Report by Chief Executive Officers Alistair Cunningham and Terence Herbert
Cllr Simon Jacobs, Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement introduced the report which proposed the 2020/2021 Budget and Medium-Term Financial Strategy 2020/2021 to 2024/2025 and set out the budget setting proposals, giving details that fed into the budget setting reports.
Colin Gale asked for clarification in relation to figures detailed in the report associated with Council Tax and Social Care Levy. A copy of his question is attached as an appendix to these minutes. The Leader indicated that a written response would be provided after the meeting.
Cllr Jacobs reported that the process undertaken to consult on the Budget was open and transparent. He confirmed that the report had been discussed in detail with the public, the Financial Planning Task Group and the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee, prior to its consideration by the Cabinet and ultimately Council at the end of February 2020.
In presenting the report, Cllr Jacobs indicated that the Council’s strategic aims and priorities drove the medium-term financial planning process, with changes in resource allocation determined in accordance with policies and priorities of the Council’s 2017-2027 business plan. A key focus being to ensure a strong sustainable financial base during the current challenging times. The key changes reflect the revised forecast for the increasing demand for care for the vulnerable, including adult and children with complex care needs and special educational needs and the delay in Government determining a new fairer funding settlement.
Cllr Jacobs commented on (i) the Council’s four key priorities; (ii) the growth and challenges to the Council spending; (iii) funding sources for the budget; (iv) the level of savings required for 2020/2021; and (v) budget assumptions for future years. He was confident that the Council was currently in a good position to set a strong Financial Plan for the years ahead and thanked officers for their assistance in putting the proposals together.
Councillor Graham Wright, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee, welcomed the positive and early engagement with Scrutiny and thanked officers for their input. He confirmed that the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee undertook a robust and thorough consideration of the proposals, the details of which were circulated as a Supplement to the main agenda.
Resolved: To recommend that Council
1. Agrees the budget for 2020/21;
2. Approves the growth and savings proposals summarised in the report to provide a net revenue budget for 2020/21 of £344.023 million;
3. Agrees to:
a. Set the Council’s total net expenditure budget for 2020/21 at £344.023 million;
b. Set a Council Tax increase of 1.99% and Social Care Levy increase of 2%;
c. Delegate changes in fees and charges as set out in Section 9;
d. Set a 2.7% increase for social dwelling rents (CPI plus 1%);
e. Set the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budget for 2020/21 at £30.302 million expenditure; and
f. All service charges related to the HRA being increased to recover costs, capped at increase of £5 per week for those not on housing benefits and garage rents increased by 1.7% (CPI).
4. Endorse the Medium-Term Financial Strategy and receive regular updates on delivery against strategy to Cabinet; and
5. Notes the budget gap of £69.527 million for MTFS period 2021/22 – 2024/25.
Reason for Decision:
To enable the Cabinet to recommend to Council to:
1. Set its revenue and housing revenue accounts budgets and levels of reserves and Council Tax for the financial year 2020/21;
2. Provide the Council with a strong financial plan for sustainable delivery of services in 2020/21;
3. Provide the Council with a Medium-Term Financial strategy to drive long term financial sustainability and delivery of the business plan; and
4. Meet its strategic financial objectives.