To consider the report of the Interim Section 151 Officer (copy enclosed).
Councillor Mrs P A Channer disclosed an interest in this item of business as it made reference to the Community Infrastructure Levy and advised that she did not need to leave the chamber as the decision on this topic had already been made.
The Committee considered the report of the Interim Section 151 Officer presenting:
· for noting, the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement announced by the Government on 20 December 2019;
· the revised 2019 / 20 and original 2020 / 21 General Fund Revenue Budget estimate;
· the proposed council tax increase for 2020 / 21;
· the policy for the use of Reserves.
The report and associated appendices to the report outlined the following:
· the latest information on the provisional Local Government finance settlement 2020 / 21;
· revised General Fund revenue budget estimates 2019 / 20;
· General Fund revenue budget estimates 2020 / 21;
· budget growth, savings and income generation in 2020 / 21;
· New Homes Bonus (NHB);
· Future Council model;
· Pension Fund deficit recovery;
· funding for work on Bradwell B Power Station and Community Infrastructure Levy;
· Essex region business rates pool;
· an update on interest on investments;
· the Council Tax requirement for 2020 / 21;
· Council Tax £5 increase on 2019 / 20 Band D Basic amount;
· General Fund balance and revenue reserves;
· Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS);
· risks to the Council’s financial position.
The Interim Section 151 Officer reported that the Local Government Finance Settlement for 2020 / 21 was still provisional and final figures were awaited. It was noted that once received an adjustment to general balances may be required. There were some further figures awaiting final confirmation and should the final figures received result in any changes these would be reported to the Council at its meeting on 13 February 2020.
It was noted that the recommended increase of £5 on Council Tax was based on the flexibility given by the Government to allow increases of either 1.99% or £5 whichever was the greater.
Councillor R G Boyce thanked the Interim Section 151 Officer for his detailed report and proposed that the recommendations as set out in the report be agreed.
In response to several questions raised by Members, the Interim Section 151 Officer provided the following additional information:
· the process undertaken in setting the proposed budget was unchanged from that used in previous years;
· staffing was accounted for within three cost centres and areas supporting front line services were accounted for as a recharge for those areas.
· In respect of transformation savings agreed £1m came from staff and £800,00 from service areas in terms of additional income and reduction in expenditure.
· At the beginning of 2019 / 20 the Council’s General Fund Balance was £4.769m
During the discussion Councillor C Morris left the meeting and did not return.
Reference was made to the budget presentations given by the Interim Section 151 Officer to Members and it was requested that in the future consideration be given to recording these so Members unable to attend could review them. This request was noted by Officers.
The Chairman then put the proposal in the name of Councillor Boyce and upon a vote being taken this was agreed.
(i) that the main details of the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement 2020 / 21 described in section 3.4 of the report be noted;
(ii) that the following be approved:
(a) the Revised 2019/20 and Original 2020/21 General Fund Revenue Budget Estimates (Appendices 1, 2 and 3 to the report);
(b) an average Band D council tax of £202.40 (excluding parish precepts) (£5 increase) for 2020/21 (Appendix 1 to the report);
(c) policies on the designated use of financial reserves (Appendix 4 to the report);
(d) maintain the current policy of a minimum general fund balance of £2,600,000;
(iii) that the Council gives due regard to the Interim Section 151 Officer’s statement on the robustness of budgets and adequacy of reserves in APPENDIX 5.