Agenda item

The Council's Budget Consultation

To consider the Council’s draft budget proposals for 2016/17:

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 2016/17. It was reported that the Executive would be considering all representations made at its meeting on 9 February 2016, before recommending the budget to Council.


The Borough Treasurer delivered a presentation and made the following points:


  • He reported that the provisional local government settlement had been surprising and caught many local authorities off guard and was set to change the landscape of local government over the next four years. Whilst the Council had been told to  expect a 25 to 40% cut in central government funding over the next four years, the ensuing cut in funding had been closer to 80%. Representations were being made to the Government both by officers and politically.
  • Unlike previous years the Council’s budget setting process would need to continue over a longer period to deal with this late addition to budget pressures.
  • He stated that the draft budget proposals before Members would be important to deliver the Council’s medium term financial plan.
  • Capping of Council tax increases still applied.
  • Resource allocation was now central to all Government decisions; in particular affluent areas would be expected to find more of their own resources. This contained some unrealistic assumptions, for example on the level of new house building.
  • £2.4m additional savings would need to be made by the Council in the first year, followed by £1.7m in the following year.
  • A precedent had been set by the Government as there had been no pre cursors to indicate that funding would be slashed this significantly. The Council would now need to develop a set of additional proposals to make more immediate savings. The Commission would have an opportunity to consider these additional proposals on 10 March 2016.


The Director of Corporate Services reported that her department had worked hard to ensure they did not have any budget pressures. Savings proposed amounted to £750,000, this was on the back of 20% of savings that had already been made by the Corporate Services Department and the Chief Executive’s Office. This had been achieved through a combination of staff reductions and efficiencies.


In response to Members queries it was reported that:

·         Home to School transport included the funding of adults who accompanied each young child to school.

·         There may be opportunities where Business Rates could be increased and this would be considered where appropriate.

·         The Assistant Chief Executive reported that the budget pressure in the Chief Executive’s Office would be reduced as a result of additional budget proposals.

·         The Borough Treasurer reported that National Insurance contributions had increased for both employees and employers.

·         The Director of Corporate Services reported that the culture and climate of the organisation was currently one of austerity and reducing costs and making savings wherever possible.

·         It was reported that printing leaflets externally had not been explored as the shared printing service had been working well and had reduced costs significantly across the Council. This service would be reviewed after a year.

·         Building maintenance surveying work had been externalised as this was more cost-effective, but the alternative of in-house surveyers was kept under review.


The Chairman stated that he was surprised by the low rates charged by the Council’s legal services team for their services and that this was in need of review as higher rates should be pursued. He stated that other charges should also be considered as well as those services that the Council did not currently charge for. The Borough Treasurer reported that the Transformation Programme would be considering all of these issues and income generation more generally. This would include a variety of options, such as, for example,  investing in property to generate income.


In response to Members queries, it was reported that the Agresso system was coming to the end of its life and a new version would need to be installed.


The Commission endorsed the comments made in the minute extracts from Overview & Scrutiny Panels and the draft budget proposals before them with the caveat that further draft budget proposals would be put before them on 10 March 2016 for consideration.     

Supporting documents: