To consider the draft budget proposals for the financial years 2022/23 to 2026/27.
The Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder presented the 2022/23 to 2026/27 Five Year Draft Budget. The expected outcome was that Council will be in a position to deliver the priorities set out in the Council Plan within its resources. This enabled the statutory requirement to agree a balanced budget and to set the appropriate Council Tax level for 2022/23.
The successful implementation of staffing changes as part of Customer Connect had permanently delivered savings of over £1.5 million, although one-off costs around Covid-19 and Local Government Reorganisation, short-term, demand-driven pressures and inflation which have created significant new pressures. Despite these additional pressures, the latest draft budget presented a balanced budget for 2022/23 with significant deficits from 1 April 2023 with options being developed to balance future budget deficits.
The Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) provided a summary five year annual position and the proposed Budget Strategy had been agreed by Council at its 27 July 2021 meeting. The Council had a statutory duty to set a balanced budget and work was underway to resolve the projected deficits from April 2023 onwards, estimates were to be kept under review as part of the preparation of a MTFP for the new Westmorland and Furness Council to ensure that overall savings plans are sufficient to set balanced budgets.
The report set out government funding and other revenue budget uncertainties, referring to the incomplete fundamental review of local government funding, the 2021/22 funding had largely rolled forward with minor amendments being made.
In response to a question raised regarding procurement for the capital programme, the Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder informed Members that the level of expenditure had broadly remained the same and that he was confident that there would be material movements on key projects.
The Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder answered an additional question regarding revenue generation as a result of the improvements to Kendal Town Hall and South Lakeland House and informed Members that work was likely to be complete before the end of the financial year and that discussions were ongoing regarding tenanting the space.
RESOLVED - That
(1) the proposals contained in the report to achieve a balanced budget from April 2022; and
(2) Recommends the Draft Budget 2022-2023 to 2026-2027and Appendices 3 to 10 to full Council for approval subject to:-
a) revision for the Council Tax increase for Band D properties being 1½%, leading to a balanced budget; and
b) that any further amendments identified with the S151 Officer being delegated to amend the proposals in consultation with the Leader and Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder.
Reasons for Decision
This report sets out the latest draft Budget to enable the consideration of how the Council’s priorities will be delivered. Setting a sound framework for budget preparation assists in the delivery of all corporate outcomes. This draft budget has been developed within the context of the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) and supports all Council Plan priorities (working across boundaries; delivering a balanced community; a fairer South Lakeland; and addressing the climate emergency) through ensuring financial resources to deliver each priority.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
This report presents alternative options in relation to potential budget pressures and savings, new capital programme bids, one off revenue growth bids and fees and charges. The proposals together aim to meet the Council’s statutory duty to set a balanced Budget for 2022/23.