Issue - meetings

Draft Budget, Medium Term Plan and Capital Strategy 2023-24

Meeting: 26/01/2023 - Overview and Scrutiny Commission (Item 8)

8 Draft Budget, Medium Term Plan and Capital Strategy 2023-24 pdf icon PDF 236 KB

Report of Councillor Phillip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance, Revenues & Benefits.

Additional documents:


Councillor Cowen, the Executive Member for Finance, Revenues & Benefits introduced the report on the draft budget, medium term financial plan and capital strategy. He explained that budgeting within a local authority could be extremely challenging with many variables. A very difficult process involving choices that sometimes had to be made, the complexity of the income streams and the statutory or core service that still had to be provided.


Many authorities around the country had found themselves in untenable positions with finances stretched and sometimes compromised. However, due to the detailed work undertaken by Team Breckland this Council could propose a balanced budget. It had been a positive budget statement and placed Breckland Council in an enviable position and was testament to the prudent fiscal policies that Breckland Council had been following.


Alison Chubbock , the Assistant Director Finance, explained that there had been a late change within business rates that had affected the figures with additional funding, which would be subject to final checks. If the information was correct, Breckland Council would be receiving additional income for Business Rates of around half a million next year and a further one million next year, this is for a fixed term and not long term. A risk assessment needed to be carried out around the likelihood of appeals over the coming year as they were all increases to rateable values. Due to the lateness of the information and the need for debate, it had been suggested that the two amounts be contributed into reserve so that there would be time to decide how this could be used to best support the residents of Breckland.


Councillor Cowen agreed to the aforementioned suggestion.


Councillor Birt queried the bar chart on page 38 comparing different Councils but excluding the parish precepts and asked if this was a fair comparison between Breckland and Great Yarmouth in that Great Yarmouth did not have a Parish precept. Councillor Cowen explained that it was a fair comparison and analysis to make.


Councillor Birt also noted that on page 44 with the cost of living increase it had been raised to just 3% for years 2023-2024 and asked why the Council was budgeting for such a low figure when the Bank of England figures were so much higher. The Assistant Director Finance explained that the cost-of-living increase was an estimate put in each year, it was only part of the salary increase and what was not shown was that staff received an increment each year which brought the actual cost of living up to about 7% to 9% depending on where they were in the grading band along with other benefits that formed part of the negotiation.


Councillor Clarke asked if there were assumptions made on capital expenditure or income in respect of fees for car parking charges within the Breckland area for next year. Councillor Cowen confirmed that this was not included or taken into account.


Councillor Clarke suggested it would be useful to have KPIs on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8

Meeting: 09/01/2023 - Cabinet (Item 9)

9 Draft Budget, Medium Term Plan and Capital Strategy 2023-24 pdf icon PDF 236 KB

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

Additional documents:


Councillor Philip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance, Revenue and Benefits presented the report that asked Members to consider the draft capital and revenue budget estimates, the draft medium term financial plan and the draft capital strategy.


He was pleased to announce that as a result detailed within the report the Council could propose a balanced budget, not only for the year ahead but also for the following year which he was extremely proud of. 


There was a proposed increase to the Band D Council Tax level to rise to £108.63, but within Breckland 76% of homes were within Bands A-C and thus would pay less than £1.86 per week for statutory services and importantly the discretionary services that the Council provided.


Councillor Jermy said if the budget was approved it would see the Band D increase to over £100 per year for the first time.  The proposed increase would also put further strain on the cost-of-living crisis but was pleased to see that the Council Tax Hardship fund would still be available.  He had noted that budget had been set aside for the hardship fund and asked if there would be any flexibility should the fund be spent.  Councillor Jermy went on to ask what the risk would be if the significant income listed within the Capital Strategy was not received.


Councillor Cowen assured Members that the Anglia Revenues Partnership were very focussed on the scale of the issues and the challenges being faced.  He was also aware that whilst the proposed Council Tax increase would add extra financial pressures to the residents some would be entitled to Council Tax relief.  He also added that the budget would include the rental income instead if the income was not received.


The Chairman added that the Council Tax hardship fund had been increased by an additional £20k which would be added to the £50k currently left within the budget for this financial year.


Councillor Jermy asked if that amount remained in the budget for this financial year and further asked if there should be a review to the process.


Councillor Morton asked for further detail on the Evolve Programme, particularly with the Housing model and solar energy opportunities.  Members heard that other Housing Models used across the country were being investigated as well as looking at ways to utilise resources for best and effective ways that linked to the sustainability agenda.


Councillor Borrett said that all residents of Breckland had benefitted from the lowest Council Tax in Breckland due to sound decisions made by the Council in the past.  Council Tax was a delicate balance and felt that the budget did balance the needs of the vulnerable within Breckland.


Councillor Land had seen the recent press release regarding the fact that voters will now require ID to vote at the polling stations and asked had the Council budgeted appropriately to allow for those changes.


The Chairman assured Members that everything was in place to promote this change and Officers would link with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9