Agenda item

2022/2023 Budget and Council Tax

To consider report FIN/549 of the Head of Corporate Finance.


The Commission considered report FIN/549 with the Leader of the Council, Head of Corporate Finance and the Chief Accountant.  The Council has a statutory responsibility to set a Council Tax and Budget in advance of the commencement of the new financial year. The Council Tax has to be set by March each year.  During the past year the Council had continued to review its spending plans and considered options to amend spending to meet new priorities.


During the discussion, the following points were expressed:

·         Due to the variation in the inflation estimate, the accuracy of this within the fees and charges was queried.  The Council’s financial advisors currently provide advice and model the inflation estimates.  It was an assessment to increase fees whilst still providing services, without impacting on service users.

·         Clarification as to whether an environmental review would take place on the essential and casual car user allowances, together with the employment benefit analysis. It was acknowledged it would be a substantial change for officers involved and there was a need to make savings at a time when the council was struggling to recruit. Whilst work had taken place there was not a demand to prolong the review.

·         Given the current cost to the council for processing cheques it was queried if it was appropriate to charge an administration fee to discourage customers paying by cheque and incentivise other payment options.  The pandemic had highlighted that other payment options were available but in other circumstances these had not been used. It was felt assistance should be offered to customers to transfer them to other methods.

·         It was queried whether the revenue cost of borrowing as a percentage of revenue spend should be tabled within the report as the cost of borrowing for capital projects had increased.  This could be included going forward given the council’s current position.

·         Confirmation provided regarding the increase capital budget for Tilgate Park lake erosion in that it had previously been agreed with the Park for a certain amount of capital in return for cost-neutrality.  This increased fund was required for lake erosion works as a result of environmental improvements required. 

·         It was noted within the pay policy statement 2022/23 that the pay award had not been agreed within the current financial year. The exact date was currently unknown due to ongoing negotiations.

·         Recognition that there were several aspects within the local government finance reforms that could affect the council; business rates, new homes bonus, the Levelling Up paper and any potential restructuring around local government could result in substantial change.

·         Confirmation provided that some of the EU exit fund had been spent at Port Health but further funds needed to be allocated.

·         Further discussion took place on the supplementary agenda. It was clarified that 121 units referred to households.  There was always the need to ease the reliance on bed and breakfast accommodation and increase the provision of temporary accommodation as much as possible. Housing policy was strictly adhered to, and it was also noted that the numbers on the housing register had not reduced over the years.



That the Commission noted the report, supplementary agenda and requested that the views expressed during the debate, were fed back to the Cabinet through the Commission’s Comment sheet.




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