The Leader introduced this
report on behalf of Councillor Hebb and drew Members attention to
the executive summary. He stated that this report covered quarter
3, which had ended 3 months ago, and did not give up-to-date
statistics for this year. He confirmed that quarter 3 had seen an
increase spend by the waste team due to unforeseen circumstances
that had been out of the council’s control, but this
overspend had been absorbed by other services and the corporate
budget. He stated that Councillor Hebb and the Director of Finance
and IT believed the council would be on target to spend the budget
by the end of the financial year, and would not be using reserves
or one-off reserves. He mentioned that in the 2018/19 financial
year, general fund reserves had increased by 4% and overspend had
The Leader commented that homelessness was still an issue within the borough, as landlords were increasing rents and renting to families faced with homelessness from London boroughs. He stated that this meant the council had to spend more on temporary accommodation, which cost the taxpayers money. He reaffirmed that the council were doing all they could to help people who had been made homeless, such as pressuring central government and meeting regularly with Leaders across Essex to discuss the problem of London borough’s housing their homeless people outside of London. He added that the council were currently looking into initiatives to stop temporary accommodation such as building more houses for a permanent solution, as outlined in Item 10 of the agenda. He stated that last year 1556 Thurrock residents had been made homeless, which was a 40% increase from the year before. He summarised and stated that the council were looking into every service to find efficiencies, such as Children’s Services who had saved £3.5m, most of which had been re-invested in the service.
Councillor Collins thanked Councillor Hebb and his team for all their hard work on balancing the budget and stated that he felt concerned over the number of homeless people across the borough and hoped the figure could decrease. The Leader thanked Councillor Collins as his portfolio of Central Services usually underspent, which helped those services who had overspent.
Councillor Johnson reassured Cabinet that his housing team are very proactive when looking for solutions for homelessness, such as building new homes and new houses of multiple occupancy. He stated that he had attended a seminar last week regarding the Homelessness Reduction Act, and felt that no other council were doing more than Thurrock to prevent homelessness. He stated that he was constantly looking for improvements, but often the headline figures gave a bad impression. The Leader reiterated the point that the council were constantly looking for solutions, and always looked to see if they could use ideas from other councils. He added that the council were currently looking into temporary housing, which would be erected in weeks and had a watertight guarantee of 50 years. He stated that this temporary housing would not be prefab, but would be of well-designed concrete and would be dismantled and moved elsewhere when needed. He then stated that he felt it was good to see other services such as Children’s minimise their overspend, but knew this could change quickly if even a few children needed the council’s help.
1. Noted the forecast outturn position for 2018/19 and that further mitigation is required to outturn within the agreed budget envelope.
Reason for Decision – as stated in the report
This decision is subject to call-in