Agenda item

Budget Setting, medium term plan and capital strategy 2020-21

Report of Executive Member for Finance and Growth, Councillor Philip Cowen.

Minutes:

The Executive Director for Commercialisation presented the report explaining that the budget had been out for public consultation as well as to the Overview and Scrutiny Commission.  Members heard that the budget was based on the fact that there would be no reliance on New Homes Bonus funding; no cuts to service delivery; financial support in reserves for feasibilities which lead to growth and investment; and a good financial position to manage any future changes from the Fair Funding Review or Spending Review allowing time to put an appropriate programme in place if required.

 

The draft Capital Programme outlined limited scope for future investment and that prioritisation for future capital investment would be key.

 

Councillor Atterwill thanked the Chief Accountant for the detailed presentation Members had received and the subsequent information that had been sent to Members on the draft budget. 

 

As a result, the Independent and Green Members wished to propose two very small amendments to the proposed budget:

 

The first was with regard to the Neighbourhood Planning Forums where it was felt the Council had not placed enough emphasis on the importance of Neighbourhood Planning and that more communities should be encouraged to produce a Neighbourhood Plan.  He added that both the Swanton Morley and Saham Toney Neighbourhood Plans should be used as examples of good practice and that through holding two Neighbourhood Plan Forums it would help to raise the profile of the subject and encourage communities to participate.  It was proposed that a total of £3000 be allocated for this purpose and be funded from the Growth and Investment fund as the forums would provide a return through housing supply at a future date.

 

The second proposal related to rough sleeping transport.  Councillor Atterwill explained how there had been a rough sleeper within his Parish and through contact with the Breckland Rough Sleeper Team understood that as the gentleman could not be contacted during the day had been left a notice to call the team, or to make his way to the Salvation Army or the Crossings café, both in Thetford to receive support.  Councillor Atterwill felt there was a weakness within the system in that there was no transport available from Swanton Morley to Thetford, and the instruction seemed to assume that the person in need would have the means and capacity to find their way to Thetford.  It was proposed that a total of £1000 be allocated to cover the costs of transporting rough sleepers to Thetford to receive support.  The budget could be used at the discretion of the Housing Manager.  It was suggested that this could be funded from the recently announced Flexible Housing Support Grant funding for 2020/2021.

 

The Chairman thanked Councillor Atterwill for the suggestions and highlighting the issues.  He agreed that the Neighbourhood Forums would help to encourage communities to have their own Neighbourhood Plans, and agreed that due to the small amount this could be funded via a delegated authority.  The Chairman asked the Executive Director of Place to work with the Housing Manager to seek a scheme for supporting transport to those sleeping rough.

 

The Chairman went onto inform Members that there would be an increase to the Council Tax (£4.95 per annum increase on 2019/20 levels), and was confident that Breckland would still remain the lowest Council Tax across the UK.  He felt it was a strong budget that had been proposed and endorsed the recommendations to Members.

 

The Executive Member for Contracts and Assets added that the Council had become a victim of its own success by maximising return on investments and sensed the frustration by reviewing the comments within the budget report that strong performing Councils were being penalised.

 

Reasons for Recommendations

To comply with budgetary and policy framework

 

Options

1)     That recommendations 1 to 6 are approved.

2)     That amendments are made before recommendations 1 to 6 above are approved.

 

RESOLVED to RECOMMEND to FULL COUNCIL:

 

1)     That the Breckland revenue estimates and parish special expenses for 2020-21 and outlined position through to 2023-24 (as set out in Appendix B and E in the report) be approved.

 

2)     That the capital estimates and associated funding for 2019-20 and 2020-21 and outline position through to 2023-24 (as set out in Appendix H in the report) be approved.

 

3)     The fees and charges shown at Appendix D and D2 in the report, for adoption on 1 April 2020 be approved.

 

4)     The Council Tax be set at £93.78 for a Band D property in 2020-21 (a £4.95 per annum increase on 2019-20 levels)

 

5)     The financial Medium Term Plan and associated staffing full time equivalents at Appendix A within the report be approved.

 

6)     The Capital Strategy at Appendix G in the report be approved.

Supporting documents: