Council Tax Resolutions, at Appendix 7 to the report, are attached.
Also attached are the minutes from the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 20th February 2019. During this meeting Members agreed three recommendations that should be considered alongside the Medium Term Financial Plan.
The Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources presented the Medium Term Financial Plan 2019/20 to 2022/23. During the presentation of this report the following matters were highlighted for Members’ consideration:
· The Medium Term Financial Plan was designed to help the Council achieve its strategic purposes.
· The Budget Scrutiny Working Group had been reviewing the process for preparing the budget throughout the year and had been assisted by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its latest meeting.
· In the last Medium Term Financial Plan it had been assumed that in 2019/20 there would be a shortfall of £475,000 in the budget. The report set out the action that had been taken and the proposals that had been made to ensure that the budget balanced in 2019/20.
· The Council had achieved £1.1 million of savings and there were now no unidentified savings included within the Medium Term Financial Plan.
· The Government had confirmed that the Council would not need to pay back the negative revenue support grant in 2019/20 which had originally been built into the budget. Officers were assuming that the local authority would not need to pay this negative support grant in the subsequent three financial years.
· The Council had received more New Homes Bonus (NHB) funding than had been anticipated at the end of the previous financial year.
· The business rates bid for Worcestershire had been approved and the district Councils were putting forward bids for up front funding for projects that would help to reduce expenditure on social care overall.
· There was significant uncertainty moving forward about local authority budgets and this was impacting on the projected figures for the Council’s budget in future years. By 2022/23 a deficit of £1.5 million was anticipated.
· In 2019/20 the Council would have balances of £1.4 million. Officers were anticipating that these would decline significantly during the period of the plan and by 2021/22 Officers were anticipating that balances would fall below the level set as a requirement by the Section 151 Officer.
· Unavoidable pressures had been included in the Medium Term Financial Plan. These were financial pressures that the Council had to deliver in order to continue to provide services.
· A contribution of £150,000 to the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) had been included in the plan. As the Council would be in the Worcestershire business rates pilot pool for a year, officers had built income from that pool into the budget to offset the costs in terms of the contribution to the GBSLEP.
· The bids and savings included the contract that had been secured by the Lifeline team with Cannock Chase District Council and the £50,000 in printing savings.
· The capital bids mainly comprised S106 funds, though there were also bids in respect of the fleet replacement process and for the North Worcestershire Water Management (NWWM) team.
Following the presentation of the report Councillor Baker, as Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, was invited to present the recommendations arising from the Committee’s scrutiny of ... view the full minutes text for item 101
The Executive Director of Finance and Resources provided Memberswith an update on the proposed budget in the Medium Term Financial Plan 2019/20 – 2022/23 and stated that the budget would be considered by the Executive Committee on 25th February, 2019.
Members were informed that this was a four year plan whichcontained a number of assumptions to update it in line with the revised calculations and information from officers and Government.
At the beginning of the year it had been assumed that there would be a £475,000 gap in 2019/20. The report set out how this gap had been addressed and how the budget had been balanced.
The Executive Director of Finance and Resources highlighted the key features as follows:
· Efficiency savings and unidentified pressures.
· There was a statutory requirement that the budgets must balance in the final year.
· Negative Revenue Support Grant – the projections included the removal of the £331k negative grant payment to Government, however, there was uncertainty about whether the Council would have to pay this in future years;
· There was an assumption that the New Homes Bonus Scheme might change. This would have a significant impact on the budget moving forward.
Members were further advised that there was a level of uncertainty around the funding available from Government from 2020/21 onwards. Members were referred to the table within the report which outlined the position should the New Homes Bonus not be available and with no reallocation of central funding to offset the shortfall of £1.1 million. Members noted that this would place the Council’s finances in a very precarious position over the next four years.
Members also noted the pay policy statement. The revised pay model had been approved pending consultation with the unions. With regards to the Council Tax, Members were proposing to increase it by 2.2 per cent rather than the 2.9 per cent maximum available to the Council without triggering a referendum.
Members subsequently discussed the following points:
· Heads of Services, together with the Portfolio Holders, were reviewing the needs of service customers and ongoing conversations with Members were being undertaken to address the Council’s budget challenges. There was a major concern in respect of balancing the budget for the Council. Members were advised that the Council review the services delivered and the vision for future years.
· Clarity was sought whether Seven Trent Water contributed towards the Council’s budget for the North Worcestershire Water Management service.
· Members raised concerns in respect of the increase to Members remuneration and questions were raised as to whether Members should support this due to the financial challenges facing the Council. Members were advised that the changes had been proposed by the Independent Remuneration Panel, which had conducted a thorough investigation.
Members referred to the funding of £20k which was requested to support the Christmas lights. Concerns were raised that this was a lot of money to pay for the Christmas lights, however, there was uncertainty about whether this was for the running costs of ... view the full minutes text for item 92