The Cabinet Member for Finance, Governance and Customer Services presented the report of the Director: Finance & H.R. (Chief Financial Officer).
Cabinet was presented with the draft medium term financial strategy for the Authority. As a large, complex, organisation delivering important services it needed to plan for the medium term. The strategy presented was a four year one prioritising frontline services through a combination of savings, working innovation, and income generation. The government had provided authorities with a single year financial settlement and this posed difficulties in planning for the longer term.
There were key demands in the areas of adult social care and children’s safeguarding.
Members would be aware of the increasing pressures on residents with increased taxes, energy costs, and inflation. However, as a result of the Council’s robust financial management, it would not increase council tax in the Borough for two years. The only increase would be the 1% social care precept dictated by government. Telford and Wrekin Council would again have the lowest level of council tax in the Midlands region.
Due to sustained robust financial management, the Council were able to make a number of significant investments to further ‘Protect, Care and Invest’ in the Borough. These included:
- Net investment of £0.66m in Children’s Safeguarding in the next year;
- £4.9m in to Adult Social Care next year rising to £6.7m by 2023/24;
- £10m for affordable housing initiatives;
- In excess of £20m additional investment in NuPlace for a total investment up to £130.9m;
- The creation of a £20m capital investment fund;
- £37m additional investment in the Telford Growth Fund to protect existing jobs in the Borough and to attract new jobs through inward investment; and
- A range of other capital investments that included road maintenance.
Since 2009, the Council had delivered savings totalling £133.7m. The report also advanced new proposals that would deliver ongoing savings, including additional income of £143.7m by 2023/24.
The Council had consistently stated that it would protect the most vulnerable in society and prioritise the protection of services to vulnerable adults and children in the community.
Members welcomed the report, in particular the continued protection of services for the vulnerable, and noted the sound financial management of the Authority despite the pressures that local authorities had faced in the previous ten years.
The Leader of the Conservative Group welcomed the 0% tax increase proposed and noted the positive effect of the government’s Covid-19 grant.
The Leader of the Council called upon the Fire Authority and the Police and Crime Commissioner not to levy any increase to their respective precepts.
RESOLVED – that Cabinet
Approve the proposed Medium Term Financial Strategy set
out in this report for consultation between 7 January 2022 and 6
b) Note the high level of uncertainty relating to the medium term financial outlook for the Council due to :-
• the Government’s one year provisional local government finance settlement not extending beyond the end of March 2023; and