Agenda item

Budget Update – Funding Prospects 2014/15 Onwards

(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Bryning)


Report of the Chief Officer (Resources)


(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Bryning)


Cabinet received a report from the Chief Officer (Resources) to provide an outline update on future funding prospects for General Fund services, in light of the recent Government consultation.


The options, options analysis, including risk assessment and officer preferred option, were set out in the report as follows:


Chief Officers were in the process of identifying many potential areas for saving and these would be reported to Members in due course.


Whilst it was considered likely that some could be implemented without having significant impact on services to the public, in total they would not address the Council’s budget deficit.  In order to balance the Council’s books, there would need to be reductions and other changes in services that would have direct, adverse impact on the district and its residents and visitors.  For such areas, therefore, Member prioritisation and direction was required – decisions would not be easy.


For these reasons, the following approach was proposed:


-        Management Team be tasked with an initial target of £1M recurring savings, from service restructuring, streamlining and any efficiency related proposals – i.e. those that would not have a marked bearing on front line or other service delivery standards.   At this stage, it was considered unfeasible to increase this target any further.  Furthermore, it should be recognised that even these measures would result in some delays in dealing with various work requests, and might well give rise to more complaints.  Whilst the risks attached could be managed to some degree, they could not be avoided entirely. 


-        Cabinet be tasked with prioritising service reductions and other similar annual savings in the order of at least £2.5M.  Members were encouraged to identify key areas for saving early on, to give more time to plan and develop options for service withdrawal.


Regarding income generation, the introduction of new charges was one area that Members might wish to consider.  Alongside this, reviews of existing charges would be undertaken by Officers in the normal way, where there was expected to be continuity of service.  The Officers’ aim would be to achieve (at least) a break-even position where there was discretion to do so, or review the service provision further.  Overall however, the scope for increasing income generation was thought to have only limited impact on addressing the budget deficit.


For invest to save ideas, with the exception of renewable energy, this needed no other specific consideration as inevitably, many savings options would involve up front costs anyway.


Arrangements were in hand to ensure that all associated budget proposals were developed and appraised in a robust manner, drawing on management and other information as appropriate.


Thefollowingoptions wereavailable to Cabinet:-


(1)               Approve the proposals set out above for identifying savings proposals.

(2)               Identify and adopt an alternative approach, with the aim of achieving the indicative savings targets as outlined in the report.


Option 1 to adopt the proposals as set out in section 3 (of the report) for identifying savings proposals was the officer preferred option.  This would give initial structure to identifying reasonable savings from streamlining services, and also ensure that Members focused on prioritising where to remove or significantly reduce service provision and other Council activities.

Furthermore, it was emphasised during the meeting that under Option 1, the split of target savings could change as the budget develops.  Clearly Member and Officer budget options would need be developed in tandem.


Councillor Bryning proposed, seconded by Councillor Leytham:-


“That the recommendations, as set out in the report, be approved.”


Councillors then voted:-


Resolved unanimously:


(1)        That the estimated budgetary implications (for General Fund services) arising from the latest Government consultation be noted.


(2)        That the approach set out in section 3 of the report be adopted for identifying budget savings and be kept under review as the budget develops.


Officers responsible for effecting the decision:


Chief Executive

Chief Officer (Resources)


Reasons for making the decision:


The proposals outlined in the report were consistent with reviewing and updating the Council’s Budget and Policy Framework.  The City Council was facing a bleak financial future with £3.5million in savings needed to be found over the next two years to balance its books. Cabinet agreed an approach to identify the savings needed and enable future budget plans to be put to determine how the required savings could be found.  Although every effort would be made to deliver savings whilst protecting the frontline, it was inevitable that service reductions would be necessary as savings of the size we now face simply cannot be made through efficiencies.


Supporting documents: