Agenda item

Medium Term Financial Plan 2020/21 to 2024/25

To consider the draft Medium Term Financial Plan 2020/21 to 2024/25, incorporating the Financial Strategy and the Budget Strategy.

Minutes:

The draft Medium Term Financial Plan, incorporating the Financial Strategy and the Budget Strategy (referred to collectively as the MTFP) was presented by the Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder. The Plan would ensure that the Council has a sound basis for allocating resources and effective financial management over the medium term.

 

The Finance Portfolio Holder highlighted the numbers in the MTFP were the same as those approved by Council in February 2019. The reason behind this was the uncertainty over Council funding in the future. Due to the Government’s intentions to have a three-year Comprehensive Spending Review following a Brexit agreement being reached, there was a great deal of uncertainty over the future of Local Government funding. The Portfolio Holder added that the Council continued to assume that the planned ‘Fairer Funding’ would be implemented and that, as part of this, the pooling arrangement for non-domestic rates would be expected to end along with New Homes Bonus at the end of the financial year. The Portfolio Holder informed the Committee that further assumptions were being made over a reduction in the retained business rates and government grants from nearly £4m this year to £1.3m by 2023/24. He pointed out that the report also asked Cabinet to give the Chief Executive and the Section 151 Officer, in consultation with the Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder, delegation to decide on membership of any Cumbria Business Rate Pool due to the small window of opportunity to apply to become part of a pool, which delegation would mitigate. In concluding his report the Portfolio Holder asserted that the Council remained in a strong position, despite the high level of uncertainty. Furthermore, he informed the Committee that the Customer Connect Programme would make a substantial contribution to reducing the deficit over the next five years.

 

In answering a question raised surrounding the impact Brexit would have on the Council’s spending review, the Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder informed the Committee that, in the short term, there would be a huge impact on Local Government and, in the long term the economy would be made smaller. Furthermore, he added that the spending plans of the candidates for Prime Minister did not focus on Local Government, which may be an indicator for the future of Local Government funding.

 

Councillor Doug Rathbone wished to thank the Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder and Officers for the report. He added that there was much uncertainty and that other than planning for a multitude of possible outcomes, there was not much that the Council could do to prepare for the uncertainty. Councillor Rathbone felt that flexing the Council’s strong financial position, alongside strongly asserting our position on pooling and income management should enable to Council to maintain its financial stability.

 

The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder reaffirmed Councillor Rathbone’s statement by informing the Committee that flexibility on pooling would allow South Lakeland District Council to react well to any potential situation and secure funding for the residents.

 

RESOLVED – That

 

(1)        the Draft Medium Term Financial Plan be noted; and

 

(2)        the comments made by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee be taken forward as appropriate for consideration by Cabinet.

Supporting documents: