Agenda item

2023 / 24 Budget and Medium-Term Financial Strategy

To receive a Budget Statement from the Leader of the Council, to consider the following reports of the Section 151 Officer (copies enclosed) and to determine the level of Council Tax.


Members’ attention is drawn to the following Procedure Rules:


·                 Voting – Procedure Rule 13(5) set outs the requirement for any vote taken at a budget decision meeting (as defined by the Local Government Finance Act 1992) to be recorded in the Minutes.


·                 Budget Speech – Procedure Rule 1(13)(a) sets out the time limits in relation to the budget speech and (b) details the requirements for making alternative proposal or amendment as part of the Budget and Council Tax setting.


The Council considered the reports of the Section 151 Officer, on the recommendations of the Strategy and Resources Committee at its meeting on 26 January 2023 relating to the revenue budget and the proposed level of Council for 2023 / 24.


The Chairman informed the Council that in accordance with Procedure Rule 1(13)b an alternative budget proposal had been received.  He then proceeded to detail the order in which this item of business would be discussed.


The Leader of the Council made a budget speech (attached at APPENDIX 1 to these Minutes), thanking the Director of Resources and his team for their hard work and commended the budget for 2023 / 24 to the Council.  This proposal was duly seconded.


The Director of Resources provided a brief summary of the reports highlighting each of the appendices contained within Agenda Item 9c – Revised 2022 / 23 and Original 2023 / 24 Budget Estimates and Council Tax 2023 / 24 as well as:


·                  Member engagement that had taken place;


·                  Capital and Investment Strategy and the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) along with details of Capital Bids;


·                  Treasury Management Strategy;


·                  Council Tax for 2023 / 24 and the proposed 2.99% increase equating to £6.35 a week year[1] for a band D property.


·                  Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) and forecast budget changes over the next three years;


In response to the budget speech, the Leader of the Opposition, Councillor R H Siddall, thanked the Leader of the Council and commented on the speech, referring to the:


·                  Cost of Living crisis and the pressure this put on the Council’s finances.  He noted the collaborative working that taken place in respect of preparing the 2023 / 24 budget.


·                  importance on focusing on delivery for services and the immediate year, including setting budgets intelligently.


·                  impact the transformation programme undertaken by the Council and how the new structure coming from it needed redesign.  The transformation and Covid pandemic had both brought resource impacts across the organisation, and he acknowledged the work that Council staff did under pressurised resources and difficult circumstances.


·                  need for the Council to establish how it shared it services as all Council were in a similar position which had not been helped by the Government reducing funding to Local Authorities and advising that Councils should use their reserves. 


·                  Importance of ensuring that future resources were clearly connected to strategy which could be delivered in a measured and sustainable way.


The Chairman then called on Councillor A S Fluker to move his alternative budget proposal.  The Director of Resources circulated to Members hard copies containing details of the proposed amendment with Officer comments.


Councillor Fluker advised that he wished to make an additional proposal in accordance with Procedure Rule 1(13)(b).  He referred to the significant draw down on reserves necessary over the forthcoming year which he felt was unsustainable and highlighted the comments of the Section 151 Officer who cautioned that unless the Council acted sooner its reserves would run out.  Councillor Fluker then provided further explanation in respect of this.  Referring to the work of the Finance Member Working Group (the Working Group) and given the Council’s fiscal position he felt the membership of the Working Group should be expanded to include Members that did not sit on the Strategy and Resources Committee.  Councillor Fluker advised that he had consulted with the Section 151 Officer and proposed that with immediate effect a full budget review be carried out by a cross chamber, cross Committee Working Group and that this Group report back to the Council with its recommendations in the spring.  This proposal was duly seconded.[2]


In response to a question and further discussion the Director of Resources advised that he had reviewed the alternative proposal that had come forward and Officers had made comments in response to the proposal.  He explained he was unable to give assurance around some of the figures proposed and that the capital items shown as savings could not be used fund revenue. 


Councillor Fluker responded to the discussion that ensued advising that his amendments had been submitted in accordance with the Council’s constitution and outlined where some of them had originated.  He felt it was important for the Section 151 to consider his amendments and requested that following agreement of the budget these amendments be taken to Working Groups for consideration.  Councillor Fluker then withdrew his amendment to the proposed budget.


A lengthy discussion ensued during which further comments were made.  Particular concern was raised regarding the potential financial position facing the Council in the future and the need for the new administration to review costs and ensure that further savings were identified, where possible.  It was noted that that proposed budget brought forward by the Section 151 Officer had been considered by the Finance Working Group


The Leader of the Council summed up and highlighted the work done by the Council to support residents, particularly during this cost of living crisis.  She advised that the Council had made savings but was assuring through the budget that those services important to Members  Residents[3] were kept.


At this point, the Chairman reminded Members of the need to declare any interests in accordance with Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and Procedure Rule 13(5) which set out the requirement for any vote taken at a budget decision meeting (as defined by the Local Government Finance Act 1992) to be recorded in the Minutes.


In response to a Point of Order raised by Councillor Fluker, the Monitoring Officer explained that the Chairman had ruled that what was put forward by Councillor Fluker was an alternative proposal and not an amendment and it was within the rights of the Chairman to make this decision.


The Chairman of the Council the proposal, duly seconded, in the name of the Leader of the Council, advising that the recommendations as set out in reports 9a to 9f would be taken en-bloc.  The voting was as follows:


For the recommendation:

Councillors M G Bassenger, Miss A M Beale, B S Beale, R G Boyce, Mrs P A Channer, M F L Durham, Mrs J L Fleming, M S Heard, B B Heubner, A L Hull, K M H Lagan, C Mayes, S J N Morgan, C P Morley, S P Nunn, N G F Shaughnessy, R H Siddall, P L Spenceley, E L Stephens, Mrs J C Stilts, C Swain, Mrs M E Thompson and S White.


Against the recommendation:

Councillor V J Bell, A S Fluker, M W Helm and W Stamp.



Councillor R P F Dewick.

[1] Council – 30 March 2023

[2] Council – 30 March 2023

[3] Council – 30 March 2023