To receive an update on the Community Infrastructure Levy.
Brendan Arnold, Chief Finance and Section 151 Officer, provided a summary of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) scheme. The scheme had paid out approximately £10,000 per year over the previous eight years.
The Section 151 Officer noted that there had been confusion regarding the definition of a separate account, as had been used to describe the CIL fund. Where it was commonly thought to mean a separate bank account, in actuality it meant a separate ledger account. It was considered normal national practice to keep CIL money, and other moneys collected by the Council, in such a manner. The Chief Finance Officer confirmed that a separate ledger would continue to be used as opposed to a separate bank account and that the outcome would have been the same if a separate account had been used previously.
The Council faced a £1.2 billion charge with no finances to cover. There had been no use of CIL money on capital expenditures.
The Council would honour all commitments to it under the CIL scheme including financial liabilities. There were, therefore, no legal ramifications from the current CIL financing situation. Officers considered that the developers would have no justification to apply to reclaim their money.
It was necessary, due to the Council’s finances, to take a measured approach to CIL funding. Officers emphasised that such an approach did not equate to a pause or freeze of the CIL scheme. It was not yet possible to determine how much cash would be available to fund CIL applications.
The Chief Finance Officer considered that the next opportunity to release funds for the CIL scheme would be following the setting of the Council’s budget at the meeting of the Council in February 2024.
New cash received was being kept separate so as not to contribute to the aforementioned £1.2 billion charge.
Officers confirmed that once cash was available to fund approved applications funding would be allocated using the pre-existing procedure.
The Chair asked that as the Section 114 Notice stated all statutory duties would be fulfilled and considered that would include CIL funding, for what reason was it not currently being funded. The Section 151 Officer undertook to reply outside of the meeting.
Officers had no intention of closing the CIL scheme.
A view was expressed that direct communication on the matter between the Council and neighbourhood forums should take place. The Committee agreed to request that Officers engage with neighbourhood forums on the subject. Councillor Lyons, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulatory, was committed to engaging with the neighbourhood forums.
[Post-meeting Note: Shortly after the meeting, Cllr Lyons contacted the Chairman to advise him that Cllr Lyons had confused Pyrford Neighbourhood Forum with a different organisation, and that Pyrford Neighbourhood Forum had not in fact declined his invitation to attend one of their meetings as originally stated in the meeting. Cllr Lyons was looking forward to attending Pyrford Neighbourhood Forum on 11 September 2023]
The Committee agreed that it would be helpful for Officers to publish a clear, digestible position statement on the Council website to summarise the position of the CIL scheme and the anticipated direction of its funding. Officers accepted the recommendation.