To present for comment a summary of the Council’s budget proposals for 2020/21 with a particular focus on the impact expected on the People Directorate.
The Forum considered a report which presented for comment a summary of the Council’s budget proposals for 2020/21 with a particular focus on the impact expected on the People Directorate, as agreed by the Executive on 17 December 2019. Comments received would be submitted to the Executive on 11
February 2020 alongside any impact from the announcement of the Finance Settlement. This would allow the Executive to determine its final budget package and recommend the
appropriate Council Tax level to Council, which was due to formally approve the 2020/21 budget and Council Tax on 26 February 2020.
Paul Clark explained that there were five main streams of the revenue budget: the commitment budget, new spending requirements, available cost reductions, inflation provision and income. Table 4 of the report outlined a summary of proposals and predicted a total expenditure of £81.787m in 2020/21. It was estimated that the Council could anticipate income of up to -£79.210m, leaving a potential shortfall of approximately £2.577m. The Council would decide on how to manage the shortfall in February 2020 in the light of the financial settlement and results of this consultation and could choose to adopt any or all of the following approaches to bridge the remaining gap: an increase in Council Tax, an appropriate contribution from the Council’s revenue reserves, and identifying further expenditure reductions.
The Forum expressed that it was difficult to comment on the budget without all the detail and asked Rachel Morgan if there were any pressures affecting schools. Rachel Morgan explained that the biggest issue for Education and Learning was incorporating the Education Centre with the Open Learning Centre. However, schools would not be directly affected by most of the reviews. Councillor Barnard added that the Council was continuing to support Childrens Centres, youth work and Early Help.
The Forum queried the implications of transformation pressure on the revenue budget (as per Annex B of the report). Paul Clark explained that this related to the Children’s Services Transformation programme which was part of the plan to reduce the council’s budget gap and had identified initiatives around the cost of social care placements. However, the plans were not fully achievable within the timescale needed so this was now reversed out of the budget with more work now underway to progress and to bring forward new proposals to 2021-22. Paul Clark confirmed that most of the pressures arise from Childrens Social Care and that there were huge pressures from new young people being placed in the Borough.
Paul Clark advised that the proposed capital programme for 2020/21 was mostly focused on maintenance of assets and a number of school improvement projects. Paul Clark explained the proposals as set out in Annex D of the report.
The Forum commented that the report included a mixture of descriptions written by officers and bids written by Headteachers, leading to stylistic differences. Paul Clark explained that the report was already in the public domain so couldn’t be changed but this would be addressed going forward. Paul Clark apologised for any inaccuracies.
Action: Chris Taylor
The Forum noted that the reference to “Sandhurst School Nursery” (page 74 of the report) was incorrect and it should have read “Sandhurst Nursery” as the nursery was not part of Sandhurst School.
The Forum was concerned as to the financial position if the money from the capital receipts did not come forward.
The Forum commented that the school improvement proposals had not been discussed or agreed with the relevant Headteachers (specifically noted by Sandy Lane School). Paul Clark advised that this was subject to further discussions.
RESOLVED that the Forum had commented, as outlined above,on the 2020/21 budget proposals of the Executive for the People Directorate in respect of:
i. the revenue budget (Annexes A to C of the report); and
ii. the capital programme (Annex D of the report).