Agenda and draft minutes

Business and Finance Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday 9 January 2024 6.00 pm

Venue: Quaker Room, Meeting Point House, Southwater Square, Telford, TF3 4HS

Contact: Sam Yarnall  01952 382193

Items
No. Item

BFSC12

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

None.

BFSC13

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 144 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED – that the minutes of the meeting 15 November 2023 be confirmed and signed by the Chair.

BFSC14

Consultation on the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2024/25 to 2027/28 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To consider the draft budget proposals agreed by Cabinet on 4 January 2024, to consider any alternative budget proposals put forward and to agree items for further scrutiny.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Interim Director: Finance & Human Resources presented the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2024/25 to 2027/28 to the Committee. The presentation set out the position of the Council as it approached the end of the 2023/24 financial year, followed by a summary of the main proposals outlined within the budget for 2024/25.

 

Members were informed that by the end of 2023/24 there was a total of £147m net budget with 85% being spent on Children’s Safeguarding & Family Support, Education & Skills and Adult Social Care respectively with the other 15% being spent on other services such as Neighbourhoods & Enforcement.

The funding for the net budget was highlighted to come from the following revenue streams:

 

-       55.8% (£82m) from Council Tax which included the Adult Social Care precept;

-       36% (£53m) from Business Rates; and

-       8.2% (£12m) from Revenue Support Grants.

 

For 2024/25, the provisional funding settlement from central government covers just one year. This is the sixth consecutive one-year settlement which makes it difficult to plan effectively for future years. The core spending power for local authorities has risen by 6.5% in 2024/25 which includes some of the Council’s core grants. Members were informed of the Council tax referendum limits for 2024/25 which remained the same as the current year. The services grant received from central government has been cut by 84% for 2024/25.

 

There would be additional budget savings and/or income generation of £17.8 million in 2024/25 with a 4.99% increase in Council Tax marking the first time in two years that Council Tax had been increased. Members were informed that for a band D property, Council Tax rates would still be one of the lowest amounts in the West Midlands region. Members were informed of the new savings proposals included £2.78million in staff savings across the organisation. There would be additional income generated from services and provisions such as the Council’s solar farm and NuPlace. It was highlighted that NuPlace had a cumulative net income of £9.7 million to 31 March 2023 and, as well as driving up housing standards in the private rented market,  many different services such as Adult Social Care had benefited from the income generated. 

 

The robustness of the strategy was explained to Members and it was highlighted that the Council had 16 consecutive years of closing the accounts within budget and with unqualified audit opinions. It was heard that, by the end of 2023/24, there would be £156.9 million per annum in budget savings and additional income delivered. There is provision for a general contingency of £3.95 million in 2024/25, an inflation/pay contingency of £10 million and the budget strategy reserve remains at £21.7 million.

 

The next stages of the budget proposals were explained to Members which included the report being presented to Cabinet as its meeting on 15 February 2024 for agreement following consultation. The strategy would then be presented to a meeting of the Full Council on 29 February 2024 for agreement.

 

Following the presentation, the Chair invited the Cabinet Member: Finance,  ...  view the full minutes text for item BFSC14

BFSC15

Work Programme Review pdf icon PDF 273 KB

To review the updated Work Programme for the Business and Finance Scrutiny Committee.

 

Minutes:

The Director: Policy & Governance provided an update on the Business and Finance Scrutiny Committee work programme which summarised the next meeting and the items that would need to be scheduled in the next municipal year. Members were informed that for the next meeting taking place on 5 March 2024, the items scheduled included an update from the LEP and their approach to devolution. The update summarised some of the items that would need to be scheduled for the next municipal year, which included the Annual Housing Update, Pride in our High Street workshop and an update on Corporate Grants. Members were informed that these would be looked at and scheduled accordingly with consultation with both officers and the Chair.

 

BFSC16

Chair's Update

Minutes:

The Chair informed Members that the next meeting would take place on 5 March 2024.