To consider the reports listed below. Reports 9.1 to 9.4 were considered by Cabinet on 20 February 2020 for recommendation to Council for approval.
Councillor L D Carter, Cabinet Member: Finance, Commercial Services and the Economy, presented a series of reports from the Chief Executive, the Chief Financial Officer, the Executive Director for Housing, Communities and Customer Services and the Director: Policy, Customer & Commercial Services. The reports, detailed the Revenue Budget, medium term Capital Strategy and Programme, the Investment and Treasury Management Strategies and Prudential Indicators, formed the Council’s overall Medium Term Service & Financial Planning framework, and identified the service priorities and budget for 2020/21. The report included details of savings proposals and investments for 2020/21 and set out the proposed approach to developing the further savings that would be required through to 2021/22.
The Overview and Revenue Budget report set out the severe financial challenges facing the Council. By the end of this financial year, the Council would have made savings of £123m per annum, meaning that every year there was now £1,600 less to spend delivering services to each household in the Borough. The Council had sought to do this in ways that protected front line services as far as possible and where services to the public were affected to do this in as compassionate a way as possible.
Following the publication of its draft budget proposals in early January, and a one month consultation period, Cabinet had confirmed its key budget priorities as Adult Social Care, Children’s Safeguarding, support for housing initiatives, pump priming work on climate change, and Pride environmental projects.
Attached to the report were a number of appendices, including savings proposals, Impact Assessments of the savings proposals, the Pay Policy Statement 2020/21, analysis of base budget movements, and details of Reserves and Balances.
The Council’s Chief Financial Officer was required to give a view on the robustness of the Council’s financial strategy, including the use of balances, and this was appended to the report. This had concluded that the Council was pursuing a sound financial strategy in the context of the most prolonged and challenging financial position it had ever faced due to the combined effect of Government grant cuts and increased service pressures.
The Capital Strategy and Capital Programme reports presented the Council’s Capital Strategy for 2021/22 and a capital programme of £234.4m that included the proposed investments contained in the overall budget strategy. It also set out the Council’s proposed planned Building Maintenance programme, particularly focusing on 2020/21 and the two year Highways & Transport capital investment programme.
The report on the Treasury Management Strategy detailed the Treasury Strategy to be adopted for 2020/21. The Strategy was set within the parameters of relevant statute, guidance and accounting standards. It was expected the Council would borrow up to £29.6m in 2020/21 based on the current capital programme plans, and would adopt a flexible approach to borrowing. The report also provided an update on the treasury management activities during 2019/20. The weighted average return on internal investments at the end of December 2019 was 0.61% compared to a benchmark return for the period of 0.5. The report also included the Council’s Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) Statement, which overall was in line with that previously agreed.
The report on Prudential Indicators sought approval of the prudential indicators for 2020/21 to 2022/23 required under the Prudential Code of Capital Finance in Local Authorities.
Having been moved by Councillor Carter, the budget proposals were seconded by the Leader of the Council, Councillor S Davies.
Councillor A Lawrence, on behalf of Councillor A J Eade, Leader of the main opposition group, responded to the budget proposals commenting on a greater need to support climate change initiatives and the level of debt.
Councillor W L Tomlinson, Leader of the Liberal Democrat/Independent group commented on the savings made to date, concern over the lack of clarity on future government funding, and paid tribute to the work of officers in putting together the plans.
A number of members spoke to the budget, emphasising the need to protect vulnerable residents.
Councillor Carter responded at the end of the debate and a vote was taken on the budget proposals in reports 9.1 to 9.4 and the proposals were carried.
In accordance with legal requirements and Council Procedure Rule 11.5 a recorded vote was taken to approve recommendations in report 9.5 (Council Tax setting).
Voting was as follows:
Councillors K T Blundell, M Boylan, A J Burford, E M Callear, L D Carter, G H Cook, S Davies, A R H England, N A M England, R C Evans, C Healy, V J Holt, T L B Janke, A S Jhawar, J Jones, J E Lavery, A D McClements, R Mehta, K Middleton, L A Murray, R A Overton, J Pinter, S J Reynolds, G C W Reynolds, S A W Reynolds, H Rhodes, P J Scott, C F Smith, M J Smith, B J Thompson, W L Tomlinson, K T Tomlinson, C R Turley, P Watling, D R W White and D Wright
Councillor S Bentley
Councillors S P Burrell, E J Carter, N A Dugmore, A J Eade, I T W Fletcher, E J Greenaway, M B Hosken, R T Kiernan, A Lawrence, T J Nelson and J M Seymour
(i) Overview & Revenue Budget
(a) that the service and financial planning strategy for 2020/21 set out in the set of reports be approved;
(b) that a Council Tax increase of 3.99% (made up of 2% in respect of the Government’s Adult Social Care Precept and a general Council Tax increase of 1.99%) in 2020/21 be approved;
(c) that the investment of a further £3.926m in to Adult Social Care services giving a total net budget of £45.27m for these services in 2020/21 be approved;
(d) that the investment of a further £4.958m into Children’s Safeguarding & Family Support to protect vulnerable children giving a total net budget of £36.38m for these services in 2020/21 be approved;
(e) that the investment of £0.150m ongoing funding in to housing and homelessness initiatives be approved;
(f) that the investment of £0.1m ongoing funding be approved as an initial investment to pump prime work on climate change whilst also seeking to direct the Council’s wider resources as well as external funding opportunities as they arise to further support the Climate Emergency and that the Chief Executive, following consultation with the Cabinet Member for Council Finance, Partnerships and Commercial Services, be authorised to decide on the specific allocation of this new funding;
(g) that the investment of £0.108m ongoing funding in to small Pride environmental projects be approved and that the Executive Director: Housing, Communities & Customer services, following consultation with the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services, Enforcement & the Pride Programme be authorised to decide on the specific allocation of this new funding;
(h) that the budget savings listed in Appendix 13 to the report totalling £3.306m in 2020/21 rising to £4.581m in 2021/22 be approved;
(i) that a measured approach be taken to the use of available one-off resources of £1.434m in 2020/21;
(j) that work with partner organisations, including Town & Parish Councils and Voluntary Sector and Community Groups be continued to seek to identify ways to mitigate the impact of some of the cuts to services that we can no longer afford and to note the availability of the £1m Partnership Capacity Fund;
(k) that the base budget in Appendix 6 to the report be approved;
(l) that the policy framework for Reserves and Balances outlined in Appendix 9 to the report be approved;
(m) that the CFO’s robustness statement in Appendix 10 to the report be noted;
(n) that the Risk Register included at Appendix 3 to the report be approved;
(o) that the revenue implications of the medium term capital programme for the period 2019/20 - 2022/23 set out in the Capital Strategy and Programme reports be approved;
(p) that the Director: Finance & Human Resources be authorised to action any virements required following the final allocation of the Dedicated Schools Grant and other related Grants as long as they are within the budget and policy framework;
(q) that the Executive Director: Adults Social Care, Health Integration & wellbeing following consultation with the Cabinet Member for Health & Social Care, be authorised to enter into appropriate Section 256 and Section 75 Agreements under the NHS Act 2006 (as amended);
(r) that the Director: Governance be authorised to execute all necessary contract documentation including the affixing of the common seal of the council as appropriate to enable the council to enter into appropriate Section 256 and Section 75 Agreements under the NHS Act 2006;
(s) that the suite of service and financial planning reports be approved as the Council’s Efficiency Strategy for 2020/21, including the summary document at Appendix 14 to the report, to enable new capital receipts generated in the six year period starting 1 April 2016 to be used to fund the revenue costs of reform as assumed throughout these reports;
(t) that the initial projections for the potential budget gap through to 2022/23 be noted and work start now in order to identify options for how this could potentially be bridged;
(u) that the option to extend the IGMT loan repayment period as outlined in section 25.1 of the report be approved and the Director: Finance & HR and the Director: Prosperity & Investment following consultation with the Cabinet Member for Council Finance, Partnerships and Commercial Services be authorised to agree terms;
(v) the Director: Finance & HR following consultation with the Cabinet Member for Council Finance, Partnerships and Commercial Services be authorised to fund an advance payment of pension contributions for 2021/22 from the single status reserve if this is financially advantageous to the Council;
(w) that once all final outstanding grant allocations are received, the Director: Finance & HR following consultation with the Cabinet Member for Council Finance, Partnerships and Commercial Services be authorised to amend the use of balances in 2020/21 to accommodate any difference in funding between that currently assumed and the final grant allocations;
(x) that it be noted that the budget will be reallocated in to the new organisational structure before the start of April 2020;
(y) that the Council’s Pay Policy Statement included at Appendix 15 to the report be approved for publication on the Council’s website on 1 April 2020.
(ii) Capital Strategy
(a) that the Capital Strategy for 2020/21 be approved.
(iii) Capital Programme
(a) that the report and associated capital estimates for 2019/20 and 2020/21 – 2023/24, which incorporates the Capital Programme (Annex I to the report), the Planned Building Maintenance Programme (Annex II to the report) and the two year Highways and Transport capital investment programme (Annex III to the report) be approved;
(b) that the following delegations, in line with the approved budgets and any variations or changes to schemes in these programmes which must remain within overall approved budgets, following consultation with the appropriate Cabinet Members be approved:
(i) the Director: Prosperity & Investment be authorised to deliver the planned programme of works within the ‘Asset Management Plan’ and Planned Building Maintenance Programme (Annex II to the report)
(ii) the Executive Director: Housing, Communities & Customer Service be authorized to deliver the Highways and Transport Capital Investment Programme
(iii) in relation to the new capital allocations:
New Capital Allocation
Authority delegated to (following consultation with the appropriate Cabinet Member)
Regeneration - Borough Towns / High Streets
Roads, Footpaths, Cycle-paths, Car Parking
Executive Director: Housing, Communities & Customer Service
Structures - Bridges, retaining walls, bus shelters etc
Executive Director: Housing, Communities & Customer Service
Other environmental improvements
Executive Director: Housing, Communities & Customer Service
(c) that further reports be brought to Cabinet with regard to the ‘Regeneration and Investment Fund’ and the Capital ‘Contingency’ to seek approval to allocate funding to specific schemes;
(d) that the planned building capital maintenance programme for 2020/21 as identified as part of the report be approved and it be agreed that officers may enter into any contracts necessary to deliver the works in accordance with the requirements of the Contract Procedure Rules;
(e) that the planned Highways and Transport capital investment programme for 2020/21 – 2023/24 be approved;
(f) that the Director: Neighbourhood & Enforcement Services in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services, Enforcement and The Pride Programme be authorised to agree any variations or changes to schemes in the capital programme that remain within overall approved budget limits.
(iv) Investment Strategy Report 2020/21
(a) that the Investment Strategy for 2020/21 be approved.
(v) Treasury Strategy and Treasury Update Report 2020/21
(a) that the treasury management activities for the first half year be noted;
(b) that the Treasury Management Policy Statement (Appendix A to the report) be noted;
(c) that the Treasury Strategy, including the Annual Investment Strategy for 2020/21 together with the associated treasury Prudential Indicators and the Minimum Revenue Provision Statement, which will apply from 2019/20 onwards be approved.
(vi) Prudential Indicators
(a) that the prudential indicators proposed in the report be approved.
(vii) Council Tax Formal Resolutions
(a) the formal resolutions to determine the levels of Council Tax for 2020/21 as detailed in the report be approved.