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Decision details

General Fund Medium Term Financial Strategy 2019

Decision Maker: Executive Councillor for Finance and Resources

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: No

Purpose:

To agree the budget strategy and timetable for 2020/21, the net savings requirements, by year for the next 5 years, and revised General Fund revenue, funding and reserves projections.

Decision:

Matter for Decision

This report presented and recommended the budget strategy for the 2020/21 budget cycle and specific implications, as outlined in the Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) October 2019 document, which was attached and to be agreed.

 

This report also recommended the approval of new capital items and funding proposals for the Council’s Capital Plan, the results of which were shown in the MTFS.

 

At this stage in the 2020/21 budget process showed the range of assumptions on which the Budget-Setting Report (BSR) published in February 2019 was based need to be reviewed, in light of the latest information available, to determine whether any aspects of the strategy need to be revised. This then provides the basis for updating budgets for 2020/21 to 2024/25. All references in the recommendations to Appendices, pages and sections relate to the MTFS Version 3.0.

 

The recommended budget strategy was based on the outcome of the review undertaken together with financial modelling and projections of the Council’s expenditure and resources, in the light of local policies and priorities, national policy and economic context. Service managers had identified financial and budget issues and pressures and this information had been used to inform the MTFS.

 

Decision of Executive Councillor for Finance and Resources to recommend to Council to:

 

i.  Agree the budget strategy and timetable as outlined in Section 1 [pages 5 to 7 refer] of the MTFS document.

ii.  Agree the incorporation of changed assumptions and indicative net unavoidable budget pressures identified in Section 4 [pages 20 to 22 refer]. This provides an indication of the net savings requirement, by year for the next five years, and revised projections for General Fund (GF) revenue and funding as shown in Section 5 [page 23 refer] and reserves [section 7 pages 30 to 33 refer] of the MTFS document.

iii.  Note the changes to the capital plan as set out in Section 6 [pages 24 to 29 refer] and Appendix A [pages 37 to 41 refer] of the MTFS document and agree the new proposals.

Ref

Description/ £’000s

19/20

20/21

21/22

22/23

23/24

24/25

Total

SC646

Redevelopment of Cambridge Junction

250

 

 

 

 

 

250

SC658

CCTV infrastructure – additional cost

75

 

 

 

 

 

75

SC691

HR and payroll – new system

20

150

 

 

 

 

170

SC699

Corn Exchange fire doors

37

 

 

 

 

 

37

SC672

Mill Road redevelopment – development loan to CIP

 

1,142

 

 

 

 

1,142

SC695

Cromwell Road redevelopment – equity contribution

 

329

333

 

 

 

662

SC696

Cromwell Road redevelopment loan to CIP

2,376

5,481

1,000

 

 

 

8,857

SC701

Dales Brewery – replacement fire alarm system

24

 

 

 

 

 

24

 

Total Proposals

2,782

7,102

1,333

 

 

 

11,217

 

iv.  Agree changes to General Fund reserve levels, the prudent minimum balance being set at £5.51m and the target level at £6.61m as detailed in section 7 [pages 30 to 33 refer] and Appendix B [pages 42 and 43 refer] of the MTFS document.

 

Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.

 

Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable.

 

Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Head of Finance.

 

The Committee made the following comments in response to the report:

  i.  Noted an ambitious capital programme and questioned whether there were adequate staffing levels to deliver the services.

  ii.  Questioned if the Executive Councillor had a view on the increase in the amount of the Council’s reserves.

  iii.  Referred to p171 of the agenda and noted that this was the second time that savings from shared services would not be realised.  Asked about the progress of shared services.

  iv.  Referred to savings requirements on p183 of the agenda and asked if the figures were abstract estimates or based on factors from the current situation.

  v.  Referred to page 177 of the agenda and queried if the New Homes Bonus was being used to fund officers supporting growth eg: within the Planning Service. 

 

The Head of Finance said the following in response to Members’ questions:

  i.  There had been an increase in reserves through underspending and growth in the business rates revenue. Reserves were seen as contingency funds. There was a high level of uncertainty with the local government funding settlement, reserves would provide some flexibility for funding.

  ii.  Referred to comments raised in relating to savings targets on p183 of the agenda, these were realistic targets of unavoidable pressures based on an average officers believed to be realistic.

  iii.  Commented that it was likely that the New Homes Bonus was likely to disappear in the next 4-5 years and funding would be distributed in another way. 

 

The Executive Councillor said the following in response to Members’ questions:

  i.  Referred to p198-201 of the committee agenda and commented that there were too many specific projects. He acknowledged there had been some delays finalising some projects. Noted that there was some s106 funding which needed to be spent otherwise there was a requirement to return the funding back to developers. Noted there were items where the council was waiting to obtain funding from external agencies. Commented that the Council had staff who were capable of delivering projects but that sometimes there were issues beyond the Council’s control which prevented projects going ahead.

  ii.  Savings had been achieved for Shared Services through management restructures.  Shared Services overheads needed to be looked at.

 

The Committee resolved by 3 votes to 0 to endorse the recommendations.

 

The Executive Councillor approved the recommendations.

 

Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted)

No conflicts of interest were declared by the Executive Councillor.

 

 

Publication date: 23/01/2020

Date of decision: 07/10/2019