(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Whitehead)
Report of Chief Officer Finance (Budget, Capital Programme & Treasury Management reports published on 3.2.23 – MTFS published 7.2.23)
Whilst this report is public, it may contain an exempt appendix and in accordance with Regulation 5 of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012, notice is hereby given that the meeting is likely to move into private session if it is necessary to refer to the exempt appendix. The reason that the appendix is likely to be considered in private is that it will involve the disclosure of exempt information under part 1 & 2 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.
Cabinet received a report from the Chief Finance Officer that set out the latest position in respect of the budget and policy framework and Cabinet’s proposed General Fund revenue budget for 2023/24.
The options, options analysis, including risk assessment and officer preferred option, were set out in the report as follows:
Council may adjust its revenue budget proposals, so long as the overall budget for 2023/24 balances and fits with the proposed Council Tax level.
Other Budget Framework Matters (Reserves and Provisions)
Given known commitments, risks, and Council Tax restrictions there is little flexibility in financial terms, but Council could consider different budget strategies to be appraised for future years, or alternative arrangements for approving the use of various reserves, or different virement and/or carry forward limits. Overall, however, previous arrangements have worked reasonably well, and so no other fundamental changes are proposed.
Section 151 Officer’s Comments and Advice
Council is required to note this formally in the minutes of the meeting, hence it is reflected in the recommendations
Depending on the nature of any alternative proposals put forward, Officers may need time to assess the risks and implications. This is to ensure that relevant considerations are taken into account, to support informed and lawful decision making.
Officer preferred option
Revenue Budget 2022/24 and Reserves Position
To agree the recommendations as presented as the proposals to be put forward by Cabinet should fit with any external constraints and the budgetary framework already approved. The recommendations as set out meet these requirements; the detailed supporting budget proposals are then a matter for Members.
Councillor Whitehead proposed, seconded by Councillor Hamilton-Cox:-
“That the recommendations, as set out in the report, be approved.”
By way of an amendment, which was accepted as a friendly amendment by the proposer and seconder, Councillor Wood proposed and Councillor Thornberry seconded:-
“That the following be added at the end of the first bullet point on recommendation(1):
‘as amended to ensure the long term sustainable future of the Platform that the proposed saving be reduced to £32K throughout 2023/24 and its operation continue until a new operational model is agreed using additional savings of £43K funded from building control’ and that recommendation (3) be deleted”.
Councillors then voted on the revised recommendations:-
(1) That Cabinet recommends the following for approval to Budget Council:
· The 2023/24 General Fund Net Revenue Budget and resulting Council Tax Requirement excluding parish precepts (Appendix A) and supporting budget proposals (Appendices B & B1, as amended), to ensure the long-term sustainable future of the Platform that the proposed saving be reduced to £32K throughout 2023/24 and its operation continue until a new operational model is agreed using additional savings of £43K funded from building control.
· The Section 151 Officer’s statement on the adequacy of reserves and advice that the minimum level of balances remains at £5M, subject to annual review.
· the resulting position on reserves (Appendix C to the report).
· the position on budget transfers and use of reserves (Appendix D to the report)
(2) That the Finance Portfolio Holder be given delegated authority to finalise the General Fund Revenue budget 2023/24 as updated for Cabinet’s final budget proposals, and outcomes of the Final Local Government Settlement for referral on to Council.
Officer responsible for effecting the decision:
Chief Officer Finance
Reasons for making the decision:
The budget framework in general sets out a financial plan for achieving the Council’s corporate priorities which incorporate the above cross cutting themes. The decision enables Cabinet to make recommendations back to Full Council in order to complete the budget setting process for 2023/24.
Cabinet’s initial budget proposals were presented at the Council meeting 25 January 2023 and the meeting of Budget and Performance Panel 01 February 2023 when Cabinet were asked to revisit the Platform issue contained within the budget proposal. The decision reflects that Cabinet had listened to the community and made it a priority to ensure the Platform remained in operation during 2023/24 whilst a long-term solution was sought.