Please note that whilst the Budget Framework and Update on the Medium Term Financial Plan were listed as two separate items on the Executive Committee Work Programme they will be combined into one presentation for this meeting.
The Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources delivered a presentation on the subject of the Council’s budget framework and the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan (Appendix 2). During the delivery of the presentation she highlighted the following matters for Members’ consideration:
· There remained some gaps in the budget that would need to be addressed through making savings and increasing the income of the Council over the following four years.
· The Council would receive £35,000 in revenue support grant from the government in 2018/19.
· Officers were being prudent and were still taking into account the potential impact that the negative grant could have on the Council’s finances in the future.
· However, the negative grant was subject to consultation, the terms of which indicated that the government was considering withdrawing this arrangement, though no decision had been taken yet on this matter.
· In the event that the negative grant was withdrawn this would have a beneficial impact on the Council’s finances, though there would still be a need to achieve savings moving forward.
· Officers remained concerned that there could be further changes made to the New Homes Bonus scheme which would have a negative impact on the Council’s finances.
· Income from business rates remained uncertain and again this could impact on the Council’s financial position.
· The Council allocated just over £5 million of the general fund to capital spending. This was used for works on Council buildings, including to address issues with asbestos.
· Members were advised that when the Council did not receive planning fees for anticipated developments this could have financial implications for the Council, which lost the fee, the New Homes Bonus funding and any Council Tax that would have been due if the development had progressed.
· The roll out of universal credit was placing significant pressure on the Benefits Team. The Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources was working with the Chief Executive in an attempt to help relieve these pressures.
· There remained just over £700,000 in unidentified savings which Officers were aiming to find by the end of October 2018.
· The Council had £1 million more in balances than was required as a minimum level by the Section 151 Officer.
· The Government’s requirement for Councils to reduce rents for Council housing by 1 per cent per year over a four year period had meant that the Council had lost £130 million from the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) over a 30 year period.
· Fees and charges were being reviewed in a slightly different way than in previous years. Heads of Service were required to review the fees for their departments, taking into account whether they could achieve full cost recovery, why they were charging for services, and how the charges helped the Council to meet its strategic purposes.
· Officers continued to explore different ways of doing things in order to reduce costs. The Council needed to get better in terms of offering digital solutions to those who wanted to access the authority’s services online.
· The Council was aiming to increase capital revenue through work in line with the Council’s Investments and Acquisition Strategy. Any proposals would be reported to the Executive Committee.
the report be noted.