Agenda and minutes

Venue: Town Hall, High Street, Maidstone

Contact: Committee Services  01622 602033

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies were received from Councillors Brindle, Cannon and Khadka.


Notification of Substitute Members


Councillor English was present as Substitute for Councillor Khadka.


Urgent Items


There were no urgent items.


Notification of Visiting Members


There were no Visiting Members.  


Disclosures by Members and Officers


The Chief Executive disclosed an interest on behalf of all Officers present, in relation to Item 14 – Medium Term Financial Strategy and Budget Proposals 2023/24.


Disclosures of Lobbying


Councillors Brice and Gooch had been lobbied on Item 14 – Medium Term Financial Strategy and Budget Proposals 2023/24.




RESOLVED: That all items be taken in public as proposed.


Minutes of the Meeting Held on 18 January 2023 pdf icon PDF 113 KB


RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 18 January 2023 be approved as a correct record and signed.


Question and Answer session for Local Residents


There were no questions from Local Residents.


Presentation of Petitions


There were no petitions.


Questions from Members to the Chairman


There were no questions from Members to the Chairman.


Forward Plan relating to the Committee's Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 244 KB


RESOLVED: That the Forward Plan be noted.


3rd Quarter Financial Update & Performance Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 181 KB

Additional documents:


The Lead Member for Corporate Services introduced the report and stated that the proposal to write-off the rent arrears from Chillington House was due to the funds being irrecoverable, despite attempts to recover the arrears. The proposed re-allocation of funds from the Vibrant Economy, Resilience Communities and The Way We Work branches of the Council’s Recovery and Renewal Action Plan was explained, with the funding to be re-directed to support the Community Resilience Fund, and Let’s Talk Maidstone across a three-year period.


It was stated that there was a projected surplus of £446,000 for the end of the financial year, with the ongoing financial pressures being experienced by the Council noted, in part due to rising energy costs. The £1.3 million built into the budget to off-set the effects of inflation was highlighted, with a delay in capital spending due to market conditions.  


The Lead Member outlined the council tax collection rates, treasury management and risk monitoring process in place, and the three key performance indicators that had missed the target by more than 10%. The Councils finances remained sound, with unallocated reserves in place, but financial uncertainty still remained the top risk faced by the Council.


In response to questions, the Director of Strategy, Insight and Governance outlined the purpose and use of the ‘let’s talk’ platform and how the reallocation of funds would allow its use to continue. In response to further questions, the Director of Finance, Resources and Business Improvement stated that progress had been made in letting the office space available within Maidstone House, with rental income expected to be in line with projections. The increased energy costs at Maidstone House and other corporate properties were highlighted, with a cautious view taken in forecasts of variances in response, but the Council had locked into the Kent wide energy procurement agency from 1 April 2023. Any underspend from the current financial year would be reviewed by the Executive to determine its future use, which was standard practice and would likely occur in June 2023.


Several Members of the Committee expressed support for the cautious approach taken to secure a robust financial position for the Council.


In response to questions on the ‘Loss of workforce cohesion and talent’ risk, the Chief Executive stated that the Council was implementing controls in response to current market conditions, such as the graduate micro site which had been successful in recruiting to vacant planning posts. The Council experienced similar recruitment and retention issues to other Local Authorities, with the framework used to assess risks generally to be reviewed with the Council’s Audit, Governance and Standards Committee post May 2023. At the same time, the Executive would be advised to review corporate risks to ensure that its priorities, and any risks to achieving those priorities, were known in advance.


In discussing recruitment and retention, the Committee felt that further information on the number and details of the apprenticeship’s provided by the Council was required. In response, the Chief Executive confirmed that whilst a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 110.


Medium Term Financial Strategy and Budget Proposals 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 217 KB

Additional documents:


The Lead Member for Corporate Services introduced the report, stating that the Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) and budget Proposals 2023/24 had been extensively discussed by the Executive and the Policy Advisory Committees in the past few months. The report recommendations were outlined, with particular attention drawn to recommendation 13 and point 2.18 of the report, which referred to the Executive proposal to use £400,000 of the Funding Guarantee (FG) to increase the staff pay budget. The subsidy required for the Affordable Homes Programme was highlighted as being significant, with the Executive wishing to maximise the contributions to the Housing Investment Fund (HIF) to support the subsidy required.


It was stated that the Council’s policy had previously been to avoid using one-off sources of funding to support revenue expenditure, but that an exception had already been made to allocate £300,000 of the FG to support spatial policy and plan-making, with a further exception to increase staff reward felt to be suitable. It was stated that the government had recognised that many Local Authorities were in a difficult financial position, having faced increased financial pressures in recent years, with the FG to support the authority’s general finances and that further funding could be provided in future years. If an additional £400,000 was added to the staff pay budget, the amount to be transferred to the HIF would still be significant, which posed a risk to future funding of the Affordable Homes Programme, but this was felt to be a balanced risk. The importance of Member-Officer relationships was emphasised, with it stated that staff pay had in some cases fallen behind the median level used for comparison purposes and that this should be increased with the cost-of-living crisis referenced.


The Director of Finance, Resources and Business Improvement addressed the Committee and stated that the Executive’s recommendation to allocated £400,000 of the FG to the staff pay budget was not an officer recommendation. It was a one-off funding source, and a long-term view was required to support the Council’s Affordable Homes Programme and ensure the Council’s financial resilience. The difficulty of planning ahead, for example through having to wait for the annual Local Government Finance Settlement, was referenced as context. It was not prudent to use one-off sources of funding for ongoing costs.  


The Leader of the Council addressed the Committee and re-emphasised the importance of looking after the Council’s staff, particularly given increased inflation and bills, alongside the proposal to use part of the FG to support spatial policy and plan-making which was revenue expenditure. The Leader of the Council stated that he thought that the government would provide further one-off financial support next year.


The Committee expressed strong support for providing an increased pay budget for the Council’s staff, as contained within point 2.18 of the report. References were made to the increased inflation and the ongoing cost-of- living crisis, particularly for the staff on lower pay grades, and the importance of retaining the good, well experienced staff working at the Council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 111.




6.30 p.m. to 8.41 p.m.