Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
The Director, Finance and Digital Services provided the Cabinet with the results of the second phase of the Budget consultation in order for Members to consider and amend as necessary the draft budget strategy, which they would wish to recommend to Council at the meeting on 10th March 2021.
The Director advised that the consultation feedback was appended to the report and included the feedback of the Council’s Finance and Performance Scrutiny Committee and the School Budget Forum.
The Director advised the Cabinet that report included:
· A proposed Council Tax increase of 2.65%, which would increase the remaining budget gap by £182,000;
· A Schools Budget with a proposed increase of £2.2M from £161.6M to £163.8M to cover, in full, all inflationary and pupil number pressures, including NDR increased costs;
· The delivery of £4.6M of efficiency savings;
· A number of areas identified for additional resource and investment, including the following:
Ø NDR Local Relief Scheme
Ø Car Park Charges
Ø Climate Change and Carbon Reduction
Ø Wellbeing Support
Ø Fees and Charges
Ø Public Health and Protection Services – Additional Resources
Ø Flood Prevention Support
Ø Overgrowth Team
The Director advised that to address the remaining budget gap, it was proposed that an allocation of £0.711M is made from the Transitional Funding reserve for 2021/22, which included Cabinet’s decision to freeze 3G pitch charges for 2021/22.
The Leader thanked the Director and the financial team for the robust report before the Cabinet.
The Leader clarified that the proposed £50,000 support for businesses was in addition to the support provided by the Council in the previous year. Furthermore, the Leader advised that the proposed £50,000 Flood Prevention Support was in addition to the £0.5M extra revenue that had been built into the budget to fund additional ongoing Drainage teams and that the Capital Programme was inclusive of £6-8M in terms of bids put to Welsh Government in relation to flood alleviation works.
In respect of the proposed Council Tax increase of 2.65%, the Leader noted that if was one of the lowest in Wales and was pleased to note the high level of support from residents during the consultation.
In respect of funding for schools, the Leader noted that the proposed budget protected school pressures but explained that there was a need for significant investment in schools in terms of catch up. The Leader advised that Welsh Government would likely make an allocation within its budget, subject to the announcement of the UK Settlement.
The Deputy Leader took the opportunity to praise the robust and comprehensive consultation process, acknowledging the innovative digital approach undertaken due to the restrictions. The Deputy Leader noted that the Council had engaged with in excess of 1500 residents through the process and that overall, the support for the proposals was positive.
The Cabinet Member for Corporate Services was also happy to support the report and was of the view that the consultation process had demonstrated that the residents of RCT were largely in support of the direction taken by the Council and its priorities for improvement.
The Cabinet RESOLVED:
1. To recommend the Budget Strategy to Council on the 10th March 2021, subject to the following amendment:
1. In order to accommodate Cabinet’s decision to freeze 3G pitch charges for 2021/22, the allocation of £0.709M of Transition Funding for 2021/22 is amended to £0.711M; and
2. To authorise the Director of Finance and Digital Services to amend the level of contribution from the Medium Term Financial Planning and Service Transformation Reserve as a consequence of any change to the Council’s resource levels announced in the Final Local Government Settlement.
Publication date: 25/02/2021
Date of decision: 25/02/2021
Decided at meeting: 25/02/2021 - Cabinet