Agenda and minutes

Economy and Development Select Committee - Thursday, 21st January, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Remote Microsoft Teams Meeting


No. Item


Declarations of Interest.


There were no declarations of interest.


Public Open Forum.


No members of the public were present.


Budget Monitoring: Scrutiny of the budget monitoring capital and revenue position at Month 7, setting the context for scrutiny of budget proposals. pdf icon PDF 382 KB

Additional documents:


Jonathan Davies, Dave Loder and Frances O’Brien presented the report and answered the members’ questions.


Some of the non-Covid savings couldn’t be implemented because staff had moved into Covid roles. How were Covid and non-Covid related expenditure determined? Could we claim more grants?

Separating out what is defined as Covid and non-Covid expenditure is complex. We have some stipulations and rules from Welsh Government. Those costs and income losses have to be directly attributable to our pandemic response. There are indirect impacts as well: one of these is the ability of the services to achieve the savings that they were budgeted to make during the financial year. Where staff and resources have been diverted to front line support, they haven’t been able to focus on achieving those savings. The Month 9 report is being drawn up now: services are currently budgeted to make over £4m of service efficiencies; the current forecast is that £732k of those won’t be achieved. That’s an automatic pressure on the budget for this year, and into next year. Regarding additional support, we are following up with Welsh Assembly where additional grants and support are available. As well as business support, there will be some in the areas of art and culture. There are a number of additional avenues to go down to support those additional costs and losses.

The income loss from MonLife brings a number of challenges. What are the early building blocks to recovery?

One of the things MonLife is looking at is reopening. The branding and marketing are ready so that they have a strong product when they are able to reopen. One difficulty is the continual opening and closing – it’s sometimes easier to know that you’re going to be closed, then when you reopen you can do so with confidence. In our dialogue with Ian Saunders, the Chief Officer overseeing MonLife, we can see that given the impacts of Covid on people’s health and wellbeing, in the long-term we will need to provide these services so that people can be fit and well again. Leisure services will play a fundamental part in that recovery. MonLife is confident that it can rebound; it is just the period that the recovery will take. Some say it will take 2 years, and it might be that there will be a lengthy recovery plan to get those services back up to where they were previously.

Have there been initial discussions with the Health Board to map a picture of the help that will be needed after Covid?

Yes, it is important to consider the role that we can provide, whether that is facilitating through our community support network or MonLife services. The MonLife team has been working very closely with children’s services, as have our CYP colleagues around the role that outdoor education can play in the future to facilitate alternative learning and provision. So there are many opportunities for the service areas. A key focus will be to work in a networked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Budget Scrutiny: Scrutiny of the budget proposals for 2021/22. pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Please use this link to access the papers for this item - available as part of the

20th January 2021 Cabinet agenda.



Jonathan Davies and Dave Loder delivered the presentation and answered the members’ questions, with Frances O’Brien.


Given the previous discussion about pay freezes and service delivery, and pressures next year, is it realistic to say that we are going to continue delivering our full suite of services?

That’s a valid question because we are going to have to consider if some of the services will be sustainable long-term, or whether they can be delivered in a different way. We will need to continue reviewing them over the medium-term financial plan and strategy. We’ve been very fortunate not to have to significantly close or change any services, but we have to continually monitor the situation and prioritise, in terms of what non-statutory services are there that we would look to adapt and change. Those are very difficult considerations to make. 

One of the cost pressures not budgeted for is MonLife investment considerations. Can we have more detail on this?

We don’t have detailed information for this meeting. The team is considering whether to postpone some of those investments for the immediate future while we understand what the Covid recovery situation is. The presentation slide was in relation to the capital commitments going forward, and those pressures and investments sitting outside the current budget. There’s a list of potential MonLife investments that they would seek to make over the medium term, which is available in the pack of papers that went to Cabinet and is linked on today’s agenda.

The Welsh Government settlement has been more generous than ever this year. What are the reasons for this? Are there lessons to learn from other councils?

The settlement itself is made up of quite a complicated calculation around many factors, of which some have higher impacts than others. A couple of the indicators where we’ve benefitted this time are concerning population and ‘equalisation of resources’: this looks at the ability of authorities to raise their funding from council tax, and applies a ratio to adjust for that across Welsh authorities. It is very difficult to explain. Welsh Government are working now to make that indicator a lot clearer for authorities. It’s been a big factor this time; the reasons for that are probably statistical, and we don’t understand the full picture of that yet.

Does our input affect the amount that we get?

The inputs are set at a statutory level so the returns we make, in terms of those statistical returns to Welsh Government, go towards producing that data for them to put into their model. We don’t have the ability to change those but there are varying amounts of what goes in: pupil numbers, population estimates, benefits data, and the demands on our services and populations that we give information back on. We therefore have very limited scope to change or influence those factors – it is very much reliant on those statutory indicators that we have to report back.

What have the discussions been around medium-term plan and deficit  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Economy and Development Select Committee Forward Work Plan. pdf icon PDF 518 KB


The evening format for workshops has worked very well. Procurement will need to be picked up later this year, having gone on the backburner due to the pandemic. It would be beneficial to hear from Cardiff City Deal Director Kelly Byrne in the coming months. Note that the car park review with Strong Communities has been put on hold temporarily due to pressures from Covid and flooding, but we will revisit this important subject later in the spring. Consideration of flooding will be added to the planner as well; Councillor Becker suggested perhaps including the possibility of using heat exchange in our rivers to lower our carbon footprint.



Cabinet and Council Work Planner. pdf icon PDF 198 KB


To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting. pdf icon PDF 445 KB


The minutes were confirmed and signed as an accurate record.



Next Meeting: Thursday 25th February 2021 at 10.00am.