Agenda item

Budget Setting, medium term plan and capital strategy 2020-21 (Agenda item 14)

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

Minutes:

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 supported the budget except for the part in respect of the Parish Councils’ special expenses.  He did not agree that towns should have to pay for its own street lights and therefore would be voting against the recommendations.  The Executive Member for Finance & Growth was disappointed that Councillor Gilbert could not support the budget due to this one concern and it should not prevent anyone voting for this budget.

 

Councillor Jermy also thanked the Finance Team and was pleased to announce that he would not be tabling an amendment to the budget but would be supporting it.  He did not believe it was perfect but he felt that it was a budget that sought to make a difference to peoples’ lives. He mentioned an event that he had recently attended on tackling loneliness and felt that Breckland Council should have an approach and a solution that was community led as many projects that the Council had set up in the past had been delivered and ‘put away’ without people being aware that these projects even existed.  The Executive Member for Finance & Growth was pleased that no amendment to the budget was being put forward.  In response to the matter of projects, Members were reminded that the Place Portfolio was particularly focused on the Market Town Initiative and its intention was to deal with such challenges in every market town and would be working with all communities. The Place Team was looking forward to working with Councillors to deliver these initiatives.

 

Councillor Brindle said that he would be voting for this budget as there were real signs of a listening and proactive Council. 

 

The Chairman reminded Members that in accordance with The Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014, a recorded vote must be taken as required at budget meetings.

 

The 7 recommendations were proposed and seconded and following a recorded vote it was:

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.     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 of the report) be approved;

 

2.     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 of the report) be approved;

 

3.     the fees and charges shown at Appendix D and D2 of 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 of the report be approved;

 

6.     the Capital Strategy at Appendix G of the report be approved; and

 

7.     the additional business rates reliefs which will apply from 1 April 2020, as announced by Government in a written ministerial statement, be approved (as detailed in paragraphs 1.20 and 1.21 of the report).

 

 

MEMBER

FOR

AGAINST

MEMBER

FOR

AGAINST

Mr Ashby

APOLOGIES

Mrs James

APOLOGIES

Mr Askew

X

 

Mr Jermy

X

 

Mr Atterwill

X

 

Cllr Kiddell

APOLOGIES

Mr Bambridge

X

 

Mr Kiddle-Morris

APOLOGIES

Mr Birt

X

 

Mr Kybird

X

 

Mr Borrett

LEFT THE MEETING

Mr I Martin

X

 

Cllr Bowes

X

 

Mr K Martin

X

 

Mr Brame

X

 

Mrs Monument

X

 

Mr Brindle

X

 

Mr Morton

X

 

Miss Bushell

X

 

Mr Nairn

APOLOGIES

Mr Carter

X

 

Mr Nunn

APOLOGIES

Cllr M Chapman-Allen

X

 

Mr Oliver

APOLOGIES

Mr Sam Chapman-Allen

X

 

Mr Robinson

X

 

Mr Clarke

APOLOGIES

 

Mr Sherwood

X

 

Mr Claussen

X

 

Mrs Suggitt

X

 

Mr Colman

X

 

Miss Taylor

X

 

Mr Cowen

X

 

Mr Terry

X

 

Mrs Crane

X

 

Mrs Turner

X

 

Mrs Dale

X

 

Mrs Webb

X

 

Mrs Dowling

X

 

Mr Wickerson

X

 

Mr Duffield

X

 

Mr Wilkin

X

 

Mr Duigan

X

 

Mr Wilkinson

X

 

Mr Eagle

X

 

 

 

 

Mr Gilbert

 

X

 

 

 

Mrs Grey

APOLOGIES

 

 

 

 

Mr Harvey

APOLOGIES

 

 

 

 

Mr Hewett

X

 

 

 

 

 

Supporting documents: