Agenda item - Budget Update and Savings 2013/14

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Agenda item

Budget Update and Savings 2013/14

Report of the Acting Director of Finance (copy to be circulated).

Decision:

(1)               That the updated forecasts for resources and expenditure for 2013/14 and an estimated budget savings requirement for 2014/15 be noted;

 

(2)               That the indicative allocations of one-off resources for 2013/14 set out in table 1 of the report, subject to the identification of sufficient further one-off resources to fund the proposed allocations be noted;

 

(3)               That the revised savings targets for 2013/14 be noted and the budget strategies and detailed savings proposals relating to the General Fund for 2013/14 as shown in appendix 4 be agreed and released for the scrutiny review;

 

(4)               That the update on the HRA budget as set out in paragraph 3.41 to 4.44 and the budget strategy and proposals as set out in appendix 4 to the report be noted;

 

(5)               That the summary Capital Investment Programme as set out in paragraphs 3.45 to 3.50 and appendix 5 to the report and the strategy to manage the shortfall in resources and that a detailed programme will be submitted to Policy & Resources Committee in February 2013 be noted; and

 

(6)               That the proposed Voluntary Severance Scheme set out in paragraphs 3.37 to 3.40 of the report to support the delivery of the budget savings requirement be approved.

Minutes:

79.1         The Acting Director of Finance introduced the report which set out the initial proposals for the General Fund Revenue Budget and Council Tax for 2013/14.  He stated the current proposals were based on a 2% increase in council tax and noted that the Government had indicated its intention to provide financial support to those authorities who had a maximum of a 1% council tax increase.  He stated that the current proposals identified a funding gap of £1.9m and options to meet that gap were outlined in the report.  He also noted that the local government finance settlement was due in mid December and this would then need to be taken into account as part of the budget setting process leading up to the February Budget Council meeting.

 

79.2         The Chair stated that there had been a significant uncertainty when the budget process had started with a 10% reduction in government funding and he wished to thank all the officers and Members involved to date in bringing the report forward.  The proposed 2% council tax increase would equate to around 43p for every household, and the Administration was committed to keeping libraries, children centres open, supporting the homelessness budget and grants to voluntary sector.  He stated that an additional £300k had been identified to provide support for financial advice services in the city.

 

79.3         Councillor Hamilton welcomed the report and thanked the officers for their work to date, especially as not all the information was available and referred t appendix 7 of the report which showed that the pubic were supportive of protecting services.

 

79.4         Councillor G. Theobald stated that he believed there should be a council tax freeze and the available support from the government accepted, in order to enable this to be implemented.  He also felt that more work should be done with regard to shared service provision and referred to neighbouring authorities who had undertaken such endeavours.  He also referred to paragraph 3.22 of the report and queried why the two areas had been chosen for the pilot schemes when Surrenden Road was a prime example of an area that should have been included.  He queried whether the fees and charges listed on page 57 of the report would see a further increase in parking charges being recommended at the Transport Committee in January.

 

79.5         The Chair stated that the council tax freeze had cost the council £3.66m to date and if there was a further freeze for 2013/13 it would add another £1m.  He noted that other authorities had expressed concerns over the government’s position and that Surrey County Council had chosen not to accept the freeze because of the implications for future years.  He also noted that the value for money programme was ahead of target and that a report on shared services would be coming to the committee in the New Year.  With regard to the two pilot schemes for parking control on verges, he believed that these had been discussed with the ward councillors.

 

79.6         The Lead Commissioner for City Regulation & Infrastructure stated that the areas had been identified as part of the work on the citywide parking review, a report on which was due to be considered by the Transport Committee in January.

 

79.7          Councillor Hamilton referred to the financial model that was shown in the graph on page 50 and expressed his concern over the picture that was indicated for resources to be available for other services.  He stated that the Labour & Co-operative Group had yet to form a view on the council tax position as it was awaiting further information to be made available, including the settlement figure.  He also queried whether any information was available in respect of the Police & Crime Commissioner’s position for budgetary provision, as he was concerned about the levels of funding for community safety projects.

 

79.8         Councillor Mitchell stated that she hoped there could be further discussions on how the level of resources available could be utilised and how the city’s position could be raised with the Police & Crime Commissioner.

 

79.9         Councillor West stated that local government was facing significant cuts and there was a need to increase council tax without accepting the freeze.  He noted that the budget consultation process to date had shown that residents were supportive of a council tax increase if it could be shown to improve service provision.  He therefore hoped that the proposed 2% rise would be accepted.

 

79.10    Councillor A. Norman stated that it was for the council to determine its council tax and how resources were used to provide services efficiently and effectively, as well as identifying priorities and raising them with the Police & Crime Commissioner.  As a ward councillor for Withdean she had not been consulted on the proposed pilots for restring parking on grass verges.

 

79.11    The Chair stated that he was due to meet with the new Police & Crime Commissioner and would raise the question of resources.  He also noted that the government was intent on significant reductions for local government spending and that added to the pressures faced by the authority.

 

79.12    Councillor G. Theobald stated that he believed there should be a council tax freeze and that as well as taking the funding from the government, the council should market test service areas, in order to help to meet the shortfall in the budget position.  He also queried why it was proposed to run two pilot schemes at a cost of £125k, which could be used in other ways to support services.

 

79.13    The Chair noted the comments and put the recommendations to the vote.

 

79.14    RESOLVED:

 

(1)         That the updated forecasts for resources and expenditure for 2013/14 and an estimated budget savings requirement for 2014/15 be noted;

 

(2)         That the indicative allocations of one-off resources for 2013/14 set out in table 1 of the report, subject to the identification of sufficient further one-off resources to fund the proposed allocations be noted;

 

(3)         That the revised savings targets for 2013/14 be noted and the budget strategies and detailed savings proposals relating to the General Fund for 2013/14 as shown in appendix 4 be agreed and released for the scrutiny review;

 

(4)         That the update on the HRA budget as set out in paragraph 3.41 to 4.44 and the budget strategy and proposals as set out in appendix 4 to the report be noted;

 

(5)         That the summary Capital Investment Programme as set out in paragraphs 3.45 to 3.50 and appendix 5 to the report and the strategy to manage the shortfall in resources and that a detailed programme will be submitted to Policy & Resources Committee in February 2013 be noted; and

 

(6)         That the proposed Voluntary Severance Scheme set out in paragraphs 3.37 to 3.40 of the report to support the delivery of the budget savings requirement be approved.

Supporting documents:

 


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