Agenda item

Budget, Medium Term Plan and Capital Strategy 2021/22

To consider the General Fund and the Housing Revenue Account 2021/22 revenue and capital estimates and the Financial Medium Term Plan (report of the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Strategy and Partnerships and the Executive Director Commercialisation (S151) enclosed).

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Strategy and Partnerships and the Executive Director Commercialisation (S151), which asked the Council to consider the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account 2021/22, revenue and capital estimates, and the Financial Medium Term Plan.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Finance, Strategy and Partnerships introduced the report and outlined the main details of the Budget:

 

·         As a result of continued, unprecedented uncertainty from the Government with regard to Business Rates and the Fair Funding Review, the Authority was taking a  prudent position;

·         The following major service areas would continue to be affected by the Covid pandemic during 2021/22 – Leisure Services (including the South Holland Centre), waste management collection, a reduction in fees and charges, a reduction in Business Rates and Council Tax receipts, and reduced interest on investments. These would all affect the budget throughout the forthcoming year;

·         The Government had announced some Covid support packages for 2021/22, to mitigate against the impact to Councils’ budget pressures, and these had been calculated into the Base Budget workings;

·         The General Fund Budget requirement for 2021/22 was £12.4 million, which included an initial savings efficiency target of  £1.676 million to balance the budget;  numerous savings and income generating opportunities had been identified, and the following had been identified to help with initial savings target - staff pay would be frozen until 2022; the New Homes Bonus windfall payment for 2021 had been certified; expansion of the Garden Waste scheme; receipt of the Council Tax Support Grant; a number of staff vacancies were being held; receipt of the Welland Homes dividend.  These items totalled just over £1million, leaving £676,000 savings still to be achieved.

·         The Base Budget included a Council Tax increase of £4.95 for a Band D property, a 2% increase in Drainage Board levies, Rural Support Grant and Rural Services Delivery Grants being paid for an additional year, an increased cost in Homelessness, and PSPS costs would remain the same in the forthcoming year as the last.

·         The HRA forecast a surplus of £1.97million, including the following – a rent increase of 1.5%, assumed rent loss of 1% and void properties and 1.5% for bad debts.  Additional rents arising from new homes acquired within HRA Capital Programme had been factored in.  The HRA was set to perform well going forward.

·         Capital Programme – the General Fund Capital Programme totalled £19.8 million in the medium term, and the HRA £41million.

 

Moving forward, a new stable post-pandemic operating normality for the Council would be sought.

 

A number of community projects were to be undertaken including – Work to be undertaken to tidy up Spalding Cemetery; a refresh of public toilet provision; a tree planting programme across parishes; assistance for parishes with litter picking; establishment of war graves maintenance programme; and improvements at Ayscoughfee Gardens.  The costs would be met by S106 monies, use of reserves and grant funding. Regeneration work within Spalding and Holbeach would also continue.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Finance, Strategy and Partnerships thanked officers involved in the Budget process, in particular the Executive Director Commercialisation (S151 Officer), the Strategic Finance and Compliance Manager, and the Strategic Finance Manager and his colleagues within PSPS.

 

The following points were raised:

 

·         If the Authority was fortunate enough to receive more outside funding than anticipated, would the savings programme identified be pursued?

o   The Portfolio Holder agreed that further Government grants would assist the savings programme, but that savings and efficiencies would still be pursued.

 

·         Could assurance be provided that there would be a sufficient human resource to deliver the ambitious programme?

o   The Portfolio Holder responded that staff numbers were currently low due to the separation of functions between Breckland and South Holland as a result of addressing the Covid pandemic.  It was important for South Holland to agree a new shared management arrangement with a new partner, and it was hoped that by  April/May 2021, the authority would be in a position to make a decision regarding this, which members would be involved in.

 

·         Could the Portfolio Holder provide costings for the proposed community projects outlined?

o   The Portfolio Holder responded that the Finance Team’s next project would be to cost out the proposals.  It was hoped that S106 monies, Government or departmental funding, and potentially some reserves could be identified. Details would be shared with the Council when they were available.

 

·         Had the reductions in travel costs over the last year been quantified?

o   The Portfolio Holder responded that savings in this area had been made, and that they would be identified as part of savings efficiencies in the forthcoming year. 

 

DECISION:

 

That Council approves:

 

a)    That the Revenue Estimates for the General Fund, Housing Revenue Account and Spalding Special Expenses for 2021/22 (Appendices A, B, and C) be approved;

b)    That the use of reserves (Appendix D) be approved;

c)    That the Council Tax for a Band A property in 2021/22 be set at £123.12 (a £3.30 per annum increase on 2020/21 levels) and band D £184.68 for 2021/22 (a £4.95 per annum increase on 2020/21 levels);

d)    That the Spalding special expense for a Band A property be set at £16.12 for 2021/22, (previously £15.88 in 2020/21) and Band D £24.18 for 2021/22, (previously £23.82 in 2020/21);

e)    That the Medium Term Financial Strategy (Appendix B) be approved;

f)     That Housing Revenue Account weekly dwelling rents increase by 1.5% over the previous year, 2020/21, with effect from Monday 5th April 2021. This is in line with current government guidelines and legislation;

g)    That the Capital Strategy and Capital Programme (Appendices E and F) be approved;

h)    That the Treasury Management Strategy, including the Minimum Revenue Provision policy and Investment Strategy be approved (Appendix H and I);

i)      That the fees and charges shown in appendix G be approved for adoption from 1st April 2021.

 

In accordance with the Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 a recorded vote was taken on the recommendations (Final Budget, Medium Term Plan and Capital and Treasury Strategy). The vote was as follows:

 

For

Against

Abstain

Apologies/Absent

Councillor Alcock

Councillor McLean

 

Councillor Bingham

Councillor Astill

Councillor Newton (Recommendation A)

 

Councillor Gibson

Councillor Avery

 

 

Councillor Slade

Councillor Beal

 

 

Councillor Wilkinson

Councillor Biggadike

 

 

 

Councillor Booth

 

 

 

Councillor Brewis

 

 

 

Councillor Carter

 

 

 

Councillor Casson

 

 

 

Councillor Coupland

 

 

 

Councillor Cronin

 

 

 

Councillor Drury

 

 

 

Councillor Gambba-Jones

 

 

 

Councillor Grocock

 

 

 

Councillor Hasan

 

 

 

Councillor King

 

 

 

Councillor Lawton

 

 

 

Councillor Newton (Recommendations B – I)

 

 

 

Councillor Pepper

 

 

 

Councillor Porter

 

 

 

Councillor Redgate

 

 

 

Councillor Reynolds

 

 

 

Councillor Rudkin

 

 

 

Councillor Scalese

 

 

 

Councillor Seymour

 

 

 

Councillor Sneath

 

 

 

Councillor Taylor

 

 

 

Councillor Tennant

 

 

 

Councillor Tyrrell

 

 

 

Councillor Walsh

 

 

 

Councillor Woolf

 

 

 

Councillor Worth

 

 

 

 

(Councillors Gibson and Wilkinson were not in attendance during the vote due to technical issues, and were therefore unable to participate in the vote).

Supporting documents: