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FINANCE AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

MINUTE of MEETING of the FINANCE AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 28 August 2001 at 4.15 pm.

Present: Councillors ALEX KING, ALISTAIR GRAY, IAN MACKINTOSH, BILL MIDDLETON, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, PETER MURPHY, ROBERT MYLES, PETER NIELD, BILL ROBERTON, RON SCRIMGEOUR and DAVID SELFRIDGE.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillors BRIAN MILNE and ROB MURRAY.

Councillor KING, Convener, in the Chair

1. MINUTES

(a) Previous Meeting

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 12 June 2001 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

(b) Sub-Committee

The minute of meeting of the Finance and Information Technology Sub-Committee of 12 June 2001, a copy of which is appended hereto, was submitted and noted (APPENDIX I).

2. CAPITAL MONITORING COMPOSITE CAPITAL PROGRAMME

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 12 June 2001, there was submitted Report No 996/01 by the Director of Finance, advising members of the capital expenditure incurred for the period from 1 April to 31 July 2001 and measuring projected capital expenditure for the year against budgeted provision and available resources for the year.

The Report indicated that the latest estimate of expenditure of £10.314m exceeded the total potential capital resource of £10.054m by £260,000. Although the Programme was currently projecting an overspend, it would normally be subject to a degree of slippage as the year progressed. As part of the budget process for 2002/2003, the Capital Budget Sub Group (CBSG) would meet to review the position on the Programme and address issues relating to the projected spend position, possible slippage on projects and resources potentially available for 2001/2002.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to note the position as at 31 July 2001 on the Composite Capital Programme, as per the accompanying monitoring statement;
  2. to note that the Capital Budget Sub Group (CBSG) would meet in due course as part of the budget process for 2002/2003 and, as part of this process, the CBSG would review the position on the Composite Capital Programme and address issues relating to the projected spend position, possible slippage on projects and resources potentially available for 2001/2002; and
  3. to note that projections of the year end position would be ongoing and brought forward, on a regular basis, to future Committees.

3. HOUSING CAPITAL PROGRAMME ­ HRA BLOCK ­ 2001/2002 HOUSING REVENUE ­ PLANNED MAINTENANCE PROGRAMME ­ 2001/2002

With reference to Article 3 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 12 June 2001, there was submitted Report No 997/01 by the Director of Finance setting out the latest position on the HRA Housing Capital Programme and the HRA Planned Maintenance Programme which incorporated details of the latest estimate for the year and the spend figures to the end of July 2001.

The Report indicated that actual spend to 31 July 2001 on the Housing Capital Programme was £1.679m, which was consistent with the work programmes devised and being worked to by Property Services to achieve the Capital Programme for the year. The projected spend on certain Planned Maintenance items, as appended to the Report, was £1.183m against a budget availability of £887k, but that the Housing Committee of 7 August 2001 had agreed to vire the £296k difference from the 'Painterwork' element of Planning Maintenance.

The Committee agreed to note the figures presented.

4. RENEWAL AND REPAIRS FUNDS TO JULY 2001

With reference to Article 4 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 12 June 2001, there was submitted Report No 998/01 by the Director of Finance, detailing the financial position of the Renewal and Repairs Funds for Property, Roads, Information Technology, Equipment, Vehicles and Printing. The Report indicated that the total balance available on the Funds was some £2,109,859 and that all agreed commitments for 2000/01 had been included.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report.

5. EQUIPMENT RENEWAL AND REPAIRS FUND ­ REDIRECTION OF APPROVED FUNDS

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 12 June 2001, there was submitted Report No 999/01 by the Director of Finance seeking homologation for the redirection of funding approved through the Equipment Renewal and Repair Fund in 2001/2002 to alternative higher priority projects.

The Report indicated that two projects identified by Contract Services were now considered to be of higher priority than the replacement of cubicles and lockers at Montrose Swimming Pool project, which was previously approved for funding through the Equipment Renewal and Repair Fund. The redirection of funding approved through the Fund would allow these projects to be taken forward. The balance of funds would be used at Montrose Swimming Pool to ensure the appropriate works were completed through an agreed revised specification, which would ensure the cost of the project could be accommodated within the funding available.

The Committee agreed:

  1. to note the contents of the Report; and
  2. to homologate the decision by the Convener, on the advice of officers, to redirect funding approved through the Equipment Renewal and Repairs Fund to projects of a higher priority.

6. REVENUE BUDGET PROJECTED OUTTURN 2001/2002

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 12 June 2001, there was submitted Report No 1000/01 by the Director of Finance updating members on the Council´s likely revenue outturn for the financial year 2001/2002. The statement appended to the Report indicated the projected outturn, based on 31 July 2001, as being £136,660,000.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to note the contents of the Report.

7. REVENUE MONITORING STATEMENT

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 1 May 2001, there was submitted Report No 1001/01 by the Director of Finance on the actual revenue expenditure incurred and income received in respect of the Council´s departments as well as the Police, Fire and Valuation Joint Boards and the DLOs for the period 1 April to 31 July 2001.

The Report indicated that, from the information contained in Sections B to F in the Appendix to the Report, under some of the cost heads individual departmental actual expenditure was currently ahead of the phased budget. While there were no particular concerns arising in these areas, the position would continue to be monitored closely, to ensure that overall net expenditure did not exceed departmental cash limited budgets.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to note the contents of the Report.

8. REMISSION OF RATES

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 12 June 2001, there was submitted Report No 1002/01 by the Director of Finance advising the Committee of applications for the Remission of Rates and indicating that the granting of the applications, as detailed in the Report, would be consistent with the Council´s policy. The annual cost to the Council in respect of the applications was £445.74.

The Committee agreed to approve the applications for Remission of Rates, as detailed in the Report.

9. FINANCIAL REGULATIONS

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 13 June 2000, there was submitted Report No 1003/01 by the Director of Finance advising members of the result of the ongoing requirement to update the Council´s Financial Regulations to reflect the approved policies of the Council. The Report highlighted the areas within Financial Regulations that had been updated to reflect newly approved practices, with the relevant revised sections of Financial Regulations appended to the Report.

The Report concluded that the ongoing review process in respect of Financial Regulations had resulted in an update to a number of sections, which reflected both the policies of Angus Council and any relevant legal requirements that were considered suitable for approval by Committee.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report; and
  2. to approve the proposed revisions to Financial Regulations for operation within Angus Council, as described in Section 3 of the Report and as appended to the Report.

10. GENERAL FUND REVENUE BUDGET ­ VIREMENT FLEXIBILITY BETWEEN 2000/2001 AND 2001/2002

With reference to Article 10 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 1 May 2001, there was submitted Report No 1004/01 by the Director of Finance detailing the amounts to be carried forward in departmental budgets from 2000/2001 to 2001/2002 under the terms of the budget virement flexibility scheme.

The Report indicated that, in addition to the underspend at paragraph 4 of the Report, the Environmental and Consumer Protection Department had accumulated a revenue budget underspend of £148,000 relating to savings on waste disposal fees as a result of the temporary closure of the Dundee Waste Energy Plan (DERL) during 2000/2001. The Capital Budget Sub-Group, in conjunction with the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection,had proposed that this underspend be carried forward on a ring-fenced basis, to permit capital expenditure at the Restenneth Landfill Development being advanced.

The Council´s Annual Accounts for 2000/2001 had identified a total controllable revenue budget underspend by departments of £1,330,000 with the sums to be carried forward to 2001/2002 totalling £625,000.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. that the £148,000 underspend in the Environmental and Consumer Protection 2000/2001 Revenue Budget relating to DERL (as set out in Section 5 of the Report) be carried forward in full to 2001/2002, specifically for the purposes of funding capital expenditure in respect of the Restenneth Landfill Development; and
  2. to note that a total of £477,000 (excluding the £148,000 in relation to DERL) would be carried forward by Departments from 2000/2001 to 2001/2002 under the terms of the budget virement flexibility scheme.

11. TREASURY MANAGEMENT FUNCTION ­ BEST VALUE SERVICE REVIEW

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 13 March 2001, there was submitted Report No 1005/01 by the Director of Finance apprising the Committee of the outcome of the recent Best Value Service Review of the Council´s Treasury Management Function and seeking approval of the Service Improvement Plan prepared by the Review Team.

The Report concluded that the Service Review showed that an effective and efficient service was currently being provided, which would be further enhanced by the implementation of the recommendations contained within the Service Improvement Plan.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the terms of the Report; and
  2. to approve the proposed Service Improvement Plan, as outlined in Appendix 1 to the Report.

12. MONTROSE LINKS TRUST ­ ANNUAL ACCOUNTS FOR YEAR ENDED 31 MARCH 2001

With reference to Article 14 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 30 August 2000, there was submitted Report No 1006/01 by the Director of Finance detailing the audited Annual Accounts of the Montrose Links Trust for the year ended 31 March 2001.

The Report indicated that the Montrose Links Trust had been one of the qualifying courses for the 1999 Open Golf Championships held at Carnoustie. As a result, there had been additional income and expenditure which had been reflected in the 2000 financial statements. This accounted for some of the apparent disparities when comparing the current year´s results with the previous year. The Report also highlighted particular points in relation to the Accounts and concluded that the Trust´s financial affairs appeared to be in good order.

The Committee agreed to note the 2000/2001 Annual Accounts of the Montrose Links Trust, a copy of which was appended to the Report.

13. INSURANCE AND RISK MANAGEMENT ­ ANNUAL REPORT 2000/01

With reference to Article 12 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 30 August 2000, there was submitted Report No 1008/01 by the Director of Finance summarising the main activities in relation to Insurance and Risk Management during 2000/2001. The Report also made comment on the overall insurance position of the Council.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report.

14. FINANCE DEPARTMENT KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS 2000/2001

With reference to Article 10 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 30 August 2000, there was submitted Report No 1009/01 by the Director of Finance apprising members of the Finance Department´s performance, as measured by the Statutory Performance Measures published by the Accounts Commission, in addition to a number of Headline Performance Measures, as developed by the CIPFA Directors of Finance Best Value Section.

The Report indicated that the Department had improved its performance when compared with financial year 1999/2000, which was mainly attributable to the department continuing to focus on ensuring its core activities were performed to a high standard. It was, however, recognised that further improvement was possible and the department was committed to striving towards continuous improvement.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report;
  2. to note that the cost of Council Tax collection had reduced for the fifth year in succession;
  3. to note that the Council Tax collection rate had increased for the fifth year in succession;
  4. to note that the number of invoices paid within the agreed timescale had increased;
  5. to note that the Council had submitted the statutory abstract of accounts for audit by 30 June 2001; and
  6. to note that the Council had set a capital budget which was within the Section 94 +10/-10% controls and a revenue budget which did not invoke the Reserve Powers of the First Minister for Scotland.

15. FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE

With reference to Article 13 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 1 May 2001, there was submitted Report No 1007/01 by the Director of Finance advising that the Scottish Executive had extended the Foot and Mouth Disease Hardship Rates Relief scheme for a further six months and recommending the circumstances under which further applications should be issued.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of Finance Circular No 5/2001, issued by the Scottish Executive;
  2. to approve the issue of further applications to those ratepayers currently in receipt of Foot and Mouth Hardship Relief to ensure circumstances had not changed; and
  3. to approve the issue of re-applications to those ratepayers previously refused relief where the provision of more up to date information might change the original decision.

16. HOUSING AND COUNCIL TAX BENEFIT OVERPAYMENTS ­ RECOVERY POLICY

With reference to Article 22 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 30 August 2000, there was submitted Report No 1010/01 by the Director of Finance advising the Committee of the policy adopted for the recovery of Housing and Council Tax Benefit overpayments.

The Report indicated that the high profile attached to the recovery of overpayments by external bodies, such as Audit Scotland, the Department of Social Security and the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate required the Council to demonstrate commitment in the area of Housing and Council Tax Benefit overpayment recovery. The policy, as appended to the Report, detailed the approach adopted and the recovery options which were utilised. It had been formulated with a view to utilising the full range of options available under the legislation, thus maximising recoveries, but at the same time applying these options in a sympathetic manner.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report.

17. MISCELLANEOUS ACCOUNTS ­ DEBT WRITE-OFF

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 12 June 2001, there was submitted Report No 1011/01 by the Director of Finance seeking authority to write-off the amounts detailed in the Report, which included overpaid Housing Benefit and which were viewed as irrecoverable. The Report indicated that the unpaid accounts had been the subject of a recovery process and legal action or debt collection agency attention, where considered appropriate.

The Committee agreed that the amounts detailed in Appendix 1 of the Report, amounting to £34,269.98 be written-off as irrecoverable.

18. SOCIAL WORK DEPARTMENT REVENUE BUDGET OUTTURN 2000-2001

With reference to Article 4 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 14 August 2001, there was submitted Joint Report No 873/01 by the Director of Social Work and the Director of Finance advising the Committee of the outturn position for the Social Work Department´s Revenue Budget for 2000/2001 and commenting on the major variances within a number of budget headings.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to note the contents of the Report.

19. PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT AND SAFETY SURFACING PROGRAMME

With reference to Article 24 of the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 28 August 2001, there was submitted Joint Report No 885/01 by the Director of Recreation Services and the Director of Property Services updating the Committee on progress in implementing the Risk Assessment reduction programme and recommending sites for action within 2001/2002 to further reduce levels of risk.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to approve the recommendations, as detailed in the Report.

20. ST JAMES HOUSE ­ ROOF REPAIR

With reference to Article 17 of the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 28 August 2001, there was submitted Report No 957/01 by the Director of Property Services seeking homologation of an urgent property renewal commissioned under delegated authority at St James House, financed from supplementary funding from the Property Renewal and Repairs Fund at an estimated cost of £16,500.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to homologate the provision of £16,500 from the Property Renewal and Repair Fund in the financial year 2001/2002 for the execution of an urgent property renewal at St James House.

21. MONIFIETH ACCESS OFFICE ­ RENEWAL OF HEATING SYSTEM

With reference to Article 22 of the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 28 August 2001, there was submitted Report No 962/01 by the Director of Property Services seeking approval to the provision of supplementary funding from the Property Renewal and Repair Fund to undertake the renewal of the heating system at Monifieth ACCESS Office at an estimated cost of £6,600.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to approve the recommendations, as detailed in the Report.

22. WESTERN CEMETERY, ARBROATH ­ HEADSTONE STABILISATION

With reference to Article 18 of the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 28 August 2001, there was submitted Joint Report No 958/01 by the Director of Property Services and the Director of Recreation Services seeking approval for the provision of supplementary funding from the Property Renewal and Repairs Fund to undertake the first phase of urgent safety repairs to various headstones at the Western Cemetery, Arbroath at an estimated cost of £11,000.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to approve the recommendations, as detailed in the Report.

23. CROMBIE AND MONIKIE COUNTRY PARKS

With reference to Article 20 of the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 28 August 2001, there was submitted Joint Report No 960/01 by the Director of Property Services and the Director of Recreation Services seeking approval for the provision of supplementary funding from the Property Renewal and Repairs Fund to undertake additional safety and infrastructure works at Crombie and Monikie Country Parks at an estimated cost of £17,300.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to approve the recommendations, as detailed in the Report.

24. CULTURAL SERVICES PROPERTIES ­ ELECTRICAL WIRING OF DISPLAY CASES

With reference to Article 21 of the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 28 August 2001, there was submitted Joint Report No 961/01 by the Director of Property Services and the Acting Director of Cultural Services seeking approval for the provision of supplementary funding from the Property Renewal and Repairs Fund to undertake the first phase of urgent safety repairs to the electrical wiring of display cases at an estimated cost of £11,000.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to approve the recommendations, as detailed in the Report.

25. REPLACEMENT OF CATERING EQUIPMENT IN SCHOOLS

With reference to Article 23 of the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 28 August 2001, there was submitted Report No 963/01 by the Director of Property Services seeking approval for the provision of supplementary funding from the Property Renewal and Repairs Fund to undertake the replacement of catering equipment at an estimated cost of £44,000.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to approve the recommendations, as detailed in the Report.

The following item was, on the determination of the Convener, dealt with as a matter of urgency, in order that the repairs could be progressed.

26. BRECHIN HIGH SCHOOL ­ REMEDIAL REPAIRS TO RETAINING WALLS

With reference to Article 19 of the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 28 August 2001, there was submitted Report No 959/01 by the Director of Property Services seeking approval for the provision of supplementary funding from the Property Renewal and Repair Fund to cover the cost of urgent repairs to the retaining wall at Brechin High School at an estimated cost of £40,000.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to approve the recommendations as detailed in the Report.

27. EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC AND PRESS

The Committee resolved, in terms of Standing Order 27(2), that the public and press be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items so as to avoid the disclosure of information which was exempt in terms of Part 1 of Schedule 7A of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, paragraphs 6, 8, 9 and 10.

28. ARBROATH SECONDARY SCHOOLS ­ COMPUTER PROCUREMENT

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of Angus Council of 28 June 2001, there was submitted Report No 1012/01 by the Director of Information Technology seeking approval for the procurement of Research Machines' PCs for Arbroath Academy and Arbroath High School.

The Committee agreed to approve the procurement of 60 personal computers from Research Machines at a cost of £40,585.

29. COMPUTER PROCUREMENT FRAMEWORK

With reference to Article 10 of the minute of meeting of Angus Council of 28 June 2001, there was submitted Report No 1013/01 by the Director of Information Technology advising the Committee of changes to the Computer Procurement Framework Agreement previously reported and seeking approval to implement these changes.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report; and
  2. to approve the appointment of Specialist Computer Centres (SCC) as suppliers of printers for the period 1 September 2001 to 1 December 2001.

30. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY TENDERS FROM 1 MAY 2001 TO 28 AUGUST 2001

With reference to Article 23 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 1 May 2001, there was submitted and noted Report No 1014/01 by the Director of Information Technology advising members of the tenders which had been accepted under delegated authority during the period 1 May 2001 to 28 August 2001.

31. REVENUES DIVISION PRINTER REPLACEMENT

There was submitted Joint Report No 1015/01 by the Director of Finance and the Director of Information Technology advising the Committee of the actions taken to secure a replacement print production facility for the Revenues Division of the Finance Department.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the evaluation process described in the Report; and
  2. to approve Xerox as suppliers of the print production facility for the Revenues Division in terms of Financial Regulation 16.1.3(d), at a cost of £103,419.
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