Councillor R C Evans, Cabinet Member: Council Finance & Governance, presented a series of reports from the Chief Executive, the Chief Financial Officer, , The Director:Prosperity & Investment, The Director:Neighbourhood & Enforcement 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, identified the service priorities and budget for 2021/22 and the formal resolutions to set the level of the Council Tax in each parish area across the Borough for 2021/22. The reports included details of savings proposals and investments for 2021/22 and set out the proposed approach to developing the further savings that would be required through to 2023/24.
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 £126.4m per annum. 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 a one month consultation period commenced.
Attached to the report were a number of appendices, including savings proposals, the Pay Policy Statement 2021/22, 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 £228.532m that included the proposed investments contained in the overall budget strategy. It also set out the Council’s proposed planned Building Maintenance programme.
The report on the Treasury Management Strategy detailed the Treasury Strategy to be adopted for 2021/22. The Strategy was set within the parameters of relevant statute, guidance and accounting standards. It was expected the Council may borrow up to £60.2m in 2021/22 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 2020/21. 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 2021/22 required under the Prudential Code of Capital Finance in Local Authorities.
Having been moved by Councillor Evans, the budget proposals were seconded by the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Enforcement, Community Safety & Customer Services, Councillor R A Overton.
Councillor N A Dugmore, Leader of the main opposition group, responded to the budget proposals commenting on the level of debt and the proposed increase in Council Tax.
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 Evans responded at the end of the debate and a vote was taken on the budget proposals in reports 10.a to 10.d 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 10.e (Council Tax setting).
Voting was as follows:
Councillors M Boylan, A J Burford, E M Callear, L D Carter, C Cassar, G H Cook, S Davies, A R H England, N A M England, R C Evans, C Healy, V J Holt, A S Jhawar, J Jones, J E Lavery, J Loveridge, A D McClements, R Mehta, K Middleton, G Offland, R A Overton, J Pinter, S J Reynolds, G C W Reynolds, S A W Reynolds, H Rhodes, K S Sahota, P J Scott, C F Smith, B J Thompson, C R Turley, P Watling, D R W White and D Wright
Councillors K T Blundell, S P Burrell, E J Carter, N A Dugmore, A J Eade, I T W Fletcher, V Fletcher, M B Hosken, T L B Janke, A Lawrence, T J Nelson, J M Seymour, K T Tomlinson and W L Tomlinson
(i) Overview & Revenue Budget Report 2021/22 – 2023/24
a) The service & financial planning strategy for 2021/22 set out in the set of reports in this agenda be approved
b) A Council Tax increase of 4.99% (made up of 3% in respect of the Government’s Adult Social Care Precept and a general Council Tax increase of 1.99%) in 2021/22 be approved
c) The investment of a further £2.375m into Adult Social Care in 2021/22 be approved
d) The investment of £0.5m in crime and anti-social behaviour measures in both 2021/22 and 2022/23 be approved
e) The budget savings listed in Appendix 13 of the report totalling £5.900m in 2021/22 rising to £7.139m (after ‘leakage’) in 2022/23 be approved
f) Taking a measured approach to the use of available one-off resources of £0.173m in 2021/22 be approved
g) The continuation of work with partner organisations, including Town & Parish councils and Voluntary Sector and Community Groups to seek to identify ways to mitigate the impact of some of the cuts to services that we can no longer afford be approved and the availability of the £1.1m Invest to Save & Capacity Fund which is available to support partnership working be noted
h) The base budget, as set out in Appendix 6 of the report, be approved
i) The policy framework for Reserves and Balances outlined in Appendix 9 of this report, be approved
j) The CFO’s robustness statement on Appendix 10 of the report be noted
k) The Risk Register included at Appendix 3 of the report be approved
l) The Council Tax Reduction Scheme included within Appendix 14 of the report, for adoption by Full Council on 4 March 2021, ready for implementation from 1 April 2021 be endorsed
m) The continuation of the Council Tax Reduction Hardship Assistance Policy, including an addendum for 2021/22, contained within Appendix 14 of the report be approved by Cabinet
n) The revenue implications of the medium term capital programme for the period 2020/21 – 2023/24 set out in the Capital Strategy and Programme reports also included in the agenda pack be approved
o) That authority be delegated to the Director: Finance & Human Resources, after consultation with the Cabinet Member for Finance and Governance, to action any virements required following the final allocation of the Dedicated Schools Grant and other related Grants and following completion of NNDR1 and final estimates of Business Rates Income as long as they are within the budget and policy framework
p) The allocation of £9.65m from the Regeneration and Investment Fund to support the Property Investment Portfolio’s Growth Fund be approved and that authority be delegated to the Director: Prosperity and Investment, after consultation with the Director: Finance & HR and the Cabinet Member for Finance & Governance to consider business cases through this fund
q) The temporary re-purposing of £3m of the capital borrowing approved for Nuplace, to finance the acquisition and refurbishment of accommodation for vulnerable groups by the Council, with authority delegated to Director: Housing, Employment & Infrastructure after consultation with the Cabinet Member: Economy, Housing, Transport & Infrastructure be approved
r) That authority be delegated to the Executive Director: Adult Social Care, Health Integration & Wellbeing after consultation with the Cabinet Member: Health & Social Care, to enter into the appropriate Section 256 and Section 75 Agreements under the NHS Act 2006 (as amended)
s) That the Director: Policy & Governance be authorised to execute all necessary contact 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.
t) The option to extend the IGMT loan repayment period as outlined in section 27.1 of the report be approved, with terms delegated to the Director: Finance & HR and the Director: Prosperity & Investment after consultation with the Cabinet Member: Finance & Governance
u) The suite of service & financial planning reports as the Council’s Efficiency Strategy for 2021/22, including the summary document at Appendix 16 of 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 the reports be approved
v) The initial projections for the potential budget gap through to 2023/24 be noted and to start work in order to identify options for how this could potentially be bridged.
w) That authority be delegated to the Director: Finance & HR after consultation with the Cabinet Member for Finance & Governance to amend the use of balances in 2021/22 to accommodate any difference in funding between that currently assumed and the final grant allocations, once all final outstanding grant allocations are received
x) The Pay Policy for 2021/22 included as Annex 2 of Appendix 15 of the report be approved
(ii) 2021/22 Capital Strategy
The capital strategy for 2021/22 be approved
(iii) Capital Programme
a) That the report and associated capital estimates for 2020/21 and 2021/22 to 2023/24, which incorporates the Capital Programme (Annex I), the Planned Building Maintenance Programme (Annex II) and the two year Highways and Transport capital investment programme (Annex III) 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, after consultation with the appropriate Cabinet Members be approved:
i) that 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)
ii) that the Director: Neighbourhood and Enforcement Services be authorised to deliver the Highways and Transport Capital Investment Programme
iii) that the Director: Communities, Customer and Commercial Services be authorised to allocate the block approvals for climate change initiatives
(iv) 2021/22 Investment Strategy
that the Investment Strategy for 2021/22 be approved;
(v) Treasury Management Strategy and Update 2020/21
a) The treasury management activities for the first half year be noted
b) The Treasury Management Policy Statement (Appendix A of the report) be noted
c) that the Treasury Strategy, including the Annual Investment Strategy for 2021/22 together with the associated treasury Prudential Indicators and the Minimum Revenue Provision Statement, which will apply from 2020/21 onwards be approved;
(vi) 2021/22 Prudential Indicators
that the prudential indicators proposed in the report be approved.
(vii) Council Tax – Formal Resolutions for 2021/22
That the formal resolution to determine the levels of Council Tax for 2021/22 as detailed in the report be approved.