Issue - meetings

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

Meeting: 27/02/2020 - Council (Item 32)

32 Budget Setting, medium term plan and capital strategy 2020-21 (Agenda item 14) pdf icon PDF 93 KB

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

Additional documents:


Councillor Philip Cowen, the Executive Member for Finance & Growth provided Members with a detailed overview of the report. 


Referring to paragraph 1.2 of the report, Members were informed that Parliament had agreed the Local Government Finance Settlement on 24 February 2020.


Under paragraph 1.4, although 2019-20 was supposed to be the final year of the Government’s four-year Settlement, a further one-year Settlement had been announced.  This had been as a consequence of the delay to the planned changes in respect of the Fair Funding Review and 75% Business Rates retention which had been delayed until April 2021; however, there was still a real risk to this Council that the Government could reset this date.


In respect of the Fair Funding Review highlighted under paragraph 1.6, Members were informed that the Council had taken a very prudent approach to its budget setting and had not relied on this funding.


Under paragraphs 1.7 to 1.10 relating to Spending Review, New Homes Bonus and Revenue, the Executive Member for Finance & Growth was pleased that the Council had a balanced budget going forward but there had been some cost pressures that the Council had had to face in 2019-20 and would have to face in 2020-21 moving forward.  These cost pressures had led to an efficiency requirement to balance the budget. And although the values had been highlighted in the table at paragraph 1.10 of the report, it was important to note that these values were only estimates and the Council had made a fair and reasonable provision going forward.


Members’ attention was then drawn to paragraph 1.11 of the report where it highlighted the principles that the budget had been based on.


The Executive Member for Finance & Growth thanked the two key Officers in attendance and offered his thanks to the remainder of the Finance Team.  He then commended the budget to Members for approval.


Councillor Wickerson endorsed the aforementioned comments and congratulated everyone involved.  He mentioned the fact that over 40% of the budget was made up of salaries and asked if he could be reminded of the split between the shared Officers at Breckland and South Holland District Council. The Chief Executive explained that the split was predominately 60/40 with Breckland Council but the split varied dependent on workloads.


Councillor Atterwill echoed the above thanks to the Officers but paid particular thanks to Alison Chubbock, the Chief Accountant & Deputy S151 Officer who had spent a great deal of time explaining the budget to Members.  He referred to the Council losing rental income from a significant tenant as mentioned in the report and asked what the Council’s strategy was on this matter.  Members were informed that the Council did have a back-up in the budget. Councillor Hewett, the Executive Member for Contracts & Assets advised that there were on-going conversations with an investor in this commercial property and Members would be updated once more information was known.


Councillor Gilbert also thanked the Chief Accountant and the Finance Team for the budget briefing and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32

Meeting: 03/02/2020 - Cabinet (Item 21)

21 Budget Setting, medium term plan and capital strategy 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 90 KB

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

Additional documents:


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  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21