Agenda and draft minutes

Audit and Governance Committee - Thursday, 3rd February, 2022 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Suite, Civic Centre, Poole BH15 2RU. View directions

Media

Items
No. Item

73.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence from Councillors.

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

74.

Substitute Members

To receive information on any changes in the membership of the Committee.

 

Note – When a member of a Committee is unable to attend a meeting of a Committee or Sub-Committee, the relevant Political Group Leader (or their nominated representative) may, by notice to the Monitoring Officer (or their nominated representative) prior to the meeting, appoint a substitute member from within the same Political Group. The contact details on the front of this agenda should be used for notifications.

 

Minutes:

There were no substitute Members.

75.

Declarations of Interests

Councillors are requested to declare any interests on items included in this agenda. Please refer to the workflow on the preceding page for guidance.

Declarations received will be reported at the meeting.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

76.

Confirmation of Minutes pdf icon PDF 309 KB

To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the Meeting held on 13 January 2022.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting on 13 January 2022 were confirmed as a correct record.

77.

Public Issues

To receive any public questions, statements or petitions submitted in accordance with the Constitution. Further information on the requirements for submitting these is available to view at the following link:-

https://democracy.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/documents/s2305/Public%20Items%20-%20Meeting%20Procedure%20Rules.pdf 

The deadline for the submission of public questions is 27 January 2022

The deadline for the submission of a statement is 12.00 noon, 02 February 2022.

The deadline for the submission of a petition was 19 January 2022..

Minutes:

The Committee was advised of the receipt of two Public Questions and one Public Statement and the questions and responses as set out below were provided to the Committee by the Monitoring Officer. The Public Statement was read out to the Committee.

 

First Question

 

QUESTION TO BCP COUNCIL AUDIT & GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE 13.1.22

 

Following my notifying emails commencing 25.7.21 - including 30.9.21 copied to CEO, Monitoring (MO) & Section 151 Officers & Leader - when will the Council resolve the following by:

 

1. Complying with the Local Authorities (Members Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003 by publishing in the correct format and on the Council’s direct search website portals the details of Allowances paid to each Member for 2019/20 and 2020/21. The Council explains the cause of delay as a broken website “link”.

 

2. Complying with the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 and issuing the MO’s obligatory explanatory report to all Members on this and other similar contraventions.

 

Philip Gatrell 5.1.22

 

Response by the Monitoring Officer to First Question

 

Mr Gatrell. Thank you for your question.

 

The Local Authorities (Members’ Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003 require the Council to publish the total sum paid to each recipient under the Scheme of Members’ Allowances in respect of the basic, special responsibility, dependents’ carers, travelling and subsistence and co-optees’ allowances.

 

BCP Council publishes these notices on its web site on the Councillors web page. The current notices published on the site are for 2019/20 and 2020/21. The notice for 2021/22 will be published on the same web page as soon as practicably possible after the financial year end.

 

Following the receipt of the question from Mr Gatrell, officers identified a broken link on the Council’s main web site. This was clearly unhelpful for users, however, the notices continued to be available from the Councillors web page and were readily available on the website and at all times satisfied the requirements of the Regulations.

 

I would like to thank Mr Gatrell for drawing our attention to the broken link which was resolved on Friday 7 January. The link from the Council’s main web site now directs visitors to the page containing the allowances notices.

 

Section 5(2) of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989, to which Mr Gatrell refers in the second part of his question, requires the Monitoring Officer to report to Council, if at any time it appears to her that any proposal, decision or omission on behalf of the Authority has given rise to or is likely to or would give rise to a contravention of any enactment or rule of law.

 

A broken link on the Council’s website, although frustrating, does not meet the criteria for such reporting.

 

Second Question

 

REGARDING THE COUNCIL’S CONTRAVENTION OF THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES (MEMBERS’ ALLOWANCES) (ENGLAND) REGULATIONS 2003 (2003 REGULATIONS) & THE INCORRECT AND MISLEADING RESPONSE TO MY QUESTION AT THE COMMITTEE’S MEETING ON 13.1.22 WHEN IT WAS STATED THAT THE COUNCIL’S RELATED WEBSITE INFORMATION “… at all times satisfied the requirements of the Regulations”

 

Will the Monitoring Officer  ...  view the full minutes text for item 77.

78.

Additional Restriction Grant ('ARG')

To receive a presentation by officers about governance arrangements and operational systems in place.

Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation from the Director of Development Services and from the Head of Economic Development about the ‘Additional Restriction Grant’ (‘ARG’) and the governance and process around administration of the grant. A copy of the presentation slides would be circulated to the Committee after the meeting. The Chairman of the Committee thanked Councillor Phipps specifically for suggesting consideration of this matter by the Committee.

 

By way of context for the Committee’s discussion the Chief Finance Officer and Director of Finance providedthe following additional statistical information about the overall numbers of grants and awards made by the Council’s Revenue and Benefits and Economic Development Teams since the start of the pandemic:

 

4,596 Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) payments worth £46m;

 

1,652 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund (RHLGF) payments worth £33.7m;

 

794 Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund (LADGF) payments worth £4.3m;

 

12,853 Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) Addendum payments worth £22.7m;

 

24 Local Restrictions Support Grant (Sector) payments worth £17.7m;

 

41  Local Restrictions Support Grant Closed payments worth £76.6m;

 

564 Local Restrictions Support Grant Open payments worth £676k;

 

93 Christmas support payment for wet-led pubs worth £93k;

 

3,278  Closed business lockdown payment worth £16.3m;

 

5,988  Additional Restrictions Support Grant (ARG) payments worth £12.6m;

 

3,256 Restart Grants worth £24.3m.

 

The Director also reported that the Teams were in the process of making Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grants with the first batch worth over £1m due to be issued for payment on the day after the meeting.

 

In addition, the Director reported that the Teams had had to arrange, manage and deliver 100% Expanded Retail Relief for 2020/21; 100%   Nursery Discount Relief for 2020/21;100% for 3 months then 66%             Expanded Retail Relief for 2021/22; 100% for 3 months then 66%             Nursery Discount for 2021/22 ; COVID Additional Relief Fund (CARF)          for 2021/22; 50% Expanded Retail Relief for 2022/23; and extension of Transitional Relief and Supporting Small Business Relief for Small and Medium properties Scheme 2022/23.

 

In addition, it was also reported, that the Teams had had to arrange, manage and deliver over 4,548 £500 Test and Trace Support payments worth almost £2.3m and in addition to that the Covid19 Hardship Fund for 2020/21 which provided £2.5m support towards council tax bills.

 

The Committee was also informed that, on the day of the meeting of the Committee, the Council had received the indication that the Team would be required to administer a £150 rebate on council tax bills for homes in Bands A to D as well as a share of a £150m discretionary fund to help lower income households in higher Council Tax bands and households in bands A to A to D who are exempt from Council Tax during 2022/23.

 

By way of introduction to the presentation, it was explained that ARG was just one element of a huge amount of funding made available to BCP Council by Central Government in response to the Coronavirus pandemic and for distribution into the local BCP economy. The statistics provided  ...  view the full minutes text for item 78.