Financial Resilience - COVID-19 - RES/20/091
The Committee had before it a report by the Director of Resources which provided an update on the current financial challenges the Council was facing in relation to the current pandemic situation and the potential impact this would have on the 2020/21 budget.
The report recommended:-
that the Committee -
(a) note the content of the report and the unprecedented financial pressure under which the Council was now operating;
(b) instruct the Chief Officer - Finance to report back to a meeting of the Urgent Business Committee on 30 June 2020 with proposals to ensure the Council maintained a balanced budget position, which would include a review of the Council’s commissioning intentions and service standards;
(c) instruct the Chief Officer - Finance, having considered national government guidance, to prioritise Council resources for critical services and to minimise all other expenditure, stopping non-essential or non-critical spend where possible;
(d) note the current status of the major capital projects that the Council had underway which would, likely, result in increased costs and time extensions requested by contractors (meaning previously advised completion dates and budgets would now not be met);
(e) note the use of the Food Fund to support children entitled to free school meals and food provision/delivery for people in poverty, as detailed in Appendix 1; and
(f) delegate authority to the Chief Officer - Finance, following consultation with the Chief Officer - Education and Chief Officer - Early Intervention and Community Empowerment, to allocate further funds in line with the Food Fund guidance up to the current allocation of £802,000 and that the Committee be notified thereafter.
The Convener moved, seconded by Councillor Boulton:-
That the Committee -
(1) approve the recommendations contained within the report;
(2) instruct the Chief Executive to email all employees where possible, and to post on the internal website, thanking them on behalf of elected members for the way in which they have risen to the challenge of providing vital public services at a time of national crisis; and agree that our employees are our greatest asset and their response to the pandemic reminds us why;
(3) to note the implications of the Financial Resilience Covid-19 report; and recognising the wider impacts of Covid-19 to the city, and building on the work to date that had seen over 1,000 applications for £13.4m of business grants with an average turnaround of seven days, to instruct the Chief Officer - City Growth in consultation with Administration Leaders, to provide the Urgent Business Committee on 30 June 2020 with a Socio-economic Rescue Plan for 20/21 that would consider other short term responses under business, people and place themes in line with the Stronger Together policy decision by Council in August 2017;
(4) to note the UK Government had provided the Scottish Government with £155m of additional revenue for local authorities and instruct the Chief Executive to write to the Minister for Local Government and Housing and the Cabinet Secretary for Finance requesting our fair share of that allocation from the Scottish Governmentand that any allocation should be distributed with no conditions attached to the use of the funding. The letter should reference paragraphs 3.25 to 3.27 and 3.29 to 3.30 of the report, and that a letter also be sent to COSLA requesting their support;
(5) to instruct the Chief Executive to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Cabinet Secretary for Finance at the Scottish Government providing them with a copy of the report and asking for additional funding on top of our share of the £155m provided to the Scottish Government by the UK Government. The letter should reference paragraphs 3.25 to 3.27 and 3.29 to 3.30 of the report;
(6) to agree to limit external recruitment of employees only to critical posts where there was a clear and pressing need for resources relating to the COVID-19 response or public health and protection and the resources cannot be found either from temporary or permanent internal movement. Any permanent internal or external recruitment should only be undertaken in consultation with the Convener of the City Growth and Resources Committee and should only be undertaken where the post would not be impacted by ongoing future redesign, and that the relevant Committee be a provided with service updates regarding any permanent recruitment that had been undertaken;
(7) to agree that Aberdeen City Council should participate in the “Spaces for People” Initiative providing it is 100% funded by Sustrans Scotland;
(8) to instruct the Chief Officer - Strategic Place Planning to submit bids to the Spaces for People initiative in conjunction with the Council’s Transport spokesperson Councillor Macdonald and report the outcome of those bids to the Urgent Business Committee on 30 June 2020; and
(9) to thank the Director of Resources, the Chief Officer - Finance and their staff for the considerable effort that had gone into the report and all of the work in relation to it.
Councillor Yuill moved as an amendment, seconded by Councillor Alex Nicoll:-
That the Committee approve the terms of the motion outlined above with the exception that Administration Leaders be replaced with Group Leaders in part (3).
On a division, there voted:- for the motion (3) - Convener; Vice Convener; and Councillor Boulton; for the amendment (2) - Councillors Alex Nicoll and Yuill.
The Committee resolved:-
to adopt the motion.