Cabinet will present its Budget and Policy Framework Proposals.
(Report to follow shortly)
Councillor Anne Whitehead, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Finance, presented the City Council’s Budget and Policy Framework Update 2020/21 to 2023/2024.
Councillor Whitehead’s presentation gave an update on the four strategic priorities which would be going to Council for consideration on 29 January 2020. These were:
· A sustainable district
· An inclusive and prosperous local economy
· Happy and healthy communities
· A co-operative, kind and responsible council
Councillor Whitehead outlined projects and activities undertaken from March 2019, which the Council had already achieved relating to these priorities.
The challenges facing the City Council were presented and details were given about the proposals being brought forward in the budget for savings. Growth items to support the priorities were also being proposed in the budget and Councillor Whitehead provided information about each of those.
Councillor Whitehead and other cabinet members present then responded to questions from members of the Panel and those stakeholders in attendance. The City Council’s Directors also assisted with responses to technical and operational queries.
Issues raised by the Panel were:
· The amounts the Council held in reserves, what was considered an appropriate level, and the use of reserves being proposed in the upcoming budget.
· Use of consultants for the Local Plan.
· Minimum wage: Members asked if a £10 minimum wage could be included in the Job Evaluation proposals.
· Red book on valuations; how that was used by Chartered Surveyors to value properties.
· Building Control and future plans for supply of this service (which was currently outsourced).
· Where funding would come from for replacement of the boiler at Salt Ayre Leisure Centre.
Economic Stakeholders and members of the public present raised the following issues:
· Whether the City Council would be putting forward a proposal for the government’s new Town of the Year initiative.
· Clarification of the way Council Tax figures were presented in budget documentation using a Band D property example throughout.
Whether trade refuse charges applied to small businesses.
· Information on development of the Arts and Culture Strategy.
· Littering in the stretch of canal in Lancaster between Bath Mill and the Waterwitch pub and how that could be tackled.
Councillors who had been elected in May 2019 advised officers that they would appreciate more information about the City Council’s full overall budget, rather than just being presented with savings and growth information.
The Director of Corporate Services offered to hold a briefing session for Members around these budget issues and capital funding, in an informal environment.
Cabinet invited feedback on the budget proposals either by way of formal feedback by resolution of the Panel, or in an informal way by talking to the Cabinet Member for Finance and the Leader of the Council. It was agreed that further feedback would be via informal discussions.
The Chair thanked Councillor Whitehead for her thorough and comprehensive presentation and report.
(1) That Cabinet be asked to include a minimum wage of £10 per hour in the Job Evaluation exercise.
(2) That the report be noted.