Agenda, decisions and minutes

Cabinet - Wednesday, 14th February, 2024 4.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber / Hybrid

Contact: Anne Jenkins  Governance Team Leader


No. Item


Apologies for Absence

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Declarations of Interest

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Minutes of the Last Meeting pdf icon PDF 170 KB

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The Minutes from 10 January 2024 were accepted as a true record.


2024/25 Capital Strategy and Treasury Management Strategy pdf icon PDF 1 MB

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The Leader presented the first report to colleagues on the Capital and Treasury Management Strategy for 2024/25.


This is an annual report focussing on the Council’s capital expenditure plans, the financial impact of those in terms of borrowing, and investment strategy for the year.


Whilst full Council ultimately approve the borrowing limits and prudential indicators contained within the report, Cabinet was requested to approve the detailed capital programme itself and recommend the report to Council for approval.


Governance and Audit Committee considered the report in their most recent meeting and endorsed the proposed strategies, with no further recommendations.


There were several key points in the report:


The five-year capital programme is managed on a rolling basis, meaning that a new year (2028/29) had been added to the programme.


The programme itself continued to reflect the challenging financial circumstances and, as such, continued to comprise ongoing and previously approved schemes, as well as annual sums for activities such as asset maintenance and fleet renewal.


Whilst there were no new schemes being included, the programme, especially in 2024/25, is still significant and contained a number of the Cabinet’s highest priority schemes such as new school projects, the Transporter Bridge and new Leisure and Wellbeing provision.


Because of the affordability challenges, there was no new borrowing headroom to be approved at this point. However, the programme included indicative new borrowing from 2027/28 onwards, which, if still affordable nearer the time, would be available to pursue new schemes, such as the next wave of school development projects under the Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme.


Until the point at which new borrowing could be formally approved, capital headroom is limited to those amounts already held in specific earmarked reserves and uncommitted capital receipts. As a result, careful prioritisation was required when making new commitments from the headroom and every opportunity needed to be taken to boost it via one-off sources, to continue to respond to emerging pressures as and when they arose.


Whilst there no new borrowing was included in the next few years of the programme; previously approved borrowing would be incurred over that period; this would increase the overall Capital Financing Requirement and the Council’s level of debt.


The borrowing limits proposed in the report take account of this and the revenue consequence of additional borrowing (e.g. interest payable on loans) was already budgeted for, following the budget investment made in 2021/22. Therefore, the programme proposed is affordable, prudent, and sustainable, based on current information and assumptions.


In terms of Treasury Management, the report detailed the Council’s approach to borrowing and investing. It confirmed that the Council would continue to pursue an internal borrowing strategy, by using available cash resources to defer external borrowing for as long as possible and only undertake borrowing in advance of need where there was a clear financial rationale for doing so.


It is important to highlight the large refinancing requirement the Council has during 2024/25, which saw a handful of large loans repaid and new loans taken  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


2024/25 Revenue Budget and MTFP: Final Proposals pdf icon PDF 185 KB

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The Leader introduced the report, to colleagues which dealt with the 2024/25 Council budget, setting out the consultation results on the draft budget, further developments in budget assumptions and an update on the Council’s core and specific grant funding.


The Leader updated colleagues on the latest budget position today as outlined in the report. The Leader set out the Cabinet’s use of the available funds that would finalise the Cabinet’s 2024/25 budget recommendation to the Council to be considered on the 29 February.


Cabinet approved the draft budget on 10 January, which was subject to consultation to the 9 February, as the report outlined in section four; both with existing internal groups such as scrutiny committees and the school’s forum, trade unions and externally with the wider public.


There were also some significant developments in the core and specific grant for 2024/25 and updates to the budget assumptions. The Leader therefore brought Cabinet up to date.


Firstly, the Cabinet approved updates to existing and considered new budget pressures and savings shown in paragraph 1.3, Table 2 of the report. These included financial pressures and investments, the need to provide additional core funding to the housing service and increases to the Council’s revenue contingency budget; mitigated in part by additional efficiency savings from budget re-alignment in non-service budgets and additional council tax income from premiums recently agreed. These agreed budget adjustments updated the budget ‘in hand’ to nearly £1.3m as shown in Table 2. 


Secondly, the Welsh Government confirmed in the week before the meeting that it would be receiving an additional £25m of consequential funding from the UK Government stemming from their increased funding to Councils in England; this funding would be allocated to Welsh Councils in recognition of the significant pressures on budgets, particularly in social care and schools. Information was received over the last few days on how this would be allocated to individual Councils and Newport would be receiving an additional Revenue Support Grant (RSG) allocation of £755k, and an increase in social care-specific grant funding. This increased the current budget ‘in hand’ to just over £2m.


Key issues the Cabinet were mindful of in setting out its final budget recommendation included:


o   Demand on Council services continues to increase, significantly so in housing services and children’s social care. The impact left by the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 was still putting huge pressures on vulnerable families, individuals, and communities.


o   At the same time, the Council’s spending levels were lower than comparable Councils in all service areas. Whilst positive in many ways, the increased capacity required to deal with increasing demand for services and support must be acknowledged.


o   The Council had a vast amount of infrastructure and assets it was responsible for that are integral to delivery of services, such as roads, pavements, and buildings. Additional funding was provided for this to be maintained.


o   The Council’s own staff but also the staff in other organisations provide a wide range of services such as domiciliary  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Newport City Council, Social Value Outcomes in Procurement Update pdf icon PDF 182 KB

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The next report presented by the Leader was the first report of the outcomes delivered from using the Newport Social Value measurement tool, or, Themes, Outcomes and Measures (known as the Newport TOMs), adopted by Cabinet in March 2023.


The Leader was pleased to bring this report to Cabinet Colleagues and thanked the team for delivering the paper that reflected what could be positively gained from public sector investment through procurement.


The TOMs are a mechanism for reporting on Social Value delivery through the Council’s procurement of goods, works and services.


The report highlighted the achievements made for the first six-month reporting period between May to October 2023.


The Newport TOMs were developed from the overarching Welsh TOMs framework, which wasdesigned around the seven wellbeing goals of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.


The methodology was developed in conjunction with the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) National Procurement Network and the National Social Value Task Force Wales, which was a cross-sector working group combining both public and private sector organisations. Many of the measures within the framework were representative of the monetary value assigned to them and that measure brought in an added social value. These were used consistently across Wales.


For this first reporting period, being May to October 2023, a total of £991,984 pounds worth of social value was delivered through tenders undertaken during this time.


A large proportion of this total was made up of employees that live within the boundary of Newport City Council who had been hired or retained to work on the contracts. This added social value for local employees representing some £890,000 of the total achieved.


All the contracts measured demonstrated that staff engaged were paid at least the real Living Wage Foundation rate, as opposed to the basic National Minimum Wage.


Cabinet noted the content of the report, and the achievements made during this first reporting period, which demonstrated the added social value that contracts brought to the wider community and showed commitment to the wellbeing of future generations.


Comments of Cabinet Members:


§  Councillor Davies was pleased with the £1M social value delivered in six months which was outstanding. Whilst this was a measure that the Council was using, Councillor Davies reflected on the fact that all officers were working hard to put value in what they and public sector partners did, working hard for the community.


§  Councillor Hughes added that the report was about common values and confirmed that strong financial decisions could be made whilst still prioritising the Council’s commitments to cultural, social, and economic values. Councillor Hughes was therefore pleased to note the successes.


§  Councillor Forsey reflected on the excellent work and outcomes outlined in the report which benefited the local area and people. The report showed an increase of 28% from the previous six-month period and exceeded the Council’s target.


§  Councillor Harvey noted that the report covered all services including grassroots sports, foodbanks, and supporting and promoting charities. Councillor Harvey congratulated  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


NCC External Pressures - Cost of Living pdf icon PDF 119 KB

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The Leader presented an update on the external pressures impacting the delivery of Council services, which provided a summary of the Council's response to these pressures.


The main challenges facing Newport was the cost-of-living crisis, pressures on housing and homelessness services, and changes in the asylum process.


The Council was responding to these challenges through collaboration and partnership working to provide support, advice, and guidance to residents.


The report provided examples of activities and support offered during this period, including targeted support within temporary accommodation hostels, providing warm snacks to young people, facilitating sessions for families in debt, and distributing food packs to those in need.


The Council also worked closely with partners to coordinate support over the next few months.


The Leader took the opportunity to urge residents experiencing difficulties to contact the Council for information and signposting on the advice and support available, in person, by phone or by visiting our support and advice pages on the website.


Over the coming months officers would be promoting the facility for residents to choose how to spread their council tax bills as a way of supporting residents with lowering monthly outgoings. Residents could choose the plan that best fitted their individual circumstances with 3,6,10 and 12 monthly plans available.


It was encouraging to see the number of partnership events and activities across the city during the last period and to see planning for events and roadshows. 


Shared Prosperity Funding was secured to support the delivery of Warm Spaces during Winter months.  This funding provided small grants directly to third-sector organisations supported by Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations (GAVO).


The Leader continued to advocate for partnership working as being vital in supporting residents and businesses and encouraged anybody in need to access the support available.


Comments of Cabinet Members:


§  Councillor Harvey referred to warm spaces where the report highlighted that there were 16 in place. Councillor Harvey was pleased to note that there we now 25 warm hubs and in the last month, these hubs welcomed over 3,000 residents to come in for tea/coffee and company. Councillor Harvey thanked staff involved in the fantastic initiative and was proud to support this.


§  Councillor Marshall mentioned the events taking place during half term, a lot of which were free. Councillor Marshall also wanted to remind people that there were always spaces to go to, including coffee mornings run by Community Connectors which offered company and support.


§  Councillor Davies referred to school anti-poverty roadshows which were ongoing. Councillor Davies thanked officers for supporting families and signposting them to grants and facilities which are available, and the difference this made to the community.




Cabinet considered the contents of the report on the Council’s activity to respond to the external factors on Newport’s communities, businesses, and Council services.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 100 KB

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