(Cabinet Members with Special Responsibility Councillor Newman-Thompson & Councillor Leytham)
Report of Chief Officer (Resources) - Report to follow
(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Newman-Thompson)
Cabinet received a report from the Chief Officer (Resources) which provided information on the latest budget proposals for current and future years, informed budget and policy framework proposals and enabled Cabinet to make recommendations to Council regarding council tax levels for 2016/17.
The options, options analysis, including risk assessment and officer preferred option, were set out in the report as follows:
Options are dependent very much on Members’ views on spending priorities balanced against council tax levels. As such, a full options analysis could only be undertaken once any alternative proposals are known and it should be noted that Officers may require more time to do this. Outline options are highlighted below, however.
– Regarding council tax, two options are set out at section 7 of the report.
- With regard to including savings and growth options to produce a budget in line with preferred council tax levels, any proposals put forward by Cabinet should be considered affordable, alongside the development of priorities. Emphasis should be very much on the medium to longer-term position.
Under the City Council’s Constitution, Cabinet is required to put forward budget proposals for Council’s consideration, in time for them to be referred back as appropriate. This is why recommendations are required to feed into the Council meeting in early February, prior to the actual Budget Council in March.
Generally Officer preferred options are reflected in the recommendations, with the exception of council tax.
In view of the level of savings still needed in future years, the ongoing impact that council tax freezes have, the Council’s current financial strategy and the fact that the Council is not yet clear about how and when it will achieve a financially sustainable budget, the Officer preferred option for council tax is to retain the existing 1.99% year on year increase, subject to confirmation of local referendum thresholds. This preferred option would change only if the Council fundamentally reduces its ambitions regarding service delivery, evidenced through the adoption of a clear statement and strategy for doing so.
Councillor Newman-Thompson proposed, seconded by Councillor Hanson:-
“That the recommendations, as set out in the supplementary report, be approved.”
Councillors then voted:-
(7 Members (Councillors Blamire, Bryning, Hanson, Leytham, Newman-Thompson, Pattison & Smith) voted in favour. Councillor Clifford, having disclosed that Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 applied to him, did not vote.)
(1) That the 2015/16 Revised Budget be referred on to Budget Council for approval, with the net underspending of £503K reducing the in-year call on Balances from £1M to £497K.
(2) That Council be recommended to approve a City Council tax increase of 1.99% for 2016/17, together with a year on year target of 1.99% for future years, subject to local referendum thresholds.
(3) That Cabinet approves its initial budget proposals as set out in the following Appendices to the supplementary report:
Appendix A: Savings approved for inclusion into the base budget for implementation immediately, using delegated powers.
Appendix B: Savings and limited growth for implementation following approval at Budget Council.
Appendix C: Savings options to be explored further, with detailed reports being considered during 2016/17.
(4) That the above proposals and the resulting Revenue Budget position and Capital Programme for 2016/17 onwards, as set out at Appendices D and E to the supplementary report respectively, be referred on to Council for initial consideration as well as being presented for scrutiny at the open meeting of Budget and Performance Panel, in order that feedback can be provided to Cabinet at its February meeting.
(5) That as a result of the above, it be noted that:
– once fully implemented, the proposals at Appendix B to the supplementary report would generate annual net estimated savings of £2.784M;
– currently the revenue budget proposals for 2016/17 and 2017/18 are more or less balanced, allowing for a relatively small contribution to Balances in 2017/18, but some significant figures (such as the provisional Settlement) are still subject to change;
– there is still a need to make cumulative estimated savings of £5.183M over the period 2018 to 2020 (with £2.846M of this ongoing thereafter) from the outline savings options included at Appendix C to the supplementary report and any other options to be identified in future budget reviews.
(6) That the draft Corporate Plan 2016 to 2020 be updated to reflect the above proposals for initial consideration by Cabinet, prior to being referred on to Budget Council, on the basis that the Council’s existing priorities of
– Clean, Green and Safe Place
– Health and Wellbeing
– Community Leadership
– Sustainable Economic Growth
be retained but clearly the scope and nature of the activities in support of those priorities is changing and/or reducing, and this will continue in future as the Council strives to balance its budget to 2020.
(7) That Cabinet supports in principle Government’s offer of a four year finance settlement and this principle be reflected within financial strategy, but it be subject to review once the details of the offer are known.
(8) That at its February meeting Cabinet considers the use of available Reserves and Balances in support of finalising its Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) proposals to 2020, having regard to the advice of the section 151 Officer and the need to make further substantial savings from 2017/18 onwards, on top of the significant programme of budget savings measures already proposed.
Officer responsible for effecting the decision:
Chief Officer (Resources)
Reasons for making the decision:
In accordance with the City Council’s Constitution, Cabinet is required to put forward budget proposals for Council’s consideration in time for them to be referred back as appropriate. The decision will ensure that Cabinet’s policy and budget proposals are fed into the Council meeting on 3rd February 2016, prior to the Budget Council on 2nd March 2016. The Council’s financial challenges continue to escalate and in order to protect its future viability, it has no real choice other than to focus on balancing its budget for the medium term.