To approve the 2022/23 Budget and Reserve Strategy.
Lead: Martin Tugwell
5.1 Members received the reports on the Budget Reserve Strategy at Item 5 together with Item 6 the Business Planning report and Item 11 the Corporate Risk Register report. The Chief Executive and the Interim Finance Director then outlined the key aspects of each of the reports.
The Chief Executive provided background as to why the Budget and Business Plan had not been set earlier and highlighted three key areas for the Board to consider. These were the preparation of the new Strategic Transport Plan (including work on the Independent Economic Review, the regional Decarbonisation Strategy and Transport Related Social Exclusion plus Health and Wellbeing), TfN’s work on strategic policy areas, and its role in supporting partners.
He then reminded Board that where appropriate the executive would look to prepare cases that build on existing capabilities for the Department to consider in the Autumn. He informed Board that provision had been made within the business plan to allow for the preparation of such cases.
5.2 The Interim Finance Director provided Board with an overview of the budget. He then went on to highlight the key points within the corporate risk register.
5.3 Mayor Brabin expressed her disappointment at the closure of the Leeds office and extended an offer for Transport for the North staff to make use of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s offices. She highlighted the importance of retaining the analytical skills that Transport for the North has.
5.4 The Chair extended his congratulations to Bradford on being successful in securing the City of Culture designation for 2025 and stated that he wishes to look at early work which can be done on transport issues in the area.
5.5 Cllr Robinson emphasised the importance of the Communications and Engagement strategy and requested that this be circulated to Members as soon as possible. He stressed the importance of this when dealing with difficult issues with the Government.
As to reserves, he questioned whether the Executive was comfortable that the medium term financial strategy allowed for a robust financial future.
The Finance Director stated that TfN is comfortable in the medium term. He added that there will be challenges going forward in year 2-4 and these would be part of discussions with the Department in coming months.
5.6 Cllr Gittins raised the issue of in year inflationary pressures and whether these have been considered when setting the budget.
5.7 Cllr Little expressed concerns about funding for Local Authorities in the future. He explained that when the Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) have limited funding for local transport projects, LTAs will need to rely more on support from TfN when developing projects.
5.8 On the risk register, Members were keen that this should be looked at in more detail. Mr. Mark Roberts commented that it is helpful for the risk register to be linked to the Business Plan.
5.9 Mr. Mark Rawstron highlighted the importance of the Business Plan as a tool for discussing future funding settlements with Government. He stated that a ... view the full minutes text for item 5
For Members to receive an update on the budget and business planning process.
Lead: Martin Tugwell
4.1 Members received the budget and business planning presentation from the Chief Executive and the Finance Director who addressed the key issues within the presentation. The Chief Executive was keen to stress that this year has been unusual due to receiving the funding letter late and having to understand the implications of it. He explained that due to this the report has been brought to the Committee at a later stage than usual.
4.2 Cllr Hughes sought clarification on reserve levels and asked if they had been depleted following the payment of one-off costs.
The Finance Director explained that the one-off costs will be drawn from reserves. He further stated that TfN is comfortable with the current and proposed level of reserves over the next three years.
The Chief Executive added that he wants TfN to be in a position where over a three year period the organisation can maintain and remain within the agreed reserve policy allowing for sustainability over the longer term. The Chief Executive added that, based on a series of planning assumptions, there is anticipated to be a sufficient levels of reserves over the next three years. This could include factoring in any variances arising from changes to budget assumptions.
4.3 Cllr Salter enquired as to what last year’s budget would have looked like with the responsibilities of the current financial year.
The Finance Director explained that the position last year would broadly have been the same as this year, however last year there was the ability to mitigate some of the costs into the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) programme and a higher level of reseves. He explained that the budget represents an appropriate costs base to manage the core activities.
Cllr Salter stated that he was satisfied with the approach being taken but was unsure as to the full ramifications of the loss of resources.
Referring to the funding letter, the Chief Executive explained that the letter set out a slight increase in the core funding from the previous year as well as supplying an increase to undertake any functions relating to the co-sponsor role.
He informed Members that at a recent conference of the seven Sub-national Transport Bodies (STB) the Minister Andrew Stevenson stated that the Ministerial team value the STBs contributions and they are seen as integral to helping the Government with their work.
4.4 Cllr Jones expressed concern with the current situation and questioned the confidence that the Government and Ministers have in TfN. He stated that the Government’s actions have weakened the organisation and have centralised the decision making process and have cut Transport for the North out. He suggested that Transport for the North make MPs aware of the strategy that they have for the North and ensure that they have a high profile at the three main political party conferences in the Autumn.
4.5 Cllr Hughes stated that TfN needs to make the case that it is the voice of the North. He expressed concern at the NPR co-sponsorship ... view the full minutes text for item 4