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Decision details

Approval of draft Budget 2023/24 for public consultation

Decision Maker: The Executive

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: No


The Executive will meet to consider draft budget proposals which will be the subject of public consultation, scrutiny and then a further budget report to the Executive on 9 February 2023


The Head of Finance introduced the report which set out the General Fund draft budget for 2023/24 for public consultation and which included a recommendation to increase swimming pool prices on 1 January 2023 to mitigate increased utility costs.


The Head of Finance outlined the new budget process which had been developed following an independent review of existing processes.


Members were asked to note the following corrections published in advance of the meeting:

        i.        the figure contained within budget proposal S5106 ‘Environmental Services – review of service delivery p60 of the agenda’ from (£30,000) to (£52,000)

      ii.        the figure contained within budget proposal S5143 ‘Environmental Services – reduction in staffing p62 of the agenda’ from (£70,000) to (£48,000)

    iii.        the reallocation of budget proposal S5143 on p48 of the agenda to the Environment, Climate Change and Biodiversity Executive Councillor portfolio on p46 of the agenda.


The Executive Councillor for Finance Resources and Transformation outlined the context in which the draft Budget had been drafted and welcomed the new budget process which included a public consultation on the Executive’s draft budget proposals.


Each Executive Councillor briefly introduced their budget proposals and Opposition Councillors were invited to ask questions.


In response to Opposition Councillor’s questions, the Executive and Senior Officers made the following comments:

i.      With reference to budget proposal ‘URP 5031 – Continuation of previous 2-year bid for Community Safety staffing to manage increased anti-social behaviour (ASB) and deliver contextual safeguarding (Youth Liaison post).’ ASB within the city was increasing, new and previous trends had been discussed at a recent Community Safety Partnership meeting. It was noted that the Police and the City Council were receiving different information in relation to ASB, and the Executive Councillor for Recovery, Employment and Community Safety wanted to understand why. Undertook to provide a link to Opposition Councillors for the ASB trend information referred to.

ii.             Noted that budget proposal ‘B5032 - Anti-Poverty Strategy responsive budget’ should sit under the portfolio for the Executive Councillor for Equalities, Anti-poverty and Wellbeing and budget proposal ‘URP5009 - Region of Learning’ should sit under the portfolio for the Executive Councillor for Recovery, Employment and Community Safety.

iii.            With reference to budget proposal ‘S5110 - Remove remaining subsidy for last 3 bus routes’ it was noted that the City Council was not the transport authority and conversations were taking place with the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP), the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) and bus companies to put pressure on those organisations to put services back on in Cambridge.

iv.           Welcomed comments on whether budget proposal ‘URP5012 - Increase in Members’ allowances’ should be included within the Draft Budget. Confirmed that any item within the Draft Budget could be commented on as part of the public consultation. Agreed that budget proposal ‘URP5012 – Increase in Members’ allowances’ would be added into Appendix C: Summary of proposals for consultation.

v.             Commented with reference to budget proposal ‘URP5035 - Increasing cost of running city council elections’ that there could be reduced costs with ‘all out’ elections.

vi.           There were a significant number of ICT budget proposals within the Finance, Resources and Transformation portfolio; the works necessitating the capital bids needed to be undertaken. Questions had been raised about the transparency of shared ICT services which the Executive Councillor for Finance, Resources and Transformation would investigate.

vii.          Advised that the funding for budget proposal ‘X5129 - Permanent Resource for support of refugees and asylum seekers’ came from several funding sources but mainly Central Government.

viii.        In relation to budget Proposal ‘S5139 – Streets and Open Spaces Operations – recruitment freeze’ that it was better to delete vacant posts and there would be limited impact on service delivery as the posts were currently vacant.

ix.           Advised for budget proposal ‘S5118 – closing some public conveniences’ that the proposals included full and partial closure of specified toilets. Usage data was clearer for toilets where people had to pay to use the facilities, estimates of usage were provided otherwise. The Executive had to make some difficult decisions and unfortunately public conveniences were subject to a high rate of vandalism which increased costs. It was important to maintain high standards for the toilets which were proposed to be kept open.

x.             Budget proposal ‘B5065 – Shared Waste Services Budgeted Contribution’ was a fair financial split with South Cambridgeshire District Council for delivery of the shared waste service but this was something which could be reviewed as the service progressed.

xi.           Several options for budget proposal CAP5041 – Decarbonisation works – Abbey Pool, Parkside Pool, Cherry Hinton Village Centre’ were being considered including ground source and air source heat pumps.

xii.          If the regeneration works for budget proposal ‘CAP5030 – Kings Hedges (Recreation Ground / play area) did not go ahead then the nearest play area would be the Meadows once construction works were completed and Nuns Area recreation ground. 

xiii.        Noted that budget proposal ‘S5143 – Environmental Services – reduction in staffing’ should have been included within the portfolio for the Executive Councillor for Environment, Climate and Biodiversity. The figure within the budget proposal should be £48,000 and not £70,000. There had been difficulty recruiting a 7th person to this team which led to a revised working arrangement consisting of 3 teams of 2 people working together which delivered additional benefits.

xiv.        With reference to budget proposal ‘S5102 – Cancel Big Weekend City Event’ the Council was looking into how events could be delivered differently, and the consultation responses would be taken into consideration.  The Council hired in equipment for the Big Weekend event and had a dedicated officer who worked with businesses regarding sponsorship. Unfortunately following covid fewer businesses were able to offer sponsorship for city events.

xv.         Considerable thought had been given as to whether to increase swimming fees and it was noted that prices had not been increased for 30 months. Swimming prices were not site specific; a generic fee was charged. The increased fees would apply to Parkside, Abbey and Jesus Green pools. The increase in fees would not apply to the Kings Hedges leaner pool as this facility was run differently. Concession prices would continue to be protected.

xvi.        Suggested that the savings target identified within the budget setting report would be achieved and noted that financial reserves could only be used once. The timescales for the transformation project did not fall within this budget setting report. A senior management restructure was underway and savings from this was anticipated to be seen within the next 6 months.


The Executive approved:

i.       the draft budget for public consultation (Appendix A)

ii.       the form and content of the consultation (Appendix B), subject to the inclusion of ‘URP5012 – Increase in Members’ allowances’ into Appendix C: Summary of proposals for consultation

iii.      the increase of swimming prices as set out in Appendix D and the resulting in-year increase in income budget


Publication date: 18/04/2023

Date of decision: 08/12/2022