This report seeks agreement from Members to invest the Partnership’s potential income surplus into the procurement of a new software back office system. This would improve service to customers, which is essential to deliver the business plan objectives.
The Director of the South Thames Gateway Building Control Partnership presented a report that sought agreement to invest the Partnership’s potential surplus income into the procurement of a new software back office system. This would improve the service to customers and help reduce the contributions from the Partner Authorities over the next 3 years, both of which were essential to delivering the business plan objectives.
Since the Joint Committee meeting in June 2011, clarification had been sought as to the procurement process and it had been confirmed that funds would have to be identified before the process was taken forward. It was noted that the budget did not contain any provision to meet initial set up costs and further contributions from the three Partner authorities was considered unacceptable. Members were advised however that given current income trends a surplus of up to £40,000 could be generated this financial year. This could be used to finance the initial set up cost, with any ongoing annual cost being contained within existing budgets.
It was also noted that a small contingency sum of £2,000 had been identified in this year’s budget as an IT renewals fund. Further investment would be required so to ensure a rolling programme of funding. It was therefore intended that a contribution be made to the IT reserve of £7,000 this year, and again next year, to allow sufficient funding to renew surveyors’ computer equipment. This would be funded using savings made against other budget heads that had been subject to a moratorium on spend since last October.
Members considered the proposal and the nature of the proposed contract. The importance of confirming the surplus at the end of the financial year and before starting the procurement process was emphasised.
The Joint Committee was advised that the procurement process would follow Medway Council’s procurement procedures and Members expressed concern as to the potential length of this process, which, along with subsequent training, could delay the new software going live until April 2013. The Director of the South Thames Gateway Building Control Partnership undertook to convey to the Strategic Procurement Team at Medway Council the Joint Committee’s concerns as to the impact of a long procurement process, especially upon any large schemes coming forward in the meantime.
The Joint Committee also requested that a report, prepared by finance officers at Swale Borough Council, be submitted to a future meeting reviewing the treatment of future income surpluses.
The Joint Committee agreed the investment of up to £40,000 surplus including contingency into the provision of a new software system which will allow the objectives of the business plan to be met and agreed the increase of the IT contributions budget into a reserve for renewal of existing inadequate equipment.
Reasons for Decisions
The Joint Committee has a key role in ensuring suitable systems are in place to deliver a first class service to customers and that adequate funding is provided. This should be achieved without adding to the contributions from each authority.