Agenda item

This report presents an updated Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for the period 2021/22 to 2024/25 and provides detail to inform Council in setting Council Tax for 2021/22.

Report of the Executive Director of Corporate Services (Section 151 Officer)

 

 

Decision:

Cabinet note:

 

1)    The revised Medium Term Financial Strategy 2021/22 to 2024/25 as detailed in Appendix 1 of the report.

 

2)    The aims and objectives of the Medium Term Financial Strategy which will be presented to Council for approval on 25 February 2021.

 

3)    The formal budget public consultation began on 11 November 2020 and ended on 3 January 2021. The internal consultation on staffing proposals commenced on 14 December 2020 and ended on 22 January 2021. Following the consultation, the budget proposals have been revised as shown in paragraph 1.6 and the outcome of the consultation is summarised in section 20 and Appendix 6 of the report.

 

4)    The budget proposals are based on the assumptions detailed within the Medium Term Financial Strategy and that this includes a Council Tax increase of £5.00 in 2021/22, allowable under general powers to increase Council Tax without a referendum.

 

5)    That further proposals will need to be considered to address future years budget gap in 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25.

 

6)    That the Financial Policies have been reviewed and the updated Financial Policies are detailed in Appendix 4 of the report.

 

Cabinet Recommend Council to

 

Note:

 

7)    The S151 Officer’s (Executive Director of Corporate Services) statutory report regarding the robustness of the estimates and the adequacy of reserves detailed in section 13 of the report.

 

8)    That the Executive Director of Corporate Services (S151 Officer) on the 8 January 2021 calculated the Council Tax base for the whole Council area at 66,627.2 Band D equivalents and for dwellings in those parts of its area to which a parish precept relates as per Appendix 2 (available for final report to Council).

 

9)    The county, police and fire authority precepts detailed in Appendix 3 (available for final report to Council).

 

10)That as the billing authority, the Council has not been notified by any major precepting authority that its relevant basic amount of Council Tax for 2021/22 is excessive and the billing authority is therefore not required to hold a referendum, in accordance with section 52ZK of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

 

11)The risks and sensitivities within the financial forecasts highlighted in section 10 and in Appendix 5 of the report.

 

12)That the final government grant settlement figures may not be finalised before the budget is approved and therefore any adjustments to the final figures will be matched by an allocation to or from the MTFS Risk Reserve in accordance with financial policies.

 

Determine:

 

13)That for the purposes of section 35 (2) (d) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, any expenses incurred by the Borough Council in the financial year 2021/22 in performing functions in a part of the district which elsewhere in the district are performed by a Parish Council, shall not be special expenses of the Borough Council.

 

14)That its relevant basic amount of Council Tax for 2021/22 (£131.42 at Band D) reflects a £5.00 (3.96%) increase which is not excessive in accordance with principles approved under Section 52ZB of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

 

Approve:

 

15)The net Council Tax requirement of £8.76M for 2021/22, the revenue estimates including the budget proposals in section 6 of the report and contributions to and from reserves as summarised in sections 7 and 9 of the report.

 

16)The Medium Term Financial Strategy, as shown in Appendix 1 of the report.

 

17)The updated financial policies set out in Appendix 4 of the report including the revised New Homes Bonus Grant allocation policy.

 

18)That the requirement for Council Tax for Borough purposes for 2021/22 be £131.42 Band D equivalent as set out in Appendix 3 (available for final report to Council).

 

19)The 2021/22 net income budget of £0.08M for the Joint Manydown Committee as set out in section 15 of the report and that the net income is shared equally between the Council and Hampshire County Council.

 

20)The Council Tax Resolution as set out in Appendix 3 (available for final report to Council) which brings together the Borough’s Council Tax Requirement and that of the other major preceptors (Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Fire and Rescue and The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire) and sets the Council Tax charges for 2021/22.

 

21)That the S151 Officer (Executive Director of Corporate Services) be given delegated authority to implement any variation necessary to the overall level of 2021/22 Council Taxes in the event that any of the precepting authorities change their precept calculation from that expected and reported at the Council meeting.

 

22)The updated Financial Regulations as detailed in Appendix 7 of the report for inclusion in the council’s constitution.

 

23)The Summary Priority Plans and updated Council Plan as shown in Appendices 8 and 9 of the report.

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council gave his thanks to the officer team and S151 Officer for the work involved to provide a robust Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) and budget.

 

Cabinet considered the report which provided an update to the MTFS and a summary of revenue budget proposals for 2021/22.  The Cabinet Member for Finance and Service Improvement stated that the proposals had been widely consulted on, and based on feedback, some proposals had been reconsidered with charging for disabled parking, pest control charges and phased reduction for parish council grass cutting being removed from the updated budget proposals.  She added that given the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, a balanced budget had been achieved.  Furthermore the council plan remained the focus point for prioritising spend to what mattered to residents such as weekly bin collections, supporting vulnerable residents, eradicating rough sleeping, safer neighbourhoods, and providing efficient and flexible services.  She added that this could be supported partly by the significant amount of annual income received from investment returns.  She further added that the council remained a low tax council.

 

Visiting Councillors K Taylor, Harvey and McCormick were invited to address the meeting.

 

Councillor Taylor was pleased that the proposal for charges for disabled parking had been removed but requested that cabinet reconsider proposals for an increase in charges for those residents over 60 for allotment charges and an increase in outdoor bowling charges of which both activities were of particular importance to older age groups.  She also asked for reconsideration of bin charges particularly in relation to the concession for those in receipt of benefits and felt that it was unfair to align bin charges with those in Hart which was a more affluent area.  She also considered that the charges for bulk waste were excessive which could lead to an increase in illegal waste carriers.

 

The Cabinet member for Environment and Enforcement responded to the comments regarding bins.  She stated that she took on board the comments but added that recycling bins were still free, most household waste bins were purchased for new developments and should be provided by the developer as part of the house purchase.  She added that charges even aligned with Hart, were still reasonable compared to charges by other local authorities and bulky waste was a discretionary service and the charges were reasonable.  She further added that a lot of work and communication had been undertaken in relation to illegal waste carriers.

 

Councillor Harvey thanked officers for the time and effort that had been spent to produce the budget and appreciated the challenges that had been faced.  He was concerned regarding the lack of response to the consultation and would have welcomed a response from the Cabinet to his emails regarding the budget proposals.  He was concerned regarding the proposal for staff redundancies particularly in relation to frontline services such as the operations team where the demands on the team due to new developments were increasing.  He also raised concern regarding the proposal to charge for parking in rural car parks which could have a detrimental effect on the community in its economic recovery due to the pandemic.

 

Cabinet Members responded to the comments and clarified that there was no intention of redundancies, they were vacant posts.  The operations team was important and a new depot was being developed at Down Grange and welfare facilities were being enhanced at Wade Road.  Weekly meetings were being held with the Union and staff would be redeployed where possible.

 

Councillor McCormick asked what the rationale was behind discontinuing the shuttle bus when there is a climate emergency and the aim is to encourage people not to use cars but to encourage people in and out of the town centre and the Leisure Park.  He added that he considered it would be an opportunity to introduce a green bus route with electric buses to promote Basingstoke and increase recovery in two key areas of the town.

 

The Cabinet Member for Planning, Infrastructure and Natural Environment responded that the shuttle bus caused people to drive into Basingstoke, park and then travel a short distance to their destination.  He added that most people who used the shuttle bus came from outside of the borough so it was not of benefit to residents by helping with transport, reducing numbers on the road or reducing air pollution so was not achieving what it should.  He also highlighted planning for mass rapid transport around the vicinity of junction 7 of the M3 into Basingstoke to take people out of cars and transport people in a cost effective, clean way without a substantial public subsidy.

 

Resolved:  To note

 

1)      The revised Medium Term Financial Strategy 2021/22 to 2024/25 as detailed in Appendix 1 of the report.

 

2)      The aims and objectives of the Medium Term Financial Strategy which will be presented to Council for approval on 25 February 2021.

 

3)      The formal budget public consultation began on 11 November 2020 and ended on 3 January 2021. The internal consultation on staffing proposals commenced on 14 December 2020 and ended on 22 January 2021. Following the consultation, the budget proposals have been revised as shown in paragraph 1.6 and the outcome of the consultation is summarised in section 20 and Appendix 6 of the report.

 

4)      The budget proposals are based on the assumptions detailed within the Medium Term Financial Strategy and that this includes a Council Tax increase of £5.00 in 2021/22, allowable under general powers to increase Council Tax without a referendum.

 

5)      That further proposals will need to be considered to address future years budget gap in 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25.

 

6)      That the Financial Policies have been reviewed and the updated Financial Policies are detailed in Appendix 4 of the report.

 

Recommendation to Council: That Council

 

Note:

 

7)      The S151 Officer’s (Executive Director of Corporate Services) statutory report regarding the robustness of the estimates and the adequacy of reserves detailed in section 13 of the report.

 

8)      That the Executive Director of Corporate Services (S151 Officer) on the 8 January 2021 calculated the Council Tax base for the whole Council area at 66,627.2 Band D equivalents and for dwellings in those parts of its area to which a parish precept relates as per Appendix 2 (available for final report to Council).

 

9)      The county, police and fire authority precepts detailed in Appendix 3 (available for final report to Council).

 

10)   That as the billing authority, the Council has not been notified by any major precepting authority that its relevant basic amount of Council Tax for 2021/22 is excessive and the billing authority is therefore not required to hold a referendum, in accordance with section 52ZK of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

 

11)   The risks and sensitivities within the financial forecasts highlighted in section 10 and in Appendix 5 of the report.

 

12)   That the final government grant settlement figures may not be finalised before the budget is approved and therefore any adjustments to the final figures will be matched by an allocation to or from the MTFS Risk Reserve in accordance with financial policies.

 

Determine:

 

13)  That for the purposes of section 35 (2) (d) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, any expenses incurred by the Borough Council in the financial year 2021/22 in performing functions in a part of the district which elsewhere in the district are performed by a Parish Council, shall not be special expenses of the Borough Council.

 

14)  That its relevant basic amount of Council Tax for 2021/22 (£131.42 at Band D) reflects a £5.00 (3.96%) increase which is not excessive in accordance with principles approved under Section 52ZB of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

 

Approve:

 

15)  The net Council Tax requirement of £8.76M for 2021/22, the revenue estimates including the budget proposals in section 6 and contributions to and from reserves as summarised in sections 7 and 9 of the report.

 

16)  The Medium Term Financial Strategy, as shown in Appendix 1 of the report.

 

17)  The updated financial policies set out in Appendix 4 of the report including the revised New Homes Bonus Grant allocation policy.

 

18)  That the requirement for Council Tax for Borough purposes for 2021/22 be £131.42 Band D equivalent as set out in Appendix 3 (available for final report to Council).

 

19)  The 2021/22 net income budget of £0.08M for the Joint Manydown Committee as set out in section 15 of the report and that the net income is shared equally between the Council and Hampshire County Council.

 

20)  The Council Tax Resolution as set out in Appendix 3 (available for final report to Council) which brings together the Borough’s Council Tax Requirement and that of the other major preceptors (Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Fire and Rescue and The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire) and sets the Council Tax charges for 2021/22.

 

21)  That the S151 Officer (Executive Director of Corporate Services) be given delegated authority to implement any variation necessary to the overall level of 2021/22 Council Taxes in the event that any of the precepting authorities change their precept calculation from that expected and reported at the Council meeting.

 

22)  The updated Financial Regulations as detailed in Appendix 7 of the report for inclusion in the council’s constitution.

 

23)  The Summary Priority Plans and updated Council Plan as shown in Appendices 8 and 9 of the report.

Supporting documents: