Agenda and minutes

Special, Cabinet Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 28th February, 2022 2.00 pm

Venue: Via Microsoft Teams

Contact: Charlotte Davies / Chloe Plowman - 01639 763745 / 01639 763301 

No. Item


Declarations of Interests


The following Member made a declaration of interest at the start of the meeting.


Councillor M.Harvey               Re: Agenda Items 5,6,7 and 9 within the Cabinet papers as he works for South Wales Police but felt his interest was not prejudicial.


Pre-decision Scrutiny

·        To select appropriate items from the Cabinet agenda for pre-decision scrutiny (cabinet reports enclosed for Scrutiny Members)


The Committee scrutinised the following urgent Cabinet item:


Revenue Budget 2022/23


Members Considered the Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council’s 2022/23 revenue budget including investments in services, investments from reserves and proposed council tax levels, as detailed within the circulated report.


Discussions took place around the proposal to freeze Neath Port Talbots Council Tax for 2022/23. It was highlighted that Neath Port Talbot have the third highest council tax in Wales. Within the Consultation it was noted that there was a high percentage of responses in favour of the freeze. However, it was queried that there was not option within the consultation to reduce Council Tax and members felt that this may also have had a good response. Members highlighted that further in the report pack there was an urgent item in relation to setting up a hardship fund utilising monies from the underspend. Members queried whether that money could be utilised to cover the additional money to propose a reduction in council tax. The Section 151 officer explained that he is duty bound to provide a prudent, affordable and sustainable proposals for the Cabinet and Council to consider and within his professional role he felt that a freeze was the most affordable and sustainable option for members to consider. Members asked Cabinet to reconsider the level of council tax going to Cabinet and Council and to provide an alternative proposal showing a cut in Council Tax.


Members queried that if 3.1 million were to be moved out of general reserves would there be 17 million remaining. Officers confirmed that there would be 17 Million remaining in general reserves.


It was also highlighted that the charge for pest control had decreased to a charge of £40.


Members discussed the potential for any unexpected issues arising in future, following the result of the pandemic. Therefore, felt that it was important to ensure that we can provide the public with an affordable council tax rate along with ensuring the council has sustainable reserves.


Members asked cabinet to consider prior to the decision on Council Tax being taken at Council tomorrow, would they consider reducing Council Tax rather than a freeze currently included in the recommendations at today’s meeting. As a result some members abstained from the vote that followed.


Following scrutiny, the recommendations detailed within the report were supported to Cabinet.


Capital Strategy and Capital Programme 2022/23 to 2024/25


Members received the Capital Strategy and Capital Programme for 2022/23 to 2024/25. The Capital Strategy sets out the Capital Programme planning process, governance and financial sustainability considerations, as detailed within the circulated report.


Discussions took place around the costings of the work completed on Margam Castle’s stone work. It was noted that the work was approved as part of last year’s capital programme. 


Members also discussed prudential borrowing. It was noted that interest rates are low currently. It was noted that the Section 151 officer would provide further details on prudential borrowing outside the meeting.


Following scrutiny, the Committee was supportive of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.


Urgent Items

Any urgent items (whether public or exempt) at the discretion of the Chairman pursuant to Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972


Because of the need to deal with the matter contained in Minute No. 12 below, the Chairperson agreed this could be raised at today’s meeting as an urgent item pursuant to Section 100B (4) of the Local Government Act 1972.




Due to time element.


Pre-decision scrutiny


The Committee scrutinised the following urgent Cabinet item:


Proposal to Create a Targeted Hardship Relief Scheme


Members were informed of the request for further advice as to how the remaining underspend for 2021/22 can be utilised to develop a range of measures to support those who are hardest hit by the cost of living crisis, as detailed in the circulated report.


It was noted that following publication of the latest revenue budget monitoring report which contains details of a further £2.3m underspend (after reserve transfers) the Cabinet had requested further advice in relation to how this underspend can be used to support those residents of the County Borough who are currently hardest hit by the cost of living crisis.


Members commended the report and the reasoning for having a hardship fund. It was queried what type of criteria would be set. It was noted that it was just to set the money aside for the scheme to be developed and the criteria would be set at a future meeting. Members were concerned about supporting the report without the criteria however, understood the principal of the hardship fund and potential criteria.


Discussions took place around the lateness of the report. The Cabinet Member for finance explained that the report was late due to the late notification of the amount of underspend following a recent meeting.


Following scrutiny, the Committee was supportive of the proposal to be considered by Cabinet.