Agenda and minutes

Finance and Corporate Services Select Committee - Thursday, 11th January, 2024 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 5 - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Anisha Teji  01895 277655 or Email:

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


There were no apologies for absence.




Declarations of interest in matters coming before this meeting


There were no declarations of interest.



Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 222 KB


RESOLVED: That the minutes from the meeting on 22 November 2023 be agreed.



To confirm that the items of business marked as Part I will be considered in Public and that the items marked as Part II will be considered in Private


It was confirmed that all items would be heard in Part I.


Cabinet's budget proposals for next financial year pdf icon PDF 415 KB


The Heard of Strategic Finance and Head of Finance – Counter Fraud and Finance introduced the report detailing the draft revenue budget and capital programme for the services within the remit the Committee.


Key points from the report were highlighted, including details of the financial pressures generated by the ongoing inflation, growing demand for services and a lack of certainty over Government funding beyond 2024/25, with the budget taking a prudent approach to support financial resilience over the medium term.  It was reported that the balanced budget was set to be achieved through a combination of efficiency savings and increases in Council Tax and Fees and Charges.


Budget proposals for 2024/5 had been prepared in the context of a wider strategy addressing the five-year MTFF period.        The latest monitoring position for the 2023/24 financial year reported a net underspend of £2k which would leave uncommitted General Balances at £26,848k entering the 2024/25 financial year.


The Committee noted that Cabinet would consider the budget proposals on 15 February 2024 and the report would include comments from Select Committees. Members were informed that Council would meet to agree the 2024/25 budgets and Council tax levels on 22 February 2024.


The Chairman acknowledged that this was a good news budget in incredibly tough times and circumstances.


In response to questions around efficiency savings, collaboration, and shared funding projects with other local authorities, it was explained that the budget gap was identified to consider the value of savings required. This was followed by MTFS strategy workshops where corporate directors were invited to present their proposals and wide-reaching discussions were undertaken. Benchmarking data from other local authorities was considered and at present Grant Thornton was helping to review the budget. Grant Thornton was very knowledgeable and experienced with working local authorities.


The Committee was informed that the Council was very resident driven and service delivery was prioritised. Factors such as inflation and the knock-on effects of wars had impacted the budget and wider service impacts.


Some Members raised concerns about the lack flexibility in the budget and, without investment from the government, questions were raised around sustainability. Concerns were raised around the level of reserves available, Council programs potentially not being delivered, the amount of savings to be made, the manage vacancy approach and the wellbeing of staffing teams that were already under resourced. It was noted that the general reserves were the third lowest in London and the Council was using a substantial proportion of its earmarked reserves.  The benefits of transformation were acknowledged but questions were raised about whether the current projects aligned with resident needs. The Cabinet was called to consider ways to build more resilience into the budget taking into account the financial challenges faced by the Council.


Some Members enquired how transformation would be funded if assets were not sold. The closure of childrens centres, nurseries and relocating libraries to release assets was questionable when these services were required by the Community.


Clarification was sought in respect of the Hillingdon  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.


Review of the Council's Consultation Arrangements pdf icon PDF 224 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee agreed to hold a single meeting review to hear further information about the Council’s Consultation Arrangements. It heard a detailed presentation from the Community Engagement Manager.


The Terms of Reference for the review were:


1.    To investigate the Council’s Consultation Arrangements as requested by motion in (initial discussion at Select Committee in October).

2.    To review how the voice of our diverse communities are heard working together towards geographical parity.

3.    To make any necessary recommendations to Cabinet based on the Committee’s findings.


The Committee heard about  the Council’s Customer Engagement website which was a page on the Council’s Sharepoint accessible by all employees. This page was an information hub on how to undertake consultations, different consultation methods, who to contact for support and the general process for the Council’s consultation and surveys.


The different types of consultation and engagement methods included:


v  Face to face meetings

v  Virtual meetings / discussions

v  Surveys (online and paper-based, telephone / postal methods)

v  Hybrid sessions

v  Information shared on noticeboards

v  Social media comments / feedback

v  Estate-based events

v  Engagement with community and faith leaders

v  Engagement with residents’ associations, tenant groups etc.

v  Assemblies (e.g. older people)

v  Forums (e.g., carers, young people etc.)


The Committee was informed that a form was available for employees to complete which was then reviewed by a  member of the Engagement team to review ensuring it was fit for purpose. The form asked for information such as proposed timings, whether it was a statutory consultation and whether it was a statutory consultation. The final consultation was then shared with the WebPage team for comment before making it available for residents. The consultations were promoted by the Corporate Communications team through different channels such as social media, Hillingdon People magazine and internal communications. Once the consultation was live weekly downloads of response were sent to the relevant team to track progress.


Good engagement needed to be meaningful, timely, a fair representation and honest  to provide an overall positive response. Hearing, physical and learning disability factors all needed to be considered when devising consultations.




Members were told that there was a real focus to reach those hard to reach or hidden communities as part of consultations to gain a fair representation. Consultations were tailored and adapted on relevant topics as some may be better through face to face/ virtual hearings, surveys, hybrid sessions, engagement with Community Leaders and resident associations.


An overview of 18 + census data which provided insight into ethnicity, religion, disability and age was provided to the Committee. Key statistics were highlighted through the demonstration of various charts and graphs. It was noted that 18 plus residents were more likely to complete surveys and engage with the Council.


Members were provided with an analysis of consultations comparisons over the space of three years. Three examples were given in library services, budget and ULEZ consultations. These results had been analysed and a common trend was that there had been more consultations  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.


Cabinet Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 237 KB

Additional documents:


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Additional documents:


RESOLVED: That the updates and work programme be noted.