I simply cannot believe that in February - before the election - no one was aware of just how bad the financial situation was, in which case were the electorate misled?
The committee meeting dealing with these matters is next Monday and I have submitted questions. Will I get any answers? Unlikely.
- The MTFS indicates a budget gap for this year of £9.45 million and a gap next year of £19.27 million yet at this committee in February there was no forecast gap for this year and a gap of £6 million next year. What has happened in 4 months to have made such a huge difference to the budget shortfalls?
- At the end of Q 3 2017/18 the forecast outturn was a shortfall of £6.6 million yet by year end the shortfall had risen to £13.5 million. Did something dramatic happen in Q4 or is this a problem of poor/out of date financial reporting and if so who is to blame?
- At 1.5.4 it proposes a new corporate plan for April 2019 reflecting the Conservative manifesto including keeping council tax low. Given that in the final year of this administration the budget shortfall is forecast at £42 million do you think keeping council tax low is prudent or denial of the financial reality?
- If the high level calculations for 2023/24 prove to be correct in forecasting a £62 million budget shortfall, who should I hold accountable for this financial apocalypse?
- By reallocating the NHB to support the revenue position it will cost an additional £1.3m per annum in capital financing. Is this simply storing up problems for later years?
- If the current S151 Officer believes that we should have a reserve of £15.1 million why did the previous S151 Officer allow it to fall to £9.6 million at the start of the last financial year?
- If this committee had been made aware of the seriousness of the financial situation in February do you think they would have still voted to freeze council tax (excluding the social care precept) for this financial year?
- These budget shortfalls do not include the impact of the additional cost of borrowing to complete the Brent Cross Thameslink station. When that is factored in what is overall forecast budget shortfall for 2019/20 and 2020/21?
- Who was responsible for making you aware of the additional borrowing requirement for the Brent Cross Thameslink station and why didn’t they do it sooner?
- At 1.5.14 you identify managing demand as a way to reduce the budget gap. Given that you have been saying that for at least the last 6 years since you published the graph of doom and that it is a policy that has repeated failed to deliver, do think you need to change the people who keep recycling this approach.
- The report talks about radical options for the future of local services but fails to mention any engagement with local residents at the early stages of this process to help develop these options. Please will you confirm that you will publish a resident engagement/involvement plan before the process commences.
- Given the foregoing issues raised under agenda item 7 and the need to cut capital borrowing why is the council considering making a 30 year loan to Saracens to enable the construction of a new West Stand at Allianz Park?
- Given that Capita are responsible for the finance function in the Council why is Barnet paying for Grant Thornton support following a review of financial procedures and practices?
- Before confirming a spend of up to £500,000 what are the specific objectives of this exercise and how will you measure whether their input has met those objectives?