To deal with any questions on notice from Members of the Council, in the order in which they have been received.
A period of up to 15 minutes is allocated for the asking and answering of questions. This may be extended at the discretion of the Chairman with the agreement of the majority of those present.
The Chairman advised Members that as these were exceptional circumstances the Leader had agreed to allow one supplementary question in respect of each question asked and he would allow the time spent on questions to be extended as there were no Motions on Notice for this meeting.
Question Submitted by Councillor R. Hunter
Councillor Hunter commented that he recognised the huge amount of work and effort put in by the Cabinet and its Officers to steer the Council through some very difficult months. His question was about the financial security of this Council and its community going forward.
“It appears likely there will be a shortfall between the income this Council has lost due to Covid-19 and the grant it has received in support from Government. Are you concerned that Bromsgrove may receive a less generous settlement from government because it holds a good level of reserves compared to other councils and what will you do to ensure Bromsgrove council tax and rate payers get a fair deal?”
Councillor G. Denaro, the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance and Resources, confirmed that the Council had currently received approx. £1.2m from Government and the current estimate of the financial impact was £2m.
It was also mentioned that no specific funding had been received from Central Government in relation to Leisure provision which was estimated to be a significant cost to the Council and it was hoped that funding would be received in the next month. However, it was unlikely that the Government would provide full funding to mitigate the financial losses arising as a result of the pandemic. The Council’s focus had to remain at present on sustaining essential services and playing its part in responding to the pandemic through the Local Resilience Forum, but attention needed to be now given to Council recovery. This would include ensuring support to its communities, potentially with an increase in unemployment and providing support and advice to businesses to help them increase trade in the new environment. In addition, if additional funding from the Government did not cover all the lost income and extra costs faced by the District Council, and the gap between the two was significant, the Council’s own recovery would focus on where savings had to be made and over what timespan in order to bring the position into line with the Medium Term Financial Plan. It was stressed that it was impossible at this stage to know the scale of the issue to be addressed, as there was no certain knowledge about the totality of Government funding or about the Council’s loss of income and extra costs. It was therefore impossible to predict what steps might be required but it was right that the Council should be candid with local residents and others about what might have to happen. Council would continue to lobby MHCLG that reserves should not be included in the determination of any grant settlements.
Councillor Hunter thanked Councillor Denaro for a detailed and frank ... view the full minutes text for item 12