The Cabinet Member: Finance, Governance & Customer Services presented the report of the Director: Finance & Human Resources. The report provided an update on the medium-term financial outlook, including key uncertainties and financial pressures. The report also set out the proposals for consultation.
Since the approval of the current Medium Term Financial Strategy on 3 March 2022, there had been significant changes to the national economy. Locally, there had been increased demand for key services and higher costs, particularly in relation to social care and energy costs. It was noted that these pressures were likely to continue to increase in future years.
Due to these factors, the one-year settlement provided by Government and the upcoming local elections in May 2023, it was proposed that a dedicated budget for 2023/24 be set, within the context of the four-year MTFS.
Cabinet Members discussed the impact of the economic situation and discussed proposed investments contained with the report, including a £50m investment into keeping neighbourhoods safe, clean and connected and an additional investment of £2.5m into children’s safeguarding.
Cabinet Members discussed the cost of living crisis and welcomed the proposals to not increase the main proportion Council Tax for the upcoming year. Cabinet Members urged the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Fire Authority and Town and Parish Councils across the Borough to not increase their precept to minimise the burden on families.
Cabinet Members noted that the consultation period was an opportunity for opposition Members to put forward any alternative considerations and noted that any comments would be taken into account.
a) The proposed revised Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) set out in the report for consultation between 6 January 2023 and 5 February 2023 be approved;
b) The very high level of uncertainty relating to the medium-term financial outlook for the Council due to:
a. National and International economic pressures resulting in an extremely
b. challenging financial outlook for U.K. public services
c. Rapidly rising costs including energy, food and interest rates which place
d. pressure on the Council’s own budgets
e. The impact of rising interest rates, the highest rates of inflation for 40 years
f. and a prolonged anticipated economic recession on our residents and
g. businesses resulting in the Council declaring a cost-of-living emergency at
h. Full Council on 10 November
i. The cost-of-living emergency resulting in escalating demand for many
j. Council services adding to the financial pressures facing the Council.
k. The Government’s one-year provisional local government finance settlement
l. not extending beyond the end of March 2024
m. The significant potential changes to the local government finance system
n. which have now been discussed by the Government for many years are now
o. unlikely to be introduced before the next general election but remain a major
p. uncertainty. As does the potential impact of Adult Social Care funding
q. reforms which have been delayed until October 2025
c) This high level of uncertainty requires the Council to retain flexibility by limiting new outgoing investments to our highest priorities whilst identifying additional budget savings to ensure a balanced budget for next year and over the medium-term be noted;
d) The considerable level of uncertainty together with local elections due in May 2023, which will result in a new Administration with a new mandate, combine to make it appropriate to set only a one-year detailed budget for 2023/24 in the wider context of this overall MTFS be noted.