Agenda item

The Council's Budget Consultation

To consider the Council’s draft budget proposals for 2017/18:

a) Corporate Services Department

b) Chief Executive’s Office

c) Feedback from Overview and Scrutiny Panels and overall conclusions.


The Commission considered a report that set out draft budget proposals for 2017/18. It was reported that the Executive would be considering all representations made at its meeting on 14 February 2017, before recommending the budget to Council.


The Borough Treasurer updated the Commission and made the following points:


  • The draft budget proposals for 2017/18 had been agreed by the Executive at its meeting on the 13 December 2016, before the Government had released details on the provisional settlement.
  • There had been a risk that the Local Government Settlement may be different than what had been originally proposed.
  • The draft budget proposed £1.5m of new pressures.
  • The Transformation Programme savings relating to 2017/18 had been incorporated into the budget proposals and were included in the report.
  • There had only been two consultation responses, one from BUPA who had stated that they wished to work with the Council and the other from Councillor Templeton on behalf of the Labour Party.
  • The provisional Financial Settlement had been announced in mid December 2016, the Government had changed its approach to New Home Bonuses, which meant there would be significant reductions in 2017/18 through to 2019/20.
  • The Government had granted a one off Adult Social Care Grant for 2017/18.
  • The Schools Grant reduction was not as high as had been anticipated.
  • The forecast for 2017/18 looked better than had been anticipated, but worse for 2018/19 and 2019/20 which had resulted in a further £2m increase in the budget gap, to £25 million over the next three years.
  • The continuation of big projects within the Capital Programme were still in place with the addition of some new proposals for Capital spend.


The Director of Corporate Services reported that within her department there were pressures within Legal and Property Services. Of the savings proposed in Corporate Services and the Chief Executives Office, very few had a direct impact on frontline services, with most being operational savings.


In response to the Members’ questions, the following points were made:


  • 1% had been included for inflation in the draft budget proposals; this would be looked at and revised accordingly.
  • The Council Tax proposals were not included within the report, but had been discussed at the Conservative Group Meeting.
  • There was a potential care home provision from the Council going ahead, this would help to mitigate the increasing costs within that area.
  • The 2017/18 budget assumed that the Transformation Programme for Adult Social Care would have come into effect and mitigate the 2017/18 costs.
  • The Adult Social Care budget issues were Countrywide not just local to Bracknell Forest Council.
  • There had been no responses from residents on the budget consultation.
  • The Council would come in on budget for 2016/17.
  • There had been no decision yet from Central Government on whether Vodaphone would be included on the central list for Business Rates.

·         Bracknell Forest Council were over delivering on their Business Rate projections. This would result in an increased levy payment to the Government in 2016/17 with the Council’s share of the surplus not being available until 2017/18. This surplus had not been used to support the budget because of the uncertainty around future Business Rates income.

  • involve had previously not received any changes to their Voluntary Sector Grant for the past five years going forward this would be cut. The Assistant Chief Executive had met with involve and they were comfortable that they would still be able to provide the same level of service and support. involve had moved their HQ to cheaper accommodation within the former Magistrates Court.
  • The Voluntary Sector Grant to the CAB would be remaining, the Council and CAB were working closely together on work steams concerning debt issues, which were one of the CABs biggest concerns.
  • The Voluntary Sector Grant to Victim Support had been removed, The Assistant Chief Executive had met with Victim Support before Christmas and no further comments had been received within the Consultation.
  • There had been no changes to the Shopmobility Grant.
  • Berkshire Community Foundation had also had their Voluntary Sector Grant cut.
  • The Executive Member for Culture, Corporate Services & Public Protection had been present at the Assistant Chief Executives meetings with the Voluntary Sector Organisations and commented that involve were very relaxed and understanding with the proposed cuts.
  • The property consultant that would be used to undertake the Energy Performance Certificates, this would be a one off cost as there was not enough resource within the Property Services Team to undertake the significant work needed in a short timescale. It was thought that this was the most cost effective approach. It had been recognised that recruiting property expertise in the South East was challenging. Staff had previously been brought in to undertake similar work as there was no allocation with in the staff budget to provide this service.
  • The Borough Treaurer had a high degree of confidence that the forecast savings from Transformation projects in 2017/18 would be achieved.


The Chairman stated that even though many members had been involved in the Transformation programme so far and had a general understanding and feeling of the figures that had been presented, there was a risk attached in achieving the figures. The Commission would be closely monitoring and watching to see if the savings are achieved. The Chairman also commented on the importance of CIL funding being spent on infrastructure rather than other projects.


The Commission endorsed the comments made in the minute extracts from Overview & Scrutiny Panels and would incorporate these into the overall feedback. The Commission also endorsed the draft budget proposals before them.


Supporting documents: