Agenda item

Draft Estimates 2010-11 - Consultation (Agenda Item 7)

A copy of the draft Estimates for 2010-11 are enclosed for consultation purposes.   The draft Estimates are as previously submitted to the meeting of the Cabinet on 27 October 2009.


The Director (Governance and Finance) presented the draft estimates for 2010-11 to the Committee as a key consultee and sought members’ views on the main assumptions and risks as set out.


The following points and comments were noted:


Section 2: Assumptions

The reduction in the bank base rate had affected investment returns over the past 12 months.  In addition, further technical advice was awaited on whether the interest received on the impaired Icelandic investments could be credited to the revenue account or not.


A member asked whether the general inflation assumption of 0% over the five year financial plan was applied to any other specific items in the budget.  It was replied that there was some flexibility in this but the general inflation figure was being applied across the board as a general efficiency target and a cap had been put on contribution rates.


Section 3: 2009-10 Outturn

The Director was confident that the 2009-10 outturn would be in line with the original budget forecast.


Section 4: Grant Settlement

It was noted that there was, as yet, no formal indication as to what the Government was intending to do with the grant settlement but it was felt authorities could be looking at as much as a 30% cut in Government funding over 10 years.  A review of the funding model was due at the end of the current three year term (2013-14), although some discussion in advance of this could be anticipated at the time of the 2011-12 settlement.


Options for making up any shortfall through local taxes were limited, as there was a 5% cap on increases in Council Tax.  The Chairman made the point that while a number of services were statutory duties upon local authorities, there were also some that were discretionary.


Section 5: Collection Fund

The deficit forecast reflected the fact that not everyone was paying their Council Tax and therefore the Band D calculation had been adjusted for future years to recover the position and enable the Council to return to a zero balance target.


Section 6: Tax Base

Figures were reviewed annually.


Section 7: 2009-10 Estimates

There was a challenge to meet the contingency (efficiency savings) target in Table 6 (line 15) by the time the Estimates were submitted to Cabinet in January.


Section 8: Policy Changes

In relation to effects of economic activity on the Council’s commercial property and other income, a member commented that the impact of the recession on employment had not yet bottomed-out and it was agreed that the position needed to be closely monitored.  However, it was accepted that the position on commercial property had held up well to date.


With regard to the indicative budget sum to support the development of rural transport schemes referred to in paragraph 8.11, it was noted that this would need to be reduced to take account of a lower level of Department of Transport funding for next year. 


Section 9: Fees and Charges (excluding rents)

The main changes outlined in paragraph 9.3 were noted.


Section 10: Reserves

The intention to use some of the reserves for associated one-off initiatives as outlined in paragraph 10.2 was noted.


So far as the Icelandic investments were concerned, it was noted that the Council would be asked in the New Year to decide whether to make good its loss of interest from its capital reserves or to charge this through its revenues.


Section 11: Budget Requirement

It was noted that the report did not demonstrate the cumulative impact on finances from the setting of a zero increase on Council Tax.


Section 18: Capital Programme

The capital programme was relatively light, reflecting the fact that most projects come forward on an opportunistic basis and the programme was, therefore, subject to change.


It was agreed to add an explanatory reference to the Moving Thetford Forward project into the report.


RESOLVED that the report be noted and the draft estimates for 2010-11 be endorsed for consultation purposes as recommended in paragraph 21 of the report.


Supporting documents: