The Interim Section 151 Officer presented an update on the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) 2023/24 to 2025/26.
Members were advised that the Council had received confirmation from the Government about the Local Government settlement for the authority on 19th December 2022. The funding allocated included contributions from the New Homes Bonus (NHB) and from the lower tier authority grant. A net total contribution of £468,000 had been allocated to the Council.
The Government had confirmed that District Councils could increase Council Tax by 2.99 per cent, rather than the limit of 1.99 per cent that had previously been in place before triggering a local referendum. Should the Council opt to increase Council Tax by 2.99 per cent in 2023/24, this would result in the authority receiving an additional £69,000 income.
In reviewing the budget position for the Council, Officers had taken into account the impact of the pay award, which had been provided to staff in December 2022 and had created an additional pressure. However, the actuarial figures for the local government pension scheme had improved for the Council and this was having a positive impact on the budget moving forward.
The Capital Programme was in the process of being reviewed. Officers were keen to ensure that expenditure in the capital programme focused on areas for which the Council received grant funding from the Government and other external sources. In particular, the Council had received a significant amount of grant funding for town centre regeneration, levelling up and in the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) and this funding needed to be spent within tight timescales. Other funding included in the capital programme would include that which was derived from Section 106 agreements for specific projects.
Staffing remained a key area of focus for the authority moving forward. The Council remained committed to employing apprentices and opportunities for apprenticeships could be explored further. Staff retention was also considered to be an important priority, and many Councils were struggling to recruit and retain staff, particularly in the West Midlands. The pay award to staff had previously only been calculated for one year but it was important to acknowledge that further awards could be made in subsequent years of the MTFP period. Therefore, Officers were proposing that pay increases should be factored into the budget for each year of the MTFP.
There was a risk that Council reserves could fall below £1.4 million in 2023/24. This situation was not considered to be ideal and the Interim Section 151 Officer advised that it would be preferable to achieve a situation whereby reserves were valued at in excess of £2 million.
Following the presentation of the report, Members discussed the information that had been provided. Reference was made to the figures that had been included in respect of staff redundancies and Members questioned why, at a time when the Council was struggling to recruit and retain staff, some employees were being made redundant. Officers explained that opportunities were frequently made available for staff ... view the full minutes text for item 110