The Leader of the Council presented report FIN/491 of the Head of Corporate Finance which set out the Budget and level of Council Tax for the year 2020/21. It was noted that the report detailed each of the Revenue, Capital and Housing Revenue Accounts that combine together to formulate ‘The Budget’. In proposing the level of Council Tax for the Financial Year 2020/21, each of those accounts identified had been considered. The proposed Council Tax for 2020/21 was to be increased by 2.43%.
It was emphasised that the Council has a statutory responsibility to set Council Tax and its Budget in advance of the commencement of the new financial year (1 April to 31 March). The Council Tax had to be set by 11 March, each year.
The Cabinet was informed that the proposed Budget had been produced based on the principles set in the Budget Strategy which was approved by Full Council on 16 December 2019. That included achieving a balanced Budget over a three year period, including putting back into reserves when the Budget is in surplus.
The Leader emphasised that the Budget had been set against the background of general uncertainty over local government finance. It was noted that there had been two consultation papers relating to local government finance, namely the Fair Funding Review and the Business Rates retention reform. It had been expected to present their findings in advance of the Budget setting period, but both reviews had been deferred because of factors such as the General Election. The outcome of these consultations will change the way the Council is funded in the future, and as a result it will be difficult to project forwards.
It was noted that a supplementary agenda had been published that included a replacement to the table within paragraph 5.5.1 of the original report.
Councillor Rana presented the Overview and Scrutiny Commission’s comments on the report to the Cabinet following consideration of the matter at its meeting on 3 February 2020. The Commission Chair stated that the Budget report was generally well received at the Commission, where a lengthy and in-depth discussion was held with the Leader over the contents of the Budget report. It was conveyed that five Members of the Commission expressed their support for the report, with the other four Members preferring to abstain and reserve comments for the Full Council meeting being held on 26 February 2020.
Councillors P Smith, Irvine and Jhans all spoke in support during the discussion on the proposed Budget and Council report.
That Full Council be recommended to approve the following items regarding the 2020/21 Budget:
a) to approve the proposed 2020/21 General Fund Budget including savings and growth as set out in section 6 and Appendix 1 and Appendix 2 of the report FIN/491,
b) to approve the proposed 2020/21 Housing Revenue Account Budget as set out in section 10 and Appendix 3 of the report FIN/491,
c) to approve the 2019/20 to 2022/23 Capital Programme and funding as set out in paragraph 11.5 of the report FIN/491,
d) to agree that the Council’s share of Council Tax for 2020/21 be increased by 2.43% from £203.94 to £208.89 for a band D property as set out in paragraphs 5.5.1 and 13.3 of report FIN/491,
e) to approve the Pay Policy Statement for 2020/2021 as outlined in paragraph 16.3 and Appendix 6 of the report FIN/491.
Reasons for the Recommendations
To provide adequate funding for the proposed level of services and to fulfil the statutory requirement to set a Budget and Council Tax and report on the robustness of estimates.