Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Declarations of Interest

In relation to matters on the agenda, seek declarations of interest from Members, in accordance with the provisions of the Fire Authority’s Code of Conduct for Members.


There were none.


Apologies for Absence/Substitutions


There were none.


Notification of items which the Chairman considers urgent and proposes to take at the end of the agenda/Chairman's business items

Any Members wishing to raise urgent items are asked, wherever possible, to notify the Chairman before the start of the meeting.  In so doing, they must state the special circumstances which they consider justify the matter being considered urgently.


There were none.


Minutes of the last Policy & Resources Panel meeting held on 21 January 2021 pdf icon PDF 306 KB


It was noted that there was an omission of the word ‘to’ on page 10 of the minutes which should have read:


‘Councillor Pragnell moved an amendment to recommendation 2 to change the wording from ‘consider whether’ to ‘instructs officers’.’


RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting of the Policy & Resources Panel held on 21 January 2021 be approved as a correct record, subject to the amendment as outlined above, and signed by the Chairman.



The Chairman will call the item numbers of the remaining items on the open agenda.  Each item which is called by any Member shall be reserved for debate.  The Chairman will then ask the Panel to adopt without debate the recommendations and resolutions contained in the relevant reports for those items which have not been called.


Members reserved the following items for debate:


27.       Revenue and Capital Budget 2020/21 and Capital Programme 2020/21 to 2024/25 Monitoring at Month 11 (end February).


Revenue and Capital Budget 2020/21 and Capital Programme 2020/21 to 2024/25 Monitoring at Month 11 pdf icon PDF 600 KB

Report of the Assistant Director Resources/Treasurer

Additional documents:


The Panel received a report from the Assistant Director Resources/Treasurer (ADR/T) which provided the findings of the month 11 monitoring undertaken on the Revenue and Capital Budget 2020/21 and Capital Programme 2020/21 to 2024/25.  It was noted that a net Revenue underspend of £290,000 had been identified; an adverse variation of £206,000 from the position identified in the last report to Policy and Resources Panel of £496,000 underspend.  The ADR/T explained that this was primarily due to the impact of the additional investment in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) project as agreed by the Authority.  It was noted that this additional spend had been offset in part by the identification of additional underspends and the successful bid for an additional £129,000 Covid Support grant funding. 


The Capital Programme had been monitored against the revised programme which was agreed by the Authority in February.  A review of Capital projects had resulted in a forecasted expenditure of £2,032,000 resulting in a net variation of £263,000 of which £338,000 was slippage and a net £76,000 in year overspend mainly on estates design guide schemes.  Further details on the current risks associated with both the Revenue and Capital budgets were provided in the report.


The Chief Fire Officer (CFO) provided a brief update on matters discussed at the previous Panel meeting and informed Members that the staff seconded to South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAMb) to provide additional support during the pandemic had now returned ESFRS.  The possible need for funding for Covid testing had been addressed as the Service had been given access to rapid testing directly from the Department of Health.


The Panel queried whether the level of underspend and the increase in the contingency budget indicated that there was too much ‘slack’ in budget and asked for a further explanation of the movement in reserves.  Members also asked whether there was merit in providing the budget monitoring on a quarterly basis.  The ADR/T responded that budget monitoring was provided to the Senior Leadership Team on a monthly basis with the latest available report being presented to the Panel.  With regard to the revenue underspend, this was due to delays in project activity, staffing vacancies, delays in recruiting and in-year issues due to the impact of the pandemic.  The ADR/T reminded Members that recurring underspends were considered for taking as savings as part of the budget setting process.  Turning to reserves, the drawn down had been less than anticipated due to a number of factors including: re-phasing of IT and P21 project spend; delays (partly due to the impact of Covid-19) and re-phasing of capital projects (as set out in the February 2021 budget papers); delays in the national ESMCP project; and the receipt of new one-off Government grants, the balance of which had been carried forward to fund spend in 2021/22.  The Authority still planned a significant reduction in reserves to below £3m over the next 3 years as they were used to finance planned investments. 


Members asked about  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.