Note – In accordance with the Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 and the consequential change to the Council’s Rules of Procedure, this item will automatically be subject to a recorded vote in respect of the adoption of the Budget and on any amendments proposed at the meeting.
To consider the recommendations from Cabinet to determine the Council’s Budget for 2022/23 onwards, including fees and charges, the Capital Programme, the Pay Policy Statement and the Chief Finance Officer’s Advice on the Robustness of Estimates and the Adequacy of Reserves.
The Deputy Leader and Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder, Councillor Andrew Jarvis, took pleasure in presenting the 49th and final budget of South Lakeland District Council. He was pleased to say that the budget showed that the Council continued to be in good financial health, continued to deliver a high level of services and would keep investing for the residents in its area. Councillor Jarvis drew attention to the unusual situation whereby this Council would not continue in its current form beyond 1 April 2023. However, it was still necessary for the Council to plan, agree and monitor a budget for next year while the Council retained its role. Furthermore, planning for subsequent years was an important input into building the budget of the new Westmorland and Furness Council.
The report firstly considered 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.
After consideration of the above, Council was being asked to consider the recommendations from Cabinet to determine the Council’s 2022/23 Five Year Budget, including fees and charges, the capital programme and the pay policy statement. A balanced budget for 2022/23 was presented, including an increase in Council tax of 1.5%.
The expected outcome was that Council will be in a position to deliver the priorities set out in the Council Plan within its resources.
Cabinet, on 14 December 2021, had approved the re-profiling of the 2021/22 – 2025/26 capital budgets which formed part of the draft capital programme. The final draft revenue budget and capital programme had been considered by Cabinet on 9 February 2022. The local government finance settlement had been announced in late December and, as expected, delayed the reduction in income expected as part of reform of local government funding until at least April 2023.
The successful implementation of staffing changes as part of Customer Connect had permanently delivered savings of over £1.5m. However, subsequently, the Council had seen one-off costs around Covid-19 and Local Government Reorganisation, short-term, demand-driven pressures and inflation, particularly on fuel, which had created significant new pressures and gaps in the budget. The budget presented a balanced budget for 2022/23, with significant deficits from 1 April 2023. Options were being developed to balance future budget deficits.
Councillor Jarvis referred to Recommendation (5) in the report regarding the latest Collection Fund Estimates and advised that there were no changes to report regarding the Cumbria County Council and Cumbria Police element.
Councillor Jarvis summed up, saying that despite the many challenges faced by the Authority, this budget showed that the Council was entering into reorganisation in sound financial health, whilst not increasing Council Tax by the maximum permitted by statute. This confirmed the Section 151 Officer’s statement in Section 9.12 of the report.
Councillor Jarvis moved the recommendations contained within the report, thanking officers for their work on ensuring that the Council had a strong and robust programme and the Finance Team for preparing this budget. He particularly thanked the Finance Lead Specialist (Section 151 Officer) for her support and dedication and hoped that she could take a moment to reflect with pride on her final budget report for South Lakeland District Council. He was seconded by Councillor Jonathan Brook, Leader and Promoting South Lakeland and Innovation Portfolio Holder.
Councillor David Webster expressed disappointment regarding what he felt to be discrepancies in funding between Ulverston and Kendal. The Vice-Chairman echoed thanks to the Finance Team for their work and for the inclusion of the Dean Gibson School project in the budget, along with the many other fantastic projects being undertaken by the Council in both Kendal and Ulverston and other communities within the District. Councillor Philip Dixon, Customer and Locality Services Portfolio Holder, took the opportunity to flag up the £1,000 Member Locality Budget, pointing out that this was the tenth year in which Members had been able to use this money to the benefit of their local communities. Councillor Jonathan Cornthwaite also paid tribute to officers for their work and Councillor Jarvis’ good head for figures, and drew attention to the money which had been made available towards the Kendal Flood Relief Scheme. Councillor Peter Thornton expressed pride in South Lakeland District Council’s handling of its finances and the legacy which would be carried into the new Council.
Councillor Brook, as seconder, said that this was a historic budget which delivered for people across the District, and commended the Council’s forward thinking in investing in projects and spending to save, for example through the Customer Connect Programme.
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 (32) – Councillors Giles Archibald, Robin Ashcroft, Rupert Audland, Jonathan Brook, Helen Chaffey, Jonathan Cornthwaite, Tracy Coward, Philip Dixon, Pete Endsor, Judy Filmore, Gill Gardner, Fiona Hanlon, Eamonn Hennessy, Hazel Hodgson, Chris Hogg, Rachael Hogg, Vicky Hughes, Ali Jama, Andrew Jarvis, Helen Ladhams, Malcolm Lamb, Susanne Long, Pete McSweeney, Ian Mitchell, Suzie Pye, Doug Rathbone, Matt Severn, Peter Thornton, Heather Troughton, David Webster, Ian Wharton and Mark Wilson.
The following Members voted against (3) – Councillors Ben Berry, Ben Cooper and Kevin Lancaster.
The following Members abstained (6) – Councillors Pat Bell, Brian Cooper, Tom Harvey, John Holmes, Kevin Holmes and Helen Irving.
Note - Those Members in attendance at the start of the meeting and who are not accounted for in the recorded vote above had left the meeting prior to consideration of this item of business.
RESOLVED – That
(1) prior to the approval of the 2022/23 Budget, the Chief Finance Officer’s Statutory Report, as set out in Appendix 1 to the report, be noted and the approach to risk and reserves set out in the Report be endorsed;
(2) a Budget Requirement of £9,588,500 for 2022/23, as set out in Section 2b of the Draft Budget Book (Appendix 2 to the report) be adopted;
(3) a 1.5% increase in Council tax, increasing the Band D Council Tax to £207.61 for District Council Services for 2022/23 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 2022/23, as set out in Section 4 of the Draft Budget Book, be noted;
(6) the Capital Programme and funding, 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 2022/23 (Appendix 3 to the report) be approved;
(9) the Statutory Pay Policy Statement (Appendix 4 to the report) be adopted and published;
(10) the existing delegation to the Chief Executive and the Directors to manage and deal with all people, welfare, inclusivity and training issues below Chief Officer level, including making changes within the establishment, within Directorate areas, provided that all decisions are within Council policies and approved budgets, be noted;
(11) delegation for the Chief Executive in consultation with the Leader to apply any funding received from the LGR Implementation Reserve be approved;
(12) the Equality Impact Assessment (Appendix 5 to the report) and Health, Social, Economic and Environmental Impact Assessment (Appendix 6 to the report) be noted; and
(13) it be noted that the proposals contained in this report have been incorporated into the Procurement Schedule, Prudential Indicators and Treasury Management Framework elsewhere on the agenda.