To approve: the General Fund and HRA budgets for 2023/24 including the use of reserves, Medium Term Financial Strategy, Capital Programme and Strategy, Treasury Management Policy/Strategy, MRP Policy and Annual Investment Strategy, Fees & Charges, Pay Policy Statement and the Annual Delivery Plan.
(Please note that in accordance with The Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014, a recorded vote will be taken on Budget recommendations).
(Members are reminded that if they are two months or more in arrears, they must disclose the fact and not vote on any item to set tax or any decision which may affect its calculation).
Consideration was given to the report of the Deputy Chief Executive – Corporate Development (S151) which requested approval of the General Fund and HRA budgets for 2023/24 including the use of reserves, Medium Term Financial Strategy, Capital Programme and Strategy, Treasury Management Policy/Strategy, MRP Policy and Annual Investment Strategy, Fees and Charges, Pay Policy Statement and the Annual Delivery Plan.
The Portfolio Holder for Finance, Commercialisation and Partnerships introduced the report and outlined the main details of the Budget.
· The Covid pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine had had a huge global impact and consequently had impacted on the Council’s finances. Very high inflation, high interest rates, workforce shortages and industrial action was impacting individuals and businesses. The Council was not exempt from these pressures.
· A huge amount of additional work had been required in order to produce a balanced budget, and the Portfolio Holder requested that his thanks be passed on to all involved.
· Over the years, the Council had managed its finances well, building up small reserves year on year while still maintaining good levels of service to its residents. These reserves would now need to be called upon. Going forward, strict budgets and careful budget scrutiny would be required, while still maintained good levels of service.
· There would be continued weekly collections of waste and recycling, and continued investment in affordable and market rental homes, commercial lets for small businesses, community heritage and general assets, and the successful garden waste service. In addition, there was improved CCTV in Spalding town centre, and land for a community woodland had been secured. The Council would continue with its partnership with Boston Council and ELDC, and also PSPS, continuing to drive out efficiencies, keeping costs down, and providing a strong voice in Government for the sub-region.
The summary headlines of the Budget were as follows:
· The General Fund budget of £16million would be balanced, with the use of reserves and an efficiency savings programme of £885,000;
· Drainage Board levy increases of around £540,000 over the last 2 years would be eased by a District Council Tax increase of 3%, creating an additional £257,000 towards the drainage boards costs of £3.1million for the year;
· Government funding would remain static at around £2million;
· Interest earned on cash investments would increase to around £1.8million, due to rises in interest rates;
· Business Rate income was set to increase by around £1million;
· General running costs of Council services in 2023/24 would increase by around £3.5million through increased staff pension costs, general overheads, contracts, supplies and services;
· Increased homeless costs had been included for 2023/24;
· The HRA was set to show a surplus of £2.2m to be invested in new affordable Council homes;
· Around 3,750 Council home rents were due to increase by 7% as Government capping allowed. However, SHDC would be introducing a 2% cost of living credit on this rent increase to assist tenants;
· Investment in Council homes continued with maintenance and improvement works of over £6.5million to keep them at the ... view the full minutes text for item 102
To approve: 1) The General Fund and Housing Revenue Account Budget for 2023/24 including the use of reserves, Medium Term Financial Strategy, Capital Programme and Strategy, Treasury Management Strategy, MRP Policy and Annual Investment Strategy, Fees and Charges for 2023/24; 2) Approval of Council Tax for recommendations to Full Council; and 3) the Annual Delivery Plan (report of the Deputy Chief Executive – Corporate Development (S151)).
Consideration was given to the report of the Deputy Chief Executive – Corporate Development (S151) which presented the General Fund and HRA budgets for 2023/24 including the use of reserves, Medium Term Financial Strategy, Capital Programme and Strategy, Treasury Management Policy/Strategy, MRP Policy and Annual Investment Strategy and the Annual Delivery Plan.
The Portfolio Holder – Finance, Commercialisation and Partnership presented the report, advising that the Budget position had changed slightly to that presented at the last Cabinet meeting. The following background was provided:
· The 2023/24 budget was one of the most challenging budgets ever set , the extent of issues faced being significant and occurring at the same time. There were changes impacting on a variety of areas including Business Rates, staff pay and pensions, fuel, power and contracts. However investment income had improved. There were a large number of assumptions to be made, the largest being around pay increases, investment income and the IDB levy – this made the budget very uncertain and subject to change. More recent pressures relating to homelessness and the cost of living crisis continued to impact on residents’ and the Council’s budgets.
· With regard to the IDB levy, significant representation had been made to the Government on this issue. Following a meeting between the Leader, our MP and the minister, a further response to the concerns raised as part of the budget consultation process was awaited. The embedding of the levy within the budgets was considered a structural defect of the funding formula with the removal of RSG over a number of years. Work was also ongoing with the IDBs and other affected Councils.
· With this hugely significant pressure increasing this year by £332,000 (around £541,000 over two years), which was embedded within the budget, and with the constraint of the referendum limit, it was necessary to recommend a £5.76 increase in Council Tax for a Band D property. This would raise £257,000 towards the £3.1million IDB levy which now made up 55% of all Council Tax raised. However, with the majority of residents being in properties lower than Band D, this would be a lower increase for most households.
· Despite the challenges, there had been success in securing access to grant funding – Changing Places; Green Home Grants; UKSPF; Levelling Up Fund; and NPO. These now featured in SHDC’s and delivery partners’ 2023/24 revenue and capital budgets. In additions, other funding bids had been submitted and outcomes on these were awaited.
· The capital programme was now a very significant part of the budget and delivery would take place in this and future years through the Green Homes Grants, Levelling Up Fund and UKSPF. It was important to support and drive growth in the area, and a budget to achieve this had been created.
· In respect of the HRA, investment continued in replacing stock that had been subject to Right to Buy, and the improvement of housing stock and sheltered accommodation. The programme of acquisitions and build through Welland Homes continued, which contributed ... view the full minutes text for item 69