Agenda item

Medium Term Financial Strategy 2019/2024 and 2019/20 Budget and Council Tax

Joint report of the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for Finance outlining how the Council will finance its operations over the next five years and recommending a budget to the Council for 2019/20.

 

NOTE: Members are reminded that, under Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, if they are two months or more in arrears with their Council Tax it is an offence for them to vote on the budget. Members are also required to disclose at the meeting the fact that this Section applies to them.

Minutes:

The Council received a joint report by the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for Finance on the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 20019/24 and 2019/20 Budget and Council Tax proposals.

 

Mr Sutherland expressed his thanks to the Deputy Director of Finance and  those other members of staff who had assisted in the development of the MTFS, the Chairman and Members of the Corporate Review Committee’s Medium Term Financial Strategy Working Group for the robust manner in which they had challenged and questioned Cabinet Members during their scrutiny of the MTFS/budget proposals, and also to his Cabinet Colleagues and Members of the Senior Leadership Team.

 

Introducing the report Mr Sutherland explained that the early commencement of work to address the forecast £35million deficit for 2019/20 had proven beneficial in that it had provided for detailed consideration of all options available and consultation with interested parties as appropriate.

 

He explained that Cabinet proposed a net revenue budget of £508.634million for 2019/20 giving a Council Tax requirement of £351.132million.  This necessitated a Precept increase of 2.95% at property Band D level.

 

As an example of the financial pressures facing the Council, Mr Sutherland reported that £315 million would be allocated in 2019/20 towards the cost of care for the young, old and most vulnerable members of the community, compared with the £200 million allocation some 10 years ago.  He added that the Council would continue to Lobby Central Government for appropriate funding for the provision of social care.

 

Highlighting specific points in the proposed budget the Mr Sutherland indicated that the Council had consulted the public on the budget proposals and had listened to their concerns including the retention of School Crossing Patrols, the continuation of the concessionary fares scheme.  He also referred to the Council’s capital investment strategy which provided for a number of schemes including the Stafford Western Access Route, the Lichfield Southern By-Pass and the construction of new primary schools at Pye Green and Fradley.

 

Members noted that the MTFS had been prepared in conjunction with the Strategic Plan and contained the framework for the preparation of detailed revenue and capital budgets, decisions on council tax and savings and investment plans.  Mr Sutherland expressed the view that this had been the most challenging budget to date but a balanced budget for 2019/20 had been achieved. 

 

Mr Sutherland moved, and Mr Atkins seconded, the recommendations contained in the report before the Council.

 

Mr Adams referred to the Council’s proposals for increased spending on health and care over the next five years to the tune of £28m; an additional £9m for families and communities; and £8m on economy, infrastructure and skills. 

 

Mrs Woodward referred to the financial pressures most top tier councils were currently facing, particularly in relation to the funding of adult social care and also children’s services.  She also referred to the various campaigns and lobbying for additional funding for these services which was on-going at both local and national levels. She expressed concern about the reduction of 40% in funding for the community/voluntary sector and also the proposals to delete the four Community Partnership Officer posts.  Mrs Woodward did however indicate that she welcomed the decision not to reduce funding for school crossing patrols and also in excluding disabled people from the proposed changes to the Concessionary Travel Scheme.  She added that, although there were proposals for the Your Staffordshire Card to be terminated, she welcomed the announcement that discussions were ongoing with bus operators in relation to the possibility of them introducing similar youth concessions schemes.  Mrs Woodward referred to a number of the proposals which the Labour Group had put forward including the savings which could be achieved in respect of joint services for waste management; procurement; the Council’s Civic budget and also by introducing a “Business helping Business” enabler to run alongside the Council’s “People helping People” enabler.

 

Mr Robinson spoke about the impact on low income families of year on year rises in Council Tax and the need to ensure that sound debt advice was made available to communities.  In response, Mr Alan white stated that the Council took the minimum amount possible to fund services which people need.  Mr Brookes added that Staffordshire was had the second lowest level of Council Tax of all the shire authorities across the Country.

 

Mr Alan White also stated that the Council’s lobbying of Central Government had seen some success in the short-term but a long-term solution to the funding of social care still needed to be found.

 

Mrs Fisher referred to the budget reductions relating to transport and indicated that she, together with the Council’s officers, would continue to work closely with bus operators and community transport providers to mitigate the impact of the proposals.

 

Mr Hussain welcomed the Council’s decision not to reduce funding for school crossing patrols.

 

Mr Winnington informed Members that, since 2008, with the support of the Local Enterprise Partnership, the Council economic growth initiatives had led to 31,000 additional jobs.  He also indicated that, with regard to procurement, the Council endeavoured to use local suppliers where possible.  Mr Winnington also indicated that for every £1 invested by the Council it had levered £13.60 additional investment and that, post Brexit, the Council needed to be at the forefront on delivery and growth.

 

Mr Atkins indicated that Staffordshire was a well run Council and that, since 2009, it had reduced its running costs by £240m.  He added that that unemployment in the County now stood at 1.3% and that the proposals in the MTFS provided for investment in a number of capital projects which would lead to the creation of a further 2700 new jobs.  Mr Atkins also indicated that growing the economy remained an absolute priority for the Council.  He also referred to the success of the Council in lobbying its MPs which had resulted in securing additional one-off funding for highways and social care.

 

The Chairman reminded Members that, under Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, if they were two months or more in arrears with their Council Tax it was an offence for them to vote on the budget. Members were also required to disclose at the meeting the fact that this Section applied to them.

 

In accordance with statutory requirements, the Chairman called for a named vote to be taken in relation to the approval of the recommendations contained in the report, the result of which was as follows:

 

Those Members voting in support of the recommendations:

 

Ben Adams

Philip Atkins, OBE

David Brookes

Gill Burnett

Tina Clements

Mark Deaville

Ann Edgeller

Helen Fisher

Keith Flunder

John Francis

Colin Greatorex

Michael Greatorex

Gill Heath

Phil Hewitt

Keith James

Julia Jessel

Bryan Jones

Alastair Little

Johnny McMahon

Paul Northcott

Jeremy Oates

Kath Perry

Bernard Peters

Jonathan Price David Smith

Paul Snape

Robert Spencer Mike Sutherland

Mark Sutton

Stephen Sweeney

Martyn Tittley

Carolyn Trowbridge

Ross Ward

Alan White

Philip White

Conor Wileman

Bernard Williams

David Williams

Victoria Wilson

Mark Winnington

Mike Worthington

 

 

Those Members voting against the recommendations:

 

Charlotte Atkins

Ron Clarke

Maureen Compton

Derek Davis OBE

Alan Dudson

Syed Hussain

Dave Jones

Kyle Robinson

Susan Woodward

Note by Clerk:  The following Members were not present for the vote owing to being delayed due to the closure of the M6 motorway – Ann Beech, John Cooper, Ian Lawson and Natasha Pullen.

 

RESOLVED – (a) That the following be approved:

 

·       a net revenue budget of £508.634m for 2019/20 as set out in Appendix 11 to the report;

·       planning forecasts for 2020/21 to 2023/24 as set out in Appendix 11 to the report;

·       a contingency provision of £4.000m for 2019/20;

·       a net contribution to reserves and general balances of £2.284m for 2019/20;

·       a budget requirement of £510.918m for 2019/20;

·       a council tax requirement of £351.132m for 2019/20;

·       a council tax at Band D of £1,246.23 for 2019/20 which is an increase of 2.95% when compared with 2018/19. This results in council tax for each category of dwelling as set out in the table below:

 

Category of Dwelling

Council Tax Rate

£

Band A

830.82

Band B

969.29

Band C

1,107.76

Band D

1,246.23

Band E

1,523.17

Band F

1,800.11

Band G

2,077.05

Band H

2,492.46

 

·       that the Deputy Director of Finance be authorised to sign precept notices on the billing authorities respectively liable for the total precept payable and that each notice state the total precept payable and the council tax in relation to each category of dwelling as calculated in accordance with statutory requirements;

·       the Capital and Minimum Revenue Provision Strategy 2019/20, the Treasury Management Strategy 2019/20 and the (Non-Treasury) Commercial Investment Strategy 2019/20, including all the recommendations contained therein;

·       the Prudential Indicators included in the Capital and Minimum Revenue Provision Strategy 2019/20;

·       the Financial Health Indicators set out in Appendix 14 to the report;

 

(c) That the Deputy Director of Finance’s comments in respect of the adequacy of the reserves and the robustness of the budget, as set out in the report, be noted;

 

(vi) That the Cabinet Member for Finance and the Deputy Director of Finance be authorised to challenge Cabinet, the Senior Leadership Team and services to manage and deliver the current five year plans and to identify further cost reductions and income generation opportunities, as appropriate.

 

Supporting documents: