Council:


RESOLVED: That the Council endorses the measures taken in response to the motion adopted by the Council on 6 October 2020 outlined in the progress report submitted to the Council.





Pay Policy Statement 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 224 KB

Additional documents:


Under Section 39 of the Localism Act 2011, the Council was required to consider and approve a pay policy statement for the financial year ahead and publish it on its website.  The Council therefore considered the Pay Policy Statement covering 2021-22, which had set out the elements of pay and other benefits paid to staff and in particular the most senior employees. 


The Pay Policy Statement reflected the current Senior Management structure during the Future Guildford transformation programme, which comprised three Directors reporting to the Managing Director and Service Leaders reporting to either the Managing Director, Directors or Heads of Service.  Councillors noted that the Council would continue to pay at the Real Living Wage for outside London, which was currently £9.50 per hour, at the bottom of the pay scale. This would aid recruitment difficulties in attracting and retaining key staff. 


The Council also noted that, under section 11 of the Statement - Remuneration policies common to all employees, the provision of a subsidised catering facility had been removed.  This facility was no longer offered as remote staff working arrangements had reduced the need for the facility and vending machine options would replace this.


Upon the motion of the Leader of the Council, Councillor Joss Bigmore, seconded by the Lead Councillor for Resources, Councillor Tim Anderson, the Council


RESOLVED: That the Pay Policy Statement for the 2021-22 financial year, attached at Appendix 1 to the report submitted to the Council, be approved.



To comply with the requirements of the Localism Act 2011 (Section 39) and associated guidance.





Capital and Investment Strategy 2021-22 to 2025-26 pdf icon PDF 548 KB

Additional documents:


The Council considered a report on the Capital and Investment strategy, which gave a high-level overview of how capital expenditure, capital financing and treasury management activity contributed to the provision of local public services along with an overview of how associated risk was managed and the implications for future sustainability.


Decisions made now, and during the period of the strategy on capital and treasury management would have financial consequences for the Council for many years into the future. This report therefore included details of the capital programme, including one new bid (Guildford Economic Regeneration Programme), plus the requirements of the Prudential Code and the investment strategy covering treasury management investments, commercial investments including the requirements of the Treasury Management Code and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) Statutory Guidance.


The Council had an ambitious Corporate Plan and in order to achieve the targets within that, investment in assets was required, via capital expenditure. The Council had a current underlying need to borrow for the general fund capital programme of £400 million.   Some capital receipts or revenue streams may arise as a result of investment schemes but in most cases, these were currently uncertain, and it was too early to make assumptions.  Some information had been included in the capital vision highlighting the potential income.  It was likely that there would be cash-flow implications of the development schemes, where income would come in after the five-year time horizon and the expenditure incurred earlier in the programme.


All projects would be funded by general fund capital receipts, grants and contributions, reserves and finally borrowing.  It was not currently known how each scheme would be funded and, in the case of development projects, what the delivery model would be.  To ensure the Council demonstrated that its capital expenditure plans were affordable, sustainable, and prudent, Prudential Indicators had been set and monitored each year, details of which were shown in Appendix 1 to the report.


The capital programme included several significant regeneration schemes, it was assumed would be financed from General Fund resources.  However, subject to detailed design of the schemes, there might be scope to fund them from HRA resources rather than General Fund resources in due course.  Detailed funding proposals for each scheme would be considered when the Outline Business Case for each scheme was presented to the Executive for approval.


Details of the main areas of expenditure in the capital programme were set out in the report. The report included a summary of the new bid submitted, the position and profiling of the current capital programme (2020-21 to 2024-25) and the capital vision schemes.


The report had also included the Council’s Minimum Revenue Provision policy and the Prudential Indicators. 


In relation to treasury management, the Council noted that officers carried out the treasury management function within the parameters set by the Council each year and in accordance with the approved treasury management practices. The Council noted that the budget for investment income in 2021-22 was £1.278 million,  ...  view the full minutes text for item CO74


Housing Revenue Account Budget 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 478 KB

Additional documents:


The Council considered a detailed report on the proposed Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget for 2021-22, which had been built on the estimates and assumptions in the 2019-2049 HRA business plan approved by the Council in February 2019, which would be reviewed in the light of the current pandemic and Brexit as it affected the Council’s operating environment.


The Council noted the update information and corrections to the report which were set out in the Order Paper.  Councillors noted an error in the report on the calculation of HRA rents. The measure of CPI used in the calculation should be 0.5% (not 0.8%) representing the September CPI published by the Office for National Statistics, as set out in the April 2020 Rent Standard issued by the Regulator of Social housing.  This had resulted in a reduction in planned surplus on revenue by £91,480.  It was therefore proposed that the rents for 2021-22 should increase by 1.5% being the annual (0.5%) September 2019 to September 2020 Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 1% prescription.


A 3.4% increase in garage rents was proposed from April 2021.


The HRA estimates had been drafted on the premise of a lower priority to the repayment of debt principal inherited as part of the self-financing HRA settlement as proposed in the business plan. 


The report, which included details of progress with the new build programme, together with the proposed investment programme in tenants’ homes, had also been considered by the Joint Executive Advisory Board at its meeting on 7 January 2021, whose comments were included therein. 


At its meeting held on 26 January 2021, the Executive had, subject to Council approving the budget at this meeting, approved the projects forming the HRA major repairs and improvement programme, as set out in Appendix 3 to the report and had authorised the Director of Service Delivery to reallocate funding between approved schemes to make best use of the available resources, and to set rents for new developments.


Upon the motion of the Lead Councillor for Housing and Development Control, Councillor Caroline Reeves, seconded by the Lead Councillor for Resources, Councillor Tim Anderson, the Council




(1)   That the revised HRA revenue budget for 2021-22, as set out in Appendix 1 to the Order Paper, be approved.


(2)   That a rent increase of 1.5%, comprising the September 2020 CPI (0.5%) plus 1%, as required by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, be implemented.


(3)   That the fees and charges for HRA services for 2021-22, as set out in Appendix 2 to the report, be approved.


(4)   That a 3.4% increase in garage rents be approved for 2021-22.


(5)   That the Housing Investment Programme as shown in Appendix 4 to the report (current approved and provisional schemes), be approved.



To enable the Council to set the rent charges for HRA property and associated fees and charges, along with authorising the necessary revenue and capital expenditure to implement a budget, this is consistent with the objectives outlined in  ...  view the full minutes text for item CO75


Business Planning - General Fund Budget 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 401 KB

Additional documents:


The Council considered a detailed report on the draft General Fund Revenue budget for 2021-22, which included a Council Tax requirement of£10,392,720 (excluding parish precepts) and a Council Tax increase of £5 per year ((2.83%), resulting in a Band D charge of £181.82. 


The provisional Local Government Finance Settlement (LGFS) for 2021-22 had been received on 17 December 2020.  The figures included in the budget reflected the information contained in the settlement. 


The Settlement Funding Assessment comprising the local share of business rates, and revenue support grant, was set out in the provisional LGFS.  The settlement had been in line with expectations which enabled the Council to retain £2.929 million of business rates in 2021-22, which was the same amount retained in 2020-21.  Core Spending Power had also stayed the same as 2020-21 at £14.090m; however, within the core spending power calculation, the Government had assumed that the Council would raise the Council Tax by the maximum amount (£5 or 3% whichever was the higher).   


Overall, the LGFS was positive for the Council as it included additional funding of:

·       £153,000 grant to compensate the Council for the Business Rates Multiplier not increasing in line with inflation

·       £237,000 lower tier services grant (this was a one-off new grant to support services)

·       £623,000 additional COVID 19 funding to help fund the impact of COVID 19 into the new year

·       £100,000 Section 31 grant for local council tax support

·       £192,000 New Homes Bonus grant for 2021-22 only

·       The ability to raise council tax by a maximum of £5 (2.83%) rather than maximum of 2.0%, this additional increase would generate a further £90,000 in council tax income


The Joint Executive Advisory Board had considered the outline budget at its meeting held 11 November 2020. 


The Chief Finance Officer (CFO) presented her statutory report to the Council, a copy of which was appended to the main report. The CFO’s report provided information about the strategic context within which the budget had been prepared, the medium-term financial plan, the robustness of the estimates, adequacy of reserves and budget risks.  Councillors noted that the Council had a budget gap of £1.6million in 2022-23 which would rise to £5.9million by 2025-26.  Appendix 3 to the report listed the growth and savings which had been included in the General Fund Summary.  In noting the financial risk register at Appendix 4 to the report, the Council acknowledged that the level of reserves were currently sufficient to meet the Council’s risks.


The financial monitoring report for the first eight months of 2020-21 had been reported to the Corporate Governance and Standards Committee on 14 January 2021.  The projected net expenditure on the General Fund for the current financial year had been estimated to be £8.1million more than the original estimate due mainly to the COVID19 pandemic.  Any ongoing variances between actual expenditure and budget identified in 2020-21 had been taken into account when preparing the budget for 2021-22.


Following the Executive’s approval of the outline  ...  view the full minutes text for item CO76


Designation of Monitoring Officer pdf icon PDF 582 KB

Additional documents:


The Council considered a report on the designation of the Monitoring Officer in light of the pending departure of Sarah White on 24 February 2021. 


Councillors noted that Section 5 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 required the Council to designate one of its officers as monitoring officer.


The report noted that officers were currently consulting with legal services staff on restructuring the legal services team.  The proposed structure predominantly reverted back to the structure proposed and consulted upon as part of Future Guildford Phase A.  Under that structure, the post of Lead Legal Specialist was deemed to be the most appropriate to de designated as the Council’s Monitoring Officer as the role was the Council’s most senior legal officer and solicitor.  Whilst there was no specific requirement for the most senior solicitor or legal officer of any Council to be the Monitoring Officer, it was common practice for the monitoring officer to be a fully qualified solicitor given that part of the role was to ensure the Council’s compliance with laws and regulations. 


The role of Lead Legal Specialist required the post holder to be a qualified solicitor with significant post qualification experience and experience of working in a public sector environment.  The Lead Legal Specialist was the ‘head of profession’ for legal services at the Council.  It was recommended therefore that Diane Owens (Lead Specialist – Legal) be designated as the Monitoring Officer for the Council with effect from 25 February 2021 on the basis that she was currently the Senior Deputy Monitoring Officer and already held the post of Lead Legal Specialist. 


In accordance with Officer Employment Procedure Rule 4 (a), the formal designation of the Monitoring Officer was undertaken by full Council on the recommendation of the Employment Committee. The Employment Committee had met on 1 February and had endorsed the recommendation to designate Diane Owens as the Council’s Monitoring Officer.


Upon the motion of the Leader of the Council, Councillor Joss Bigmore, seconded by the Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Caroline Reeves, the Council


RESOLVED: That, in accordance with Section 5 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (as amended), Diane Owens (Lead Specialist – Legal) be designated as the Monitoring Officer for the Council with effect from 25 February 2021.



As a qualified solicitor with many years of local government experience carrying out both legal services and monitoring officer duties at a number of different councils, Diane Owens is currently the Senior Deputy Monitoring Officer and already holds the post of Lead Legal Specialist.  Diane Owens is therefore considered to be the most suitable officer to be designated as Monitoring Officer.




Minutes of the Executive pdf icon PDF 360 KB

To receive and note the attached minutes of the meeting of the Executive held on 24 November 2020 and 5 January 2021.


Additional documents:


The Council received and noted the minutes of the meetings of the Executive held on 24 November 2020 and 5 January 2021.



Common seal

To order the Common Seal to be affixed to any document to give effect to any decision taken by the Council at this meeting.

Additional documents:


The Council


RESOLVED: That the Common Seal of the Council be affixed to any documents to give effect to any decisions taken by the Council at this meeting.