Agenda item


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The Corporate Performance Manager presented the report which presented an updated version of the register as at August 2023.  It gave details of the risks falling into the ‘Very High’ category and the associated work being progressed to mitigate the effects.


The Committee’s attention was drawn to the key issues set out in the report.


The Corporate Performance Manager explained that there were many external factors which influenced risk and which still remained.


The Corporate Performance Manager advised there were no proposals to revise the score for any of the risks, add or remove risks.


The Chair thanked the Corporate Performance Manager for the report and invited questions and comments from the Committee, a summary of which is set out below.


Councillor Bearshaw thanked the Corporate Performance Manager for the work undertaken on the Bowtie methodology and drew attention to page 303, the risk register being monitoring by Management Team and asked if smart actions had been looked at or did Management Team make the decisions to strengthen the process?


At the invitation of the Chair, the Portfolio Holder for Finance addressed the Committee and outlined the major improvements which had been made in producing the risk register.  The Portfolio Holder referred to page 321 and the corporate risks in score order and added that there were difficulties in financial stability.  In conclusion, the Portfolio Holder commented that the risk register was a fair reflection on the Council’s current position.


The Portfolio Holder for Finance commented that the format of the AGS had been changed and was closer in alignment to the Corporate Plan.  The Portfolio Holder outlined the work being undertaken in relation to the list of statutory and discretionary services.


Councillor Dark commented on Risk 1 – Financial Stability and the issue of the Internal Drainage Board (IDB) levies and added that the Council could put a cap on the increase on council tax but IDB’s were not in that position to do so.  Councillor Dark further commented that the existing mitigating control for financial stability was previously £3m was set aside for the capital programme which could generate income streams and asked why this had not been included in the existing plan.  In response, the Assistant Director – Resources provide clarification on the General Fund Reserve (which could be drawn upon for a rainy day) and the Earmarked reserve (which could be used for a specific purpose). 


It was explained that a review of the reserves was being undertaken. With regard to the £3m mentioned by Councillor Dark, the Assistant Director explained that this money was still available but it had not yet been determined what it would be used for and was created by a review and release of historic reserves.  The only commitment made was for the feasibility study for the Kaset project.


Following questions from Councillor Bearshaw on reserves, the Assistant Director, Resources explained that reserves were separate from the revenue budget. 


Councillor Dark commented on the review of earmarked reserves undertaken by the previous Portfolio Holder for Finance.


The Portfolio Holder for Finance referred to his Council report which included information on the £3m reserve which was being held as a specific hold pot.  In his view that there was not as much flexibility now to deliver investment projects which would generate an income stream.


The Assistant Director, Resources responded to questions from the Chair on the review of reserves undertaken in 2023 and the invest to save reserve.


The Chair asked if Full Council approval would be required for using the £3m invest to generate revenue or grow, for a specific purpose, for example, purchase of a waste vehicle.  In response, the Assistant Director Resources advised that she would check the approval process required with the Monitoring Officer.


In response to questions from Councillor Bearshaw on the budget, the Assistant Director, Resources explained that the reserves were not included within the budget process and were like a savings account.


Councillor Dark commented that reserves were fairly static and the invest to save reserve was created to generate income streams and provided an overview on the importance of continuous monitoring of earmarked reserves.


The Portfolio Holder, Finance there was a fine balance and that to fund a balanced budget it would be a Cabinet decision to draw down from reserves. 


Councillor Dark referred to page 315, risk 9, Organisational Change the mitigation and controls to recruit and retain staff.  Councillor Dark provided background information on the report considered by the Corporate Performance Panel and asked why retention was not considered a specific risk area.  In response, the Assistant Director, Resources outlined the issues experienced by the Council in attracting candidates for specific skills and had to appoint at the top end of the scale.  Once appointed there was limited progression for the employee.


Councillor Devulapalli referred to paragraph 2.5, businesses entering insolvency and asked if there was any data available for West Norfolk.  In response, the Corporate Performance Manager explained that there was no data available but undertook to research to see if regional data could be obtained.


Following questions from Councillor Devulapalli on Climate Change and the impact on West Norfolk and the current flooding problems, the Chair commented that risks were not just financial based and the Corporate Performance Manager was aware of this and undertook to review the risk rating and come back to the Committee.


Under Standing Order 34, Councillor Coates commented that difficulties experienced in the recruitment of staff and having to appoint at the top of the pay scale.  Councillor Coates added that it should be accepted.  People would be on an upwards career path and would move on after 3 years and would use the authority as a stepping stone.  The Council should therefore look at other benefits which were not monetary related to retain staff.


Councillor Dark stated that he concurred with the comments made by Councillor Devulapalli in relation to climate change and explained that the previous Administration had declared a climate emergency and allocated £1m budget and an action plan.  In year 1, £250,000 was allocated in the budget and it would be for the current Administration to determine how this was funded going forward.


In response, the Portfolio for Finance stated that the Council had a programme to grow your own which encouraged advancement.  The Portfolio Holder commented that he had asked for a benchmarking exercise to be undertaken for Grade PG9 and above.




RESOLVED:  The Committee considered the Corporate Risk Register as at August 2023 and confirmed agreement with Management Team’s assessment

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