The Interim Section 151 Officer presented recommendations concerning the budget for Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) for 2023/24.
Members were advised that the service’s budget had been discussed at a meeting of the WRS Board held on 17th November 2022. During the Board meeting, Members had considered the financial pressures that were impacting on WRS, which included the impact of inflation and the recent pay award to staff. Based on the figures provided, it was proposed that Redditch Borough Council should contribute 17.4 per cent of the costs towards the service. Partner authorities would cover the rest of the costs of delivering the shared service.
The Committee considered the content of the report and in doing so questioned whether funding for some of the services that were delivered by WRS could be suspended on a temporary basis whilst the Council was working to address additional costs caused by the increase in inflation. Officers explained that, theoretically, the Council could temporarily suspend most services, although careful consideration needed to be given to the consequences of this type of action. Members also commented that WRS delivered good quality services that represented value for money.
Consideration was given to the fees that could be charged for delivering pest control services. Members commented that these services were available for free to Council tenants. However, in some cases it was suggested that pest control services might be needed as a consequence of actions that had been taken by the tenant and in those circumstances, Members questioned whether it would be possible for the Council to charge those tenants for use of the service.
Reference was also made to the contribution from Redditch Borough Council and why this was higher than the financial contribution from some of the other partner organisations. Members were advised that the contributions took into account matters such as urban deprivation. It was also understood that Redditch Borough Council received more in terms of service delivery than other authorities. Further information, including from measures monitored by WRS, would potentially help Members to assess the reasons for this higher contribution and it was agreed that WRS should be asked to provide this data.
1) WRS contributions are increased by £22,668 in 2022/23 due to the national pay award of £1,925 per pay point and increases in hosting costs due to the “cost of living” crisis; and
2) WRS Budget contributions are increased to £648,000 in 2023/24 to take account of pay awards and the impact of the “cost of living crisis.