Agenda and minutes

Special Meeting, Policy and Finance Committee - Monday 8th January 2024 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber & Blue Room, Arun Civic Centre, Maltravers Road, Littlehampton, BN17 5LF. View directions

Contact: Jane Fulton 

Note: Special Meeting 


No. Item


Welcome and Election of Vice-Chair


The Vice-Chair in the Chair opened the meeting and welcomed Members and Officers to the meeting.  He explained that the Chair had given his apologies for the meeting and proposed Councillor Walsh as acting Vice-Chair for the meeting. This was approved by the Committee.


Apology for Absence


            An Apology for Absence had been received from Councillor Stanley.


Declarations of Interest

Members and Officers are invited to make any declaration of pecuniary, personal and/or prejudicial interests that they may have in relation to items on this agenda, and are reminded that they should re-declare their interest before consideration of the items or as soon as the interest becomes apparent.


Members and Officers should make their declaration by stating:


a)             the item they have the interest in

b)             whether it is a pecuniary/personal interest and/or prejudicial interest

c)             the nature of the interest



The following Declarations of Personal Interests were made in relation to all of the items on the agenda: 


·         Councillors Nash and Brooks as Members of Bognor Regis Town Council  and volunteers for Arun Arts.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 164 KB

The Committee will be asked to approve as a correct record the Minutes of the  Policy and Finance Committee held on 6 December 2023, as attached. 



The minutes from the meeting of the committee held on 6 December 2023 were approved as a correct record and were signed by the Chair at the conclusion of the meeting.





            The Chair confirmed that there were no urgent items for this meeting.


Public question time

To receive questions from the public (for a period of up to 15 minutes)



The Chair confirmed that no questions had been submitted for this meeting.


Financial Prospects 2024/25 to 2028/29 - Update pdf icon PDF 564 KB

This document sets out the updated Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP) forecast for the period 2024/25 to 2028/29 as set out in Appendix A. It represents the latest view of the Council’s financial position and is subject to several factors that may affect the Council’s finances over this period, such as local government funding reforms and the continuation of certain non-ringfenced government grants.




The Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer presented to Members his report providing an update on the Council’s Financial Forecast for 2024/25 to 2028/29 which had first been presented to the Committee at its meeting held on 26 October 2023. It was confirmed that regular updates would be provided to the Committee together with progress reports on the delivery of the Council’s Savings Strategy [the next item on the agenda].


The report provided a summary of the updated Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP) forecast for the period 2024/25 to 2028/29 and represented the latest view of the Council’s financial position. This was subject to several factors that might still affect the forecasts, such as local government funding reforms, business rates review and the continuation of certain ring-fenced government grants.


The Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer confirmed that the report did include 2024-25 budget figures which were still draft and subject to further changes before being presented to the Committee on 8 February and ultimately a Special Meeting of the Council on 21 February 2024.  Paragraphs 4.1 to 4.11 of the report detailed the areas of the budgets that had been updated since 26 October 2023. The Local Government Finance Settlement was still in its draft format with figures still needing to be confirmed by the DLUHC once the consultation period concluded on 15 January 2024.  Appendix A summarised the estimated budget requirement for the next 5 years with Appendix B summarising the impact of that forecast on the Council’s usable revenue reserves. The Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer highlighted that the funding gap had reduced since the last report provided in October 2023. The table at paragraph 4.1 of the report summarised the changes that had been incorporated into the 2024/25 revenue budget which would achieve a net reduction of £1.6m.  The Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer then explained some of the changes listed.


Turning to the Local Government Finance Settlement for 2024/25, the Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer confirmed that the announcement had been made on 18 December 2023, however, this was a provisional settlement and was subject to a consultation period which would finish on 15 January 2024. Paragraphs 4.12 to 4.16 provided the detail of the draft settlement. 


As had been reported previously, the Council currently had no general fund debt although the capital programme did include some schemes which would be funded from future borrowing. The table at paragraph 4.18 set out some indicative high level financial costs if the Council were to take on additional financial investment.  These figures had not been included in the budget forecasts.








The Committee’s attention was then steered towards Appendix B of the report, which set out the impact on the Council’s Usable Revenue Reserves based on the updated MTFP forecasts.  The latest projections indicated that by 2028/29, the balance of reserves was forecast to be only £218,000 if no further decisions were made to address the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 496.


Financial Strategy 2024-2028 pdf icon PDF 473 KB


This report provides the Council not only with details of the key components of a strategy to deliver the transformation of the Council’s financial position but also proposals for the re-organisation and reduction of the Senior Management Team.



The Interim Joint Chief Executive and Director of Environment and Communities presented the Financial Strategy for 2024 to 2028 following two briefings provided to Members on 14 December and 4 January 2024.  The Strategy provided the Council not only with details of its key components to deliver the transformation of the Council’s financial position, but also proposals for the reorganisation and reduction of the Senior Management Team.


The Committee was reminded that it was a legal requirement to set a balanced budget each year and that although reserves were a legitimate way of balancing the budget, this was not sustainable in the longer term. The report set out the Council’s approach to achieving a balanced budget over the next 4 years and proposed actions to address the net revenue budget shortfall. It was explained that these proposals were subject to consultation to achieve savings in excess of £2m. The Strategy was based on undertaking a number of key tasks in each of the next four years and these had been detailed within the report.


            It had been the Council’s intention to secure in year savings in 2023/24 and an anticipated £2.5m reduction in the budget gap for 2024/25. Progress on starting this work had been delayed  due to the resignation of the previous Chief Executive. This meant that the potential savings identified for 23/24 would now be largely realised in 2024/25.  Service Group Heads  had been asked to identify cost reductions and income generating opportunities, the details of which had been set out in the report. Members were alerted to the fact that the Council currently had no general fund debt (although the Committee was aware that some capital schemes were planned to be funded from borrowing) and that it had a reasonable level of reserves, meaning that it was in a strong position to address the financial challenges highlighted in a measured and planned way.


Within this context of significant financial constraint, the Council had a strong updated Vision based on four key themes in terms of how it wished to move forward for the benefit of residents, businesses, visitors and the environment. To deliver these key themes during a time of financial challenge required the Council to improve its efficiency and effectiveness, transparency and communications  and required it to explore new ways of delivering services and possibly cease some too.


Progress on how the Council proposed to achieve this had been set out in paragraphs 5.1 to 5.10 of the report. Paragraph 6 set out an action plan covering the next four years to achieve the required reduction in the funding gap.  This included a restructure of the senior management team; use of different service delivery models; a. review of the 23.24 budget; maximising cost recovery; completing an asset review; undertaking an electoral review; reviewing the council’s future accommodation requirements; and the retendering of the waste contract.  This work would help the Council in moving forward in addressing its financial challenges.




The appendices to the report were explained.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 497.