Decision Maker: Council
Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
To consider the recommendations from Cabinet
to determine the Council’s Budget for 2020/21 onwards,
including fees and charges, the Capital Programme, the Pay Policy
and the Chief Finance Officer’s Advice on the Robustness of
Estimates and the Adequacy of Reserves.
Note – All Members of the Planning Committee reserved their positions in relation to consideration of the planning merits of the Grange-over-Sands Lido planning application, with the decision to be made under this item relating only to the budget allocation. All remained in the Chamber during the discussion and voting on the item.
The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder, Councillor Andrew Jarvis, presented the report, which first drew attention to Appendix 1 which contained the Chief Finance Officer’s Advice on the Robustness of Estimates and the Adequacy of Reserves under the requirements of the Local Government Act 2003. The report also contained the recommendations made by Cabinet on 5 February 2020 for Council to determine its 2020/21 to 2024/25 Five Year Budget, including fees and charges, the Capital Programme and the Pay Policy Statement. A balanced budget for 2020/21 was presented, including an increase in the Band D Council Tax of 2%. This meant that the Council would be in a position to deliver the priorities set out in the Council Plan within its resources. The delivery of the Customer Connect Programme had substantially reduced future budget deficits. A one-off local government finance settlement had delivered additional, one-off income in 2020/21. Options still needed to be developed to mitigate the expected funding reductions from April 2020/21.
The report included a summary position of the latest Medium Term Financial Plan projections which provided a summary five year annual position of the overall surplus or deficit on the General Fund Revenue Budget. The assumptions and financial implications were kept constantly under review as circumstances changed. A summary of the known changes at this stage was provided at Table 1 of the report, with a more detailed analysis of expenditure and income set out in Sections 2 and 3 of the Draft Budget Book at Appendix 2 to the report, including a reconciliation of the latest projections compared to previous deficit projections in Section 2a of the Draft Budget Book.
The projections all included the full Customer Connect savings delivered to date. In addition, the one-off local government finance settlement and deferment of the new funding model until at least April 2021 left the Council with substantial additional one-off income of around £2.7m for 2020/21, turning a projected budget deficit into a budget surplus. The projected annual revenue surplus before contribution to General Reserve totalled £11,000 in 2020/21, but this was a one-year only surplus, with a projected deficit for £1m in 2021/22 rising to circa £2.6m by 2024/25.
Work was underway to resolve the projected deficits. The future projections were based on information available at the time of preparation, along with the broad set of assumptions detailed in paragraph 3.9 of the report. The assumptions, proposals and calculations included in the report and on the appendices attached thereto would be subject to change as more information from internal and external sources was provided and as options were refined and decisions taken.
The Council had a statutory duty to set a balanced budget. Work was underway to resolve the projected deficits from April 2021 onwards. Future year estimates would be kept under review as part of the MTFP process to ensure that savings plans were sufficient to set balanced budgets. Any additional budget pressures or discretionary, fixed term growth items would need to be funded by savings in existing budgets.
The report provided details with regard to statutory consultation which had been carried out. In addition, the draft budgets had been considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 17 January 2020, and details of discussion at that meeting were outlined. The Lake Administration Committee, the Licensing Committee and the Planning Committee had, during January 2020, considered draft budgets for their services. The Conservative Group and the Labour Group had both been approached and given an opportunity to submit proposals for alternative budget options.
The precepts from Cumbria County Council and the Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner had been confirmed, at the values previously proposed, on 14 and 19 February 2020 respectively.
Councillor Jarvis was pleased to be able to present, despite the current climate of uncertainty, a budget that supported an ambitious action plan while preparing the Council for the challenges ahead. He thanked officers, particularly the Finance Lead Specialist (Section 151 Officer) and the Finance Specialist, for their hard work.
Councillor Jarvis was happy to move the recommendations contained within the report and reminded Members what this budget for 2020/21 brought, whilst remaining fiscally prudent:-
· protecting all of the Council’s core services;
· freezing hourly parking fees for another year;
· securing the future for Locally Important Projects;
· putting money behind key projects on the Environment and Climate Change;
· building Mintworks II for the benefit of the local economy;
· funding £6m investment in affordable homes with South Lakes Housing;
· working for a new leisure centre in Ulverston;
· completing the much needed refurbishment of Kendal Town Hall;
· sorting out Grange Lido and Promenade;
· enhancing the flood defence work in Kendal;
· driving savings and income from the Council’s accommodation, car parks and other assets, while improving their environmental footprint; and
· investing in play grounds, disable toilets and Changing Places.
Councillor Jarvis was seconded by Councillor Matt Severn.
Councillor John Holmes, Shadow Cabinet Deputy Leader (Finance and Resources Portfolio), also thanking officers for their work, informed Council that there was much within the Budget with which the opposition agreed, especially the retention of the Locally Important Projects Fund despite the New Homes Bonus coming to an end and also the continuance of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme. He, however, raised a number of areas where the Opposition group felt that more should be done to address issues of concern to residents. These related to a lack of car parking to ease congestion; whether the Council was really addressing the need for affordable housing to meet demand; the changes on the High Street; the opening hours for the multi storey car park; additional costs arising from the Customer Connect Programme; and the additional costs of contract and agency employment. Councillor Holmes hoped that the Council could work, cross party, in the coming year to see how best to address the concerns raised.
Councillor Giles Archibald, Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder, welcomed Councillor Holmes’ comments, reminding the Opposition of the opportunity which had been provided for the submission of an alternative budget and extending an offer to meet with Opposition Members. Councillor Archibald further commended an exciting budget, also thanking all involved and remarking on what the Council planned to achieve above and beyond statutory requirements.
Councillor Suzie Pye, Health, Wellbeing and Financial Resilience Portfolio Holder, referred to inclusion within the budget of improvements to disabled toilets and Changing Places facilities, welcoming improved accessibility to key areas in South Lakeland.
Councillor Severn, having seconded the motion, suggested that there was not a need for longer opening hours at Westmorland Shopping Centre Car Park. He pointed out that the long-term savings due to be made by the Customer Connect Programme were critical and also drew attention to the need for the 2% increase in Council Tax. He emphasised the importance of the Authority employing agency staff in order to ensure that the Council continued to deliver services to residents. He closed, referring to the additional employment space that would be delivered through Mintworks II, and commended the budget to Members.
Councillor Jarvis referred to the concern raised regarding the costs of contract and agency employment, explaining that the total staffing cost had been offset by vacancies in permanent posts this year. He explained the need to employ agency staff to cover for sickness or absence and to importance of ensuring that refuse trucks were appropriately crewed. With regard to the aspiration to increase employment prospects, he believed that Mintworks II would help to address this aim. Councillor Jarvis was keen for discussion on housing and for examination of what was truly affordable. He lastly referred to car parking, highlighting that there was free evening car parking in Kendal and drawing attention to the Earlybird Scheme, also drawing attention to improvements to the Council’s car parking offer.
In accordance with the Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 and the Council’s Rules of Procedure, a recorded vote was taken on the recommendations as follows:–
The following Members voted in favour (29) – Councillors Giles Archibald, Robin Ashcroft, Rupert Audland, Jonathan Brook, Helen Chaffey, Stephen Coleman, Tracy Coward, Philip Dixon, Judy Filmore, Alvin Finch, Gill Gardner, Eamonn Hennessy, Hazel Hodgson, Vicky Hughes, Anne Hutton, Andrew Jarvis, Dyan Jones, Helen Ladhams, Malcolm Lamb, Susanne Long, Jon Owen, Suzie Pye, Doug Rathbone, Matt Severn, Peter Thornton, David Webster, Janet Willis, Mark Wilson and Shirley-Anne Wilson.
There were no votes against.
The following Members abstained (14) – Councillors Caroline Airey, James Airey, Ben Berry, Roger Bingham, Brian Cooper, Michael Cornah, Anne Hall, Tom Harvey, John Holmes, Kevin Holmes, Helen Irving, Janette Jenkinson, Kevin Lancaster and Brian Rendell.
RESOLVED – That
(1) prior to the approval of the 2020/21 Budget, the Chief Finance Officer’s Statutory Report, as set out in Appendix 1 to the report, be noted;
(2) a Budget Requirement of £9,121,400 for 2020/21, as set out in Section 2b of the Draft Budget Book (Appendix 2 to the report) be adopted;
(3) a 2% increase in Council Tax, increasing the Band D Council Tax by £3.91 to £199.54 for District Council Services for 2020/21 be approved as part of a balanced revenue budget;
(4) the detailed service budgets as set out in Section 3 of the Draft Budget Book be approved;
(5) the latest Collection Fund Estimates, Parish Council precepts and Parish Council taxes for 2020/21, as set out in Section 4 of the Draft Budget Book, be noted;
(6) the Capital Programme, as set out in Section 5 of the Draft Budget Book, be approved;
(7) the Reserves, as set out in Section 6 of the Draft Budget Book, be approved;
(8) the Fees and Charges Book for 2020/21, as set out in Appendix 3 to the report, be approved;
(9) the Statutory Pay Policy Statement, as set out in Appendix 4 to the report, be adopted and published;
(10) the Equality Impact Assessment and Health, Social, Economic and Environmental Impact Assessment attached to the report at Appendices 5 and 6 respectively be noted; and
(11) it be noted that the proposals contained in the report have been incorporated into the Procurement Schedule, Prudential Indicators and Treasury Management Framework elsewhere on the agenda.
Report author: Helen Smith
Publication date: 11/03/2020
Date of decision: 25/02/2020
Decided at meeting: 25/02/2020 - Council