Contact Officer: Philip Hood
To note and comment on the Medium Term Financial Forecast and Budget Strategy for 2019/20 to 2022/23.
The Portfolio Holder for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement introduced the Medium Term Financial Forecast and Budget Strategy for 2019/20 to 2021/23.
The forecast was presented in the context of a prediction of government funding continuing to reduce with an expectation that there will be no revenue support grant from 2019/20, an estimated loss of £300,000.00.
The Chair invited the following members to speak regarding this item:-
Cllr P Harvey
Cllr A McCormick
In response to queries raised the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement commented that in the context of the budget, efficiency savings would not equate to cuts but to providing better value.
It was acknowledged that whilst the New Homes Bonus was an important platform for the council to earn revenue it was impossible to predict its value with any clarity and consequently its impact to the budget.
It was stated that whilst it was not possible to predict budgets for partnership authorities, the council aimed to best use its resources to protect the most vulnerable in society and to absorb any service cut by other authorities.
The committee made a range of comments and raised concerns on the following issues:-
· Whether it was a legitimate use to apply commuted sums to street cleaning;
· Whether using commuted sums towards a particular service could then be used to offset the budget provision for that service;
· Whether the organisation was at risk of losing talent with a budgeted pay increase of 2% as opposed to a UK pay growth figure of 3%, particularly against the backdrop of high staff turnover;
· Concern that wording in Appendix 3 detailing ‘Efficiencies in staff and support revenue costs….reviewed to reduce or redirect as required’ implied staff redundancies or cuts, particularly given the allocation for two high level executive posts at salaries of £80,000 and £104,000 respectively;
· For clarification purposes, a request to re-word section 4.2; and
· For clarification purposes, a request to re-word the section relating to production of Basingstoke and Deane Today in Appendix 3.
It was clarified that in the context of the budget the key Council Plan themes were all equally important and required to work together to provide a well-rounded strategy.
It was clarified that there had been no formal advice from central government in relation to the financial implications of Brexit.
The Portfolio Holder for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement clarified that the goal of the administration was to deliver the best quality services to residents. It was clarified that the high level role salaried at £104,000 was already in existence and occupied.
It was clarified that as the document detailed budget proposals, it did not record current programme expenditure, only additional allocations or extensions.
It was further clarified that the Local Plan revenue allocations detailed under Appendix 5ii, represented the flow of work over a 3 year period which included an income figure of £14,000.
In response to a query, the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement commented that there may be the opportunity of taking a capital receipt by rationalising existing land or buildings. It was stated that it would not be a major capital asset, but that the council was in possession of a number of varied land assets which could potentially be sold.
Resolved: The Committee
· Note the Medium Term Financial Forecast and Budget Strategy for 2019/20 to 2022/23;
· Request that Cabinet consider the comments and suggested amendments detailed above.