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My Council is trying to take full control of the budget spend away from full Council and want the committees to have full control of our budgets (spend)
This equates to far far more than half a million. They want to have the power to make decisions and agree all payments. Previously the view was power to agree payments of up to 5 k.

I've been told we can't do this multiple times but they are going to do this and although I'll speak up, they won't listen.

An officer is advising against. We are also not getting a good audit report - which is not a suprise to me.
I just need some advice.
by (4.6k points)
edited by

3 Answers

+1 vote
Your opening statement seems to contradict itself in that "my council is trying to take full control of budget spend away from the council". I would assume that certain members of the council are attempting to do so. Delegation of powers to a committee ( including budget payments) is of course quite acceptable but must be clearly defined and laid out in the committee's terms of reference which has to be be proposed and resolved at a full council meeting and not behind closed doors. As your clerk may well be the Responsible Financial Officer then their position in this matter would also need investigating and clarifying.In the end as with all decisions of a PC matters the majority of the council makes the decisions not the clerk and not the chair. But of course how you stop the "stronger" influences leading the "sheep" is of course another story.
by (27.5k points)
Appreciate your response and can see the conflict in the opening statement.
An officer, the RFO, is advising against this but the reccomendation is from a working group hence yes, stronger members, but I do I understand that if this is agreed in Full Council then that's how it is.
I'll read through the terms of reference again. I don't recall seeing this clearly  stated in complete honesty within the TOR but they will probably amend it.
But they are looking to approve all spend which I don't agree with. We don't have a Finance Committe and they've removed many refferences to Finance from Full TC.
I do need to scrutinise it once more as only received yesterday and the meeting is Monday. It's not a lot of time plus we have our audit / AGAR and many other items plus confidential.
It's going to be quite a difficult meeting I suspect
I fully understand your frustration and I am sure there are many councillors who feel they are shouting in the wind sometimes. There should be laid down procedures in your policies that should be followed and if they are not then this is a basis for objecting to the validity of any vote asked for. Don't forget that if the clerk has not supplied in time the complete information available ( not just a working parties recommendation but also how they reached their conclusions) you as a councillor can call for the decision to be postponed to another time. All information must reach councillors in good time for examination and raising of questions. Working parties recommendations are just that as they have no power to make decisions and nodding through a "recommendation" by a working party however detailed is a dereliction of a councillors duty to read and understand and if necessary question the recommendation to make an informed decision at full council when summoned.
Thank you. I'll raise it I think. It's difficult as we've deffered the governance so much due to indecision however it is to short notice, but I'll also prepare for a debate.
+1 vote
The budget must be set and agreed by the full council. Once the budget has been agreed, spending decisions within the budget may be delegated, through a formal process of delegation. The issue is how you set the budget.  For example, if you say "Open Spaces £50k" then delegate that to a committee, they may decide to spend all of it on a single vanity project. Whereas, if you break the £50k down into £x for grounds maintenance at site y, £z for repainting the bandstand etc etc, the committee has a shopping list and you are simply delegating the final stage of agreeing payments within the framework previously agreed by the whole council.
by (54.1k points)
+1 vote
I agree with DavetheClerks answer about breaking down budgets.
There shouldn’t be an issue with a committee having any level of spend so long as the full council have read the recommendation and voted on the Terms of Reference.

Our council recently did this to ensure we were not constantly holding things off to the full meeting which is normally very busy with other matters.

We ensured the committee had a majority (18 out of 25) And had a very detailed business case for its introduction as well as very specific terms of reference. Within the terms of reference it states exactly what budget codes the committee has use of, their amounts and commands a report each month to the full council on its actions.

Our committee has to set its budgets each year and so is only left with a certain amount for contingency. If it ain’t on the books it ain’t happening basically.
The only loophole which is difficult to get over is the minimum number for a quorum which could technically mean something is passed with very few members.
The Clerk can give an opinion what they think regarding the idea but if it’s legal (which it is) then the council has no duty to accept that opinion.

If you’re against this then ask yourself why and then turn that in to a positive by saying that in theory you disagree but would like a compelling business case and terms of reference to help you think otherwise.
by (5.4k points)
Thank you to you and Dave the Clerk and all responses.

You all have gave some really great advice which I really appreciate and I am taking on board.
Thank you.

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