Agenda item

Executive Committee


Members considered minutes from meetings of the Executive Committee held on 6th December 2022, 13th December 2022 and 10th January 2023. 


Council was reminded that at the meeting of the Executive Committee held on 13th December 2022 the Committee had made no recommendations.  These minutes had therefore been shared for Members’ consideration in case there were any questions of clarification on the content and to enable Council to adopt the minutes.


During consideration of the minutes of these meetings, the following reports, that had been debated at those meetings, were discussed in detail:


Medium Term Financial Plan 2023/24 to 2025/26 – Update


Concerns were raised that the savings detailed in the report could result in staff redundancies as well as a change to the electoral cycle at the Council from a system of elections by thirds.  In addition, some Members raised concerns about the proposed fees for services delivered by Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS).


Council Tax Base 2023/24


The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling highlighted that the Council was required to set the Council Tax Base on an annual basis.  The proposals detailed in the report assumed that the Council would achieve a 98 per cent collection rate, in respect of Council Tax payments during the 2023/24 financial year.  The Council Tax Base had been calculated at £26,304.94.  This was lower than for many other Councils in Worcestershire as the calculations were based on the numbers of Council Tax Band D equivalent properties in the local authority area and the majority of houses in the Borough were classified as Bands A – C.  The lower Council Tax Base placed the Council at a disadvantage and it was suggested that the Council should encourage the Government to take action to change the system.


Council Tax Support Scheme 2023/24


The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling explained that a draft report on the subject of proposed changes to the Council Tax Support Scheme had been considered by the Executive Committee in October 2022.  The proposed changes had subsequently been the subject of public consultation.  A total of 94 responses had been received during this consultation, of which 87 per cent had expressed support for the proposed changes. 


As part of the process, the Council had consulted with all of the precepting authorities.  Worcestershire County Council had responded to Redditch Borough Council and had raised some concerns.  However, the issues raised would be offset by the benefits arising for eligible residents in the Borough.  Members were asked to note that in Worcestershire, only the District Councils in the north of the county had proposed changes to their Council Tax Support Schemes, all of which were designed to benefit vulnerable local residents.


Housing Revenue Account Rent Setting Report 2023/24


The Portfolio Holder for Housing and Procurement presented the Housing Revenue Account Rent Setting Report 2023/24.  Members were advised that the report proposed increasing rents for Council house tenants.  The Government had announced that Councils could increase rents for Council properties by 3 per cent, 5 per cent or 7 per cent and the report proposed that in Redditch, Council rents should increase by 7 per cent.  This increase would help the Council to cover the increasing costs associated with repairs and maintenance of Council properties and help the authority to ensure compliance with legal standards. 


During consideration of this item, Councillor Joe Baker proposed the following recommendation:


“We recommend that the Council defers this until we have clearer and more precise information.”


The recommendation was proposed by Councillor Baker and seconded by Councillor Juma Begum.


In proposing the recommendation, Councillor Baker commented that in his view the report contained limited information clarifying why the Council had opted to increase rents by 7 per cent rather than 3 per cent or 5 per cent, as permitted by the Government.  Councillor Baker raised concerns that this increase was being proposed in a context in which Members were receiving a number of complaints from Council tenants about the condition of Council houses and the speed with which repairs occurred. He suggested that residents might question whether this increase represented value for money.


Members subsequently debated the recommendation in detail and in so doing commented on the following:


·             The potential for the Council to increase rents by 3 per cent or 5 per cent and that this information would be useful for comparison with the figures arising from an increase of 7 per cent. 

·             The need for tenants to have clarity regarding the amount of rent they would be paying for Council properties in the 2023/24 financial year.

·             The increases that had been proposed to rents for properties in the private rented sector, which was up to 20 per cent in some places.

·             The costs associated with repairs and maintenance of Council houses, which were impacted by the costs of inflation and were also set to increase as a result of new legal duties arising in respect of damp and mould in properties.

·             The need for Members to make informed decisions about rent increases based on detailed information about the financial implications for the Council.

·             The timescales in which the increases would apply.  Concerns were raised that the report appeared to imply that there would be a 7 per cent increase in both 2023/24 and 2024/25.

·             The discussions in respect of the report that had taken place at a recent meeting of the Budget Scrutiny Working Group when the item had been pre-scrutinised and the reasons why similar concerns had not been raised on this subject then.

·             The level of inflation which was 9 per cent on the date of the Council meeting and the fact that this was higher than the proposed increase to the rent for Council houses.

·             The extent to which it was appropriate to increase rents for vulnerable Council house tenants during a cost of living crisis.

·             The numbers of new, qualified staff who had been recruited into the Housing Department in recent years.


During consideration of the recommendation, the Interim Section 151 Officer was invited to comment in response to points that had been raised by Members during the debate.  Members were informed that detail had been provided at a meeting of the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee held in October 2022 in respect of the financial implications arising from increasing rents by 3 per cent or 5 per cent and this had set out how those figures compared to the proposed 7 per cent rise.  ~It was acknowledged that the public consultation undertaken in respect of the proposed rent increases had related to a two-year period but the proposed increase to rents for Council houses of 7 per cent would apply for one year only in 2023/24.


On being put to the vote the recommendation was lost.


Members subsequently returned to discussing the substantive Motion.


In accordance with Procedure Rule 17.5 a recorded vote was taken on the substantive Motion in respect of the Housing Revenue Account Rent Setting Report 2023/24 and the voting was as follows:


Members voting FOR the resolution:


Councillors Salman Akbar, Karen Ashley, Joanne Beecham, Juliet Brunner, Michael Chalk, Brandon Clayton, Luke Court, Matthew Dormer, Peter Fleming, Lucy Harrison, Anthony Lovell, Emma Marshall, Timothy Pearman, David Thain and Craig Warhurst (15).


Members voting AGAINST the resolution:


Councillors Joe Baker, Juma Begum, Andrew Fry, Bill Hartnett, Sharon Harvey, Joanna Kane and Sid Khan (7).


Members voting to ABSTAIN:


No councillors (0).


The vote was therefore carried.


Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board – Budget Recommendations 2023/24


The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling explained that the costs of the Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) shared service were increasing due to a number of factors.  In particular, the staff pay award and associated pension costs had increased pressures on the budget.  Each partner authority contributed to the financial costs involved in operating the shared service and the contribution required from Redditch Borough Council in 2023/24 would be 17.9 per cent.




the minutes of the meetings of the Executive Committee held on 6th December 2022, 13th December 2022 and 10th January 2023 be received and all recommendations adopted.



Supporting documents: