Agenda item

Recommendation 2 – Budget Strategy Mid-Year Review 2022


The Full Council considered report FIN/596 of the Head of Corporate Finance. The Leader of the Council presented the report which provided an update on the Council’s Budget Strategy and took the opportunity to thank the Head of Corporate Finance for her hard work and diligence.  The report acknowledged that it was very difficult to predict, because of the national picture, however additional income had been received as a result of the increase in garage rent.  Since the previous budget report in October 2022 there had been some changes, including an expected deficit of £202,000 for the next financial year (met by reserves).  The budget shortfall next year would be met from reserves, however in future years there would be a need to look at efficiencies, new income or, as a last resort, reduction in services.


Other changes included the challenges related to the expected cost of homelessness support which would be increased for next year to £1.4m. In addition, it was acknowledged that the pandemic recovery had been challenging for the leisure industry and that would impact the income received with regards to the K2 contract. There were proposals for two fixed term growth posts along with an additional cleansing and cleaning operative within Crawley Homes as a result of the new blocks of flats within Forge Wood.


In terms of Council Tax, it was acknowledged that within the Autumn Statement the Government had provided local authorities in England additional flexibility in setting Council Tax by increasing the referendum limit for increases in Council Tax to 3% per year from April 2023.  Should the Council increase Council Tax by this amount, it would receive an additional £57,000 in the next financial year to help meet the gap.


The item had been previously considered at the Overview and Scrutiny Commission and Cabinet meetings on 21 November 2022 and 23 November 2022 respectively. Councillor Jones moved the recommendation which was seconded and supported by Councillor C Mullins.


Councillor Crow then moved and presented Amendment 1 (as shown in the Supplementary Agenda Order Paper) and in doing so emphasised that it was noted that the predictions would change given the economic climate and there was a requirement for flexibility.  It was felt the capping of social housing rents at 7% instead of the planned CPI inflation figure +1% increase, would assist in the current cost-of-living pressures for social housing tenants.  The amendment was seconded by Councillor Millar-Smith.


Councillors C Mullins, Burrett, Lunnon, Burgess, Pritchard. Lanzer, Lamb, K Khan and Ayling also spoke on the item.


Councillor Jones, using their right to reply, commented that he would accept Amendment 1 and include it as part of the substantive recommendation. The Mayor then called for the vote on Amendment 1, which was carried unanimously. The Mayor then called for the vote on the substantive recommendation (including Amendment 1) which was also carried unanimously.





That the Full Council approves the Budget Strategy Mid-Year Review 2022 and:


a)          agrees the growth items for both the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account as outlined in sections 5.17 and 8.1 of report FIN/596


b)          agrees the inclusion of new capital schemes in future budgets with the value of £165,000 as identified in section 9.2 of report FIN/596


c)          agrees an increase in the capital programme for Park Tennis by £111,390 funded from Lawn Tennis Grant as outlined in paragraph 9.3 of report FIN/596


d)          approves the revised Crawley Homes capital investment plan as outlined in Appendix B to report FIN/596 which includes the financial year 2025/26 and the garage repairs which was transferred to the General Fund.


e)          notes the following highlights of the Budget Strategy Mid-Year Review 2022:


i).          notes the uncertainties around Government funding prior to the settlement in December and the delay in Local Government Funding reforms such as business rates retention and the future of New Homes Bonus.


ii).         notes, for the purpose of projections, the current budget deficit of £201,792 for 2023/24 before use of reserves, on the basis of a Council tax increase of 2.31% which is £4.95 on a Band D in property 2022/23. Future years gaps are shown in section 4.2 of report FIN/596.


iii).       notes that the gap from 2024/25 will need to be addressed once the finance settlement is announced as there will be insufficient reserves in the long term to fund future gaps. The methodology of approaching the gap is outlined in section 7 of report FIN/596.


iv).       notes that items for the Capital Programme are driven by the need for the upkeep of Council assets and environmental obligations and schemes will also be considered that are spend to save or spend to earn but that such prioritisation should not preclude the initial consideration of capital projects that could deliver social value.


v).        notes that the Budget is aligned to the Council’s Corporate Priorities.