Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
The Revenue and Capital Budget report will set
out the General Fund budget for 2021-22 and planning totals for the
following four years together with a refreshed Medium Term
Financial Strategy, Financial Management Strategy and Treasury
The Revenue and Capital Budget Report was introduced by Councillor Andy Wilson, Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance who advised Cabinet of the Following:
· The Council was planning for next year’s budget in a state of continued uncertainty from central government around the pandemic, the future of local government finance and the long-term funding pressures of essential services.
· Council Tax and the Adult Social Care precept were temporary measures and long-term pressures required longer term funding solutions and no clear plan on the future of social care and how we would pay for it had been forthcoming from this government. As a result, local authorities were forced by central government to raise Council Tax in order to achieve a sustainable financial footing.
· Despite the uncertainty, and the significant spending to support residents through this crisis, the prudent financial management meant the Council was able to set a balanced Medium-Term Financial Strategy, through a mixture of income generation, savings and use of reserves.
· The Council was committed to helping the most vulnerable, and had expanded the welfare safety net for people in financial difficulty so that more people could access the support they needed.
· An extra £500,000 in emergency financial support for residents at immediate risk of financial hardship.
· An extra £1million to the budget for discretionary housing payments to support residents who may struggle to pay their housing costs due to the virus.
· Additional funding for local advice surgeries to ensure that help was at hand to assist residents in finding the support they needed.
· The Council was considering what further support could be given to those who needed to self-isolate, which had been the major gap in the government’s flawed Covid-19 response.
· Expanded support for vulnerable people who struggled to pay their Council Tax by increasing the scope and funding for our Council Tax Support scheme.
· The administration’s budget reflected its values, supporting people at a time of hardship and rebuilding the welfare safety net removed by central government.
· Support to vulnerable people in our communities would continue, but central government needed to ensure the promise of funding for local authorities in full for the work and resources used to fight Covid-19 was honoured.
Councillor Jonathan Bartley addressed Cabinet and made the following points:
· He looked forward to the Council debate, and felt that there was a wide range of support measures for local people.
· It would have been better if the Council Tax Support Scheme could have been brought forward to this year.
· It was concerning that some level of enforcement had begun to be taken against those who were receiving Council Tax support, and he wanted reassurance that would not be the case
Cabinet Members made the following comments and observations:
· They thanked finance colleagues for the work on Foster Carer council tax allowance – which was revolutionary and would create better outcomes for young people.
· It was good news that the council tax support scheme would be extended so more people in need would be supported.
· Over the years the Council had undertaken good and prudent financial planning and had sufficient reserves to help deal with recent challenges.
· It was unfair to local people that Central Government had not addressed the lack of Adult Social Care (ASC) funding which targeted the poorest and most in need. Cabinet welcomed the ASC white paper as the fundamental issue (funding) had not been addressed by Central Government.
· The resources that the council had to allocate to essential services was not sufficient to meet the rising needs of the population; this was a result of sustained cuts to the Council’s budget.
· Those who fell into Council tax arrears would be supported to help manage any debt.
· It would not be possible to bring forward the Council Tax Support scheme due to the lengthy consultation needed, however the council were using the government Local Council Tax Support grant and Hardship Fund to provide support.
1) To recommend Council to note or adopt the recommendations listed below.
2) To approve the disposal of the properties identified in Appendix 7b.
Report author: Amaris Wong
Publication date: 12/02/2021
Date of decision: 08/02/2021
Decided at meeting: 08/02/2021 - Cabinet
Effective from: 20/02/2021