That the Cabinet recommends to Full Council the approval of the Budget Strategy 2022/23 to 2026/27 and to:
a) Note 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.
b) Note, for the purpose of projections, the current budget deficit of £138,566for 2022/23 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.
c) Work towards balancing this over a four-year period, including putting back into reserves when the Budget is in surplus. There may be a need to use reserves over the next three to four years to balance the budget together with ongoing savings, efficiencies and additional income through the transformation programme.
d) Note elsewhere on this Agenda there is a report on the Climate Change Emergency Action Plan. The costs identified in 2022/23 are included within existing budgets, however there will be a need to fully cost the plan over the coming years and decisions will be required on how to fund the plan.
e) Note that savings previously agreed and included in the Budget Strategy are required to ensure a sustainable budget.
f) Delegate to the Leader of the Council in consultation with the Chief Executive and the Head of Corporate Finance to approve a discretionary business rates scheme to distribute the share to Crawley Borough Council of the £1.5b business rates relief as outlined in Section 5.3 of report FIN/537.
g) Note 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.
h) Agree the inclusion of new capital schemes in future budgets with the value of £948,460 as identified in Table 8 of report FIN/537.
i) Reduce the Gigabit capital programme of £2.7m to £1.35m funded from the West Sussex business rates pool to avoid duplication with Towns Fund Gigabit scheme as identified in section 9.3 of report FIN/537.
j) Approve the revised Crawley Homes capital investment plan in Appendix D of report FIN/537 which includes the financial year 2024/25 and the garage repairs capital budget which was transferred to the General Fund.
k) Note that the Budget is aligned to the Council’s Corporate Priorities.
Reasons for the Recommendations
a) To continue with the implementation of the Council’s budget strategy and to deal with the Council’s projected budget deficit which is higher than previously projected due to the impact of the pandemic on future Council tax and Business rates income projections and also impacting other income sources such as fees and charges.
b) To reaffirm the criteria for capital programme bids.
c) To note that until the Local Government Finance Settlement is known in December 2021 these projections are highly likely to change.