Greenwich Council

Agenda item.

Lead Member Finance and Resources Update

To receive an update from the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources presented the report. The Cabinet Member commented that it was a challenging task to balance the budget considering the pressures on services; that the Council had had to draw on reserves was indicative of the difficult financial times they were in. The Cabinet Member noted the work of the Budget Recovery Boards, and highlighted the overspends in Health and Adults Services and in Children’s Services. The Cabinet Member commented on the new staff mental health strategy.

 

The Panel asked about IT/Customer Services.

The Cabinet Member and the (acting) Director of Finance clarified that the service had been transferred from the Directorate of Finance to the Directorate of Communities and Environment, and that a new Assistant Director would be appointed with responsibility for the service. The Cabinet Member said that there was no proposal for further reorganisation of the contact centre, but the telephony system needed improving and the CRM needed to be implemented. The cost of the project was in the existing budget.

 

The Panel asked about GS Plus.

The Cabinet Member and the Senior Assistant Director of Finance / GS Plus Interim Chief Operations Officer, explained that there had been meetings with the trade unions, and there had been talks with the schools and help had been given to them with regard to procurement. For schools, the catering aspect was more complicated than the cleaning. The move from a borough-wide school catering into a number of groupings was a reflection of the academisation of schools. While a co-operative company for cleaners was possible the question would be whether it would be sustainable. After the annual report to Cabinet there would be a report to Overview and Scrutiny on GS Plus and GSS.

 

The Panel asked about Budget Recovery Boards.

The Cabinet Member and the (acting) Director of Finance confirmed that the Council would be looking to increase reserves. It was explained that there was no prescriptive formula for calculating reserves. Benchmarking across London showed that the Royal Borough of Greenwich was now below the London average. Reserves had decreased but risks were increasing.

 

The Panel asked about procurement.

The Cabinet Member and the Senior Assistant Director of Finance confirmed that the Corporate Finance and Performance Scrutiny Panel’s review had been incorporated as far as possible within the new procurement strategy. Community wealth building formed part of the social value aspect of procurement.

 

The Panel asked about Human Resources.

The Cabinet Member indicated that the procedure for using agency staff and consultants was now more robust and it was expected this would have a beneficial financial impact. Some specialists were still to be used but the aim was a reduction in dependency on agency staff and consultants.

 

In response to a question from the Panel about CIL the (acting) Director of Finance replied each Directorate would be represented on a Board for the Capital Strategy and it would have 6 sub-boards. Oversight of the matter would be the responsibility of the Audit and Risk Management Panel.

 

Resolved –

 

That the update from the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources be noted.

Supporting documents: